Finding the enterprise RSS trigger

rss Marshall Kirkpatrick writes a very interesting post at ReadWriteWeb entitled “RIP Enterprise RSS.” The essence of his argument is that demand for RSS simply never arose and that the market is over.

I’m in the UK and largely agree with Marshall’s view that enterprise RSS has died although I suggest that an actual birth never really happened, or certainly hasn’t yet, even after universal adoption of the symbol you see here (and which does have a high recognition factor in my experience).

What is RSS? you may be asking. You could read the Wikipedia definition; here are the first couple of sentences:

RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

That’s probably as clear as mud to most people. Here’s a much better way to understand it – RSS in Plain English produced in April 2007 by Lee LeFever:

I do a great deal of training and awareness-raising of social media as part of the communication mix. Thinking back over the past year and the workshops, conferences and other events I’ve spoken at in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, as well as the internal corporate workshops I’ve delivered, I’d say that even base awareness of what RSS is and what it enables people to do is still a minority view.

And even then, use of RSS in the workplace is piecemeal with very few (read: hardly any) organizations with any kind of tactic let alone strategy that includes the use of RSS as a tool to improve productivity, enhance communication and facilitate knowledge- and information-sharing.

What would make RSS grab attention within the enterprise? Heh, if I knew the exact answer, I’d be sitting back and picking up those royalties!

What I tend to focus on is helping the people I talk to – organizational communicators largely: people involved in PR, marketing, employee communication, etc – understand the benefits of their using RSS as a time-saver and listening tool.

You can see people getting their ‘light bulb moments’ when you illustrate the simple example of getting content from their ten favourite websites automatically delivered to them rather than having to visit those ten sites individually to see if there’s anything new.

Indeed, here are just three examples of the real value you can get from RSS that I’ve recently written about in this blog:

You can find more in the RSS category. And if you want to get some terrific tips and tricks on getting the most from RSS, take a look at Steve Rubel’s many posts on the subject.

In his post, Marshall argues that one of the showstoppers to greater take-up with RSS in the workplace is the tools themselves, the RSS readers and aggregators that aren’t ‘enterprise class.’

I certainly do agree with him in his view that an email program is no place for RSS feeds although I’m not so sure that tools like Google Reader aren’t up to scratch in the workplace.

I use FeedDemon, which in my opinion is simply the best tool for RSS on computers that run Windows (try NetNewsWire if you run a Mac).

FeedDemon (and NetNewsWire) is owned by NewsGator, one of three RSS companies that come in for some criticism by Marshall in his post (and who do produce enterprise-specific RSS apps).

Be that as it may, the fact is that RSS has not captured corporate imaginations. What do you think will be the trigger, the tipping point if you like, that will make decision-makers within corporations sit up and take notice?

Leave a comment here, or head on over to Marshall’s post and join the conversation there.

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.