Jul 10, 2010

Week 8 Article Reflections

Article Reflection
Articles: The 3R Framework, Community Relations 2.0, & Virtual Worlds as Real-World Sales Tools

Article: The 3R Framework: Improving e-strategy across reach, richness, and range

This was a very interesting article that talks about leveraging the benefits of the 3R framework: Reach, Richness and Range. The article clarifies the definitions of the 3R as
  • Reach: Reach is the degree to which a firm can manage its value chain activities to connect its customers to an accessible product/service offering.
  • Richness: Richness is the degree to which a firm can facilitate the exchange of information to deliver products/services that match customers’’ exact wants and needs.
  • Range: Range is the degree to which a firm can offer its customers a value proposition containing a breadth of products/services.

The framework provides an overall view of e-strategy, a new perspective on affiliation and discusses the interrelationships between the reach and range.

Article: Community Relations 2.0

This article talks about the amount of power that lies in information relayed via social media. Social media can be a very powerful tool across various industries. There’s one paragraph I would like to quote from the article that aptly talks about the capabilities of social media:
“Social medial platforms enhance the power of online communities in four ways: They promote deep relationships, allow fast organization, improve the creation and synthesis of knowledge, and permit better filtering of information”.
But sometimes as the article points out, information can also be lethal to companies. That’s why there is a strong need for companies to engage existing new generation employees who are already using social media to “harness the power of online communities”.

Article: Virtual Worlds as Real-World Sales Tools

Of the three articles I read, I found this one the most interesting since it talked about the Second Life which has been fascinating to me since its introduction in this class. It raises similar questions that I have pertaining to Second Life. It is very interesting no doubt, but what reason other than my class meetings & assignments will drive me to visit it recurrently? If I was enticed by a new product to visit a company’s venue in Second Life, why would I return to it?
The article points out one important factor for return visits: content & function. IBM has incorporated this very aspect in its collaboration efforts with customers to develop meaningful relationships. IBM realized the true value in “brining clients and sales people together in a 3D experience”. IBM’s virtual data center offers many compelling reasons for customers to return. This 3D environment engages “the human perceptive and attentive processes as much as possible”.

But for virtual worlds to be viable in the long run, barriers like security, investment in time on the user’s part, resource intensive virtual world client software packages use of bandwidth and such, must be overcome. Only then the intrinsic characteristics of the human nature can be leveraged in the 3D world and use the virtual world as a sales tool.

Jul 6, 2010

Inter University Collaboration Assignment

• What challenges did you face in the project in SL? How did you overcome those obstacles and/or challenges?

Other than being new to SL, the other main challenge we came across was our objectives for the project. Initially it seemed like we both were given different directives for the project. The first bump came in the form of selecting a concept for our project. We both had the same task ahead of us but I was not aware of the first step of choosing a concept from the IBM concept area. Since I couldn’t get access to that area, I asked my team mate to pick a few that seemed interesting and then went from there. The next problem was tying in that concept of IP telephone technology in the task of represent IBM as a fun work place. We were really confused about that part, but we seemed over come that pretty easily as well.

• Consider the positive and negative aspects associated with using Second Life to collaborate with your teammate. What features of the Second Life environment or the collaboration process stand out as being beneficial or counter-productive, and why?

There were a number of positive aspectes working in Second Life. It acutally felt like I was in a room with all the supplies I needed to accomplish the task at hand. The proximity of my teammate and the ability to constantly see what she was doing was very helpful. Being able to see what the other one was doing at all times, helped us to ensure we were on the right track and helped us in being productive given the time differences and constraints.

• In the past, you might have used communication tools such as video/web conferencing, IM, email, and telephone for collaborative projects. Think about your Second Life collaboration experience. What are the important characteristics that are similar and different between Second Life and other tools (media) you have used previously?

In the past I have used IM and Skype mainly to work on collaborative projects. But they were mainly used for discussions. Those tools were mainly for communicative purposes only. In contrast SL while being a communicative tool, allowed for a space where you can actually build something, which was pretty cool. That capability really helped create an environment for team building. It was a great exercise and medium to practice and build any team building skills. Being able to see the results of your work in a 3 dimensional place also gives a sort of sense of accomplishment and boosts the confidence of the individual and the team.

• What advice or guidelines would you give to students who will be working on a similar project in Second Life in the future?

The only thing that I can think of is to put more time in Second Life exploring before you begin the project will prove very helpful. Go visit other build areas and maybe take a workshop on building will certainly improve your own building capabilities.

• Consider how your experience with using Second Life to collaborate on a task compares to your previous use of other communication tools for collaborative projects? What are the important characteristics that are similar and different?

