Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coming up: a (social) renaissance for Business Intelligence

I personally find the intersection between Business Intelligence and Collaboration / Web 2.0 as especially interesting, which I have discussed previously:

In the article "Future of BI: web 2.0, mashups and guided search", Danny Bradbury at silicon.com looks at the future of BI - and it looks as Business intelligence is due for a renaissance. Here are a few of the changes according to BI experts that Danny has inverviewed for his article:

Mashups - combining and enhancing data streams with web applications - will revolutionise BI interfaces, predicts Mark Whitehorn, founder of BI consulting firm Penguinsoft. "BI might say that a cluster of data is interesting but you can't visualise that unless you write a whole application for doing it," he says. "But if you send that to a mapping system, you can suddenly see why the BI software found that cluster interesting."

Combining mashups with collaborative technologies could make BI even more powerful. One person rarely makes decisions based on business intelligence data, points out says Richard Neale, director of CIO marketing at SAP. "Providing facilities for people to collaborate on the decision-making process will be an important feature of the BI environment," he says.

In addition to innovations in BI interfaces, there are some coming advances in the underlying analytic engines that crunch the data. Rob Rose, who directs the office of strategy in BI and performance management at IBM, says that analysing unstructured information will be a huge boon for BI users. "You just know that customer satisfaction information isn't in the customer database. It's probably in a call centre application, in a comments field somewhere, and the call centre personnel used all kinds of creative wording and abbreviations to capture those comments," he says. "Being able to parse lots of unstructured content and structure it according to 'buckets of relevance' is an important step to be able to then group, analyse, filter, explore and trend this information."

Friday, May 22, 2009

IDC: It's Time to Get Serious About Enterprise 2.0

Robert Mahowald, Research Director, IDC, discusses how organizations today are using innovative Enterprise 2.0 tools for more efficient business operations across the extended enterprise.


Found via @roundtrip on Twitter (Greg Lloyd, CEO Traction Software)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This week in links - week 21, 2009

I'm taking a few days off (from both work and blogging), so here is my set of links for this week:

No one (okay, almost no one) expects that buying a word processor can turn him into a great writer. Yet somehow it’s almost widely assumed that deploying tools labeled E2.0 would turn an organization into an E2.0 business. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite all the buzz, E2.0 is first of all a set of principles, not software bits. It is more about business practices and human behaviors than about features. Software with strong social computing capabilities makes it much easier to establish and maintain these practices, but it doesn’t create them on its own, nor does it sustain them.

Social technologies have enormous potential, but to make E2.0 more than a hotly debated buzzword, many players in the space have to shift focus from cool capabilities to critical business functions...//...All businesses have to deal with things like customer support, supply chain management, R&D and product distribution. Who makes all these things happen? People. Now, what E2.0 is all about? In essence, it’s about people connections, just like any of its 2.0 siblings. And with the right focus, any business function can benefit from better connections.
By putting minimal central control in place an enterprise can gain significant benefit from this simple technology, including improved knowledge capture, reduced time to build complex knowledge-based web sites, and increased collaboration. Although enterprise Wiki use requires a greater degree of centralized control than public Wikis, this need not impinge on the freedom to contribute that is the hallmark of a Wiki approach. The balance of power is different in an enterprise context, but fear of anarchy should not prohibit Wiki adoption.

Nevertheless, I predict that Wikis will disappear over the next 5 to 10 years. This is not because they will fail but precisely because they will succeed. The best technologies disappear from view because they become so common-place that nobody notices them. Wiki-style functionality will become embedded within other software – within portals, web design tools, word processors, and content management systems. Our children may not learn the word “Wiki,” but they will be surprised when we tell them that there was a time when you couldn’t just edit a web page to build the content collaboratively.
If you missed it, Lee wrote a great response to what (to be frank) was a pretty dumb post from Steve Gillmor about the death of RSS (again). I think the majority of people interested in this stuff understand that RSS is an essential part of the plumbing, but I think what Gillmor really missed was that just because he uses it one way that doesn't mean that's how everyone else wants to use it (a point central to Lee's argument) or will in fact end up using it as these social techologies continue to evolve and become more broadly adopted. The wonderful thing about RSS of course is that it doesn't matter how people access it - we have a common'ish enough protocol in RSS (and other standards) to help us join data, information and all these wonderful social tools together. Choice is great isn't it?


