Social networking in the corporation

Embrace social networking in the workplace

Great piece in today’s Irish Times – interview with Lucian Tarnowski.

I’ve been committed to the social networking paradigm for the last three years – because I do not believe I can stay in touch with the innovators and the new thinkers in any other effective way. Social networking is part of the way we work – in particular how generation Y works.

Tarnowski has demonstrated a clear understanding of the paradigm and has now developed a business around this. He’s one of many.

I would strongly recommend to corporates who are not embracing the technology to get on board – if you want to be relevant for new recruits. Why should people use products like facebook and twitter to organise their own lives and then come to work to be locked down in a traditional ERP solution? It’s not the fault of the ERP solutions or vendors – there are plenty of ways to integrate. But I would suggest that many of those in middle on senior management now need to get involved in a two way process – learning from the new joiners may be every bit as important as what they learn from the veterans. Challenging but the way forward.

social search to arrive

In my recent posts re twitter I referenced part of the value of twitter being the fact that you are looking at information provided to you by someone you follow (and therefore rate to seom level).  This excellent post in ReadWriteWeb supports the argument and outlines how search is changing.

Irish government to appoint a CTO?

So the government published its paper: Knowledge Society Strategy: Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy.

There is already plenty of comment – on twitter, in the blogs, on the news and there will be more over the next few days.  Comments ranging from ‘a lot of waffle’, ‘telling us what we already know’, ‘where’s the meat?’, etc.  But buried in the report are enough reference points to show where we’ve been making progress and where we’ve been falling behind.

When I read Friedman’s ‘The world is flat’, listing his concerns about the state of education, engineering in the US, I felt he could have been writing about Ireland.  Ironically he references Ireland as a country pulling itself up and leveraging the flatness of the world.  However the shortage of maths proficient secondary school leavers is a major concern and cannot be fixed over night.

The topics discussed in the paper are very worthy of attention – and do represent opportunities for Ireland Inc e.g. cloud, green data centres, networking.  Delighted to see reference to semantic web – not really that surprising after €25m of government investment.

I just picked out one small detail from the report (p45):

The Government should appoint a high level CTO with the authority to drive cultural change across the many departments and agencies.

I have commented previously on such appointments in the US – within the Obama administration.  I would strongly support such an initiative – though she/he will need plenty of support from Mssrs. Ryan and Lenihan.

Twitter – part 3

Completing a series of three articles re twitter – why, what how?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 – How does twitter fit in with web site, blogging, facebook, linkedin, other social networks?

I see my website as my anchor on the internet. My website says I am who I am, sets out my stall, explains how to contact me. I want my website to be found – by people looking for solutions which I can provide. Periodically I will update my website to describe additional solutions, new partnerships, new references/ endorsements.

My blog is where I provide my thoughts – hopefully my insights to emerging social, business, technical issues – as they occur to me and and I develop/ refine my thinking. I expect the blog to incorporate feedback from readers. Over a period of time my blog accumulates an amount of my thinking re the issues of the day.

So there does twitter fit in with all of this – and with the other networks in which I participate?

Twitter is the medium through which I develop interactive dialog with people of mutual interest (I am interested in their thoughts, they follow me – so presumably are interested in my thoughts). Through those contacts I am also looking to expand my network – attracting attention to my competencies and learning from other experts.

With this in mind I automatically notify twitter of any new blog postings. I post questions to twitter, I respond to queries from others on twitter. I use twitter to draw people’s attention to information which I think may be of interest to them.

Both linkedin and facebook are also important to my social and business networking. Initially I focused facebook on the social side and linkedin on the business side. Facebook now has a much broader role – and has an important business element to it. For now I have a range of contacts who may/may not use all of the solutions e.g. may be a member of facebook but not using twitter or linkedin, only use linkedin, etc.

All of these are being brought together. Many people are members of all of these (and many more) social networks. Initiatives such as SIOC are working to faciliate interoperability. Using tools such as Yoono with Firefox it has become very easy to update your presence/ status across mutiple environments. I cross post to facebook from twitter and using ‘company buzz’ on linkedin twitter references to me are published to linkedin.

So what’s twitter, at the end of the day? As one of my twitter friends (@rbconsulting) says, flippantly – ‘hard to belive it took them that long to get SMS working on the PC’. And that captures the essence of the microblogging limits. Twitter is that and more. Most importantly it’s a platform which makes it very easy to establish relationships with people all over the internet – for business, social, educational, recreational, whatever purpose. The value of the relationships flows from the level of interaction, quality of contributions, responsiveness.

Who’s using twitter?

Fascinating report re use of twitter.

While the uptake has been huge, it’s clear from this that the content is driven by/ dominated by a relatively small/ select group.  However as an early user of linkedin I would have had the same types of reservations – mainly seemed to be used by technology people and/or recruiters.  However I think this speaks to an awareness/ understandng of the power of the medium and the available functionality.  Now we are beginning to see Linkedin used more generally by people right across the business spectrum.   I would expect to see twitter adoption move the same way – notwithstanding that there will always be people/ professionals who target/ exploit a platform.

Thanks to for bringing this to my attention.

Twitter – part 2

Continuing a series of three articles re use of Twitter –  Why do I use twitter? What are the benefits of using twitter?

In the first article I referenced twitter as a community – perhaps more accurately as providing a platform to support an infinite number of communities. However these are communities without regulation – there is no sign up fee and there are no rules. There is no membership per se – you voluntarily contribute and voluntarily receive (by following). People are using the platform to share and exchange information – in a form of online collaboration.

