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Construction Team Meetings: Where Baby Boomers and Gen Y Collide August 24, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, records retention, Sharepoint, web conferencing.
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Team meetings in construction offices are transforming as we speak.  After reading this CNN article, ‘Generation Y’ set to transform office life and a tweet from Jennifer Hicks it made me think about what is happening in the AEC industry. We’re all so mobile that unless we can all work together on our own schedules and collaborate effectively we’re doomed to failure.

Conversations are Team Meetings

What the construction industry is counting on is technology to make our communications clearer.  Industry leaders use video conferencing to have conversations – important to capture body language cues and readily available, apps abound on many smartphones and social networks today.  Seems like the project managers I know send an email following a conversation to recap and document what they just said.

Project Documents are Changing

Our documents are  easily accessible from Sharepoint, Construction Imaging, project management team portals, or Box.net as all generations are wanting access from anywhere, anytime.  (If you haven’t made the transition to electronic documents you better be thinking about it before you get busy again.) Mark-ups and edits occur on documents frequently and the construction plans seem to pose the biggest challenges.  Versioning control is a decision everyday.  Your records management integrity depends on it.

Collaborative Construction Communications Technology

What do construction team meetings look like today? They’re collaborative, mobile and transparent.  At least the successful ones are.  If you expect to collaborate solely with email you will need more hours in your day.  It’s time to transform your methods and it needs to work for internal and external teams.  One such solution is gaining respect in the industry.  It’s called Bluebeam Studio and I’m luckily part of their partner program.  Watch this short video and see what you think.  Your socks are about to be blown off!

The value is in working simultaneously or on your own time.  If you can’t make it to the Studio session it can be left open for you to chime in later.  If you’re running a pre-construction meeting you can meet virtually and work together. The flexibility is all there.  Have you used Studio?  Would you like to experience it for yourself?  Leave a comment and I’ll invite you and your team to a Studio project and collaborate together today.

This crosses all workforce generations and makes a visual record that’s easy to learn, review, share and save to your project document repository.

Construction Project Team Communications Innovation July 26, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, web conferencing.
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After reading “Collaborating in the New AEC World” by Al Douglas it is apparent that whether you are a subcontractor, general contractor, architect, engineer or project owner you must have a single place to effectively communicate in order to reach all project team expectations. Email will not suffice and often project management systems do not deliver on live collaborative sessions that occur during pre-construction and intermittently throughout a project lifecycle.

Construction communication challenges often arise as preferred technologies (BIM, IPD, CAD) often leave non-techie types out of the conversation loop. Everyone in construction operations is visual and depends upon drawings, plans and models to convey ideas. Being proficient in all these technologies can take a lifetime and the project only lasts 12 months. How do you get everyone speaking the same language and invite every team member to engage in the conversation? The solution has to be easy to learn, offer a place where a multitude of document types can be shared and offer a simple way for mark-ups and conversations to be captured. If you want everyone to use it it also has to be affordable and documents should be easily shared without need for special software. Remember the PDF?

The PDF standard hasn’t left the construction industry. Most general contractors still exchange plans in PDF format because everyone can open them. The problem arises as you share plans, typically via email or offer an FTP download. Now there are 100s of copies and everyone is marking-up their own set. Have you ever tried to look a 4 versions at once and compare the differences? It’s challenging and frustrating. It’s even more challenging in the pre-construction process as you need to get all the project subcontractors in one room along with the engineer and architect. Inevitably a few people miss the meeting or must catch-up later. There is a simple solution…

To see the Bluebeam Studio solution in action as part of Bluebeam Revu. Start at minute 5, if you’re not interested in how to set-up and invite others to this on-line web collaboration studio session for construction teams or watch this 14 minute video from the beginning to see all the steps.

Disclosure: I’m convinced that every construction firm should be familiar with this tool and am a Bluebeam Partner myself. If you’re interested, comment or email me and I’ll invite you to a Bluebeam Studio Session – yes you can invite your team too!

Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 2 – On-line Meeting for PDF Changes Now or Later July 6, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, project management software, records retention, Sharepoint, web conferencing.
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Construction Collaboration often involves sharing documents during an on-line web meeting. While many solutions allow for these sessions to be recorded, there are few that let you leave it open for up to 2 weeks, append to the meeting later, or provide a way to capture the log of the discussion, particularly when changes are made to a “working” PDF. The problem is the method to make these annotations because the web based sessions are typically screen captures of the presenter’s desktop. There is a better way to work on PDFs with individuals or teams which can track, log and hyperlink to the PDF area details. Automatically documenting and capturing the recorded modifications on the PDF for construction project teams with Bluebeam® Studio Server™. You have to see it to believe it.

