Leadership

Facebook mentality coming to business apps

It looks like manufacturers of business apps are taking cues from social engineering sites for a way to unite geographically disparate workforces. As usual, there is the distinct chance that they'll take it too far.

I've been able to ignore Facebook and social engineering sites of that ilk for the most part. I know they're out there, and more power to the folks who use them, but they're just not for me. I just don't get it.

So you can imagine my puzzlement when I came across a story today in The Washington Post by Brian Bergstein about how manufacturers of business software are looking to incorporate into their products the social "goodness" that make these sites (and video games) so popular. Or, as the article quotes Reuben Steiger, CEO of Millions of Us, a virtual-world creator, "We can make work suck less."

I can agree with the article's assertion that:

As big companies parcel Information Age work to people in widely dispersed locations, it's getting harder for colleagues to develop the camaraderie that comes from being in the same place. Beyond making work less fun, feeling disconnected from comrades might be a drag on productivity.

And I can even applaud the efforts of some companies who are easing into the goal of employee connections a little more soberly and realistically. IBM, for example, is developing an online portal to help their employees -- who are located everywhere from the United States to Beijing -- get to know each other. Employees can post pictures, video, and one-sentence updates about each other.

Intel has tested a "visual business card" system where employees can list their location, job title, and brief biographies. That's cool, but the system lost my vote when, as the article says, users could post "things they like." Do I really need to know that?

But here's where I draw the line (and where research is actually being done):

  • Virtual worlds for certain events, allowing people to maneuver graphical representations of themselves, known as "avatars," through online trade shows and product demos.
  • Online versions of company outings like golf scrambles
  • Meetings that use images from Web cameras to capture nonverbal gestures and facial expressions of the attendees. (Hello! You're going to take away the last great benefit of an online meeting -- the ability to roll your eyes and make gagging gestures in complete anonymity?!)

I just really want to know one thing: Why?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

84 comments
it
it

This is so lame. This idea is just suits trying to be 'cool' Reminds me of my dad dancing at a party. Pathetic. Get a life. Don't be a ponce.

chas_2
chas_2

If businesses thought that lighting incense could bring in profits 100 times over, there would be incense stands inside office buildings every three yards. I'm with you on your statement that Big Business has the potential to take this too far. Any kind of social networking (not "engineering"; that's a whole 'nuther ball game, there) that folks do is completely voluntary and something they're WILLING to do on their own time. When business makes anything mandatory, even the most pleasant activities can become convoluted and artificial. For example, would a 28 year-old liberal really feel comfortable about sharing his/her personal business with a 53 year-old conservative on a company-run business site? (I am obviously making some tacit assumptions with this scenario, of course.) How about if both of them are overseen by an incompetent manager that expects them to work together effectively? The Internet era has made lots of things possible, but if Big Business thinks it's going to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy, it's going to miss the point. Company cultures - and hiring to those cultures - produce the warm fuzzies, not technology. Ask anyone that works at Google.

Ergo we surrender.
Ergo we surrender.

I'm with you on the motives behind any 'new' concept a big company might employ to increase profits. Facebook et al. There appears to be a divide in this discussion which is more about a worker's perception of what they would like their 'perfect' world view rather than the whether such technologies make any difference to the profit or success in the corporate arena. 'Google' workplace has been quoted, and has anybody stopped to think how 'Facebook' stands to profit from your 'existence' there? Why do you think Microsoft purchased a 1.6% stake in Facebook? BillG is a philanthropist, but you can bet that's not why M$ wants a piece of the action.

nathan
nathan

Take this as no offense, but I don't believe you truly understand how 'online' today's generation is.... in fact, most of those very lives are lived online. Here, you, and to a good degree even me, come from a time and place when, for example, college was a place where in the courtyards, all of our friends met up and hung out, smoked cigarettes, so on and so forth. Been to a college lately? I have. In fact, I recently attended a state college to finish up a long-awaited degree (in sociology, of all things), and you know what? No one's meeting in groups in the courtyards. They're lucky to be able to smoke as a group inside of 3'x6' cubicles, ostracized in the outcast corner of these courtyards.... however, what you will see is almost every student, even if with other students, walking by on cell phones, or in the computer labs poking away at myspace or facebook. You can try to change it if you want, but I think it's a pretty mute point. It's a different generation, they live a different way, and these are the people in the work industry today. Deal with it or don't, your outcries, I feel, are falling on deaf ears...

