Drinking Coffee…Collaboratively!


Weird title huh?

Now that I have your attention, the idea of this blog is to share a simple real-life use case on how collaboration can help optimize various activities and in turn boost productivity.

Let me set some context first…

One of the important features for a social\collaboration product is to provide the capability to follow the various activities in the communities of choice and be notified about any activity in those communities. Notifications can be for all the activities or for selected few, depending on the individual user’s preferences. Activities are of multiple types, uploading a document, asking a question, posting a microblog, starting a discussion etc. are some examples. These activities in turn can relate to one or more topics around Technology (SharePoint, ASP.Net, J2EE), HR (New Hire, Events) Finance, Sales etc. and can be tagged appropriately.

Meet Joe, the coffee enthusiast…

Joe, is a great performer and the performance goes to the next level if he keeps getting the regular coffee boosts. He has been with the organization for a while and has developed few like-minded friends from various disciplines who are equally passionate about their work and of course coffee. Creating a community for coffee drinkers would be their dream-come-true, but the corporate IT policies are pretty much strict about the governance and would only allow a new community until and unless there is a strong business justification behind it.

There is a public (everyone in the organization has access to it) community though named HR Events, which is built and owned by HR. The community is built around and for the various internal events and allows people to share some general content for e.g. pictures, small videos, conversations around the current topics etc.

As there is a wide variety of content being exchanged in this community around a wide array of topics, the users typically pick and choose selective notifications on a weekly frequency so that they get a weekly digest of the activities and are in the loop rather than being spammed on each and every activity.

The coffee buzzer…

Leveraging the “Follow Tag” feature, Joe and his friends come up with a simple but effective idea…introducing the Coffee Buzzer!!!

A tag named “Coffeezzz” is created in the HR Events. Joe and his friends all follow the tag; whenever someone makes a fresh pot of coffee they post a short microblog with a mention of the “Coffeezzz” tag in it. No sooner the post is made, the subscribed users get an email notification about the same and if interested they can join in for another engaging conversation along with a hot cup of coffee. The word spreads and more coffee enthusiasts join in the group.

Is it only about coffee?

Coffee can be replaced with any other topic of interest around Technology, HR, Sales, and Finance etc. as shared earlier. The key point here is the ability to have a platform which allows the users to selectively choose and follow the tags and be notified so that they can engage in those relevant conversations.

Since the user is not chasing the information but on the contrary the information is being pushed to the user at the right time, the user can focus on other important items and not be worried about losing something important. In a public community like the one mentioned, it sparks great ideas when people from different disciplines with varied perspectives engage in conversations.

The same concept can be carried to more controlled (private or secret) communities, where the content as well as the audience can be restricted to the required level and still facilitate collaboration.

Would love to hear from you what platform has been put in place in your organization to meet the business collaboration needs…and in return we would love to talk about how SocialXtend has helped us as well as our customer’s to empower & engage employees at different levels.


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8 Responses to Drinking Coffee…Collaboratively!

  1. Andy says:

    Good, simple use case. #Coffeezzz can lead to many other tags.

  2. Pingback: The Power Of Talking To Your Community. | SoshiTech - Social Media Technology - Soshitech.com

  3. Gael Mise says:

    Good example for a very simple situation – occasional tagged conversations about a simple topic of interest. If only business were so simple. Now suppose a heated discussion develops about Keurig vs. Nespresso vs. drip coffee… does that discussion still belong in the HR Events community? Let’s say one of the coffee drinkers has a specific question (arising from the previous discussion) about maintenance of a Keurig machine…is that a discussion item or should it be in a Q&A area? How are the answers saved so that they can be reliably found later? Or Joe wants to share a holiday coffee recipe (Authentic Irish Coffee!) – where does it go?
    The real challenge, as I see it, is not in creating casual conversation (and being notified) – it’s in capturing quality content that may be generated on the fly, and then finding it again. Without that, collaborative coffee gets cold very quickly.

    • aseemone says:

      Thanks for your detailed comments Gael, appreciate you taking the time. Following is an attempt to address some of your comments\questions.

      The idea is to provide a platform for users to engage in a meaningful conversation, the conversations themselves can be of different levels and may each have an independent and varied lifespan.

      Some of the impulsive conversations around current topics would start and die pretty quickly but for others, the comparative scenario for example, may be there for a while and can continue for a respectable time. If it takes an unpleasant turn, the “Moderators” jump in and pacify\handle the situation…whereas on the other hand, suppose it goes in a more positive direction then the same conversation can be extracted and promoted\shared into its own dedicated workspace and can be a wealth of information for other users later on.

      Here is one of my favorites, let’s say Joe buys a new “Mac” instead and starts sharing how cool he thinks the mac is…is caught off guard by some “Windows-8” guys, seeing this the other mac guys feel their moral responsibility to support Joe…and then it starts…
      Each of the groups start talking about features and functionalities they think would help save the world, in the process sharing a wealth of “comparative” information. If “tagged” and “cured” correctly, this information can not only be made searchable but also is a great way to identify the “hidden” experts (my next blog) on the topic, who later can be encouraged or “designated” as experts to help other users on similar topics.

      Whether the conversation goes as an open ended discussion or a question, I think the most important piece there is that the originator of the discussion\question acknowledge the responses and approve its usefulness. Either the originator, the participants\responder or the community manager can then “tag” that content appropriately and make it searchable later on. This small validation by the originator and tagging of the content not only makes it reliable, searchable and useful but also helps separate the “information” from “data”.

      If we really take this to the next level, a quick data analytics can help the (community owner) identify the popular tags and from the very existing conversations, the bits and pieces of information can be extracted and converted into FAQs, wikis and other similar reusable components…

      Your point is very valid on transitioning these casual conversations into quality content and I agree\believe that’s the only way that people would see value in it…I think we need to start somewhere and get the ball rolling though…coffee may help here…care for steaming one or would you rather prefer it cold 🙂

  4. nitin gupta says:

    Nice article from a techie !!!

    I do like the concept of “following a tag” and indulge in a conversation which ultimately gets you some time to think with a fresh perspective and with different minds. However its depends on the topics also if they are aligned with the organization goals or not.

    I am also thinking of having some tags with are extremely important for me and I get an immediate alert on my mobile rather than an email which I miss during regular course of life. Tags like “Search” 🙂

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