Our last presentation still doing strong at Slideshare

I decided to check up upon our presentation "Enterprise 2.0 - Efficient collaboration and knowledge exchange" is performing on Slideshare. It has now been three weeks since I uploaded it. It turns out that it comes in on 9th place on the list with the most popular presentations this month.

It actually performs even better in categories such as Embeds (#4), Favorites (#3), and Downloads (#4).


We're in really good company at the top together with folks like David Armano, Idris Mootee, and Jeremiah Owyang (5th most embedded).

Finding a common ground for ECM and Enterprise 2.0

Yesterday, I posted the following tweet on Twitter:
How would you describe the interface between #ECM and #Enterprise 2.0? Blurry?
In my mind, ECM and E2.0 are both about content and collaboration, but each discipline has a different emphasis. ECM puts emphasis on capturing, managing and delivering content, and collaboration is a key component in that process. Enterprise 2.0 puts emphasis on collaboration and knowledge exchange, where content is a key component.

I got two great replies to my tweet from Deb Louison Lavoy (@deb_lavoy):
#1 not blurry. content is the substrate and the product of work. collab, content, proj mgt are explicitly intertwined

#2 i think the goal is to marry process and collaboration in a way that makes both more effective
I totally agree with this.

However, it is my belief that we need a common ground to achieve this goal. The main challenge is to marry the Enterprise 2.0 and ECM disciplines (meaning the practitioners = the people).
Below is a first attempt to illustrate the need for a common ground.



It is just 20 minutes old and I haven't yet detailed my reasoning in text, so I'd be happy for some comments (replace E2.0 with collaboration and ECM with content, then you might be able to follow my thoughts better).

John Manchini (@jmancini77) also reminded us that AIIM has a survey out on this topic.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are you fooling yourself about Web 2.0 at work?

To get the real benefits of bringing web 2.0 to work, you need to understand social media. You need to understand why and how tools and technologies such as blogs, social networks, feeds and micro-blogs are used by people.

Setting up blogs and wikis in your organization without understanding the need to allow, enable and encourage such things as transparency, openness, sharing, informality, interactivity and visibility of people and their contributions will take you nowhere. You will just be fooling yourself - and everyone else for that sake.

Friday, May 15, 2009

This week in links - week 20, 2009

"Banks Prepare Web 2.0 Onslaught" by David Potterton:

Banks are getting ready to provide new interactive services that incorporate concepts of Web 2.0, including internal collaboration communities, external blogging, and online portals incorporating rich Internet applications (RIAs).

Yes, banks.

...many banks are already using Web 2.0 techniques to a significant extent behind their firewalls and with internal applications. In a recent survey we completed with 150 U.S. financial institutions, we found 25 percent of respondents were utilizing wikis internally; 20.7 percent were using internal blogs; and 16.7 percent were using some form of business/social networking.

All of these tools are starting to become vital, especially to large institutions where complex, geographically dispersed organizations have suffered from their size in terms of information sharing, collaboration, and efficiency.
"How to Collaborate More Efficiently: Tackling That Mountain of E-Mail" by Ross Mayfield:

The average number of corporate e-mails sent and received per person is expected to reach over 228 a day by 2010. Businesses lose $650 billion annually in productivity due to unnecessary e-mail interruptions. The problem is fundamental to what otherwise makes this technology great. The problem is largely behavioral, and new practices and technologies are emerging to solve it.

From a user's point of view, e-mail is what you could call a Push medium. Beyond your control, anyone can push an e-mail into your inbox at near-zero cost. By contrast, new Web 2.0 mediums emphasize Pull. You choose who or what you want to subscribe to, pull information to you when you want it, and unsubscribe when you want.

