Business Intelligence, Social Networking, and Mass Collaboration

Will social media inspire new ways to collaborate with business intelligence?

I was introduced to LinkedIn by one of my former co-workers and quickly adopted it. It seemed to be a great way to maintain my professional network and keep in touch with old friends. Although some would consider it boring in comparison to other social networking sites, I prefer to think of it as “MySpace for grownups”. According to a June 18, 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal, LinkedIn’s average user is 41 years old and has a household income of $109,000.

View Dallas Marks's profile on LinkedIn

What is most fascinating about the assent of sites such as MySpace and Facebook is how quickly AOL went from on-line powerhouse to irrelevance (moment of silence, please, for disgruntled Time Warner shareholders). From the demise of dial-up to the proliferation of non-AOL instant messenger clients, it’s core features (and reputation) have been supplanted by others. Will Monster and Dice similarly disintegrate by the disintermediation created by LinkedIn?

I’m currently experimenting with Facebook and Twitter, just to see what all of the buzz (or tweeting) is about. (If you’re on Facebook, be sure to look out for the Business Objects Board (BOB) fan page and the BOB Piece of Flair.) So far, I’ve shunned MySpace because I don’t have a band and somebody else named Dallas Marks has set up shop there.

I’ve already discovered that maintaining one’s on-line identity through all of these sites can be a challenge. Which is why I’m glad my good friend Josh Fletcher turned me on to Digsby. Digsby consolidates your IM, e-mail, and social networking into a single IM-like client. If you use more than one IM client (AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.), you should use Digsby for that reason alone.

Social networking has also come to Business Objects, first with the discussions feature in XI Release 2. But now, even companies like Antivia allow customers to “Unlock the true potential of your business intelligence community by bringing the most relevant aspects of social networking (think MySpace, Facebook, Wiki’s) to your BusinessObjects environment.” And that will be the real test, won’t it? Will these tools and technologies move from the personal realm to the enterprise?

As a Web Intelligence instructor, I teach people how to share documents with each other using the Business Objects BI Inbox and the discussions feature. However, it seems that organizations are reluctant to adopt these features. Management doesn’t want to log into anything – please push it to my e-mail… And most discussions about Business Objects reports also occur in Microsoft Outlook – not the best tool for threaded discussions or knowledge management. Realizing the gap between the tools and how users want to use (or not use) them, APOS Systems is taking the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach with its new Integration Kit for Microsoft Outlook.

Perhaps the Facebook generation currently entering the workforce will bring with them new ideas to workplace collaboration and performance management?

Dallas Marks on MySpace?

One would think that a name like “Dallas Marks” would be unique. Maybe even Google-able. Sigh – not so. In addition to being my dad’s name (although we have different middle names), it is also the name of a country western singer in Pennsylvania. You can check out his MySpace page. He’s not me. Just in case you were wondering…