Email is out, cos use social net to communicate
Javed Anwer TNN
New Delhi:“Email is passé. Tagging is in.” This is how Gautam Ghosh, a social media evangelist, describes the way communication is changing at workplace. For a generation of workforce brought up on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, the old collaborative tools, presentations and email are not only time-consuming and restrictive but also plain boring. No wonder bringing the social tools to the workplace to make it interactive and fun — and in most cases more productive — seems to the latest fad catching fancy of India Inc.
“For now most companies rely on intranet or web-based email services to allow their employees to collaborate and interact. But this is an archaic system. Sending multiple copies to people is not the right way to do it in this age,” said Jay Pullur, who in 2008 founded Qontex, a firm that specializes in providing social tools for workplace. “Better is to post a message on the ‘wall’ and tag people. It’s more fun, takes less time, more informal and more open. I believe in the next three years, 40% companies will be using social tools at the workplace.”
If experts are to be believed, fun and a less-formal working environment is just one part of the story. According to a study conducted by MarketTools Inc in 6,000 organizations, it was found that the use of Chatter, a social tool for enterprises offered by Salesforce.com, allows companies to reduce emails by 32%, meetings by 28%, and improved collaboration by 36%. Respondents also reported an average increase of 49% in finding relevant information quickly and 54% increase in managing customer information better.
Initially introduced only to salesforce.com customers, Chatter is now available for free to any person with a business email address through Chatter.com. “It has been our most successful product launch till date with more than 80,000 companies worldwide using it to collaborate within their own private social network,” said Steve McWhirter, senior vice president at salesforce.com. “Leveraging the social features popularized by Facebook and Twitter such as profiles, status updates and real-time feeds, Chatter allows employees to ‘follow’ documents, people, business processes and application data in real time.”
IBM, the big daddy of business software and services, sensed the trend as early as 2007 when it started offering IMB Connections to its customers. “Emails and company intranets are throwback to the era of Web 1.0, a period when the web pages were static and digital communication lacked realtime interaction. For a generation of workforce familiar with Web 2.0 tools like Facebook, it makes sense to use similar communication tools in the office,” said Karthik Padmanabhan IBM’s country manager for Lotus suite of software. “The best thing about social tools at workplace is that they increase the level of real-time collaboration and information dissemination. And they are very easy to use as most employees are already familiar with Facebook and Orkut etc. No training is required.”
Pullur says that despite the obvious benefits, some organizations still have reservations about using social tools at workplace. “Many companies see Facebook and Twitter as websites that kill productivity. They believe, erroneously, that IT tools similar to these websites are going to make employees indulge in gossip at the workplace. Many others don’t like these tools because to use them effectively you also have to empower employees. But gradually the mindset is changing,” he said.