Let’s take a look at a Bluebeam Studio Session. In this example there are questions concerning the placement of lighting. Note that the chat session captures all annotations and jumps to the view of that persons workspace when they added that annotation.

Bluebeam® Studio Server™ allows you to connect, create and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Simply upload your PDFs to Studio and invite attendees from across the globe to view and comment on your PDFs. Chat and add markups to the same PDF together in real-time or separately on your own. Markups and chats are tracked in a Record that links back to the PDF to easily review session activity. You can even create a report of your Studio session to archive or share with your team. With Bluebeam construction collaboration delivers complete version control and report access that you can upload to Sharepoint or ingest into your Enterprise Content Management System automatically using a monitored folder.

Whether you need clarifications from the architect, engineer, General contractor, owner or principal, subcontractor or supplier you can capture the suggestions from each participant, whether you’re all on-line simultaneously, or invitees join later with new ideas or alternatives. If revisions occur later, you can receive email notification that more revisions have been added to the session. Bluebeam has more PDF collaboration power for the AEC industry. In Part 3 we’ll discuss AutoCad and Revit.

If you missed part 1, you may want to read the previous post PDF Secrets: Estimating takeoff from PDF. If you can’t wait for the rest of this series, You probably want to watch this video:
Bluebeam PDF Revu 9 – The Acrobat Alternative Or just Take Revu 9, Bluebeam Studio or Q for a spin with a 30 Free A Trial

Disclosure: Bluebeam software impressed me so much that I recently became an authorized reseller.

Microsoft Takes My Advice on Skype May 10, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, VOIP, web conferencing.
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Microsoft’s Skype acquisition was overdue. It was January 8, 2011 when I Tweeted:

Just thinking Microsoft could have more Kinect sales if you could use it to Skype. #business

With the official announcement, Microsoft has plans to add Skyping to more than the Kinect and xBox but that alone can convert to huge revenues. By the time Christmas rolls around Microsoft will have kids complaining they can’t use their game consoles because their parents are hogging it for video conferencing. For the small business owner, contractor, and consultant with a home office, this will justify the Kinect purchase as a business expense – so the kids that don’t have a Kinect and Xbox yet, are almost certainly guaranteed a new toy.

With 170+ million connected Skypers around the world many seem worried that their long distance family time will be interrupted. Not to worry as Microsoft is sure to serve up ads on the free service to help them sell gaming consoles and games – 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010 is a whole lot of advertising airtime. I suspect that they’ll somehow determine from customer usage patterns or social profiles that small business Skypers should also see Office 365 Ads and every other cloud based offering Microsoft develops. Most IT staff are Skypers too so the potential Ad reach is targeted to Microsofts core audience.

So does this mean LiveMessenger and LiveMeeting are dead? Not by a longshot. Wired Magazine doesn’t think this was a great business technology purchase in their Why Exactly? article, but there is overlap.

There are other factors involved that are mentioned by Forbes Combine all this with the mobile smartphone Ad reach and you see why Microsoft was willing to spend so much money.

Will you be using your gaming console at home to Skype? Will small business owners and contractors move their Xbox into their office? We’d love to hear from you and look forward to your comments.

Social Media Policy or Police? September 30, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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Social Networking PoliceSocial Media Policy is a hot topic for most businesses. The larger the enterprise the greater the impact on the IT infrastructure. Bandwidth bottlenecks can occur quickly with employees all viewing YouTube, Vimeo and Viddler videos simultaneously. Reports on the reduction in employee productivity at work will lead you to believe that social media is a waste of time and that there’s no reason to be in Facebook on business time. Security issues are also a concern with the proliferation of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that offer apps, chat and email functions. So what should a company do?

Begin a Dialogue with Your Employees
Don’t just lock everyone out of everything! This reactionary approach will make your firm look like a dinosaur to your team as well as your customers. I’ve seen this implemented at large publicly held construction companies and I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot by locking out everyone with URL filtering. Determine which employees and social media applications can contribute to your company brand, market reach and customer relationships. Ask your marketing, communications and sales people including anyone involved with customer relationship management or customer support for their input. Check out your competitor’s website to see what social media applications and tools they are using. Often you’ll see a few icons listed somewhere on their site, an invitation to connect in the sidebar of a blog or perhaps an RSS feed of their social activity.

