Rich profiles can be a powerful cornerstone of an Enterprise 2.0 / next generation intranet / social business software solution. My previous post on how finding people rather than documents can be highly beneficial in terms of productivity, using information rather than looking for it, and simply getting things done and making things happen.
They are also often misunderstood, many fail to understand that profiles do not require regular maintenance or updating, and can stay current and relevant with very little effort on the profile owner’s part. This is a scenario based on Jive Clearspace (although Socialtext and Lotus Connections have very similar functionality) to show how rich, social profiles can help people do their jobs.
Here is a sample profile for Gia. Most of the content is automatically generated as Gia uses the intranet in the flow of her daily activities, rather than having to manually keep the profile up to date. Fields such as Twitter account name, expertise, phone number and photo are manually added. The vast majority, however, is automatically created, keeping the profile fresh and up to date without any effort from Gia herself.
Let’s assume I was trying to find someone who could help me with user adoption of the intranet. Perhaps my team is not using the intranet as well as I think they could.
In the bottom right hand corner of the profile we see a list of similar people within the system. This takes into account all of Gia’s activity, her blog posts, comments, discussions, tags etc. This is highly useful if Gia was exactly the person I was looking for, only to find they were on holiday, off sick, or otherwise unavailable. Immediately I can see other people who might be able to help.
Further down the profile, I can see Gia’s recent activity. Gia does not have to remember to add this, it is automatically added to her profile.
I can see that she has recently been contributing to topics around a “Watercooler”, the owners of intranet platforms and has recently been visiting clients. I can tell that this is recent activity, so Gia is clearly active within the community, and I can also see that Gia has created discussions, as well as simply replied to them.
I might wish to see all of Gia’s content, which I can do by clicking on “Gia Lyons’s stuff”.
Here I can see other topics, blog posts and content that Gia as contributed and created, and can judge whether it shows her to have the expertise I am hoping for.
On this page, and on Gia’s main profile page, I can see the tags that Gia has used to tag content on the intranet. I can clearly see that Gia has tagged items with “user_adoption”. These might be people, external websites, articles, discussions, wiki pages or blog posts of interest to her that she wanted to be able to find again quickly but it is a great resource for me. If I click on that, I see all the content that everyone, not just Gia, has tagged with “user_adoption”.
The second post from the top is a discussion on reputation points, and whether or not they help or hinder intranet adoption. If I am struggling with user adoption this is probably something I have thought about, and if not it should be, so immediately I have found something of value. I also might want to check out Ted Hopton’s page, to see if his profile is worth looking at in more detail.
At the top of the page, I can reduce the amount of content if I was only interested in blog posts, or only interested in people who had been tagged “user_adoption”. I can also see which additional tags have been used to tag “user_adoption” content. If I were to select enterprise_2.0 for example, I would see all content tagged with “user_adoption” and “enterprise_2.0”.*
Here I can see two articles by Steve Golab and Niall Cook. These two articles might be helpful, equally I may wish to go to Steve’s or Niall’s profile and start to look at their activity as I did with Gia.
I have very quickly found a mixture of content and people relevant to my query, with very little effort by myself or Gia or others involved. I may end up making connections with Steve or Niall, and find we have common interests within the organisation and work together. None of this would have been available to me in a traditional knowledge management or intranet system. The key is that the subject matter experts such as Gia, Niall and Steve had to do very little to create the social data that helped my search. As they found content and people, they simply tagged it or them (a very low touch activity), mainly to help them find the content again. As those tags are shared I benefit in the social capital being created.
* you might notice that there was also an enterprise_20 tag, as well as enterprise_2.0. This is an important point, you should consider software that suggests tags as you type them, to stop this from happening. Your community managers should also spend some time looking to aggregate tags where it makes sense.