IBM and MIT recently conducted an analysis of social networks inside IBM.
As the study's introduction explained, it "presents new empirical evidence on the relationship between information worker productivity and social capital generated from social networks."
Writer Stephen Baker summarized the research in a recent BusinessWeek article, explaining that this research "assign[ed] a dollar value to e-mail interaction with an employee's managers."
Out of several thousand consultants inside IBM, those with strong virtual links to a manager produced an average of $588 of revenue per month over the norm.
The research also found that the average email contact was worth $948 in revenue.
To discover this insight, Baker writes that the researchers used mathematical formulas to analyze the email traffic, address books, and buddy lists of 2,600 IBM consultants over the course of the year.
So, all you virtual wallflowers out there, it's time to start doing some serious social networking...that is, if you want to keep your organizational capital up there with the rest of the big boys and girls.
You can read the full research report here.
From where I sit, the implications of this research are profound.
If there are some individuals in an organization who are more effective in socializing ideas, initiatives, etc. in the organization, don't I want to know who those individuals are?
Wouldn't I want to improve my organization's competitive advantage by giving those "stars" the opportunity to maximize their reach and impact, both inside and outside the organization?
One can also imagine scenarios where the network topology of an organization is mapped to understand better who the key influencers are internally, for the purpose of ensuring one's salespeople are talking to the most influential individuals throughout the organization, from top to bottom.
What do you think?
What's your email address worth?
And do you think there's value in this type of research? Potentially other uses beyond some of these scenarios?
Technorati Tags: ibm research, network topology, mit, social networking, stephen baker
I'm suddenly not feeling so well.
As in, suddenly overnight.
I think all the running around South By Southwest may have caught up with me.
Which is a funny thing, because I didn't try to keep up with the 20-somethings and all the parties or anything.
I just went to the sessions like a good little student, took lots of notes, went out to dinner a couple of times with friends and colleagues, and then made my way back to the Turbo cave for a good night's sleep, each and every night.
So much for good behavior. If I'd have known I was going to get sick, I'd have stayed out all night at cool and hip digerati parties and completely worn myself out.
Okay, well it sounds good, anyhow.
I have exactly six days to get better before leaving for Hong Kong.
If I can't kill this illness by then, I'm sure 18 hours in economy class will do the trick. And yes, thank you very much, I've already started with the Airborn regimen.
Of course, Apple informs me I can now download "Quantum of Solace," along with other HD-quality movies, to watch on the iPod Touch on the way over.
But I'm not sure even James Bond can save us from a really bad April Fool's joke this year.
Conficker is a program that exploits Microsoft Windows vulnerabilities, and has allegedly infected over 12M computers.
John Markoff writes in the Bits blog that come April 1st, "the worm will generate 50,000 domain names and systematically attempt to communicate with each one."
Hopefully Cathay-Pacific's airline reservation system won't be one of those affected! I don't think hitchhiking from Hong Kong to Seoul is even possible, much less desirable.
Whatever happens, hopefully I won't end up in Montenegro, where the government has decided to block access to Facebook on government computers, according to TechDirt.
Look, I know the new Facebook page hasn't exactly been well received (Facebook's own polling suggests only 5% of their audience likes it), but isn't blocking access completely a little extreme?
Don't we want government officials everywhere to be able to send those cute little virtual cuddly things to one another?
Come to think of it, the new Facebook is kind of like traversing a government bureaucracy. You know there's a there there somewhere, but you just can't find anything.
Of course, even our own Uncle Sam is having some issues with the FB.
Another Bits post from this week indicated the Department of Homeland Security is having a tough go of it with Facebook.
"We have a Facebook page," an official from there said. "But we don't allow people to look at Facebook in the office. So we have to go home to use it. I find this bizarre."
Look at it this way: At least they're saving we taxpayers money on Uncle Sam's electric bill.
Technorati Tags: apple, business travel, james bond, facebook, social networking, sxsw2009
The Guardian is reporting that social networks like the FB...Facebook...are likely going to make the generations yet to come a bunch of babbling, infantile, social networking idiots.
Everybody's got to be somebody, I guess.
And here I was thinking that Facebook was just letting me get back in touch with people whom I thought had fallen off the face of the earth, like some of my fraternity brothers who now post pictures of me and that ancient beer bong from 20+ years ago.
But noooo, it's just not that simple.
