Friday, June 18, 2010

Phone, E-mail, Enterprise2.0 Tools

I heard so many managers or even staff asking "Why should we let our staff waste time using social computing tools (or Enterprise2.0 tools)?" I wonder how would I respond to this question. Here is my attempt and I like to hear your thoughts. (Note: My inspiration comes from David Snowden's keynote at KMUK2010 and Euan Semple's blog.)

Social computing/Enterprise2.0 tools allow staff to be connected in new ways which are not possible in the past. Think about it, before we have phones, we need messager boys (or pigeons) passing on messages; before we have e-mails, we send paper memos around the office and use "real" carbon paper to produce duplicate copies; before we have social computing tools, we find out who's doing what out there through grapevine (if you do not work directly on that project/product) or by subscribing to multiple email alerts and suffering from email overload.

The new tools (phones, emails, social computing tools) - at different historical period - open up new ways of communication which are not possible in the past. They are just tools. (You can always waste time using all kind of tools.) How people could use these tools to increase work effectiveness and productivity is perhaps a more meaningful question.

I am sure that when phones and emails were introduced to the work setting, these questions have been asked:

1. How is my staff going to use the phone at work? Will they waste time talking to friends and doing personal stuff? Will they use the phone inappropriately?

2. How is my staff going to use E-mail at work? Will they send email only to the appropriate colleagues/clients? Will they use work email for personal purpose?

And not surprisingly, we are asking these questions today:

3. How is my staff going to use social computing tools at work? Will they waste their time chatting online/microblogging? Will they forget about work? Will they use them inappropriately?

They may or they may not waste their time. It depends on how work gets done current in your organization, and how work could be done in new/different ways as you embrace these tools.

Perhaps when someone asks "Why should we let our staff waste time using social computing tools (or Enterprise2.0 tools)?" I should say "They are just new tools - like phone or email when they first get introduced" and then ask "Do you see opportunities to create more value, move ahead of competitors and serve your customers better by allowing staff to more easily discover/scan what other talented colleagues in my company are doing, and allow new connections to emerge?"

10 comments:

Bonnie Cheuk said...

I came across this great video after writing this blog: http://webtechman.com/blog/2010/06/16/hardcore-enterprise-2-0-people-only-please/

John Seely Brown talk about "How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion"

Frank Leistner said...

Bonnie, usually I put it like that: Just because there is a lot of stupid stuff being done with Social Media tools, it doesn't mean that everything done with it is stupid. People often focus on cases that demonstrate negative effects. If we would have let spam be the defining element of Email, we would have died early, and it served us pretty good for a while.

Frank Leistner said...

Oops, small typo, of course I meant, "we would have had Email die early" :-)

Bonnie Cheuk said...

Good point, Frank. Thanks for sharing. Email has its good and bad. It has allowed us to do things we can never do using snail mail. As many-to-many collaboration becomes important, the weakness of email becomes more apparent. Social computing will not replace email, it will fill in the big gap.

jktlibrary said...

I use social media to follow other people's efforts in the library/archives field worldwide. It is unlikely I would hear about it otherwise and it connects me to a wider community outside my workplace.

Bonnie Cheuk said...

Thanks for sharing an example from the library/archive field. I personally benefit from learning about what others (outside my workplace and my geographical location) are doing/researching by reading their blog posts and tweets.

建月 said...

生活很多細節都要小心點,請多保重 .................................................................

婷珊 said...

Pen and ink is wits plough.................................................................

mikebrittan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikebrittan said...

Thanks Bonnie - just the simple thought provoking way to challenge negative perceptions I'd been looking for..