Eric Nolin is being very explicit about sponsor talks at Defrag. No harm there--in fact, I like it. The sponsor talk is clearly labeled as such and right before lunch. Today, it's Shane Pearson, from BEA. I interviewed him for Technometria (as part of our coverage of Defrag) a few weeks ago.
Shane said a couple of things that piqued my interest. One was referring to a McKinsey study on interactions on the workplace. He put of a graph about the evolution of managed assets showing that capital was the earliest and easiest asset to manage. Information was second and interactions are the latest asset that businesses want to manage. The money quote from the study:
Almost 85% of people have jobs that are largely or wholly about interacting with other people (rather than transforming raw materials, running machinery, etc.).
IT has always had a function that included managing people interactions, but we've largely relegated it to the bottom-line "saving money" side of things: zero-day start, make sure the phones work, run the email system efficiently, etc. We've not been about top-line, "making money" activities.
Shane asked "what if wanted to know what articles and blogs my co-workers were reading?" He the put up a slide that showed what Facebook might look like if it provided enterprise-friendly functionality.
This got my attention. Maybe it's been obvious to others, but I've informally done similar things with co-workers--shared what we're reading--but this could make it more automatic. I'd welcome the opportunity to see more of what my co-workers think is interesting in any given day. Ironically, universities are particularly bad at this.