Last week I wondered whether the construction industry suffered from ‘collaboraphobia’, affecting its ability to adopt tools and techniques that improve communication and information-sharing. There are a small (but hopefully growing) number of construction people writing blogs, using Twitter, and building online communities, but given the size of the industry, it is clear that we make up a tiny minority.
This morning, I was asked (by Luke O’Rafferty via Twitter) if Yammer could be of use in construction. For those unfamiliar with Yammer it is a Twitter-type tool that can be used privately within a single organisation, being accessible only by employees with a valid company email address. It is free for individual users to subscribe to their network, and organisations can pay ($1 per month per member) for optional administration tools to moderate and control their network. (Present.ly is another product similar to Yammer)
Responding back to Luke, I said I wasn’t sure. “If construction peeps don’t ‘get’ Twitter, will they see the point of Yammer? Privacy might appeal, though.”
Yammer is certainly a step up from one-to-one instant messaging (IM), effectively creating a company-wide discussion board, social network, file-sharing and even a quick knowledge-base (see features – I like the tag cloud functionality). But if your colleagues don’t see the point of Twitter, will they be swayed by Yammer? Yes, it is private – which may overcome some people’s reservations – making it attractive for internal communication. In this respect, it might be a good way for construction people to make some tentative first steps into Web 2.0.
But as for Yammer’s use more generally in the construction sector, I’m not sure. Project teams are typically composed of people from several different organisations, and individuals can be members of several different project teams simultaneously; Yammer could not support such complexity (though Present.ly accounts can be extended beyond a single e-mail domain to include clients, consultants and other collaborators).
To be fair, Twitter doesn’t really cater for such groups either (see this Webware.com article by Don Reisinger), but individual users can get round this and create their own groups by using tools such as Tweetdeck. Personally, I would also be looking for tools like Tweetdeck’s that allow me to re-tweet interesting contributions across platforms – eg: from Twitter to Present.ly or Yammer (and vice-versa, assuming, of course, that corporate policies allow such outbound communications).