Ideally, we would use Push mediums for directed, private or time-sensitive communication, and use Pull for less formal, more public or less urgent communication. The point is, now there is a choice — so long as you can gain agreement on which to use for what and how to use it.
  • Tactic No. 1: Gain agreement on internal e-mail practices
  • Tactic No. 2: Move group e-mail to collaborative work spaces
  • Tactic No. 3: Establish public protocols when possible
  • Tactic No. 4: Reply to e-mail in public
  • Tactic No. 5: Leverage special purpose social software

"Managing demand for a social software environment" by Gia Lyons:

Client: “I’ve got 50,000 employees who want to use this social business software, like, yesterday. How do I get them onboarded in a positive, managed way? It’s impossible, right?”

Not impossible, but it does take some meticulous planning and lots of work to do it right, if my successful customers are any indication.

Here’s an approach that has worked for some of my clients.

  • Strategic People Collections - Identify one or two strategic collections of people and give them most of your love and attention.
  • Advocates - In parallel, spend lots of love and attention on identified advocates, regardless of where they sit in your organization.
  • Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers) - Finally, develop a “self serve” approach for everyone who has no patience to wait until you get to them. These are the “let me do it myself.

"Seven Ways To Cut Costs with Enterprise 2.0" by Social Computing News Desk:

Enterprise social computing makes sense even in a down market given the hard cost reductions associated with even a modest investment, reports NewsGator.

"Despite, or even because of, the current economic difficulties, enterprise companies should see innovative social computing solutions as ever more important," NewsGator, the social computing company, asserts in a new white paper that the firm released recently.

NewsGator's first-hand experience working with Fortune 500 executives on Enterprise 2.0 projects has revealed seven ways, many it says are far from obvious, to more than recoup the cost of a social computing initiative. They include reducing the costs of email storage, content, printing, enterprise software, travel, employee on-boarding and enterprise application integration.
  1. Reducing email volume.
  2. Reducing premium content costs.
  3. Lower printing budgets.
  4. Reducing expensive seats of enterprise software.
  5. Trimming travel budgets.
  6. Increasing talent management ROI.
  7. Reducing enterprise application integration costs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five people collaborating on a tender via mail...

  1. Steven, John, Lisa, Susan and Greg are to produce a tender together. Steven e-mails the first version of a 2MB large PowerPoint called "Tender v0.1.ppt" to John, Lisa, Susan and Greg.

  2. John and Susan edit the PPT and sends it back to the others. They do this independently of each other. John renamed the PPT to "Tender v0.1_John.ppt" and Susan renamed it to "Tender v0.11.ppt"

  3. There is now a slight confusion which version is the current one. This is because there are now two current versions. To get things on track again, someone has to merge the two versions into one. Since Steven sent out the first version, he starts to merge the two new current versions.

  4. As Steven is working on merging the two PPT:s into one, Lisa provides some feedback on Johns PPT and John has opinions on Susans changes. Lisa renames her version of the PPT to "Tender v0.1_John - Lisa 090302.ppt" and John renames the version he got from Susan to "Tender v0.11_Johns feedback.ppt". They send the documents to all the others, independently of each other. They did not know that Steven was merging the two other versions of the PPT.

  5. Steven sends the merged version, which is now 3 MB and called "Tender v0.2.ppt", and asks the others to review it.

  6. John notes that Steven forgot about his feedback and sends Steven a reminder. Doing so, he forgot to reply to all. So Steven also gets a reminder from Greg that the feedback is missing.

  7. Steven sends a new mail to all the others, stating that he will update the PPT with the feedback. He asks everybody to stop working until they get the new PPT. They do so.

  8. Steven makes some updates to the document, annotating what he think should be changed and why, renames the PPT to "Tender v0.3.ppt" and sends the PPT to the others.
This was only the first iteration. The work on the tender continues with an additional four to five iterations. When the tender is completed, there PPT exists in close to 150 copies, taking up more than 400 MB of storage on the mail server.

How would this process have looked if they had used a wiki instead?

Do you have 38 minutes? Then you can help me find a document

Does it take 38 minutes on average for users to find a specific song on ITunes or book on Amazon? Or to find a video on YouTube, a presentation on Slideshare?

