ATC Social Media Event

Yesterday was the first joint ATC/Inspecht event looking specifically at the usage of social media in recruitment. My personal opinion is that overall the day was a great success, although we will wait for the formal feedback from participants to know their feelings. Here are some of my thoughts and observations.

  • Having over 130 people in a room designed for 120 is a little cramped, but that is what happens when you sell out an event.
  • A lot of people knew very little about social media in general, let alone how they could be using it as part of their day to day work.
  • 80% of the participants were internal recruiters or consultants, very few agencies were represented.
  • Mark Pesce is always a great speaker.
  • There was lots of good discussion on Twitter.
  • E&Y are doing some very good things.
  • Atlassian as always have their finger on the pulse of their community.
  • People are very confused about how to include social media as part of their recruitment strategy.
  • There is a lot of concern about the legal and management issues of social media in the work place.
  • Job boards are not going away anytime soon.
  • We need to really start to promote Enterprise 2.0 as part of talent management strategies

We will be pulling together as many of the presentations as possible and make them available on the conference site. Also all sessions were captured on video once the videos are edited they will be posted online.

Here are a couple of blogs post I have found discussing the event:

A final note, we are talking about a bigger and better event for 2010 so watch this space.

Social media in the workplace

The use of social software tools inside the firewall is called Enterprise 2.0, a term coined by Professor Andrew McAfee in his 2006 article “Enterprise 2.0 The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration“. Within this article he talks about the building blocks of Enterprise 2.0, SLATES.

  1. Search
  2. Links
  3. Authoring
  4. Tags
  5. Extensions
  6. Signals

This makes sense as they mirror the growth components that have made Web 2.0 what it is today. Unfortunately while consumer tools and services are delivering on these promises when employees come to work the tools provided by your average IT department are, well, less than average when it comes to enabling emergent collaboration.

The places where most enterprises fail first is with search. How many corporate Intranet search tools provide the ease of use, speed, relevancy and accuracy of Google?

In a survey completed last year AIIM found that almost 70% of respondents believed that only 50% or less of their organisation’s information was searchable online! With only 10% saying that findability of information inside their organisation was an “Imperative”.

This issue is only going to get larger the more and more people who experience Web 2.0 on the “consumer web” as they will begin to expect the same features and usability internally.

Google Wave and the Enterprise

Google Wave

With a fair bit of fanfare on May 28th Google pre-released a brand new tool/suite/ concept/framework for collaboration called Google Wave. I am not going to cover all the technical details, you can see them over at http://wave.google.com. But you do need to understand that Google Wave is actually three things all in one package.

  • The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It’s an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave).
  • Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
  • The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the “live” concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone’s Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave.

Think of a wave as the combination of an email and instant messaging but on steroids! Google describes wave as being equal parts document and conversation, which sounds very strange, essentially it is a fully integrated collaborative communications framework. Technically the tool is amazing; for example real time edits of a wave appear on all participants’ screens immediately and the ability to “replay” edits of a wave to see how the wave developed. The only part missing from the wave product is a VOIP client, but given that Google has open sourced the core of wave and the extremely flexible API framework a smart engineer should be able to hook one up very quickly.

Within an enterprise Google Wave, or at least the concepts behind it, have the ability to revolutionise the way people work! The flexible streamlined approach to communication and collaboration is both amazing complex and simple at the same time.  For example:

  • Real-time foreign language translation allows everyone to easily collaborate naturally in their own language.
  • Real-time updates on waves allow teams to create documents wiki style at a rapid pace.
  • Changes that happen while you sleep can be replayed using the play back feature so you can see the context that trigger comments, suggests and ideas to be added to the Wave.
  • Drag and drop images, and in the future other media types, allows fast real time collaboration of prototypes and ideas.
  • The open API allows full integration of other products such as production schedules, or CRM tools.
  • The protocol allows you to federate with other organisations for collaborative purposes.

Now this revolution will not happen overnight given the massive investment organisations have made on Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint over the last few years. So initially I would predict Google Wave being picked up by smaller organisations and freelancers who need to collaborate with different people on projects across multiple locations.

A word of caution given Google’s track record of letting services die off time will tell if Google Wave becomes the next Gmail or Google Base.

Internal Social Network Analysis

Following yesterday’s post on future recruiting technology, which looking back should have read future talent management technology, here is an example of thing I am seeing in the market.

