Thursday, July 30, 2009

Understanding the business benefits of Enterprise RSS



In order to understand social media and the technologies that power social media you need to participate in social media. This has been said many times already but needs to be repeated.

The same reasoning applies to RSS - there is no other way to fully understand the benefits of RSS. Although it is quite easy to explain the benefits of RSS when compared to traditonal information seeking, you will not truly understand these benefits until you let RSS change your own consumption patterns. When you have done this, it is fairly easy to translate these benefits to a business context and to envision how RSS could be used within an enterprise context.

I am personally a strong believer in Enterprise RSS, although I understand and accept that it will take some time before the business benefits are realized, the main obstacle being the relatively low user adoption of RSS. Another obstacle is that it is about infrastructure, something which both takes time to build and requires a strong business case with clear ROI.

RSS has rocked my world in the sense that it helps me to come across relevant and trustworthy information in a timely manner. It has also increased my capacity to digest information:

1. Much of the time I previously spent on information seeking, I can now use to consume information instead. Passively monitoring and discovering information is much less time and energy consuming than searching and browsing for information. And as I have argued before, it is much more aligned with human nature.

2. As the information that I receive via RSS is received in one place, in a consistent format and with the same way to navigate regardless of the source, I don't have to waste unnecessary time and energy on navigating and adjusting to different formats.

Over time, I have found a lot of high quality blogs and sites by people I have learned to trust. So now I have relevant and timely information at my fingertips.

Twitter works in pretty much the same way, although it is more informal, interactive and freeform. I have come to see it as a "social discovery engine" for discovering and disseminating information and as a conversation platform. To use an analogy - it is a public square with room for (in theory) everybody and where anyone can speak his mind. Anyone can start a conversation with anyone. Noone is above anyone else. That is truly sensational. It almost sounds like science fiction, but it isn't.

Now back to RSS. The best evidence of the value I get frm RSS is that I cannot imagine being without it anymore. How else could I possibly monitor 100+ sources with the same time and energy I would need to monitor 5 sources? How could I possibly cover such a broad number of news sources if I hadn't hundreds of people (bloggers and tweeters) digging up the most interesting pieces and pointing me to them?