by Matthew Hodgson
For some decades now, workforce planning has been an inportant part of strategic thinking in our organisations. It ensures that we have the right skills, knowledge and abilities to do what we needs to do. But with technological advances penetrating our workplaces at an alarmingly rapid rate, offering web 2.0 solutions to increase worker productivity, collaboration, communication and social learning in order to capture and share organisational knowledge, what are the generational factors and the technology influences we must now take account of in planning for both our current and future workforce?
In the 70s we employed Baby Boomers and with them the values of hard work, family, the need to address gender equality, and a demand for participatory democracy in the management decisions of the organisation that resulted in today’s trend toward less-hierarchical work structures . While they represent 30% of the population their values are the foundation of today’s management practices . Their attitudes and behaviour toward technology largely reflects a generation who know and understand the use of the telephone and television as marketing and communications tools but whose views of computers and the internet reflect beliefs that these new technologies have negative effects on productivity and business . As a result, they use technology less than other generations, from personal computers to mobile devices , and with the advent of social media are less likely than others to create content and are less involved in sharing their knowledge and experience through writing blog articles or creating videos and posting them online .
These adoption factors have serious consequences for the tech savvy Generation-X and the often labelled ‘Digital Natives’ of Generation-Y. For if Baby Boomers are the managers setting the agenda, casting doubts on the security and value of web 2.0 within the workforce, and limiting its penetration, they may be responsible for creating a workplace alien to the needs of those generations who will replace them as senior managers of our organisations. We see this picture emerging most typically in government organisations. Web 2.0 tools essentially equips workers with tools to create and share knowledge, but its adoption faces cultural hurdles by conservative Baby Boomer workers who see knowledge as power and therefore have vastly different attitudes towards collaboration in the workplace . For many Baby Boomers, web 2.0 symbolises a loss of control and a sense of inferiority when they compare themselves to their technically fluent younger colleagues particularly given the collaborative and open nature of web 2.0 tools, such as wikis for example, eliminate the public service’s command-and-control structures because even people working at the lowest levels of an organisation have direct access to executives .
The truth of the matter is ultimately that 76 million Americans will retire over the next two decades. Only 46 million will be arriving to replace them. Most of those new workers will be Gen-Yers . If we are to take workforce planning seriously, therefore, we must plan for a workplace in which Baby Boomers leave behind a legacy — open, transparent, collaborative, and technology rich — suitable for the generations who will follow. One in which the gext generation of senior executives — Generation-X — will thrive in and Generation-Y will want to be a part of.
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1. Cohen, W & Simons, J. 1995. A new spin on the economy. US News and World Report, p54-55.
2. AARP, 2004. Baby Boomers Envision Retirement II
3. WorldOne Research, 2009. LexisNexis Technology Gap Survey
4. Owyang, J. K. 2009. How To Reach Baby Boomers With Social Technologies. Create And Sponsor Social Content And Allow For Their Voices To Be Heard. Forrester
5. Hadar, G. 2008. Managing the enterprise information network. Fed Web 2.0 Reaching across generational boundaries.
6. Gelston, S. 2008. Gen Y, Gen X and the Baby Boomers: Workplace Generation Wars. CIO Magazine, 15 Feb. Online at: http://www.cio.com.au/article/205772/gen_y_gen_x_baby_boomers_workplace_generation_wars?pp=2
by Matthew Hodgson
Social media holds great advantages, whether for improving internal collaboration, communication and social learning, or for building and enhancing trust through more responsive communications with key stakeholders and clients. Unfortunately, some organisations still hold onto a number of fears that hold them back from utilising these tools:
1. Employees will waste time
- Fear: Employees will waste time regardless of whether social computing tools are available to them or not.
- Fact: Research from MIT notes that 40% of employees productivity is directly explained by the amoung of communication they have with others to discover, gather and internalise information. Employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues. 
2. Social media is for kids
- Fear: Social media is used by a lot of kids, therefore it is only a toy and not to be taken seriously for assessment as a business tool.