SAP has built a Social Network Analyzer prototype for inside the organisation. (Hat tip James Governor.)

It aggregates existing enterprise data to display and discover organizational relationships. It provides the missing link between social networking platforms and enterprise information systems, by letting organizations leveraging data available in corporate information systems.

SNA helps jump-start social networking within the organization by letting you import and aggregate all the corporate relationships between people that are already recorded in your business applications, such as:

  • Management hierarchies from your human resources system
  • Data on who worked on which deals from your sales force automation system
  • Partner, customer, and partner supplier contacts along your supply chain
  • People who work on similar transactions within your operational systems

The early images show a product user interface that is very different to anything I have seen from the German Giant.

The tool bring data from disparate systems across the enterprise into a single view to see who is interacting with whom via relationships there can be significant talent management benefits, other than collaboration:

  • Look at the interaction of at risk high performers, are their other high performers that also might be at risk due to social relationships?
  • Top talent referrers, who else do they interact with and are they providing referrals, if not why?
  • Do poor performers interact together?
  • Do top performers interact together?

The tool can import any data that describes a relationship between two people or objects you can uncover relationships between individuals, groups and departments that do not appear in the traditional organisation structure.

Now what if we added into the mix information about external social networks??

Let’s not forget the privacy issues, to quote James:

I thought it was kind of funny, though obviously not surprising, that one of the reasons SAP has been slow to turn the prototype into product is European data protection law. While American firms would consider metadata about employee interactions to be company property, under German law that is certainly not the case – no, in Germany it would be called spying.

Will this product see the light of day? Will it be deployed in many organisations? What would trade unions think of the tool? All these questions and more will ultimately determine the future of this particular technology.

Social Recruiting and an experiment

Last week I was meeting with Riges Younan and Jeremy Samuel from 2Vouch to discuss Riges’s presentation for Australiasian Talent Conference in Auckland, topic being “The Evolution of Social Recruiting”. To develop the presentation Riges wanted feedback from the recruiting community on their thoughts, ideas and case studies. To quote Riges:

I need your help to shape, contribute and assist in the creation of this presentation.  I’ll be posting ways in which we can work together to create something that will assist many HR, Recruiters and Jobseekers around the world.

To facilitate the process Riges wanted a blog and a wiki to collect the content and discuss the ideas. So http://socialrecruiting.com has been set up. If you have anything to say on social recruiting or recruiting in general go register and contribute, the rest of this post will be be about how I built the site.

When thinking about what tool to use to build the wiki I was very concerned that many wiki tools still use a Wiki-markup style, while basic can put a lot of people off contributing. We wanted the barrier for use to be low.

The blog was to be in WordPress 2.7, I did a bit of searching and found a wiki plugin from Instinct. While only recently released it had all of the features I needed to get the site going  quickly. I needed to modify the code a bit to fix some of the bugs, I also updated the security components along with the theme to adjust how pages were edited. Once users register they can edit any pages through the WordPress administration dashboard. This way we leveraged the power features of WordPress as a blogging platform and also its very easy to use user interface for the wiki component. Security has been adjusted so all users can create and edit and page, upload images and video, create but not publish blog posts.

Some additional plugs have been used to add collaborative features including Add to Any, Collapsing Pages, GD Start Rating, and SlideShare.

Yes there are other tools I could have used but not for only 10 hours work across two days.

I would be very interested to hear any thoughts.

Conference update

Plans are in place for the Inspecht HR Futures Conference on 26 February 2009 in Melbourne. The site is up and the program is 99% complete, just awaiting confirmation on one speaker. There is a downloadable program overview you can use to convince management that the event is worth attending. 

The program summary:

So why not kick off your 2009 and come along? Personally I am very excited about the event and hearing from the speakers.

Social networking sites increase employee productivity

An interesting piece by David Quach on the ABC News site (Hat Tip @aussienick) about how more people should use Facebook to improve worker productivity. Here is the summary:

Well, while any adverse effect of Facebook on productivity is detrimental to the economy, economic theory also suggests that the economy could be improved if there were more users. In other words, as long as Facebook isn’t used at work too much, everyone would be better off if more people used it.

The basic idea is that each user of Facebook not only gains individual benefits from using the social networking site, but also provides (network) benefits to other people. And since people generally do not take into account the benefits to other people when deciding whether or not to join Facebook, there are fewer users than is ideal for society.

