January 06, 2012 - 12:31 AM
I saw a wi-fi placard in a hotel recently and laughed that it still touted the service as being "50 times faster than dialup." I can't remember the last time I even owned a computer with a modem, much less care about that useless comparison.
I marvel at the speed of change in technology during my 20+ year career, largely in IT roles. I occasionally share a story of years back when I was excited to gain access to a bulletin board service (BBS) in which dungeon masters shared maps and monster charts and other role playing guidance (which makes me a nerd on a couple different levels, I know). Jump forward to today, and the way in which the rising generation communicates with each other, and with the world at large, has changed dramatically. Collaboration tools have become ubiquitous.
I often remark at how dramatically the process of testing software has changed in the past 15 years, what with instant messaging and web meetings making instantaneous communication a core to any successful product review and market launch. Remember life without these things? I spent 8 to 10 years of my career without them. We used to set up a conference line, with someone from the dev team always dialed in, allowing us a sort of live-meeting follow-the-sun model. Seriously. I remember being stressed out about testing progress on a major system release, waking up in the middle of the night to find several folks from various geographical locations chatting away about the latest build, working through some issues. And then instant messaging arrived, following quickly by web meetings.
The younger generation does not have this past experience to contrast and compare to modern life -- they know only the era of always on, instant communication. The shift in social informatics is fascinating -- it's the study of information and communication tools in cultural and institutional contexts, looking at usage patterns from a variety of lenses, including sociological, anthropological, psychological, and technological perspectives. In short: it's an analysis of the changing way in which we do business.
Understanding the social informatics of your organization, i.e. the cultural traits of your employees, is key to understanding the context of the requirements they provide to your burgeoning SharePoint/ECM/ERM platform. If you understand how your employees work, how they best communicate, you can design your platform in a way that optimizes productivity.
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