As a self confirmed ‘geek’ I like to think that I am fairly ‘IT savy’ and can find my way around most computers and their associated programs. As such I am the first port of call at work for my ‘more challenged’ colleagues, this is something that I am happy with, I can help them in a fraction of the time it would take them to sort the problem. This is very much the usual way people learn IT in the real world as I see it.
However, with the growth of interest in social networking within the business world the stress on ‘non techies’ is as far as I can see about to reach overload!
The older social networking sites – MSN, Facebook and Bebo to name a few, have always been the domain of youth, with Facebook being the site people ‘grew into’ when they started college. There is therefore a new work generation coming through who are comfortable with social networking ( most under 30).
However, we are now seeing with the availability of mobile web via smart phones (iPhones, Pocket PC’s and Blackberries mainly) many of these social sites being accessable 24/7. The most obvious of these being Twitter, a real child of social networking but rapidly becoming one of the most active, if not the biggest.
I discovered Twitter via certain internet sites that I regularly visit, I thought I would follow some, a great idea as you get the updates instantly! Little did I know that I would soon start posting and have my own followers. I still find Twitter great for getting instant news from the BBC and other organisations (even the RICS my professional body uses it). I now also use it to show when I have updated this blog – clever!
At work we have started to use Yammer – in effect an intranet related directly to our email users (only they can access it). Again it can be used on smartphones (excellent iPhone app) and in this way gives instant access to messages, even with text notifications. This works well, but only if the entire firm embraces it – and this is where I see a possible problem.
Non ‘techies’ find all of this either scary or pointless – they have email (and in our case exchange based so instant via our iPhones) so why do they need this addition?
To me its obvious – instant information / messaging between ALL staff at once, and in the case of iPhone users anywhere, email does not give this across all users. However getting people to accept this is not always straight forward. Especially to the non social networking generation (which to be honest I fall into age wise).
On top of Twitter and Yammer, we have Linkedin. This is actually like Facebook for business people and probably the best external network for ‘adults’ as it is purely business driven. Considering it is attempting to attract a fairly large section of the non social networking generation I find it fairly un-user friendly. Remember I am a self confessed ‘techie’ – so how does a ‘normal’ older businessman find it?
This is my main concern with this current surge in networking. It will happen and become more and more a part of business. But will a sector of the economy just find it too much and get left behind? We must make sure it is not us that wither and die!
On that point it’s now off to try and get to grips with Google Wave, the next big advance in social networking? Lets hope it’s nice and straight forward to use………..