This is my first experiene where we have used Second Life to collaborate on a task. I have always worked in very small companies with employees ranging from 5 to 15 at the most. In those work environments, email and IM were the most commonly used collaborative tools. If any larger interaction was needed, we always met in person and used a projection screen to access the company’s central servver for any need of sharing or showing. In a company where the employee number is little as 15 or under, email and IM seemed to have been sufficient. Those two tools provided instant access to anybody within the company and also provided the need to share documents. And of course if you needed to see somebody, I would just pop in their cubicle!

But I can see the scenario being completely different in globally situated multi-national corporations with thousands of employees. There is certainly a big need for use of collaborative tools that help teams interact across different time zones and nations! In such situations Second Life can be really usefull. The proximity and the ability to be in a same room virtually with your team mates or customers provides for great interaction and feedback. That can be of great value since it provides an environment for innovative ideas and solutions.

• Consider how Second Life might be used in business collaboration. Are there any business tasks or projects where you might see Second Life being useful for business collaboration? Where would it not be appropriate?

Second Life can certainly be used in business collaboration. In the field trips we took in Second Life to various business venues certainly showed that there can be multple applications to Second Life. Companies can have multiple venues in Second Life that can host team meetings and team building skills. Companies can also have SL presence for it’s customers where they can explore the products and give valuable feedback to a company. Second Life can be useful in any situation where there is a need for users to interact and provide feedback.

Images from Second Life.

Jul 1, 2010

Issues & Concern of Adopting Social Networks

Lecture Reflection
Pre Recorded Lecture: Web 2.0: Issues and Concerns in Deploying, Managing, and Securing Social Media Applications.

This lecture presents a lot of issues relating to adoption of Social Networks in addition to adoption of IT systems. It is human nature to resist change in any form. So no wonder people in general will always be hesitant to adopt any new technology be it in IT or Social Networks in an organization or in personal life.

An organization's efforts to develop social networks can better serve the purpose by understanding what kind of relationship you want to develop with your customers. There is a serious need to understand the kind of audience you want to capture by understanding their behaviours and then tailoring the social strategy based on the target audience's profile.

My personal experience with Second Life has been very similar to some of the points presented in this lecture. I am definitely not one of the early adopters. I like to wait and watch to see if it's worth delving into. Well, I had to jump into Second Life because of my class needs, so right there I was very cautious to begin with since I was "Required to". And there can be similar reactions in an organizational setting as well, when employees are "Required to" to adopt new technologies. There is also a learning curve involved with any new change. With Second Life I had to sort of learn to walk all over again. And it was not just that, I am still fumbling around in Second Life just like a lot other people. And in today's world, technology is constantly changing and keeping up with it can sometimes be very tiresome.

Second Life is fun no doubt but there is also a little bit of frustration involved, since I am yet to learn everything and feel comfortable. Sometimes it's also the reason I avoid going in because it's time consuming. Not to say that it doesn't have it's advantages - it certainly has a ton of those, but there are issues as well. Like the lecture points out a deeper understanding of the target audience might help reduce some of the issues related to adoption of Social Media.

Jun 30, 2010

Team Collaboration Excercise

Reflection on Team Collaboration Excercise
Team Alpha
Team Members: Aleksandra Wiszynski, Eric Olson, Kanchan Jahagirdar, & Brandon Banks

We as a team tried a few different collaborative tools. Amongst them were Second Life, AOL, email and Ichat. We used these tools at different stages of our project and most of the times met as an entire group but at times met with only a part of the group as well. Of all the tools that we tried, I liked Second Life and Skype the most. Second Life to me was very fascinating since it was introduced to me for the first time. The environment and it's capabilities totally took me by surprise and it proved to be a very enlightening experience on the whole. Where as Skype is a very familiar tool. I have been using it for a couple years and to see Skype having come such a long way from the time it was introduced, I was eager to jump in. So here' my comparative analysis of both the tools.

Comparative analysis of Second Life and Skype

It was my first time with Second Life. I had always heard about it previously but never really had a chance to use it. When our class met in Second Life for the first time, it was a very surreal experience for me. First it gave me the feeling of being in a classroom environment which was great! Second it also allowed people to interact. With a few more class meetings in Second Life, I thought meeting in Second Life for our project would be a good idea too. So initially we started meeting in Second Life just before our scheduled class meetings to brainstorm and share our research on our project. It was good initially, more so because of the convenience it offered in meeting in the same place as our classroom. But I felt there was a need to be able to do more. Second Life allowed us to talk and go places and see slides. But that’s all that we used Second Life for. We used it mainly as a chat room with our avatars for presence like feeling but simultaneously used email a lot to send documents and links to each other.