Establish a Social Media Policy
Start with defining what is acceptable and unacceptable when using social media sites as you do for email and cell phone usage. Yes, your Legal and Information technology teams will probably influence (scare) you enough that risk tolerance decisions will need to be made. My favorite book for addressing social media policy is The e-Policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn. You may have already decided that “we only allow LinkedIn”, period. Think again. The most popular Business to Business (B2B) network by far in the United States is LinkedIn and they’ve just added the ability to display Twitter feeds and blog posts on the Company Profile. Since blog posts often have videos embedded in articles, you may have just policed yourself into not being able to view your own marketing materials.

Get the IT Department on Board
With budget cuts across the board, IT is trying to do everything without spending money and often takes the “lock down” approach as the only thing they can do with the tools they currently have. Perhaps you should consider budgeting for new equipment, particularly firewalls that address social media. It’s not good enough anymore to rely on old technology. Traditional firewalls rely on port and protocol to classify traffic, allowing tech-savvy applications and users to bypass them with ease; hopping ports, using
SSL, sneaking across port 80, or using non-standard ports. It may be time to have your network traffic analyzed for applications, users and content, you need to know what bandwidth is used by social media and have a way to monitor and enforce your policies effectively. The Interface2010 Technology Symposium has this topic covered and while I attended the Scottsdale, AZ event last week, you can still catch them in a few other US cities this year.

We’re in the process of scheduling a webinar to help educate business owners and their IT departments on social media policy, monitoring and network security. If you’d like to receive a webinar invitation, be interested in a network audit or have questions, please ask us by posting a comment. Please share this with your business partners, IT friends, and customers.

Social Media Safety Meeting Minute May 3, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, records retention, twitter, web 2.0.
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The idea of a Safety Meeting in a minute is a great idea, which I must thank Tim Greene of Networld for sharing in a PCWorld article yesterday. What’s different if you haven’t figured it out is this is not your typical construction site safety meeting. We’re talking about Internet Safety and I believe the idea is fantastic.

The premise is if you had to take a 1-minute internet safety lesson before being allowed access to the Internet your employees would recognize just how important it is to protect their identity and the electronic information contained within the company. The article mentions many of the popular social media sites but doesn’t give you 10 lessons to kick start the idea. So why not make this blog post a place for everyone to share their ideas…and build a 100 or more “lessons”? I’m extending this to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too (as I believe a 140 character tip will ensure the time constraint of keeping it to one minute).

Safety Tips

To get us started, here are a few of my one minute safety tips:

  • Know your company’s policy on Social Media use (Write a corporate policy on Social Media)
  • Make all your passwords more than one word in length and include at least one number
  • Never write (post) anything you wouldn’t want your mom or your boss to read (or see)
  • Text Messages from your Blackberry are “discoverable” so think of them as business emails
  • If you blog independently of work, make sure it is understood the contents are not the opinions of a past, current or future employer, but only that of the blogger’s
  • If you post while at work to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn make sure it is work or industry related (see corporate policy)
  • Never open attachments or click hyperlinks from people you don’t know and trust
  • Now that you get the idea, let’s hear your one minute (or less) lessons and Tips. I promise to share them with you all!

    Video Conferencing Isn’t Just for the Big Boys Anymore March 24, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, VOIP, web conferencing.
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    Video conferencing has been around for sometime and has either been expensive or of questionable quality.  The buzz on the internet is for the masses with technology like Skype entering 1000’s of homes each day.  It’s okay to talk with my friends and family but a CEO will not tolerate the delayed image feeds or freeze ups.  It’s just not professional. 

    Video conferencing with Skype displays on your computer at approximately 8 frames a second.  A true digital video phone runs at approximately 28 frames a second (broadcast TV is just over 30 frames per second).   No delays or freeze frames.  It is live streaming “business quality” video conferencing.   If your firm considered this years ago but found the costs astronomical, it’s time to rethink your position.   I’ve seen some firms pony up $10,000+ but you no longer have to with the ACN videophone.

