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Back in April Mashable.com posted an article with some very interesting results. They said that 6.8% of all business bandwidth went to Facebook, compared to the 3.4% of traffic that went to Google. This outstanding figure can help be explained by another study by PaidContent.org – where large numbers of viewers are going to Facebook rather than Google (or other sources) for news. Malorie Lucich from Facebook said that the social networking abilities of facebook can be tailored into a “personal news channel”, where news from friends and businesses are filtered directly to the user.

By utilizing this concept companies could promote the use of social networks like Facebook, to keep up to date with the latest news. Partners and Clients could be subscribed to a company’s news feed automatically receiving updates when they are made available. The event calendar can be used to book meetings and events – with these functions automatically being connected to anyone whom is a friend of the company. Here companies can start bridging the gap between social networks for personal and business news.

I briefly looked at what news options where on Facebook from the big news corporations around the world. I focused on the BBC’s Facebook page – where on their wall they host new articles. Their viewers can stay connected by viewing the material on their Facebook page, which can also be filtered onto their own page. If I had a vested interest in the BBC, I would defiantly look at this as a way to stay up to date with the company and its interests.

Applying the same logic to a business that operates with Web 1.0 technologies, Facebook (and other social sites) can open up doors to get news and events out to the world-wide public. In return, it can help drive business sales by presenting an easy way for people to communicate with that business. Businesses in this day and age need to step up to these social networks, or risk falling behind their competitors.

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Screaming for Portability?

Are we as a community screaming for the next, newest, lightest and most powerful  portable device?

Typically while I’m on the move I tend to view websites such as Overclockers Australia, Slashdot and Engadget to keep up to date on the latest gear and technology achievements around the world. While on Engadget today I couldn’t help but notice no less than 14 entries related to mobile-based technologies since late yesterday afternoon! It has made me wonder – is our society hinging on having portable devices?

Looking at research conducted by the Nielson Company, it would seem that powerful, technology-enabled smartphones will overtake normal ‘feature phones’ at the end of this year in the U.S. Primary motivators for this appear to be that new smartphones have more features coupled with decreasing costs for wireless data transfers. This is also reinforced by Nielson Company’s research showing that only 3% of smartphone users use their device for only making voice calls. What this shows is a high uptake of the features available in a typical smartphone.

So where does that leave society now? It would seem that smartphones and other, highly portable devices are becoming more important and integral into our lives. The tools to make smart phones do new things is becoming easier – for example developing on Android can be done by largely using a graphical interface (Watch episode 801 over at Hak5 for a demonstration). As an evolving community we are generating and sharing more information than ever, between more nations than ever before. Will there be an end to this crush to get the newest, most powerful mobile device?

Community Emergency Response

On Sky news I watched a live feed where reporters were on the scene of the blaze in San Bruno. For those whom do not know, a gas line appears to have exploded, causing the destruction of at least 40 homes with many more damaged. What I have been wondering is – why can we as the web 2.0 community not provide support to this tragedy by using social networking tools to promote useful help, advice, maps and images of the affected regions?

Fire-fighters and other support staff were battling with a ever-changing landscape. While those people have access to information provided by their respective emergency response units, where is the readily accessible community driven support for the general people? I’m not just talking about support for families within that area – my heart goes out to all those families caught in the blaze, but for people in the nearby towns and family members all over the world.

Using blogs and wikis, a collaboration of news and events of this tragedy could be collated for people that want to know what has happened. Lists of vital information could also be located on such a wiki and added to by survivalists and people trained in emergency situations. My last idea has recently been done by Google, where the community could build maps in Google or Bing that show where vital shelters and support can be found.

Google’s blog is an excellent example of a corporation putting forward good information and showing to the public that they care about the wellfare of people. Google have donated $50,000 dollars (US) to help relief efforts. By making it public, Google’s public image is seen as being more respected and a force for good. When you have a minute, I highly recommend reading Google’s blog entry here.