After a few meetings in Second Life, we decided to try Skype. The first time we met in Skype, we had issues since we had different versions of the tool. But once that was sorted out, the meetings in Skype proved more beneficial. One of the reasons that it was more seamless in Skype is that we were all familiar with Skype. I knew the Skype environment quite well since I have been using it to communicate with family across continents. The other thing thing that made it so easy was that Skype had a defined set of functions which was not complicated to figure out at all. Skype’s main use was the ability to make calls with video. Other than that the newest version also allowed us to share documents and our screen as well. That was very handy. In addition to be able to see the person (not an avatar), share documents and screens made it a very valuable collaborative tool. As a team we were able to get all the things things done from one place unlike Second Life. In our second meeting in Skype, we were able to accomplish a lot of tasks set for our project. We normally meet in Second Life for about 20 minutes each. But the meeting we had in Skype lasted over an hour!

Organizational Applications:

Second Life and Skype each have distinct benefits. Second Life in an organizational setting, can be used in place of a meeting room for large number of participants. Second Life has the capability of recreating a 3 dimensional space which can vary from being strict and formal to informal and eclectic, which ever suits the occasion. It can give a nice break from the traditional conference rooms. When corporations have offices situated globally and there is a need for people to meet, Second Life can offer a great opportunity. SL's capability to get a large group of people in one place is better suited for large group meetings. The sense of proximity is felt in large groups being in the same place is unique to Second Life. Being in an avatar also has it’s advantages. It sort of sets you fee and takes your inhibitions away. If you are meeting somebody for the first time in Second Life via your avatar, you are less likely to be apprehensive and inhibited about meeting somebody. That might actually be more helpful because then you are focused on the meeting’s purpose rather than yourself. In a way it ends up being more productive. Since Second Life can accommodate such large groups, it is exceptional as a training and educational tool in an organizational setting as well. It is also a great place to come together and learn team building skills as well.

Skype can also be a very valuable collaborative tool in an organizational setting. One of the best feature is it’s crystal clear audio and video capabilities. That combined with the ability to share documents and screens can be very useful for participants. That being said, Skype has it’s limitations in the number of people you can add to a conference call. In that aspect, Skype might be more suitable for small groups and teams. Skype can very use full to smaller teams globally situated who want to get together for an impromptu meeting or for longer ones as well. The video call capability of Skype is exceptionally good if you want to put a face to a person’s name. Being able to see the person also helps in developing personal relationship in a team environment. If you already have a working relationship in a team with somebody, being able to visually see, reinforces that relationship.

The effectiveness of each tool for users of all different levels of experience.

Second Life felt like it needed a little bit of experience to feel comfortable in that environment. There is an initial learning curve to be able to navigate and be comfortable in your avatar. And since it’s such an extensive environment, there is always something new to be learned or acquired which can be both, exciting and challenging at times. It's like learning to walk again. The uncertainty of a three dimensional world while being challenging can also be intimidating and thus might discourage some users.

With Skype, it is not so difficult to figure it out. There are a list of tools available which can be easily mastered by anyone. The familiarity of a two dimensional world makes it very inviting and friendly.

Below are screen shots from Second Life and Skype that our team participated in.


1. What is your level of experience with the tool from? (Scale from 1-5. 1 being no previous experience, 5 being most experienced)
1 2 3 4 5

2. How comfortable did you feel using the tool? (Scale from 1-5. 1 being very uncomfortable. 5 being very comfortable)
1 2 3 4 5

3. Did you feel that this tool allowed you to achieve your goal for the conversation? YES

4. Would you use this tool again? YES


1. What is your level of experience with the tool from? (Scale from 1-5. 1 being no previous experience, 5 being most experienced)
1 2 3 4 5

2. How comfortable did you feel using the tool? (Scale from 1-5. 1 being very uncomfortable. 5 being very comfortable)
1 2 3 4 5

3. Did you feel that this tool allowed you to achieve your goal for the conversation? YES

4. Would you use this tool again? YES

Jun 28, 2010

Shattering the Myths About Enterprise 2.0 - Summary

Article Reflection
Article: Shattering the Myths About Enterprise 2.0

This article talks about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 and how companies can reap them if used correctly. Enterprise 2.0 is rather new and offers intangible benefits to a company and so more often than not, companies don't delve into in as they don't have direct monetary returns on the investment. Traditionally companies have always made investments only if there are tangible ROI. But as the article talks about it, there are significant benefits to Enterprise 2.0 if used correctly and companies do have the capability of incorporating Enterprise 2.0 in ways that can have substantial benefits to the company. The article specifically talks about 5 myths about Enterprise 2.0 .

E2.0's Risks Greatly Outweigh the Rewards:
The article presents some possible horror situations that stop companies from adopting Enterprise 2.0 efforts. Most of these risks exist in theory. But there are ways to lessen the chances of this. The article talks about four factors:
  1. Intranet attribution
  2. Sense of community
  3. Community leaders
  4. Appropriate Internet behaviour

The ROI of E2.0 Must Be Calculated in Monetary Terms
There is a need for a company to deeper it's goal by developing its intangible assets "notably its human, organizational, and information capital". Sadly most companies are focused heavily on the monetary returns on their investment which E2.0 doesn't really offer. "Intangible assets, such as knowledge and technology" have a bigger impact no doubt but they do not have direct effects in financial terms. Companies can benefit from E2.0 by focusing on

  1. Expected cost and timeline
  2. Possible benefits
  3. Expected footprint

There is a need to replace the ROI in monetary terms with the intangible benefits from E2.0

If We Build It, They Will Come
The biggest challenge in adopting E2.0 lies in drawing large masses of the target audience. That can be overcome by using "explicit recognition programs and incentives".

