Steven Westwell’s blog

My outlook on a few things of interest to me, and hopefully you.

Isnt it odd…

Posted by Steven Westwell on March 26, 2008

…how some people check facebook more than email these days.

It’s a good thing from my professional point of view, but this is quickly becoming a blog post rather than the short facebook message I was about to send a friend.

More and more I find myself communicating with friends via facebook / social networking platform of choice or by reading RSS feeds from their blogs, or by a combination of both: http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=23.

From a collaboration point of view, the indirect dissemination of information is fantastic, typically emails are only sent to those the sender thinks wants to see it, however with well constructed social networking platforms the readers can also choose to be told about such things happening in their relevant circles of interest. The obvious benefit of this is that the content is also readily available on a website rather than having to ask someone to forward an email.

Socially this change has been happening for some time, I rarely check my personal emails as most of the time I am contacted through IM or some social networking site that I check via RSS.

How soon is this to being reality for businesses? Microsoft being one of the biggest players in the workspace / productivity arena are making some distinct paths into this approach, SharePoint as a platform is extremely flexible, provides RSS feeds and readers by default and places much more control in the hands of users rather than that of the webmasters, allowing much more relevant content to be disseminated as described above.  Outlook 2007 now has an RSS reader built in, and various other interesting ways to view sharepoint content. 

Note: I am trying really hard at this point not to list out all the extremely cool functionality of both these product sets.

I know there are other players out there, but again, I do not want to go into too much depth and this point and wish to use MS as an example that almost everyone out there has heard of, and most have used MS Office in some shape or form.

So as we now enter the era of Windows Vista (with the release of SP1) and Office 2007 (well, why not if you are upgrading the OS?) will we see more and more take up of alternative communication methods? Probably, but this will not mean the end of email.

Growth of IM in the business is almost a certainty, as happened in the homes of many some time ago. 

Adoption of social platform like intranets, most probably, as we can see happening in peoples homes right now with blogs like these and the massive amounts of social networking users on facebook, myspace, live spaces, bebo, etc…

Email will more than likely than not stay on the table, and the previously mentioned alternatives should certainly not be viewed as replacements, they are complimentary products that provide more options that may often be better suited to the type of communication required for a given purpose than that of a typical email.

One of my biggest bugbears is the emailing of large documents and especially spreadsheets around a project team to “collaborate”, when web based workspaces are available that allow concurrent editing and dynamic viewing.

Again to use the Microsoft example, Excel spreadsheets -> SharePoint Lists.

There are some key benefits to converting excel spreadsheets to a sharepoint list when collecting information from several people, the lists can still be exported to excel for more advanced reporting options, but within sharepoint the concurrent editing, multiple views, event triggers and workflow type behaviour (and even RSS feeds of changes!) add a huge amount of functionality, especially when these types of documents are related to ongoing business processes.

I could even be monitoring all of this from outlook 2007 right alongside my email.

Once (and if) a final set of data has been created, I might IM the large file to a manager, or Email the file to a customer if I need a formal record and proof that it has been sent / received, and also allows for interoperability should they not be using IM or collaborative workspaces.

The signs are all positive that this will happen, and soon we will find those who have grown up with such technologies will easily and readily adopt them in a professional capacity, and greatly enhance their productivity.

Personally, I find this an exciting prospect and I begin to wonder what is next? what new toy will the next generation grow up with that will some day end up in the workplace? what technologies will make some everyday tasks practically dissapear and allow us to spend even more time delving into the important value add activities that hopefully offer some level of personal gratification, reduced learning curves due to wealth and structure of knowledge available.  According to Time Management courses I attended in the past, this could potentially offer reduced stress, better enjoyment of work and ongoing job satisfaction.

I’m sold 🙂

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2 Responses to “Isnt it odd…”

  1. Rss said

    🙂

    Good read! Thank you!

  2. […] post was originally going to be a response to my friend Stevens post on the same topic “Isn’t it odd..” (Steven Westwell on social networking) so I’d read that first in case I’ve missed something in the overwrite to a post […]

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