Thursday, 17 September 2009

Social software

As this is a Portals, Content and Collaboration conference, you would expect a lot of sessions on social software, and the following is a summary of the main points from about 3 of the sessions I’ve been to.

There’s definitely a move towards cloud computing and software as a service. Prediction is that 35% of business email seats will be delivered in this way by 2012. This will be different in different sectors – so for example the Education sector is moving very fast in this area. Cloud computing provides new options for functionality and features with little investment.

Services which start off as nice to have, quickly become mission critical as they become used to hold and store corporate data. They can become out of control, replicating the situation we used to have (or still have) on our fileservers. Governance needs to be put in place – but this has to be done by the end users, not the IT department. I think we’re seeing that happen to our own collaboration service uSpace, and it’s only been live a few weeks.

Blocking of social media sites to employees is still a big thing – 20% of organisations block access. There was a lot of discussion about putting policies in place around such access. I disagree! What you need are general policies that can be applied to any media. A policy on bringing the institution into disrepute for example can cover anything from a posting on Facebook to a letter in a newspaper.

Employees use on average 14 different applications to communicate and collaborate with each other. What they need is guidelines on what channels are best to use. Training should not be about what buttons to push, but what applications are best for which purpose. Main reason for failure of implementations of collaborative or social software suites are people and cultural issues. We can't just push out services and expect people to use them.

IT managers are often not aware what people are using - a recent survey showed that actual usage of social and collaborative software was 3 times what the IT department thought it was

A topic I found slightly scary was social network analysis. Using tools (mainly survey based, but there are other ways of doing it), to map people’s connections. From these maps you can see how many connections people have (or don’t have) and therefore who is critical to the business, and who might not be. Although some of the results which were presented were very interesting, especially the real life cases studies, some of the methods employed (analysing phone calls and emails for example) were a little Big Brother like!

2 comments:

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