- Fact: Use of internet technologies has its highest penetration rates in the 15-17 y.o. demographic — 83.9% in Australia. The next highest usage is by 35-44 y.o.’s with 74.1% penetration, followed by 18-24 at 72.8% and 25-34 at 71%. Overall, 76% of Australian adults use social media at least monthly . Age demographics from the world’s hottest social media platforms also support this finding.Overall, the use of Web 2.0 technologies internationally has grown rapidly in the last few years with an increase in from approximately 0.5 billion to 0.67 billion participants between 2007 and 2008. Research by Nielsen in 2009  showed that use of Web 2.0 websites is now more popular than email with an estimated growth three times as fast as the pace of general online growth. Importantly, the survey shows that rather than the province of the young, the biggest increase in use of Web 2.0 websites in 2009 comes from the 35-49 year old age group – an increase in 11.3 million people.The highlights from Nielsen’s report:
- Global share of time accounted for by people using social media increased by 38%.
- Men and women aged 65 and above moving to social media websites grew by 7 per cent
- The 17-and-under category dropped by 9 per cent
3. We will lose control to the ’nutters’
- Fear: If allowed to interact freely online, people will post spam and abuse online forums
- Fact: In the wiki forum FutureMelbourne, the Melbourne city council in Australia engaged citizens to discern their view of the city in order to contribute to planning for the future. Their results may surprise some:
“We received over 7000 individual visits to the site and several hundred edits to the plan by members of the public. Not a single instance of spam, offensive or off-topic content was recorded during the consultation period. We employed a process of direct community management, directly engaging with citizens as edits were made, answering questions, referring them to the appropriate area of expertise or correcting formatting errors should they occur.” 
Developing a clear social media strategy and plan is the best way to achieve success. Rather than automatically implementing a program on the four major social media avenues — blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — it’s important to first step back and see what makes sense to reach your stakeholders and customers. Ultimately, because social media is about relationships, it is important to thoroughly understand what matters to them, rather than what is easiest for you.
In the end, having good, simple, and easy-to-understand policies for managing online communities with dedicated, trained people, is key to ensuring control remains with you. The policy should also encompass how your employees should interact with clients. If everything has to be vetted by legal and corporate comms, though, before a conversation can take place, though, you’ll be dooming the venture before it begins.
4. Social media is a security risk
- Fear: Employees will share the organisations IP or say something that could land the company in legal trouble if they depart from their traditional editorial control processes. A study from Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law finds that 81% of companies believe social media is a corporate security risk. As a result, many organisations place a blanket ban on all social media platforms.
- Fact: [find the WW2 posters]Despite this fear from corporate heads, the study also found that 69 percent of those surveyed said they did not have a written social media policy in place. Of this group, 25 percent said they were unsure what the policy should include while 9 percent said it was unimportant.
5. There is no clear ROI
- Fear: What we’ve done has worked til now, there’s no reason to change!
- Fact: With Baby Boomers about to retire from the workforce that leaves Gen-Xs to move into senior management and Gen-Ys into positions of power. One thing we know for certain about these later two demographics is that they’re very technology literate. This, of course, has its consequences for the workplace and how organisations communicate with their stakeholders.The importance of the adoption of these tools within organisations is highlighted by a Telindus survey of more than 1,000 European office workers. The survey found that employees have begun to expect that the Web 2.0 tools they use at home will now be available in their workplace:
- 39% of 18 to 24 year-olds would consider leaving if they were not allowed to access sites like Facebook and YouTube
- A further 21% indicated that they would feel ‘annoyed’ by such a ban
- The problem is less acute with 25 to 65 year-olds, of whom just 16% would consider leaving and 13% would be annoyed
These expectations are generated because individuals use these tools in their personal lives to help them process data effectively and reduce information overload . This need is all the more important in a work context, therefore, where business silos and network drives make it all the more difficult to share knowledge, communicate information, and collaborate. Web 2.0 tools can help essentially because they are designed to enable people to collaborate more efficiently, preserve and share corporate knowledge, and thereby reduce expenses.
No ROI? What price do you put on keeping your workforce?
Proceeding from fear to managing these aspects of social computing as risks is the obvious next step.
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1. Bulleit, B. 2006. Effectively managing team conflict. Cary, NC: Global Knowledge Training LLC
2. Analysis of ABS cat no. 8146.0 and ABS cat no. 3201.0
3. The Nielsen Company, 2009. Social networks & blogs now 4th most popular online activity, ahead of personal email, News Release. New York, NY. 9 March.