    The ACN videophone is a digital videophone, meaning it has to be routed through high speed internet. It doesn’t run through your computer, it looks and acts like a phone. ACN has their own Video, not voice, over internet protocol so it is a secure system. The Video OIP was built out for ACN by Cisco Systems and covers 4 continents and 22 countries around the world. They have phones that start at just $99.99 plus a $29.99 monthly service fee for unlimited local and long distance calls throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. In addition the phone can be connected to your flat screen TV so you can have a large video image. High Definition is expected later this year.

    It is suggested that your internet speeds be at least 256 kbps and probably closer to 1.5mbps for optimal picture quality.  Anyone with multiple offices can now enjoy a great video conferencing system with more security and greater reliability.

    Business people do use it to travel and stay in touch with their office and family from all around the world.  The calls are free from ACN-ACN phone anywhere in the world.   Here’s the real “big bang punch”…It is inexpensive and easy enough for any business to really impress and keep a client by supplying them with a videophone to stay in touch face-face. Yes it is a “business relationship” tool that takes advantage of video to reinforce your connection.  The next generation phone coming out this summer will allow the screen to split in 4 quadrants so you can hold a 4 way phone/video conference with all parties able to see one another. In a business world where everyone is talking about social media, I think this may be the best “live” tool you could ask for to cement your client relationships.

    I want to thank a friend of mine, that some of you may know, Doug Singer, and ACN rep here in Arizona for this great information.  I’ve known Doug for years and he’s always looking for ways to make businesses stand out.

    I’d like to hear about what video conferencing solutions you find most cost effective.  Please share your experiences by leaving a comment.  Thanks for all your input in advance.

    6 Steps to Social Media Success January 26, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in web 2.0.
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    Today I was speaker at the eWomenNetwork luncheon in Tempe Arizona. A group of women entrepreneurs wanted to understand how social media can impact their business.   This group is focused on the strategic plan and beginning  their journey minimizing their mistakes.  If you are testing the waters don’t be discouraged but recognize that “build it and they will come” is a misnomer.   Social media should be meshed into the heart of the marketing, branding and thought leadership of a firm.  Since many of you didn’t have the opportunity to be there, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of the presentation.

    1. Claim your brand (your company name, and your own name).  Your brand should be focused on your customers needs and as much as possible be controlled by you.  Now I use the word control loosely as this is not the corporate tower mentality of press releases and case studies from your Public Relations Department.  But your  brand conversations and those happening on the internet should be in your possession.  How do you do this?  Use Namechk.com to find if your preferred brand username is available.  Namechck.com will search what’s been taken in the social media realm.  Grab your names in the major social media sites now or they will be gone later!
    2. Listen.  You must know what’s already going on in your business niche.  Not so much what social media tools everyone is using, but listening to the conversation.  The majority are out creating facebook pages as extensions of their website, but forget that social media is a participation sport.  What are we listening for?  What is being said about our firm, our industry and our competitors?   What are our potential customers asking for? Careful consideration should be focused on who is participating.  Start your listening with a few searches on google about your company name…look for reviews, see  if you’re listed on the first  page of search results, etc.  Then move to some listening technologies like Google AlertsTweetDeck  and Social Mention
    3. Begin participating.  Perhaps you are a B2B so you start with LinkedIn.  I see more people who start here and never really get it.  They get a dozen friends in their network and nothing happens.  Here are three things you will all do today: Change your title under your name to more of what you do.  For instance if you are in sales say customer relationship and business development for the XYZ industry.  You want people to find you.  Add a few applications to your profile… Reading List by Amazon and Bloglink.   The reading list is for sharing, the Bloglink is for listening and sharing.  You can automatically see the blogs that your LinkedIn connections have and get to know what they are passionate about.  And join a few groups so at least you look connected and interested.  After all the do call this “Social Networking”. Post comments to their blogs, ask and answer questions in the group discussions and get your feet wet!
    4. Decide what the purpose of your social media participation is.  Perhaps you want to help a friend get a job.  Maybe you want to promote your philanthropic and community causes.  I bet you all want to market your products and services.  This strategy meeting is not just the owner, unless you are a sole proprietor.  Even then I’d say talk with a mentor, social media strategist, branding, marketing or PR firm.  Involve business development and sales then prioritize.  A few hours a planning will save weeks of effort.  Read a few good books like Putting the Public back In Public Relations,  The Long Tail, Trust Agents and Groundswell as they will  help you understand the social media craze and how to leverage it.
    5. Consider  a Blog.  I believe that a Blog is the most underutilized social media tool.  It can convey your passion, relay your expertise, reach into the emotions of your potential clients and start a conversation.  Oh, and it will help you climb the search engine rankings easily if done right.  There are two schools of thought for beginners.  One is I am afraid to jump all in, so they start a blog using Write4.net if they want it to be super easy, or wordpress.com if they are halfway convinced that this blogging thing is right for them.  Write4.net will tweet your blog post and give you a blog with a few nice features like the Retweet button.  Neither of these will ideally optimize search engine ranking but can help with website traffic.  I have to admit, I’m wishing I had just started with WordPress.org but hindsight is 20/20.  Problogger tried to convince me too but it looked like to much work to start.  He also has some many fabulous suggestions on copy, writing headlines, creating compelling calls to action, etc.  With your strategy in hand write a few posts that keep the focus on the customer and help them out (for free).  Write good headlines as they will determine whether anyone reads your blog. 
    6. Maximize your reach.  The best way to expand reach for most firms is with a combo attack.  Blogs, Twitter, newsletters, Facebook don’t only use one method – as you limit your reach.  If you are afraid to start writing a blog or concerned about the expense there are many free and easy choices.  The professional blogger will lean toward WordPress.org and rightfully so.

