Sharing personal classification of content, editorial notes (when content is shared), comments, testimonials, reviews, and feedback has become part of our daily working lives in ways hardly imaginable just a few years ago. What started as photo tags and sporadic links have today become massive databases of information which, if transformed into practical and accessible communication tools, will not only connect individuals – but will potentially give any company a competitive advantage over those who remain stuck with endless emails and thousands of search results.
Human annotations versus automation via semantic/NLP approaches
We have all become used to analysing data, managing documents, and workflows with the aid of automated tools that simplify our work greatly. What in the past used to be a task that could take hours, can now be done in minutes – thanks to things as small as a filtering or flagging tool. Our ability to individually handle vast amounts of data, however, is limited, despite the many smart tools that live in our smartphones and laptops. The advantages of having an almost unlimited resource pool are dwarfed if we are unable to access it, analyse it, and use it in practical ways.
Automation, which allowed individuals to be more productive, has been shown to fare poorly when we need to come up with innovative solutions. Unmarked sources of information, regardless of their content, fail to encourage engagement, and to help us choose the best solutions to common business problems. Managers facing this reality on a daily basis find themselves constantly asking the same questions: what is it that we need to regain some control and to encourage cooperative solutions? How can our company be sure that we are implementing the best solutions out there?
If we take into account that Social Networks amount to 22% of the time we spent online, it would be obvious that the sharing tools should be able to answer these business needs. But, shouldn’t the time that people spend on social media be regarded as leisure? Well it actually – should not. A study by the Aberdeen Group focused on mid-market companies reported that those, who have taken advantage of Social Business deployments, were able to increase their revenue by 28%, with a 108% return on investment on collaborative technologies.
What these companies seem to have gotten right is being able to recognize the value of the human analysis over the automated one. Humans are able to empathise, gain perspective, identify gaps, and propose new ideas in ways that automated tools cannot, because they cannot readily communicate with each other as human beings can. This is an advantage that has real and quantifiable value, an advantage that is essential for businesses today.
Advantages from human annotations that your company may be missing out on
There are key identifiable advantages from harnessing the value of human annotations, which all businesses big or small can profit from:
Encouraging participation and critical thinking
Today it is often argued that file sharing and social collaboration presents great opportunities for productivity. The reasons behind this have to do, mainly, with how sharing thoughts and ideas with others, in real time, can spring true networks of cooperation based on the opportunity that we gain to share our own ideas as well as to gain from the ideas of others. Human annotations encourage critical thinking by raising questions and proposing solutions. More than information, human annotations create engagement from all parties involved—from managers to interns—and motivate employees to stay on their feet by knowing that others will read whatever they post. AmiLinker is a social collaboration tool that will allow your employees to know that people with shared interests and known skills are reachable. AmiLinker’s intuitive interface encourages people to share projects, to invite collaborators who they know are interested and can add valuable ideas. With AmiLinker there is no need to adopt a new way of working or to stop using other social software. AmiLinker is easy to use, it naturally moulds to your current working practices making collaboration easier and communication more effective.
Create real-time contact with employees and customers
Social collaboration tools present a real opportunity for organizing campaigns or generating awareness. Internal communications can be boosted and highly improved with the use of social collaboration tools like AmiLinker, which will allow you to identify reputable internal sources, cutting, in turn, the often exclusive reliance on external ones. Human annotations will prove to be invaluable tools that spark conversations and motivate employees to participate beyond their immediate scope; in broader company goals and projects.
In addition, having the chance to connect with your consumers easier and faster, to involve them more, and even to reward their participation, will make your business appear more approachable, and certainly more human to your clients.
Use and generate expert opinions
Any business needs specialised knowledge. In today’s environment of hyper specialisation and niche markets, it is essential for talent managers to be able to count with the right skills and know-how at the right time. Being able to make sense of all your information sources is crucial to identify valuable opinions and innovative solutions. It is a practical advantage that makes part of any business strategy today. An effective communication strategy will translate into greater employee productivity and an enhanced customer experience. The role that AmiLinker’s tags and human annotations can play here makes all this too easy. By allowing people to easily and transparently share their knowledge, AmiLinker’s comments and tags wills encourage expertise rather than gibberish.
What about efficiency?
Thinking about social collaboration can quickly bring to mind images of idle employees spending countless hours checking Facebook, updating their LinkedIn profile, or chatting through Skype. All that social collaboration would seem to take a hard toll on efficiency.
Experts, however, argue that putting too much attention on efficiency can be misguided. The reason for this is that the real risk comes precisely from focusing too much on efficiency. By putting their complete focus on efficiency many businesses have been designed as machines that produce as fast as possible as cheap as possible. This efficiency based approach will, according to Business Analyst and IT consultant Oscar Berg, program people to primarily work by following instructions, and to avoid raising questions or pointing out mistakes. In a word, putting all your company’s eggs into the efficiency basket can make individual workers more efficient, but will also make them more isolated and more prone to lose interest and motivation. Rather than worrying unnecessarily about Facebooking, managers must encourage sharing and social collaboration within the company and as part of the daily working experience. A greater democratisation of information creation and communication can only lead to more efficiency, through well-known phenomena like network effects.
Encouraging sharing and cooperation, however, should not translate into disorganization and inefficiency if the right tools are used. Tools like AmiLinker will allow for motivation to flourish and, with it, innovative ideas, critical thought, and much-improved communications. AmiLinker is an intuitive tool that will seamlessly adjust to your current business model, without adding another layer of complexity and without demanding specialised knowledge from its users. Taking advantage of AmiLinker will help your business to thrive around a culture of collaboration, ownership and active engagement.