E2.0 Delivers Value Mainly by Helping Close Colleagues Work Better
E2.0 is valuable at all levels in a company. It is a ground up effort where everyone can access and share information. So it's a total myth that E2.0 delivers value by helping only close colleagues work better. In contrast it helps everyone across the board work together.

E2.0 Should Be Judged by the Information It Generates
All the information derived by E2.0 is comprehensive and of good quality. With E2.0, information can be captured at different levels in the process which makes it very valuable in decision making by executives. As the article points out there are two very valuable benefits to this. One, "the social connection is often the real benefit" and "the value of the platform's ability to convert potential ties into actual ones"

Working Collaboratively in Second Life - Part 1

This was the most fun exercise that I have ever done in a classroom setting! Although I admit that I was a little apprehensive at first. I thought it was going to be a mundane task to follow instructions and do this project. But, boy was I surprised!

After I got in touch with my team mate at Wright State, things started to move at a very fast pace. We met in Second Life at our workspace. We both had some pre-reading done on this assignment. But we were a little confused in the beginning as our assignment expectations differed a bit. But we overcame that by exchanging notes, sending links to each other's class assignment outlines. Then we chalked out a task - sort of steps to follow. The first thing we decided was to narrow down a concept and then apply that towards our Team's task.

We are part of the yellow team whose task to design & build a fun working environment and thereby creating IBM's image as a fun company. Me and my team mate Jeannette Fish, finalized IP telephony as a concept for our workspace. We decided to create a room which would allow for informal interaction between managers and executives. Essentially a game room where workers come together, unwind and play. That would in turn help create a relaxed atmosphere where managers & executives can freely interact. This game room would feature video games, TV, relaxed seating arrangements, pool table, vending machine, etc. At the same time this room would also have laptops with IP telephony system incorporated along with Internet and the company's other collaborative tools. The idea is that the mangers & executives come here to play, unwind, brainstorm and then use the IP telephony system right from that room to collaborate with whoever they need to. This space essentially is meeting room in the non-traditional sense. It's a place to completely shed the typical corporate look of a conference/meeting room with a fun play area to interact and collaborate - all in the same space.

So with the above goals, in mind me and Jeannette and me set out to find items relevant to the concept in our work space in Second Life. We split our jobs. I started digging up seating options, while Jeannette started to look for electronics for our room. Then we started to design the room with the items we found. For the most part we were working in the same room independently doing our task, but intermittently we asked each other for our opinions as well. The interaction was seamless after we set our concept down.

The thing that made it so interesting was that we were both working and we could see exactly what we were doing although we are situated miles away. That was the beauty of working in the virtual world collaboratively. There were times when we saw what we each were pulling out from the boxes and we commented on it saying "oh, that would be good" or "mmm...not really working". That kind of spontaneous feedback was crucial since it kept us both from deviating from our project given the time constraint. Actually, we began the project with no time restrictions and ended up spending a good 2.30 hours on it. It was very cool! Looking forward to completing the project the next time we meet which is in a week's time.

Jun 25, 2010

Virtual Worlds

Lecture Reflection
Pre Recorded Lecture on Web 2.0 Technology: Virtual Worlds, Virtual Environment & the 3D Web.

This was an interesting lecture providing in dept views into Virtual Worlds like MMORPG's, to MUVE. First of all I was amazed to find out how many types of virtual worlds actually exist ranging from multiplayer online games, to just venues where you can use it as means to Social Networking. I was amazed to find this many examples of MMORPG's & MUVE's!! It truly is amazing to see the capacities of each one of these virtual worlds and they do offer some valuable insights in an organizational settings.

And I agree with the view point presented in the Lecture about some of these virtual worlds offering real world advantages in an organizational setting. Second Life for example can be used as a collaborative tool. It's great for educational purposes as has been my experience with this particular class. I was a little uncertain about my distance learning experience when I enrolled for this class but the meeting venue in Second Life totally offered me a chance to be in a class like environment with my professor and class mates. The avatar concept really brings about a sense of proximity and that certainly has helped me form deeper connections to especially my project team mates. We have met in Second Life on several occasions collaborating, sharing ideas, frustrations with our avatar and talking generally as well. Second Life has provided a very personal connection to my class which otherwise would not have been possible. A typical online class with pre-recorded material, online reading material, telephone classes etc would have been sufficient. But it would not have been such an ENRICHING and INTERACTIVE experience. Second life class room has allowed us students to ask questions, provide feedback and suggestions, the value of which is so immense than just listening to a lecture or reading a book. I feel and hope that most if not all my forthcoming classes have some form of interaction in a 3D virtual world...

