We all know about the difficulties implementing social networking in hospitals. The security concerns, the blocks, the tight firewalls. We have hospitals in our consortium that block access to Facebook, MySpace, Blogger (most commercial Blog programs including WordPress), You Tube, etc etc etc.
Two almost simulataneous events have illustrated yet again the difficulties of implementing a lot of “new” (or even not so new) technologies within a hospital environment. UNC Hospitals are in the process of blocking any streaming video that doesn’t live on a university server and/or that would require a user to download a browser plugin. They are also blocking most commercial email access including Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. The video streaming issue is raising questions within the Health Sciences Library because the library has recently purchased some products specifically for the hospital that include streaming video elements (Bates Physical Exam for example). Library staff are currently negotiating (or troubleshooting) access to these resources for within hospital use.
Meanwhile another one of our big consortial member hospitals discovered today that a new malware screening software that they had implemented was blocking access to Ovid, and Ebsco’s Cinahl. Oddly enough access to other Ebsco resources wasn’t blocked (go figure). Eventually the hospital library staff were able to work with their systems department to get Ovid and Ebsco “whitelisted”. The screening software company said these had been flagged because of a history of malware coming from those URLs (as it turns out it was actually the result of some screening algorithm that as it turns out is highly proprietary). The good news is that the host site can overide the automatic blocks. The bad news is that the blocks aren’t discovered until someone encounters them. The funny thing was that our digital library’s proxy server was also blocked. Trust me, there is no malware … virus … or anything hinky attached to our proxy server. The campus really keeps on top of that sort of stuff. Anytype of mischief and the proxy server gets put into a penalty box. The other oddity was that our main campus proxy server which gets used by UNC affiliates at that hospital wasn’t black listed by the malware program. Ah the joys of keeping one step ahead of (or behind) hospital security.
In a recent article about the Internet Turning 40 (“As Internet turns 40, barriers threaten its growth” ANICK JESDANUN, AP, August 30 2009, accessed 9/9/2009), highlights of increasing barriers to ongoing growth of a nature not seen in its original development.
Simply put, firewalls are designed to block incoming connections, making direct interactions between users challenging, if not impossible.
No one’s suggesting the removal of all barriers, of course. Security firewalls and spam filters became crucial as the Internet grew and attracted malicious behavior, much as traffic lights eventually had to be erected as cars flooded the roads. Removing those barriers could create larger problems.
As the Internet turns 40 … it will be interesting to see how hospitals adapt to these not so new technologies. It sometimes seems like working in a hospital IT environment is an entirely different universe. While the rest of the IT universe is jumping on the Cloud Computing bandwagon we seem to be going backwards in some hospital settings…. losing access to resources that once upon a time seemed ubiquitous.
I read an article in the Portland Business Journal Online by Terry Brock, “Social networking is about people, not technology,” (accessed 8/4/2009). This piece describes relationship marketing as listening, “to what others are saying and then provide that for them.” In otherwords, the importance of the technology is in how it provides the mechanism for doing the listening. There were a couple of things about this story that provoked thought. The first was that despite the stated point of the article to sort of define relationship marketing about needing to listen to the customer, the biggest illustration in the article was an example about a United airline customer with a baggage claim issue. The person with the issue was in a band, made a You Tube video of the experience. It became wildly popular and guess what resulted from United? The illustration had nothing to do with marketing; it had to do with customer service. It did, however, illustrate the power of the consumer to harness technology to create a public forum for a whole host of consumer complaints.
The second thing that I’m still pondering is, are we as librarians, still stuck in the world of push marketing? I somehow thing that we are. I could be wrong and I would love to hear from librarians who are working on relationship marketing (of course we prefer to call it outreach or even better community engagement). Most of the conversations I’m having about marketing (outreach) are still about using technology to send word to broad groups of people. Of course (and I hate to brandy the stereotypes) librarians aren’t entirely comfortable with the notion of marekting much less harvesting what we gather about our users (through technology) to target marketing towards the most appropriate audience.
Interaction seems to be the new marketing buzz word. And here is the good news….librarians are typically good at interacting with our customers. We know how to conduct reference interviews. We are also good at doing research, as Terry Brooks says, “find where people are hurting. Then craft unique, helpful tools for them. There’s no magic here and nothing new, but this is the way to succeed.”
