Saturday, June 27, 2009

Interesting findings from AIIM's Enterprise 2.0 survey

Here are some of the key findings from AIIM's Enterprise 2.0 survey "Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 - Work-meets-play or the future of business?" that I find interesting, although not very surprising:

  • Over half of organizations consider Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success.
  • Only 25% are actually doing anything about it, but this is up from 13% in 2008.
  • 68% think that professional networking on the web is vital to career progression.
  • 71% agree that it’s easier to locate “knowledge” on the Web than it is to find it on internal systems.
  • 40% feel it is important to have Enterprise 2.0 facilities within their ECM suite, with SharePoint TeamSites as the most likely collaboration platform.
  • As regards governance of usage and content, only 30% of companies have policies on blogs, forums and social networks, compared to 88% who have policies for email.
  • Planned spending on Enterprise 2.0 projects in the next 12 months is up in all product areas.

Friday, June 26, 2009

From strangers to friends with social networking

Seth Godin on the difference between strangers and friends:

We market to friends very differently than we market to strangers. We do business differently as well.

Thanks to social networks and the amplification of stories online, we have far more friends per person than at any other time in human history. Nurturing your friends—protecting them and watching out for them—is an obligation, and it builds an asset at the same time.

(I want to distinguish friends from 'friendlies', the people you have a digital link to, but no real connection. Friendlies are basically strangers with a thumbnail of their face on your screen. They're not friends. And, while we're at it, the moment you treat a friend like a stranger (form mail, for example) they're not a friend any more, are they?)

The secret sauce to successful Enterprise 2.0 adoption

A lot has been said and written about adoption of Enterprise 2.0 lately, much of it coming from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston that took place this week. I did not have the priviledge to attend, but thanks to all those bloggers and tweeters who attended - I give a special thanks to Bill Ives for his excellent notes - I feel that I got some insight into it without being there in person. Although a lot of focus seem to have been on tools and technologies, I am glad that the adoption issues was brought to surface. We need to do that if Enterprise 2.0 is to reach a tipping point and take off. Here are some thoughs and experiences on Enterprise 2.0 adoption:

While selecting the right tools for the job can certainly prove a barrier to adoption for some organizations, even after they select the right tools they are always faced with the more formidable barrier to adoption - one based on social, cultural and business process issues. How to let people organize themselves in those environments? How to integrate the use of the tools with various business processes and in some cases allow those business processes to transform themselves? How to let go of control and allow some form of self-organization? How to reconcile existing workplace policies with those new virtual environments?

I attended the Mike Gotta session on Enterprise Social Networking at the Boston Enterprise 2.0 conference. I have been following Mike’s Collaborative Thinking blog for some time as I was pleased to be able to see him in person for the first time to hear him talk about adoption issues.

Mike made a good point up front. It is all abut adoption not deployment. Major findings include the fact that everyone thought they were behind, even if they were not. Everyone is at the starting point. Few organizations have made a organization-wide decision on social networking. They are still trying to figure it out. Even organizations that have a strategic vision are in the proof-of concept stage. It is not about the tools that is the critical factors. It is overcoming the cultural issues. Social networks do enable more adaptive organizations. This make intuitive sense so it is nice to see some validation.

Shifting generations play several roles in adoption. Need to be able to appeal to all generations and allow for greater integration across generations. Older workers can be social networking leaders to share their expertise and provide status to them for retention. Also look for emerging experience that is developing in the younger workers. A culture of participation will identify good skills in ways that might not come out otherwise.

There is no clear answer as to whether you must change culture first before implementing social networks or you can use social networks to change culture. Regardless you must address the cultural issues in the implementation. Culture can trump almost everything. Trust is important here.
The three keys to adopting of community sites? Simplicity – Ease of use – Engagement.

Reach out to existing communities of interest to drive adoption – Harvard has a large number of craftspeople so reached out to them to seed the community. Who would have thought a Harvard University knitting group would replace physical meetups with virtual ones?

Pre determine community champions to answer the initial questions until critical mass is reached and the community self-perpetuates. Find the “cool people” and get their buy-in – that then creates the evangelists going forwards. Give away the ownership so that the community doesn’t hinge on only one person – avoid the “Steve Jobs Factor”.
At this week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, Lee Bryant of Headshift looked at the adoption challenges for 2.0 technologies in companies that have grown up around a centralized model of IT, particularly for the second wave adopters required to move Enterprise 2.0 into the mainstream within an organization. He points out that we can't afford the high-friction, high-cost model of deploying technology and processes, but need to rebalance the role of people within the enterprise.