In this age of sub-one-second Google search queries, modern networking and T1 Internet connections, it seems ludicrous that any type of information-based search would take even 38 seconds to complete.

A new survey, however, finds that employees at big companies (with more than 10,000 employees) spend, on average, 38 minutes searching for one document -- whether that's on their own computers or their organization's networks, databases or intranet.

In addition, the survey of 200 respondents from companies in a wide range of industries found that employees are having trouble finding the most efficient and appropriate technology tools to locate documents or internal expertise. To find in-house experts, for instance, 71 percent of the respondents said they "ask around"; 46 percent said they use the company directory; 34 percent use the company website or intranet; and 30 percent said they send a companywide e-mail (and we all know how annoying those can be).

Just 9 percent of the companies responding to the survey have an automated system in place for locating experts. The survey was completed by Osterman Research and commissioned by Recommind, a maker of information risk-management software, so take the results with a grain of salt.
We should always take findings from surveys with a grain of salt. But it is reasonable to believe that the truth is closer to 38 minutes than 38 seconds, especially when it comes to finding experts (or answers by experts).

If you have a business on the web, you know - or will soon find out - that bad findability will kill your business. Consumers will just turn to someone else who provides a service with better findability. Only monopoly or unique products or services can survive bad findability. In the short run, that is. Sooner or later, there will be someone else who your customers can turn to.

Inside corporate firewalls, the consequences of bad findability are less immediate, harder to measure and less visible. The connections to the bottom line results are harder to trace. But bad findability internally will nonetheless lead to death, although a slow and painful one.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This week in links - week 19, 2009

"Collaboration Anti-Culture: Can It Get Any Worse?" by Michael Sampson:

Culture is really important for collaboration technology to work in a group or organization. If the culture isn't right, "collaboration" as a human process expressed through various communication and collaboration technologies can't take root. I met with a new client earlier this week to talk about a senior management attempt to encourage "collaboration", but the stories the two people I met with told about the organizational culture made me write the following back to them:

  • "Collaboration" will fail at your firm, because of lack of trust. Eg, the remote offices mistrust head office, which means there are some major interpersonal issues to overcome.
  • "Collaboration" will fail at your firm, because of lack of freedom. Eg, you two are hand-slapped for going to talk to other people at head office (talk!). Collaborative activity doesn't flourish in tightly controlled environments / dictatorships.
  • "Collaboration" will fail at your firm, because of lack of two-way communication channels. Eg, you aren't allowed to talk to or engage with the remote offices (the very people who you are supposed to be helping to "collaborate").
  • I didn't add it at the time, but I should have also said: "Collaboration" will fail at your firm, because you are scared about being overheard by other people. Eg, during the meeting, both people lowered their voice when they were telling stories about how way things worked at the firm.

"Second-wave adopters are coming. Are you prepared? Part 1 / 3" by Christoph Schmaltz:

In the previous post we looked in more detail at barriers to user adoption and identified the following as key to be addressed to get second-wave adopters on board:

  1. applications not part of user's workflow
  2. time effort > personal value
  3. complex applications

Since a lot of people live in their inbox, we should be looking at ways to interact with a company's wiki, blogs, forums, social network and even microblogging engine using an email client. I specifically say 'email client', by which I mean not the 'email inbox'. The inbox should be for private information only. All other content (e.g. updates from blogs, wikis, newsletters, RSS feeds) should be received in different folders within the email client.

New behaviors will emerge, but it won't happen over night. That's why enthusiasts need to acknowledge that most skeptics will continue to follow the path of least resistance and reject tools that are not part of their workflow, are too difficult learn and use or don't yield an immediate personal benefit. If you ignore that, the success of your Enterprise 2.0 initiative may be in danger and the skeptics may prevail in the end.

"5 Predictions for the Future of Collaboration - #2" by Padmasree Warrior:

Yesterday I shared my first prediction regarding the future of collaboration. Here’s my second prediction:

Prediction #2:

It is not about “on-premise” versus “on-demand”, it will be all about the User Experience.

In the technology industry we tend to focus a lot on the underlying computing model and how best to deliver functionality and value. That makes sense, because it’s core to what we do. But as an industry need to move beyond this conversation. Ultimately User Experience is what matters.