    Recognize everything you participate in can help you in search engine rankings, positions you as an expert or interested learner and improves your reach for authority.  Stay focused on the customer and building their trust.  I believe it was Chris Brogan who said social media is “two parts helping, two parts connecting and one part selling”.

    If you attended the luncheon, would you please add comments to this blog on what you learned and what your have planned as your next social media step.

    Social Media Use in Real Estate and Construction Industry December 8, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I finally found a definitive study from Business.com that devotes a portion of their research to my niche…the construction industry.  In the 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking study published in November discussed such things as “What do people consider to be the most useful social media resources for business information?” and “How do B2B companies judge social media success?”  Some of these finding like only 17% of real estate and construction use Twitter to find or request business related information isn’t surprising, but over half of the survey participants visit company blogs and company profile pages on social media sites.  This free study is a must read so you know what the Most Popular Business Social Media Initiatives are, how executives use social media differently and how they measure social media success.   

    Source: Business.com’s 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study (http://www.business.com/info/b2b-social-media-benchmark-study 





    LinkedIn and TweetDeck Together at Last December 7, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    My workshops have been attended by construction firm execs, IT and marketing personnel, and we have spent plenty of time discussing Tweetdeck and Twitter.  LinkedIn was already being used by every student in the class.  Now we all need to take advantage of the recent upgrade to TweetDeck (v0.32.1).  TweetDeck has just added LinkedIn accounts to make it easy for you to view LinkedIn updates in your own personalized column…a one stop shop.  Here’s how to get this working.  Under your TweetDeck settings, choose accounts and add your LinkedIn info:

    Once you have that done, you can add your own LinkedIn column based upon your preferences.  From TweetDeck click on the add column button and select the LinkedIn icon.  You can decide what items to include like recommendations, connections, status updates, etc.  Here are your choices so you can be a smarter, more efficient listener:

    Now that you are listening, have you tried out the Twitter options on LinkedIn?  I blogged about it a few weeks back.  Read it here if you missed it.  Now have you all considered using Twitter (or some other microblogging application) for your company press releases?

    Apps for LinkedIn – Words of Wisdom for Developers November 23, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, web 2.0.
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    With today’s announcement that LinkedIn has opened up their API to software developers and TweetDeck stating in their blog that LinkedIn will be integrated into their next release, it is only a matter of time before we all have more business apps than the iPhone. 

    Here are a few suggestions to all those developers that want to make millions and really do have some great ideas that I just gleaned from the book Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by Jason Fried:

    • Design smart by drawing out a few screen shots and then making them HTML before you start to program
    • Create a buzz before release with a few snippets and ask for email addresses to get early adapters enabled
    • Be passionate and create a blog for your adopters and keep your readers updated
    • Don’t wait til everything is perfect to launch…get a beta out for people to try
    • Keep it simple and streamlined so no one needs training to use your app
    • Offer a free version that’s easy to signup for
    • Focus…not every app is for everyone.  Keep your eye on your target audience!