...there's the issue of bringing these tools, techniques and methods to the people who don't normally use social networking for either business or pleasure.

Bryant showed some of the ways that they drive out behavioral use cases within organizations, match that to available social tools, then develop behavioral transition strategies that effectively "tricks" people into using these new tools in order to bridge the old methods and tools into the new. This is all about focusing on the tasks that people do and the things that they know, and providing some tweaks that get them doing things differently. For example:
  • For people who are addicted to email on their Blackberry, transition them to reading RSS feeds on the same platform (also within Outlook 2007): it looks similar, it provides a similar broadcast functionality, and lets them get away from filing and deleting the information.
  • Replace the phone book with a social network that provides the same information, and allows people to "friend" people who they contact frequently.
  • Get rid of the intranet, and create something that looks like your old intranet, but has edit buttons everywhere. In other words, turn your intranet into a wiki where anyone can update information if they have it. The information is more up-to-date and accurate, and gets people in the mode of being authors. It doesn't mean that you have to allow every page to be editable by everyone, as Razorfish did, but can provide a more controlled environment that allows people to edit their team's areas.
  • Create a place for employees to share and rate ideas, sort of like a suggestion box with voting.
  • Organize information in new and interesting ways, such as providing a social bookmarking tool to allow people to add tags to documents within their enterprise content management system in order to improve findability and indicate interest in documents. This can be used just to allow people to "organize their stuff", or can be used in the case of an upcoming platform migration, where people can tag documents that should be migrated to a new ECM platform.
The thing to note about all of these ideas is that they are focused on things that people were already doing, and just tweaking the methods that they use to do them. That makes it a lot less threatening, and therefore much more likely to be adopted.

Dion then switched to best practices. Successful adoption strategies include: gain and enlist top down support, overcome turf issues in advance, align applications to key business processes, align enterprise 2.0 strategy to business strategy, develop a clear simple business case, provide strong leadership, design measure aligned to business processes. I could not agree more. These were also all the key adoption strategies for knowledge management in the early 90s. This does not take away from them. I think it just reinforces them. Dion said these factors came from actual case studies.

He added more adoption strategies: listen to users, simplify the access and production of knowledge, develop a clear communication plan to promote the effort, involve all key stakeholers (but go slow on this), integrate all forms of communication, develop a clear motivation plan. Again these are all best practices from knowledge management in the early 90 but I see this as a further validation. I found that legal often got overlooked and this can come back to bite you so do not leave them out.
"Adoption: The Yellow Brick Road of Enterprise 2.0" by Yuri Alkin:
Until now internal adoption of enterprise software followed one of the two simple models:
  1. Users have no choice (desktop OS, e-mail, payroll, etc)
  2. Users benefit from software regardless of its adoption by others (file sharing, internal portals, etc)
In the first case you get a speedy (though not always cheerful) 100% adoption, in the second case as long as the tool provides value, a simple awareness campaign leads to steady adoption growth. In contrast, adoption of social software happens in a dramatically different environment: typically users do have a choice, and the value they get out of the software depends on how many other people use it. While different social tools require different levels of adoption to become useful (Hutch Carpenter has a great post on this), they all need some critical mass of users – and for some tools that mass is rather significant.

Here are some core principles that in my opinion seriously help with adoption of majority of social software.
  • Know who your users are, what they need, and which of their pain points you can address with your solution.
  • Plan and execute on your adoption strategy – broad adoption very rarely happens on its own
  • Run pilots and early adopter programs, targeting people who really care about the problem space. They may be harsh in their criticism, but their feedback is invaluable, and once you get them on board they become your most active promoters.
  • Build and nurture an active community around the system you introduce.
  • Define a clear set of metrics and track them meticulously all the time.
  • Expose your new solution in the contexts where your users currently operate. New shiny destinations can be tempting, but users don’t have time to go too often out of the tools they live in.
  • Identify the most successful customers and give them stage to tell their story to others.
  • Show the way for your users. The benefits of a new system are much better understood when someone articulates them for you.
  • Walk the talk, i.e. use your solution every day to do some (better yet, a lot of) real work – you’d be surprised how much you learn when your own deliverables depend on the system you thought was perfect for others.
  • Be flexible and adjust as you go, based on the trends you observe and user feedback you receive.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"We’ll roll out iPhones when monkeys fly out of my butt"

"The largest enemy of change and leadership isn't a "no". It's a "not yet". "Not yet" is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. "Not yet" gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while longer. Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.”
This is my favorite quote from Seth Godin's book "Tribes - We need you to lead us”, which is a great read by the way.

