Top 10 Use Cases Enterprise Microsharing Will Help You Get Less Email

Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las YeguasI have always wondered when would articles like eMarketer‘s "Social Not a Threat to E-Mail" grab that opportunity of providing a bit more of extensive details on the transition that email is currently going through at the moment moving away from being, consistently, that content repository that fits, and suits all sorts of interactions, to that messaging and notification system, a la newsfeed aggregator, that plenty of people prefer in order to keep up to date with social software tools updates. I bet we would all be much better off.

Also thinking that using email, versus social tools, to keep in touch with other family members sounds like a good approach to me. It should remain a private conversation to some extent, don’t you think so? At least, that’s how I use a large chunk of my personal emails at the moment. So when are we going to get studies and research articles published on corporate email and the current transition it’s going through at the moment… I bet that would be much more interesting. For sure!

If not, take a look into the wonderful blog post that my good friend, Alan Lepofsky, put together a couple of days back under the title "Enterprise Microblogging Enables Everyone to Participate", which clearly describes that transition I have just mentioned above of various different tasks and activities we used to carry out through email and how they are slowly, but steadily, entering the realm of microblogging (Or microsharing, which is the term I usually like to use). Alan builds up from there sharing a rather short, but amazingly powerful, YouTube video clip that explains just that! Worth while the one minute it lasts, for certain!

Even more, he takes things further and shares a few more links to some other interesting and relevant resources on this very same topic: how enterprise microblogging is taking the corporate world by storm and is helping reposition multiple levels of interactions we all used to carry out through email, but no more! Instead, they are taking place out there in the open Intranet / Internet and made available publicly, by default, to everyone! Worth while a read through all of those articles…

It’s interesting to notice how, even thought Alan and myself are no longer working for the same company (We used to!) our experiences are very similar. And that’s why I thought about perhaps putting together this article today, where I could share with you folks a few other insights on how microblogging is changing the way we do business nowadays. Regardless of the company.

As most of you folks know, I work in a program, within the IBM Software Group, called BlueIQ, whose mission is to help IBM accelerate the adoption rate of social software, both inside and outside of the corporate firewall. We have been busy with it for nearly three years now and in the last 18 months we have been putting together an Enablement program with plenty of education and reference materials for a good number of tasks / activities and how to go about them using social tools. In the last few days I have been working on one of our latest modules on Microblogging / Microsharing / Status Updates.

While putting it together I realised, as I was noting down the various use cases and business benefits, that in the last few months microsharing (I will stick around with that word from here onwards …) has probably been one of the most fundamental 2.0 concepts that has allowed me to continue living "A World Without Email" causing a substantial reduction on the amount of incoming emails I receive on a weekly basis. Like last week, where I have only received 7 emails in the entire week!

So I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks some of those various key benefits and use cases that I have been using in that education module, so that people out there would be able to benefit plenty more from such a useful resource. And that’s why I decided to put together this blog post over here today sharing my list of the Top 10 Reasons Enterprise Microsharing Will Help You Get Less Email. Now, I can’t guarantee you will be ditching corporate email for good any time soon, but I can certainly vouch you will see a substantial reduction on the high volume(s) of incoming emails you may be suffering from today.

I will try to be brief, since most of those reasons are actually use cases based on common tasks and activities that we all get exposed to on a daily basis and which I think would resonate plenty more with you all. Remember though, I’m not saying that email is dead (I still see some good use for it for a couple of instances…); what I’m about to share with you folks is how you can move away from your Inbox 10 different types of activities / conversations you used to carry out through email, but from here onwards through microsharing, with all of those additional benefits of switching from private by default (Email) to public by default (Social Software Tools – Microsharing). Let’s get started!

