Friday, September 26, 2008

The Next Phase of Collaboration

This week, Cisco officially launched its new collaboration portfolio consisting of Cisco Unified Communications, Cisco TelePresence and a new Web 2.0 application platform. According to Cisco, all of these use the network as the platform to help enable people to connect, communicate and collaborate from any application, device and workspace.

The new portfolio products include Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0, TelePresence Expert on Demand and a Web 2.0 Applications Platform, which is Cisco WebEx® Connect, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. It integrates presence, instant messaging, Web meetings and team spaces with traditional and Web 2.0 business applications, including SamePage.

As a SamePage team member, I’m looking forward to experiencing the power of Cisco behind our dynamic Wiki. The partnership between SamePage and Cisco WebEx enables enterprises to combine the application mash-up capabilities of WebEx Connect with the collaborative content editing capabilities of the SamePage enterprise Wiki.

It truly creates a powerful new way through which businesses can share information with employees, customers and business associates. I've been using WebEx Connect for the past few months and find the interaction with SamePage is seamless and powerful.

The collaboration market, especially as it relates to Web 2.0 and enterprises, is coming into its own.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Academic Wikis

One of the wiki industry’s foremost evangelists, Stewart Mader, is a big believer in the use of wikis in education; he wrote a book on it. More recently, Stewart was quoted in an article in Edutopia introducing educators to the wiki.

The reporter, Grace Rubenstein, opens her article with: “A simple, cheap technology with a funny name will become an even more powerful portal into creative teaching and learning this year.” She goes on to delve into the different ways that wikis can be used in an educational environment.

There are so many levels of potential use of a wiki in education. For example:
  • Students can better manage their projects, assignments, both individual and with teams
  • Teachers and professors can manage classes and assignments, on a daily, quarterly and annual schedule; they can easily create specific project areas for different classes.
  • Teachers and professors within a department can share information, collaborate on successful techniques
  • Research departments can collaborate and share research knowledge
  • Cross-departmental information can be easily shared and disbursed
  • Meeting minutes can be posted for teacher groups and discussions

A number of educational institutions have already determined how to best put wikis to use.

There are free, open-source wikis that are valuable tools for students and teachers. But from a big-picture perspective, a university, college, high school or any other type of school might find that a proprietary software tool allows them to benefit from a wiki while protecting their knowledge base. Teachers and administrators can add varying degrees of security to whatever areas of the wiki need it, while creating general areas in which anyone can participate.

The wiki possibilities are nearly limitless.

Take this, for example. The Edutopia reporter talked with a high school technology teacher in Georgia who has encouraged and organized student collaboration across continents, between the US classroom and Bangladesh. That is obviously a teacher who understands the value of the wiki and is ready to use new technology to benefit students. And that's the kind of inspiration we expect and hope for in our educational institutions and our teachers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From Email’s Cold, Hard Grasp

In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions, predominately mundane matters, according to Basex. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.

And that doesn’t even say anything about time wasted from spam and junk emails, ‘thank you’ emails, BCC emails you got ‘just in case,’ because Rob is trying to cover his back and so on. Email has a strong grasp on us; there’s no denying it. And there’s no denying its value in many business instances.

In a recent article in the NY Times, Luis Suarez, a self-proclaimed social computing evangelist with IBM wrote: I Freed Myself From E-Mail’s Grip. “I quickly realized that the more messages you answer, the more messages you generate in return,” he wrote.

And millions silently nodded their heads in agreement.

Luis is focusing on using other, new technologies to increase productivity. He’s talking about creating an online environment that fosters collaboration allows people to reclaim their productivity. He’s not spouting ideas that you should stop emailing your mother in South Africa. He’s simply saying, see what else is out there and see if you can shift your communications to other tools.

And maybe, just maybe, the professional masses will find that email is not always the best solution.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Enterprise Social Networking is Inevitable"

Wainhouse Research recently released Volume 1 of The Enterprise Social Networking Landscape report. The basis of the findings? Enterprise social networking is inevitable. It's a $200 million market with some well-established players, as well as a number of small start-ups.

Researcher David Dines
wrote about it on his Enterprise Social Networking blog. He purports that, just like email and instant messaging, employees are going to use social networking tools, no matter what, "so management might as well give them the tools, so they have some input." Dines predicts the business will be $2 billion in 5 years, growing at a rate of approximately 40% annually.

In the executive summary viewable at, it says: "SN [social networking] has core functionality that enables companies to streamline internal business processes like collaboration, data capture, data search and finding experts. Additionally, SN can enhance external communications by providing more avenues and a higher level of interaction with customers, partners and shareholders."

I like the tune they are singing in this report. Dines is reporting on benefits of enterprise SN tools that we've been shouting about from the rooftops for years. (What? You didn't hear us?! Sorry, we'll shout louder!)

In fact, if you read up about tools like enterprise wikis, the reported advantages are consistent across industry and geographical lines. Forward-thinking companies around the world are benefiting every day from improved collaboration and knowledge management. If you ask me, every other company is just missing the boat.