Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ban Twitter, buy Chatter

Since every company wishes they could ban Facebook and Twitter in work time, why would a want to release a social networking app called 'Chatter', and who in the world would want to pay for it?

There are elements of the time-wasting social networking tools that are incredibly valuable to large organizations, or even smaller organizations that are distributed or where workers are on the road a lot. Keeping people in touch with one another is just one element. The type of features that businesses could leverage, if they could get their employees to adopt them for professional use are:
  • A LinkedIn style location for managing your professional profile, such as skills, education, and areas of company or product expertise - especially valuable in organizations where you don't always know who will be the expert in something specific you need for a project
  • Twitter homepage or Facebook wall for advertising your current status, broadcasting cries for help, and keeping in touch quickly with those people in the other offices that you know well but rarely see
  • Instant Messaging, like Google Talk, providing 'presence', so you know who's available and when, and the ability to contact them rapidly when they are there
  • Wikis, like the famous Wikipedia, allowing rapid online documentation libraries to be built up by anyone - perfect for any employee, project or product related documentation that changes frequently
  • Blogs, like this, providing a form of easy internal communications for employee information and updates, and the associated RSS feed reader
  • Groups or communities of interest (e.g. Google Groups), that allow people with related interests to share their ideas and experience with others - especially valuable in development and innovation based organizations
  • Online collaboration - like WebEx, or that highly hyped Google Wave, for seeing what is going on in somebody else's world and interact with it there and then
Most of these types of technology are available for use free of charge, inside or outside the firewall. In my opinion, the one thing that nobody has done well at this point is to pull them all together into a single, clean, secure, easy to use, and highly functional product that the CIO is willing to pay for.

Maybe, if Salesforce gets it right, they will be the first. What they will also need to get right is the ability to integrate this new stuff directly into the other applications that people use for business purposes, day in, day out. And embed collaboration into structured processes, and vice versa. Without that, collaborative, social networking tools remain an ad-hoc, "nice idea" for killing bored moments at work.

A post from the Improving It blog

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