Do you know how are we meant to keep up?

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I have always been fascinated by these “did you know” videos that are going around. However now they are really starting to open my eyes to what technology is doing to our lives, and how it is effecting companies and everyday life. Below are a couple of the ones that  have really made me think “how in the world are we meant to keep up with all this”?

This first one outlines how human capital is being effected by technology.

It outlines that the average worker will spend 10 years of their working life dealing with emails, costing organisations $25,000 a year for a senior manager to deal with these. This figure is significantly blown out by spam emails, which represent 70% of the total amount.

Looking back at my post on the benefits of web 2.0 within businesses, if we take Dresdner Klienwort’s as an example, enterprise 2.0 systems can reduce tasks that usually take weeks using email, down to a quick glance and a couple of seconds. This, with better spam management would greatly reduce the cost to the business.

It also states that in 2005 there was technology that could help predict when and why an employee will leave their job. This is rather interesting, I wonder how this would work. Would it physically tap into the employees mind :S or would it be done using behavioural observations? Either way, wouldn’t you feel violated being an employee put under the microscope in this way? I for one would quit if they even thought of it, how hard is it to ask?

The next one, as many of us would have already seen, really shows how technology is very quickly out doing us.

This video estimates that 4 exabytes (wow!) of unique information will be generated in that year. That was in 2009, it would be interesting to see how much information was actually generated and how much they predict for this year!

It goes on to state that technical information is doubling every 2 years, thinking about … it is! And something even closer to home for me (and many people) is the fact that what a student learnt in the first year of study is outdated by their third year of study. This is definitely apparent to me, to the extent that I am redoing one of my subjects from my first year as what I had learnt is now obsolete!

Before seeing this video I thought I had pretty fast internet, however it states that a fiber optic cable has been created and tested to send 14 trillion bits of data per second down a single strand of fiber ….. a single strand! Imagine having that coming straight to your house, lol! With the capability to handle 210 million phone calls a second, and tripling every six months, this is truly the technology of the future.

The fact that really scares me in this video is: “Predictions are that by 2049, a $1000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species”. Seriously …. wow! It is very apparent that a computer will soon, if not already, be able to exceed the computational capabilities of a single person, however the entire species in only 39 years ……….. insane! And to think it will only cost $1,000?!?!?! What does $1,000 get you these days? A core 2 duo with 4gb of ram?

Technology in the past and even now is rather amazing, however the rate it is being developed I think it is becoming dangerous. Have all these movies predicting that computers will take over the world actually come true? I guess only time will tell, but in the mean time I guess we have to work out how to keep up with it!

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Categories: Enterprise 2.0

The legal side of enterprise 2.0

August 22, 2010 2 comments

The internet has created a new channel for many damaging events to occur to businesses. Some of these risks include the businesses reputation being in jeopardy and “secrets” being leaked. Many of these risks are mitigated via policies and contracts. However there are occasions when the boundary is crossed.

There are currently laws that protect employees from employers punishing them for actions outside of working hours. The exception to this is if the worker is somehow representing the company.

In the past this was fairly easily controlled, and there were rarely issues regarding this. However with the high popularity of social networking sites, employees are “more” likely to cross these boundaries.

Using a supermarket as an example, at first glance you would not identify many issues surrounding social network systems. However, the grocery industry is extremely competitive these days and the weekly specials are ultimately what gets the customers in the doors. These specials are obviously finalised weeks before so that stock can be ordered and advertising media produced. This leads to the risk of the specials being leaked, and therefore giving competitors an advantage. [1]

Although most employees would obviously not release these details intentionally, it is possible that they simply post something similar to this on Facebook: “OMG! I am so getting some Tim Tams at the end of the month, $1 each at IGA!!!”. Although it is not aimed at helping the competitor, they are simply letting their friends know that they should wait to get a treat. However it is possible for the competitor to gain this information and therefore counter the offer. It is questionable what the employer should do in this situation. There would of course be disciplining involved, however is this something they should be dismissed over?

Another issue faced by employers is employees publishing information that bad mouths other employees, the business or even customers. It has been reported that there have been many facebook groups setup that set out to specifically target bad customers. These actions are indeed damaging to a company and should be acted upon by business [2].

When it comes to facebook groups, to what extent does a business have the right to discipline and dismiss its employees? For example, there was a group title “I work at Woolworths and it’s hurting my mental health” that had 1294 members. Obviously Woolworths would do all in its power to remove the group, however who do you punish? Obviously the person who made it (most likely a past employee), they can be sued for damaging allegations against the business. However, do you discipline everyone in the group … all 1294 members? In most cases I would believe that only the dominant group members will be directly dealt with, and a general notice sent out warning others that it is unacceptable behaviour. [2]

Realistically it is hard for companies to actively monitor and control such events as above. However policies are put forward to employees to outline the consequences of their actions if they do participate in such activities. These policies give companies the power to dismiss their employees for unacceptable behaviour, however in many cases it doesn’t stop them from doing it.

