Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Social Networks Within The Enterprise

I’m quite sure we all know what social networking is… don’t we? You would be hard pressed to find someone who does not have a profile on myspace or facebook. I went out to ask what my friends thought of social networking and to discover what they primarily use it for. This is what they thought;

  • To Keep in touch with friends
  • View and share photos and experiences
  • Discover new music (myspace Music)
  • Show others what you’re interested in (facebook fan pages)
  • Organising events

So this is what the average Joe thinks of social networking, but when you look at these points you can see the huge potential from the enterprise side. As an artist using social networking to get your new music out there would have to be the fastest, easiest and cheapest venture as opposed to standard advertising. The potential of reaching an audience that is already connected is massive, it provides the ability to hand pick the target audience and draw them in. That is the marketing side of using social networks in the enterprise. I will cover more on this in a later post. What I would like to focus on today is using social networking internally within an enterprise.

BT is a global company that provides communications solutions to more than 170 countries around the world. They have introduced a social network to its company title ‘My BT’, It possesses all the typical aspects of a social network that you would need. A contacts section(or ‘friends’) to link with your colleges. A profile message board to post comments and a ‘my personal FAQ’ section that allows colleagues to post questions about projects and other work related issues. It has integrated social bookmarking to share the employees tagged links as well as a newsfeed that displays activity on the profile. What struck me as something that is different from your standard social network was the integration of a ‘Skills and interests’ section on the page. Here you list your skill or interest, then a search is undertaken for all other employees with that same interest/skill and a group page is created where they can collaborate.

I was fascinated with this new concept on social networking. When I thought about it, it relates very much to the Extensions attributes of the SLATES paradigm by suggesting relevant content, but it takes a step further by connecting likeminded people and allowing them to share. One of the members behind the team responsible for creating the social network at BT, Richard Dennison, explains that it gives the employees incentives by allowing them to seek help from likeminded professionals and also to build your online brand. I think this is a fantastic way for web 2.0 tools such as social networking to be used within the enterprise and BT have definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I think it has been executed very well and from what I can tell on Richard Dennison’s blog it has been adopted very well.

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Update on Enterprise 2.0 in my workplace

Back in my post titled So who is using it? I mentioned how I was starting to use a wiki in my workplace at Forest. Over the past few weeks I have trialed the wiki and some other Enterprise 2.0 tools, here are my first impressions on their adoption.

Wiki

I introduced a wiki as a reference where everyone in the workplace can contribute and get information when needed. This has been a success so far especially since the office is only small (usually 3 people at a time). The wiki has developed into more than what I originally intended. When I started the wiki I made some pages for ‘Repair Guides’, ‘Procedures’ and ‘Product information’. These three pages have been utilised well, having staff members contribute and use the wiki as the first place to look when seeking information. What I didn’t expect and what really shows the power of collaborative tools in the workplace was the creation of new pages, such as a Clients page and a Things to Do page. After only a few weeks it looks like the wiki is growing well and will prove to be an invaluable tool within Forest.

Micro-Blogging

I suggested to my colleagues that we should try to use twitter as a quick and easy communication tools within our workplace, 50% of us already had a twitter account and were familiar with the idea and all of us had iPhones so the potential was definitely there. We tried to use it as a reminder and notification system, for example; ‘@Jamiecturner you have an appointment at 12:00 with xxx at yyy street’. The problem with this was that it was often followed up by a call to get more information. Also when sending message within the office it seems pointless to send a tweet when we could walk 20m and the person face to face. My final thoughts on micro blogging in our small business : not suited.

So from the two Enterprise 2.0 mediums I have tried so far, one has proved a great success. I was thinking of using mash-ups next but am unsure of how it can specifically benefit us. Any suggestions are welcome, I have been looking at Yahoo Pipes so far and it looks like it has a lot of potential. What other Enterprise 2.0 methods can you suggest we try next?

~Jamie

Why You Should Use Producteev

Throughout my blogging I have found many web 2.0 tools being used used in the enterprise and even had a go at using some such a yammer, basecamp etc. Yesterday I stumbled across what i believe to be the best one so far, Producteev. It is an all in one collaborative project management tool with a very nice ‘web 2.0’ look and feel. It’s very user friendly with drag and drop features and very intuitive navigation.

So you create a task that appears as a rounded box in which to can add “To-do’s” inside the task. Within each of these you can set the description of the project or task, and also note the progress that has been made, status deadline and more. Also your colleagues can comment on the task to update progress or ask questions to other member of the team participating in the task.

Add tasks and view current projects in the dashboard

Add tasks and view current projects in the dashboard

All of these tasks are then linked in with the “Time line” widget which integrates with your tasks panel. It has three views, the calendar view(pictured below) which really helped me to organise due dates for my current projects, you can also which to daily or weekly view which can show specific dealines and time and teh progress you have made towards them. I used the daily view at work to schedule my appointments and make sure I had planned the repairs so I didnt run out of time, and it worked really well.

Schedule tasks and review dealines in the timeline screen

Schedule tasks and review dealines in the timeline screen

The third part of producteev I thought was great was the live feed section. This shows you all the status updates of colleagues on tasks that have been set and also incorporates a micro-blogging concept as well. On top of this the notion of collaboration is reinforced by the option to collaborate and share on all tasks, feeds, posts etc. Integration with twitter and facebook also encourage sharing out public tasks to members of the community to let them know how your progressing on projects.

View status updates and also update your status in with the twitter like micro-blogging feature

View status updates and also update your status in with the twitter like micro-blogging feature

Ontop of all the features I have covered there are still more, such as file upload and sharing, the ability to set public and private tasks, smart filter tasks and more. In my hour or so playing around with this I can only say it was a pleasant experience, it was a little buggy at times but this is only a very new product and can only improve with time. I’ve set up a student based account which allows up to 40 members in a team so if you would like to be invited let me know and we can test it out. There is only a certain amount of testing that can be done by myself. I can highly recommend Producteev as one of the better enterprise 2.0 tools i have experienced so far, with its multiple functions, integration with so many services and ease of use its definitely something to think about in your business or education group.

~Jamie

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