30 May, 2012

Future Workplace, hits and misses by Microsoft Research

 This article on the future of the workforce gets some things right and many things wrong, here's my break down of their 10 item list.

1) It goes more than just measuring sentiment of emotional contentment at work, it's about enabling people to work when they are most energized to do so while still extracting optimal performance. Action Oriented Workflow is the first technology that does the latter of all the proposed solutions I've so far seen.

This is explained the maximize your value article:


2) The right information will find us, correct.  The UI for work is precisely where you want to be capturing all that "action" data about who is doing what on what business object and when. This allows deep insight into patterns of action that allows the ability to calculate in a predictive fashion how to route new work, again AOW and the extensions I added in the last few months is the only general solution that does this now. A worker should not need to know who the next step of some workflow is going to, the system should figure who is best and route the work on for them. A social oversight then allows manual course corrections if needed but the main routing task should be completely autonomous thanks to the visibility into per user action at the interface. If a user can work from their preferred location than formal office location becomes moot to most workers...who will chose to work from home or where they wish.

I explained this in my telepresent work force article from 2006.


3) No, the environment will be a minor factor, the social infrastructure is where the true value of strategy will be unleashed. When ideas are proposed socially, people are more likely to submit their ideas...and a consensus of evaluation of ideas can lead to selecting the best idea over the one that is proposed by the person with the most intimidating title or booming voice. A properly socially connected workforce is more dynamic to engaging innovations proposed by people at all levels in the organization.

4) Agreed, via their real time action broadcasts of what they are doing.

5) "action" can be captured on any device, the generalization provided by AOW makes it ideal for enabling real world events to be reported into the system for analysis.

6) Yes, and now....as the work environment is down played the connection between work actions by autonomous discovery and routing will trump on sight methods. It is far more efficient.

7) Gamification is a key way to inspire motivation, tie actions completed directly to compensation and create a formal and rigorous bonus dismemberment model. 100% agree.

8) Relationships will be built indirectly, if I can get the guy in Shanghai to submit a proposal I wrote up that needs to go live tomorrow...I shouldn't need to know his name to route him that work to do..if he is available and electing to do that work and the system deems him the best person to do it with alacrity. So yes relationship building will increase but it will be agnostic relationship building...agnostic to individual identity in most cases...this type is the most efficient over large work forces.

9) It is more important that individuals are given the freedom to chose when they wish to be creative than to worry about making the sharing of ideas more smooth. The sharing part will come and a social discussion forum across the workforce will separate wheat from chaff, I posit more detailed solutions are not necessary and are more expensive than valuable to implement.

10) As indicated in the telepresent workforce article, technologies described in this point are going to be more useful for the executive and management levels of business who are more likely to actually come into work for deal creating and customer contact purposes. If the bulk of the workforce is "emancipated" to work on their own schedule such amenities will not need be needed in more than just one place...that place where the deal makers meet the customers to close deals.

24 May, 2012

Amplify your voice on Facebook: Use Page and Group Tagging...

A recent email triggered my intentional utilization of a Facebook feature that I up to now had only used to alert friends to postings or comments they'd find interesting. That is, the friend tagging feature.

Friend tagging I've found is very convenient way to notify specific people within the context of a thread or discussion. I often use it to ask a friend (who many not have participated in the thread prior to the tag) what they  felt about it, this is great as it enables such friends to discover content I wish them to discover (so long as they scan their notifications that is).

The incident that triggered my novel use of the tags though involves a public company, LinkedIn. I received an email from LinkedIn indicating that I was eligible for a month of "free" premium service. I already suspected that there was going to be a credit card tie in at some point and sure enough after clicking through the offer and landing on a credit card page I closed the browser tab miffed.

It upset me that they listed the offer as "free" but then still wanted my credit card, what made it worse was that in small lettering it was indicated that after the "free" month was over the credit card would begin being charged. This is a common marketing bate and switch but I absolutely abhor it. I consider it disingenuous at the best and out right dishonest at the worst, it just really got me riled up that day so I did something different.

I fired up a new status update on Facebook. In this message I detailed my gripe and when completed used the tagging feature to tag in the largest Facebook groups devoted to LinkedIn...hoping to get the official group created by LinkedIn marketing. I reasoned that tagging the group would pop my concern at the top of their wall and get at least a few hundred people to immediately see it. A fraction of those might share it.

Within minutes of posting the status message I received a response from a person claiming to work for LinkedIn! She tried to address my concerns of why LinkedIn was using that method and I told her there was no reason to do so as unless the LinkedIn technology prevents such a solution (simply enable the free month with no strings attached to a credit card for activating payment once the free period is over).

It was after I'd received the answer that I realized that I had used Facebook's group tagging in a powerful way, I had used it to broadcast to a much larger audience than exists on my actual friendlist a focused query to a specific group. In doing so I got immediate reaction from that group (LinkedIn) as they want to address customer gripes if they want their reputation to remain. Since the gripe was sent public ....there is little chance that it can be ignored or buried (as an email would easily be).

We've seen this type of power also released on Twitter as public posts by individuals with large follower counts can exert influence on brands by broadcasting. This is achieved such power for users with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers by creating the sponsored tweet industry. Influential people across many fields are able to sell sponsored tweets through their profiles to various brands and make cash. This is very popular via sites like http://sponsoredtweets.com/ and the money being made per tweet is quite impressive for the users with the larger follower sets.

However, the group tagging of Facebook allows any User to broadcast to the brand (unlike the sponsored tweet which broadcasts to the users follower set and speaks FOR a brand). Broadcasting to a brand and forcing eyes of any users of that brand that see that broadcast on the group wall to see the concern is a powerful stick to wave when one has an issue. It is also a very easily applied stick...simply find the groups for that brand and tag them in the comment! Though it is not lucrative as sending sponsored tweets it does allow a Facebook user with a small friend set to be able to amplify their broadcast such that their concerns are seen by large numbers of those that may share goods or services they care about. It's an interesting inversion of the power that sponsored tweets gives to celebrities, journalists and politicians.

I understand that there are ways for brands to hide comments on their walls and some may chose to do this but the tagging feature is still valuable to keep brands honest since the immediate friends of the person posting the gripe can be taken to the brand directly if they aren't aware of it and may be moved to join in the concern in their way.

I am going to be running a few more experiments with Group tagging in the next few months...and see how I can take further advantage of this new broadcasting feature. In many ways this feature makes the illusion of grand audience phenomena real....by allowing a user with a small actual friend list to broadcast their views to a much larger audience by using group tagging.