E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Enterprise Microblogging Use Cases: Help Reduce Your Inbox Clutter!

Gran Canaria - Degollada de las Yeguas in the SpringEarlier on today, and through my Twitter stream, I bumped into a rather interesting blog post put together by Chelsi Nakano under the heading “Enterprise 2.0 Roll-up: Businesses Love Microblogging“, which is pretty close to another one shared by her the previous day under the title “What’s Trending in Enterprise Microblogging?“. Both of them are worth while reading through, as they would help folks out there get some further insights on how microblogging / microsharing is taking the corporate world by storm at the moment, and we are just getting started with it all! Yes, “businesses *love* microblogging“, but just as much as knowledge workers do as well! In fact, enterprise microblogging is helping people fight the good fight with one of the biggest corporate productivity drains in history: corporate email!

That’s why, while reading through both articles, where Chelsi states how microblogging is becoming a whole lot more than just sharing / exchanging messages amongst knowledge workers, I couldn’t help thinking about another blog post I put together over here myself a few months back that touched base pretty much on this very same topic. The title of blog entry was “Top 10 Use Cases Enterprise Microsharing Will Help You Get Less Email” and in it I listed 10 reasons as to why people should consider enterprise microblogging / microsharing behind the firewall in order to help accelerate how information and knowledge flows, but, at the same time, how it helps improve the overall efficiency of employees when getting the job done.

Now, I am not going to reproduce the entire article over here, since you can go ahead and read it through yourself from the link I shared above, if you are interested; however, what I will do, as a teaser, is just list those 10 use cases and see how many of those could relate to the state of things today with regards to Enterprise Microblogging itself and see whether we may have made some progress or not with it all. Something tells me that we surely have, but what do you think? Here is the list:

  1. Questions and Answers
  2. Narrate Your Work
  3. Informal Learning
  4. Serendipitous Knowledge Discoveries
  5. Find Experts
  6. Identify Knowledge Gaps
  7. Help and Support for Technical Problems
  8. Announcements, News Items
  9. Knowledge Sharing out in the Open
  10. Personal Branding

I have been mentioning in the past a couple of times already how, if I were to single out a social software tool, both inside and outside of the firewall, that has helped me tremendously with my corporate email reduction initiative of living “A World Without Email“, I think that would pretty much be down to two single kinds of interactions: Instant Messaging for the real-time exchanges and microblogging for the offline ones.

The interesting thing though is that it’s not just me the only one who has started to notice such email reduction coming along over the last couple of years, but, instead, plenty of other folks keep claiming that they are going through the same thing: getting a whole lot less email, because they are starting to rely, more and more, on microblogging and activity streams. This is just such terrific news and certainly a clear indication of the kind of impact that microblogging / microsharing has got within the corporate world, and not just out there on the Social Web.

A couple of years back there was this conversation going on (I think it was Ross Mayfield the one who started it up…) where email was, most of the times, perhaps still is, flagged as a tool to handle the exceptions of already existing broken business processes. So, eventually, instead of helping speed up those processes it’s having quite the opposite effect; it’s become quite a drag, hindering our overall productivity to levels not seen before, having to handle that Email Hell that Ross described so nicely. And accurately.

Now, a couple of years later have gone by and it looks like we may well be on the brink of addressing and fixing those issues that email has provoked in the first place with not being agile and fast enough to tackle almost real-time transactions and instead get us all to deluge in that “work related activity” we all seem to call nowadays “processing email“.

Email is not work, though, as my good friend, Chris Brogan, would say; but perhaps both activity streams and microblogging may be capable of changing that and eventually help fix those business processes, so that we don’t have to resort back to email to handle those exceptions…

That’s actually something that I have been witnessing myself for a while now, with how more and more fellow IBMers are making use of our internal, and external, deployments of Lotus Connections and in particular of the Lotus Connections Profiles Board capability, which basically ties in microsharing capabilities with each and everyone of our profiles and eventually empowering everyone to leave messages on each other’s boards while everyone else can “see” them and engage accordingly. For instance, there have been several dozens of these conversations taking place where we have reached beyond the 50 interactions and a few of them with over 100 and with multiple parties, which I cannot begin to explain the kind of hellish experience it would well be, if all of them being handled via email instead. Oh, no, thanks very much!

Yes, indeed, businesses love microblogging and, to be honest, I can’t blame them. I love it, too! It’s where I spend most of my work nowadays, more than anything else because over the course of the last few months it’s helped me, and several other thousand IBMers, move conversations we used to have through email, to out there in the open, Social Web, through the various social streams, and with an opportunity to help flatten, even more, that hierarchical and structured organisation the company was once.

Lucky enough, that’s changing rather rapidly, in fact, at a much rampant pace, with amazingly inspiring stories permeating throughout as the one my good friend, and “twin” brother, Luis Benitez, shared over at this blog post just recently titled “How Microblogging Drives Business Value To Organizations“, which I can certainly recommend you have a read, of how he got help, in less than a minute, by Carol Sormilic, VP, Global Workforce & Web Processes Transformation Executive at IBM. Something I bet, 5 or 10 years ago, neither of them would probably expected in the first place. Yet, it’s today’s workplace. A reality. And it’s here with us to stay for a long while …

Now imagine 400,000 people doing the same …

[Oh, I was thinking, originally, to title this blog post something like “Enterprise Microblogging Use Cases: Kill Email!“, but then again I thought it may well be a bit too harsh and drastic … for now… but what about in 5 years? … Well, I will let you know…]

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  1. Luis, I have been following your post on “zero email” with great interest and sometimes a little doubt. We’ve been using our own Communote enterprise microblogging for two years now and there are three things that I would like to mention:
    * microblogging _really is_ work
    * we run our ad-hoc processes almost entirely micro-blog based
    * internal email has been reducing steadily and feels somehow strange nowadays
    It’s not “zero email” but we are getting closer every day.

  2. I think microblogging networks have the potential to be disruptive to email to an intensity way more than other social tools…because microblogging can be used exactly like email…conversations in doing work.

    It’s basically like a visible email network that looks like a giant blog or forum

    Group spaces are not conducive to spontaneous converations across people in different groups
    – firstly you have to browse to the space
    – secondly you have to be a member
    – thirdly you have to talk about the topic
    …these are great for perhaps team and a defined cross-functional group collaboration, but not spontaneous conversation as the space has to be created before you can have the conversation

    Whereas microblogging is like email where the space (a post with comments or a collection of posts via a hashtag) happens as a by product of the conversation
    – and anyone can get involved (there are no pre-defined members)
    – and you simply post from the same window (you don’t need to shift context by visiting a spot to say something)

    I have a few posts on this

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