Allow me to explain.

In the language of economics, Facebook is said to exhibit network effects; it is a technology that becomes more valuable as more people use it (and the network gets larger), like mobile telephones or fax machines, for example.

The network effect is real and does increase productivity. But what really got me interested was the comments being left by readers which ranged from full support to a complete lack of support. The comments could be classified into four major themes:

  • What about your privacy
  • Facebook is the best thing
  • Facebook is a complete waste of time
  • People with real social lives don’t use Facebook

Here are a few.

Cricket:

27 Nov 2008 2:22:02pm

Concur. I take singular delight in not being registered on any of these social networking sites. People with REAL social lives don’t have the time to waste on them.

Jeremy:

28 Nov 2008 12:13:05am

Nobody forces you to post every detail of your life on facebook. If you consider it a public place and only post things you’d be happy posting in public then you have nothing to worry about.

Merlin 23:

27 Nov 2008 2:11:48pm

The statement “Concerns about Facebook’s negative effect on the economy – especially an economy on the verge of recession – were raised just recently when 13 Virgin Atlantic staff were sacked for criticising the airline online” is proposterous.

‘Facebook’ is an application and didn’t do anything – the people using it did. The same result would have occurred if they done the same thing using the any other form of media and their boss heard about it.

Di:

27 Nov 2008 3:25:12pm

We are all selfish for not joining face book! I can’t believe this guy wrote such an article! It is amazing the space that he took up saying so little.
I agree with the statements in the comments regarding fraud, identity theft, and invasion of privacy! It does happen and as much as it may be stated that its safe and ok, personally I won’t take the risk. I have plenty of ways to communicate with friends without reducing myself to that level. So go ahead – call me selfish!

From a business point of view Merlin 23 is correct Facebook/MySpace/etc is not the problem, management is. What would you do if someone was always late to work, spent too long at lunch or on a smoking break (do they still have them)? Same thing should be done if people are wasting time on Facebook.

Privacy is an issue but it needs to be managed. Jeremy is right, no one is forcing you to put all your details on the site, remember The Mother Test?

Cricket seems confused. While claiming to be a real person with a social life they seem to have the time to hang out commenting online ;-). Which brings me to my final point, usage of social media is growing in Australia and growing quickly.

In the 2007 Q1 Forrester Technographics Survey of Australian Adults online found 11% were Creators of content, 23% Critics on content, 5% Collectors of content, 14% Joiners to social networks, 38% Spectators reading what other said and 56% Inactives ignoring social media. 12 months on these figures had changed dramatically 2008 Q1 Forrester Technographics Survey showed:

  • 26% Creators
  • 35% Critics
  • 16% Collectors
  • 45% Joiners
  • 63% Spectators
  • 24% Inactives 

With this sort of growth David Quach will get his wish, but businesses out there who do not know how to manage employees within this new world will have a lot of trouble.

UPDATE: Minutes after hitting post I found a story from Financial Times blogs on time clock watching bosses discussing the “Japanese concept of ba: a hard-to-translate notion that, in this context, appears to describe an elevated state of knowledge-sharing between colleagues.”

Your help is needed

About a week ago I had one of my wild ideas, organise an HR and Enterprise 2.0 conference in Melbourne at the beginning of 2009. Over the last week I have been pulling together some figures and making contact with people to see if they would be interested in speaking or attending. The response so far has been positive.

So the day is a go.

The target audience will be HR/Recruiting professionals looking at HR in the Knowledge Economy, specifically focusing on the impact of technology. Some of the topics we will be covering are:

  • Keynote by Stephen Collins who will have just returned from TED 2009
  • Case Study on Informal Learning
  • Web 2.0 in recruitment
  • Case study into the use of Enterprise 2.0 tools to enhance collaboration & improve business operations
  • Knowledge worker productivity and performance management
  • Strategy/workforce planning session, focusing on how HR adds value to the business in a knowledge economy and a focus on “head content” and managing organisational risk
  • The legal issues of social networking tools
  • Panel discussion on Branding & Social Media a recruiting perspective
  • Panel discussion on the future of Recruiting

The only issue now is what to call this event? I have some ideas but not 100% sold on any of them. So I created a short survey (Update: The survey is closed.) to see if my readers have any better ideas. So go forth and name the event!