I came across this hilarious quote by Thomas Wailgum at CIO.com via Dennis Howlett's blog on the same theme:
'When a CIO says, “We think iPhones for our workforce—even though they are more expensive than the smartphone we have standardized on—might be something for us in the future,” he’s really thinking, “We’ll roll out iPhones when monkeys fly out of my butt.”
The point here is that good leadership is not demonstrated by the actions you say you will take, but by the actions you actually take.

Just do it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Media Marketing Hall of Shame

If there is such thing as a Social Media Marketing Hall of Shame, expect to meetthe furniture store Habitat there. The following is from Social Media Today:
@HabitatUK turned up on Twitter a couple of days ago, and decided to use trending topic #hashtags at the start of their tweets to get noticed. They used ones that had absolutely nothing to do with furniture, decorating, or shopping, but obviously the top hashtags for Thursday evening AEST such as #iPhone #mms #Apple and even Australia’s Masterchef contestant who got voted off #Poh. I found these on Twitter Search:



Just to really add insult to injury, HabitatUK even used an Iranian election hashtag, and threw one in for True Blood fans too, both trying to get people to signup to a database.



Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame on you Habitat.

I don't believe that Habitat made this all by themselves. So, I expect to see the agency that helped Habitat with this spamming campaign to get sued by Habitat. Big time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

5 comments illustrating email as a barrier to collaboration

Comments often say much more than figures and statistics. As I read the report from the survey that Stewart Mader and Scott Abel conducted recently on why businesses don't collaborate, I found a few such comments which do a good job at illustrating the problems with using email for collaboration:

1.How many work-related emails do you receive per day?

"I can read, respond to, file, delete or otherwise meaningfully manage only about 25% of the email I receive."

2.How many of those emails include attached files?

"The government is bad at sending a long chain of emails and responses with an attachment still attached from the original email."

3.How many require your direct input or feedback on the contents of that attachment?

"If I do get attachments, the sender usually wants my opinion on something before that sender does the official ‘mass mailing’."

4.Have you been the sender of an email asking for input or feedback on a document from your immediate group of colleagues?

"But of course I feel terrible doing this. Email attachments are tremendously bad usability. You can't review past versions, you can't see others comments, you force multiple downloads and risk executable viruses."

5.Have you ever had to compile the feedback from multiple sources into one document?

"I go out of my way to avoid this."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Download chapter one of Andrew McAfees new book

The introduction promises a great deal and I am looking forward to read the entire book in print (which will be available in mid November):

"It’s a book about how businesses are using a new set of technologies that appeared over the past few years on the Internet. To many people, these tools seemed so novel and important that they merited a whole new version number for the Web; Web 2.0 was created to describe them, and to highlight their impact on the Internet.

I coined the term Enterprise 2.0 to describe how these same technologies could be used on organizations’ intranets and extranets, and to convey the impact they would have on business.

...the technologies of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 have the wonderful property of causing patterns and structure to appear over time, even though they’re not specified up front.

I know that the subtitle of this book—New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges—is a bold one, but I honestly believe it’s
warranted.

I’ll present a road map for success, concentrating on the roles played by business leaders—managers and executives outside the IT department. These leaders are the most important constituency for successful use of the newly available technologies of Enterprise 2.0; this book will reveal why this is, and how and where business leaders can most effectively intervene in order to gain access to the benefits offered by these tools."
You can download chapter one here. Just register your name and e-mail.

Management By Listening Around

Resistance to (fear of) change is one of the leading impediments to introducing social software in businesses. This should come as no surprise. Resistance to change is always one of the greatest barriers to change. But what is different this time is that resistance to change is likely to be quite heavy among managers, even more than on grass-root level.

