Social software has had an enormous impact on the workplace, but how much bigger can we go? Already chat is a major communication tool (usually within a business, but sometimes with customers as well.) Businesses are finding justification for setting up blogs and wikis both internally and externally. I work at a company where a large portion of the developers work remotely (there is a joke internally that the hiring manager is trying to get a developer in every state) and keeping in touch is done through a combination of chat, wiki, GoogleDocs and phone conferences. The issue we are discovering with phone conferences is one of bandwidth. While the old style of everyone in the office sitting around a conference phone while everyone remote dials in isn’t a major strain on the VoIP server, many of our conferences lately have involved everyone who is taking part in the conference dialing in via soft-phone from their workstation. The load on the poor server! So the idea was brought up – why not set up an account on a hosted Ventrilo server. That way our VoIP server stays available for our customers (as it should).
This got me thinking – what other social software might be re-purposed for business use? The one that immediately sprang to mind was Twitter. A business could set up a twitter server with a few little modifications which could make it extremely handy. First, set up the server to log all the tweets. Next, set it up so that when logging the tweet it checks the message. If the message starts with @log it could do some magic with it and then either silently discard it (not passing it on to the network), pass it on without changing it, or pass on a customized message based on that tweet.
As a for instance, here are some @log actions I thought up this afternoon. (Most of these require that the twitter server also has access to things like the primary db server, etc):
- @login <message> - the server puts a clock in message in the time clock table of the database for the user sending the tweet, and puts the optional message in the ‘notes’ column of the table (if there is one). The server then sends the message username has clocked in
- @logout <message> – same as for login, but clocks the user out.
- @log [task_message] – the server puts the userid, message and time in the tasks table and sends the tweet username is working on [task message]
- @logend <message> - same as above, but puts an end time in the row and sends the tweet username is no longer working on [task_message] <message>
Ok, so it’s not a lot, but it is simple, and simple things are more easily adopted. And this ties into electronic time cards, and electronic task time tracking. Hmmm. So what others are there that could be adapted? how about adding a “social tagging” site (something like Spock) to enhance your intranet and internal wiki? You could easily see who is tagged with which project or team and quickly find the right person to answer your question.
I’m sure there are plenty more things that could be incorporated. I just haven’t thought of them yet.
Technorati Tags: Twitter, Social Software, Business