Saturday, July 12, 2008

I am currently involved in a new project and am leading the efforts to build a strategy/plan for the "workforce of the future" at the company who employs me full time. This is one of those fun instances where my work world and my real world overlap. As a result, I have been thinking about and exploring social networking even more than usual. ( is that possible???). The type/configuration/functionality you would want to have in a workplace social network is different than one you would build for people to share hobbies or plan parties. Yes, there is a lot of overlap.. but the idea of online networking at work is not just social.. it is a way to build relationships, increase productivity and achieve an end goal.

There is not currently any social network in the online market that I would want to pick up and transplant to my workplace- but if I could pull bits and pieces from several networks to build a new one, here is what it would look like:

General Profile info:
I love the info that is in the LinkedIn profiles, even if you are working at the same company now, it is sometimes useful to know what the other person's history is, the people they know and the skill set they bring with them. I would want to add the additional feature of .rdf for basic keywords in people's profiles to make the information more linked and more searchable.
References are great things to be able to display, but I waver between a reference and being able to tag people. I find that there are always useful tags people would not have thought to apply to themselves. Being a workplace, you would probably want to "block" certain tags from any use at all ( asshole and slacker are two that quickly come to mind....). I think the best solution would be the ability to do both- writing longer references that are listed, as well as being able to tag people and their abilities.
Tags are of no use at all, unless you have good tools for searching, sorting and clustering them. is my favorite interface for this task. I sometimes need to know who has worked at a location, or on a product/product line or even for a certain manager.. the possibilities are endless.

Project Information:

For many of us, work is defined by the projects we have on our plate, or that we have completed. I am torn between the Ning approach to project sites and the Amazee approach. I like the functionality in the Amazee site, but the look and feel and ese of communication/connectivity that persists at Ning. The folks over at the Amazee site are doing a redesign, so I am reserving judgment until then.

Communication Tools:

There is no overlooking the importance of IM and/or microblogging to online communications. A Twitter-like interface that allows people to pose questions to the corporate brain, update on project progress or notify coworkers of delays, problems or frustrations would go far in the quest to improve internal corporate communication.

What would you add? What would you change? What is the one killer function that a corporate social networking tool has to have??


  1. Some way of finding out where you can find certain expertise in your company. I have yet to see an efficient way of doing this. Good tag + search/clustering is one way to do this, but implementations have been lacking.

    One nice thing I have seen is declared interests (could be hobbies), perhaps around internal hobby/focus groups

  2. For the most part, most corporations have filtering capabilities and "standards" already in place that prevent the "asshole", etc. tags from getting through. But I would agree with you, the Linkdin networking feature is what would make it useful in the workplace. I am a consultant placed in a large IT shop for a fortune-35 corp. Knowing the background of the people I'm currently reporting to or working with would be a big plus. Good luck with this project!