Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Social Media: Going Internal and Measuring the conversation

I just discovered an article by Chris Brogan titled Putting Social Media to Work Internally. It got me thinking about another cool app I saw on a videocast title Conversation Targeting: Getting To The Heart of Blogs and Social Media. The app is called BuzzLogic and it has fascinating way of measuring the world of online social, informal, conversations.

I've been giving my Learning2.0 schtick for about 2 years now and everyone asks, "how do we measure informal learning". My usual response is, "why the heck do you want too"? If you were measuring the RIGHT things like, oh, say, BUSINESS goals and objectives, you wouldn't worry so much about it. But I digress...

They didn't talk about it in the interview, and so I'm wondering if you can run their app behind a firewall and use it to evaluate and measure your companies internal conversations. Why? Well understanding who your influencers truly are is critical information to have. Many organizations are far to convinced that 360degree review tools and other HR/OD measures get to a fair and balanced picture of who is awesome in your business.

In my years at Intel my favorite managers always talked about the "sphere or influence". But of course they had no real, honest, way to measure one's total impact on his/her sphere of influence. I believe Web2.0 gives us the tools to not only become more empowered, but they give us the ability to see where the real knowledge value rests on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder.

On a side note, I'll bet BuzzLogic has never thought about their tool as a learning measurement tool or how it could be integrated into an enterprise LMS or HR system. But I think they should. I've talked about this before and so I'll mention it again. The web and web-based tools for eLearning will always follow the path of Marketing and PR when it comes to technology. The MarComm world has the budgets and the money...training/education does not. However our goals are very similar. We look to change behavior through media and measure its impact.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of your learning2.0 initiative in your company I'd take a look at BuzzLogic.

Remember, the conversations are happening whether you like it or not. And your employees are learning more of what they need to know from those conversations, NOT your elearning course. If you are one of the many who believe informal learning and web2.0 social conversations to simply be a fad, then you will also be wondering why your job no longer exists in the next few years. Don't close your eyes to this incredible shift in technology.

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Anonymous said...

Actually, we looked at that as a route early on. There were extensive conversations with a couple of large companies, notably a big aerospace firm, about doing exactly that kind of measurement.

It requires a different position in the network (because you have to be inside the firewall and looking at a variety of communications, as well as doing a lot of natural language processing to identify transferred ideas in, for instance, email), which would have been interesting to pursue, but wasn't.

BuzzLogic's platform was initially designed to support a wide range of applications and can still. Don't hesitate to go talk to them about this.

Mitch Ratcliffe -- cofounder of BuzzLogic (now on to new things)

bschlenker said...

Hi Mitch! Thanks for commenting. There is nothing like getting info directly from the source. I think this type of measurement used for performance and evaluation of human resources would be the ultimate goal. I never thought about needing to get inside of email. That's a great point.
I think at this stage in the game training departments will take anything that will measure anything about the web2.0 tools being deployed behind the firewall. Most savvy tech/business people try to limit their email conversations anyway, so perhaps trying to measure anything in email would soon be a pointless effort anyway...I don't know.
All I know is that people are trying to use tools like Google Analytics to measure conversations in blogs, wikis, etc. And I think Buzzlogic takes it a step further in a way that would be beneficial to answering the question, "How are we going to measure all this learning2.0 stuff"?

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Clark said...

BuzzLogic seems to track phrases you're interested in, but how does it track emergent ideas? Sure you could tell it to track a bunch of important words and see who knows about it, but how do you find out about new topics?

Tracking email to see who knows what has been done in Knowledge Management; it's one of the approaches to generating 'yellow pages'.

Thanks for the pointer!