It is likely that managers, typically in middle management, who have built their own position on the exclusive right to distribute information up- and downwards in a hierarchic organization feel utterly threatened by the introduction of social software. How are they likely to react when their own manager communicates directly with their subordinates? Or, which probably seems even worse to them, when their subordinates communicate directly with their own manager, or even the CEO?

If a CEO wants to know how the business performs, he typically relies on the information given to him by his own subordinates. They, in turn, rely on the information given to them by their subordinates. And so on. On each level in an organizational hierarchy, information is aggregated from subordinates, filtered and twisted by the managers so they can convey a version of the truth that aligns with their own agendas. These things apparently also take time and a lot of information gets filtered out in the process. So how accurate, complete and timely is the information eventually given to the CEO?

Most managers know they receive information which has been filtered and twisted by their subordinates. Some exercise “Management By Walking Around” to get a better picture. But MBWA does not scale very well. It might work for a team manager or managers in a SMB, but it is not likely to work for someone in middle or top management in a large and distributed company. They have to rely on distant management.

This is probably also why many managers find Business Intelligence so appealing. BI allows them to get aggregate data from distant corners of their business, view it from different angles and analyze it to determine how different parts and the business as a whole performs. They get direct access to "the truth".

But, relying too much on traditional BI can also be deceiving. The diagrams and figures on their BI dashboards do not tell them what people are doing, what problems they are dealing with, which decisions are being made, and so on. This is where social software enters the picture. Social software – such as the combination of social networks, feeds and tools such as blogs and micro-blogs – can help to inform managers about these things. In essence, the power of social software comes down to two things:

  • It allows and encourages people to capture, share and consume information in an easy and convenient way.
  • It provides an infrastructure for rapid dissemination of relevant information across time, space and organization.

By the smart use of social software, a business can create a digital work environment where managers (and others) can inform themselves and learn from the activities and decisions made by people instead of just relying on transactional data and the information they get from their subordinates or managers. They can tap in to any source they want, feed it to their dashboards, monitor what’s going on and proactively act on any signals of opportunities or problems. Social software allows managers to practice “Management By Listening Around” on a scale which has never before been possible.

It is a fact that information disseminates much more efficiently in networks than they do in hierarchies. This makes social software such as social networks, feeds and blogs and micro-blogging crucial components in any digital work environment which aims to reduce human latency in business processes, to allow ideas to flow more freely to spur innovation, to make people discover information and people more easily, and to make collaboration happen more naturally across time, space and organization.

Social software also presents a great possibility for managers to listen to and learn about how their business is performing by giving them access to more accurate, complete and timely information. But it also presents a threat to those managers (and information-hoarding “experts”) who have build their positions on the exclusive right to distribute information up- and downwards in a hierarchic organization.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This week in links - week 24, 2009

If we continue to manage information as we did in the past we will inevitably create information overload and increasing sources of frustration for our consumers. In the past, the job of information managers was to codify and store information. Most of the metaphors surrounding this work related to about putting information into boxes. This approach is not robust or scalable and leads to filter failure. We need to move away from the obsession with storage, and to a weave fabric of information through which people operate. Notably, the connective tissue (e.g. signals, links and tags) is as important as the information it points to. All of this is based on people who by their actions indicate what they think is important and useful.

To cope with these problems, we need better filters and better radars.

Online social networking acts as an excellent operational information filter. We are used to connecting with people and exchanging information in spaces, and this behaviour is reflected online in social and business networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead of going to Google to search for the best restaurants in NYC, people now go to their network and get better more relevant results.
"Business 2.0" by Jon Mell:
Organisations need to trust these professionals, they will not be in the office from 9-5 every day. These are exactly the sorts of people who thrive on their personal networks, they are the people who you go to when you need to know what's going on. Social software brings the same level of productivity increases for these people as type-writers and then word processors did for a previous generation of workers. It takes their natural propensity to connect, to share, to add value and extends it in the same way the internet extends our access to information.

It won't be enough to hire knowledge workers to survive and thrive in this recession. Organisations will have to change their business practices to take advantage of their abilities, and provide them with the tools to be effective. Word, Outlook and even Sharepoint won't cut it. They will need custom built social platforms, or products such as Confluence, Jive, Socialtext and Lotus Connections.

