Activity Streams are the New Information Cortex: 4 Examples [Infographic]

I’ve written a lot about activity streams over the past few years. Yesterday I, reported the news about Strides, the new service from VMware’s Socialcast that combines activity streams with task management. Strides shows tasks and the activity stream in a two-pane window, for group or individual conversations.

This is new, something you would rarely see a year ago. But now, activity streams are more accepted and serving as a layer for enhancing legacy technology; a core components of new apps and as a way to bring more fluidity to processes that have traditionally been splintered across different applications.

The Information Cortex

An activity stream is popular for the rewards it provides. It represents what could arguably be described as an “information cortex.” It is the information transmitted in an activity stream that can be “as rewarding as primal, biological rewards, such as calories and sex.” We want more, just as we crave food and other earthly pleasures. In our brain, the “same neurons that process the primitive physical rewards of food and water also signal the more abstract mental rewards of information.”

The four examples here may seem bland but they all provide users with an immediate reward. For example, with Strides, you immediately see the progress on a task and the conversation that goes with it. Each of these relies on our insatiable desire for more information.

Salesforce.com ChatterAt Dreamforce, Salesforce.com announced four new components to its activity stream service. Of particular interest is this nugget about how the company is integrating Chatter into human resources.

Chatter Approvals: With Chatter Approvals, users will be able to take action on any approval process from directly within their Chatter feed. Sales discounts, hiring decisions, vacation requests and more can all be approved without having to leave Chatter. Approval processes will now have context, including comments and documents, to help increase productivity and help users make informed decisions.

Businesses like to hear about better productivity. That productivity is the direct result of the immediate nature of activity streams and the way they speed up how people use other applications, too. The quick cadence and interactions make the activity streams something human truly enjoy. Information is its own reward.

Yammer made its own announcement before the Dreamforce conference. Yammer for Salesforce.com allows people to use the microblogging service from within the Salesforce.com CRM environment.

Notice how Yammer marketed the service as “friends with benefits.” Yes, activity streams offer all kinds of opportunities that are both immediate and exciting. Just like the excitement that comes with the offer for a free cup of coffee.

Qontext is a microblogging service definitely targeted for the enterprise. It recently announced a new version of its NetSuite integration, adding support for users to follow activity around NetSuite records of any record type. Again, response is immediate.

Tibbr may be the most interesting service I’ve seen. In June it announced tibbr 3.0. Cloud Ave. detailed its new features:

  • tibbrAnalytics: Social Media monitoring for your enterprise, and your employees
  • Unified Communications: voicemail on your wall, HD video conferencing, screen sharing
  • The ability to act on Activity Streams: call it oldfashioned portal, but when you do one of the events out of your streams and decide to act on it, it’s only one click away and inside tibbr
  • After integrating SAP, Oracle and Salesforce.com, among others, Sharepoint is next: of course that bi-directional and once again tibco shows their cleverness: you can integrate Sharepoint into tibbr but also vice-versa, with the Sharepoint tibbr widget
  • tibbrCommunities. The biggest bang for your buck: tibbr integrates entire social platforms and networks. I haven’t heard any names yet but will surely chase those

All of these uses give results that feed its participants through rewards.

Services Angle

For context, I am posting an infographic from just a year ago that sought to explain microblogging and how to adopt it inside a company.

I don’t know – microblogging is as basic as it gets. You post a message and people respond or they don’t.

Last year, the complexity arose when companies began using activity strams but soon discovered that in itself the application was fairly primitive.

To integrate microblogging into other applications became a task in itself. Still, people were not going to give up on activity streams. They were hooked.

Today, the feature sets are building out. Microblogging is the new information cortex.

Which goes to show that perhaps the enterprise is really sexy after all.

About Alex Williams

Alex Williams is an editor for SiliconAngle and lives a charmed life in Portland, Or.