Archive for the ‘ social media ’ Category

Social Media Saved Email

Email was the killer app that made the Internet a business imperative. The browser made the web indispensable for businesses. Does social media spell the demise of email? Some people think so. I don’t.

Is email dead? It became the defining technology for a generation that saw the genesis of the web and they are holding on to email. Even though email became the breakout technology and companies like RIM enabled email to really go mobile, today, it’s taking a perceived backseat to social media messaging. (facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…etc.)  Trends are pretty clear that there are more messages being sent via social media and not email. I’ve noticed a significant drop in email traffic over the last 3 years thanks to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My take on it is a little different. I believe social media is saving email.

My inbox is a lot lighter these days. I used to get hundreds of emails every day. Today, I get a couple of dozen emails that I need to read every day. Did I suddenly become less popular? Maybe, but my social media messages have increased ten-fold in the same period. I no longer rely on one channel to communicate. There are unintended consequences of using multiple channels to communicate, but that is another post. My in-box has transformed from a dumping ground for all messages to a priority in-box for important, actionable messages. So, by diverting the bulk of casual conversation, comments, updates, observations and other less urgent or important messages to social media, I’ve saved my inbox. I’ve saved my sanity somewhat as well. I check my email 4 or 5 times a day now. I used to suffer from crackberry check syndrome and constantly be pulling out my blackberry every time it vibrated.

Social media has saved email and made it more important in my world. It may not be at the top of the messaging food chain as it once was, but for now, it continues to hold a solid place in the messaging mix. Those that say email is dead are missing the point. Social media saved email.

Searching the web is easy, finding your own stuff is hard.

Google makes it easy to find stuff online. Where do you go to find your own stuff? Likely you have to search your laptop, any usb drives you may, or may not have connected at the exact time you are looking for the stuff, you also might need to search your on-line storage (cloud storage like Dropbox, box.net, mozy, idrive or google docs…among many, many others.) But wait! Did you forget to check your smart phone? What about your tablet?

With an ever increasing number of devices and services to store and access content, how can you keep track of all your own stuff? This is one of the primary problems we want to solve with SmartCloud. All your stuff, where you want and need it. Quickly search across all your cloud services for relevant content. Automatically manage your content by stripping all your messages and saving the files to where they need to go. Automatically tag all your content based on the information contained in the exchange. Make sure you have access to all your content on your mobile device. Make the mobile experience simple and useful.

Our goal is to give you control over your own content, when and where you want it.

The Top 5 Twits who cried ‘Awesome’ too often.

No. I’m not going to list the Top 5 Twits who cried ‘Awesome’ too many times. This post is about time. My time. Your time. My time is very important to me. I assume your time is important to you as well. Regardless of what you do, most people understand the value of time.

Lately, I’ve been noticing an increase in social media traffic with links to articles I “have to check out” or are “must reads for [insert random profession here.]” Let’s not forget the “Top 5 [blanks] for [blanking]” Often the tweet or post is nothing more than a link to their own blog which then links to the article or video. In many cases, the status update or tweet is self promoting their latest blog entry, which is a great way to get a little bump in traffic for your blog. Unless it is coming from a prolific tweeter/updater/blogger who focusses more on volume than value.

I follow people on Twitter because I am interested in their perspective or ideas. I follow people from whom I can learn. Sometimes, I connect with people to engage them in discussion and develop a relationship. But my time is important and so is yours. I don’t post everything I read, or even everything I find interesting. If I did, people would ignore everything I said.

I pay more attention to people who post less, yet still manage to say more. Live blogging an event is the exception to this rule. I love a  good live blog from a good live blogger. (Follow @dweinberger Author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined and c0-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto for some good live event blogging.)

If you are fortunate enough to have a voice online, have something worthwhile to say and don’t say it too often.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it’s suposed to go?

Have you ever found it difficult to find a document someone sent you a while ago? Maybe it was important, you cant remember where you filed it. You can search your computer, your usb drives, your online storage provider, even your mobile phone. Tags make it easier and there are always some plug-ins that promise to make it easier. None of them work very well.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it should be? I use Box.net as my content management system for Openera. My wife and I use Dropbox for my personal stuff. Why can’t the files my co-workers send me go where I store my work stuff and my personal files go where my personal stuff goes?

That is the question I have asked myself lately in the hopes of answering another vexing problem facing just about all content management systems: user adoption. The number 1 reason new IT initiatives fail is lack of user adoption. This is true of just about any new application but amplified for any system that relies on user input (content in the form of data, documents, videos, photos…etc.) like content management (CMS) and customer relationship management systems. (CRM) The systems are only valuable if users contribute, if they don’t the system falls prey to diminishing returns.  The less people contribute, the less people trust the relevance of the content.

To take this question to the next level I began thinking about the reasons these systems fail when adoption fails. It comes down to the way people work. Google is a success because people trust that they can quickly and easily search and find relevant content online. Outside of the SEO world, people don’t really think about putting content “into Google.” Results end up “in Google” by the nature of what people do online, without having to do anything different. Just by writing a blog entry, updating facebook, tweeting a review of a great restaurant, posting pictures to Flickr or videos to YouTube, value is added to Google searches. The same is not true of traditional ECM (Open Text, Documentum, Vignette…) or CRM solutions. ( Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle OnDemand, Siebel) Users are asked to change their behaviour. They have to check-in a document, save files to specific locations, or bcc: catch-all email inboxes.

I’ve been a part of the structured and unstructured content management world since 1991. Back then we called it document management, some records management, email management, even knowledge management. The number one challenge was always the same.

User adoption. We always asked users to change the way they worked. We had a killer solution for document management at Interleaf, Open Text, Documentum, Hummingbird and others. But, we asked users to do something different. Don’t email files back and forth. Don’t save documents to shared drives. Check your documents into a document management system and send someone a link to the document. That way we can track who accesses the documents and can provide an audit trail. (Don’t we all love being audited?) It sounded like a great idea, from a technology standpoint it made perfect sense. Less content travelling across the networks led to the better use of bandwidth and resources. Sending links to files instead of the files themselves meant that we could collaborate on the same version of a file. There were so many benefits, why didn’t people just change the way they worked so they could realize all these benefits? I wish I was kidding when I recall my co-workers talking about how stupid people are that email files back and forth and not using our brilliant solution. Well, people aren’t stupid, the technology was great, but it didn’t address user behaviour in the design of the solution.

In short, the preceding challenge is what what I want to focus on as we embark on the development of our solution to this problem. A problem that shouldn’t exist. A problem that should have been solved a decade ago. If computers are so darn smart, why don’t they put my stuff where it’s supposed to go?

5 ways the cloud can be better for SMB companies

Gartner, Forrester and just about every other reputable analyst, technologist or CIO tend to agree. The Cloud is good for SMB companies.

The openera philosophy is simple. Believe in the open exchange of ideas and work with good people who are willing to work hard. Focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses with good partners. Succeed together.

Here are 5 ways The Cloud can help SMB Companies immediately:

  1. Manage Content (Documents, records, forms, media…)
  2. customer, partners contact management (CRM)
  3. Office essentials (Email, Calendar, Tasks…)
  4. Project Management (development, marketing, human resources…)
  5. Communication (VoiP, web presentations, im, chat & social.) 

We run our company on a combination of Google Apps (email, calendar, tasks & collaborative documents) Salesforce.com (CRM & Marketing Automation) Dropbox & Box.net for content management & back-up and Skype + DimDim for VoiP, Screen Sharing, and web presentations. For a few thousand dollars a year, we can run our entire organization better than well funded multi-national companies could 10 years ago. As a small business owner, that makes me smile.