September 16, 2008

Twittering Inside the Firewall

Are you tempted by the idea of Twitter inside the firewall? For true Twitter junkies, it may be nearly irresistible. And, now, we're hearing about some new Twitter-clones that are designed to operate within enterprises. However, before you start pushing this as the next big thing for law firm knowledge management, consider the following: What existing workflow or tool will Twitter replace or enhance within your law firm?

In my earlier post, Are You Creating Problems or Solutions, I discussed the negative repercussions of pushing a tool versus identifying a current way of doing things that could be done better with a little technical assistance. In the case of Twitter, it could be an obvious substitute for IM. However, how many law firms have overcome their record retention questions and discovery phobia to the extent that they have actually implemented a robust IM program? If your lawyers are not IMing now, why would they start Twittering?

Alternatively, if you are in one of those rare firms where the lawyers unfailingly inform their assistants exactly where they may be found at all times, a Twitter-like tool could be a nice enhancement. However, if your lawyers tend to wander off at will, why do you think Twitter will change that behavior?

For more issues to consider before you promote a Twitter clone within your law firm, see Lee Bryant's helpful post on the Headshift blog, It's like Twitter, but for .... (For those of you who have read this far, but aren't entirely sure you understand what Twitter or Microblogging is all about or how it might operate within a law firm, take a look at the following post by Björn Negelman (recommended by Lee Bryant): Microblogging as a Corporate Tool.)

Now, before you start jumping up and down, let me be clear. This is not intended as a screed against technology generally or Twitter (or Yammer or ESME or laconi.ca) specifically. It is just a reminder that no technology is a silver bullet. As knowledge management experts will tell you time and time again, you need the right people and processes in place first or else your new tech toy will fall flat on its face.

Consider yourself warned.

Update: See also Jevon MacDonald's post, Will you Twitter inside the enterprise and Jeremiah Owyang's List of Enterprise Microblogging Tools: Twitter for the Intranet.

3 comments:

Samuel Driessen said...

Aren't you a little too warn-y? ;-) I agree with you people shouldn't jump on every new technology out there. But I'd rather read a post on how lawyers can take advantage of enterprise twitter. Are lawyers using it? And how are they?
In my experience I see (enterprise) twitter is very interesting for those that don't want to or can't blog. For people that find blogging difficult, microblogging can be wonderful. And, of course, we have to clearly distinguish twitter from IM and email. To me there is a clear distinction.

Mary Abraham said...

Samuel -

I'm not opposed to Twitter or any other new technology. My point is that we need to be sure that the technology fits in with existing business processes and practices, rather than creating a new burden for lawyers. Most lawyers don't blog (and aren't interested in blogging, according to recent reports). So we're going to have to have another sensible use for Twitter within a law firm.

- Mary

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