Tag Archives: collaboration

Is email all you seem to do at work?

Email costs North American businesses nearly $2 trillion annually – a huge amount of money. Collaborations specialise Contatta has published an infographic showing just how much American businesses pay employees to process email.

The infographic shows some staggering inefficiencies in the way we work:

Workers spend on average 13 hours of their workweek reading and answering email – around 637 hours annually.

Based on the average professional wage in the US of $23 per hour, businesses pay over $15K per employee to process email

Collectively, employees spend nearly 75 billion hours in email. This costs businesses nearly $2 trillion in salaries. That is around 14 times the combined wealth of Bill Gates, Oprah and Warren Buffett.

That amount of money could give everyone in the US with $5,637. But we would have no email!

The staggering cost of business email infographic

Data and statistics were pulled from the US Bureau of Labour, McKinsey Global Institute and the Radicati Group to showcase the ineffectiveness of email and the way we process things.

So why do we still send emails instead of communicating using instant messaging tools such as Chatter, Lync, and Yammer? 

Like the memos of the past, we seem to think that email gives us the permanence of a written memo. We have an audit trail and an ‘official’ message that  can be printed out and faxed or posted to anyone.

Actually, instant messaging and other collaboration tools can do this as well. Firewall filters can be applied to block unsuitable messages, or messages filled with profanities or other undesirable keywords. All messages can be archived and audited and processed like their email alternatives.

We need to change our behaviour. but after over 20 years of electronic messaging – it is going to be a long hard slog to embrace true social business.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.


Flip your clothes using social marketplace Threadflip

I like the concept of Threadflip.  It is a social marketplace where you can sell your old clothes and accessories, and browse for fashion that suits your style.

Threadflip is:

‘is an exclusive and unique social marketplace designed to let you refresh your closet in a few easy steps. Sell the items you no longer wear, or share your own designs. Use your credit to shop the closets of your favorite designers, collectors, bloggers and friends or just cash out! Here’s a glimpse of what other fashionistas are flipping on Threadflip’


As a start up, Threadflip relies on investors, and has just secured a $1.3 million round of investment. It competes with other social shopping sites such as Poshmark, and eBay.

It is currently available to buyers and sellers in the US only, but has plans to increase its reach worldwide.

Users can sign in with Facebook, upload images of items that they would like to sell.  If the item is sold, the seller then ships the goods to buyers.Threadflip takes 15 per cent from the sale of each item.  if you have not time to do the selling yourself, Threadflip offers a white glove service.  They take care of the sale for you, and send you the cash from the sale.

You can state your fashion preferences and shoe size to ensure that all of the images you see are of items that you would like to buy.  You don’t need to search for the items, the items find you.The feed, which looks a lot like the Pinterest feed, shows who has liked the items, and comments for each item, and you have the opportunity to follow people who love, comment or purchase goods. ught,

One of the great advantages of social marketplaces is that buyers can share information about items that they intend to purchase, or have already bought.  The concept is like a collaborative swap meet, you sell and buy from people with same style as you.  Its a good idea – especially for female netizens who like to shop and share online.

Hopefully international commerce will be opened soon – I have my eyes on several items already Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Introvert leaders can thrive in extravert environments

I’m not much of an extravert which surprises those that see me in public social environments.  I can hop between introversion and extraversion quite easily.  I’m happy on my own and in crowds.  I’m probably an ambivert.

Introverts tend to have a hard time in the workplace.  They are often encouraged to attend brain storming meetings when they want to retreat behind their laptops and concentrate alone.  Introverts don’t tend to get many leadership positions, and when in leadership roles, are often criticised for being aloof and uncommunicative.

But being in large groups, brainstorming, often doesn’t unleash the truly innovative ideas.  Sometimes your best thinking and problem solving occurs when you are alone with your own thoughts and space to develop ideas.

Susan Cain who says “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” is an introvert.  She argues that unstructured, cafe-style meetings can often bring out the best in introverts, rather than huge group-think type environments where the extraverts battle to have their say.




Often the best ideas we have are when we’re alone.  Even total extraverts need some downtime and some ‘me’ time. Discover your hidden introvert.  Stop giving introverts a hard time.

Put that device down, stop using social media to see the noise of the world.  Listen to the silence, pick up a book.

Recharge those batteries and create the next big idea…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Cloud collaboration enables the social sustainable business

What does it take to make your business more social?

Flexibility, Mobility, Accessibility and Portability.  That’s difficult if you are desk bound, and can’t do anything else…

But with access to your information from anywhere, any device, you can work anywhere.  Cisco have released a video which shows this concept rather well..


The social business works without organisational boundaries. It empowers workers making them more flexible in where and when they want to work

Access from any device, at any time, any location.  Get the information you need, on the form factor you need, in the way you need.  Collaborate in the way you want to, on the phone, face to face, via email or video.  The opportunities are endless.

Clouds work for small businesses  — that don’t want the overhead of managing the infrastructure.  The cloud also works for large businesses too.  MyStarbucksidea runs in the cloud on Salesforce.com.

The flexibility in working where you want to means that travel budgets can be managed effectively.  There is no overhead in time lost commuting, nor any extra resources used.

