One reason I like working at Knot PR is that our workplace is technologically current.
Knot PR runs on cloud-based software (I wrote about it on PR Couture) and more often than not, we’re early-adopting technologies to make us better at what we do. Applications can help us communicate and collaborate better; widgets can enhance how we showcase, filter, or extract data to highlight, or demonstrate our client message, or our successes to a wider audience (to name just a handful of uses).
I would estimate that 10% of the time our discoveries effect real change at Knot PR. Knowledge Management can be a drain on resources and too much change can be disruptive. It’s a fine balance: to manage the onslaught of new technologies while maintaining (and ultimately increasing) productivity.
Twitter is a hunting ground for the latest beta releases and must-try apps. I have a running list of web-based software to investigate (a secret twitter list, no less). Not to mention the crowd-tested offerings that I have yet to master (I like to master things), see items #3 & #4.
Sometimes, I am able to rule out an option without an exhaustive investigation (i.e. a web innovator reveals a flaw, or perhaps an email to the support team confirms that a feature doesn’t cover what we need it to). On occasion, I will dabble with a free trial version, watch videos about the product, google it to read relevant news articles, ask a user over twitter, get into dialogue with the app creators (email, twitter, even *phone*), ask Quora–all to mine new information and better envision its applications at Knot PR.
I enjoy this exercise–the “getting to know you” phase of a technology lead–because like any good brainstorm, it gets you thinking about how and why we do things. We’re picking up on trends and arming ourselves with the know-how to build better business practices.
My list of applications to explore in 2012.
My technological resolutions, if you will.
I think one of the biggest impacts the cloud has had on the 2.0 workplace is facilitating the collaborative process. It’s no surprise that we’re also seeing a marked shift in workplace culture. I’m inspired when I read about Google or Zappos and how they have innovated to create an engaged workforce. I first heard about Toronto-based Rypple over a year ago. They position themselves as a work performance assessment tool, and at the time, it sounded like it wasn’t a fit. I came across it again much later (always a good sign, likely through a twitter mention) and heard that Facebook used it internally. This made me consider it more closely. I downloaded a free trial version and discovered Rypple’s full potential.
First, I see it as a place to set big picture goals, collaborate and celebrate milestones–like a more social (or alive) version of a company intranet. We have been looking for ways to celebrate and track individual milestones (as well as team goals) and gamify the workplace–it’s all the rage. However, we do use a project management software already (which is conveniently tied to our database) so I worry that it may be too much too soon for the team (the “are we there yet” dilemna).
Oh, and I just read this breaking acquisition news, which shows you the dangers of dealing with cutting-edge tech stuff. We used to work with a CRM software that got bought by Constant Contact; we had to find a replacement and export our data in record time (thankfully we found a better option). I’m happy for Rypple but since they are integrating with the Salesforce platform we will not be able to use the app. The takeaway is that we *do* want to find an application that can add a layer of internal social networking to enhance our culture and motivate the team.
2) Google Forms
We used Wufoo for a while (still love it). I like that it integrates with mailchimp…but it’s just not working out (at this time). We need something simpler to start with and identify what our form needs truly are. I do like the idea of form RSVPs and I wonder how limited the branding potential is for Google forms. Also love that Forms are integrated into Google Docs – which we use for everything. This is an example of “baby tech steps”.
Google has undergone an apps-wide makeover, which means that things have moved around lately in Analytics (an un-mastered Google territory–a real rarity for me). I vow to get more into Analytics. We use analytics to learn more about our clients’ traffic and to gain insights on the web hits we secure (the basics, really). I want to take advantage of reporting templates and access them more consistently. The 2.0 age is all about information but the data sifters will be the real winners. Who can get the most out of the data, the fastest?
BONUS: Google Reader – I still find use in readers, you need to invest time to set it up, however I recently discovered cool folder sharing options through “bundles”.
DOUBLE BONUS: Sites – another Google offering on my radar (we already use it for our wiki but I feel like there are many more applications)
We had an intern who became obsessed with Evernote. She was efficient and never forgot anything, so right away that tells me something. I like that there’s an iPhone app to complement the desktop version–I plan to switch in 2012 (also: options to email stuff in–I’m the queen of emailing myself to-do tasks, lists, photos, etc for later action). I fear there might be some overlap with the systems we already have going on (kind of like how when Gmail released Priority Inbox and it turned out I was already owning my inbox so I didn’t benefit at all).
BONUS: Interestingly Evernote also produces Skitch which I was looking into – looks like there’s a handy integration there (allows you to scribble notes on screenshots / images).
My iMac (also my first apple product) is just over a year old and I have yet to fully explore the potential of photobooth. I hear it’s great.
Honourable mentions: Grooveshark, Spotify