Collaboration 2.0: Make The Web Your Workspace

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CEOs once dictated into a recording device, and then had a secretary type up corporate communication, which employees would eventually find waiting in their desktop inbox. Email was the next wave, with some execs going so far as to type a missive and hit "bulk-send" on their own. Today's tech-trendy executive, however, posts live to an internal or public blog to offer employees and other stakeholders an unprecedented level of insight into the organization's inner workings.

"The blog is the one piece of the website that CEOs like to play with," says Rogers. However, according to the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki, only 40 Fortune 500 companies currently maintain public blogs. These statistics may actually point to the fact that public blogs can be tricky territory for image-conscious corporations, while in-house blogs provide an open platform for employee information exchange.

According to Rogers, Ektron's CMS400.net lets companies choose to make their blogs public or private. Public blogs give the outside world a limited look into what's going on inside companies, but maintaining and monitoring public blogs can be less about transparency and more about marketing the company's image to the public.

The blogging tools in Ektron's CMS400.net blogging tools are designed for more than just high-level corporate communication, however. The blog is designed to keep teams in synch with one another's developments on a daily basis. "It's like a high-level status report," Rogers explained. Instead of having to solicit project updates from employees, managers can update themselves via the project's blog. Critical information is centralized and easily accessed whenever it's needed. He points to his own experience using blogs at Ektron for product information: "Any time there's an issue and the client calls me and I can find the information that they're looking for fast, that totally changes the conversation."

Not surprisingly, a key tenant of the 2.0 movement—ease of use—is a large part of blogging's appeal for internal communication. "At the end of the day, it only takes 15 minutes to post," Rogers says of his daily blog updates, pointing out that this is a lot faster than reading through and replying to accumulated emails. Blogs also offer flexibility, as they can be set up very quickly for immediate needs and users can post from cell phones or any location using simple web-based tools.

Unlike most websites, which are designed for one-way communication, blogs can easily be designed to encourage discourse. As they browse others' entries, employees can contribute feedback by posting a comment or an entry in reply. Blogs can easily incorporate calendars and data tools and often come equipped with RSS feeds and subscriber alerts, so that when a team member or project manager posts, all employees receive instant notification.

Name Tags
As enterprise blogs and wikis transform corporate communication into content, it's important that this content remain findable. In a 2.0 world, however, taxonomies must be flexible and speak the user's language. According to a Forrester Research report, 44% of employees can find what they need on their corporate intranet every time, but 78% can find what they're looking for on the internet. Workers are clearly more adept at Googling than they are at sorting through their own indexing systems. That's why, as more unstructured data pours into CMS systems via blogs and wikis, CMS providers like Koral are redesigning internal search with Web 2.0 technology—specifically tags—in mind.

In a Collaboration 2.0 environment, new content may not easily fit into formal content management or database hierarchies. Most employees have individual systems for labeling and retrieving data, but that limits the ability to collaborate by tapping into the full range of a company's information resources. "It's easy to build an index on your individual desktop using Google Desktop or Lookout," says Koral CEO Mark Suster. "But that doesn't exist across desktops." 

That's why Koral's approach is to flatten the typical corporate search hierarchy in its Content Collaboration system and turn it into a folksonomy. Content creators tag their documents, projects, and blog entries with any keywords they think might increase findability as they upload files into the corporate workspace. 

Folksonomies might seem counter to the seemingly requisite structured taxonomies used in enterprise content management systems. However, they provide a more human search solution to handle information that might otherwise end up lost in an unstructured data void. The metadata that each user leaves behind makes the search process more dynamic, and documents become findable the minute they go online. As users contribute more tags over time, the metadata surrounding each item changes to reflect the file's evolving role in the information pool. If a report written on one topic becomes an important source for another, a new tag is all it takes to put that report on the map for fellow searchers.  

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