  1. Questions and Answers: Probably one of the most popular use cases for enterprise microsharing; give people an opportunity to ask questions and get answers. Yes, I know most of you folks out there would probably think that’s what Forums / Newsgroups are for, but then again don’t forget how we all work as human beings; if I have got a question I need an answer for, there is a great chance I will go and ask my personal network first, before going elsewhere. And that’s exactly what enterprise microsharing enables knowledge workers to do, specially when working virtually. A great way of staying closer, and connected!, to your personal distributed networks by interacting and helping answer questions or asking yourself some of them. Regardless of where you may well be.
  2. Narrate Your Work (By Dave Winer): Declarative Living (By James Governor) or Ambient Intimacy (By Leisa Reichelt), whichever term / concept you would want to make use of. If you are familiar with either of them, you know what I mean with this particular use case, but, just in case, it’s all about the easiest way of keeping up with, and nurturing, your working relationships by constantly improving your social capital skills.
  3. Informal Learning: Through the sharing of expertise across the board as well as links to other relevant content that other fellow knowledge workers would benefit from as additional reading. Right there, while they are at their jobs! On the spot, without having to go anywhere else and with their work context intact. Part of their work flow. Always learning new stuff by exposing yourself out there to all sorts of interesting resources, links and, above all, conversations.
  4. Serendipitous Knowledge Discoveries: or rediscovering new value by chance, which is another nice way of putting it. Although I prefer to refer to it with "Letting serendipity do its magic". I am sure that most of us may well relate very nicely to this one as we have experienced it time and time again through microsharing tools like Twitter, amongst several others.
  5. Find Experts: This is an easy use case for everyone out there; instead of hiding yourself away behind your Inbox, where no-one can see you and therefore everyone thinks you don’t have anything better to do than answering their queries, how about leaving your hide-out space, go out there in the open, start microsharing your knowledge and through narrating your work help raise the right level of expectations on how you could accommodate interruptions and handle them accordingly. In a way, experts are scared that they will get overwhelmed with queries, but, in reality, this is further from the truth! If they keep sharing and narrating what they do, they are already generating the right level of expectations of how and when they will be handling interruptions. Basically, if those seeking answers see how those experts are busy doing something else, there is a tendency they will respect that and go ahead and do something else waiting for their turn. Believe me, it works.
  6. Identify Knowledge Gaps: This particular one would become very helpful when multiple knowledge workers keep asking the same question(s) time and time again and no answers would be provided. That’s your best opportunity to find out and spot those knowledge gaps and then you will need to get down to work, address them and fix them, so those questions don’t come up again!
  7. Help and Support for Technical Problems: We have constantly seen this one happening in Twitter, so just imagine having that capability behind the firewall where knowledge workers could ask questions and help each other on how to improve their respective overall productivity, knowledge sharing and collaboration tools suite. Yes, indeed, this one would be very much along the lines of getting answers for the typical "How Do I…?" type of interactions.
  8. Announcements, News Items: Create an awareness with broadcasting messages of changes (Like system outages), news items or major announcements that are going around you, instead of sending an email with those items. Ideal for top down, cascaded / forwarded emails no-one likes to receive! (Yes, I know, the ones you don’t even read anymore!)
  9. Knowledge Sharing out in the Open: that way we transition from private by default to public by default and allow knowledge workers, through real-time search engines, re-find and re-use the content they would need, much faster, much easier and much more immediate. Right there, right then.
  10. Personal Branding: Yes, I know most businesses may not feel comfortable with personal branding, but it is there. It’s your people. It’s your business. It’s your corporate brand. Your people are your brand. So microsharing will help them merge successfully both the personal and corporate brands into a stronger entity, one that can speak for you out there in the thousands and in short, but rather effective, chunks! Very easy to consume and digest, too!

There you have them; my top 10 reasons, use cases or activities that microsharing tools would allow you to execute effectively without using a single email. I’m sure there are plenty more! Feel free to add your favourites in the comments and perhaps that way we can help consolidate an essential list of reasons as to why enterprise microsharing makes sense for any business out there. For now I will leave you though with what I think is one of the best reasons why microsharing, both inside and outside of the firewall, is very much worth while the time, the effort and the energy to invest on: and that’s the fact that enterprise microsharing is probably the easiest model of 2.0 engagement for every single knowledge worker out there, whether you are technical or not. Because, after all, who doesn’t get Twitter? Anyone?

Now, I realise this is a rather long blog post on its own already, but allow me to share with you folks one last thing over here that I am sure you will enjoy quite a bit. If you have jumped forward from the beginning of this blog post to here, hoping to read a good conclusion to this article, you are not going to find that over here. Instead, you are going to watch it through for a little bit of 4 minutes and a half and enjoy every second of it!

My good friend, and fellow IBM colleague, Jean Francois Chenier, has done it once more and has put together the next episode of the golden series "The Man Who Should Have Used Lotus Connections", episode #8, around the concept of enterprise microblogging / microsharing. What a perfect timing, don’t you think!?! Either way, I won’t say much more on this topic (Already feel I have talked enough about it!), you already know how these really fun to watch, and instructive, videos work. Here is the direct link to it  and the embedded version, if you would want to play it right away:

And here is, finally, the one liner summary of this long blog post: Enterprise microsharing will help you reduce your incoming emails (As well as those going out!) and move across most of those conversations away from your Inbox into open social spaces where everyone can contribute and participate. Yet, it all starts with you cultivating, nurturing and working your way really hard towards building and sustaining healthy personal social networks. Don’t wait for them to come to you! Go and greet them! Embrace them! Let them help you find a way to live "A World Without Email", amongst several other things! Just like they have for me for the last three years… And counting!

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