This is not a technology driven change. These tools are a response to a new way of organising and operating companies, breaking free from 1950s management theory and production lines to treating people as individuals who get things done by independently and autonomously adding value through their networks. Organisations need to embrace the business change first, and look at the software second. Otherwise the competition will gain a significant competitive edge, whilst you're worrying about the ROI of the investment in the latest "it's like Facebook, but..." product.
Enterprise 2.0 adoption is on the rise, with a majority of companies in a new survey planning to increase their funding of E2.0 projects. These are the results of a survey conducted by organizers of the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. (Details provided in a white paper available at the E2.0 site.)

The survey also found organizations are slow to change to E2.0-style thinking. The leading impediments to E2.0 include the following:

Resistance to change 52%
Difficulty in measuring ROI 42%
Integrating with existing technologies 41%
Security concerns 32%
Budget 25%
Product knowledge 23%
Tools not enterprise ready 22%

Let's take ten of the most popular new consumer technology products in recent years (with a couple of our portfolio companies in the mix): iPhone, Facebook, Wii, Hulu, FlipCam, Rock Band, Mafia Wars, Blogger, Pandora, and Twitter and let's try to describe in one sentence or less why they broke out (feel free to debate the reasons they broke out in the comments):

iPhone - mobile browser with a killer touch screen interface
Facebook - a social net with real utility
Wii - gesture based user interface for gaming
Hulu - your favorite TV shows in a fantastic web UI
FlipCam - a video cam that fits in your pocket comfortably
Rock Band - everyone can be a rock star for a few minutes
Mafia Wars - a natively social game built for social nets
Blogger - a printing press for everyone
Pandora - drop dead simple personalized radio
Twitter - blogging everyone can do in less than a minute

In most of these cases, the breakthrough product or service delivered a new experience to consumers that they had never had before...//...it seems to me that consumers are driven to new experiences that are simple and useful and/or entertaining. It is not enough to be the first to market with a new technology. You have to be the first to market with a version of the technology that is simple and easy to use.

Web Trend Map version 4

InformationArchitects.com just released version 4 of their Web Trend Map.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Research Report: Why Businesses Don’t Collaborate

"Many businesses think they collaborate. But content professionals today are tugged in multiple directions, and expected to multi-task their way through an increasing amount of work with the help of software tools designed to make them more productive. The variety of tools to choose from, the time needed to adopt them and adapt to new ways of working, and the resistance to change in many corporate cultures are all factors that contribute to a very different reality – one in which collaboration is not as vibrant and widespread as it could be."
Stewart Mader and Scott Abel conducted a survey in May this year on why businesses don't collaborate although they think they do. They have now made the results from that survey available in a report at Scribd.

Why Businesses (Don't) Collaborate: Meeting Management, Group Input and Wiki Usage Survey Results Why Businesses (Don't) Collaborate: Meeting Management, Group Input and Wiki Usage Survey Results Scott Abel The results of a survey (conducted by Future Changes and The Content Wrangler Community) of over 500 knowledge workers on their use of business productivity tools, including email and wikis. This survey report includes the response statistics, analysis, and a sampling of the anecdotal comments respondents volunteered in addition to their survey answers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's the big deal with the social web? Honestly?

So what is the big deal with the social web? Can the principles, practices and technologies from the social web bring any value to a business? Honestly?


Businesses should ask themselves these questions over and over again. By doing so, they minimize the risk that they will miss out on opportunities and threats originating from the social web.


I personally believe that the potential values of introducing principles, practices and technologies from the social web in a business context comes down to three things:
  • Increasing the efficiency of business processes by reducing human latency, which is achieved by making it easier to find people and information and by reducing cycle-times in communication
  • Boosting the productivity of knowledge workers by making it easier to access information and people for problem solving, knowledge exchange and coordinating actions across time and space
  • Enabling innovation by allowing ideas to flow more freely and making it easier to collaborate across time and space to bring these ideas to the market

"Easy" is the key word here.


I also believe it is fairly easy to connect different principles, practices and technologies of the social web to one or several of these things. So why do many businesses remain so sceptical and passive?


I think the answer can be found in the fact that the transaction costs for communicating and organizing are minimal on the social web. Traditional organizations, on the other hand, are designed based on the fact that transaction costs for communicating and organizing are high. This inevitably creates a tension between the development on the social web and organizations, and it is quite clear that the social web is the more powerful force of the two. Organizations will have to adapt to social web, not the other way around.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The problem of thinking and acting in silos

Today the consequences of thinking and acting i silos can be fatal as competition forces businesses to be efficient and innovative at the same time. Thinking and acting in silos prevents innovation from happening.

