Time for some new company software?

I’ve been reading the following book to try to gain a better understanding of what makes a successful social company “The social organization: how to use social media to tap the collective genius of your customers and employees“by Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. McDonald has some useful ideas.

In it they state that social media is a consumerization phenomenon that started and grew from consumer behaviour on the internet and is now influencing organizations. p.108.   To me, this means that if an organisation doesn’t provide the software that they have become accustomed to using, that they will find other sources, usually free to meet their needs.   They’ll use software such as Google Drive to create, work collaboratively on and store documents.  They might install Skype or some other software for instant messaging or video phone calls.   This can create some issues with IT staff who aren’t usually happy to support free software or fix any problems that this software may cause (viruses, and malware spring to mind).  Issues with data security and data duplication can also arise.

When companies are looking for new business software, they should consider packages that allow for greater collaborative between employees to capitalise on some of the skills they may already have in using these social networking tools.  Products such as SharePoint from Microsoft allow for more collaborative work within an organisation – it allows sharing of content both internally and externally.  SharePoint has just been implemented into my workplace to replace an intranet that was beginning to become increasingly unmanageable and hard to search.  It has been customised to suit our needs and includes a blog, wiki and other social networking features.  I’ve yet to have a good look at the functionality but so far the availability of some social tools like discussion forums and the ability to access content from home is looking promising.  What’s your experience of collaborative software in the workplace?

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Collaborative tools

This might be a piece of paper – but really it could be any tool or resource that allows people to work together in a collaborative manner.   A wiki is a good example of this and in essence, a wiki is simply a website that allows you to add, modify or delete content usually in a collaborative manner.   Perhaps the best known example of a wiki is of course Wikipedia - the online collaborative encyclopedia. 

Whilst wearing my librarian hat, I dissuade students from ever citing this resource for a number of reasons – accuracy, validity and credibility being some of them, but am I being too hasty here?   I remember when Google Scholar first appeared in 2004 and the concerns that were expressed in some academic libraries about the effects that this would have on the usage of expensive licensed article databases by staff and students.   The lack of controlled vocabulary and recognition of Boolean logic seemed to be issues more for librarians than non librarians with many of our concerns proving to be unfounded as Google Scholar has evolved into another useful resource in our searching toolbox, especially for ‘gray’ literature.  

I use and teach both Google Scholar and licensed databases as credible sources for academic content but I don’t endorse Wikipedia.   I do however, use it myself for definitions, typically because it’s far quicker than going through the authentication process required  to appease any DRM requirements that subscription only online encyclopedias have.   My biggest reservation is that anyone can edit any content at any time, but I guess that’s the nature of a collaborative resource.   The Wikipedia community is certainly governed by policies that address both content and source, and there are guidelines for editing, oversight and management.   I wonder in years to come if Wikipedia will evolve further and become accepted in the academic community as Google Scholar has been.

Whilst Wikipedia is probably one of the biggest online collaborative projects, the business community has also successfully made use of wikis.   Wiki software lends itself nicely as a  platform where a business can create a knowledge base or a frequently asked questions (FAQ) database.   In my own workplace, a wiki was originally used as a place where conference report backs could be added and shared.   The success of this has seen it develop into a knowledge base to replace a printed Reference Inquiry Desk manual.  Initially, the intended audience was reference librarians but the collaborative efforts of colleagues to keep this resource up-to-date and its online availability has meant that it now serves as a knowledge base for other staff on service desks.   It’s certainly a step in the right direction and we may also have saved a tree!

Have you ever cited something you found on Wikipedia in your reference list for a university assignment and if so, what kind of comments did you get from your lecturer or marker?  Ever felt inspired enough to contribute to Wikipedia or make an edit?

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Like and go in the draw…

How many times have you clicked Like on a companies social media page such as Facebook just to go in the draw to win a prize?  Ever given it much thought when you click Like that you have probably just let everyone on your friends or contact list know where you have been online (hope you didn’t like anything dodgy!)  You’ll have inadvertently done some free advertising for the company just by clicking your mouse.  What a wonderful low-cost marketing tool for an organisation to use.  Why would a company pay to be listed in an expensive business directory or the yellow pages when they can create a company profile for free using any number of social media platforms for world-wide exposure?

There are positives for a company to create a profile using social media – namely a virtual 24/7 presence, free advertising, and the ability to have both asynchronous or synchronous communication with existing and potential clients.  The negatives for a company might be that they have their content hosted on another companies servers which may crash or be temporarily unavailable, employees may waste time on personal use of social media tools in work time, and it can be hard to monitor what an employee may post to a companies social media account.  It’s important that a business making use of these communication tools has some rules or procedures in place.  Someone needs to responsible for answering any comments and feedback.  There also needs to be some thought given to the content that is posted.  No company needs negative publicity through any inadvertent typing errors or misrepresentation - things go viral on the internet quicker than the common cold can spread.

As a consumer, I take notice of products and company reviews before I either purchase online or visit a store.  Reviews on products and customer service or lack of, are things that I read, so any company that uses social media tools as an additional way to reach new and existing customers needs to be mindful of their service ethos in a virtual environment. If I’m not impressed by their virtual presence, then I’m not likely to follow-up with a phone call or visit.

