Activity Streams Are Not the Killer App

By Christian Buckley posted 03-27-2012 16:54


Expert blogger David Lavenda wrote an interesting piece for the Fast Company blog which essentially paints activity streams as the email-killer. While Twitter provides a sort if activity stream, better examples are Facebook, Yammer, and SharePoint My Sites, among others.


Activity streams, or, as Lavenda describes them -- syndicated update -- do provide a much more effective method for the broadcasting of information than email. However, he also points out the limitations of this method, requiring filtering of groups. Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, while providing some degree of filtering of messages received and of those sent. But this is both inefficient and still does not replace the need for private communication that email provides.


While Lavenda writes a fun article, and I am looking forward to his next post where he explores ideas of how activity streams should be extended to meet the needs of the enterprise, I think his article has one fatal flaw: the idea that there is a "killer app."


Email is not going away. Activity streams will not displace it. Instant messaging in all of its variations (real-time, instant communications, presence awareness, stand-alone app or integrated into a product) will remain prevalent. Live video using Lync, Skype, LiveMeeting, WebEx, GoToMeeting and others will increase their footprint. No, activity streams are not going to be the killer app because there is no single solution to meet our ever-increasing connectivity needs.


The way we work and connect and create has changed dramatically over the past 15 to 20 years, back when the idea that a single tool could change everything. The reality now is that information workers demand multiple ways to connect. While I do agree that activity streams will take a larger piece of our mindshare over the next few years, expanded to collect data from any transactional system we connect with to show an even more accurate picture of what we do during the day (from a business perspective, mainly), allowing others to comment, rate, Like, search, and connect with those activities -- all of which will lead to even more possibilities with search and data analysis.


If there is any kind of killer app in the next few years, my bet is in the area of business intelligence -- to filter through and organize all of this new data being created. 

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