Understanding viral information flow and rumors in a corporate social network

viral information flow

The following is an extract from the original article published in ‘Warwick blogs’ by the same author in March early this year, 2017.

The figure is a  simple free form sketch of a viral information flow among people in a closed network. Some are happy and some are not. The sketch was drawn using ‘Sketchbook’ from Autodesk.

I just happened to search the internet on the influence of social networks and social media at workplaces. And I bumped into this article from Gallup business journal, which happens to be a gem not just from the insights that we can gain, but there is much to learn from social network experts like Dr. Jon Kleinberg.

The article that I am talking about is “The power of social networks” from Gallup business journal. You can find the link above.

The article interviews Dr. Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University. Dr. Jon is a professor of Mathematics at Cornell University and a recipient of many awards including the Rolf Nevanlinna prize.

The Rolf Nevanlinna prize (May sound new to many) is awarded by the International congress of mathematicians for outstanding contributions in the field of Mathematics aspects of computational and information science. This award is given every four years.

Now, what interested me in this article, was Dr. Jon’s expert views on information cascades and the contagion theory in the social network, that exists in the offices. Why certain messages go viral and how information flows and thrives in the social network.

I have mentioned about the fine synergistic relationship between Social media and Social network, in my earlier posts. Both exist to complement each other. The underlying structure of the social network, embedded inside the social media, makes it (Social media) more acceptable among the masses.

Social media is an ‘attitude’, it is the medium through which people interact and share information with others.

By sharing and by interacting with others, a social network is formed. We need a medium, a tool, in the form of a social media to control and better able to structure the network and fine tune it. We then leave it to be self -organizing.

We cannot enforce any strict rules on a social network. People’s behavior, ties, and connections within the network is self-regulating and self-organizing. It is like an organism which evolves continuously.

Now having said that, it needs some incentive structures to be built inside it. We need to motivate the masses.

Incentive structures and benefits should be structured in such a way, that it mobilizes people for a long-term sustainable change.

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Adopting social media for social collaboration in workplaces-Best practices

adopting social media

Within a workplace context, the adopting social media and its usage is often termed as ‘Enterprise social networking’ or the ‘Corporate social network’.  In the recent years, a lot has been written about the benefits of using social media but little importance has been given to the science and art of its implementation and adoption within organizations.

Firstly, it is a science because the implementation goes through a set of methodical procedures starting from organizational readiness to the final measures of success.  The methods are the same as implementing any other enterprise systems in workplaces.

Secondly, it is an art because, convincing the employees and the wider organization to adopt  corporate social network with the realm of fast and dynamically changing social and political landscape is nevertheless an art form.

Social media benefits drive implementation approaches

The biggest benefit of them of all, providing the context to the information, which often questions ‘who, why and what’ of information, the challenges and pitfalls is often missing in traditional knowledge management and knowledge sharing.  This context to information, which is immediately applicable at work, is mostly tacit and hard to get.  Social media in workplaces provide the context to that information.

Another important benefit, from using social media in workplaces, is the subtle art of building social capital among project teams, the unspoken bonds of social collaboration to get things done.

To realize all these benefits by adopting social media in workplace requires a different implementation approach and which is more of bottoms up than top-down and more artsy than science.

Implementing and adopting social media in workplaces is no easy task.  Here are some best practices drawn from excellent organizations who have been front-runners in implementing social media and have realized the success adopting social media in their organizations.

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How Bots Are Changing Workplace Productivity and Collaboration

How bots are changing workplace producitvity

Artificial intelligence is all the rage right now and one of its most significant areas of impact are bots.

Bots are basically conversational software robots. Most of the time, you will find them in messaging and chat applications, but since they’re very collaborative in nature, experts predict that bots will be applied in a variety of collaboration tools in the future.

Until now, bots have proven to be extremely useful. They help businesses automate conversations and tasks, schedule meetings, pay online, or get started with an app. All that without interacting with another human being. In 2017, bots are bound to start changing our workplaces too.

Here are some essential points to show you how bots will change workplace productivity and collaboration in the near future.

Workplace Productivity & Bots

Bots have an immense potential for professional productivity because they can help employees handle their tasks without having to switch them.

Research shows that switching tasks might take away over 40% of our focus. By centralizing features within a single bot, smart employers will allow their workers to make the most of their time and minimize the cognitive load of switching tasks.

An example of a bot that impacts productivity is the Tomatobot. The Pomodoro technique helps countless workers to break up their tasks into small productive chunks and focus on achieving more within a shorter period of time. Now there’s a bot to help them do it.

The productivity bot will send timer reminders straight to your Slack channel. The user can type in what they have completed at the end of each session and the bot will show them their accomplishments within a specific period of time.

Another interesting bot is Ace. It can track tasks, polls, expenses, and more features directly within Slack.

Trello for Slack is another interesting option for transferring information between one platform and another. Instead of switching from Slack to Trello, users can update cards directly from Slack. Moreover, the bot features plenty of buttons for many popular Trello tasks to help workers get more done in a shorter time.

Communication, Collaboration, and Bots

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that bots are also being considered for their potential in facilitating internal communications between employees. In many organizations, intranet systems work as central repositories or reference systems rather than tools for interactive engagement.

Workers left without the right collaboration resources find it hard to be productive in distributed teams.

And since remote work is booming, the problem of collaboration and communication is serious. Bots might provide an answer to that need. Organizations will soon be using bots for answering short culture-related questions or helping remote workers get in touch with the right person inside the company.

For example, bots will help remote users to see all the projects another user is working on, or projects that are being developed in a different department. The bot might suggest related projects or find the document a user needs.

An example of such a bot in Slackbot. One of the best bots available on the market, Slackbot is a personal assistant that lives inside the communication platform Slack.

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