The Treat Me online business is a nice example of a company using the collaborative efforts of others to help market and sell its deals.  Create yourself an email alert and when notified of an irresistible deal, pay, share the deal with everyone you know and hope that enough others did the same so that you get the deal.  Simple but clever concept that must be working for them, over 51,000 people Like them on Facebook – priceless advertising.

Are you disappointed now if your favourite shop doesn’t have a virtual presence?  When did you last use the phone book to look up a company?

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Attitudes towards social media use at work

I was looking through some of my search results – you know for the literature review we need to be starting on soon, when an article from the Waikato Times caught my eye.  It mentioned a survey from the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) on attitudes towards the personal use of social media within the workplace.  I managed to track this survey report via a Google search.

When worlds collide: the rise of social media for professional and personal use / Kelly Services, 12 June 2012.

This short report makes for interesting reading and provides highlights from the survey of nearly 170,000 respondents from 30 countries.  The report considers the challenges and opportunities that businesses face through the growth of social media and the increasing personal use of social media during work hours by employees.  Respondents were grouped by generation – Gen Y (19-30 year olds), Gen X (31-48 year olds) and Baby Boomers (49-66 year olds).  Whilst I can say that I still fit into the Gen X category, I’m not one of the 30% who feel that it’s acceptable to indulge my personal use of social media in work time.  I occasionally use Yammer and LinkedIn as a way to network professionally but keep non work related use of social media to outside work hours.

This survey report also asked whether workplace productivity was impacted by personal use of social media and again it was the younger generation who didn’t feel it was such an issue.  In my own experience, many of my Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues have memories of working in offices before the World Wide Web when inter office memos, phone, fax and postal mail services ruled.  The introduction of email and internet in my workplace saw a plethora of in-house rules on appropriate usage of this new technology, along with upskillling - early to mid 1990s for all you Gen Y readers.  It’s interesting how times have changed and how widespread social media use is within business, one of the observations in the survey report reflects this “that for many, social media has become something of a necessary evil; it’s a central feature of the contemporary communications toolkit…” (Kelly Services, p.10).

Have a look at the survey results for New Zealand  I’d like to think I filled in this survey but honestly couldn’t remember if I participated or not, I get so many unsolicited invitations to fill out surveys via Survey Monkey or some other such tool that I may just have thought, yup, need a distraction from work – today’s your lucky day.

Anyway, what’s your thoughts on employees using company time to check their social media accounts?  Is it something that you do with a clear conscience or do you always have a quick scan to see if the boss is watching?

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Technorati blog claim

What a rigmarole to get this processed – due in part I guess to the rather vague instructions provided about how to claim your blog. 

EBUDCZS2AMMU

Has anyone else bothered to do this?

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Libraries and Social Media

As a librarian, I’m always interested in how Libraries approach and make use of social media.   The Library community on the whole tends to be really good at embracing and using emerging technology, much of which tends to tried and tested by staff before being implemented more widely in an effort to reach new and existing Library users.

One of the blogs that I follow is called The Original Social Media Anti-Expert written by DK.   He was a keynote speaker at the 2012 LIANZA Conference which I was fortunate to be able to attend.   Library conferences are always motivating and to be surrounded by an audience of approximately 500 Librarians, many of whom were blogging and tweeting during his presentation was awe inspiring.   It speaks volumes about how well Librarians like to communicate and share ideas, especially with colleagues who were unable to attend.   His presentation Libraries as Interfaces, Extending the Possibilities was very thought provoking and he imparted many suggestions that we as Librarians could implement when considering whether to jump on the social media band wagon if we hadn’t already done so.   Often it’s not because we don’t want to, sometimes it may not be sustainable or financially viable to implement every new idea just in case it’s the next best thing.

Within my own Library, we actively make use of some of the social media tools discussed by Cook under his heading communication.   Library staff use an informal blog to share social events, conference report backs and other professional development opportunities and activities.   This allows for discussion and debate with colleagues located in other branches whom we don’t see often.   Links to Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds are all prominently displayed in an effort to inform users and seek feedback on services.  These have served to raise our profile amongst our users and it’s awesome to see that the Library gets Liked on Facebook, shows that people are reading our posts.  Users can add community tags in the Library catalogue and some of the article databases allow sharing of results.  Check out the search I did earlier, you’ll probably be asked to authenticate first.  Useful database for when you begin your literature review, look for the Ask-A-Librarian link if you are needing some search help.  Some of the Library staff use skype and Adobe Connect software that allows for computer screen sharing whilst online.

What other ways have you noticed Libraries using social media tools?  do you interact with your library by using these tools or do you prefer phone or email?

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It’s about time…

that I got started on writing this blog posting as part of my assignment for the social media paper I’m taking at Massey University in New Zealand.   The hardest thing for a procrastinator is letting them pick their own topic to write about.   I have spent the best part of a week thinking about how I might approach this given that I’m not one for sharing my observations in an online environment.   Whilst I’m familiar with various forms of social media and use some of it in my role at work, I’m not a big user of it myself outside of work hours.   I have a Facebook account but never feel the need to post to it, however I do use the private message feature to stay in contact with friends.

This blog is a work in process and I hope to share some of my own thoughts on how social media is or could be used in the workplace as I work my way through the course material.

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