Facebook in the Enterprise

Once upon a time, employees had restricted access to the phone. When email arrived, users faced further restrictions- often, you could only email someone in the same company. Many organisations currently place restrictions upon access to Facebook – why?

Our methods of communication are becoming quicker all the time. We started with the letter, moved onto fax, then email, and we are now moving towards IM (and in some extreme cases microblogging applications such as Twitter). Even our news consumption is becoming faster and less centralised through the use of these tools, as we snub news sources such as BBC and CNN in favour of decentralised citizen journalists. (For example, the Hudson plane crash was ‘Twittered’ and pictures were also posted on Twitpic).

As we demand ever faster interaction, traditional methods of communication are used much less frequently- when was the last time you faxed anything, for instance? To some extent even email falls by the wayside in this era of instant messaging. Facebook takes advantage of the need for rapid communication and provides a platform to facilitate this. It allows IM, profiles and groups, along with systems which can invite people to take part in activities, share documents (including pictures) and even host conference calls for free.

I can see huge value in an enterprise tool that allows the employees to build a profile of their skills and interests, and update it with information about current projects. This tool could provide disparate employees with a platform to share pictures and documents and facilitate the formation of communities or teams working on particular tasks. It would allow people to easily find help from others with similar interests, or those who happen to be working on a similar (or worse, duplicate!) project.

Collaboration is one of the keys to success and the required tools are out there. So why aren’t organisations embracing Facebook – or at the least installing an internal version of it? Is it down to the same fears that restricted access to the telephone- perhaps a reluctance to trust employees to use their time and tools judiciously?

Also posted here: Orange Business Live

E71 new firmware – the camera still poor

Nokia released new firmware for the E71 Euro, v200.21.118 last week, there’s a change log here. The new firmware makes the browser much much faster and adds a couple of new themes which are nice. It looks like a major upgrade and worth the effort of the upgrade.

But there’s still one major flaw with the E71, the camera, it’s shocking, there’s still a purple tint to photo’s and they are still very very grainy in low light. The E71 has a 3.2mp camera just like the N73 had, but the N73s camera was aweome, truly awesome. I read a while back that the 3.2mp unit in the E71 is a much lower spec unit and used to keep the costs down.

My devices must perform three functions well, take calls and not crash and last for 2 days without charging, be good at messaging and emails and replace my point and shoot camera. The N95 still performs all those tasks well, with the battery being the weakest point. The E71 performs the first two requirements really well, but the third requirement of being a decent camera, it just fails.

I’ve just picked up an N95 8gb to address the weaker battery of my N95 classic, so I’ve got 4 devices on the go right now, my N95-1, my E71 and my E61i, but I expect the N95 8gb to be the device that I never put down.

Connection Managers for S60

I’ve been playing with the two main connection managers for S60, Psiloc Connect and Birdsteps Connect. The idea of these apps is that they manage the connection your apps use, for example when at home they will prefer the faster wi-fi, but when there’s no wi-fi i.e. when you’re out and about, they switch to 3G.

So they make chosing which connection a set and forget expierence and they also help when you travel as you can remove the GSM access point from the list and only use wi-fi thus reducing the cost.

The Birdstep app is available for free in Downloads on the e-series devices, which is where I first found it. Birdstep’s app let’s your create an access group and uses that to manage your connections, so if you set your home wi-fi as your top access point it’ll allways try that first.

The plus point with the birdstep app, smart connect has an advantage over Psiloc’s app, in that it appears in the access list group as a GSM access point. Psiloc’s app appears as a wi-fi access point in the list, this causes a problem for those apps that only allow GSM access points to be used. The S60 Jaiku app for one, doesn’t work with the Psiloc app as it doesn’t use wi-fi access points. The jaiku S60 app uses the birdstep app just fine.

So with Birdstep you can set all your apps to be managed and use the quiker and less power draining wi-fi whilst at home. Whereas the Psiloc app can only manage those apps that can use any access point.

As regards roaming across access points, I’m not sure if this works for the Psiloc app, but I know it doesn’t with the free birdstep app. I was hoping that it allowed my device to roam seamlessly from wi-fi when I stepped outside and the back to wi-fi when i returned. That doesn’t happed with the free Birdstep app, it just sticks on GSM.

I’m going to try out the full birdstep app, smartroam on my phone in the next day or so see how that deals with roaming. The web site indicates it roams seamlessly and doesn’t require any intervention interms of network selection.

So if you’re always switching networks and want an app to manage the connection selection for you give either one of these apps a try.