Armed with new ideas and inspired by great conversations, we bid adieu to the JBoye Philadelphia 2010 conference, where governance was a hot topic this year.

There was a lot of talk about planting web governance seeds to grow beautiful governance flowers as it pertains to future-proof intranets, governance in social media and ways to exercise it most efficiently. According to some, governance is just like sex.

Looking at the Past

At the conference’s expert panel, Janus Boye talked to three panelists:

  • Barbara Schelkle, UNDP
  • Mark Greenfield, University at Buffalo
  • Tony Byrne, Real Story Group

The first topic they discussed was about how the industry changed over the past 12 months.

Greenfield noted that mobile in higher ed is exploding. While thirty years ago in order to access the internet (though it wasn’t called that then), one had to have a computer and skills to type commands into the mainframe. Today, mobile is completely changing the way we use the Internet, as the idea of 24/7 access from anywhere is becoming reality.

From Schelkle’s perspective, the topics haven’t changed much, but we came to another level of maturity.

Byrne saw significant acceleration around commercialization of open source and “communitization” of commercial vendors, which by and large is a positive trend for customers. He also talked about everyone’s favorite -- SharePoint 2010. Is it an asset and how? MSFT is pushing it to developers as a dev platform. SharePoint doesn’t have to be your intranet, but it can be part of it.

Your Take on Governance

Schelkle: The intranet can help you transform your organization, and governance is key to that.
Greenfield: Each organization should have a special web unit that deals with governance.
Byrne: Governance is like sex. People want more of it than they currently have. Bad governance is better than no governance at all.

State of the Industry on Social Media Tools

One of the observations on this topic was that the industry is fragmented with many vendors focusing within the firewall vs. looking at larger community participation; yet big platform players are lumbering into this in some way. There’s less open source in this field than some would have thought.

In the higher ed sector, 90% of students use Facebook, and 75% of them said it’s OK for universities to contact them via Facebook. As far as Twitter usage goes, a year ago only 3 people out of a 1000 survey were using this microblogging service. This year, the number is up to 8%.

Social media can evolve to be used as business tool. LinkedIn and other professional communities are more effective in business settings than, say, Facebook.

Privacy and social media policies were some of the concerns brought up around the use of social media in business settings. Technology is moving a lot faster for any internal or external policy to catch up with it.

There’s also a cultural aspect to that, said Schelkle, citing Germans as being very skeptical about social media and opening up online. She suggested that we need to teach SoMe users to be more vocal and ask software providers to provide more options for different levels of privacy. In Facebook, there’s only one type of being a friend, so for a teacher to “friend” a student might be a debatable idea.

In real life, we have many types of friendships and relationships, and for this not to be translated into technology is an incredible limitation for Facebook.

When it comes to legal approvals and social media, and social media corporate policies – there are quite a few models to make social media work in corporate settings. One could even set up tweeting via workflow, as one of the ways to mechanize that approval process. Other suggestions included having someone in your organization, who is blessed by legal or a lawyer and vets all social media activity in real time.

Looking into the Future

What is to come in the next 12 months?

Schelkle: Growth in the mobile industry with an app for everything. Looking at the global population they serve at UN, Schelkle noted an incredible use of mobile in Africa, where there are often no landlines and mobile devices are low tech, but are used to send out SMSs to spread information about anything from AIDS prevention to agricultural announcements.

Social interaction on small devices is fine, said Byrne, while hoping that people would still want to sit down and read something that is longer than 140 characters.

Greenfield: We will see the Internet of things, allowing us to use iPad as a remote, (Byrne added using Tweetdeck to tell his son to go to bed), or put a mobile device into the pantry for it to build a grocery shopping list.