Social networks in the workplace

We all appreciate what the benefits are of using social networks externally and to some degree internally. But what are some of the dangers of using social networks within a workplace. In Social Networks in the workplace - some data protection issues the author looks at one of the biggest concerns around the use of social networks within a workplace Data Protection

Internal concerns about Data Protection usually boil down to an individuals concern that the content they post on a social networking site, for example a message board of instant messaging site, may be subject to scrutiny by colleagues or managers who weren't the intended recipient. Individuals may also be concerned that their use of external social networking sites and the adverts that are shown on these sites may also reflect badly on them. For example if you're looking at Facebook or watching a video on YouTube and an inappropriate advert is displayed, does this reflect badly on you and will this be seen by line managers?

So how should concerns around misuse of personal data within the workplace be handled. The author outlines two approaches. The first was to enforce the Data Protection act within the workplace. This might work if the social networking site is based in the UK but in most cases is going to be difficult to enforce. The second option is to educate users. This strikes me as a much more effective way to protect individuals and organisations from any data protection issues.

The final part of this article looks at how data protection issues affect an information managers work, especially where they might be involved in preparing policies around individuals use of social networking sites. Again the key is to ensure individuals are educated about the use of social networking sites, either through training or by providing guidelines and documentation around the use of social networking sites.

 [Photo credit - Data Protection from Mista Bob]

It's not very chrismassy...

What are your intranet bad habits?
...but I had to link to this post on the Content Formula website which asks what are the five worst things you can do with your intranet.

There are probably a lot more then five really bad things that you can do to your intranet having said that this article covers some of the things you HAVE to do right to ensure your intranet is well used.

What are these things I hear you say, well here we go:
  1. Don't grow an eyesore - Make your intranet aesthetically pleasing, keep font use to a minimum and apply the same styles throughout the intranet so that users have a seamless experience and don't think "Am I still on the intranet"
  2. Under or over watering - This is about ensuring your content is well maintained and that the content that is published to the intranet is meaningful and relevant
  3. Having an out of control intranet - It's all very well having an intranet that looks great, but not if it contains 50k pages of which 7 are actually useful. Establishing a well ordered hierarchy and encouraging editors to review content regularly will ensure your intranet doesn't get out of control
  4. Too many cooks in the kitchen - Where intranets are based on a de-centralised publishing model it can be hard to maintain the same look and feel and content quality across the site. If this is the case then you should put in place a good governance model, which makes it clear who 
  5. Having an intranet that remains static - Content that has been on the homepage for months isn't going to be appealing to users. Across the intranet content should be updated regularly to ensure users regularly check the site for updates and for new content
So those are the five worst things according to Content Formula, do you have anymore?

Top five reasons to use LinkedIn groups

Earlier this year I spoke at the BIALL conference on how I thought individuals should be using LinkedIn as more then just a place where they add connections. Entitled "Going beyond connections" my talk was a look at some of the functionality available within LinkedIn that users may be less aware of including LinkedIn groups. I use LinkedIn groups on a regular basis both to ask questions and to connect with individuals who work in similar positions to me.

So it was great to see the LinkedIn blog publish a post entitled the "Top five reasons to use LinkedIn groups" in the post the author outlines five reasons you might want to start using LinkedIn groups. These all resonate with me but I have to say number two resonates a little bit more. The full list is:
  1. Learn from your network
  2. Discover your passion
  3. Engage with your community
  4. Develop a focused audience
  5. Deliver high quality, curated content
What do you think, are you using LinkedIn groups or do you avoid them at all costs?

Managing an intranet - what would you do?

I've been in my current post for just over two years and have been thinking about what I've achieved in that time. That time has certainly flown by, but I'm able to point at some tangible improvements I've made to both the intranet and to our enterprise search tool.

When I joined my current firm I'd never managed an intranet before, although I'd been heavily involved in looking after my previous firms intranet it had never officially been my job. So starting here and actually managing an intranet has meant quite a steep learning curve. So now we come to the real core of this blog post. What should you do if you're both new to an organisation and new to managing intranets? Here are my suggestions, these are by no means perfect and I'm certain more experienced managers will have other suggestions.
  1. Get to know your intranet. This doesn't mean understanding the technology. When I joined I didn't have training on the CMS for two weeks so couldn't get hold of the technology before then. This means understanding how your intranet works from a user perspective. What content is available where and how it's used. At its most basic this will involve spending some time navigating the intranet but it could also involve surveying intranet users, shadowing users or arranging focus groups.
  2. Understand the technology. As soon as you've had training (if required) you should start to look more closely at the technology that it is being used to manage your intranet. This doesn't just mean understanding how the CMS works but where and how it's integrated with other applications. So that might be an enterprise search tool, your DMS or your HR system. Understanding how each of the systems "talks" to each other will help you understand how the intranet works in more detail. Having said that some of the stuff on the intranet seems to happen by magic, so although you can try and understand how AD works, it's probably best to leave that to your IT Team.
  3. Get to know your editors. If you've got a de-centralised publishing model then I recommend getting in touch with the intranet editors to introduce yourself and to see if they have any issues that need resolving. You might find that by doing so you identify individuals who require additional training or actually don't need to be an editor anymore. Another worthwhile exercise if there isn't already a document which lists responsibilities is to create one. There always seems to be a few intranet pages that fall between the cracks, so identifying these quickly will help when someone needs them updated urgently.
  4. Get to know the organisation you're working for. This goes hand in hand with point one really. By looking at your intranet pages you can get a good idea about the culture and values of the firm and perhaps more importantly the firms strategy. For example is the firm looking to collaborate more, if so how could the intranet help. Does the firm what to integrate overseas offices more closely, if so how could the intranet help? It's also good at this point to try and identify what teams and individuals use the intranet regularly to see if you can identify an intranet champion/champions. Having an intranet champion will help you promote the value of the intranet to all users.
  5. Identify some quick wins. It's great to have a long term plan for the intranet, but when you first start a new role and especially where your managing what might be a new technology, it's great to be able to implement a very visible improvement. For example are there a group of pages that could do with updating. Is there something within the people search that could be changed to improve the search. Implementing these quick wins will help raise your profile within the organisation and show that you're passionate about making the intranet as valuable as possible. Of course they're only quick wins and there may well be more significant issues that you need to look at as part of the long term intranet strategy.
Those are my five tips for anyone who has just started managing an intranet. Please feel free to comment on any of these of suggest others.

A short introduction to enterprise search

Are you considering implementing an Enterprise search tool? Then you might want to take a look at a presentation on the Pandia search engine news site. The presentation, which I've embedded below, looks at some of the challenges presented by enterprise search and provides some advice for anyone considering buying an an enterprise search product.