Brisbane City Councils Social Prowess…

First of all this week I’d like to thank Jason for using all of the obvious and easiest examples of corporate social networking in this weeks lecture. It’s certainly made my quest for information somewhat harder as new instances of this kind of thing aren’t so forth coming. However a little bit of pondering and head scratching I drew inspiration from one of my previous blog posts regarding the legalities of such social networks in business. The result was an entity that affects all of us Brisbanians each and everyday, and that is the Brisbane City Council.

The BCC would have to be one of the leading councils in Australia in regards to their technology savvy pro-active approach to helping the community by involving the community. The aspect of their use of social networking tools ill be discussing is primarily those of external applications. BCC does not divulge too much info about their internal use of said tools but they are very enthusiastic with the publicising of their Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube channel, and their newly released Mobile enablement web app. The 9000 strong workforce at the Council do have access to internal messaging services, blogging tools and wikis but to what extent and as for statistical analysis on the successes is still to be seen.

A lot of this strong public social media presence I think can be attributed to their enthusiastic leaders can-do attitude, Campbell Newman. Since his inception into the job way back in 2004 Can-Do-Campbell has vehemently been promoting his tunnel vision for a modern Brisbane, and to some degree has been making it a reality. With his active role within the community it was a natural progression for his place in the public eye to be virtualised and become part of Brissies digital community too. He has his own Facebook page, YouTube channel and his own interactive website that help to personalise the leader.

The BCC is promoting an open and transparent flow of information back and forth between itself and the residents. With the ability for residents to have their say via the hosted BCC residents forum as well as keeping them informed about upcoming events via Twitter and the new Mobile engagement councils creating Brisbane’s own social network. I think that anyone who lives in Brisbane with a smart phone should have a look at their new web app as I can see it as the new must have for an active Brisbane resident.


Through all of this prolific social media saturation the BCC has kept a very clean and uniformed public image. Who ever is in charge of their social media department is doing a damn fine job in my opinion as they are helping to continue the councils squeaky clean image.

Now as for my own forays into the social networking scene… I mean who didn’t have a MySpace page in highschool?! I am the first to admit that MySpace was awesome fun as a teenage boy, seriously where else can you find pics of chicks your age in your area bored at home just like you with a msn account? As seedy as that sounds now that I am a mature 21-year-old its the reality that was. Now in my twenties I no longer have a MySpace account, and nor do I subscribe to the Facebook craze. I personally do not see the need for it. Yes I had a Facebook account, you can thank Jason and INB-WEB2.0 for that; but I didn’t spend hours looking at what everyone did on the weekend, instead I was out having fun. MySpace had a degree of personal expression and personalization where as Facebook everyone’s page looks the same, you hand over your info and that’s it. Upload 10000 photos that they are the proud new owners of and nudge, poke and update each and every one of your 500 friends.

I can see there is reasonable applications of Facebook but I have a phone, if I wanna know what my mates doing, ill ring them. What they did on the weekend doesn’t particularly interest me, and if it was so awesome, why wasnt I invited? Social networking in the workplace is a good idea as it fosters strong working relationships and creates a rapport with people you otherwise would avoid at the water cooler. It does however pose risks like anything does but places like IBM have shown that with the right employee attitudes and a degree of freedom it does work.


The Politics of Social Media, Literally… (PART 2)

After thinking some more about this topic over the weekend I think I need to make the differentiation between politicians and government agencies a bit clearer. The people I was intending to base the discussion around was the government agencies themselves not so much the politicians however since all we have heard about this last couple weeks is the federal election it seemed fitting to mention that they too are embracing the technology.

As for government agencies there are so many that come under this banner. From  Education QLD to the QLD police there is a huge variety of areas these organisations are involved in but the one that interests me the most is QLD Health. QLD Health is the governing body for anything concerning the health of QLD citizens. This means your local GP, our hospitals, restaurants and even your employers work environment you so enjoy each day. But what legal risks are posed by the staff in this department utilising social networking?