Murphy's_Brother
Murphy's_Brother

I was 25 before I sat down in front of my first PC. Now I spend at least 2/3 of my waking hours in front of a computer, reading and sending email from my phone, and text messaging back and forth with my kids, who are the ones you are talking about in the workforce today. They still need and want real face-to-face contact with people. There is a difference between introducing good business tools and bringing something in because "they're going to demand it anyway."

seanferd
seanferd

arising therefrom. Too many people come to depend on "online" communications in lieu of face-to-face contact, and loose the ability to properly interact socially, business setting or no. I'm not saying that there aren't positive things to be had from this type of communication, but overdoing it can lead to all sorts of problems that the next few generations will have to deal with.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

Going Postal Because after the rampage, everyone would just log back in again :D Hmm, could one be arrested for killing off virtual co-workers???

seanferd
seanferd

If he doesn't already have one.

burgertime
burgertime

This is just innovation at it's finest: Some ideas are truly disturbing. I can understand the efficiency behind virtual conventions and such, but something of the human touch--which in the long-run is really essential--is lost. What is truly alarming to think about is that we are already becoming cyborgs unnecessarily (that is to say, that for some a little cyborgism might make some sense: eye implants or replacement limbs, implants that can regulate some levels of hormonal imbalance when the natural mechanism of control has gone bad, etc.). What scares me is when we finally have the technology to read people's minds. Or if we go completely cyborg and start catching electronic viruses.

wadehone
wadehone

so, the Head Blogs Editor of Techrepublic has to end her piece asking 'why' Virtual worlds for certain events, allowing people to maneuver graphical representations of themselves, known as ???avatars,??? through online trade shows and product demos are a good idea? hah, that just sort of makes me chuckle, as I read the article, I imagined a journalist, banging away at his mechanical typewriter as he bemoaned the day that his co-workers all began to use those new fangled 'computer-ma-hickys' Imagine my surprise when I found out that the writer was an editor for Techrepublic! holy freaking cow, you'd think that being around techrepublic she could have at least 'imagined' a few people that might like some of the features that she looked down her nose at in the article. Oh well - but honestly, doesn't it seem odd, for a Techrepublic editor to be on the side of the status quo instead of the advancement of technology? sure she has valid arguments, it's just that I thought I'd see them from some one working at the new yourk times, not Techrepublic. just plain weird. Here is a challenge for you Toni Bowers, Head Blogs Editor for Techrepublic: Write a Blog about 'why' Virtual worlds for certain events, allowing people to maneuver graphical representations of themselves, known as ???avatars,??? through online trade shows and product demos are a good idea? I'm sure if you put your mind to it you might come up with a few good ideas... if not, just ask pretty much anyone that you work with, or anyone that reads these / posts on these blogs. Wade Hone -out.

seanferd
seanferd

and they tend to be bunk. At least the avatar will look cool while getting scammed.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Be sure to include TCO and ROI. Oh and some metrics as to if sales really increase if virtual worlds are used.

Murphy's_Brother
Murphy's_Brother

it benefits the business you're using it in. For example, I use remote desktop so I can do various maintenance chores from home over the weekend. Our sales staff has remote desktop so they can go home early and say they're working. One size does not fit all.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Instead of getting snotty and expecting someone else to express your point of view, why not do so yourself? You suggest Toni ask someone about good uses of these technologies. I'm asking you. I agree that trade show and demos are good ideas, but those are only a small part of what businesses do and are a logical extension of existing CRM tools. Are there any practical uses for electronic social tools in other day-to-day business activities? You've expressed an opinion; please back it up yourself instead of denigrating others for failing to support your point.

wadehone
wadehone

My comment isn't about arguing the side that is 'for' practical uses for electronic social tools in day-to-day business activities, it is to point out that the Head Blogs Editor, (a position of leadership of an electronic social tool used in day-to-day business activities I might add,) has to end her piece asking 'why' Virtual worlds for certain events, are a good idea? It is for the fact that she can't come up with any arguments her self, on the 'pro' side that I suggest that she seek help from a co worker. Basically I'm just attempting to point out the irony of someone who's professional position is based on the advancement of electronic social networks, (the blogosphere,) taking the very Luddite position of arguing against a cutting edge technology that hasn't fully been fleshed out yet. I just saw some irony there, and wanted to bring it to light. you may disagree, but honestly my point wasn't to argue the side of right, but to point out that the very author of the article by merit of her position alone, should be able to come up with arguments in favor of the things she was attacking. Thanks, Wade -out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I was ... making contacts - read networking just like people do in real life on a golf course,..." This may be part of why I'm not seeing the value of this. I've never been able to 'network'. I can be friendly and hold up my end of a conversation, but I don't know how to establish business relations. I'm also very reluctant to contact someone for assistance based on a single meeting in a casual environment. That's probably because I hate being contacted by someone I met only once in a casual environment. I don't mind doing favors for long-time friends, but I feel like I'm being used when contacted by someone I barely know. Hence, I hate to contact others I barely know and making them feel like I do when called under those circumstances. (Maybe this is why I'm in IT and didn't major in sociology.) I tried to look at 3dbuzz, but it requires an update to my Flash player. That requires closing Firefox, and I didn't want to lose this reply. I'm not interested in keeping score or bad-mouthing the technology. I honestly have no idea what benefits this tech would have in a business environment. I can see it for HR, Sales, or others where there's a traditional emphasis on forming personal relations or seeking out new contacts. As I noted in my post above, I've been reluctant to test any of the better-known 'social' sites because I don't want to disclose any personal information. Maybe my lack of social skills is keeping from both being interested in such participation and from seeing practical business applications.

