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Nigel Wallis, research director at IDC Canada. (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Nigel Wallis, research director at IDC Canada. (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Earlier discussion

What is the future of office communication? Add to ...

As social networking websites continue to rise in popularity and prominence, a growing number of businesses are looking to adopt that model for the workplace. Instead of stunting productivity and encouraging a slacker mentality, employers are recognizing that harnessing the strengths of a social network can actually have the opposite effect.

But what are the advantages of this system? And how best can Canadian companies implement it?

Nigel Wallis, research director at research firm IDC Canada, believes there are several hurdles in the way; not least ensuring top-level managers migrate to the new system.

“The senior management buy-in is reasonably important,” he says. “If the only people who jump on it are your interns, it’s going to die."

Launching incrementally in various departments could encourage participation and is “a better way to share notions and ideas,” Mr. Wallis adds.

“There’s a lot of friction,” he says. “If you don’t get to critical mass fast enough, then people say, ‘Oh, it’s lame.’”

So, are company-wide social networks a lame idea or the future of office communication? Nigel Wallis joined us for a live chat.

Niamh O'Doherty - Good afternoon, I'm Niamh O'Doherty. Welcome to our live chat about the future of office communication with Nigel Wallis, research director at IDC Canada. Please feel free to begin sending in your questions now.

1:00

Niamh O'Doherty - Everyone, please welcome Nigel Wallis. Nigel, can you tell us a little about your role at IDC Canada?

1:01

[Comment From Nigel Wallis ]

Hello - discussing office communication technology may not seem all that interesting, but as it turns out, the average North American employee spends somewhere around 13 hours a week reading & answering corporate email. That's a lot of time. With the advent of new social networks as well as the improvement of older technologies such as IM and video, Canadian enterprises are having to consider the future of how they collaborate & communicate.

1:01

Niamh O'Doherty - Now, onto the questions....

1:02

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

Hello, my role is the research director for enterprise applications at IDC Canada. So I look at what, why and how companies buy technology - and what they are going to do differently in the future.

1:02

[Comment From Daniel Puiatti ]

How can I persuade my organization's management that embracing social media platforms is a good idea?

1:03

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

that's a common question. The risks are apparent and obvious - privacy, security, time wasting, etc. So why get onboard?

1:05

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

when we surveyed Canadian businesses, they responded that the benefits included better, faster collaboration as well as faster time to market, reduced spend on personal time for searching through the advent of wiki's and the like as well as increased productivity

1:05

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

including in unexpected areas, like quicker resolution of customer problems.

1:06

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

that said, the way social business has crept into Cdn business is primarily through informal individual or departmental level adoption.

1:06

[Comment From Lyle ]

There has already been some adoption of "sharing" communications approaches such as use of wikis. I see these as forerunners of move to a fullblown social network approach. What's the evidence on how effective these early approaches have been for different types of businesses and sectors?

1:06

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

That is, through people like yourself finding personal efficiencies - and then managers signing on.

1:07

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

Lyle: Hit and miss. For instance, the aim of Enterprise 2.0 goes all the way back to advent of the original Lotus collaboration software

1:07

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

then there was the boom in portals circa 1999-2003 or so

1:08

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

each of these was well-intentioned, but rarely lead to the adoption or collaboration we thought would happen

1:09

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

The upside today is that there is a different view on sharing across personal & professional lives (thanks Facebook, Myspace!) - and a better awareness of the value of collaboration

1:10

[Comment From Nigel Wallis]

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