Apart from educational uses, the virtual worlds can have other benefits as well. They are great collaboration tools. It can be used as PR for an organization's product or service. It can be used for training employees in a company. The virtual world especially has one very valuable use - it's ability to help people learn more about teamwork. The multiplayer online games offer this very skill along with the leadership opportunities it presents as we saw in the article "Leadership's Online Labs". Virtual worlds can help an organization reach it's customer and offer deeper understanding through interaction with them. These virtual worlds become even more powerful when integrated with document creating & editing tools like Microsoft Office. It will be really interesting to see how organizations in the future will adapt these virtual worlds in their organizational setting - it will be a totally different world to work in!

Jun 22, 2010

Managing Incompetent Jerks, Lovable Fools and Developing Leadership Skills Through Multiplayer Online Games - a Summary

Article Reflection
Article: Competent jerks, Lovable Fools, & the Formation of social Networks
Leadership's Online Labs

The article "Competent jerks, Lovable Fools, & the Formation of social Networks" talks about how people choose their work partners according to two criteria:
  • Competence at the job
  • Likability

What is more important is how these two criteria matter in forming informal relationship at work. Naturally people tend to pick the lovable fool over the competent jerk. Personal rapport really matters when forming a relationship at work. The benefits of working with familiar and similar people are immense. The work flow is smoother and expectations are clear. This openness clears a path to new ideas and develops trust between the work partners. With that comes liberal access and free sharing of whatever intellectual information the lovable fool might have. But the shortcomings of working with similar minded people lies in the limited range of perspective it offers.

In contrast working with a competent jerk provides varied perspective and leads to innovative solutions. You might have have a really good time working with somebody you like and not get anything done whereas working with a person with serious skills can bring about the intended results. Creating innovative ways to leverage the skills of competent jerks and lovable fools can be very challenging indeed for managers. But by foster work relationships between such groups of people can yield beneficial results to the organization.

The second article "Leadership's Online Labs" talks about online role playing games where the issues of leadership are very similar to what you would find in a traditional organization. The study talks about "successful leadership in online games has less to do with the attributes of individual leaders than with the game environment, as created by the developer
and enhanced by the gamers themselves".

While the problems and tasks are structured and predefined in these online games, the tasks of accomplishing them are similar to what happens in an typical organization. You form groups, recruit talent, assign tasks, and focus to completing the goals. So essentially the skills acquired and developed in a multi player game have value in real world as well. So in a sense these online games offer a chance to develop leadership skills necessary in today's ever changing business environment.

The ability to take decisions on incomplete information at lightning speed and then modify later when more data is available encourages risk taking. Facing failure is an accepted norm and the idea is "let's try that again". Organizations can create such environments where failure is tolerated. The ability to switch roles from leaders to followers in multi player games offers valuable insight and brings forth talent in previously overlooked situations. The concept of temporary leadership in traditional organizations is unknown, but can prove very valuable by bringing the real talent in forefront by doing so. The notion of the right environment can lead to the development of leaders is rather unwelcome and the traditional view of leadership is an inherent or developed skill is more accepted in today's world. But "gamifying the work environment" in future can actually help improve the quality of leadership.

Jun 21, 2010

Geotagging & it's applications

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, distance, etc.

It is sometimes also called geocoding, geotagging is the process of assigning geographic location metadata to a photos' EXIF data (which normally would only contain details about the digital camera being used to take the photo). ...


  • can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information. For instance, one can find images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a geotagging-enabled image search engine. Geotagging-enabled information services can also potentially be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources
  • A geocoded photograph, a term that more often refers to the process of taking non-coordinate based geographical identifiers, such as a street address, and finding associated geographic coordinates (or vice versa for reverse geocoding), or to the use of a camera that inserts the coordinates when making the picture, for example using its built in GPS receiver.

There are multiple ways of Geo Tagging. But most latest cameras have this feature build in. Photos can be also be Geo Tagged manually. HTML pages and Blogs can also be tagged.

Geotagging photos using GPS
Because of the requirement for wireless service providers to supply more precise location information for 911 calls by September 11, 2012, more and more cells phones have built in GPS chips. Some cell phones like the iPhone and Samsung Memoir already utilize a GPS chip along with built-in cameras to allow users to automatically geotag photos. A few cameras such as the Ricoh 500SE and the Sony DSC-HX5V have built-on or built-in GPS that allow for automatic geotagging. Nikon and Canon have also come out with custom geotagging solutions. Almost any digital camera can be coupled with a GPS and post processed with photo mapping software such as GPS-Photo Link, MediaMapper, Topofusion or EveryTrail GPS Connector (for Garmin gps products) to geotag photos by matching gps coordinates with photos. Twitter, the popular social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets, allows its users to geotag their locations via their tweets and pictures.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geotagging

Woking with virtual teamates

Article Reflection
Article: Can Absense Make a Team Grow Stronger and Want Collaboration?