There was a related article also by Terry Brooks in the same journal entitled, “Relationship marketing and the ‘little things“. In this article he discusses how its the little things that can shape a discussion. He provides an example about the health care policy often focuses on individual personal stories. He says, “in the current debate on health care, listen to how many arguments are based on personal examples. In the macro scheme, what happened to one person really shouldn’t affect overall policy. Yet, what happened to one person who was denied health care for lack of insurance strongly affects the way a person believes.” Relationship marketing is about harnessing the power of the micro stories. Its about reacting and relating to these personal stories. He goes on to relate this to the world of marketing and customer service saying, “We can do almost everything right in our interaction with and association with customers. Yet, if they have one, tiny little thing go wrong — a thing that is important to them — they will deride you and say bad things. They’ll go on and on about the one thing they didn’t like rather than citing all the things that went right.”
Social networking not only provides a mechanism for the customers to vocally react to their perceptions of service interactions. The stakes seem so much higher for those of us working in the service industry. To help deal with these issues, Terry Brooks lays out some guidelines.
. 1. Relationship Marketing Is Not Always Logical. It is about emotions and how people feel. Do whatever you can within reason to make them happy….
2. Put Systems In Place To Quickly Correct Minor Problems…
3. Ask Your Customers And Take Good Notes To Share With Your People. This goes beyond asking them to fill out a form. Talk with them. Pick up the phone and chat. Don’t rely on email, or social networking tools alone to find out what they thought. As you probe into their desires and needs related to your product or service you’ll reap a bountiful treasure trove of information that can help you become more profitable.
(Terry Books, “Relationship Marketing and the Little Things”)
What I love about number 3 is that it emphasizes talking to people. He specifically precludes using email or social networking tools. Cool!!
I strongly suggest reading these articles. I’m still pondering how to embrace relationship marketing. In the age where many of the social networking tools are becoming a distaction. I say this not because I think social networking is a bad thing, but because in many cases it has become an end rather than a means. Although the original article caught my eye because it used the word social networking and it emphasized something that I think is important. The relationships over the technology. No matter what the context (marketing, customer service, or whatever) we need to remember that it is indeed about the relationships and not the technology
The Place of the Blog… Its All a Matter of Perspective
We maintain a blog for our librarians (I think its been up for several years now) and have been having some conversations about how to really push communication from email listservs onto the blog. From where I live & work daily blogs are still cutting edge and sort of on the forefront of what would appear in our small world to be something that is still in an early adaptive phase. It was with great interest then that I read Meredith Farkas’s posting on her Information Wants to Be Free Blog about microblogging supplanting blogging. Well that is really a gross over simplification of one quote where she says, “Microblogging, what have you done to my beloved medium??? ”
It was quite interesting to mentally compare these 2 perspectives. I had this no duh realization…. that our perspectives about technology are shaped by the universe in which we operate. Its a contiuum … Ok so I always knew this, but the juxtaposition between these 2 perspectives: bemoaning the end of the blog on the one hand and trying to introduce blog adoption on the other really brought this notion into clear focus in my brain.
The New Grey Literature
For those of us working for the state of North Carolina (and probably other public institutions as well); we are well aware of the recent issues between the Raleigh News & Observer and the Executive Branch over email retention. The N&O was arguing that email retention rules must be the same as old paper retention rules. I often thought that they were sort of missing the point that in many instances email wasn’t an online version of something print but rather was a substitution for an oral communication. I don’t think we can just take print retention rules and apply them to all things online.
On the other hand as I have been pouring over some of my grandmothers old journals I sort of wonder what future generations will be able to read about our lives. It was in this context that I read Marcus Banks recent blog posting on Open Access, Grey Literature, Grey Data. He raises excellent issues about the archiving of the new grey literature of tweets and Facebook postings. I think its not a clear cut technical issue (like how do we archive these things). The real difficult questions for me lie along the lines of when are tweets and Facebook postings a substitution for what at one time would have been an oral communication and when are they in place of what at one time would have been a more substantive a permament written communication. For those of us in the public sector these are actually very important questions because the decisions we make about which medium we choose to communicate (including picking up the phone vs. sending an email) might be influenced by understanding about pubic access laws, historical archival policies, and other policy matters.