This is for those who find themselves looking at Facebook and LinkedIn and thinking, “hey, that would be really cool inside my company…”
A lot of different groups – and if you’re reading this, you’re probably in one – have recognised that social networks on the Internet have a lot to teach us about a popular business problem often referred to as “Knowledge Management”. This basically boils down to the question of how we get the right information to the right people when and where they need it. This emerges as a problem as soon as an organisation becomes too big to fit inside one room.
I have heard Facebook described as “the easiest way to stay in touch with a large number of people”, and to my mind this is very true. It is worth taking a second to look at what it is that makes Facebook such an effective tool. At the heart of it is Facebook’s “News Feed” – this sits on your homepage and simply shows an aggregate view of what has been taking place in your network. This small feature allows Facebook members to passively and therefore, efficiently, monitor the activities of the dozens, if not hundreds of people in their network. This is exactly the kind of information that traditional knowledge management systems fail to capture and expose. This is also the kind of information that can be so useful to people on a day to day basis when exposed and mined, the so-called “tacit” knowledge that exists inside people’s heads and builds up over time.
So how can we leverage the power of Facebook in an effective way? At an abstract level, we can imagine providing a bridge between a company’s systems and the fantastic information spreading power of Facebook. It is the openness of the Facebook platform that will allow us to do this. We are able to write applications running within Facebook that work for us, keeping our information flowing between the systems we use every day and the dynamic environment of Facebook.
For some thoughts on Facebook by JP Rangaswami, see these three posts:
[Edit] There is a lot more chatter about Facebook and business going on at the moment…
Facebook infiltrating the enterprise: the ups and downs
CLOSEDvOPEN: Facebook – Walled Garden or what?
Facebook – value is in the interraction
On banning social computing in the enterprise
I’m not a witch! I’m not a witch!
Can Anyone do Anything about the Pathology of Today’s Workplace?