May 20, 2009

Bosses and Workers Disagree on Social Network Privacy - Digits - WSJ

A very interesting article on the battle between the bosses and the employees. I suspect there would be different results outside the US where privacy laws and attitudes are very different than in US firms - favoring more or less employee privacy and tolerance depending on where you go.

The survey was conducted in April with about 2,000 U.S. adults. Of the 500 respondents with managerial job titles (vice president, CIO, partner, board member, etc.), 299, or 60%, agreed that businesses have a right to know how employees portray themselves or their companies on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

But 53% of employee respondents said their profiles are none of their employers’ business, and 61% said that they wouldn’t change what they were doing online even if their boss was monitoring their activities.
It's a hard reality to consider that the boss thinks they have every right to monitor all data that you produce and perceive the employee as a liability - especially in these days of record breaking layoffs. It's true, the Internet's lowered opportunity costs for individual global self-expression poses a huge risks to companies in forms of safety, lost information, and disclosed secrets. The relationship of employer and employee becomes increasingly adversarial.

Both employer and employee play a part in solving this problem. As the article points out in a quote by Sharon Allen, rather than draconian rules, employers should communicate "guidelines focused on company principles and ethical behavior, and to offer to help workers understand privacy settings on these sites." Yet, according to the Deloitte survey, "roughly a quarter (26%) of employees said they knew of specific guidelines as to what they could and couldn’t post."

Employees aren't off the hook either and need to recognize that usage policies are conditions of employment and should be mindful to follow those guidelines. That may mean more work on the individual to make clear distinctions between what they represent about their jobs in personal social realms. Which is increasingly harder to do; as we create stronger bonds with people through channels that help us to keep in touch over time and distance the line of who's a colleague and who's a friend becomes more blurred.

Since this is all social there's plenty of nuance for conflict and mis-communication. As Ms Allen points out there is the potential conflict of employer versus employee "branding" and is open for broad interpretation. It's a fine line to walk. When so many people identify themselves with what they do for work it's very hard to separate the dos and don'ts.

Despite all the risk, keep in mind that the boss actually likes social software. The last paragraph of the article demonstrates that while employees currently find social software more burdensome, employers see a benefit:

Another difference of opinion expressed in the survey was how social networks affect work-life balance. Less than a third of employees (31%) agreed with the statement “Using social-networking sites helps me achieve better work-life balance,” with 19% strongly disagreeing. More than half (56%) of executives said a little Facebook time improves work-life, however.

Bosses and Workers Disagree on Social Network Privacy - Digits - WSJ

May 19, 2009

Google Says “Googlefail” Outages Are Over - Digits - WSJ

Phew. Anyone else out there skeptical about this?
“The issue affecting some Google services has been resolved,” a spokesman said. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll share more details soon.”

Kudos to Google for working hard to solve their problems and continue to improve their services. Still you never know what's around the corner. I can't blame Google for doing the positive PR spin since they've been getting hit hard for outages by the press, blogisphere, and twitterati lately. Announcing the good news of a fix with confidence in the future is a necessary.

Google Says “Googlefail” Outages Are Over - Digits - WSJ

The Exploding Digital Universe - Digits - WSJ

World data volume reality check...

In 2008 alone, IDC says the world created 487 billion gigabytes of information, up 73% from 2007. That was 3% more than it forecast at the beginning of the year.

The Exploding Digital Universe - Digits - WSJ

May 15, 2009

Daydreaming? You're actually solving complex problems • The Register

Someone needs to call my 3rd grade teacher.

They found that daydreaming 'is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives'.
The upshot of the research is that, if you're struggling to solve a complex problem, you might be better off switching to something less taxing and letting your mind wander.

Daydreaming? You're actually solving complex problems • The Register

Microsoft's software pipeline set to burst - Microsoft, sharepoint, TechEd, Windows 7 - Computerworld

Nice take-away from TechEd 2009 from Network World's John Fontana.

If there was one revelation at this week's Microsoft TechEd conference it was that the company's product pipeline is stuffed with new software timed for release in the next seven to 12 months that will force corporate IT to deftly plan and strategize how it wants to deal with the onslaught.

Read the full article for more of his thoughts on how this may impact customers.

Disclosure: I'm quoted in the article.

Microsoft's software pipeline set to burst - Microsoft, sharepoint, TechEd, Windows 7 - Computerworld

May 7, 2009

Oracle's Grand Collaboration Ambitions - Information Management Blog - InformationWeek

More on Oracle Beehive. The author goes on to provide analysis on how the strategy might work. The Zen moment is in his statement:

From a vendor perspective, the smart money should assume a strong Microsoft presence somewhere along the axis of e-mail, IM/presence and collaboration, and be prepared to play nicely with it.

This is extremely valid point. My bets are on e-mail in that formula. Vendors can't just rely on integrating their own solutions (or other products they offer) and ignore the 800 pound gorilla. Having a strategy for delivering tools that integrate with Microsoft desktop and productivity applications is vital to answering the needs of customers that don't want to overhaul their entire IT infrastructure. You'd have to have a pretty compelling value proposition to displace everything, and there are so many good enough alternatives in the marketplace today, so why not play nicely?