wadehone
wadehone

How dare you try to lift this post above my petty name calling and low brow antics! ;-P Ok, ok, you win, if you insist, I will attempt to climb up to your level and treat this subject with some respect and dignity. heh. (sarcasm aside, kudos to you for keeping it professional and the opposite to me for starting the thread with such a flammable title anyway - your right, I should have been more on topic if I disagreed instead of flaming Toni's professional role - can I take one more little jab though then call it quits on that topic? read the intro sentence... she's been avoiding the new tech of the social websites... happy to trudge along with blogs being her only inlet to the 'high tech world of the tubes of those darned intranets...'

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...the very author of the article by merit of her position alone, should be able to come up with arguments in favor of the things she was attacking." Maybe there aren't any, especially if a professional tech writer can't find any. I'm still waiting on someone to post some suggested workplace uses for these tools, preferably intranet based on a closed network. Maybe I've missed them; I'd be happy to reread any posts you suggest.

StaleOnion
StaleOnion

As a proof that Toni is alittle paranoid note the constant use of the phrase 'social engineering'. Maybe this is my ignorance of the phrase. Isn't 'social engineering' used for when you are conned out of personal information? How is Facebook and WoW and the like conning people? They are not 'social engineering' they are 'social networking'. Of course one of the important traits of a good social engineer is the observance of the mark's behavior for use in the con. I am on to an important bit of information about you MS Bowers... you are paranoid of being 'socially engineered', by yourself. Wade has it right. You have to love the irony.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

That would be a social engineering attack. The key being the word 'attack'. Social Engineering is like any other engineering only the parts are people, behavior, interactions and results.

david.daugherty
david.daugherty

While the whole social engineering thing is definitely something to roll your eyes at, what's going on behind the scenes here that we need to stand up and take note of is SaaS. And Web 2.0 of course. Believe it or not my company, which has offices all over the world, encourages us to use Facebook as a way of connecting similar to IBM. On Friday's they actually would like us spending an hour or two updating our Facebook profile :-/ The next thing this whole Software As A Service thing appears to be slowly taking over how software is done. The latest release of one of my companies products is now our 2nd SaaS enabled piece of software. Facebook, like Salesforce.com (no, that's not my company), has sort of become the SaaS Gold Standard.

seaward
seaward

The popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites is about connectedness that was not possible when the boomers were growing up and entering the work force. The simple fact was that you could only keep connected to a few people because it was just too much trouble to keep track of people's whereabouts unless you had a strong connection to them. When boomers moved from High School to College, most HS friend connections were eventually lost. When they moved from Undergraduate to graduate school, again most connections were lost. The process was repeated each time they changed jobs or relationships. Only the most strong friendships survived the transitions. The kids growing up with email, IM and Facebook today take for granted that the connections to even casual friends can and will stay linked as people move through their own environmental changes. Facebook is a logical extension of that sense of continuous connectedness even if the emotional connections are very thin, the technology allows the links to stay alive for use some time in the future. This casual connectedness creates an entire network for each person that has tremendous implications in the future of decision making as someone can reach out to this network for advise from people they 'know' for help in all sorts of purchasing decisions. (Why take the word of an anonymous survey about a vacation spot when you can query 150 people who you know have tastes and history similar to yours?) The truth of the matter is that these links transcend the entity (The school, college, company, club)that helped create them. The trick is to have companies become part of this connectedness without compromising their brand or corrupting the purity of the connections between people.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"When boomers moved from High School to College, most HS friend connections were eventually lost. When they moved from Undergraduate to graduate school, again most connections were lost. The process was repeated each time they changed jobs or relationships." I know it may come as a shock, but the telephone has existed for over 100 years. Ben Franklin established the U.S. postal system almost 250 years ago; people were sending letters by private means long before then. People who want to maintain relations had the tools to do so long before Al Gore established the Internet. Now, excuse me please, I have to mail my next chess move to my pen pal and send some smoke signals. Later I'll float a stone tablet to the people on the other side of the ocean.

