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5 Ways Social Changes How We Work

10 Social Acquisitions Signify Bigger Trends
10 Social Acquisitions Signify Bigger Trends

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Video might not have killed the radio star, but it sure did change things. The same can be said for social networks and any number of business processes and applications. Here are five upstart social trends that might not kill old school, but have already changed how we work.

1) Website home pages. Some people hate Facebook's new Timeline feature. But there are companies that are leveraging the interface to great effect, providing not only a welcome to their Facebook pages, but also a history of the organization and a diary of sorts that can engage users with company and customer-generated content.

With search and direct links landing users at most website content, home pages are becoming less of a destination, and more of something that companies have but don't spend a whole lot of mindshare or developer time on. Timeline is becoming that go-to "home" page, as are business profile pages on other social networks.

2) Email. Of course, companies--especially those in highly regulated industries--need audit and archive capabilities for communications. But more employees are communicating using the update and built-in messaging capabilities on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. And that's not even considering the tight integration that users of Google+ get with Gmail or the communications capabilities inherent in internal social networking systems such as Jive, Yammer, and Chatter.

Will there be a time when mammoth Microsoft Exchange implementations become a thing of the past, replaced by more specific use cases? Will there be a day when the question so often lobbed across cubicle walls--"Is email down?"--is heard no more?

3) Help desk call centers. Will 800 (or 888 or 866) numbers someday go the way of the dinosaur? Probably not--not anytime soon, anyway. But organizations are pushing more and more of their help desk and customer service functions onto social networking platforms. There, a question answered for one customer can help other customers, and the customer community becomes a help desk resource, as well.

4) Resumes. Once upon a time, when a company had an open position, the human resources department would post the opening internally, on its website, and on sites such as (Even further back, B.W.--before the Web--jobs were advertised in something called newspapers.) Hundreds of resumes--in every conceivable format--would pour in, and HR and business managers would pore over them to discern which applicants potentially were qualified for the job.

Now, social networks are basically living resumes. Or, looked at another way, you are your resume; what you post, how you interact, what you share, who your friends and followers are, and more all combine to demonstrate your value to a company.

5) PBXes. Will social kill the phone? No, but traditional company PBXes might be on life support. With smartphones in every user's pocket, the ability to freely (literally) videoconference with services such as Skype, and an increasing amount of communication happening through social networking systems' chat and messaging features, who needs a plain-old telephone system?

These are just five of many business functions, processes--and, yes, jobs--that social is making obsolete. Would you add anything to this list? Next, I will take a look at the business functions, processes--and, yes, jobs--that social is creating.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller at @debdonston.

New apps promise to inject social features across entire workflows, raising new problems for IT. In the new, all-digital Social Networking issue of InformationWeek, find out how companies are making social networking part of the way their employees work. Also in this issue: How to better manage your video data. (Free with registration.)