Email vs Social – Email is better

So I’ve been part of an interesting discussion around whether email is better than Social Tools or whether Social Tools are better than email.

Well the two protagonists concerned were both right –
How come? Because they’d both failed to define exactly what the problem is they were trying to solve.

They were arguing that A was better than B at X, without ever defining what X is. How on earth can you say a Drill is better than a Hammer when you’re don’t know what the task is at hand?

Define what X is and then you might have a more meaningful discussion and actually agree that there’s a role for both tools.


Can Enterprise Social can’t save you from a bad mission?


The mission statement often get’s criticised – but a good one can really give people direction. Probably none more so thank JFK’s Man on The Moon mission. Here’s a few examples from the world of IT.

Microsoft – “to help people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”

Amazon – “to continue to offer quality products and services using the best technology available and at a reasonable price.”

Google – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

I love the Microsoft one. It shapes my every action in and out of work. Is what I’m doing enabling people to realise their potential?  And it get’s me out of bed in the morning. How could helping people realise their potential not excite you?

But I’m always surprised at how few employees know their organisations mission statement. If you don’t, how do you know you’re heading in the right direction?

I’m also surprised at how uninspiring some mission statements can be. One customer’s mission was apparently to make more money for its shareholders. Woo hoo. That’s worth going to work for. Making someone else rich. (Yes, I’m assuming the employee isn’t a shareholder)

Do you have a mission statement? How many people know what it is? Is it exciting and externally focused? If the answer to any of these questions is no then there’s probably little value in implementing any kind of Enterprise Social Tool.

Social: Stopping your organisational heart attack.

When you’re talking about social, it’s not really about tools. I often get into the email vs Social debate, but I’m not sure why. Invariably I’m fighting a losing battle. Chances are that if people are happy with email, they’ll stick with email.

But that, to me, isn’t what social is about.

You have to ask yourself what kind of company you want to work for. If you’re happy with the arteries of your organisation being clogged with the cholesterol of poor process, bumbling bureaucracy and crap communication then so be it.

But I’m not. It frustrates the hell out of me. And if you want to be agile/innovative/flexible then you shouldn’t be happy with it either.

Communication is the lifeblood of any organisation. It’s the thing that enables agility, innovation and flexibility.

And Social Tools start unblocking those arteries and gets communication flowing again.

Why I prefer social to email

First, email isn’t dead. Second, I still use it.

But . . . . I like to search for things. PowerPoints, Documents, News articles, blog posts, wiki pages. Some times I even stumble across incredibly useful stuff that I wasn’t even looking for. I want to be able to do that with messages and conversations. That’s where a lot of our information and knowledge comes from.

For that I need a messaging platform that’s open, stores the messages and is easily searchable.

Could I do that in Exchange and Outlook? Sure. Go to the future and work out which Distribution Lists (DLs) I need to join. Go to the past to join the DLs when they got created (so I’ve got their full history), and then create rules to forward all my DLs to Folders. And in the process I’d be creating another huge silo of data.

So when do I use email?

If I have a message that needs to go to a group and only that group and has no value to anyone outside that group and it needs to be kept secure and private, then I’ll use email.

Or If I need to write a verbose ramble than nobody reads anyway, then I’ll use email.

Or If I really, really need to use bold then I’ll use email.

For anything else, I’ll post it on my social tool of choice.


Don’t need Social? Watch Undercover Boss.

Ever watched Undercover Boss? If not, it’s a program about CEOs going undercover and taking on roles at the lower levels of their organisation. The first question is, how are these CEOs so invisible that they can get away with being undercover? Rarely do they get recognised.

Anyway, while operating undercover they hope to discover why their workforce is so dysfunctional/lazy/stupid . . . . But then they have an epiphany. They realise their workers aren’t dysfunction/lazy/stupid. In fact the most of them care deeply about the company they work for and their customers.

If you’ve never watched it, try watching a couple of episodes and then ask yourself this. Are the issues caused by the people? Or are they caused by bureaucracy, process and poor communication?

And if you gave employees a voice and the CEO was willing to listen, how many issues would that have resolved? That’s one area Social tools can help.

But nobody is asking for Social Tools in the Enterprise . . . .

I met a group of CIOs recently who asked why we’d invested so much time, effort and money in Social Tools when nobody was asking them for it. As far as I can tell, there’s at least 4 different scenarios here:

1) No one in their organization is asking for social – They’re right, no one wants it.
2) They’re not talking to the people who want social – there’s people who want it, they just haven’t found them yet.
3) They’re asking for social – they’re just not calling it that. They call it Agility, Innovation, Better communication, more productive employees etc
4) The people who want social aren’t talking to them – the majority of Social tools are cloud based and don’t require IT involvement. Consumerisation doesn’t stop with devices. It also includes services. Maybe IT is just being bypassed?

In my experience 1 is rare, and I’d recommend IT start thinking about 2 and 3 before 4 happens.

Cutting money from your IT Budget is like cutting off your feet




Cutting money from your IT Budget is like cutting off your feet .. .. ..

.. .. save money on shoes.

You’ll likely end up flat on your face.

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Why System Center 2012 is like my wife




I have 2 beautiful daughters. When they’re playing upstairs..

I hear the usual crashes, bangs and screams you get from 2 young children.

It’s hard to know if they’re having the time of their life




or World War III has kicked off.

And that’s the same as your servers, operating systems and applications.

Like my kids they bicker, they scream and they shout. But worst of all ..

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is when they go really quiet.

Virtualising can make the problem worse. It’s like being the wrong side of a locked bedroom door.

I can’t see what’s going on and I can’t do anything about it.




Like my wife, System Center knows the good noises from the bad noises.

And it can magically fix problems, like only my wife can.

Nobody knows my kids better than my wife.



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And nobody knows your applications better than Microsoft.

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