seaward
seaward

If you are 25 years out of college, how many of those friends are you still in contact with? Could you find them if you wanted to? Facebook and social networks do the work for you in maintaining those links. The Gen X and Y ers of today expect those links to be maintained for them and assume that those links will be available. That is the big difference. Telephones, Snail Mail, letters in bottles are all push communications requiring an effort by the originator. Social networking allows one to be the recipient of all these links without having to necessarily respond as the messages/content is distributed to you by a server whenever you log in.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't form long lasting relations easily. I attended two high schools (I was a military brat) and four colleges (I didn't learn basic college-level study skills until my late 30's). I didn't finish my degree until around age 40 taking night classes. I've have no interest in contacting any one from either college or high school, and have made no efforts to do so. I've made no attempt to maintain relations with any of my National Guard friends since I retired in '02, and I knew many of them for over 20 years. I'm just hard wired for "out of sight, out of mind", I guess. "Telephones, Snail Mail, letters in bottles are all push communications requiring an effort by the originator." Yeah, but aren't your friends supposed to be worth it? The original topic was about integrating these social tools in the workplace. I still haven't seen any examples. Maintaining links to college buddies doesn't enhance corporate productivity.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

One of the prior posts claimed that a job is not about money but for creating values to enrich ... our life. Another responded that is is not so. From what I have seen it is less about money for the younger people. In the "old days" you worked for money and were thankful that the company gave you a job. You felt compelled to prove to the company that you deserved to continue to work there. Now it seems like the employee feels entitled to a job, and that the company has to continually prove that they are worthy of you. Devotion to the company is just not there, at least from what I have seen in the "younger" crowd. I think in part the larger companies are realizing this and the "socialization" of the work place is yet another attempt to embrace/placate the younger crowd into working there or thinking their workplace is "cool" (thinking something is cool generates fanaticism, and we all know how powerful that can be). Of course I suppose they may also think if they can make the workplace close enough to the social/virtual world then maybe the employee wont mind working 24/7 ;p

chas_2
chas_2

I agree. There has been a shift in the attitude of workers which I would say roughly splits around the 80's, when things began to change - this was the era of buyouts and mergers, when Big Business basically declared everyone expendable. Naturally, that generation and others since have learned to look at Big Business with suspicion about their motives. And there was always a rejection of the previous generation's motives since the 60's - in everything from organized religion to the educational sphere. The advent of entertainment technology has only accelerated that, since such individuals can now reach each other virtually any time of the day or night - not something the oldsters would be interested in.

billcooey
billcooey

I agree with your thought to a degree. Existing corporate managment may think that an effect of this shift is to placate the younger generation, but those dinosaurs are already doomed to extinction. Those "old days" you refer to were not all that great. I was always glad to be working, but if there was not any respect for my ideas, I went elsewhere until I found a company that did respect my work. And I did not feel I had to prove anything to remain employed as my work spoke for itself. People dont want to just go to work - they want to be fully engaged and contributing to the good of the group they are in. Social Networking, social bookmarking, etc. will be a huge part of facilitating this concept. bc

bcreeve
bcreeve

This paradigm and mindset is popular with the "younger" generation only because members of that generation are the ones who grew up on computers, have free time to spend on social network sites, etc. In no way should this imply that these technologies or methodologies should only apply to that generation, or that it is "guilty" of having these desires or needs in a business app. Sites like Facebook network millions of people. Isn't that what we want in business? Link parties with compatible interests? Better qualify leads? It can also unite employees too? Who wouldn't want these benefits in a business environment? People who brush these core ideas off have to be insane! Pull teen fluff off the top of Facebook, take what is left (the contextual interface, the networking capabilities, and web technologies) with your existing CRM and you can't go wrong.