4. Dale Bowerman comments to Atkins, D. 2008. Using a Wiki to Improve Town Governance, 9 Jan. Online at: blog.davewrites.com/index.php/2008/01/09/using_a_wiki_to_improve_town_governance#c886
5. Robert Half Technology, 2009. CIOs Weigh in on most popular communication tools at work, 7 Aug. Online at: http://www.roberthalftechnology.com/portal/site/rht-us/menuitem.8e8f9ba1fb1aaad656932a0202f3dfa0/?vgnextoid=368b9926053d8010VgnVCM1000002d3ffd0aRCRD&javax.portlet.prp_392cb099d6a955fd8bbe7a8902f3dfa0_request_type=RenderPressRelease&javax.portlet.prp_392cb099d6a955fd8bbe7a8902f3dfa0_releaseId=2301
by Matthew Hodgson
For some time the giants of the Web 2.0 world like Tim O’Reily and Clay Shirky have talked about ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’ but there is some real lack of clarity and simplicity around what is actually meant by this beyond some significant motherhood statements and technology definitions. This problem is compounded by social commentators who, when asking a room of people “who uses Web 2.0″, note that only a few people are live-blogging or twittering and flail their arms in the air with dismay and cry out the 20 year old 1:9:90 rule of the few contributing and the masses only lurking without realising the sampling issues inherent in asking this question of the convenience sample sitting before them.
Forrester’s Social Technographics really help clear the fog when we consider what types of behaviour we should include when we refer to ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’. All of these roles, from Creator to Joiner, and even Spectator, are critical in promoting Web 2.0 as a means of connecting and forming relationships as a means to promote identification, communication, networking, and collaboration between both individuals, and between individuals and communities of practice with an online presence. It follows that, beyond looking at the technology, when investigating how to encourage staff and clients in the way our organisations work and make decisions we take a more holistic perspective regarding the range of activities we include in our intranets, our extranets and our standard internet presences.
When recently twittering for some perspective and clarity on these issues of definition of participation, ICANN responded with a gem — IAP2′s core values of public participation :
- Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
- Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
- Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognising and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
- Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
- Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
- Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
- Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
It was an important reminder that, beyond agreeing with the group’s own Web 2.0-style social contract, because definitions of participation in a Web 2.0 world are still fairly vague and can differ quite dramatically between organisations, it is not only important to acknowledge and support all online behavioural roles but also vital to communicate what participation means to you to those with whom you want to engage.
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1. International Association for Public Participation, 2009. IAP2 Core Values. Online at: http://www.iap2.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=4
by Matthew Hodgson
Intranets have been with us for many years now. Stephen Lawton was the first to coin the term in an article he wrote for Digital News & Review in April 24 1995. Essentially, he observed that people were creating small websites inside their organisations to share knowledge and communicate information. Nearly 15 years later, many of us continue to use intranets in this way and have not yet moved beyond the publishing of static information because we assume that this provides sufficient value to the modern knowledge worker.
I think this mentality was born out of a whole generation of workers who have effectively grown up in their professional lives with Microsoft Office styled products — the idea that, much like print publishing, documents are worked on by individuals and then released to others once it is finished and officially approved. KM guru David Gurteen suggests that this “create and publish” behaviour is also likely to be the result of early knowledge management efforts to bring structure to information in the organisation and make it searchable and easily accessible to employees. Unfortunately, as Gurteen highlights, too often employees didn’t see any value in this for themselves and, as a result, such systems failed .
The essence of this failure of early intranets to bring true communication value into an organisation and to its employees is perhaps bound with the lack of recognition and understanding of how knowledge is created and information is shared by people. It’s also the factor that underpins Web 2.0′s success where traditional intranets have tended to fail. That is, that information is shared through social networks, from person to person, and that there are a number of roles in that social exchange.
With Web 2.0 tools being assessed for their worth to enhance intranets Forrester’s Social Technographics is a timely reminder of the social exchange — people’s behavioural requirements for sharing information — needed for a successful intranet, and further, a modern digital workplace. Microsoft’s newest offering, SharePoint 2010, which is about to released soon, reflects this trend. We first saw blogs and wikis integrated into this offering a few years ago, helping to meet what Forrester terms “Creator” and “Critic” rolls. While the upcoming version will debut free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for the production of all types of content by Creators , making a step closer to a truly online, digital workplace, out-of-the-box it is still unlikely to meet the needs of “Joiners” or “Collectors”. 
