Enterprise social networking applications are top of mind for everyone from CEOs and Presidents on down, and managers are watching to see how they take off.
April Slayden Mitchell is a member of the Services and Solutions Research Lab in HP Labs, Palo Alto. She’s a senior research engineer with user experience expertise. She has come to HP Discover to present an HP Labs project in the enterprise social networking space called Compass. We caught up with her at the HP Labs Pavilion. These are edited excerpts of the interview we conducted with April.
Q: Tell us about HP Labs Compass, how it works and its value proposition?
Slayden Mitchell: HP Labs Compass is a cloud service that we’re running on top of our HP Labs knowledge harvest and discovery ecosystem. The essential value comes from the fact that we harvest information that already exists within the enterprise. We can launch services on top of this platform that allow you to deliver value to users on day one. Often when you start to use a new tool you have to create your profile, you have to upload your picture, you have to say what you’re interested in, and you have to really begin interacting with it before you can get value out of it.
For HP Labs Compass, we crawl information that already exists within the enterprise. We leverage the knowledge of who you work with and the information that you’ve contributed in the past -- maybe it’s a tech report that you published, a PowerPoint that you shared, or a SharePoint that you manage. All of that information tells us something about you. We use this information to make recommendations for you revealed through the HP Labs Compass cloud service. It’s a cloud service that you can use to interact with both people and information within your organization. HP Labs Compass is also mobile as we have both iOS and Android mobile applications.
Q: What are the direct benefits of the service for a typical enterprise employee?
Slayden Mitchell: Right off the bat users will utilize the service because it gives you the ability to easily share content within the enterprise. It's a simple tool to easily share slides. Instead of sending you a deck via email, I can drag and drop it on the HP Labs Compass website. You get a custom URL that you can then send to someone via email instead of attaching this really big PowerPoint file. By following the URL, you can consume the content right on the page (flip through the slides, watch the video, browse the pdf), and you can also see who else within your organization has commented on it. But, the real hook is that the content you share is automatically analyzing and Compass can reveal to you who else within your organization is working in that area. Compass also reveals other information assets that are related to the content you are vieweing such as another presentation or a news article on the related area. And, these recommendations are personalized based on the content being viewed as well as the person viewing it. This makes our service valuable not only for the person who’s viewing it, but for the contributor as well. You'll find you begin to have those "aha!" moments when you think, "I didn't realize <my colleague> was working on this!"
Compass also brings the value of socially curated content to the enterprise. Through Compass, you can create collections of people and assets. As the curator of a collection, I would name it, add a PowerPoint, perhaps a related document and a link to a recent news article about the topic. Then, I could add the three people that I’m working with on the project as well as a URL to our website. Now, by viewing this collection, you have a much more rich view of this information and the context. You may follow that collection to get regular updates on new items or comments. Or, you may just be interested in the PowerPoint that I included, so you can add it to your own collection. This gives others more context on why a particular asset is valuable to you and it spreads awareness of the contribution to your colleagues within your organization.
Collection information is transfered back into our knowledge harvesting and discovery ecosystem, so that it can immediately influence your interests and the recommendations that Compass reveals to you.
Q: Tell us about the broader team and contributors involved in the project.
Slayden Mitchell: This is work being done by a global team of researchers from across HP Labs including team members in Palo Alto, Bristol, Haifa, Bangalore, and Guadalajara. For Compass, we have leveraged core technology assets including analytics, harvesting capabilities, and user experience innovations from across HP Labs. Our goal is to deliver value to users on day one and provide them with tools to discover people and information within their own enterprise through a simple and collaborative cloud service.