Businesses large and small are using blogging to try driving business goals forward. But how powerful can it really be? What do they really use the blog for? Perhaps this will provide a little insight into what a blog can do.

Classic Cookie Co. owner Katherine Novotny was under financial strain to keep her business open. The bills were mounting up, with a dwindling customer base. In tough economic times, the operation was looking bleak. Katherine did not want to give up, so she posted a message on her blog about the problems the business faced and that they needed more customers. She contacted friends and colleges by email asking them to read the blog.

The community reaction exploded. A local electronic newspaper caught the story and published it in their own community of 3400 people. With so much publicity from the blog post, Katherine saw a massive boost in customers from one day to the next. She followed that blog post up with more news about the business, opening dialog from her customers. Electronically they were able to discuss the business operation and understand key decisions made shortly after the massive intake in new customers.

This example shows how a well the community can react to a single blog post from a business.

By contrast Forrester imposed a new corporate-wide policy on blogging earlier this year. The focus is to directly hinder their analysts from building their own personal branding. This shift will drive their own analysts to post information on the official Forrester blog streams instead of their own.

Two of their key analysts are directly affected by this change. Between their own separate efforts, they were driving new business to Forrester through their own personal branding with very little rewards for their efforts.

Now Forrester are at risk of losing key, public facing analysts and their business streams for a restrictive media policy.

Over at Zdnet, a possible reason for the restriction in the media policy is that Forrester have had a history of successful business without personal branding blogs. This is actually an interesting reaction to bottom-up adoption that Enterprise 2.0 typically sees. Corporate history is actually undermining the efforts of Enterprise 2.0. Has anyone else seen new Enterprise 2.0 ventures being stifled by the history of the business?

Wikis Behind the Firewall

Web2.0Within the Web 2.0 globe, Wikis stand right next to blogs as a premier tool for collaboration. Wikis present an easy to use way of storing, viewing and editing information that resembles a typical website when all is said and done. Anyone can contribute to them, which means a well thought out wiki can turn into a primary hub for information and communication on the web. A secondary use for these Web 2.0 wikis has been discovered – using them within a business to serve the business. I like to call this Wikis behind the firewall (as in corporate firewall).

One success story is SecureWorks. Their primary business is managed internet security services for businesses. They are large enough to have ties with Dell and Forrester identified them as a corporate leader within their industry. Within their development team there was a need for a system that could track revisions to documents, notify these changes to users via email and look professional off the shelf. They implemented TWiki, a wiki with a large amount of features including the ones sought by SecureWorks. After a month of operation, 90% of the development team had moved to contributing actively on the TWiki system. Over another two years, system administrators, technical support staff and even members of their sales teams are using the wiki system to great success.

SecureWorks were able to achive their intended goals. A wiki tracks revisions to documents on the system, fulfilling their first business need. Managers at the company had concerns that documents relating to key projects could be inadvertently be corrupted by users. Being able to track these changes solved the concerns of their managers. An unexpected benefit discovered later was “Diffing”, where the latest and previous versions could be compared quickly for changes in the document. Personnel working on projects are using this feature to stay updated on the most recent changes to project files.

Secondly TWiki has a professional looking user interface without requiring additional customization. This directly saves SecureWorks time (and cost) by not having developers configure the software after installation. A professional interface was also important to make the system attractive to use by their staff members.

One problem discovered before the implementation of TWiki went ahead was the lack of a Wiki culture within the business. To overcome this issue, Megan (whom championed the deployment of a Wiki within SecureWorks) send out daily email reminders to use the wiki system. That was coupled with 20 minute, one-on-one training sessions with staff members. Together, those actions built a strong wiki culture within the business.

Personally I use a wiki to store information and provide updates on personal projects. While this site is published on the internet, only a small number of people use the site – those whom directly have an interest on my projects. What I have found is that it’s a great way to update people on the latest developments and work done. By having all the relevant information in one spot for my projects, my friend and I can do work on them at any time, almost anywhere. We can also do work on them and update the project files on the wiki when we next have easy access to the internet. The deployment was a cinch, and the site is very easy to use.