[1] http://www.headshift.com/blog/2010/01/how-to-sell-social-media-in-yo.php

[2] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/shoppers-off-their-trolley/story-e6frf7kx-1111118619675

Categories: Enterprise 2.0

The risks and benefits of Enterprise 2.0

August 19, 2010 1 comment

As like any other venture there are many benefits and risks included in using enterprise 2.0 systems within a business. In many cases the benefits far out weigh the risks if implemented correctly.

Benefits

One of the most significant benefits that businesses find when using web 2.0 tools is the reduction in exclusive collaboration on issues. This is because tools such as wikis open employee communication up to the entire organisation. Not only does this increase productivity and reduce traffic on email servers, but it also captures knowledge.

To many companies knowledge is one of its valuable assets. Over the years there have been countless attempts at ways to capture this knowledge, some have been successful, however many have either failed dramatically or took to much time to perform. Knowledge is only valuable to a company if it is reused, they may have collected it however no one made the effort to make use of it. [1]

However, web 2.0 has brought a light to this problem. Not only does it allow for quick searching of information, it also allows for it to be part of everyday activities. As an employee gains knowledge they can simply note it on the system so that they, and others can use it to better their understandings for the topic at hand. [1]

Also, as it is “real time” employees can collaborate on projects and problems in a centralised location. Many companies have all their project documentation online, so the most up-to-date documentation is easily available to everyone involved and not locked up in emails. Having the documentation online reduces duplication of documents therefore leading to greater efficiency [2]. Also as explored in my last blog, it allows for upper management to tap in and view the status and process of all projects effortlessly in a matter of seconds when it previously took weeks just to get this information.

Risks

When it comes to enterprise 2.0 systems, there are many risks involved that may have significant impacts on the business. One of the most unforseen and damaging issues is the security of the information gathered. Many systems have plans to mitigate the loss of data, however in instances when mistakes are made when setting up the system the consequences are immense.

Some of the mistakes that have been made by companies that host their own systems include;

–       Making backups on the same computer, or even worse the same hard drive that the original data is on. The failure of a single computer would be all that needs to happen to lose the data.

–       Another is that many people don’t think twice about storing the backup in the same physical location as the original data. The issue with this is if there is a fire or natural disaster all the information will be lost. Even though it would be a minor problem in a situation like that as they have a lot more to worry about, it can still be avoided.

Another problem with having all of the company’s information centralised is the risk of someone stealing, or an employee leaking the information. The level of security of product development and research is greatly reduced when using enterprise 2.0 systems to store this information. As all the information is in “one” location, if the system was to be hacked an unauthorised person may have this information readily available to them. Businesses need to put in place mitigations to reduce the risk of this happening. However, in doing so they must be aware that locking down the system with tons of passwords and security codes will reduce the productivity of the users and possibly hinder their decision to use it.

Conclusion

As explored in my previous blog, enterprise 2.0 systems are going to be used within an organisation whether the company is ready or not. There are reported events of employees bringing systems in through back doors of the organisation and even using the company’s accounts to pay for the implementation. [3] At that point you would have seen this as a real indicator that these systems need to be implemented. However, realistically the management of companies should identify processes that can use enterprise 2.0 systems to increase productivity. If implemented by the company and not the employees it will allow for the systems to be properly and thoroughly implemented to avoid many of the possible risks and harness the potential benefits.

[1] http://www.biztechtalk.com/2008/04/enterprise-20-k.html

[2] http://e20portal.com/index.php/enterprise-2.0-benefits/benefits-of-enterprise-2.0.html

[3] http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe/the-state-of-enterprise-20/143

Categories: Enterprise 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies can bring success to companies in many different ways

August 11, 2010 1 comment

When it came about, Web 2.0 very quickly became a hit for use with social networking sites. However in 2001 people soon realised that this new and ever evolving technology could be used productively. If you were to allow everyone to collaboratively work on creating an encyclopaedia, wouldn’t you have knowledge from all walks of life, and therefore accurate information on everything that ever existed? Although it is debatable if the information found on Wikipedia is entirely accurate, it is constantly being updated and does include some very in-depth information [1].

These days, Wikipedia now has over 16 million articles that have all been written by people voluntarily [1]. This has been seen by many companies as an opportunity to leverage this type of platform and use it within their work places as a knowledge-sharing tool between workers. One of these companies include Nokia.