This reflection is again an insight into the working of my team on Distaster Relief and Coordination.

In my experience with working with my virtual team mates, I feel that the absense has made the team definately stronger, more motivated to accomplish goals, be effective and efficient in all that we do for the team project.

The team consits of diverse members who all bring valuable input to the project. Utilizing technology we have been able to do more than one thing at a time. While being in Second Life for a group meeting, we are simultaneously researching or providing examples relavant to the meeting. That really helps when you are not really face to face and yet you are able to provide media rich content virtually. While being in Second Life, we use SharePoint to cross reference and follow other team members posts and threaded discussions. Using the latest technology and collaborative tools has certainly made this part easy.

The main problems that we have had so far is getting all the team members together for the team meetings. Most of the members make it, but due to the places the work takes them, sometimes it's not possible for all team members to be there. We have been able to make up for that by communicating over email, discussions on SharePoint, and sometimes by putting our information on blogs as well. So far our best tool to collaborate has be email, Sharepoint, Second Life, and Skype, in that order. I think by far email has worked for us for the most part since we have such a small group to work with.

We haven't had to face any conflict in our group as of yet. We haven't had any issues that we felt had to be managed. I guess that is an advantage of working with a small group and that too virtually! Plus the time span for this group has been so small that there isn't room for conflict within team members. Each team member wants to contribute effectively towards our project considering time and distance constraints.

But I do realize that the problems are larger in bigger groups. Trying to collaborate with members in a large corporate environment working globally can provide real challenges. Being in a smaller group has given me a chance to see the problems on a small scale for sure.

Collaboration, Communication, Goals and Outcomes

Article Reflection
Article: Collaboration! Communication Processes, Goals, and Outcomes for Successful Team Activities.

I know I am going backwards with my blogs....I should have written my reflection on this article a couple weeks back but I didn't. I have been trying to see each article that I have read in the frame of our group assigned for the final Web2.0 project. Each article has made me think more clearly and motivates me to be a team player.

This article especially was insightful on how communication is important in any kind of group, small or large. The free flow of information through various chanels, it's reciprocal and it's content is what makes the information valuable.

In our team efforts to collaborate for our Disaster Relief & Coordination, we have been through various issues. We haven't had much problems with redundancy since our team has done an exceptional job of communicating with clear tasks. But we have encountered issues of noise and channel capacity when exploring various collaborative tools. For example, when we tried to chat over Skype, since we all didn't have the same version of the tool, we had trouble sharing our data. With Second Life, we had issues of enabling voice chat. We also had cross platform issues with ichat which works only with Mac's and not PCs. These various problems actually helped us in identifying which tool was better to accomplish a certain goal. In that sense we did learn about being efficient with the appropriate tools and that is very important when you are trying to collaborate with people residing in different time zones.

In our experiments with the various collaborative tools, interactivity and feedback played an important role as well. Each team member was assigned a specific aspect of the project to research. We then had to find ways to send our research to each other and then provide feedback. We used email to send our research to each other and then we used Skype, Ichat and Second Life to discuss our research. The part that actually made all this a richer experience was the links and sources from where we got all our research. There are real world examples working today that we all derived our information from. Now the challenge in the next part of our project lies in pulling all of that together! I am sure we will come across new hurdles but thanks to our teams effective communicative methods, we will figure it out.

Jun 17, 2010

Collaborative Tools & Social Network Applications at IBM - an insight by Anne Zimos

Lecture Reflection
Lecture by: Anne Zimos, Sr Manager at IBM

The lecture was mainly about how IBM uses Social Networks to stay connected and accomplish goals across the world. She talked about current problems in the workforce as being multigenerational. Different generations working at IBM have different communication styles and similarly their technology environment is different as well. On way of overcomming these barries would be to use collaborative tools and social networks. Using collaboration in an enterprise drives business value by
  • Enabling people to work smarter together.
  • Unlocking innovation through a broad participation.
  • Fostering deep insightful relatiohships.

The value from Social Networks lies in the relationships developed. It’s all about the networks you develop and how effectively you can utilize that network to provide a business solutions.

Anne gave valuable insights into the working culture at IBM. The various collaborative tools currently used at IBM demonstrate how the use of social networks and latest technology can bridge the communication gap between multigenerational workforce. Their use of facebook like internal system, wikis, internal blogs, internal bookmarking (dogear), file sharing system was all very interesting in the way it engaged it’s employees. The accessibility provided by all the tools is incredible. With such tools it doesn’t really matter which part of the world you live in – you can accomplish any task at hand! With such collaborative and innovative tools, I feel the world is shrinking day by day!