One of the biggest concerns in the health industry is the upholding of doctor patient confidentially. By this I mean that any medical records are confidential. Now what happens if nurse Susan @replies nurse Joanne “Wow Mr Baggins bowel cancer makes him stink like a something!”  This statement straight away poses multiple legal risks such as:

  • Confidential information disclosure
  • Breach of privacy
  • Potential Discrimination

Now although I would like to think that most nurses are compassionate people but we are all human and humans are judgmental creatures so lets break it down. By stating Mr Baggins has bowel cancer she has breached his privacy by not only naming him but also information regarding his condition. By putting a negative connotation with his condition regarding his hygiene could lead to discrimination by other staffers or any of Susan’s followers.

Now as for the associated risks for the hospital. As with most avid Twitter users with the exception of myself, Susan probably has a Facebook. This would mist likely say that she works for the Shady Acres Hospital which is a QLD Health run institution. So straight away this poses a potential reputation risk to the hospital as it paints their nursing staff in a bad light.

At the end of the day Susan should not be tweeting about patients. But then again if she were to tweet “I dont know if i can be bothered sterilizing these instruments Im clocking off in 5.” it’s creating a negative perspective on both her ethical practises and the quality of her work.

QLD Health suffers enough scrutiny from the public with everything they do and their reputation is vital to the publics piece of mind. The Dr Patel case recently has shown their zero tolerance stance on misconduct or improper work habits. Now I know his was a case of medical negligence but the enthusiasm and ferocity with which they pursued showed the public that they are serious about what they do. If any one of their employees were to make an inference contrary to QLD Healths  policy im sure their jobs would be pursued the same way.

So Much to Gain, and so much to LOSE!

Like every aspect of business there are always risks, and rewards. Weather we keep it how it is as it seems to be working ok, or do we throw the dice and hope for a seven? Do we stay static in the way we conduct business or do we acknowledge the world is changing and jump on board? Citrix being a technology provider this was not so much as obvious choice but a natural progression. Providing its workers with a space to share experiences and ask questions resulted in a hyper connected and motivated global team that can collaborate with more than just the person in the cubicle next to them.

This however was somewhat of a gamble for them as it would be for any company. Weighing up the associated risks against the potential benefits and ultimately putting a $ value on that. Not just that but every benefit has a risk sporting the same name. You say: “We can share knowledge” and the accountant says: “But who’s controlling it?” Yes its good to have this knowledge out there in cyberspace for all of your workforce to access but how much money are you investing on the necessary measures to keep of this potentially sensitive material safe?

You say: “An increased web presence will boost our reputation.” Then your PR department says: “This opens us up to abuse of the system from both existing and former disgruntled staff.” Tools like Twitter and Facebook fan pages are great, cheap and effective forms of advertising but are generally conducted by a corporate suit with the companies best interests at heart. Facebook in my opinion has NO place in a professional environment and WILL be counter productive. There are tools available like IBM’s SocialBlue that i touched on last week that provide a walled garden for corporate social interactions.

You say: “If we can all chat and socialize then we can build stronger working relationships.” And the CIO says: “How much of that chatting and socializing is going to be work related?” Yes these tools provide a means of collaboration and networking like no other but is it wise to employ web-based mainstream applications? Microsoft’s Sharepoint provides the document collaboration tools that companies need but seriously lacks in the knowledge sharing department.

For these tools to be successful the kind of workforce you employ needs to be assessed and the kind of work ethic your trying to promote. There is a lot of potential benefits to be gained from employing these techniques but as with anything in industry buyer beware. Last weeks INB346 lecture outlined that your reputation and attractiveness as employer by being innovative will attract younger staff but will a Facebook crazed 19yr old be more beneficial to your team then a 54yr old industry veteran that sees this for what it is? So much to gain and yet, so much to lose.