wadehone
wadehone

(edited for horible spelling.) I was going to mention but was kinda running out of time, that you?d be able to find existing tools to do just about every single thing that a social network can do. I think what makes it a social network, is the combination of such tools in one (hopefully) easy to navigate, online tool. though networking isn't a high priority on your list of important things to do with people at work, (taking that from your other response in this thread,) it is important to many people, and the um... lets call them 'business collaboration tools' in stead of 'social networks' to alleviate 'social' from the equation, do help with that. The tool for developing standard practices would be fun to work on really, but - alas, I have to sell asphalt maintenance products how for a couple of years... I'm building up the family business, and a nest egg to do something back in the tech field in a few years again. So I'm going to pass (for now,) on elaborating much on that. However, in your case, if you ARE indeed interested, I'd suggest thinking of how it would work with the tools that you already have. (forums and E-mails) a category to submit ideas, a category for existing standards and practices, a system of identifying said practices, a category for the deciding managers to revise suggested improvements and an SLA on approvals or denials of such... Once you have it in the standard tools, it's easy to move to a 'business collaboration tool' - and once again we go back to the fact that there it's not that social networks have 'original tools' it's that the tools are combined, and that accessible to lots of people via the 'business collaboration tools'. As for the Virtual life, TR is a great start, and more of a virtual life, than I think your giving it credit for. For example, just from our little bit of conversation, I can tell that your the kind of person that on many things you and I would share common interests on. I came off a tad aggressive, but that is the nature of anoniminity on human nature in the internet world. I know that you hate to 'make up' information but I'm going to admit to you that on most of the sites that I sign up on, I have an email address of junk@level20.com (which is real, but I only check it to dig the pass word out of an e-mail or click their mandatory 'click this link to complete the sign up' process. after that, any e-mails I get from the site, can join all the rest of the spam in there and swim around happily.) My phone # if it's required, (and I hate it when they do that...) is 111.111.1111 (not really mine.) And I even have a fake address in Washington for times that an actual address is required. I don't have that info. To deceive 'people' once I get on the site, I post my home page of http://www.wadehone.com freely and that has more of my personal information than you can shake a stick at on it. but for the info hungry web sites, that most often sell that info off to the highest bidder... they get the fake stuff, and I don't feel one whit bad about doing it either. I feel that creating and using an alias really is worth the benefits of participating on the social network scene. But, unfortunately I WILL have to agree with you... MySpace and Facebook more than likely will NOT win you over... but by looking at them, with the IT knowledge that you DO have, I bet it wouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to come up with something that WOULD work for your company. And with that, I bid you farewell. Wade Hone -out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Biographies are an excellent point, but there are other tools besides "social" ones that will manage this. Some help desk applications will track and search technician skills. Maybe I'm not seeing your point about the retail team. What you describe doesn't sound any different from the capabilities of any group calendar package, including Notes or Exchange / Outlook. I do wish you'd provided more information on your original scenario of developing standard practices. I'm clueless as to how that would work. Maybe it's the word 'social' that's throwing me off. It looks like you're describing the capabilities of many intranet portals and collaboration tools (MS Sharepoint leaps to mind). "...it helps in the virtual lives that we are all developing as well." TR is as close as I come to a "virtual life", and right now as close as I want to get to having one. "the best way to see how Sites like Facebook, can unite employees, is to just sign up on Facebook..." I confess I am extremely reluctant to do this. I'm rather protective of my personal information. This feeling isn't unique to personal sites; I've closed many a web page because it prompted me for information I didn't want to share. At the same time, I don't want to lie just to create an account; something about doing that bothers me on a gut level. I'm also not sure what site to join (if any). I get the impression Facebook and Myspace will not provide content I'm interested in. From what little I've read, the first is full of kids less than half my age, the other oriented around music I have no interest in hearing. I'm open to suggestions.

wadehone
wadehone

um... the web 10 years ago? were you even 'connected'? this 'same crap' IS what brought you things like 'TechRepublic' and other things that you now take for granted... Oh how quickly we forget. Wade -out.

wadehone
wadehone

I just wanted to note that it is the spending of the beaucoup bucks for the development that actualy provides the income for the development of the 'next flashy Wev x.o thing TO come along. With out that element, (the element of companies spending money trying to emplement new tech,) new product development would slow to a crawl. Wade -out.

