Tag Archives: business

When Blocking the Web… Stops Work Getting Done

Interesting situation recently. As long-time readers know, I’ve been a big fan of the Stop Blocking campaign for a number of years, and I tend to find it frustrating when I come across blocked networks. Trust and empowerment make me feel great in my job.

I’ve spent most of October and November travelling to speak with customers and present at a couple of conferences around Europe. In that time, I generally had very few problems with network access.

On one occasion though, I realised just how tricky things are becoming, as “social” elements become increasingly baked in to the fabric of the Web. I was in Switzerland, and the plan was for me to present locally during the morning, and then to host and facilitate a conversation with a number of my colleagues in the Hursley lab during the afternoon. The hosts arranged guest wifi network access for me, so that we could make this work. I’d be able to use Sametime to receive files to present locally (we couldn’t access LotusLive), to clarify questions with the remote team, and to coordinate other team members to join the conversation as we went along.

This plan was initially all looking good, until I found that the VPN connection I was using to tunnel in to the corporate network would suddenly and apparently randomly, drop in the middle of a conversation.

After a while these VPN disconnections became more frequent, I became more frustrated, and the meeting became less productive.

… and that’s when I looked at the piece of paper I’d been given with my guest network credentials. To summarise, it said that guests would be subject to all of the same restrictions as employees regarding network access and specific sites were disallowed including “Personal email: Hotmail, Gmail etc; IM: Skype, Google Talk, etc; Social networking: Twitter, Facebook, etc”.

The penny dropped that my browser was sitting there with tabs open on sites like Gmail and Twitter. I shut them, reconnected, reconnected to the VPN, and things…. were better…. well, better, for a while.

I still wanted to use the Internet, of course, so I continued to do so – searching Google for relevant issues when questions were asked in the workshop. That’s when the VPN started flaking out again…. and that’s when I realised that with the Google redesign, the +1 features in the header bar were accessing Google+ when I loaded the Google page, treating that as a “social network”, and silently dropping my wifi connection.

This was a case where a heavy-handed filter, no doubt designed to “protect” the users from themselves and the organisation from inappropriate behaviour, actually impaired real work getting done. Either this technology needs to get a lot, lot smarter; companies need to reconsider these blocking rules, and trust an increasingly savvy workforce to behave responsibly; or the Web just needs to stop getting so darned social and… troublesome. Which option do you prefer?

Social Media adoption, and Community Building

Just a short post today. Euan Semple was recently interviewed by GuruOnline and the result was a great series of short videos in which he discusses how and why businesses should get involved in social media, how it can affect the way they work, and some of the tools that can be used. I liked his response to the thorny ROI question, and in particular his final statement in the last of the 15 segments – “corporations don’t tweet, people do”. Check it out.

In a related thought, I really enjoyed Matt Simpson’s blog entry yesterday about community building in corporations: The Manager Who Thought He Could Create a Community. It’s so true that it takes more than just a few clicks of a mouse to create a community of any kind – it takes work, participation, nurturing, and most importantly, conversation.

Papers, Books & Guides – all Red – oh my!

IBM Redguides

For a long time now, IBM has been publishing both Redbooks and Redpapers. I’ve co-written a Redbook and mentioned them a number of times in the past – in fact, one of the best descriptions I can find of what they are all about comes from one of my old posts:

… deep technical books, usually written to address a particular product or scenario. The Redbooks are written collaboratively through the residency process. As a Redbooks author I have to say that working on one of them was one of the best experiences I’ve had at IBM so far – getting close to the development team, collaborating with folks from four or five different countries, working on hands-on scenarios and building a really strong book out of it.

As for Redpapers (from the website):

…shorter technical papers that are only available on the Web… They reflect working experiences on a specific topic.

New to the stable this week are the IBM Redguides, which are more business-oriented. According to the website, these:

…focus on the business view of technology that solves business issues, provides business value, or enables competitive advantage by applying existing technologies or exploring a roadmap for emerging technologies.

Quite a family of documentation! I’m looking forward to taking a look at some of the Redguides – based on the reputation of the Redbooks and Redpapers, I’m sure they are going to be really useful