We need to provide an experience that’s consistent and seamless, with easy access to the services you care about, regardless of your location or device.

To enable this seamless experience, applications must be hosted and delivered through a combination of on-premise and on-demand networks working together. Bottom line, there will always be a combination of different types of applications – some that are local and others that are in the cloud.

"Oracle Prepping Broad-based Social-networking Suite" by Farruq Ahmed:

Oracle is developing an enterprise social-networking suite that employs technologies initially developed for internal use by the Oracle Asia Research and Development Center, according to a pair of official company documents.

The technology, titled Oracle Social Suite, has apparently not been formally announced by Oracle. It combines a wide range of social-networking features, according to an internal case study produced in September.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

About failing Enterprise 2.0 initiatives

Bertrand Duperrin always have a lot of good things on his mind which he shares with us on his blog. The following is an excerpt from his latest post “Enterprise 2.0 : what’s the missing link?” (make sure to read the full post):
Knowing why enterprise 2.0 sometimes failed to deliver its promises is now a mainstream issue. I’m talking about turning the promise into results because the question of knowing whether the promise is well-founded or not has already been answered. Many examples, such as Cisco’s, show that it’s possible and that it actually works. But some other, with the same technologies used for the same purposes, show that the results are hard to bring

Recently, Harold Jarche told me that the missing link was management. Even if it can sound provocative, I’d say it’s people (paradoxical, isn’t it ?). The one is the consequence of the other…

Yes, it is definitely people. People, people, people – and people. People in the management, people “on the floor", people in every corner of the enterprise. PEOPLE. You. Me. Everyone.

I get a little puzzled and worried when I hear about Enterprise 2.0 failing to deliver to its promises. Already? Wow, when did thoseorganizations start with their transformations? In the 90ies? 80ies?

Seeing Enterprise 2.0 as a number of short-term initiatives that will immediately boost the productivity of knowledge workers, improve collaboration and fuel innovation will do us more harm than good. There are definitely quick wins to be made, but we need more time to make the large and persistent wins. Harvesting the potential business benefits of Enterprise 2.0 requires insight, motivation, commitment, patience, perseverance, flexibility - and a large doze of good old-fashioned stubbornness. Why? Because it is about making people change.

We must not forget that social software technology is disruptive in the sense that it requires a shift in our mindsets, attitudes and behaviors before we can realize the biggest and most persistent of the promised business benefits. Even though most of the tools and technologies that we put under the social software umbrella term are not new, they just recently became boring enough to reach something that we can begin to call mainstream adoption. I would say that we are currently in the early majority adoption phase for blogs and social networks, but in early adopter phase for micro-blogging and RSS. And although people are getting used to use these technologies for private purposes (which took over a decade), it is likely that it will take some time until they figure out exactly how to use them at work, and much more time before they are able to "reprogram" their old ways of working and behaving at work. They will need help in doing so and they will need someone to tell them over and over again how to do it the right way (or in a better way than they are currently doing it).

Enterprise 2.0 can and should be seen as an opportunity for organizations that want to gain competitive advantage by using the Web 2.0 practices and technologies to boost the productivity of their knowledge workers, cut waste and fuel innovation. Harvesting the business benefits of introducing social software in a business context is not about technology. It is about people. It is about transforming an organization's culture towards openness, transparency, inclusion and sharing, and about getting everybody in the organization to change mindset and behavior. It is a tremendous challenge just to make people start reflecting on why and how they communicate with each other instead of doing it out of habit. But it can be done, it needs to be done, and those who find out how to do it will thrive. Cisco and Cisco CEO John Chambers have understood this.

So, you might have a social (professional) networking platform with blogs, wikis, rich profiles, and so forth up and running in a few months. But transforming the corporate culture and people's attitudes, behaviors and ways of working will take years - unless you do all that you can to accelerate the transformation. The opportunity for businesses is to figure out smart ways to use social software both as enabler and as catalyst in this transformation.

