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Key Take-Aways from My VoiceCon Panels

This year at VoiceCon Orlando, I had the opportunity to host two sessions, one on hosted/managed UC and the other on the use of social media in the enterprise. I made both of them discussion-only (realizing my dream of a PowerPoint-free confab), and I think the format worked. We had vigorous discussions about the relative merits of both topics, with panelists who were not shy about stating their opinions.But the social media session won out for sheer enthusiasm, with clear delineation points among the various panelists (each of whom, of course, had a particular business--and sometimes personal-agenda).

Here are some of the highlights from that session:

* Everyone agreed that the use of social media in the enterprise requires clear policies, but not everyone was clear on how to communicate or enforce them. For some, the notion of training people to use Facebook and Twitter is an oxymoron.


* There was a break between those who believe public social networks should be used for business, and those that think enterprise software, with the requisite privacy and security settings, is the only way to go. In a way, this dichotomy set the stage for the rest of the discussion, hitting as it does on issues of ownership, privacy and protection.

* Working in the confines of social media is a bit like open source software development. Issues around competition and cooperation are likely to be front-of-mind for many managers and employees.

* Similarly, thinking around intellectual property is also ripe for change. As one panelist noted, "there is a whole new area of coursework for law schools to offer here." You can't patent ideas, but the question of who owns all the chatter floating around Facebook and Twitter remains an open one.

* If we weren't experiencing information overload before (and as far as I'm concerned, we were), we certainly are now. Some people decried the fact that they are juggling so many information sources; others, that they have so much information, period. Which raises the question, "When is it all too much?" Each generation grows up able to multi-task better than the one before, but surely there is a point of diminishing returns.

* The younger generation appears to have a much looser sense of privacy-several panelists noted that Gen Y'ers don't seem to be overly concerned with the issue. I mentioned that this feels like a throwback to older times (for Americans) and current times (for many other cultures): When we live in small villages, everyone knows everyone else's business. Privacy is a modern (industrial) construct.

Speaking of the "younger generation," I closed the session with this observation: Looking at teens and young twenty-somethings for clues on "new" behavior is a bit of a red herring. Certainly, the next generation's use of technology will change how they interact, and what tools they expect to have at their disposal in the workplace. But just because your high-school-age nephew posts revealing photos and status updates for all the world to see, and expects immediate responses to the same, doesn't mean he will continue to do so as he gets older. Youthful indiscretion is nothing new. With age comes maturity, and a shrinking sense of urgency. Hopefully, that's true for all of us, and this new technology.