Sunday, December 25, 2005

MSFT Strikes Again?

I am curious about this RSS integration into Outlook. There's not a whole lot of chatter about his one, but there are a few doom-saying posts out there.

The most relevent point I saw was in a response to a comment on a post by Nic Cubrilovic

...but RSS is more than just ‘reading blogs’. The company I mentioned in the post is using RSSPopper to subscribe to an internal blog, bug tracking system, a wiki that is used for project specs and many other sources all relevant to the company. I am also currently advising a large UK firm on using blogs and RSS, and they will probably use RSSPopper as well until this new version of Outlook is released. This move is huge as it will introduce RSS and feeds to more businesses who will look at ways to use it effectively with internal knowledge management...
The point is: There are vast areas where social networking practices, tools and techniques have yet to catch on -- the workplace is the biggest and most lucrative one. The tools and techinues that optimize social information exchange will be different in the workplace. The balance between push and pull may be different. At the very least there will be a notion of 'obligation' --an employee must subscribe to X division update feed, and will be held responsible for mastery of its contents.

Think push Intranet that can actually be tailored to each job. You subscribe to what you need to know, you publish what you have to communicate.

The tools associated with blogging, which are so affectionately promoted, reviewed and defended by the web2.0 crowd are still niche offerings. They are still tech offerings and their value (as expressed in the chatter at least) is proportional to the cleaverness of the latest spin on the latest new new thing.

The promise of Outlook is in its breadth. Lots of people have general knowledge of how it works and open it every day anyway. And it comes at the social network from the other direction -- the pure push medium of email. Its a way to improve on email distribution lists as the primary mode of mass communication in the workplace.

I've always been surprised when these lists are treated as solutions -- 'we'll just create a new list and these communication problems won't happen again'.

The opportunity is huge for integrating social networking functions into the fabric of workplace information management. I don't know if this Outlook thing is really about this or not, but it probably is. And this could change the game for social networking applications.

Its VERY easy to see buisiness models around corporate social networking integration. Software, technical integration, business practice integration, consulting. Have to remember that most people don't have a clue about any of this stuff, and the value will be very easy to deliver.



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