Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Response to article "Figure Put on Facebook’s Cost to Australian Employers"

This article was published on http://www.idm.net.au/storypages/story-work.asp?id=9181, it creates an interesting discussion around the pros and cons of social networking.

January 7, 2008: The negative side of social networking in business has reared its head again this week, with a new study claiming that on average, Facebook costs employers upwards of $2700 a year for each employee using the service.

Conducted by the online career site Linkme.com.au, the survey asked 2800 Facebook if they used the service while at work, with almost half of this number admitting that they did.
According to Linkme.com.au development manager Paul Tyrrell, with the average Australian salary of $54,132, a mere two hours per week of Facebook use translates to a cost of $2708 per employee. 20 percent of those surveyed claimed to spend more than two hours per week on the site, while Tyrrell believes that the actual average time spent on the service is likely to be much higher.

Social networking is slowly coming of age in the business world, however, it is still teetering between being a benefit and a curse for employers. Some recognise the benefits the new communications channel brings, while others have banned it to stop their employees being tempted to procrastinate.

Unfortunately, at least according to this survey, procrastination seems to be winning out over building professional contacts at the moment, with over three quarters of those surveyed admitting that they use the service purely to chat, share photos and play games with their friends.

The million dollar question here is does facebook and social networking cost or contribute to business productivity.

In the case of the article, the positive benefit side of the social networking equation is not discussed and maybe this is something that you would like to discuss further or potentially do another article on.

The challenge that technology is bringing along for the ride is the complete blurring of personal and work life. Using facebook at work is just an instance of the new world of work that the internet has created. The challenge for the organisation is to adapt to this and other news way of work such as mobility, flexible working arrangements and globalisation of the workforce. It is companies who are flexible that will turn these technological innovations into improvements in business productivity and thus create competitive advantage.

If we take for example the theme of information overload in the workplace, nearly half of all labour costs are now allocated to employees performing so-called ‘Information work’. A typical information worker spends up to a 25% of their time searching for the right information to complete a given task, this translates into $5,3 00 per employee. So potentially an organisational focus on information management and enterprise search could see significant business productivity benefits.

If we couple the idea of information overload (and we need to given the amount of new technical information is currently doubling every 2 years and by 2010 expected to double every 72 hours http://www.slideshare.net/jbrenman/shift-happens-33834 slides 49,52) with social networking it is possible we could turn applications like facebook to our advantage.

The issue we have is a lot of expertise and information for an organisation is not yet maintained in the corporate intranet, it’s usually in the head of our beloved employees. What about if we could use social networking components to actually surface who these people are and build communities around them. That we can collaborate with the right people at the right time. Through social networking concepts there is real scope for us to be connected at large and surely that’s got to be a good thing for the organisation.

The worker is an extension of the person and that person is a social animal. This is equally important in a professional environment as it is a social life. We want to connect with different people, learn from different people and social networking components now provide this en masse. My speculation is that it goes beyond that, at the end of the day we are on a journey of discovery, as well as the social networking for sharing photos and playing games it’s just as likely as its contributing to the next generation of really innovative thinking.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good luck guys!

As the festive season is upon us and we get a chance to have a holiday break, I would like to extend good luck wishes and seasons greetings to Justin and James who are currently crossing kayaking from Australia to New Zealand. Right now they have been out there crossing the ditch for the last 38 days, you can check out all their details at http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/.

Other than these guys being truly inspiring, what's cool about what they are doing is the technology they are using to support the expedition. GPS, texting and podcasts are all part of the experience but what I really like is the google maps mashup on the homepage. Its awesome we can see clearly their route, how far they have to go - 855km at last count, and how far they have come each day.

Go lads, best of luck and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's not rocket science, it's SharePoint or google docs?

Is it funny how the simple things in life are often the best. I had a classic example of this last week. We were working in a virtual team on a bid for some work - familiar story?

Let me explain how it worked, there was about 5 of us on the bid team, we used sharepoint as the central file storage and it worked like a treat, no emailing with attachments, no multiple versions. All that we used was one simple document in a sharepoint document library. Versions were kept, the document was checked in and checked in out when being modified and alerts were set by the various team members to know when changes had been made.

I was actually offline for most of the working hours during the week doing jury duty and this didn't even present any challenges or stop the progress of the bid. It was with smooth sailing and we delivered the bid well before the closing date.

