Mobile Lurking Through The Holidays

|   Jan 20, 2011

There is no doubt that the modern day knowledge worker’s level of connectivity has skyrocketed thanks to mobile devices like smart phones and the iPad. These advances allow us to stay on top of all things work from the time we first wake up to the moment we fall asleep at night, leading to the increasing blur between personal and work time. In a recent study, iPass found that the average workday for today’s worker using a mobile device is more than 10% longer than the average workday as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008. Therefore, mobile devices have proven to be a wise investment as more hours worked mean higher productivity levels for the company. In a second study done by Xobni, research showed that 59% of Americans checked work email while on vacation. As enterprise social networks start becoming the primary way we communicate in the workplace, it makes sense to look at their usage during non-working days as well. Are employees visiting their enterprise social networks while on vacation? And if so, what role are mobile devices playing in these trends?

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Mobile Lurking Through The Holidays

Through analyzing various active Socialcast communities, we found that over 50% of typical active users visited during vacation. While we don’t know what days these users were on vacation, it is fairly reasonable to believe that knowledge workers were not in the office on national holidays like December 25 and January 1 (especially since they were both Saturdays). We found that 52% of our regular users visited on Christmas, while 51% of our regular users visited on New Years Day. Comparing these results to those of Xobni, we find that they are not far off the 59% of workers checking email statistic. While these numbers reflect the average community, it is worth noting that early adopter communities that have fully embraced technology have a much higher percent of regular users visiting on holidays. For example, 85% of GigaOm’s* regular visitors visited on Christmas day.

Given that many people take vacation between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, yet more than 50% of regular users are visiting their communities on holidays, it’s not surprising that more people visit via mobile devices. During these key nine days, the percent of users connected to their community via only mobile devices (smart phones and iPads) increased by 5 percentage points on average. Some key days had much higher results. For example, Christmas Eve showed results 11 percentage points above the average, and on New Year’s Eve, these rates increased to 10 percentage points above the average Friday. While causality is hard to prove, we can easily associate the rise of mobile device usage to the rise of connectivity.

Not only can users be classified on how they connect to their network, but also by their activity within the network. Anyone who creates a message, comment or likes something in their network is classified as a contributor, while those that don’t post are considered lurkers. In the 6 weeks leading up the week of Christmas, about 24% of daily visitors were posting in their community on a typical weekday and 12% posted on average on Saturday and Sunday. Over the holiday period, these numbers dropped on average by 7 percentage points, meaning that more people were lurking and just checking on updates in their networks rather than contributing. This trend is probably the same with email in that employees on vacation are not creating new emails, but rather just checking to ensure nothing urgent gets missed while they are on holiday.

The fact that users of enterprise social networks are visiting their communities over vacation proves that this form of communication has become vital in the workplace. Today’s knowledge worker is expected to stay connected, and enterprise social networks not only allow them to stay on top of direct communication (like email), but also allow them to stay informed of larger trends in their network (indirect communication). Mobile devices and applications will continue to increase levels of connectivity and productivity, and thus the optimization of these applications will be necessary.

*Disclosure: Giga Omni Media is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is also an investor of Socialcast. Om Malik, a board member of Socialcast is also a venture partner at True and the founder of Giga Omni Media.

Sources: iPass Year End Review and 2011 predictions – http://bit.ly/gyKp16 | Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Averages | IDC – http://bit.ly/huojt5 | Xobni – http://bit.ly/fgoeEj

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Author Spotlight

Cameran Evans
Cameran Evans Chief Data Scientist View full bio

What is Socialcast?

Socialcast by VMware (NYSE: VMW) is a social network for business uniting people, information, and applications with its real-time enterprise activity stream engine. Behind the firewall or in the cloud, Socialcast enables instant collaboration in a secure environment. Socialcast is headquartered in San Francisco, California. www.socialcast.com