RSS can boost collaboration

Blogging technology has a real potential to help you earn your next bonus

Blogs, blogs, bloggity blog blog. In the midst of your daily IT grind, the constant blog babble may sound tedious. But while they are the latest way for employees to waste time using IT resources, blogging technology also has real potential to help you earn your next bonus. Yeah, I'm talking about RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. Just don't look at it as a silver bullet.

Microsoft's SharePoint push has made team-style collaboration a hot buzzword in Windows IT shops -- mainly because Redmond's made it so easy. Grab a template, add some team-specific content, spend a little time handling permissions and you can have a fairly sophisticated internal collaboration site up and running in hours rather than weeks. You can even open it up to specific users outside the firewall.

That's powerful stuff no matter how you slice it and certainly a competitor or collaborator to the Wiki wave flowing over the rest of the Web. But while RSS certainly fits into this mold, collaboration really isn't where we're looking to use RSS. Frankly, I'm all collaborated out.

My users are swimming in new ways to talk to each other, e-mail each other, join message threads with each other; IM each other, edit documents together, present each other with new electronic forms and a host of other stuff. Conference rooms are getting cobwebs and users are seeking therapy due to lack of human contact. It's even cutting down on in-office hanky panky. What's the world coming to?

So tossing RSS feeds at them as another way to communicate in a general sense really isn't high on my list of things to do. Using RSS as a way to distribute highly targeted information, on the other hand, is sexy. It's just not as easy as setting up a SharePoint site.

As usual, let's take an example from the real estate world. Our application feeds new inventory to agents: empty apartments each with its own status (empty, showing, empty but not showing, etc.). Informing users of these changes can be done via the usual Web-based console and some database query work on the back. No muss, no major fuss. So what's RSS get you?

Portability and ease of use. I'm using Outlook 2007 Beta right now and it has an RSS reader and filter built-in. Thunderbird and other e-mail readers are following suit. That means that e-mail clients will be able to act reliably as RSS aggregators in the next six months. And that means I can push RSS content to anything that can run an e-mail program. For those hustling bustling New York real estate agents, that means PDAs and smartphones. Combine that with new inventory updates and suddenly I'm allowing a lot of agents to stay on top of new sales opportunities as easily as they might get the latest gadget toy update from Engadget.

Without RSS, I'd have to develop a handheld-centric version of the app's UI -- possibly for multiple devices. With RSS, I can piggyback off of existing applications. Let other vendors do a big chunk of the job for me and still look like a genius. But before you try the same thing, remember the particulars. I'm talking as a software developer. I've got programmers in-house who can take care of the back-end stuff -- because that still needs attention. RSS is really just a better way to sort and deliver information on the front-side.

So for you CIOs looking to point RSS at a specific business process, by all means, that's a project worth chasing; but if you're expecting it to be plug and play, you're out of luck. You'll still need to integrate existing back-end business resources into your RSS delivery engine and that still requires all the usual goodies: SQL queries, permissioning, maintenance, the works. RSS feeds have great potential as in-house information delivery engines, but right now they're optimized only for the front. Behind the pretty Windows, that's still our problem, so plan right and you'll be happy.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Oliver Rist

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?