On Monday, May 4, the Buffalo Technology Community held the third BarCampunconference. This BarCampBuffalo had a theme: Social Media (aka Social Computing, Social Networking). This was a great opportunity to discuss the topic which has been on my mind: Social Computing in the Enterprise.
Though we wouldn’t think twice about it, social computing has been around since the beginning of enterprise computing. Some examples of social software include: email, blogs, wikis, instant messaging & presence awareness, media sharing, social bookmarking & search, social networking, and web conferencing. The latest wave of social computing applications and standards are often dubbed Web 2.0 or Collaborative Software.
My objectives for this open discussion were to:
Define Social Computing and contrast it with Social Networking
Having architected, deployed, and managed enterprise Microsoft Exchange environments, I know Microsoft Exchange Server is a solid, scalable, and feature-rich product which leverages Microsoft’s LDAP directory services, Active Directory. However, the caveats to implementing this system include a commitment to the Microsoft platform and in-house expertise to manage the infrastructure. What if your business needs to reduce costs yesterday, or is seeking alternatives to Microsoft?
Google has a brilliant, Cloud-based answer to Microsoft: Google Apps. The solution includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs (documents, spreadsheets and presentations), Google Sites, Google Talk–all using your own domain name–for FREE. Yes, for businesses or groups of up to 50 users, the advertising-supported Google Apps Standard Edition is free. Here’s what Google got right:
Significantly reduced the cost of messaging/collaboration for small businesses
Designed an easy-to-manage, functional, intuitive interface
Generously allocated storage–7GB/user!
Provided secure, encrypted access using SSL
Tightly integrated the Apps Suite, including Mail, Calendar, Docs, Sites, and browser-based Chat
‘Google Messaging’ is simply Gmail branded @your-company.com. It is robust, feature-rich, and fast, including great features such as “plus addressing”.
The Achilles’ heel: email aliases
Email aliases, or ‘Nicknames’ as Google refers to them, are a key component for most business email systems. For instance, email aliases such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, typically forward to email distribution groups or individual mailboxes. The benefits of email aliases/forwarders include:
providing a standardized, professional method for customer communications,
addresses which are independent of employees,
protecting the domain username from disclosure, and
protecting individual email accounts from spam.
Google allows you to add nicknames relatively easily. See the video overview:
The problem arises when using a desktop email client (read: Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, et cetera) configured to send from your email alias. The result is the disclosure of your primary email address, your account username, and the presentation of the email message in a less-than-professional manner to the recipient. Continue reading ‘Google Apps Achilles’ Heel – ‘on behalf of’ messaging’
According to the rules, all attendees are encouraged to present or facilitate a session. I chose to lead a discussion on ‘Interaction Assurance’. As we increase our online presence, we want to interact knowing our communications are secure, unaltered, and trustworthy. As I don’t have a great answer for this pain point, I wanted to learn how others have tackled this problem.
S. Navpreet Jatana is the Principal Advisor & Chief Strategist at The Jatana Group, a strategy and technology advisory practice specializing in bridging the gap between business & its IT organization. Read more...