wadehone
wadehone

This topic of ?the benefits or lack thereof, of online social networks in the workplace,? is similar to the one that we (you and I palmetto,) are discussing elsewhere, but I'd like to get in on this one too... I'm starting to understand that you, (and I'm guessing Toni falls into this category as well,) honestly don't see any specific advantages to social sites "like Facebook" in the work place. It's just hard to fathom is all... but lets take that at face value, and imagine ourselves in an IT department of a major corporation... I'm going to choose a Wireless Telephone Corp. for the hypothetical, because it's not much of a stretch for me... ( I managed the So Cal. IT Sustainment Dept. for AT&T Wireless from 2000-2004 until their purchase by Cingular,) ok, so, in that situation, lets say you have 12 Managers, spread out across the nation, each manager, manages 8 to 15 technicians that maintains the desktop infrastructure for the company. One of the goals of upper management is to implement nation wide policy and have it implemented the same in each area across the country. This may sound like a given, but if it does, that would reflect a lack of knowledge of how much technicians like to take proposals from management and um... make them better, shall we say. That said, upper management isn't absolutely stupid, so they would like to be using the best technique available, the only thing is they don't want each department picking and choosing which of the various methods and policies they will follow. does the scenario make sense? ok, we have e-mail as a tool, we have forums and message boards, (which I can see you have a hard time associating with as part of a social site, but let me assure you the forums and message boards are a large part of each social network,) but here is where a social site really can help. Lets take Face Book - personally I'd tweak quite a bit, before using it as a corporate tool, but lets just take it and imagine that there's no budget to create a proprietary social network site for our company. First - there is a biography part, I'd have each person have all their vital training info. and expertise?s put in their Bios. in a method that it could be easily searched.... problems with printers, bobby over in New Jersey has just completed an HP training course and will probably have some good insights to offer - Jeff in LA can see that from on bobby's profile page (or do a search / perhaps have a group that?s set up for printer experts where bobby is a member / but anyway, Jeff does a search for and finding that info out about bobby, - Jeff then posts a query on bobby's page ? bobby is notified on his cell phone that he has a message, and can reply thus saving Jeff allot of time.) ok, lets say I'm the national manager, of the Retail team, all of my techs use their cell phones or the web as they are leaving a retail kiosk with info on when they will be at the next location - a few words, and presto, if I have an issue come up, I can instantly see on my tech's page, where they are and what they are working on thus making it easier to decide which tech to divert to the other location. This could easily work for the sales dept. or product placement dept. or many other departments. That's two tools, and I haven?t even started on how it can solve the initial scenario of having a central location to discuss policy, and establishing the 'best practice' in an insanely more effective method than existed back in 2004 when I left AT&T Wireless. In today's world of High Tech, I'd have the social site be a central hub of passing the policy info back and forth, a central information processing point where everyone could go to - submit their ideas for how it (and by it, I mean a policy or technique used in our dept.) might be done better, but yet still have access to the current best practice that is being used across the nation. There would be info. On how to submit the idea, and an easy to use process for the managers to make the call on what the current ?best practice? would be, thus allowing for a recommendation to be made to upper management, approval, and deployment of the best practice so much more efficient. In 2004, this process would take 3 weeks to infinity ? with a social networking site, properly executed, the process could conceivably be completed in a day ? a HUGE benefit when deploying a virus solution during a virus attack and you want every one across the nation to be following the same exact process on all the desktops. The thing is, there are so many other benefits, but I have killed a good 30 mins of my day responding to the post - time I don't really have. We will call it a lunch break. There IS some benefit to sharing a bit of personal information about life on a social network too - we do it at the water cooler, and that is nice for the team that is all at the same local office, but in this instance, we have a national team, the more that these techs get to know each other, the better that they will work together is the hope. It works in Real life, and from what I have seen so far, it helps in the virtual lives that we are all developing as well. For this hypothetical, I could easily see some one posting that they have an interest in Halo, or Counter Strike on their Bio page.. another tech, 5 states away, sees that info, they get on the same server, play as a team, frag some bad guys together, chat about work and Whamo! I a connection and friendship has been established that will be a benefit to the company for years to come, and perhaps a relationship that will be of benefit to the two employees for life. All because of a work based and encourage social networking site like face book. yes, even you, your here aren?t you? on TechRepublic?s Social Network... talking with peers and industry experts about ideas, learning, sharing, teaching... that's what it is all about. I see so many values to exploring the technology, it's frustrating seeing some one that is IN the industry writing for an online periodical called 'Tech-fill-in-the-blank-becuase-anything-following-the-word-tech-makes-one-think-the-site-at-least-promotes-technology,' state clearly that they can't see any uses for social networking sites in the workplace. It boggles the mind. I would expect to read this kind of article in print, on old fashioned news paper. The kind that has been around for hundreds of years.. that way I can scan the article, smile knowingly at this ?ancient worker bee? that just 'doesn't get it' and move on. When I see some one that is supposedly a part of the 'TechRepublic' with such an archaic attitude, it incenses the mind, actual anger bubbles up as an emotion - "how dare someone within the industry not have the foresight or imagination to see the advances that social networking sites are bringing and will continue to bring to the world!" I think to myself (then post those thoughts on this blog...) I say it ?boggles the mind?, but that?s not entirely true, I do see how it?s possible - I see it in Toni's original article, and in your post as well. She states at the start that she has 'avoided' them, and similar to Toni?s comment you your self,) state that you have no experience with social sites at all. So, honestly, the best way to see how Sites like Facebook, can unite employees, is to just sign up on Facebook, look at the tools that are available there, and then put yourself in the role of a consultant trying to help a corporation find uses for their social network tool that they spent millions implementing. I think that even the most backwards technophobes could come up with an idea or two on how to help the company 'unite their employees via social networking sites.' Thank you, Wade Hone.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Magic and pixie farts. This is the same crap we heard a decade ago about how various craptastic internet technologies were going to change the face of civilization. On the other hand, if encourages my boss to buy a wii for the breakroom, then this is the best thing ever!!!