As an entrepreneur and consultant working in the areas of KM, Collaboration, semantic web – twitter facilitates my networking effectively with people all around the world who have a say in, or an interest in, these areas. I will establish my credibility with this changing and evolving group based on my contributions e.g. through responding to general queries, commenting on developments, posting my own throughts and approaches. If my contributions are not worthwhile the market looks after that – I will simply not be followed.

The personal element of twitter is important. Search engines such as google and bing are well capable of returning a great deal of information in response to refined queries. Placing questions in specific fora often delivers answers to specific technical questions. However as a twitter user I am being prompted by people who are active in my areas of interest – to look at new material, to participate in debate, to respond to queries. The personalisation of the information is a key element in the attractiveness of twitter.

Working out of a base in Ireland twitter provides a very easy way for me to stay in touch with people working in the same area across the globe. For actual projects I use wikis and various collaboration tools. But for day to day staying in touch on relevant research topics twitter fits the bill.

Explaining twitter – part 1

As the twitter phenomenon has become mainstream I have found myself being asked on a regular basis to explain its value to business people who have not yet engaged. In three postings I hope to explain what it is, why I use and how I use it.

The basics of twitter

Twitter enables me to stay in touch with a group of people who, for the most part, share common interests with me. Effectively I participate in a community where people – including me – contribute information. The contributed information may or may not be of interest to me. However I have a number of options open to me to focus the information which is being brought to my attention.

I choose whom I follow in twitter. All of the information contributed by those whom I follow is brought to my attention. I can of course choose to ignore any or all of this information. However I have chosen to follow these individuals because I expect some or all of the information contributed by them to be of interest to me. Over a period of time I will cease to follow individuals whose contributions are generally of no interest to me.

I contribute to twitter. My expectation is that my contributions will be of value to some of my current or future followers. My contributions may range from: drawing attention to one of my own blog postings, drawing attention to someone else’s contribution (twitter, blog, web site, youtuve video, etc), responding to a request for information or asking a question – seeking support/ advice from one of my followers. In general my following will grow in proportion to the quality and frequency of my contributions.

I also use an application, tweetdeck, to assist me in reviewing tweats which my be of interest to me. Using tweetdeck I have organised the people I follow into groups e.g. those who contribute in relation to ‘links golf in Ireland’, those who contribute in relation to ‘semantic web’. This way I can focus my review on one specific subject matter of interest. I also use tweetdeck to run a number of continuous searches e.g. all tweets re ‘sharepoint for knowledge management’. This searches across all tweets. It may also cause me to add specific individuals to my follow list – because of the quality/ relevance of their contribution.

case study – social networking in travel industry

Contributed to a case study in the Innovation section (pp42 – 44, Experts’ Advice – P44) of  today’s Irish Times  – looking at how a ski adventure company could use social networking to market their business.

Text of my advice in the case study:

BlackRun: Online for off piste

This is a typical 2009 scenario in Irish business – someone from the Facebook generation (‘gen f’) bringing ideas about social networking to the owners. The concerns are classic: fad or not, geeky or not? Simone is right – at least half BackRun’s target audience is social network friendly. So it’s a ‘no brainer’ – need to get on board. The good news: with some upfront planning this can be achieved, without swamping the team.

BlackRun needs a basic web site, optimised for search – integrated with a blog (could use software such as WordPress). Ruth & Simone need to set targets for blog posting frequency e.g. 3 times per week. Team members should be profiled in the blog and encouraged to post. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts should be established – using auto notification of postings on the BlackRun blog. Worthwhile Twitter accounts should be identified and ‘followed’. BlackRun should aim to tweat daily – ask questions, answer queries, use hashtags. Facebook advertising should be considered.

There are great tools available to assist in managing online presence e.g. google webmaster, WordPress utilities, Tweetdeck, Nexus (Facebook). BlackRun needs to avail of these.

Finally, management should commit to measuring the effectivess of these initiatives on a weekly basis.

Barry O’Gorman consults in social networking, collaboration and semantic web.

twitter v. google for (re)search

Where would we be without google (search)?  It has opened up a world of information for all of us.   But what now as twitter gets a real foothold.  It feels a little like the difference between listening to an hourly nes bulletin and reading a daily newspaper.  Perhaps with Google I can find the more comprehensive and more considered answer.  But with twitter I feel like I ma getting the current answer – like a news alert.

Interesting times.  Particularly becasue the nature of search/ research is changing – as web 3.0/ semantic web emerges.  Google, as expected, has been quick to look to leverage more effective ways of searching/ indexing data.  But these techniques are also availabel to twitter.

Thoughtful piece on social networking and facebook

Interesting piece from Fiona McCann in today’s Irish Times, ”on facebook“.

Would agree fully that Facebook has changed (and devalued) meaning of friends.   Much of what Fiona says rings true with me – as someone who spends a fair amount of time blogging, twittering and updating facebook.  Her comments would also be well received by many of those who are actually my friends.

Many of us set out  to use FaceBook for the personal stuff, sites such as linkedin for the business networking, with twitter and our blogs potentially reaching across both.  However, even within this, there is inevitable overlap between personal and business.  And Facebook wants the business stuff anyway!

Many people also waster a great deal of time working to update their various sites/ presences – with material which is of very little interest and/ or benefit to themselves or the reader.  There was a an excellent piece recently by Dion Hinchcliffe 12 Rules For Bringing ‘Social’ To Your Business.

I think one of the other interesting areas in all of this is bringing the various islands of social networks together.  Much of this is being pioneered out of DERI in Galway.  Projects such as SIOC spring to mind.
Comments certainly make a lot of sense.  As of now do not have all the answers.