Joiners need to feel they belong, what Maslow would call Social and Esteem needs. As such, Joiners need to be able to maintain their personal profile as it fits with the behavioural and cultural norms displayed by the group. Collectors’ need RSS feeds, to vote for content they feel adds value to the group, and to add to the way in which information is typically classified (by adding tags to a folksonomy) by the group so that its members can more easily find it.
In embracing the move beyond the standard intranet to an enterprise 2.0 world, the world of the digital workplace, more needs to be done to understand the real human reasons why we’ve failed in the past to deliver technology to support people at work. In reality, this requires organisations to come to terms with the ways in which people create knowledge through the social exchange of information. It means embedding the understanding that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work into the organisation’s IT strategic plan. It demands acknowledgment that embracing technology variety will enable people to be naturally drawn to those tools that best suit their personal communication and interaction needs, based on their Maslow-described motivations, their group’s communication and behavioural norms, and their individual role preferences for creation, joining, critiquing, collecting or just spectating.
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1. Gurteen, D. 2008. KM (2.0) goes social. The Gurteen Perspective, Inside Knowledge. 29 Feb, 11, 6. Online at:
2. Marks, O. 2009. Anticipating Sharepoint 2010: Making Enterprise Foundations More Flexible? 13 Aug. Online at: http://blogs.zdnet.com/collaboration/?p=816
3. Not to mention that the user experience inherent in opening up a Word document means that the most logical place for a Critic to read and rate the content is inside the document, but the most useful place for someone else to see that rating is before the document is open
by Matthew Hodgson
It’s been a great journey. The more I look into social media and report on its current use the more it seems that others, from corporates to government agencies, are starting to ‘get’ social media.
For those of you still lagging behind, here are some stats that might get you motivated to join in the conversation (… that means both listening and talking):
- 2/3 of the global internet population use social media 
- 3 in 4 Americans use social media 
- 4 in 5 Australians use social media at least monthly 
- People now visit social media websites more than they use personal email 
- Time spent on social media websites is growing 3x the speed of internet adoption 
What are they doing? In Australia, the statistics indicate:
- 39% – news feeds
- 29% – instant messaging
- 26% – social networking
- 22% – blogs
Hitwise reports that of all websites visited by Australians:
- 4.03% visit Facebook
- 1.44% visit YouTube
- 1.12% visit MySpace
- 0.81% visit Wikipedia
These are interesting numbers from a government information and communication perspective because of the 2,094 websites that Hitwise monitors the combined traffic only equates to 1.3% of which the Bureau of Meteorology attracts 0.36%. It suggests that people would rather go to YouTube and be one of the 100 million people who watch some of the 13 hours of video uploaded every minute. If you were to watch all the content on YouTube though make sure you’ve got lots of popcorn because it would take you about 412 years.
So what about other social media webistes? Some suggest that people arn’t engaged or maybe its only a small proportion, yet the statistics speak for themselves:
- 13 million articles in Wikipedia
- 3.6 billion photos on Flickr in June 2009 — roughly 1 photo for every 2 people on the planet (world population is est 6.7 billion by United States Census Bureau to be 6.7 billion)
- Twitter grew by 1382% from January to February 2009
- 3 million Tweets on Twitter per day
- 5 billion minutes spent on Facebook every day
- 1 billion pieces of content, from links and news to photos and blog posts, shared on Facebook each week
- If Facebook was a country it would be the 8th most populated in the world ahead of Japan which is 127.7 million according to the Japan Statistics Bureau
If you’re not part of this conversation, this collaboration, this community, then your stakeholders and your clients are obviously talking to other people.
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1. Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009
2. Forrester, The Growth of Social Technology Adoption, 2008
3. Internet World Stats, 2008. Internet Usage Stats and Telecommunications Market Report
by Matthew Hodgson
What are people actually doing when it comes to using social media?