    I thought this would get you all to read the whole book.  What’s in it for me?  Better designed, useful apps for me as a LinkedIn user of course!  I’m ready to try out new Web 2.0 apps for LinkedIn (especially for those focused in the construction, architectural & engineering industries) and hope to hear about all your successes soon.

    More Tips on Blog Subscriptions November 13, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    As promised this is a continuance of “Attracting Blog Subscriptions” highlighting other functions and features of Feedburner.  Today we’re spreading the news of your blog  (and if you attended my recent seminar Web 2.0 tools for the construction industry or one of my Social Media on a Shoestring Budget workshops , this is a homework assignment).  If you have a few subscribers, why not make it easy for them to share it with the friends and co-workers?  You can do that easily giving them options to email it or share it on Facebook.  The tool is called FeedFlare and it’s found under the optimize tab: feedflare1

    This gives the viewer of your blog feed or site an opportunity to pass it along, make it more popular with Digg and spread your message.  Once you choose FeedFlare, select the options you want for your feed or site and it will show you what it will look like to your readers:

    feedflare2You can reorder the choices you selected by dragging the Share on Facebook or Digg it hyperlinks using drag-n-drop. You’re done when you hit SAVE. 

    The next time your feed goes out, all your subscribers will have these choices to share and you will reap the rewards! 

    There is also a FeedFlare catalog of other choices to add including english to spanish translations, adding links to your favorite charity, event promotions and Map It
    (to Link to a web mapping service display for feed items that have location context associated with them). 

    Go ahead and experiment. Try out FeedFlare and let me know about your success.  We love your comments.

    Oh, and since you read the whole blog post, you can add a follow me on twitter flare with these instructions from HyveUp

    I’ve been Beta’d by Twitter November 11, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I was pleased to see a notification this morning on my Twitter account that I believe will be valuable to all the listeners in the Twitterverse.  Here’s a screen shot of the Retweet To Share Tweets (Beta):RetweetToShareTweets

    I think Twitter got this one right.  If I want to know what my followers are really interested in, it should be their retweets.  After all it is a call to action for their own followers and represents the groundswell of our followers reach too.  What better way to understand the value of content than from our followers.  This is a keeper as far as I’m concerned.  Now will this feature be incorporated into some of the popular aggregators like TweetDeck?  How do you decide when to retweet?

    Attracting Blog Subscriptions November 6, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email, web 2.0.
    Tags: , , , , , ,
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    It’s a funny thing how everyone has a blog but most have a dozen subscribers if that.  In business you need to publicize your blog everywhere.  I tried promoting it via a plain hyperlink in my email signature but no one clicked on it…that is until I made it an animated subscription.  My email  signature now automatically cycles through the last five posts.  Every email recipient has the opportunity to see the topics I’ve recently discussed and decide then & there whether it interests them.  How’d I do it?  It’s easy…

    1. First Sign-up for Google Feedburner and enter your blog’s information (title, original address aemailblogsignnd new feedburner address). and save your feed details.  Don’t worry, this is free. 
    2. Click on the Publicize tab.
    3. Select the Headline Animator.
    4. Select email signature.
    5. From the dropdown, choose email signature and click next
    6. Follow the instructions in the pop-up based upon your email service.  It’s available for Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Yahoo Mail and has workarounds for Gmail and Apple Mail too.

    There’s plenty of other great features to help you with optimization and publicizing your blog with Feedburner.  I’ll make this a series of how to’s for the next few weeks.  If the construction industry starts using collaboration 2.0 (aka social media) for marketing and communication, for sure they will want to learn all these blog tips. 

    Share your success with us.  We like to hear from our readers!

    Social Media Challenges in Business Similar to Early Internet Adoption October 30, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in communication, twitter, web 2.0.
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    Here we are 40 years after the Internet was first used to send a message and business is repeating history with their adoption rates to new technologies. 

    From a Robert Half Technology Survey and mentioned in Stowe Boyd’s blog post Enterprises Block Social Networks, 54% of US companies with over 100 employees have completely blocked sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  At the same time, analysts at Gartner are telling IT managers, Loosen up on social networks, security.   These opposing views remind me of the early years of the Internet.  You could walk into a business in the early 1980’s with a dozen PCs and one of them was not connected to the network.  That lone PC was connected to the internet, but it wasn’t safe to have the entire office on-line.  The reasoning was that some hacker could break in and steal all your accounting data and the employees would spend all their time surfing the net rather than working.  

