Yesterday I linked to one of my favorite recurring articles on CollegeHumor about how parents are hopelessly inept when it comes to current technology. Interestingly, this software company seems to be capitalizing on that as their new business model.
In trying to shift his company from an old-school ‘mainframe culture’ software company to a modern ‘software-as-a-service’ company, Burton instituted ‘Facebook Fridays’ in which he encouraged all employees to spend a few hours surfin’ the ‘book.
The goal, apparently, was to get people thinking younger while also improving inter-office communication and networking.
However, it wasn’t all roses getting people on board this idea. And as I’ll demonstrate, a CEO addicted to Facebook with too much free time on his hands, starts to get a little creepy.
The Fortune Magazine article profiling Burton explains how he doesn’t have a 100% addicted workforce yet:
Now 800 of the company’s 900 employees have Facebook accounts, and many use it actively. “It’s been a game-changer for us,” Burton says, “to go from an insular culture that doesn’t communicate much to a more collaborative culture.” Some employees still resist, like a few in France, for example, who worry about risks to their personal privacy.
Sacrebleu, how lame! Those Frenchies are all a bunch of worry warts. But 800 out of 900 is not bad at all. Try and get that many employees to wipe the toilet seat of urine sprinklings when they’re finished. Not an easy task. But how does Burton spend his days monitoring Facebook? Status updates, of course:
In addition, he says, “the status updates for people in Facebook give me a window into the company.” He takes out his Blackberry, calls up the Facebook application there, and starts reading status updates for various employees.
“Winding down and heading to the weekend,” writes the Germany country boss. Comments Burton: “It’s 10 p.m. there so I know he’s working hard.”
The guy who won the award for top telesales rep in the first quarter “is listening to the Roots.”
The head of all company sales writes that he “is heading home from Europe.” His profile photo shows him holding up a beer stein.
Dude, this guy is worse than an ex-girlfriend stalking your profile. Maybe this is just me, but the Facebook universe is very different from the working life universe. If I download a new FB program that lets me draw graffiti style cartoon penises on ‘my friends’ wall postings, should I be held accountable for that at work? Certainly not!
And if I want to post some pictures of me chillin’ on the street corner in my totally ordinary drag queen costume every Friday night, should I not have the right to do so without fear of repercussions at the office?
This is a slippery slope, my friends. However, I do commend Burton for his ingenuity in improving his software business. Serena Software is finally in the 21st century and it appears that their business has improved exponentially due to the “book of faces”. Look how cool their company website is now. Guys with cardboard boxes on their heads?! So edgy!
David Kirkpatrick, senior writer for Fortune, ended this profile piece by saying, “This once-modest tool for helping college kids hook up is starting to be used for more and more interesting things.“
And to that I ask, “Really? Is there anything more interesting than college kids “hooking up” like this?”
Fortune: How one CEO Facebooked his company, June 13, 2008