Second Life Business Teleconferencing

Today Second Life & Red River announced a new service called “Immersive Workspaces” providing an special area on the Second Life grid to allow business meetings to take place. 

Some of the interesting features of the system:

Organizations then have the option of a completely exclusive and secure experience, with no connectivity to the Second Life mainland, or a connected experience that enables employees to traverse the two domains without having to log on or off.

 A set of tightly integrated web-based applications and the ability to seamlessly upload and integrate real world content – e.g., PowerPoint – brings enterprise-level efficiency and flexibility into a virtual world.

But I have to agree with Silicon Alley Insider *yawn*, even the YouTube video demo is fairly meaningless the interaction did not need this new immersive workspace to finalise a presentation.

Now at least the annoucement by Nortel (disclosure I use to work there) in August of their web.alive project had some useful features.

“People are no longer satisfied with existing collaboration tools or with static web sites supported only by a telephone contact center as the main point of interaction. They want to discuss potential purchases with others, exchange ideas, make business proposals, and fluidly interact with others in real-time,” said Arn Hyndman, web.alive chief architect. “Additionally, web.alive will offer security not available with other virtual environments today because it is integrated with corporate enterprise systems and software.”

The intergration with enterprise security systems is key for using these virtual worlds for business transactions. Why? Because this integration the provides the identity foundation that trust and repuation can be built.

But will these virtual world applications revolutionise corporate collaboration, not in their current state.

Tips for laying off employees in a social media world

Over the weekend Techcrunch posted about the layoffs traking place due to the economic downturn. There are two main themes in the post; first some of the layoffs are clearing out of dead wood and the other being it is hard to keep layoffs a secret when everyone is a publisher.

To the first point. This is not new companies have always used downturns to shed deadwood, not sure why this was even raised by Michael Arrington. 

The second point is far more interesting and will have major impacts on employers for years to come. In a world where anyone can publish, and does, how you manage this process is critical.

But in the age of everyone-is-a-publisher it takes just a second after someone is walked out the door for them to post about it on Twitter or their blog, and it spreads from there.

Blog posts, tweets, video content all remain in search engine caches for a very long time, if not forever! Which means if you are thinking of cutting back here are some tips for doing so in a social media world, some of these are just plain common sense.

  1. Do it quickly, ok this is always the case but even more so now. Use the old carpenter’s rule “measure twice, cut once” the last thing you want to people having multiple chances of publishing about the process.
  2. Remember the jobs you are cutting have people in them. Treat them that way.
  3. But also remember humans do not make rational logical decisions based on information given to them. They will instead pattern match with either their own experience, or collective experience expressed as stories. This usually means they will react poorly initially.
  4. Provide employees some advice about being careful if vent online, make sure if they do it will not lead to nasty legal battles down the track.
  5. Expect things to be blogged, tweeted, and generally discussed. 
  6. Monitor the internet to see what is being said. Allow people to vent but if needed gently correct the messages if they are blatantly wrong.
  7. Don’t get into a online publishing war over the smallest of things published, sometimes ignoring it is the best option. The more times search engines find a topic the higher they rank it in the results. Also bloggers tend to react quickly and harshly don’t give them additional fuel to write about.
  8. Communicate with the employees who are leaving, but do so honestly and openly, limit the corporate bullsh#t.
  9. Communicate with the employees who are staying, again do so honestly and openly, limit the corporate bullsh#t.
  10. Setup a Facebook alumni group (if you don’t have one), automatically invite all of the employees who are leaving. Remember some will be boomerangs.
  11. Setup an internal wiki to allow the people leaving to document their knowledge in a central location. This way you might collect some of the knowledge that is leaving before it leaves.
  12. Communicate to your customers, suppliers, media, analysts and blogosphere what is going on and why.
  13. Make sure you are not applying double standards with your executive team as this will certainly get people talking. 
  14. Make sure the rest of the organisations is also cutting back on expenses. If you keep people flying first class while laying off employees this will also get people talking.
  15. Highlight the other cost cutting measures that the organisation is taking to show layoffs aren’t the only thing.
  16. It is a great time to have the CEO start an blog, this will show them as a real person a factor that should not be overlooked during this period of change.
  17. Finally make sure you pay severance packages fairly and on time.
These are my initial thoughts, have to head off and join the family but chip in with your own while I am gone.