    This battlecry has reared it’s head in the business world with Social Media as “someone might say something negative about us.  We don’t trust our employees to work during working hours.  Lock it down.  Turn it off!”   The control must be kept by the CIO or communications director, and our lawyer and HR department are ready to reprimand any employee that crosses the line.  Oops, only 30% of business have a social media policy.   You can get help with social media and email policy from my earlier blog post Email Records retention Can Be Tricky.

    This fear of social networking will handcuff the enterprise while competitors will leapfrog ahead.  If you don’t trust your employees with some responsibility, why did you hire them?  As Paul Proctor, a VP at Gartner says, “You cannot protect yourself from everything. You must learn to balance risk and performance.”  AIIM has gathered a number of statistics from surveys and research that help to explain the current state and where we are heading.   Here’s just a snippet to share:

    Over half of organizations consider Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success.  Only 25% are actually doing anything about it, but this is up from 13% in 2008.  Knowledge-sharing, collaboration and responsiveness are considered the biggest drivers.  Lack of understanding, corporate culture and cost are the biggest impediments.

    Let’s look at this from the perspective of the business leader.  They hear the word social and think of twittering “I’ll meet you at the pub after work”.  The word social needs to be replaced with business  collaboration when you bring the discussion from the IT department to the Board of Directors.    The real questions that business should be focusing on are:

    • How can we harness “collaborative” networks to improve communications, knowlege sharing, marketing efforts, etc?
    • Should our deployments be internal or external? 
    • Have we developed our business strategy to include these technologies?

    There are numerous business reasons to embrace Social Media including public relations, brand building, lead generation, crisis management and search engine optimization.  Now that Twitter has deals with Bing and Google, to crawl the twitterverse,  I suspect a few more firms will be appointing a “corporate twitterer”.    You want to be planning now as I read in the Social Computing Journal , Nielsen Norman Group estimates “a timeline of approximately three to five years for most organizations to successfully adopt and integrate social technologies into their intranets.”  Better shake a leg.

    Does Windows 7 close the Door on XP? October 16, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in exchange2010, windows7.
    Tags: , , , , , ,
    1 comment so far

    An Information Week  report announced “XP’s Day of Reckoning is at Hand“.  After reading the article I waited for research to educate me on not just the hype on Windows 7,  but the pace of expected deployments in this economy.  InformationWeek  came through with their analytics report which I received for free after attending  The Business Case for Windows7 virtual event.   The case for Windows 7 is compelling for AutoCAD users, remote offices and Vista users already.

    Most businesses are not aware of what’s in it for them, I’ve compiled a resource list to help the IT staff help explain to the CFO/controller the benefits, improvements, challenges with Windows 7.   You need to share with management some basics like mainstream support ended in April and security updates are it for XP (no bug fixes or enhancements to work with new products).    Communicate with management. Get Testing! Here’s my list of resources in no particular order:

    10 Features to Anticipate in Windows 7

    No Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008 R2

    Top 8 Strategic Points When Weighing Win 7 Adoption

    Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor (Can your PC Run Windows 7?)

    Microsoft Makes Business case for Windows 7

    Windows 7 What’s New Guide (from Dell – techie oriented)

    Windows 7 Security Holes Plugged (From eWeek FYI if you’ve been reading old materials)

    Intel Wiki on Windows 7, Microsoft ConfigMgr SP2 and Intel’s Vpro Technology (very tech oriented)

    You’ll want to have Windows Server 2008 R2 in testing too as that’s where the rubber hits the road with the big benefits of Windows 7 (if you can afford to upgrade to Exchange 2010 simultaneously).  The official release date for Windows 7 is October 22nd.  Good luck and let me know if this info helped you out.

    LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry August 19, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
    Tags: , , ,

    Yesterday I presented the seminar “LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry” at the American Subcontractors Association Arizona Chapter office. While well attended, I found the majority to be in the same boat as most B2B firms… still trying to understand just what Social Networking is all about and how these tools could impact their business.

    Interestingly enough, one attendee was from a Lien Service and was successfully using LinkedIn for locating people that had stiffed their suppliers & subs. One designated Twitterer @smallgiants came to see how they could more effectively communicate with their customers with Twitter and Blogging…I actually suggested a forum or discussion group for their clients while using a blogging tool like WordPress.org or WordPress.com to give them easier updating and flexibility. 

