Monday, September 8, 2014

Accountability and the ESN

In this Golden Age of social networks that pretend to be burying email servers like Rod Stewart goes through wives, we have a black hole that is not discussed.

Email is not perfect, but better than most countries normal postal services.
IM is great for awareness of who is online, but just because I show up online does not mean I really am at the machine, phone or browser.
Twitter is awesome....when you are connected to the internet.
SMS is far from perfect, as anyone who travels can tell you when they get messages days later, if ever.
RSS feeds do, um, something for some people. But really, do you ever catch up on those feeds?
Faxes are, wait, you don't still use those do you?
Phone calls work well, but not when you are on 12-14 hours of different time zones.

Why do I bring these up? Because if you work any place on Earth, your life is ruled by email.You may say it isn't and for a handful of people, this may be true.

For the rest of us, email is the "certified and return receipt" way of knowing something happens.

Now comes along the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) and the status updates. A new inbox, so to speak. Some call it a waterfall, others call it the river, but what it all leads to is a big flooded lake of information.

Inside that lake lies missives of information that you may need to get your work done. But your job now is to go find it. Just when you thought you may have figured out the Inbox Zero thing, along comes another place to check and take you away from important work.

The early adopters will gesticulate so their Google Glass picks up their excitement about getting used to checking in multiple places. For IT people, we are used to getting information from all types of places like our Wii or Xbox not just our phone, laptops, ipads and watches.

Our normal employees, and executives, may not appreciate needing to check multiple places all day long. They can choose to check in every few hours maybe, but then what if they missed something? Those sneaky IT people are always making changes in the background and not telling people what they changed.

Yes, you will say that all the status updates COULD be setup to go direct to people's email. And maybe this is one way out of this mess, but maybe a better way would have been to just integrate email into the ESN properly so there were status updates that were really email? Why have another method or name for what really is just more email? I understand, the ESN sends updates to people that follow you, so the onus is on me to care about you. But what if I don't know you exist yet?

Or better yet, why is there no send update to SMS, Twitter or for the non_IT crowd, Facebook? Why is the default to use their email system or nothing else? Of course, why would a company want their information to get published publicly? For that matter, why would a company want to make their employees lives easier? Isn't that the whole point of the ESN? Helping everyone to know what is going the ESN and hopefully in the company at large? The company values its privacy and security. This reminds me of when companies used to maintain multiple email systems because they could not agree which one to standardize on and for some crazy reason they think maintaining duplicates of everything would be a better solution.

Now we have the ESN where ideally we may be led down a path to drop our email systems.

Except for one little thing. ESNs have no way to talk to each other. They do not have SMTP servers nor gateways to other networks, even their own internal company ESNs in some cases can not talk to each other and they are from the same vendor!

one inbox (If This Then That) should be expanding their reach to help fill some of these holes, but I doubt it will work for enterprises.

If you create a Status Update and no one sees it, now what? What if my stream is so filled with items, and you did not tag me in it, that I just miss the very item I need for my project or deadline? Who's fault is it? How do we work around this problem? Email crush should be the game everyone plays, not candy crush.Your inbox will now be at zero, but your ESN notifications page is massive.

How do you solve this dilemma? Will it be solved? When? How? By Whom? Do we even see the end in sight yet?

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