I also would like to mention that the questions asked by my classmates were all so wonderful! All those questions and Anne’s patient responses to each and every one of them was so informative. The question and answer session really made me feel like I was sitting in a live class. Keep the questions coming folks!!!

Jun 15, 2010

Online Social Networks - A graphical representation of What, How & it's Benefits

Lecture Reflection
Lecture by Zayira Jordan on Online Social Networks

Lecture Reflection
Lecture by Zayira Jordan on Online Social Networks

Jun 3, 2010

Article Reflection
Articles: Why Facebook and MySpace Won't Change the Workplace & Why Your Company Needs To Be On Facebook

Both the reads were very interesting and provided two opposite views on the topic.
The article Why Facebook and MySpace Won't Change the Workplace is sort of a continuation to my blog titled “Why Web 2.0 & Social Media”. It elaborates more on the topics covered by Dr. Mennecke in lecture 1 of last week. I found it very intriguing the way Tom outlines the advantages and disadvantages of Social Networking in work places. The way Social Networking affects individuals is different from the way it affects an organization. According to him Social Networking has more advantages to individuals rather than companies. And here’s why:

Advantages of Social Networking (to individuals):

  • Instantaneous reach to wider masses – better than a press release. It enables individuals to get information to people who really matter to them.
  • Create specific content geared towards it’s targeted audience.
  • Revolutionizing information based industries.
  • Puts more power in the hands of the consumer since they control the content.
  • Gives consumers freedom to share & present opinions.
  • This power in turn causes consumers to build trust on each other rather than institutions.

Disadvantages of Social Networking (to companies):

  • Amount of time spent on social networking by employees affects productivity.
  • Attacks the traditional hierarchy in an organization. Poses risk as it gives too much control to employees, steering away from the traditional power lying in the hands of management.

Clearly the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion. Social Networking has the capability of revolutionizing the way a company operates but they are feared and not embraced easily. Social Networking can be beneficial to companies if they focus the resources and implement controls that filter out or minimize the risk of counterproductive elements of the behaviors.

In contrast the article Why Your Company Needs To Be On Facebook presents the opposite views. Here are some highlights of why Social Media is necessary to businesses.

  • Fundament premise of all businesses is that they are social and personal to begin with.
  • It’s about building bonds and relationships which is essentially networking.
  • Business value of staying on top your network is priceless

But as this article points out there are certain problems at to why it isn’t taking off as much. Some of the reasons are

  • Not enough people using social networking
  • Business applications of social networking services are few.
  • This is still in its infancy.

There’s big value to businesses using Social Networking. It lies in being able to connect to people using social networking sites. Advertisements on Social Networking won’t work but communicating with people lets you connect to your customers and there lies the true value in being able to connect quickly and build brand loyalty. It’s about extending relationships and Social Networking allows you to do so in real time.

Jun 1, 2010

Geo Mapping Tools & it's application

Lecture Reflection - Pre-recorded via WebCT
Lecture: Web 2.0: It's Not New Technology, But it is New.

The lecture on this topic covered all the tools that encompass the Web2.0 today. It covered all the various types of Social Media, Social Networking, Wikis, blogs and all its collaborative applications. Some of the things that caught my attention tools like Geo Tagging combined with photo sharing, Google maps, wikimapia and Group Systems. So I thought of researching more on these since these could be tools potentially helpful in my group project for Disaster Relief and Co-ordination.

I was amazed at all the tools there are with respect to mapping by Google.

Google Maps API allows for the embedding of Google Maps in webpages using simple JavaScript
interface or Flash.

There are endless uses to Mashups created using Google Maps. Here are some examples:

Google tools become even more powerful when combined with other applications such as Flickr.

Here’s a site that explains how simple it is to Geo Tag with photos on flickr.

Wikimapia is another amazing tool that lets you generate content. You can add comments on locations. This can have a wide variety of applications.

I can see how some of these tools can be utilized for our team project Disaster Relief & Coordination. We could use Google Earth and Google Maps with street view on mobile devises in an event of a natural disaster. User generated content input by mobile users can pinpoint the location and the extent of the damage in real time. Google Transit could be used to guide people get out to safer haven if they have the capacity to do so. Combining Flickr with Google Maps can let users upload photos happening during/after an event and Geo Tag them - giving visual information. Wikimapia can also be used to pin point location with descriptions as well thus creating rich user generated information. The potential of Geo Mapping is tremendous and I think it can find real use in Disaster Relief & Coordination

May 27, 2010

Social Networks - can they offer solutions for current situations?

Lecture Reflection
Lecture Date: 5/25/10 in Second Life
Article discussed:A Practical Guide to Social Networks

The class met in Second Life for the second time. We had trouble initially with getting everybody’s audio set up. But once that was sorted out, the class proceeded smoothly.

