HP Misses Opportunity With Watercooler — Organizations Need To Embrace And Foster Groundswell Technologies

Updated: December 13, 2010

Michael Brzozowski, the creator of Watercooler, the internal social media system for HP, recently left HP for Google.

Talents move around all the time, especially in the bay area where the industry is rife with interesting opportunities. However, in this case, the departure of Mr. Brzozowski has put the fate of the Watercooler system in question.

To understand why this is worth blogging, we need to first understand what the Watercooler system is about. Many of you may not know this, but Watercooler is a social media system that currently has 100,000 users! Brzozowski originally started Watercooler aggregate RSS feeds from across the company. Over time, it has morphed into a social media aggregation platform that aggregates content from  HP’s internal wikis, microblogs, various discussion forums, and social bookmarks. The system has a documented set of open APIs and supports a powerful and expressive set of content filters across different social media systems. It is also integrated with HP’s user directories.   

Brzozowski wrote a nice paper on a study he conducted with Watercooler data. Published in Group 2009, the study revealed some interesting facts about social media usage inside HP. Perhaps one of the most concrete statistics arguing for the value of enterprise social networks to date, Brzozowski’s paper points out that 69% of all Watercooler blog users subscribe to content generated by someone outside their business unit. This kind of cross-company instant collaboration is a huge benefit as a social media system because it provides a user community.  

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