The collaboration was so easy, all I could think was finally - this is not rocket science, it was SharePoint at its finest.

That said though, I came across this little video - Google Docs in Plain English which explains the collaboration above and also introduces some friendly competition to this space - so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tafiti is very cool, so is gmail spell check

I have just been playing with Tafiti, http://www.tafiti.com/. It's very impressive, combining live search and silverlight technology.

For those who don't know, Tafiti means "do research" in Swahili. Even if you didn't know that it probably doesn't matter - what does matter is we need to do all types of research and information mining on a daily basis. By the end of most days I have at least 10 tabs open in IE 7 and quite often am going back to these for reference. I am also using one note 2007 more and more to store random pieces of content. If Tafiti can help on this front to collect and store my findings then its going to be a winner.

Things are moving pretty fast in the race for the browser to become the new OS and I feel this is another step in that direction.

I also started using the spell check in gmail, ok not as impressive as Tafiti, but it is all good for the user experience.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What do SharePoint, Facebook, Myspace and Youtube have in common?

The times they are a changing and I am loving it. I keep saying it but we are truly going in the throws of a revolution that history will truly measure. The internet revolution is alive. By my approximations the public net is only around 10 years young, so its still a young pup. But look whats happening - have you noticed how quickly things are ramping up and how much information we now have at our finger tips.

I was asked a bunch of questions the other day on the Web 2.0 technologies and platforms like wikis, blogs and RSS and how they could be used to advance an organisation's collaboration strategy and it got me thinking more and more about this wave of technology.

I was having a conversation with my sister in law, her uni semester involves doing an online class, taking part in another subject online forum and collaborating for an assignment in another subject on facebook. It really dawned on me what is happening here. We finally have content for the masses by the masses en masse. Ok some of this stuff isn't new, its just that its really catching on. The ability to easily produce and broadcast mass amounts of content has arrived and its social. If you look around on the net you can see its kind of taken off like wildfire. Ok, first there was the deluge of myspace and Youtube. Now facebook is having its time in the sun. And the one close to my heart, good old SharePoint is standing in the shade but I don’t think it will be for long.

As a matter of fact SharePoint isn't far away from hosting a party of its own and being on the A list to a few others shin digs.

SharePoint shares those ingenuus character defining elements that all web 2.0 killer apps share - market share and differentiation!

Size goes without saying, its come from the Microsoft stable so global computing reach is a given.

The differentiation of SharePoint is a little more subtle. There's a whole bunch of collaboration tools out there, but you see this little guy is different. This little guy is designed to sit inside your organisation and is integrated directly into your organisational security and directory and then what this little guy does is it works with the applications most of us already know like Office, Word and Excel.

So the platform is just kind of sitting around waiting to be used for inside the organisation and when everyone starts to cotton onto this - look out, its going to be a keeper.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Error in PortalCrawl Web Service

I experienced some strange behaviour with People Search in MOSS 2007 recently and wanted to share my thoughts on how you can resolve it.

I had configured the user profile import, which imported over a 1,000 profiles, configured an instance of search and began a full crawl of the environment to create the index. Once this completed I then went into the portal site and tested profile searches were working by querying user names. At this stage everything was ok.

Later in the day I went back into the search configuration and edited some of the addresses in the Local Office SharePoint Server sites content source. A day later I noticed user searches were not displaying any results.

I went back into the SSP to have a look at this, it seems at this stage everything was ok, so I tried to reset the index and re crawl. It was here I got the message ‘Error in PortalCrawl Web Service’ for each of the user profiles I had imported.

The resolution for this was to delete a batch of the user profiles and then re crawl. This did the trick of sticking the user profiles data back into the search index and I was away from there.

There’s quite a few blog posts out there on this issue but a lot of them are related to SharePoint Portal Server (SPS 2003) and I think you can save yourself a lot of time but trying this approach early on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Enterprise Search awareness

Whilst catching the latest new headlines on www.smh.com.au the following advertisement caught my eye!

It looks like Microsoft is running an awareness campaign for an Enterprise Search on SMH and who knows what other sites. The click through for the ad takes you to http://www.microsoft.com/australia/business/financialservices/enterprisesearch/default.mspx

The call to action is a complimentary 3 hour Enterprise Search workshop offer provided by key Enterprise Search partners. I was involved in one of these about a week ago and its great to see SDM listed as one of the partners so we can do a whole bunch more.