Improve information flows by switching from a publisher model to a subscriber model
I originally published this article on the Dachis Group blog on 9 June 2011.
As a growing company we get calls from real estate types with space to sell or lease. One real estate company is especially eager to work with us, with three or four of their agents calling to check in with us ever so often.
135 years after the filing of Bell’s patent application for the telephone it is astonishing how little land-line telephony has changed. To be sure, manned switchboards have been abolished and digital technology has allowed capacity to flourish and prices to come down. But besides voicemail, very little has happened in terms of rethinking telephony from the user’s perspective.
With email we have replicated the main tenet of the telephone: Just like somebody who knows your phone number can make your phone ring at any time, once somebody knows your email address they control what appears in your inbox.
Both the telephone and email were designed in a time of information scarcity and it was important that the design allowed for every signal to get through. In our present age of information abundance, filtering the flow of information is key.
When we work with enterprise clients we frequently see how email is the de facto medium for many processes, both formal and informal. It is illuminating to dig a bit deeper and expose the costs that email imposes on the organization for each process, and that helps build the business case for a Social Business approach.
With Social Business Intelligence you can fish those processes out of email and redesign them, taking information abundance and human nature into account. What is really powerful about the approach is that, armed with the right tools, we see the business taking the initiative to improve their processes and move to new ways of working. As a side effect, valuable knowledge moves from people’s email inboxes and archives into a more transparent flow, increasing the potential for re-use and fostering improved awareness of what is currently going on.
A common theme is switching “publisher models” to “subscriber models.” Directing a stream of information into a specific context on a social business platform instead of circulating updates via email distribution groups. Not only does it avoid the hidden cost imposed on recipients of filing emails, it helps circulate more information because those who share information are acutely aware of that cost and practice a sort of self-censorship, broadcasting only the most significant insights.
Unlike our friends who transact in office-space, most people think twice before they call or email somebody because of the push nature of the interaction. Our processes and information sharing within the enterprise shouldn’t suffer by relying on mechanisms built for bygone times. It is time to improve the flow.