The paradox, as Idris Mootee describes below, is that achieve great results, we need to focus and when we focus we get blind to everything but our closest environment, which makes us miss out on new ideas and opportunities.

Today, most businesses are forced to think out-of-the box, collaborate across boundaries, and facilitate information exchange across teams, processes and systems if they are to be successful. The trick is to do it without loosing speed and focus. Social technology has definately a role to play here.

Here are a few thoughts by others on the subject of silos, all with different angles.


Today, creative collision is the zeitgeist of innovation...//...Every intersection across domains as diverse as business, non-profit, science, art, and entertainment is a nexus for innovation. We need to learn to break down associative barriers and view problems in new ways, be ready to walk away from familiar territories and venture into the unknown. The unknown is where large organization feels uneasy. Innovators have a restless curiosity to explore intersections. They see social technologies as an enabler of innovation and new business models, rather than as a way of making the current model more efficient.

We are all over-focused. The economic climate further pushes us to their direction and beyond a point we lose sight of the big opportunities ahead. Focus limits awareness, and important information outside the range of focus can be missed. The paradox of organizational focus is that it often blinds us to new opportunities. Focus is the core reasons for blind spots. Through constant scanning and reading weak signals, we can then recognize and seize upon that moment when luck aligns the forces of the universe to unite need and opportunity in such a way that the connections between unconnected dots can be seen. Strategic Innovation is not about creativity or design, it is about organization agility and constant organization realignment.
There is a lot of silo thinking going on: we have virtual worlds, augmented reality, mirror worlds, social networks. What is neglected is that there are common themes and technologies here, which would be great to mix and match. Virtual worlds seem to be stuck somewhere in the nineties, but their social component is well developed. Games can have great graphics and cool augmented reality features but can be lousy in the social components etc

I guess what Rice basically says is “look at all this in a truly new way”. Think out of the box, get rid of the silos. Mix and match fascinating developments in media and internet technology. We don’t have to wait for those fancy glasses to become widely available to start.
To me, one of IT's great paradoxes is that even as it tackles data integration projects, it continues to create new data silos.
Rick Sherman, a consultant with Athena IT Solutions, recently addressed this issue in his blog, The Data Doghouse. He concludes there are two reasons we still have data silos, even when we're striving for that ever-elusive “single version of the truth”:
    1. Business intelligence and datawarehousing projects are typically organized on a tactical, project-by-project basis.
    2. There's no overall information architecture to guide that blueprint.
      Okay – that's what causes them, but it still doesn't address the why. Why not change to a more strategic approach?
      Sherman thought that question through as well, and lists five factors at work in favoring a tactical over a strategic approach:
      1. Group-based funding for projects.
      2. Jargon confusion. “There are many similarities between CRM (customer relationship management), SCM (supply chain management), budgeting and forecasting, performance management and balanced scorecards. Many people do not see that each has data, data integration and business intelligence that can be shared across projects," Sherman explains.
      3. Technology silos – in other words, they treat different integration technologies (ETL, EAI, data virtualization, etc.) as different applications and projects – when it's all just different approaches to data integration.
      4. IT's organizational disconnect, which keeps “data people” from talking to and working with “application people” -- a political problem also noticed by Judy Ko, Informatica's VP of Product Management and Marketing.
      5. No architecture helping to shape tactical projects.

      Friday, June 5, 2009

      10 recent favorite tweets

      (via @MelanieB)


      (via @complexd)


      (via @bhc3)




      (via @frogpond)

      (via @tobyward)

      This week in links - week 23, 2009

      "CIOs: It's Strategy Time" by Michael Idinopulos:
      Most CIOs I talk to want to spend more time on strategy--not platform strategy or application strategy, but business strategy. The fun part of their job isn't about keeping the lights on or the servers cooled. It's about using technology to fundamentally improve the way their companies do business.

      Managers outside traditional IT strongholds are realizing that wikis, blogs, social networking, micromessaging, and other forms of online collaboration are dramatically changing the way people interact with each other. Most of the early Enterprise 2.0 implementations were driven by non-IT experimentation. Use of Enterprise 2.0 tools has been heaviest in precisely those knowledge-intensive industries that traditionally discount the strategic value of IT.