seanferd
seanferd

Sure, any way to facilitate actual communication is a good thing, but implementation is everything. Fora might be good, like a TR-style setup more closely tailored to a businesses needs. The Facebook/ Second Life approach leaves a lot to be desired in the area of quality communication for co-workers in a business setting. Are there elements in these social networking apps that might be useful? Maybe. But the tendency to "go to far" might be hard for some organizations to avoid. Of course, the way humans do business and communicate will change and evolve, but some of this sounds a bit like those projects that will end up getting killed after a change in management, after spending beaucoup bucks for development. Or, it could be the type of thing that gets replaced by the next flashy Web x.0 thing that comes along in 18 months with equal propensity for failure. Sometimes, what could be a good thing ends up going south.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Sites like Facebook ... can also unite employees too" Okay, enlighten this dinosaur. How? I'm asking you to be quite specific here since I have no experience with social sites at all (unless TR can be considered as social site).

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

Why ???why???? First you may remember we, human beings are ???social??? , we live together, communicate, share and team up??? Friendship, relations, teaming has meanings for us. Then you may also remember, working and business are not for ???money???, but for creating values to enrich and keep going our ???life???. We are not robots or machines running for routines! Therefore, especially if you are in a business covering multi-locations, multi-national and multi-cultural people who are in touch with, especially who are teaming for the same business, either as in a corporate identity or just in contact with it means a ???sense??? to share and communicate in multi-platform. This is because these all people are people and feeling this sense make the all more humane, non-isolated, able to identify and express themselves easily in the way they like, thus, motivated in the both, their life and jobs. This is why it would be easy and satisfactory if parties could meet each other, as a human being more then a virtual ???contact??? in their lists. When it comes to that point, dealing with a global world, is not easy. You could not be able to let these people come together, but communicate and share more; even if it is virtual! It is all started like a game or just for fun; internet and mobile communication, social and business networks??? But now, it is a reality that IT goes to Virtualization and this re-organization will be aware of a ???total networking???, which will be covering social and business needs and expectations. Google, Facebook are just two examples of this re-organization structures; lets call them ???live test structures??? of the future that older form of IT structure called ???mainframe??? have not been able to do the same like this; at this angle. Now, you can find some ???loss of time??? things while surfing these web sites, but you can find the all basics of the Virtualization examples on there; already running and testing. In these networks, ??? You reach a single domain and run the web based applications ??? You express yourself, publish and share ??? You can reach people and their shared / published information ??? You can communicate, team-up, ??? You can manage schedules, events, conferences ??? You can educate, train people and teams ??? You can add, remove, use applications ??? You can search data, people, information ??? You can reach people ??? You can create applications ??? You can create, upload, download, store files, data via that servers ??? Domain can manage, report, track, analyze the all ??? It goes on??? Just limited by your imagination and availability of the IT infrastructure! You may see that it is NOT the ???Facebook mentality coming to business apps??? , it is the new interface and structure to develop, test and run ???business apps??? aiming to re-creating them more flexible, more mobile, NOT only more ???user friendly??? BUT more ???human??? . So these all you already may have in a small company network; in a mechanical daily job! But, in a global scale, more ???human???, made by and tested for ???human??? aiming to keep them in comfort, enjoyed in their use of applications and more ???human?????? This is ???why?????? Best Regards. Orhan O. Bag

Ergo we surrender.
Ergo we surrender.

Do you really think the board of a company gives a hoot about your well being more than the profit? The bottom line is if integrating Facebook or any makes you feel good and makes you want to work 24/7 or harder or whatever- it makes the company more profitable for its shareholders. I guess Utoptia is virtually real for some- but for most of us the real world demands we make money to live. If you can live of virutal food and virtual money then go ahead and try. Its got nothing to do with generational feel-good claptrap and everything to do with business decisions and company profits. If something a company does makes you feel good along the way- its simply a bonus.

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

First of all, businesses are based on cumulative personal goals. Then, -from your angle- it is simple: shoul it be able to motivate the persons with a "well being", which could effect their productivities, at the and, it means the value reached from this business would be higher. Therefore, yes! But this "value" is not money! Money is just a surplus of the business; this is why it called as "profit". None of us, the "human"s are born to reach basic natural goals that you have mentioned ONLY. "Human" thing that I mentioned is not relevant to this basics. "Human" thing is what makes us "human"... Forget profits, money; just thing: what are you doing here? Why are you here? Why are you reading this messages and replying some? These are a part of "human" thing that I have mentioned. These all are also reaching to the same reality, "you and virtual communication"... Not named as Facebook, but you are already a part of it, in another name; TechRepublic. Are you here for profit? Are you here to feed some profit seekers? Are you here because you are hungry or full? You are here, because you are "human", you want to reach & share, being reached & being shared, you want to express yourself and get the expressions of others. Because of the "human" things that I have mentioned.

