Saturday, December 09, 2006

Orkut and employee productivity

I’m sure all orkut fans will fume over me on this post. But what I’m going to tell is bare truth which we need to accept.

Of late, internet search major Google’s initiatives are driving people crazy. After becoming an acronym for online searching, Google has come up with several other initiatives such as gmail, adsense program, Google earth among others. The highly innovative minds at Google Labs deserve credit for all these. But one such utility, called orkut has become an addiction for most of the net users.

For the uninitiated few (if any) orkut is a community site supported by Google where individuals are provided with highly user friendly utilities to share their views, meet other people, make friends and indulge in other such social activities, virtually.

There’s absolutely no complaints about the website or the concept behind it. The technological superiority of Google products are almost unrivaled in industry. But the problem comes where people fail to draw a line. Among the younger generation, already addicted to internet, cell phones and other electronic/technical gadgets are wasting a lot of their quality time on orkut while they should have used their time for more productive purposes.

Consider these:

1. Most of the software engineers begin their day with checking orkut scrap book, open their company mailbox only after responding to all scraps.

2. Several personal and official information is publicly shared in orkut, which can be easily misused.

3. Many orkut users get into an unnecessary craze of accumulating maximum number of friends/scraps/fans etc.

4. People sitting in side by side cubicles in a same company use orkut to communicate, instead of some inter company messengers.

5. The average time spent by an employee on internet for personal work is on the increase, which, almost invariably involves orkut.

6. Unlike chat, orkut doesn’t facilitate an instant reply(I mean if people take time to read their scrap and respond). People take more time to respond to a scrap than an Instant Messenger Chat. So the waiting period for reply is more.

As the number of users and community increases, the quality of content falls rapidly. Out of 500+ friends one may have in orkut, how many does he know personally, how many names he’s able to recall and with how many people he’s in active contact? Believe me, that’ll be less than 10% of his number of friends. Most of the other conversations often end in “hi I’m fine you’re fine? bye” types. Most of the communities add no value and usually contain some useless topics like “Guys add 2, Gals subtract 2 we’ll see who wins

There’s no validation mechanism. Anyone can create fake profile in any name and cheat people. Those who wouldn’t have dared doing lots of things in real life, explore their fantasies in orkut under false identity.

While orkut is really great when it comes to finding lost friends, making new friends, and sharing information, I seriously do not see the need for being online in orkut on a 24 by 7 basis. The effort wasted in time pass activities nullifies any good orkut might have done.

On a whole, from a managerial perspective, employee productivity goes down if they’re given unrestricted access to net. But at the same time, will preventing an employee from accessing net increase productivity? Not necessarily. Though most of the companies have started imposing restrictions on internet usage in general and orkut in particular, people find some work around or vent their disappointment in some other way, as a result of which the main purpose behind blocking these sites go for a toss.

The better option would be to increase employee awareness. What stands between right and wrong is an individual’s consciousness, thought and ability to differentiate between what’s right and what’s wrong. Address this and it should let them draw a line themselves.
Some of the Google's initiatives have succeeded in making rival companies like yahoo and Microsoft shiver, other initiatives have drawn Google to court (Google Earth for revealing sensitive establishments and orkut for anti India communities). The fault is not with the product as such, just that people who use/misuse/over use may create trouble. Orkut was ad free when it started but now Google has started minting money by placing text ads (that's the only revenue model Google has, so all Google products invariably need to carry ads to make money)
Sincere apologies if I've offended any orkut fans.

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Anand Inside said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

yeah man. i was one of the addicts and i'm pondering over ur views now.

Vasudevan Deepak Kumar said...

Two hundred per cent true. Orkut is more a bane than a boon. It presents a steep decline of employee productivity in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

I just have one more thing to add, even the technology behind Orkut isn't great. It arose out of a personal project from an employee and is actually written in C#. Last year, they were trying to port the system to a Java based one. And judging by the timeouts you experience while making some requests, you can realize that the transition isn't going so smoothly. Anyways they are not the first ones to think about social networking sites, there are many precedents which everyone is aware of. Similar is the case with other Google branded technologies.

Google Earth which you have mentioned is from Keyhole, a company Google bought. Google happens to be current hype du jour.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear Vasudevan,
Thanks for your words

Dear Anonymus:
Thanks for those valuable informations. I had not done enough investigations on the matters you have mentioned...

Thanks again