      As Enterprise 2.0 matures, we are entering a strategic phase. Companies are moving beyond their early, ad-hoc, unmanaged experiments, and trying to figure out how it all fits together--not just for an individual department or project, but for the company and its customers. As one client told me last week, "We've done more to advance the company's strategy today than I have in the past year."

      If you're a CIO, your company is looking to you to show the way. How will Enterprise 2.0 change the way you do business? What benefits can your company realize? How will this change the way you collaborate internally? How will it change your interactions with customers?

      This is a golden opportunity to move out of the back office and drive your company's business strategy. Are you ready?
      #1: Organizations need help in creating an effective governance structure for their ECM initiatives.

      #2: Organizations are concerned about and need help in architecting how the pieces of an ECM architecture fit together.

      #3: Organizations have experienced the consequences of mismanaged information and need help/tools to manage this risk.

      #4: Organizations need better tools to quantify ECM benefits.

      #5: Organizations need help figuring out what to do about SharePoint.

      #6: Organizations need help integrating their internal and external infrastructures; WCM still largely disconnected from ECM.
      "How Email Inefficiency Reduces the Quality of Group Input" by Ric Roberts at Swirl, published on Stewart Mader’s blog Future Changes:
      Email works great for short messages intended for one person, where you just want to alert the recipient to something, and no further discussion is required. But when you start to include more people, and they all start chipping in with their responses, email starts to break down as an efficient medium.

      Using tools which provide you with central hub for communication (such as a wiki), instead of directly contacting each individual person, allows you to reduce the number of connections involved. This, in turn, reduces the number of interruptions and the number versions of the document that are generated, making the discussion much more manageable. Furthermore, if the article is in a wiki, then it becomes search-able by all the users of the wiki too, so other people can find it again in the future. This is not the case if it’s stuck in someone’s inbox.


      "Search is a Waste of Time" by Anthony Bradley:
      Let’s face it, searching is mostly a waste of time. I don’t like searching the house for my keys, I don’t like searching my closet for the right shirt, and I don’t like searching my systems (or the Web) for information. All of these are a waste of my time.

      I want the information I need delivered to me when I need it and where I need it. I don’t want to have to look for it. Do you? Then let’s end the search madness and start pushing for something more. This is, for me, the best use case for the semantic Web. Understand what I’m doing and proactively deliver to me the information I need. Of course this requires all applications to be context aware and semantic-enabled (add this to the enablement list; web-enabled, service-enabled, WOA-enabled, mashup-enabled, and social media-enabled).

      Can you imagine high quality and relevant information delivered to you when and where you need it or even applications that anticipate your information needs? There would be no need to search. What a wonderful world that would be.

      Wednesday, June 3, 2009

      15 quotes to spice up your Enterprise 2.0 business case

      "The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it."
      Andrew Carnegie

      “The most important contribution managementneeds to make in the 21st century is to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers. It is on their productivity, above all, that the future prosperity — and indeed the future survival — of the developed economies will increasingly depend.”
      Peter F. Drucker

      "Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than myself."
      Alexander Graham Bell

      "Innovation comes only from readily and seamlessly sharing information rather than hoarding it."
      Tom Peters

      "Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes."
      Peter Senge

      “Synergy: The combined effect of individuals in collaboration that exceeds the sum of their individual effects.”
      Stephen R. Covey

      "Collaboration will be the critical business competency of the internet age. It won't be the ability to fiercely compete, but the ability to lovingly cooperate that will determine success. Rather than focusing on stomping the competition into the ground, true leaders of the internet age will focus on creating value for their customers, intelligence and skill in their talent, and wealth for their investors and shareholders."
      James M. Kouzes

      "Connecting people to people, over and over again, that's what lasts online. Folks thought it was about technology and it's not"
      Seth Godin

      “Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
      Vince Lombardi

      “Someone outside your organisation today knows how to answer your specific question, solve your specific problem or take advantage of your current opportunity better than you do. You need to find them and find a way to work collaboratively and productively with them.”
      lan Lafley, CEO Proctor & Gamble

      “Most current software is focused on general enterprise needs rather than user-specific needs. The opportunity for business and IT leaders is to understand how the individualization of work will affect businesses, critical processes, innovation and interenterprise collaboration."
      Yvonne Genovese, VP Gartner

