30 May, 2008

Email is not dead

Despite the fact that email is still the most broadly used form of digital communication, it sometimes gets a bad rap and is often proclaimed outdated and on the brink of being replaced by more progressive communication technologies.

However, email is simple and everyone uses it, all the time. That is why email still represents a huge opportunity for innovations in the architectures of web applications. Given the popularity of email, you can even argue that it is heavily underutilised in this regard.

A great example of how email can enrich the user experience of a web application is TripIt. TripIt is a social networking site for travellers that organises your travel plans and alerts you when you are near friends and colleagues. The killer feature is in the way you set up a new trip on your profile. All you have to do is forward your travel itinerary via email and TripIt takes care of the rest.

That is a great example of how email can be used to simplify and enrich the user experience. And it gives TripIt an effective way of signing people up because initially all you have to do is emailing them your itinerary, very easy.

TripIt has a post on their blog with a presentation they gave at the Web 2.0 Expo about using email in web applications.

20 May, 2008

Motivation for social networking in the enterprise

Since my last post on social networking in the enterprise a lot has happened. No doubt, that social networking has gone way past the critical mass and we are no longer talking about an emerging trend.

Facebook recently announced they have raised funding for expanding their infrastructure with 50,000 servers. This is to support a rapidly growing user base that even includes my mum. Over the last year LinkedIn has pulled in 361% more unique users. There are thousands of other social networking sites out there and users are not hesitating to join up.

Now that everyone has learned the basic dynamics of social networks through the many Internet sites that are not only growing rapidly in size but also in diversity, it is time to be serious and consider what value it can bring to the enterprise.

In an increasingly complex environment where continuous innovation is required to stay competitive, collaboration is a key factor to success. Most organisations have acknowledged this for quite some time and have been rolling out empowering collaboration solutions (such as Microsoft SharePoint).

But effective collaboration is not only about streamlining how you work together, it also about who you collaborate with. This is where social networking comes in as a booster for collaboration.

Many knowledge-driven organisations actively promote internal networking by facilitating events where employees from various parts of the business can connect and learn from each other. Social networking tools are another way of facilitating internal networking. But the networking can take place anywhere, anytime and at very little cost.

Social networking in the enterprise should first of all be viewed as another productivity solution. It accelerates the pace at which we connect with the right people to perform shared tasks. From a more strategic perspective, social networking tools can help individuals discover capabilities of people within the organisation they otherwise would not have known of.

There certainly seems to be good reasons for why it is even relevant to talk about enterprise social networking. We now need to turn our focus to how we go about it and actually implement it in a way that adds measurable value to the business.

11 May, 2008

Fit To Screen in Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile 6.0

I might be the last person to have figured this out but you can change the default rendering in IE on Windows Mobile 6.0 so the text will wrap and fit within the window.

One of my favourite mobile websites is the mobile version of Wikipedia on wapedia.mobi. Instant answers to almost anything anywhere anytime, which is really extremely powerful once you're used to it. But the need to constantly having to use the horizontal scroll bar has previously made it a little cumbersome to use.

To fit the content to screen and get rid of the horizontal scroll bar:

  1. Open Internet Explorer on your Windows Mobile.
  2. Select Menu > View > Fit To Screen.

Meanwhile I'm waiting for the Windows Mobile 6.1 firmware upgrade for my HTC TyTN II. According to an HTC press release, the software update should be available soon. ZDNet reports that IE on Windows Mobile 6.1 should have the full rendering capabilities of the desktop version of IE 6.