Emerging Technology

Wiki wonders… Fingering time bandits… Problem solving… Coffee makers

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Working the wiki

Teamwork in business increasingly means working with a wiki, reports The Age. Wiki (Hawaiian for quick) is a sophisticated intranet that enables everybody working on a project to collaborate on projects and documents. IBM says it has about 20,000 wikis in use and is working with organisations in retail, communications, travel, government, banking and financial services to evaluate and use wiki technology in their business operations and for use by customers.

Users say a major advantage with a wiki is that as information is updated constantly and you always have the most recent copy of a document or project brief. Wikis can be used for mash-ups, whereby relevant and interesting information is dropped into a page for collaborative access. There is a range of proprietary software that allows for basic wikis and add-ons, some of which is produced in Australia.

Some companies say that once employees are familiar with wiki technology, productivity goes up.

Keeping a digital watch on staff

Ever suspect your employees are fudging their timesheets by clocking in for one another? A new biotechnology tool from VeriTask Software in the United States can help ensure employees are recording and reporting their hours with absolute accuracy, reports Inc.com.

The Biometric Time Clock verifies an employee’s identity through their fingerprint. As employees enter and leave the workplace, they check in using a fingerprint scanner, which keeps a precise record of the time. The system can be upgraded to manage a virtually unlimited number of employees, while attendance data can be easily exported to QuickBooks or Microsoft Excel.

The professional version of the Biometric Employee Time Clock, which includes a fingerprint reader and software to manage up to 50 employees, costs $US399. An enterprise version, which can manage up to 100 employees, costs $US699.

Bring me your problems

One of the more counter-productive things a manager can say is: “Don’t bring me problems, bring me your solutions!” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Researchers at Harvard Business School reckon that such an approach might sound empowering for staff but it likely to lead to employees ignoring problems they see but don’t know how to fix.

Finding problems is often done solo but solving them may require a team effort. Unless employees come forward, their issues could fester. That’s not to say whingeing is useful, either! But companies need to find another way to discourage whining. The research concludes that performance lags in an environment where employees don’t feel it is safe to point out problems.

Choice top coffee machines

There’s no better way to show your staff you care than by getting a good coffee machine for the office. But which one to get? Choice’s coffee experts rate these are the top four:

Magimix L’Expresso Program Automatic 11233 (RRP $499): Was top of the pops taste-wise, good for frothing milk and easy to use. Semi-automatic operations are good for the non-technical among us.

Sunbeam Café Latte EM5600 (RRP $299): As good as the Magimix on the flavour front, just wasn’t quite as good at keeping the cups coming at a consistent temperature. On the other hand, what’s a bit of temperature variability when you can save $200? Choice rates this the best buy.

Delonghi Le Cube EN185.5M + Aeroccino (RRP $449): This machine only uses Nespresso capsules – a bit more expensive than coffee, but quick and easy to use. Not quite as good as the top two in terms of taste, but is right up there in terms of ease of use and coffee temperature consistency. Looks cool, too.

ECM Botticelli II (RRP $995): This manual model is easy to use and great at milk frothing, but fell behind the others in the crucial taste test. Perhaps more importantly, the Botticelli comes in at an impressively expensive $1000. Phew.

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