Recently, noted social media evangelist and strategist Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research suggested that the reason Friendfeed was not taking off was because it relied on the “least used behaviour” in social media roles — the Collector.
Forrester neatly categorises the behavioural roles people adopt when using the web today:
- Creator — Publish a blog/web page, upload music and video
- Critic — Post ratings or a product, comment on a blog, contribute to a forum, edit a wiki
- Collector — Use RSS, vote for websites, add tags
- Joiner — Maintain a profile on a social media website, visit networking sites
- Spectator — Read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video, read forums and ratings
- Inactive — None of the above
Even while [adult] Collector behaviour has increased over the last few years that Forrester have examined what people do online, the frequency of Collector behaviour is still very low as a proportion of all behavioural profiles.
The pattern of behaviour is similar in Australia with Collectors forming only 16% of online adult population in 2008. That is, approximately 11% or 1.8 million of the 16.3 million Australians 18 years or older .
The lesson for Friendfeed and other social media projects? Famed social media commentator, Robert Scoble, suggests that a range of issues are at fault with Friendfeed’s approach to market, from unknowns in monetisation to no brand and no hype. Jeremiah’s comment, though, reminds us that there’s more to social media than just a solid marketing strategy. Ultimately, understanding people’s behaviour in online environments is a first important step in formulating a social media strategy — whether with clients and stakeholders or even within the organisation as a step toward Enterprise 2.0
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1. Source: Analysis of ABS cat no. 8146.0 and ABS cat no.3201.0
by Matthew Hodgson
Older entries »
Do you have trusted communications occurring openly, transparently and responsively on your website? If not, then chances are these communications are occurring elsewhere, predominantly in citizen-empowered, self-built, online communities, powered by Web 2.0 technologies.
The use of Web 2.0 technologies internationally has grown rapidly in the last few years with an increase from approximately 0.5 billion to 0.67 billion participants between 2007 and 2008. Research by Nielsen in 2009 showed that use of email, the killer app of the 90s, has now been replaced by Web 2.0 websites  with an estimated growth three times as fast as the pace of general online growth. Importantly, Nielsen’s research shows that rather than this being an activity only engaged in by the young, the biggest increase in use of Web 2.0 websites in 2009 comes from the 35-49 year old age group – an increase in 11.3 million people.
|Web 2.0 website visitors 08
||% online population using Web 2.0 websites
Source: HitWise, 2009
What activities are they involved with? A recent survey by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)  noted the ways in which Australians preferred to communicate online included strong use of Web 2.0 technologies.
||% of Australian population
|News feeds (RSS)
|Instant messaging, e.g. Twitter, MSN, Google Talk, AOL IM, Yahoo! Messenger
|Social networking, e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr
Edelman’s research points to the reason why. His 2008 Trust Barometer reinforces that people trust those they can identify as ‘like themselves’.
Source: Edelman’s Trust Barometer, 2008
This is hardly surprising given that identity is the cornerstone of Web 2.0 technology. Identity allows for identification, after which rapport can be built through availability of tools that promote interaction. Trust is then built through consistent, responsive communication.
Source: 7 Building Blocks Of The Social Web. Gene Smith of Atomiq. http://experiencecurve.com/archives/seven-building-blocks-of-the-social-web
Google loves these conversations. They supply new content to index, created by people discussing what you’ve published on your corporate website. This supplies new links by people forwarding content into their own online communities like Facebook, MySpace, FlockIt, DiggIt, and StumbleUpon because of its relevance to that community. And, of course, Google indexes all of these activities, and more, which ensures its search ranking is higher compared to static, ‘read only’ content. In turn, this makes that content easier to find.
Are you encouraging trusted conversations on your website? If not, your competition will be!
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 The Nielsen Company, 2009. Social networks & blogs now 4th most popular online activity, ahead of personal email, News Release. New York, NY. 9 March.
 Internet World Stats, 2008. Internet Usage Stats and Telecommunications Market Report. Online at: www.internetworldstats.com
 Office for National Statistics, 2008. Internet Access. 65% of households had access in 2008. Online at: www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=8
 Internet World Statistics, 2008. Internet Usage Statistics for the Americas. Online at: www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm
 Australian Government Information Management Office, 2008. Interacting with Government. Australians’ use and satisfaction with e-government services