After seeing a couple of its employees using wiki pages to help them to collaborate on solving product-design problems, as well as an alternative to emailing, Nokia decided to launch an official company wiki that was available to all of its employees. [2]

Following the official launch of the wiki at least 20% (as of 2007, I would assume much more now) are using the wiki to document schedules, project statuses and collaborate on problems and lessons learnt. With the addition of the wiki, Nokia’s cross department communication has improved. [2]

Another company, Dresdner Klienwort have reported that due to using web 2.0 technologies such as wikis’ and blogs as well as instant messaging the companies productivity has significantly increased. It has been recognised that the reduction in emails has reached over 75% as everything is documented on the one wiki page. It has also reduced the job of managing resources which previously took weeks, and now takes a mere 30 seconds to glance over. [2]

Web 2.0 technologies has also brought success to Classic Cookie Company, however in a completely different light.  Back in March of 2008 the company was facing a financial crisis. The owner had tried everything to get the company back on its feet, however Katie (and the company) did not seem to have much left. So as a last resort Katie posted a blog pleading to her loyal customers, and the rest of the world, to come and shop at the bakery so that they could stay open [3].

After emailing it to a few friends and all the subscribers to the blog receiving an email regarding her post, over 3,400 people were alerted of the situation. A local professional home organiser saw the appeal for help and designed and distributed fliers for the bakery. With this attention, the bakery received a flood of customers, and therefore was able to pay their bills. Today, the company is still open and trading successfully [3].

This success story proves that blogs not only help the readers, however when in need the publisher also is rewarded. This company could not see light at the end of the tunnel, however at the end of the day a simple blog post saved it. This goes to show that web 2.0 helps keep communities together and opens paths for companies to network. Katie used a similar approach to the wikinomics business model – Peering, Being Open, Sharing, Acting Global to save her business.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

[2] http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2007/tc20070312_476504.htm

[3] http://www.smallcompanybigimage.com/small-business-blog-success-story-power-of-web-cooks-up-sweet-ending/

Categories: Enterprise 2.0

Personal and business exposure

August 3, 2010 5 comments

My thoughts on blogs

In my eyes a blog is a place for people to share experiences that they may or may not have enjoyed, helpful tips on things that interest them or handy ideas for everyday life as well as a means to connect with world.

Blogs can be a useful to for both the publisher and the reader. In many cases it is the reader who gets the greater benefit out of it, be it a tutorial, a review or a post about an event that happened in the publishers life that has interested the reader in one way or another. However, with addition of the ability to comment, the publishers are now getting feedback from their readers. This therefore has changed the why in which a blog is foreseen, they are now a tool that allows for two way learning and communication.

I have always wanted to setup a blog, however I come across the issue of content. What am I going to write about? Realistically my interests change faster than the wind speed in a hurricane, so setting up a blog dedicated to my interest would soon become obsolete. I have thought about doing a blog on “my interest of the day”, well I guess that is a bit extreme but other than my everyday happenings I have never found something specific that I could write about.

Finally I now have a topic that I can write about, welcome to my blog on Enterprise 2.0!

What should companies really be focusing on?

Over time I have been observing businesses that use social networking tools to make their presence known to the community and through incentives, retain customer loyalty. Many of these companies spend an awful amount of money on making themselves more “findable”. In well-executed cases, this works and the business gets noticed and “found”.

However today I was reading a post by Sacha Chua which outlined an answer to a question she was asked during an interview which discussed making yourself more findable. My answer to this question would have previously been about making yourself look good and pushing for exposure. After reading her post, she has made me realise that the real focus shouldn’t be about spending time (and commonly money) to make yourself findable, but it should be about making people want to find you. When you think about it, it’s so obvious. If you spend time on building your knowledge by helping and learning from people (or product through product development) you will be more valuable to them, and therefore they will find you.

This is where word of mouth is extremely powerful. If you help someone either through sharing knowledge or supplying them with a fantastic product they will not only remember you and want to come back. However they will also let everyone else know around them. For example, I purchased a case from Speck for my MacBook Pro not long ago, which I absolutely love! So therefore I have shown my friends and they have seen the value in it and have purchased one for themselves. Their boss saw it, which therefore led to the entire company buying a whole set of them for all their laptops.

With social networking sites and such advanced technologies available word of mouth has become lightning fast. For example one person shares a link on there facebook page, this link is seen by lets say 200 people. Only 5 of these people might actually have a good look, of which 2 of the share the link on their page resulting in exponential exposure and all you did was satisfy one person.

My conclusion

So today I walk away with a different view on how a company should present themselves to the public. Rather than spending money on advertising, why not spend that money on bettering your products and services just that little bit more?

This has led me to think, why waste time looking and applying for jobs when you can have word of mouth make the recruter want to find you 🙂 Create an awesome blog, share it on your facebook page and watch the hit counter spin! The only vital ingredients are the willingness to help others and quality.

Categories: Enterprise 2.0