You can read the full success story, along with may others from TWiki here. What are your thoughts on Wikis ‘behind the firewall’?

Tech Ed for Students 2010

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Tech Ed 2010 at the Gold Coast with one of my IT savvy friends, Joel. For those of you that don’t know, Tech Ed is a conference held specifically to build awareness, train  and promote Microsoft Products, Microsoft Partners to I.T. professionals attending Tech Ed. Microsoft invited university students to come along and attend a 3 hour session specifically catered to university students at no charge (at least to us students!).

I got to Exhibition centre an hour and a half early, so I fired up the notebook and connected to their free wireless service. From the advertising around I guess Telstra provided the conference with a fibre internet connection. A glance at the network showed at least 130 computers connected, but potentially there could be many more connected that are hidden. When it neared 12 o’clock all the university students were directed upstairs to section E, where tables were setup with a small stage in the corner. At these tables were drinks and towards the far wall were ‘lunch boxes’. Shortly after having a bite to eat and talking to some fellow QUT students, the presentations started.

Topics for the presentation included what Microsoft does for students, a brief introduction into the Windows 7 Mobile platform for development, a talk about the Imagine Cup contest and some of the online services available for Live@Edu.

Microsoft makes a lot of software available to university students for free through MSDNAA – we have that service available at QUT. By using a university email address and password, students have access to free development software and windows, which is required for students to kick-start projects without needing to pay for programs they require. This model of ‘build your concepts with the best tools for free’ is also seen on the Windows 7 Mobile development website, where students can get Visual Studio 2010 with the Windows 7 Mobile add-on for free. I believe Microsoft see students as having an ability to overcome challenges and find resolutions that a the conventional I.T. business landscape does not.  By giving away these tools, students may indeed change the world for the better.

The discussion about developing on Windows 7 Mobile platform was also a great interest as a number of students in the crowd. Microsoft built the Windows 7 Mobile platform around two key technologies, XNA and Silverlight. One of the student representatives showed a simple example of how powerful XNA is on the Windows 7 Mobile phone. This was more of a technical discussion where the code for the example was exposed. If you are interested in developing for the Windows 7 Mobile phone, check out the official page here.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Imagine Cup and the Technology Showcase

With major web 2.0 socal sites automatically providing many sharing services, any information posted with these online tools could potentially be copied around the world, being viewed many thousands of times along the way. One critical concern for enterprises of both small and large calibre is – how do I gain a competitive advantage by using these tools, but limit and mitigate the risk of exposing company secrets at the same time.

So what risks are we talking about? Taking Westpac bank as an example, one of their employees could discuss a client relationship they have with Westpac. While this may seem like innocent discussion, there is potential there to find out more details such as – do they have a good or bad relationship with the bank? Do they take good care of their finances? The answers to these types of questions could actually empower third parties with information they should not have.

Who could be these third parties? Keyholders in either the company or Westpac (in our example), potential investors for both businesses, media journalists looking to build a story – each of these third parties could potentially gain with confidential information being leaked.

One example of this is NP Generations Pty Ltd v Feneley (2001) where a property manager had a dairy with key contact and business information, whom left the company, taking the information with her. When she was employed a few months later by a rival, she used the information contained with to gain an advantage at the cost of her previous employer. In this situation the court held that the customer information within the dairy was confidential to her previous employer, which should have been returned upon her leaving that employer.

If this was taken one step further, with a focus on web 2.0 social technologies, the person in question could have uploaded that data to her facebook account – in which many people would have had access to that information. Depending on the sensitivity and content of the information, it could be viewed a great many times before any legal injunction could take place. This may very well damage the company’s reputation and the employee.