A professor in synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College in Oxford recently explained to that bastion of advanced technology, the U.K.'s House of Lords, that social networking sites like Facebook "are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance."
No offense, but if I wanted some Shakespeare, I'd fly over to London myself and check out Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Facebook is not the place I typically turn to to have deep, inspiring, and cathartic narrative experiences.
Although I must say I do get a kick out of getting those status updates when somebody's either breaking up or headed into a new relationship or, if they're a newbie to Facebook, the notification that they just got "married," even though I know perfectly well they've been married for 15 years.
Perhaps Facebook relationship status updates are somewhere on the road towards dramatic catharsis, but they're definitely nowhere near Shakespearean territory.
Not even The Taming of the Shrew or the sonnets.
The Guardian article went on to explain that social networks are also putting attention span in jeopardy.
Attention span? In jeopardy?
When I was a kid, I played the Atari 2600, standup Asteroids and Defender machines, even the original Evil Knivel pinball machine -- for which I was a local recordholder (I figured if I couldn't jump canyons on my pseudo BMX, the next best thing was to ace the Evil Knievel pinball machine).
Those were attention deficit disorder drivers.
I can't remember the last time I paid attention to, well, anything, for more than a few minutes at a time.
But then again, all that was long before they had such a diagnosis, much less a pill.
In fact, I think this issue emanated even from the Atari Jurassic period, about the time that the original black-and-white Pong came into being.
You want to fix your kids on the subject of short attention spans?
Grab that original Atari 2600 out of storage and require them to play a pixellated version of the original Defender.
They'll be doing their homework in no time.Listen to this post.
Technorati Tags: gaming, house of lords, social networking, technoculture
This is a shorty.
In the Lotusphere opening session, one of the items announced was a plan to create a new plugin for Lotus Notes (and for Lotus Connections) that is integrated with the LinkedIn business social networking platform.
This will allow folks using Notes and the LinkedIn plugin to see relevant information to the people in your emails in the Notes inbox.
For example, you could see the job title of the person, how many connections they had, where they're located, etc.
So, in short, it's a dynamic mashup of your LinkedIn profile information directly in the Lotus Notes inbox. How convenient will that be??
Check out this blog post from Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch, and you'll see how this type of integration worked in Outlook using a product from Xobni last year.
The LinkedIn plugin support for Lotus Notes is expected to be ready in the first half of this year.
Technorati Tags: linkedin, lotus notes, profile information, social networking
Facebook is finally ready to expand its social networking tentacles beyond Facebook.com, the New York Times is reporting this morning, with the adoption of Facebook Connect by a number of partner Web sites.
This capability, announced earlier this year, will essentially let users take their Facebook data and use it on other Web properties.
Their identity (read: authentication, as well as basic profile information), friends, and privacy controls can be carried to and leveraged by other Websites, and in turn, it will allow those other properties to feed off the Facebook engine.
The Times story indicates that among those signing up to use the service include Digg, Discovery Channel, the San Francisco Chronicle, online video star Hulu, among others.
Though this is clearly intended to make the very popular social networking site even more social, it also seems clearly intended to identify more logical ways to monetize the Facebook juggernaut.
Advertisers haven't exactly flocked to Facebook in droves, and a recent IDC study observed that only 57 percent of users of social networks clicked on an ad in a social networking site over the past year.
By taking the Facebook profile data into other sites, Facebook is essentially opening the aperture of its ad sales opportunity.
But they're also running the risk of another privacy bungle, one not unlike the original outcry among college students when Facebook introduced the now incredibly popular NewsFeed feature, and more recently its Beacon advertising system.
For my money, education and a slow and steady approach wins this race.
Facebook needs to educate the market and its user base about the opportunity Connect presents to each constituency, one for selling advertising, and the other for enriching the Facebook experience.
By demonstrating how Facebook Connect can enhance the consumer FB experience beyond the site, Facebook can ease concerns about the use (or misuse) of their profile information, much as they smoothed over the initial concerns expressed about NewsFeed -- a feature which many would now consider to be the key feature that distinguishes the Facebook experience (I would be one among them).
Based on my reading of the Times story, the slow and steady approach seems to be the one that Facebook has adopted, remembering that friends in one's social graph are made one click at a time.
Technorati Tags: facebook, online marketing, privacy, social networking
I humbly bow before the American football gods this morning and concede the defeat of my Dallas Cowboys to the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins, of all teams to lose our first game to.
