I often refer to RSS as the glue needed to hold any Enterprise 2.0 implementation together. Or at the very least RSS is needed to get the most of your shiny new Enterprise 2.0 tools.
Companies are already drowning in data, and the introduction of social software will add to the data being created, or at least shift data to different platforms and means of delivery.
RSS allows the user to subscribe to content or a source, and then be notified when the content changes, or when new content is available from a source.
There are many benefits and applied uses for RSS, so here are some of the ways I’m using it:
- Google Reader
This is my general purpose, browser based reader. It’s neat as it’s available anywhere including on my mobile phone. I subscribe to a number of blogs, industry sites, tags, news alerts and some smart filtering.
- Attensa Outlook Plugin
Attensa provide a FREE plugin for Outlook which gives you an RSS reader in your normal folder hierarchy. They also provide a feed server (not free) from which administrators can publish and manage enterprise RSS feeds.
- RSS as a ‘Smart Filter’
So let’s say you want to subscribe to content from a certain blog or application but you are only interested in a particular category or taxonomy. If the source site/system supports it you can subscribe to just the content you are interested in.
- Persistent Searching
One of the great things about the Attensa Outlook plugin is it’s persistent search functionality. You set up a search term to be run against a number of search engines and you get a daily dose of new content/results against the search. If your company is in the news a lot it’s a good way to keep up with who’s referencing you and in what way.
- Corporate Wiki
I receive a list at the start of each day for all new wiki pages. Sometimes I will spot something which makes me reach out to the author to either collaborate or to just say hi. It’s also amazing how much info you take in without knowing it. You can be sitting in a meeting and someone will mention system ‘xyz’ and you’ll know there’s already some information available in the wiki.
- Corporate Blogs & Podcasts
There’s not a large number of blog and podcast creators at the company I work for, but for the ones which do exist I subscribe to them with the Attensa Outlook plugin.
- Tags from Delicious
If you browse to http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/ and then the your tag, you expose the RSS feed for the particular tag. This is great because it means I receive a daily stream of new content tagged with ‘Enterprise 2.0’ etc. You could try it out for your company name….. could be interesting as a market intelligence source (coupled with persistent searching).
- RSS Mash-ups/feedbot
I use http://www.mysyndicaat.com to mash a number of different RSS feeds into one super feed. For example I’ve created an RSS ‘feedbot’ in MySyndicaat for a number of tags within delicious and technorati I am keeping an eye on. Normally you would need to add a feed into your reader for each tag you are watching, but with MySyndicaat you can mash them all together into a feedbot. If you want to you can also opt for username and password authentication to your feedbot .
- RSS Live News Feeds at point of Operation
Another team here are using an RSS feed from a certain taxonomy (smart filter) to feed content directly to engineers building desktops and servers at the build screen. The build screen has a news pane displaying content from the RSS feed notifying engineers of issues, developments, things to look out for or to alert them to new versions of software etc.
So all this information is available to me on a daily basis, without me looking for it. Nice. If nothing else, knowledge management and market intelligence professionals should get switched on to RSS.
Of course this is just scratching the surface of RSS use, and it’s not really specific to usage just within the enterprise. However as application builders and content providers add RSS support into their apps, we’ll see a whole bunch of new tools and uses for RSS. Widgets are set to be the big thing this year, and with good reason. We’re currently looking at how we can expose more corporate (user selected) content in a user friendly way by using funky desktop widgets.