    The contractors present all had the “generation gap” syndrome and needed to understand that this Web 2.0 stuff is not a fad it is about a method of communication that creates a conversation. These conversations can be with employees, customers and vendors but depending upon your strategy you should focus on one group of people at a time in deploying any web 2.0 tools.  Another consideration before jumping in is addressing your e-policy to include such things as disclaimers on any employees “freelance” blogging as it is likely they have you listed as their employer.  If you haven’t created an e-policy yet I recommend “The e-POLICY Handbook” by Nancy Flynn.

    Every construction firm should have their company profile on LinkedIn and at least a few employees, particularly business development and human resources connected to LinkedIn.  It is where unemployed construction talent has posted their resume, and it’s where savvy entrepreneurs are recruiting.  This morning I received my weekly update from the McGraw-Hill Construction LinkedIn Group and a discussion post included an 8 page summary of Jim Collin’s book “Good To Great” and applying it’s study and conclusion to the business of construction contracting.  I guess this just reiterates the message of my seminar, to get started you must first listen to people, then determine your objectives to create a web 2.0 strategy before you pick all the technology for a full court press of embrasing E2.0 or web 2.0 tools. 

    Have you started a web 2.0 project?  I’d like to hear about your experiments, challenges, and success stories.  Leave a comment or contact me directly.

    Construction Industry Slow to Adopt Twitter August 12, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
    Tags: , , ,
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    I was speaking with the CFO of a highway heavy contractor recently and he thought that Twitter was a waste of time. Of course this gentleman was over 50 and thought that tweets were just going to be more spam being delivered to his phone or email. Isn’t this the conception you have of Twitter?

    There are 8 Things You Need to Know About Twitter and Business according to John Mancini, president of AIIM International.   Twitter is more than instant messaging because it has a world wide reach.  You need to keep your business purpose in mind and understand the use of hashtags when using this web 2.0 tool.  There are some contracting firms getting their feet wet, and using a twitter account like Leobuild that posts press releases and some news in hopes of driving traffic to the Leopardo website.  So while I haven’t found a construction firm hugging the tweetdeck wholeheartedly, but how ’bout an A/E firm? 

    HOK, a prominent architectural firm launched HOK life last year using blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more. It’s more about extending the conversatation. They tweet about HOK media coverage, employee’s accomplishments, project stories, publications, new hires and more. They are branding their firm as “the best firm to work for” and a place where new technology is embraced.  They build links between tweets & blogs, pulling you into the conversation and encouraging discussions, improving relationships and personalizing their firm.   Their employees use these tools during work hours, their purpose is clear and their company rules are few.  Do you think they have talent chasing them?

    Twitter is just one of the web 2.0 tools out there that is underutilized by the construction industry.  In my efforts to educate contractors I use Twitter and LinkedIn to announce seminars and other events including an upcoming  Lunch N’ Learn entitled, “Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Networking/Social Media in the Construction Industry”  at the American Subcontractors Association office in Phoenix on August 18th. 

    Are you interested but can’t attend in person?  There will be a webinar announced in the near future.  I’d also be interested in contracting firms that are using web 2.0 tools extensively in the USA.  I welcome the comments.

    Did you say free web conferencing? July 22, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in communication, web conferencing.
    1 comment so far

    Most contracting firms have used Webex  or Go2meeting either by inviting or being invited to an on-line seminar or web conference.  There are many other players in this marketplace like Intercall and Skype.  Yes I said Skype, the free video calling that Oprah promotes and the game show Millionaire uses to call an expert.  

    So did you know that Skype 4.0 (and subsequent releases)  has video conferencing available with screen sharing?  This is completely free but if you need to have large groups, and send invites ahead of time you’ll want a 3rd party add-on called InnerPass to make it more business friendly.   You’ll need to pay for InnerPass, but for a significantly smaller fee than you pay on the popularly advertised web conferencing systems.  I learned about this from an OPEN Small Business Forum from American Express but since 95% of all contractors are small businesses, and larger firms have suppliers, customers  and outsourced IT guys that would find this helpful, I thought it appropriate to share it with you too. 

    You’ll need a headset & microphone from your laptop, and a webcam if you want video.  This solution works great with Outlook and Xobni too.  Try it out for your next one-on-one instant web conference and you won’t be sorry.  I’d like to encourage you to share your experiences and add your comments to this blog entry after trying it out.

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