Headshift designed a collaboration platform for the internationallaw firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP. We integrated social media tools suchas blogs, wikis, social bookmarking and RSS feeds, with the aim ofimproving the general flow and sharing of information. The platform ispresently in its pilot phase within a department in the firm.
What constitutes a social media platform?
Based on a period of rigorous user requirement research, Headshift setabout making an internal communication platform that included thefollowing tools:
Group blogs facilitate discussion
Blogs were designed to sit at heart of the group spaces of the widercommunication platform. Users would be able to post new blog posts ingroups, thereby sharing their thoughts, ideas and knowledge with theother members of that group.
Wikis organise information
A sophisticated wiki implementation played a key role within the systemas ‘spaces’ for group work. This advanced infrastructure was designedto support virtually any number of groups and could therefore be usedmore widely to sustain collaboration and group-based discussion.
RSS feeds constitutes the backbone
RSS was used as the primary mechanism for transporting content betweendifferent parts of the platform, and also as the preferred mechanismfor delivering content to end users.
There was also the need for a multi-channel delivery platform, giving a choice as to how information can be consumed:
- PDF / Print
- Mobile devices
In all cases, it only takes one click to translate from one format toanother, and where required there is integration with defined templatesto ensure a consistent branding and look-and-feel.
Consumption of information: personalising according to need
The consumption of content is an area of crucial interest – theeffectiveness of RSS feeds is multiplied when tools such as feedreaders are used. Tools such as these allow an end user to quickly scaninformation to identify items that are of further interest.
Instead of using just one tool Headshift recommended that aselection of tools be used to cater for a particular user’s needs andpreferences – some users may feel comfortable using a dedicated RSSconsumption tool, others may prefer to have this information come intotheir mobile device such as a BlackBerry, while others will want toaccess this information via their browser.
Personal dashboards can give people an individualised view of information through:
- Displays selected feeds
- Allows the selection from a list of feeds
- Shows other content of interest (most popular bookmarks, personal tag cloud etc)
- Allows user profile maintenance
- Allows users the ability to rate interesting content
- Allows the creation of personal feeds that might include specificsearch terms and keywords, or all content for a particular tag, orcontent from a particular person or a group.
Aggregated bookmarks works as a recommendations engine
Sharing bookmarks allows insight into areas of interest andspecialisation. The aggregation of bookmarks, when filtered by date(e.g. show all bookmarks in the last week) can offer an almostreal-time view into topics people think are important or need moreattention.
It is also important to realise that this information is something thatemerges as a result of aggregating individual behaviour, and is notsomething that needs to be explicitly mandated.
Personal and aggregated tagging make connections visible
Tags are a powerful way of collaboratively filtering content, as wellas a mechanism for matching content items and people. Discoveringpeople using a similar set of tags is a powerful way to identify whohas similar interests to you. Tagging is a key element of the solutionHeadshift has built. It is woven through all the other pieces ofinfrastructure as an absolute requirement – letting individuals addtheir own personal tags to any piece of content, or to choose from alist of predefined tags and commonly used tags.
Social network profiles adds a human touch and transparency
In addition to the personal dashboard, users will have a public profilethat allows them the ability to maintain information about themselvesfor the benefit of the community. This will open up social networkingand greater transparency with regards to people’s interests and skills.
Better communication = A more profitable organisation
Our overall aim when building a social media platform for a largeinternational law firm was to improve internal communication, andthereby increase the value of collaboration, which in turn should leadto a more profitable organisation.
Social media the way Headshift sees it is essentially about makingpeople communicate in simpler and smarter ways – creating a workingenvironment that is more efficient in terms of the use of physicalresources, in terms of information retrieval and creation, and finallyin terms of time spent.