This is an example that illustrates how important it can be for a company to have a social media policy. A social media policy should be constructed which defines what information is and is not allowed to be posted on the global, public web 2.0 social networking technologies like twitter and facebook. This policy should incorporate legal aspects where ever possible, so that corporate information is protected. Information Technology specialists should also investigate how to implement a social media policy to ensure it can be done effectively.

In the example of Westpac, they should have a social media policy built which provides limits on what information is allowed to be passed outside the company. In order to make this effective, their I.T. team should implement measures to ensure that the information is protected. Further more Westpac could hold company sessions to train their personnel on the importance of the social media policy, and reinforce that through reminders during their working week.

Web 2.0 social media provides an immense amount of connectivity between employees, employers and the world-wide public. With information so readily available to be uploaded to these tools, it is only prudent to consider the security aspect for these tools and generate a policy to protect the company interests.

-Mathew

References:

Brown, S. (2010, January). Safely ‘Friend’ Web 2.0 at Work . Retrieved August 23, 2010, from Workplace HR@Safety: http://www.imn-unlocked.com/wb-spartantec/e_article001633793.cfm?x=b11,0,w

LinkedIn – is your confidential client information not so confidential? (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2010, from Rostro Carlyle Solicitors: http://www.rostroncarlyle.com/legalarticles/social-media-law-articles/linkedin-is-your-confidential-client-information-not-so-confidential.html

While many enterprises may be driving towards Enterprise 2.0, one aspect which is a clear concern is what benefits am I getting out of it versus what does my business risk by trying to implement Web 2.0 technologies? This in turn shows the level of committment that the enterprise must act on in order to get a real-world positive result. A good example of this is a series of six blog entries on The FASTForward Blog in which Bill Ives discusses a move to Enterprise 2.0 for Booz Allen, a consultancy firm.

In terms of benefits Booz Allen were looking to help foster a community for their employees within the business. A prior study hand shown just over half their staff consistently worked at their client’s sites, which in turn was weakening the firm’s affinity to its employees. The company was looking to develop social tools improve the communication between staff and build up a sense of being apart of the community.

While in the planning stages certain risks were identified. A large amount of staff time would be consumed during the course of the project. Not only was this time used for the actual development of the tools (named Hello), but significant time was set aside to talk to staff in key positions within the company, who could help the Hello project be successful. Other risks not directly discussed within the blog post series, but do carry risk are costs of development, implementation and training and whether or not the functionality would improve or hinder current business processes.

After the implementation further benefits of the Web 2.0 technologies implemented were realized. The tools allowed each department to manage their own corporate identity, which further built a sense community within Booz Allen. The company was able to rapidly find the right people within their own staffing structure to work on new projects, cutting time, cost and risk because each employee’s Hello profile contained their skill sets and areas of interest. The final major benefit that was realized lied with their experience in developing and implementing Hello – other corporations wanted it. They wanted to get the same benefits that Booz Allen had, which in turn generated a lot of revenue for the company.

Was the implementation successful? Quoted from one of the blog entires:

Now more than 80% of the firm has logged into Hello,  53% have added content, and there are more than 4,000 searches on the system every day.

When implemented correctly, there are huge benefits to a company.

-Mathew

Ives, B. (2009, December 09). Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at Booz Allen: Part One Overview of Business Drivers and Components. Retrieved from The FASTForward Blog: http://www.fastforwardblog.com/2009/12/08/implementing-enterprise-2-0-at-booz-allen-part-one-overview-of-business-drivers-and-components/

Greetings,

Recently I have been looking into a specific Web 2.0 technology – Wikis. Designed for collaboration a Wiki site allows multiple to view and more importantly edit the content of the site at any time. A quote from a book Wiki: Web Collaboration summaries how a Wiki works – “A wiki is a web-based software that allows all viewers of a page to change the content by editing the page online in a browser. This makes wiki a simple and easy-to-use platform for cooperative work on texts and hypertexts.” (Ebersbach, Glaser, & Heigl, 2008)

The ‘Wiki’ page on Wikis is a good example of what a Wiki looks like.