Oracle's Grand Collaboration Ambitions - Information Management Blog - InformationWeek

May 5, 2009

Sizing up the Exchange 2010 Integrated Archives

A couple weeks ago I posted information on Microsoft's Exchange 2010 beta announcement. Since this is Microsoft's first foray into email archiving as a product, let alone an integrated feature of Exchange, I was curious about the implementation and what customers could expect. I've now got some more answers and it looks like the new service falls somewhere between a local personal archive and an centralized email archival and records management system.

Bottom line, the Exchange 2010 integrated archiving is a feature of the mailbox server role and builds email archives on the same server as the live mailbox. The archive is stored in centrally managed Exchange message store that allows administrative access to archived message content and ediscovery capabilities. The end user experience in the mailbox is a separate folder for the archived messages. The archive does not support SIS or stubbing, and there is no tiered storage management or records management for archive disposition other than the global mailbox purge, retention and hold features introduced in Exchange 2007. As far as existing local personal archive PSTs, users can drag and drop existing archives to the server based store from their desktops (probably requires Outlook).

So far Microsoft is looking at the beta program to gain more insight on how this new feature will impact server performance and number of mailboxes the server can support. Exchange 2007 brought economies of scale by increasing the number of mailboxes supported by a single server and I'm curious how the increased archiving might impact that performance. I suppose this is more of a storage issue than a messaging service issue; storage will likely need to be increased on mailbox servers to support the archives.

One of the questions I have is how disruptive the integrated archiving will be on the current email archiving market and whether it will put partners out of business. In general, if customers need more robust archiving and records management the Exchange 2010 archiving will not be sufficient, but for remedying problems associated with personal archives and errant PST files the solution will likely be popular. At this point, customers that require heavy lifting with storage and records management they will continue to look to third parties that offer more control over the archives.

Agile working saves money | Gulliver |

A short example of how unified communications (UC) help save money.

BRITISH TELECOM is saving itself £238m ($355m) a year through efficient use of conferencing... As a result of recent efforts to curtail unnecessary travel and focus ever harder on conferencing, BT says it’s reduced its expenditure on air travel and accommodation by around 70% in the last 12 months.

Although UC requires planning, up front expenditures, and bringing together traditionally separate teams (namely telecommunications and IT), the benefits are clearly worth it.

Agile working saves money | Gulliver |

Microsoft Vine To Connect Family, Friends When Crisis Hits

It's a good idea; building a channel and infrastructure for people to keep in touch in the event of an emergency. It's interesting to note that the best way to endure an emergency is to be prepared, and in the case of Microsoft's Vine beta being prepared is made easier.

Vine is designed to keep family and friends in touch when other communication methods are either broken or not particularly efficient. Times of crisis usually involve a breakdown in mobile phone or other key communication infrastructures, and Vine is designed to be as hardy as possible to keep people connected. Vine can be accessed via a desktop client (Windows only for now), text message or email.

But the value-add of Vine isn't in the social network per se. Fortunately as individuals in the US we don't endure disasters too frequently so a social network dedicated to disaster response is likely to be something that remains in the background for many of us. Which bears the question will people want to maintain a secondary channel in case of emergency? More than likely users will continue to use the social channels they currently use to remain in contact with others rather than switch to another specialized service.

This is exactly what happened last July in LA when an earthquake hit. Cell phones were out (probably because they were taken over by emergency services) but texting still worked. I was at the gym and within a minute of the event (after we evacuated and stood clear of the building) people were able to text friends and family saying they were OK, get information on the earthquake (5.4), and tap into news on any damage or injury (fortunately none). The other day I was on Facebook when 5 of my local LA friends updated their status that a 4.4 quake near Malibu - I never felt it.

My point is that in emergencies people want to connect with the VIPs of their lives, find out what is happening, and share that information. This is nothing new in the world of collaboration and social software, we just step up our activities when something really important happens. What Vine does differently from most social networks is it provides additional value in the form of news and public information combined with the personal network. This is a valuable model that all social networks should ultimately provide; value for the individual, value for the group, and value for the organization.

Mike Gotta has collected some links to articles on Vine if you want to read more.

Microsoft Vine To Connect Family, Friends When Crisis Hits

May 4, 2009

Oracle aims at Microsoft with upgraded Beehive collaboration

Oracle announced it's upgraded Beehive 1.5 platform today. As the article points out, Oracle is looking to take on the collaboration leaders IBM and Microsoft with hopes of upsetting the collaboration market apple cart. Yet again we get into the semantic tongue twister that begins when talking about collaboration. When you try to take on the different vendors you end up with different stories. IBM collaboration is Notes/Domino which also includes email and its communications is Sametime. Microsoft collaboration is SharePoint and its communications is Exchange and OCS. Oracle collaboration and communications is Beehive and Web Center. Bottom line, each vendor offers some level of collaboration and communication (with varying degrees of effectiveness), and whenever they try to make pairwise comparisons things get very complicated.

The Beehive message attempts to walk a fine line of not getting overly enmeshed in the front-end delivery of services but rather to provide more of a platform for the back-end and middleware. Oracle has taken the bottom up approach that power is in the data store (not such a surprise) and that the front-end is a user choice. Still they needed to offer some UI for customers who want a client interface. With Beehive this includes some toe stepping with other Oracle products that provide collaboration and content management, setting them up for some internal competition for customer's attention.

Oracle aims at Microsoft with upgraded Beehive collaboration