Apart from talking about the logistics of the class, the main topic of discussion was on the article about Social Networks and their applications. We went through the three different types of Social Networks: Customized Response, Modular Response & Routine Response. I am not going into detail about what each model is about. Instead I am going to try something different in this blog posting.

During the lecture Dr. Mennecke mentioned ideas about the topic for this week’s blog. He said to think about different communication tools that could be employed in each of the model types. It got me thinking and I began to wonder how one of the models & the type of communication tools used in that model help solve a current problem. The disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and all the buzz about the amount of time it is taking to solve it, has been on my mind. I wanted to sort of theorize if Social Network and Social Media tools could have been employed to better handle the situation and come to a rescue plan faster. I don’t really have a suggestion but a mere thought of what if the Customized Response model was used for this problem?

The article talks about how Novartis used the Customized Response model to look at an old problem in a new way. Alex Matter at Novartis used diverse external connections to help him show the way. Internal connections were also helpful in solving the problem. What if BP employed this kind of thinking to solve the crisis? I am not saying they haven’t done that already. I am just wondering how the value of Customized Response been derived by using external and internal social networks. Here’s a hypothetical set up for BP. BP after having learned about the leak and the cause for it, employ outside network of resources ranging from Government help, Private experts in the industry, Educational & Research experts in the field and its own experts in the company. Using the experts from all these fields form a team and get them in touch either via Social Media or other collaborative tools. For example set up a face book group with all the experts added to it. They could then brainstorm possible suggestions and cross check for viable solutions through experiments/studies in their own field and then come to a conclusive solution. Twitter could also be used to send out tweets on a regular basis to keep the local population updated about the situation. Maybe tweets could have been used to send notices to animal wildlife preservation groups who could have come in a timely manner to assess the situation and relocate the affected wildlife.

I am sure all the possible efforts are being done in this case already. What I am trying to do is just think of ways in which this problem could have been addressed within the scope of the topics discussed in class. I would love to hear what others think about this or any other ideas that people might have on this situation.

Here's the latest update about what's happening and what's being done

May 24, 2010

Web 2.0 Serving a company - inside & outside - A McKinsey Global Survey

Article Reflection
Article:How Businesses are Using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey

The global survey highlights how corporations around the world are utilizing web 2.0 technologies to better serve the needs within and outside the company. Companies utilizing web 2.0 do it for many reasons, some of which might be to maintain a company’s market position, have a competitive edge in the market or address customer needs and demands.

The article talks about how “technology is just the way of doing business today and collaborative technologies” help accomplish that goal. It’s the easy access to information without a hierarchy that makes it so attractive. It can work at grassroots level allowing participation in the entire process and thereby having a direct impact on the success of a product. Such technologies also increase competitive advantage while reducing operating costs. It also creates a strong send of community within an organization that is “more interactive and less pushy”.

Why Web 2.0 & Social Media?

Lecture Reflection
Lecture Date: 5/19/2010. Met via Adobe Connect

Article discussed: Secrets of Successful It Teams: Socially Connected Employees; The Future of the Web: How Businesses are Using Web2.0: A McKinsey Global Survey

The point of the classs was to discuss in detail the syllabus, schedule, modes of meeting and talk about why & how Social Media and collaborative technologies affect an organization.

Web 2.0 tools are the next big thing to IT systems mainly because of the ease of use in implementing the web 2.0 apps and the way they work from grassroots level instead of top down. Web 2.0 applications can be easily implemented by anyone in the organization thereby enabling the free flow of information across all levels without any of the hassles of the permission based IT systems. With web 2.0 applications, information can be shared and accessed very easily. Individuals benefit from this model and can move forward on a project by having easy access to information. Communication and collaboration are key in the timely success of a product and web 2.0 apps provide us with collaborative tools.

Enterprises are employing web 2.0 tools due to the control it gives a team member at the grassroots levels. This “innovation without permission” model puts the power in the hands of individuals at ground level and then filtering up all the way to the top. People don’t have to wait for permission to share an idea or suggest a solution to a problem.

This “innovation without permission” model also poses the grave risk of putting too much access and control in the hands of an individual. A major concern of small and larger corporations is, protecting their valuable information. The web 2.0 apps pose the threat of information getting leaked very easily. The fact that most web 2.0 apps is easily available for free makes it even more tempting for companies to implement them considering today’s economy. But they need to be implemented with certain rules and restrictions so that information is not leaked.

I find web 2.0 applications fascinating! The world of internet is rapidly changing. What’s current today is outdated tomorrow. In a dynamically changing world like this, web 2.0 provides the tools to individuals to share their view point easily and freely. It’s great to see how you can create something and share it with anybody. Web 2.0 allows you to collaborate and be in touch with somebody half way across the globe and meet a targeted deadline without actually having to go there – to me that’s a lifesaver! Technology lets me be in touch and in control. But yes I do agree that there needs to be a certain degree of rules & restrictions adhered to such applications.