At minute 27:50 – Steve Jobs (1990) talking about the revolution in collaboration sparked by this “new thing” called E-Mail.
Among others at Blackboat we support our clients to implement the next generation online collaboration and enterprise tools. It is my strongly believe that every organization should work on keeping up with the pace of innovation and constantly strive to be attractive for the next generation of employees. Instead of philosophizing about what could or might be reality in 10 years from now, let me share some simple tools over the next weeks that we leverage at Blackboat. The first tool this week: Feed Communication.
Feed Communication has been around for quite a while and will only become more important as the need for organizations and coworkers to share information and collaborate will only increase. Back in 2008 we had the opportunity to work for Mark Zuckerberg and his team to support the Facebook launch in Germany. He already then was very focused on his mission to “make the world more open and connected.” It was difficult for us to anticipate how that might translate into product features. Yet only a year later in 2009 Facebook acquired FriendFeed and the Facebook Feed was born, an integral part of how we interact with Facebook today.
Why is feed communication a powerful tool? What is its impact?
The growth and success of any business relies on how information is disseminated across the organization and how the people interact and use the information to get things done. It comes down to how we communicate. This is why for example Steve Jobs always preferred large atrium spaces on his campus that facilitated and provided the space for what he called “unplanned collaboration”.
A feed transfers unplanned collaboration into the digital world. Most of us work with and on a computer or smartphone. What happens if I have a thought about a new product feature while I am not in the office? Instead of writing an email to several colleagues I just take a picture and comment it in our company feed, a non-public closed feed. How is this different to an email? It enables to communicate sideways or horizontal rather than following the the stiff and hierarchical one to one communication that the email was built for. An email forces the receiver to react or at least to read it, and it consumes a lot of time. Feed conversations in contrast are open and allow for a more informal exchange, which is key to unplanned collaboration. No one is forced to join the conversation – but everyone can join and is up to date.
An extreme example of an organization embracing feed communication is Atos, a french automotive company with more than 75’000 employees. Atos has eliminated the entire internal email communication and moved the internal communication to feeds and project communities. Project managers and coworkers can now stay up to date on their projects without having to work through hundreds of emails per day. Personal messages or important updates are simply shared by “tagging” a person or an internal short messaging, resulting in a less formal and more open exchange.
Feed communication has many benefits. It makes organizations be more open and connected to the various stakeholders, accelerates and opens the communication channels while spurring innovation and reducing the time needed to share ideas at an early stage. Email is here to stay but it is important to remember what it was built for: one to one or if needed one to few communication.
Some screenshots of our feed on my phone
What tools do we recommend using?
There are great feed tools that can be used for internal company communication only and they work on multiple operating systems. When implementing such a tool, just make sure that it connects smoothly to your existing infrastructure. You should start step by step with small user groups, instead of a heavy switch that shakes up the entire organization. Tools that we at Blackboat can recommend: