Eye on Messaging
I recently reviewed two reports that opined on the role that social networking should (and shouldn’t) play for healthcare providers, which gives food for thought to any professional.
The first report, Cooperation, Communication, Coordination: Three Pillars of Collaborative Teamwork from IDC Health Insights (April 2012), reviews the “transformation of the healthcare delivery model.”
Of the “four Cs” of effective teamwork, social networking is listed as a key area for healthcare providers, noting that the medium is useful in “health and wellness, disease management, clinical trial recruitment, maintenance of personal health records, treatment, hospital and physician selection, and other important aspects of healthcare delivery.”
The authors, Jan Duffy and Silvia Piai, note that in particular staff shortages, cost constraints and service demands have increased the need for more efficient and effective communications. This led the IDC research team to predict that mobile technology, providing access to data on the go, and social networking among providers to be an essential ingredient to the evolving healthcare delivery model.
Where it appears social networking does not belong is between patient and provider. In a Sophos blog this week, Lisa Vaas reports on how hospital administrators, concerned about the lack of professionalism and data leakage, are recommending healthcare providers do not set up relationships with patients in social networking sites (in particular she lists Facebook and Twitter).
This cautionary approach is echoed by policy guidelines that the American Medical Association drafted this year titled Professionalism in the Use of Social Media. The policy is well thought out and while it does not recommend complete abstinence from social networking, it does offer cautions of how to best use the medium and maintain professionalism. Noting the need for appropriate boundaries, ethics, the need to monitor, and if need be, to have unprofessional content posted by colleagues taken down, these guidelines would be useful to anyone who is in a business-to-client, or to-customer relationship. It is worthy of a read, if only to remind us of our own need to protect our online reputations.
Vaas also points to a study (PDF), published last August by QuantiaMD, an online community for physicians, that upon surveying over 4,000 clinicians concluded that over 65% of physicians are using social media for professional purposes.
I suspect that number will grow rapidly over the next few years. Last summer, the Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted a study called, Social Networking Sites and Our Lives. The report was authored by Keith Hampton and revealed that more people are using social networking sites. Hampton says “the figure is now 47% of the entire adult population, compared with 26% that was measured in our similar 2008 survey. Among other things, this means the average age of adult social networking site users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult social networking site users are now over the age of 35.”
As with many trends, the bleed over from personal life to professional life will mean that social networking will continue to rise in the professional realm as people become more and more comfortable with the medium.
Social networking may be a road to enhanced patient care, but it may not be a primary element in patient-provider communications.
While social media as a messaging medium has become a mainstay, e-marketers are still learning how best to incorporate this latest channel into marketing practices and to define what success looks like. The E-tailing Group offered a synopsis of its recent Annual Merchant Survey in its whitepaper Metrics Therapy—Details, Dashboards and Diligence authored by E-tailing Group President Lauren Freedman and sponsored by Baynote. The section on social media success was of particular interest.
The survey included responses of 147 merchants and how they are thinking of metrics today and how those metrics are used to drive business decisions. The no-brainer metric is the number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers. But according to the findings, retailers are looking for ways to measure social beyond engagement. There are other metrics being used like click-through rates to retail site from social media, growth rate year-over-year for pre-determined KPIs, number of YouTube views, sales from social networks, improved SEO, PR and media exposure, and video sharing rates.
“Interactivity seemed to be of greater interest for retailers to clarify how wide a net was being cast in the social stratosphere,” writes Freedman. “This moved beyond the number of fans to the levels of conversation and how much they were promoted and shared. Interest in growing social as a communication tool means monitoring the conversations and jumping in to bolster activity.”
Another merchant advocated not counting the number of fans, but rather count the number of comments on posts, returning views and overall time spent using the social media channel.
Freedman also notes that, “More sophisticated players are attempting to track the cost to acquire a new fan and understand where and when they convert in order to put necessary social resources in place.” Another metric to consider: tracking who is signing up for emails from social locations and tracking subsequent engagement with the company.
Additional areas Freedman says to pay attention to:
- Referral sources (blogs, Facebook, Twitter)
- Where traffic is derived from
- General onsite sharing tools (share, like)
When considering what is successful with e-marketing today, it is not just about transactions anymore. Interactions with the company and building relationships is the real value social media can bring, at a relatively low cost. This is true for B2C markets, but also holds true for B2B.
The long awaited Google Drive made its debut this week amid a flow of commentary both pro and con for the product. In theory the product is late to the cloud party with rivals such as Dropbox, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s iCloud among others firmly underway. Cloud-anything has been hot for some time now, and many Google users have eagerly awaited the ability to sync files between smartphone, tablet and computer.
Google’s motives for the product, believes some, go way beyond a cool product feature set. Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, for one, says “With Google Drive, Google has recognized the potential of shared cloud storage as a consumer hub or open platform that can be central to developing third-party apps such as video editing, sending faxes, and creating websites, with potential for a far greater range of applications from its busy community of third-party developers.”
Little thinks the platform potential of Google Drive is of strategic importance, leveraging “Google’s developer strengths and competitive pricing (50% cheaper than Apple’s iCloud in some cases) to drive penetration of its cloud offering via both consumer and enterprise channels.”
Privacy is not a new problem for Google. Recently the FTC has undertaken an investigation into Google’s bypass of the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser for Google users. (The company contends that the change in default settings for Safari browsers were necessary to allow the “+1” button connected to its Google+ social network to work with Apple’s browser.) This current FTC investigation is happening just after Google was fined $25,000 for “allegedly blocking” a federal privacy investigation into a 2010 privacy breach.
Though Google is late to the cloud storage party, there is a twist to the offering. Observes Little, “Google Drive is a major challenge to Apple’s iCloud and others whose propositions are selling cloud storage as a useful ancillary to using its applications. The Google Drive proposition is the other way around, offering cloud storage as a core service from which users can access an ecosystem of highly useful applications.”
Google Drive will be even more powerful once the Apple iOS mobile operating system version becomes available, especially given Apple’s earnings release this week that showed ever-increasing demands for the products with 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads sold during the company’s fiscal 2012 second quarter.
Just because a Web site has been around a while and has enjoyed a solid reputation, it cannot be assumed that the site is safe to surf. A case in point: it was recently found that 58 of the Web sites ranked among Alexa’s most popular sites have served up drive-by download exploits in the month of February.
Though the sites might be consumer oriented, as we all know with the “always on” world that we live in, what is viewed at home using mobile or laptop devices can easily be brought into the workplace network. And of course there’s also employees using company resources, on company time, to do some personal Web browsing. So here is one more case to share with employees as part of awareness training.
This conversation started during RSA conference last month with an interesting discussion with Paul Judge, chief research officer and head of Barracuda Labs. Judge shared with me some early findings that are expected to publish on April 2. The folks at Barracuda Labs have intentionally been mimicking typical Web browsing behavior to review the most popular Web sites as listed by Alexa Internet, Inc, which offers information about Web sites including top sites, Internet traffic stats and the like.
At this point, thanks to user education programs, many users are aware of certain site types to avoid. But infections in today’s Web are not so easily avoided, because cyber bad guys are infiltrating sites that are otherwise trustworthy. This is not necessarily new, as legitimate sites have been targeted and taken hostage over the last few years. But it seems that the practice of infecting “good” sites may be growing. Judge notes that of the Alexa sites the Labs found hosting malicious content, nearly half (43 percent) of the infected sites were hosted here in the U.S.
From the investigation that Barracuda Labs conducted, it also appears that while the malicious content is not served up each day, it is served in an almost continuous on-going fashion. For a quick glimpse of which sites were found to host, and other interesting details, take a look at Barracuda Labs’ research infographic.
As we have said for some time now, not all “clouds” are created equal. An interesting report was released today from Azaleos Corporation, a provider of managed email, collaboration and unified communications and Osterman Research that studied the TCO of public cloud vs. private cloud when it comes to deployments of messaging and collaboration systems.
The study looked at the total cost of ownership (TCO) when implementing enterprise configurations of the Microsoft Unified Communications stack of applications—Exchange, SharePoint and Lync—on premises, using a public cloud, such as Office 365, and using a private cloud model where “servers and software are all dedicated per customer and located in a secure third party data center, but the infrastructure is managed remotely by a service provider for a fee per user per month.”
The interesting approach of evaluating cloud vs. cloud led research analyst Michael Osterman to find “the private cloud model of delivering and managing enterprise grade services using the Microsoft stack is less expensive than the public cloud because of two primary factors. First, the base price for public cloud provider services is higher than the fully amortized price of the hardware. Next, when deploying an enterprise scale system, some of the additional features like adding voice functions to Lync or extra bandwidth in an Exchange environment are much more expensive in the public cloud than in a private cloud scenario.”
While prudently acknowledging that “developing cost models for offerings as complex as those discussed in this white paper requires some level of interpretation and judgment” and that “some readers may disagree with aspects of the cost model we have developed,” the general finding held the private cloud TCO was cheaper by 26% once enterprise grade capabilities were factored in. The public vs. private comparisons did take into account the recently announced price reductions of Office 365.
One key myth that Osterman points out is that the cloud is not just for smaller organizations. Writes Osterman, “Contrary to the beliefs of many decision makers, the cloud is not just for small organizations. Although Microsoft says that 90%+ of Office 365 deployments are with companies under 50 seats, and even though only about 5% of the total market today is using the cloud for Exchange, our findings clearly demonstrate that cloud-based offerings – whether public or private—are less expensive than on-premise solutions even in large organization deployments.”
Of course the primary myth the paper tackles is that public clouds are cheaper than private. “While there’s a general perception within the IT industry that public cloud services are always the cheapest alternatives, this study pokes a number of holes in that argument,” observes Scott Gode, vice president of product management and marketing for Azaleos. “Osterman Research’s findings clearly demonstrate that for medium to large sized organizations the public cloud is still not ready to compete with private cloud alternatives in terms of cost of ownership. When you factor in the added functionality and security benefits, the advantages provided by private cloud deployments of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync are very compelling.”
The paper, “Cloud vs. Cloud: Comparing the TCO of Office 365 and Private Clouds” was made available today and can be downloaded through Azaleos. It’s a thought-provoking read.
- IT Security
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