According to that book, all Wikis have a core set of features similar to each other – Orientation and Search, User Area, Working Area and the Edit Page. Orientation and Search typically show the previous pages that the user has been to along with a simple text search function. This enables fast navigation around the site where any document may be one search away.

The User Area provides controls for registered users to change their preferences while on the site. How the site looks and options for editing pages in the wiki  just some provided. The Working Area typically has functions such as printing the wiki page or saving it as a PDF. The last function, Edit Page is very important as this switches the wiki page from a reading mode to a document-editing mode. The user is presented with word-like editing functionality where the content of that wiki page is completely editable. Pressing the “Save” button will republish the page with any changes made.

Commoncraft.com have built videos (some available on YouTube) for explaining Web 2.0 technologies. One of these topics is “Wikis in Plain English.” Well worth four minutes of your time.

Personally I see Wikis as the ability to get multiple people that are focused on finding or providing information around any and all topics. Outside of university a have other projects on which prior to now, have been restricted to email or mobile phone communication to get organized. This has not always worked in the past – one person doesn’t get the latest updates or forgets to check his email. Using a wiki however, any update to the information can be edited in just this one spot. Other team members can look at the latest version online through this Wiki and make their own changes, which take effect immediately.

For my work I continously gather new information about the tasks I need to complete. Using a wiki, this new information could be gathered in one spot and shared out to other staff members, reducing the time they need to go and find the information out by other methods. This is a good thing – Less office shouting and more communication.

I am highly interested in working with a wiki. How have you found your experience with Wikis? Is it positive or negative? Would there be any recommendations you suggest to someone creating a new wiki site? Let me hear your thoughts.

-Mathew

Referance:
Ebersbach, A., Glaser, M., & Heigl, R. (2008). Wiki : Web Collaboration. Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. KG.

Exploring Blogs

Greetings,

Ha, my first blog post here. Cool.

Welcome to my blog! This blog has been scripted into existence via WordPress as a means to discover what technologies may prove to be key in an enterprise 2.0 buisness. While this is a part of my university degree it will give me a fundamental understanding of how blogging can be effective. It is my goal to not only include university work here (tagged Enterprise 2.0) but to include my own industry insights and help out where I can. Everything must start somewhere so the topic for this entry is exploring blogs – what are they, why are they useful and how can I make mine more useful to not only myself but others (This means you too).

I had a blog previously. I could post new information on it which anyone would read at any time, using that knowledge themselves. The blog gave glimpes into my life, my projects and work I was trying to acomplish. At the end of it however, I stopped using it. Recently, I have been able to find the answer:

It was rarely updated, had few viewers and was completely focused on a single set of topics. I really did not know what to do with it – should I post all the time? Will being very focused on a topic make it worthwhile using? Eventually I stopped posting there. I had turned it into a pathway for information to flow from me to the readers, but not the other way around. Not once did I ever ask for a considered reader opinion, or discuss interesting points that could have alternative points of view. The posts I made entirely focused on being informative but left no room for discussion, no room for viewers to have their points considered.

Sacha Chua‘s blog is a good example of an effective blog. When Sacha posts, she encourages viewers to provide feedback, mostly in the form of comments that everyone can read and respond to. She asks questions, offers opportunities to help build ideas she has conceptualized into something that changes things for the better (for both inside and outside work). I would like to adopt aspects of her blogging style to make my blog worth reading and interacting with.

I am in Information Technology, with more tools now than ever. Why not use blogging as a means to show considered points of view and discuss them with anyone with a perspective on those points. What I see is a way to improve mine and your’s current knowledge and understanding by sharing it openly and discussing it openly. Using features of blogging such as tagging (Marking a post with words that makes it identifiable) will me use this blog as a method to store useful information that may need to retrieve or revisit down the road.

This is what I intend for my blog at the moment. But I am only one person.  What insights have you found with blogs, or web 2.0 technologies in general? Have they been helpful or detrimental? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-Mathew