Make your business more social – move your infrastructure to the cloud.  Any cloud.  The Amazon cloud, the Google cloud, the Cisco cloud, the Microsoft cloud.

You’ll save server resources, improve agility, and be able to access your data anywhere…

Hat tip to Gareth for the original collaboration post

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Domino’s uses crowdsourcing to find innovation and ideas

Domino’s has empowered its user community to steer the direction of the brand by launching its new crowdsourcing app, ‘Think Oven’ on Facebook

Think Oven has 2 parts,’Projects’ and ‘Idea box’

The Project area encourages comments and suggestions around a current project – at the moment its around the Domino’s uniforms.  The Idea box is a place for suggestions – that might turn into future projects.


The idea mirrors the My Starbucks Idea project that has been running for some time now.  Although we celebrate community collaboration like this, Crowdsourced ideas are not new.

Back in the ‘olden days’ the company suggestions box had the potential to turn up some innovation. Now everything is done online. With voting, comments and suggestions enabled in the Domino’s app the brand can get a really good idea about what its fans really want.

Using the army of Facebook fans to garner ideas is a good move for Domino’s.  We are used to interacting on Facebook, we are much more likely to interact with the brand in this way.

Hopefully Domino’s will implement some of the better ideas and report on its success.. Perhaps more brands will take up the initiative and work towards getting better customer service levels, new products and a re-energised business…

Meanwhile, Domino’s… I have an idea… Smile

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Quirky: Using influence to create new products

I like the idea of using your influence to contribute to and create new ideas and products.  New York based start-up Quirky allows you to submit an idea, have it reviewed and evaluated by the community, and based on their feedback, either refine and redesign the product, or take it forward into production.

The web site also encourages social sales in addition to direct sales.  Users are more likely to purchase a product where they’ve influenced product design or manufacture either directly or indirectly.


There are some great ideas on the site already too – like this cord grabber to stop your cables falling off the desk.  There are related products to buy too.

Will this new way of product design evolve using social collaboration?  Internally, it would certainly get round the interminable product review meetings that companies have.  Meetings where half the team are pushing for their component to be included in the mix and the other half processing their email and not contributing to the meeting.

Perhaps your design could fall victim to the Wikipedia model, where any changes are instantly reverted by the page owner and new ideas are drowned in a sea of conformity.

Or are we poised to change the whole way that products are created – and allow innovation to lead the way?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Microsoft introduces social collaboration with Dynamics CRM

imageIt’s been quite a while since I directly blogged about anything coming out of the Microsoft stable, our paths have diverged slightly over the last couple of years. 

But I stumbled across an interesting announcement which I thought was worth a mention.  Microsoft are incorporating features to help businesses become more social.

These features will enhance the sales cycle, improve the customer relationship with the brand and keep everyone up to date with exactly what is happening with the Sales opportunity.

Microsoft have updated their Dynamics CRM product to keep them in line with offerings such as Salesforce, SAP and Oracle.  This service update has added social components, known as “Social Wave 1” such as activity feeds, real time notifications, microblogs and interaction on a conversation platform like Facebook. Users of Dynamics can subscribe to specific activity feeds such as sales opportunities to keep them up to date as the sales cycle progresses.

This platform will allow you to have near real time conversations on sales leads and opportunities.

Some of the new features that will be included in the new version of Dynamics CRM product are:

    • Activity feeds. Configurable, real-time notifications on important relationships and significant business events via a blended view of micro-blog posts and interactions for a person, customer or sales opportunity.
    • Micro-blogging. Status updates and notifications regarding business events and actions, providing simple experiences for users.
    • Conversations. Post questions, observations, suggestions and status updates, allowing users to collaborate quickly and efficiently, locate information or expertise and gather feedback from others.
    • Automated activity updates. Post information directly to the activity feed based on configurable event rules (for example, when a sales opportunity is closed). People can subscribe to or “follow” these activity feeds and consume them in a variety of ways.
    • Mobile activity feeds. A new Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobile Activity Feeds application for Windows Phone 7 allows users to view their activity feeds while away from the office.


The UI looks very similar to Facebook withimage Feeds and comments on the Workplace what’s new tab.  Interaction between team members can be seen by the rest of the workgroup.

The service update is tightly integrated with Office 365 to bring a more unified experience in their CRM online service – the “Enterprise cloud” as it’s known as.

There’s even an interface for Windows phone 7 so that you can keep up with what’s going on whilst mobile.

Microsoft plans to deliver 2 service updates per year to keep abreast of changes in social collaboration and changes in cloud offerings. 

Coming up, there will be support for Firefox, Chrome and Safari too in 2012 so you’re not restricted to just the IE browser as well as bringing access to Dynamics to IOS and Android.

This move gives users a more consumer based experience that brings records relevant just to them or any other record in the system to give a timeline of statuses on particular records.  The system can also post statuses to the activity feeds to the timeline –= a bit like an application posting to Facebook.

It’s a nice update from Microsoft and it brings the Customer into the CRM experience.  Everyone will be fully up to date on every Sales opportunity which will result in a much more personalised touch to the sales experience.

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.