Companies Turn to Social Tools But Information Overload Looms

Dave Hersh and Bradley Horowitz at Net:Work 2010

Dave Hersh and Bradley Horowitz at Net:Work 2010Getting companies and workers to adopt online tools and social collaboration software is getting easier, but the hard part now is making sure employees don’t give up on the tools in the face of an overload of information. That’s the next big battle in shifting the way people work and may require new executives including a chief experience officer, said Dave Hersh, chairman of Jive Software, which sells social business software.

“We need people who can protect against feature creep and preserve the user experience,” Hersh said in an discussion at the Net:Work conference.

Hersh said companies will need to learn how to reduce the noise employees face and prioritize the information they see. Otherwise, workers will revolt, he said, and go back to their old work flows.

Google’s Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management, said Google is working at helping users find relevance amid the onslaught of data and is applying machine learning to the job of anticipating what users want. He said an example like Gmail’s priority inbox shows how Google is helping tackle some of the information overload and in the process, helping turn on companies to its products.

In many ways, he said, Google’s consumer products are helping win converts, who are learning about the benefits of cloud collaboration and taking the lessons back to their companies. The consumerization of IT is happening in part because consumers are demanding the kinds of experiences at work that they enjoy at home. “What’s happening is the next generation of users have grown up on these tools, they’ve grown up in the cloud and they aren’t likely to tolerate a bad experience,” he said.

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