The rise of social media in information management
Following the boom of social networking as a leisure activity, businesses are increasingly looking to leverage the benefits of the platform for the likes of knowledge and information management.
Gartner predicts that by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications, including knowledge and information managementfor 20 percent of business users.
Internal Social Networks
The information technology research and advisory company said that changing demographics and work styles would contribute to the increasing use of the platform. It predicted that over the next several years most companies will start to build internal social networks and/or allow business use of personal accounts.
Gartner added that social networking would also prove to be more effective than email for certain business activities like status updates and expertise location, which is a key element of knowledge and information managementin the energy sector.
"The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities," said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner.
Furthermore, the company also predicted that 25 percent of enterprises will routinely use social network analysis to improve performance and productivity by 2015.
It said that using the platform to study interaction patterns and information flows between people and groups in an organisation, as well as among business partners and customers, was a useful exercise. However, staff do not necessarily provide accurate responses to surveys used for data collection and they may also resent the fact that the software is analysing their behaviour, even if it is for knowledge and information management purposes.
Gartner therefore said that businesses would need to gain the trust of workers by addressing issues of privacy and confidentiality in order for social network analysis to succeed.
Developments at Hess
Hess is currently relaunching its intranet with a Facebook-type people finder page.
"There's quite a few things in that which are being aimed more towards knowledge sharing and collaborations," Ward explained.
The company has also been aiming to come up with a standardised package for producing technical drawings of refineries and platforms, again with the aim of improving knowledge and information management.
Ward believes that LinkedIn is another potential platform that the oil and gas sector can use to enhance knowledge and information management.
"I'm getting a lot of people linking to me and it's certainly more active than it was," he commented. The site could again be used to connect with people post-retirement in order to gain access to their expertise, he suggested.
Usage of the site has moved away from simply selling products towards information sharing, Ward said.
"It's about finding out what others are doing, keeping in touch and the like. If I had to put my money anywhere I think that would be the place to be looking," he concluded.