Organizations must realize that Enterprise 2.0 is not an isolated initiative. It is about embarking on a journey that aims to boost the productivity of knowledge workers, reduce waste in knowledge work / tacit activities, and fueling innovation. After centuries of focus on improving transformational and transactional activities by automating activities, shortening cycles and reducing headcount, we now need to focus on empowering people so they get better at what they are doing, and get better at doing things together. Social software is a key component, an important enabler and catalyst (if used in a smart way), in this transformation. But in the end, the main challenge is the same as always - it is ultimately we who need to change.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This week in links - week 18, 2009

After a few hectic weeks, I'm now restarting my weekly "This week in links". And what a way to do it, I have found some really great food for thought. Enjoy ;)

"Open Enterprise 2009: Interview with Laurie Buczek, Intel" by Stowe Boyd:
I had the honor to recently interview Laurie Buczek of Intel, who is heading up the most ambitious and broad internal social web initiatives these days.



...I believe there is tremendous value in her insights, partly because of the ambition that is driving the initiative at Intel, but principally because of her deep understanding of what makes sharing work in a work context.
"Death of the corporate portal?" by Dr. Laurence Lock Lee:
Maybe thats a bit harsh ... but as a former corporate KM person I know how hard it is to encourage staff to participate in collaborative corporate portals. A couple of years ago I met a lady from a global portal software provider who was dispairing about how someone had set up a Linkedin group for their firm which attacted in a matter of days hundreds of members. In contrast getting people to join up with the corporate portal was like pulling teeth.

Just scouting the LinkedIn groups of some major portal software companies who no doubt have excellent internal portals (at least from a software perspective) I can see lots of informal groups with many members: e.g. Oracle (78 coporate groups; biggest with 1,000+ members); SAP (105; 3,000+); Microsoft (150; 5,000+); EMC (13; 2,000+); IBM (91;10,000+). Obviously not all are current employees but where is the corporate knowledge going to reside in the future?
"Achieving intranet success today Рand working smarter in the future" by Dorthe Raakjær Jespersen:
Recently, I had the chance to talk to Jane McConnell, intranet and portal strategy specialist, about how intranets can help organisations work smarter...//...I asked Jane a series of questions about the state of the intranet today.

As you look forward, what are some major trends to look out for when it comes to intranets?

Intranets will offer workplaces for teams and communities that are often made up of internal and external people. Today, this type of “mixed” team is often forced to create parallel workplaces in the cloud, out of sight and out of mind for the intranet managers. This is not a sustainable solution.

Intranets will offer services over smart phones, for example news and contacts. Those are the two main needs people have, especially people far from head-quarters. I’ve done a lot of work with very decentralized organizations with lots of staff “on the ground” carrying out critical and sometimes difficult or dangerous work. What those people often need is access to essential information - nothing more, nothing less.
"Sustainable KM: Principles & Approaches" by Andrew Gent:
So to summarize, the basic principles of sustainable KM are:
  • Do not make KM extra work. Embed it in existing business processes.
  • Avoid "Change Management". Let change manage itself.
  • Design for humans, not data.
  • Pay attention to the people, not the policies.
  • Eliminate the opposition.
"The Social Software Value Matrix" by Michael Idinopulos:
The best place for your employees to learn professional social media is inside the company. Thomas Vanderwal was right when he told me that social media adoption is all about comfort. Most employees are intimidated by the openness and transparency of social media. By launching these tools internally--within teams, departments, divisions, business units, etc.--you acculturate your employees in controlled, comfortable environments. You can train them, educate them, watch them, and even (horrors!) let them make a few mistakes. Once your employees get used to using social software inside the company, it's easy and natural for them to expand their interactions to include customers, channel partners, and even the general public.



I think of Enterprise 2.0 adoption as a journey through a succession of benefits. I've illustrated them in what I call the "Social Software Value Matrix." The first step in the journey is pure operational improvement. You're not really changing the way you do business, just enhancing existing interactions within existing silos. Over time, the tools lead employees to interact in new ways, across silos. This creates cultural change as the company reinvents the way the different pieces of the business interact to create value. Finally, and most dramatically, companies can create new interactions with customers and channel partners. That's business model transformation, and it only happens when your business is ready for it.