I imagine there were quite a few text messages zipping back and forth between Redskins and Cowboys fans in the D.C. and Dallas areas yesterday evening.
And if so, well, they'd just be a small few of a much larger trend, with The New York Times reporting Nielsen Mobile statistics that would suggest American cellphone subscribers sent more text messages in the fourth quarter of 2007 than they did make phone calls.
And the increase can apparently be chalked up to the increased ubiquity of mobile devices having QWERTY-style keypads, whose users apparently send 54 percent more text messages than those using traditional phone keypads.
Brand management firm Cone also released an interesting study, one centering on social media which found that almost 60 percent of Americans interact with companies on a social media Web site, and one in four more than once per week.
The Cone Business in Social Media Study revealed that 93 percent of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media.
Further, 85 percent believe companies should not only be present but also should interact with consumers via the social media.
So, in case the message isn't loud and clear, there are two signals chiming through here:
If you're a company without a presence in the social media, get one.
If you're a company with a presence in the social media but none of your employees are out there representing your brand, find some.
Your customers -- prospective and existing -- are apparently interested in hearing from you.
As Mike Hollywood (great name), director of new media for Cone, said in the release announcing the study:
"The news here is that Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media...it isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.”
Only those companies who welcome their employees' participation in the social media can, in turn, welcome that discussion with prospective customers.
Of course, you could just continue on with the neverending and typically dull corporate soliloquy.
To be social, or not to be....
Technorati Tags: cone, market research, dallas cowboys, social media, social networking
I'm working from London today, attending meetings at IBM's Bedfont Lakes location just outside Heathrow airport.
I'm about five hours ahead of the opening of the New York markets, and considering the constant stream of seemingly bad news concerning numerous financial services and investment firms over the weekend, I had to laugh to myself when I read that the Wall Street Journal is expected to launch some new social networking and community features tomorrow.
I hope there's still someone around in that industry to sign up for those new community features.
Last one out, turn off the Delicious tags!
In the case of the Journal, an Associated Press story indicates that with the new Journal site, community members will be able to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups, and ask one another for advice.
Actually, it's very exciting to me to see the major media turn on such features.
As I traveled on the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station back to the airport this morning, I had a short 15 minutes to ponder what questions I might like to pose to the Journal's community using these new features when they become available.
I eventually arrived at the following.
Is my money safer:
A) Stuffed deep into my Sleep Number mattress (sleep number of 35)
B) Filed away in an anonymous Swiss bank account
C) On the "Come" line of a Las Vegas casino craps table
D) Invested in South Florida condominiums
E) Sitting in my non-interest bearing PayPal account
F) None of the above
Technorati Tags: financial meltdown, london, online community, business travel, social networking
I've had a long and storied career in the interactive marketing business.
I was interactive before interactive was cool. Way before.
But the best part of my career has been the incredible variety and diversity of very cool and very smart people whom I've met along the way.
From the agency partners to the other Web marketers to all the vendors and media folks I've worked with to all the various and sundry technology partners to all my vast number of IBM friends...suffice it to say I've been very fortunate and very blessed to have worked with and become friends with the caliber and number of people with whom I have.
Many of those friendships have continued long beyond their initial work scope (changing jobs, ended projects, etc.) and there are others who have faded into the distance, but whom I hear from now and again, and others whom I wonder what became of them.
So when I read on Networkworld today that nearly one in four businesses now block employee access to social networking sites -- sites like LinkedIn and Facebook -- I did a double take.
Are you kiddin' me?
You view social networking sites as a productivity killer? Really?
Look, I'll be the first to admit I like watching Tyson the skateboarding bulldog as much as the next person. Heck, I also just plain like bulldogs, so the fact that they can skateboard just makes them that much cooler.
So yes, there's some frivolity that goes along with social networks.
However, let me also point out this fact: Do you know how many cool and long-lost-friends-and-colleagues that I've heard from via Facebook over the last year. And that I'm still hearing from? People whose fate I had pondered? People whose advice I still valued, or whose expertise I still admired.
People whose talents and skills and knowledge whom I might be able to leverage on behalf of IBM again someday, and who, even if not, I was very happy to be back in contact with -- whether in a personal or professional capacity or both.
Online, what's personal is increasingly becoming what's professional, and vice versa. Locking down the bits streaming in from Facebook and other social networks may seem like a good idea at the time, but it's likely shutting down one of your employees' most powerful networking tools.
