When I started my first job in the corporate world many years ago, my boss’s office had two rooms. He sat in the second room. The only way into that room was through the first room. Wendy sat in the first room.
Wendy did a lot of things (including keeping me out of my boss’s office when he didn’t want to see me). One of the coolest things that I saw Wendy do was act as an information router. Wendy took in a lot of e-mail, phone calls, voice mails, faxes, regular mail and internal routing slips. (Yes – I’m that old. This is basically a document with a checklist of names attached. Each person on the list was supposed to read the document, check their name and pass it on.) Then she decided what things belonged together, what things were most important and what things could be ignored altogether and presented the result to my boss.
In many ways, I think of RSS as my “virtual Wendy.” Although I haven’t been able to include the “friendly smile” and “full cup of coffee” features in our enterprise product (yet), it does help me tremendously to focus on the right information at the right time.
With our enterprise RSS solution, I can:
• Easily categorize: Articles come in feeds, so they automatically go into their own “folders.” I can group feeds into folders to further organize, but the real value is that the initial organization is automatic.
• Read what I want where I want: Some of my feeds go to my desktop notifier that pops up to draw my attention because I know the content is important. Some feeds go to my mobile device so I can read during times that are otherwise unproductive -- I actually like checkout lines! Some of my feeds go to my e-mail client because that’s where I spend a good chunk of my time. I can quickly scan the feeds in spare moments (like waiting for a phone conference to start).
• Read things once: Someone told me that a key time-management trick was to touch each piece of paper only once. (Anyone who has seen my office knows that I have failed to learn this lesson.) But with our enterprise solution, it’s a quick decision to mark something read or choose to save it. I suspect that Wendy forced the same behavior for my boss by showing him something and then taking it away immediately.
What’s really exciting is that with our 2.0 release that I’m using internally, we actually have some advantages over Wendy. Not only does our enterprise solution know what I like and show me information accordingly, it also knows what my co-workers like. So the system is able to suggest specific articles to me based on what my co-workers have done.
For example, if someone else in the product-management group has saved an article that talks about our product and someone in sales has forwarded that article on to a prospect, the system predicts that article is more important to me and makes it more visible. For Wendy to do the same thing, she would have to run around the entire company at the speed of light and get input from everyone that had an affinity with me.
The 2.0 release of NGES has many other cool advantages over Wendy as well. It gives me the ability to take advantage of the tagging done by others in filtering views of articles. It lets me create new feeds for any article anyone tags as being related to a topic: e.g. give me a feed that only contains articles that have been tagged as being about “FeedDemon”. It lets me easily view reports on my own reading and the reading of others and more.
I’m pretty sure that I’ll never have a real Wendy to help route my information. That seems like a luxury of business days from long ago. So it’s very cool that I have a tool that does some of the things that a Wendy would have done – and some things that no Wendy ever could accomplish! And having a tool like that gives me time to get my own darn coffee!
NewsGator Product Mgt./Consumer GM