Ergo we surrender.
Ergo we surrender.

My company policy doesn't allow 'surfing, humanizing, or feel good personal browsing' during business (read - potential profit) making time. So I'm either reading and replying here in my own time, or I'm breaching the company policy. Hey I am human. The company also dictates the terms of other non-specifically-profit-making 'human' aspects of my job- those on their time- ie, company breakfasts, fitness classes, etc. Perhaps, you are an individual, small company or a large company who has altruistic, religious or non-profit humanitarian goals instead of other more capitalist 'human' goals such as greed, success or profit. Your point is made, but you are deluding yourself if you think that the 'board' of a typical western large successful company has a higher moral purpose other than meeting or exceeding its shareholder's expectations.

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

First of all, businesses are based on cumulative personal goals. Then, -from your angle- it is simple: shoul it be able to motivate the persons with a "well being", which could effect their productivities, at the and, it means the value reached from this business would be higher. Therefore, yes! But this "value" is not money! Money is just a surplus of the business; this is why it called as "profit". None of us, the "human"s are born to reach basic natural goals that you have mentioned ONLY. "Human" thing that I mentioned is not relevant to this basics. "Human" thing is what makes us "human"... Forget profits, money; just thing: what are you doing here? Why are you here? Why are you reading this messages and replying some? These are a part of "human" thing that I have mentioned. These all are also reaching to the same reality, "you and virtual communication"... Not named as Facebook, but you are already a part of it, in another name; TechRepublic. Are you here for profit? Are you here to feed some profit seekers? Are you here because you are hungry or full? You are here, because you are "human", you want to reach & share, being reached & being shared, you want to express yourself and get the expressions of others. Because of the "human" thing that I have mentioned.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...human beings are 'social'? , we live together, communicate, share and team..." I agree completely. What I don't agree with is the perception these electronic 'social' tools fill that basic human need. "...working and business are not for 'money'?, but for creating values to enrich and keep going our 'life'?." Working and business are not the same thing. While some people work to enrich their lives, many work simply to acquire food and shelter. Business is about making money, despite all the claptrap in vision statements, company philosophies, etc. A 'business' organized around any other purpose is a non-profit, charity, educational facility, etc., but it is not a business.

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

Thank you sharing a part of my opinion. On the other hand, about the "electronic 'social' tools fill that basic human need"; I have not mentioned anything like this... They do not "fill" but make it easier to share "human things" for us; especially while we are not able to travel to meet with our global friends in the minutes. Then, they also help us to digitally compose, share and publish the visuals and information of our expressions. They make communication easier and deeper for us. Even we have never seen or meet each other... At last, working and business? I have not mentioned NGOs or charity things. Business is not "making money", but creating, developing and managing processes in order to reach a "value", -as I have mentioned- to enrich and keep going our 'life', which also creates "working" opportunities for all of us... This "Value" thing may have various meanings for each person, according to their angels. It looks, your one is more focused on "money for living" concerns. Since the subject of this discussion has not been about it, our words are totally focused on the subject, which is totally out of your concerns! By the way, "Keep going" things include your "simply to acquire food and shelter" concern. "Human" thing is not a figure just and "simply" aims "to acquire food and shelter"... This is a basic natural motive, which we share with all other living creatures. Of course it is a part of "living" but, these are not related to the "human" thing that I have mentioned or not a part of the subject of this discussion. We are talking about digital / virtual social networks, causes, expectations and effects, etc. of them. My words are on this subject... I wonder how you came to this point.

billcooey
billcooey

Excellent commentary Orhan. You clearly "get it". bc

fjacquot
fjacquot

[quote]working and business are not for "money", but for creating values to enrich and keep going our "life".[/quote] infortunately NO.

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

Chould "money" itself satisfy you without human things?? I do not thing so ;)

orhan.bag
orhan.bag

Business runs on / targets personal goals. Creates, organizes, and manages processes to reach them. Not only for one person, but many. So, you can call the "Business Goals", as organized sum of the "Personal Goals"; which are inspired from, managed by and targeted on the same "persons" and their goals collectively... I wonder why you are not sharing your ideas or opinions on the "subject", but focusing on some words and taking it out of subject.

L-Mo
L-Mo

They are not the same thing.