We're in a knowledge economy, people. And people and relationships and who knows what and who knows whom are an integral element of the knowledge economy value chain.
And you want to shut that down? Really? Seriously?
As Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, the consulting firm who conducted the study mentioned in the article, "...business should integrate social networking and other Web 2.0 tools 'into every facet of the organization, from marketing to internal employee communication.'"
For the record, we're doing that inside and outside the IBM Corporation, and never have so many communicated so much to so many with so much efficiency.
Yes, social networking requires some adjustments with how information is shared and with whom, although more of them are cultural and process-oriented than technological.
But if you really want to see your organization lose its vitality and productivity, go ahead, shut down the social networking Intertubes.
Pretty soon, you'll find yourself like Tom Hanks and his friend, Wilson, in the movie "Castaway":
Stuck on an island.
Wondering how in the world you can get back in touch with everybody back at the office.
Talking to a volleyball.
Technorati Tags: facebook, linkedin, productivity, social networking
It seems the move towards more transparency is moving beyond the confines of the boardroom and into the HR department.
TechCrunch provides an overview of Glassdoor, a new site that positions itself has "a career and workplace community where anyone can find and anonymously share real-time reviews, ratings, and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers."
In the TechCrunch rundown, for example, we discover that the pay range for software engineers at Google is between $80,000 and $150,000, and that while Microsoft and Yahoo engineers are paid in the same general range, they recieve much smaller bonuses (and also don't have heated toilets).
Glassdoor could evolve quickly into the Zillow for disgruntled employees, with sandbagging salary entries intended to drive away qualified prospects.
So as with any crowdsourcing site, trash in, trash out, and vice versa. Since Glassdoor is smartly starting with Bay Area companies, where the HR plot thickens and talent is still valued, the cream could very well rise to the top and provide a valuable service.
We shall see.
In the meantime, once you've used Glassdoor's information to help narrow down the short list of your next employment stop, be sure to also check out the new Lotus Connections 2.0 that was announced yesterday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.
The new version of Lotus Connections (which we will soon be using inside and outside the IBM firewall) allows for home page streaming of feeds from various components of the Connections application (think Facebook Newsfeed for the enterprise), so that folks can keep track with the goings on with their colleagues.
The widgets feature will also allow people to customize their main page and also add links from outside the enterprise (Scrabulous, anyone?), or even customized business applications from inside the organization.
You can learn more about the new Lotus Connections here.
Technorati Tags: glassdoor, lotus connections, enterprise computing, social networking
If you're a LinkedIn user of any variety, you probably recognize that one of the self-evident missing components was the ability to hone in and get more skinny on the goings on of a company.
Today, LinkedIn is starting down the road to changing all that and, in the process, becoming more Hooveresque.
As TechCrunch's Mark Hendrickson posts, LinkedIn today is expected to launch company profile pages that serve as "fact sheets" for an estimated 160,000 companies.
These fact sheets will draw on information from BusinessWeek sister company Capital IQ, and will include company descriptions, industries, types, status, websites, etc.
Hendrickson reports that LinkedIn will use information to display recent hires, promotions, top locations for employees, etc.
Think six degrees of corporate separation on steroids.
Of course, as Caroline McCarthy's CNET "The Social" blog points out, "accuracy" is an issue when it comes to the data gathered from LinkedIn profiles.
To get a taste of what the new feature provided, I went in and did a search on "IBM" to see the IBM page.
As promised, it included a list of new hires, recent promotions and changes, and popular profiles at IBM, many of them featuring employees from IBM India, which clearly has a vibrant IBM LinkedIn presence.
It also included the most common job titles at IBM and some basic demography, as well as top schools represented:
University of Texas: 1% (Hook 'em Horns!)
Bangalore University: 1%
North Carolina State University: 1%
According to LinkedIn, the median age at IBM is 34 years old.
Also of note, IBM employees are most connected to employees at Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP (perhaps that's why the "Career path for IBM employees before and after IBM" also features a seeming revolving door to Oracle and Microsoft?!)
It will be interesting to see how this new feature will be used -- by job hunters, recruiters, employers -- and by how Hoovers and other companies in the business of providing reliable business intelligence respond.
Check out this video to get an overview of the new feature.
Just remember: Everybody -- including your boss -- is watching.