      "We don’t expect openness and collaboration to generate what they do. We overestimate the risks. We underestimate the risks of closed systems and overestimate closed systems’ benefits."
      James Boyle

      "Security should be seen as a tool that can be used to accept risks so that the business can take advantage of market opportunities it was never able to before."
      Eric Ouellet, Gartner

      "In the current economic climate, Forrester believes collaboration tools can save enterprises operation costs by getting people and processes together quickly and efficiently."
      Gil Yehuda

      “No business case will sell social software to a firm that doesn’t already value collaboration in its culture.,.//...If the ROI is needed to convince an organisation that collaboration is a good thing - then ROI is the least of your problems…"
      Larry Hawes, Gilbane Group

      Tuesday, June 2, 2009

      Information needs to flow, damn it!

      In an organization, you never know when or where innovation will happen, where ideas will pop up and where they will come to life. But what you should know is that if information does not flow freely, innovation is less likely to happen. To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes:
      "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up."
      Ideas simply need to be allowed to find the place where they have the right conditions to shoot off and grow. Information is the carrier of ideas, and communication is about moving information (ideas) from one place (mind) to another.

      It is the same thing with collaboration. For collaboration to be likely to happen in an organization, information must flow as freely as possible. Otherwise we will not find new people to collaborate with, e will miss a lot of opportunities or other reasons to collaborate (synergies, reuse...), and it will be hard to collaborate since the ability to easily communicate and exchange information is key in any collaboration, especially in large and distributed organizations.

      So how come so many people seem to have a problem with letting information flow as freely as possible? Why do they keep their information - regardless of what type of information it is and how sensitive it might be - for themselves until someone, typically a person they know in real life, explicitly asks for it? Why do they force other people to develop detective skills so they can find out who hoards on what information? Why don't they just expose what they have to as everybody that could benefit from it? Aarrgghhh!

      There are of course reasons, reasons that can be found in human nature.

      One reason is that we as humans are risk averters and are biased against openness. The following quotes are from a post by David Weinberger who blogged live from a seminar about the nature of openness by James Boyle, chairman of Creative Commons and teaches law at Duke:

      "We don’t expect openness and collaboration to generate what they do. We overestimate the risks. We underestimate the risks of closed systems and overestimate closed systems’ benefits."

      "Q: Is the bias a metaphor or an inherent inability to understand openness?
      A: About 80% is explained by the fact that for most of my generation’s lives, our experience of property was with physical things; if I have it, you can’t. There are economic benefits to knowing who owns it. The closed intuitions generally work there."
      Another reason is that many people are very afraid to be misunderstood. Being misunderstood sometimes seems to be the worst things that can happen, close to being injured a car accident or hit by lightning. Letting information go increases the likely-hood of being misunderstood (many people do not understand that you can avoid or fix it with rich, frequent, informal and interactive communication).

      If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you might have stumbled upon and recall my three principles of Information Management. If you haven't, read these and you will better understand my reasoning. But to avoid misunderstandings ;-), I will repeat them shortly.


      Data and content can be managed with the means of (information) technology, but we cannot manage information and knowledge with technology. This is because information and knowledge exist only in our own heads. What we can do however is to try to conceptualize what we know and encoded it into content - text, images, sound and video. We can also try to identify the intended receivers and make the content available to them. But we cannot guarantee that they will understand what we are trying to say to them or that they will act as we want them to even if they do understand. We can only hope that they get our message and that it is persuasive enough and that they have the motivation required to act as we want them to.


      There is no value in information which is not – sooner or later – being used. Information that might be of use sooner or later holds a potential value, but that value is not realized until it is actually used for something. Simply put, information is just a means to an end.


      To realize this value potential, the information needs to flow. It needs to flow to the people who needs it to achieve their goals. It needs to flow to them whenever they need it and wherever they are. To understand.

      Information needs to flow, damn it!

      Monday, June 1, 2009

      The (supposed) impact of Google Wave

      As I have no hands-on experience (who does?) from using Google Wave and have only seen static screenshots. But a lot of things have been written about it already since it was announced by Google on their Google I/O (developer) conference in San Francisco last week. So what do the people who's writings I read and who's opinions I have come to respect have to say about Google Wave? Here are a few of them:

      Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the original creators of Google Maps, will take the stage to unveil their latest project, Google Wave. As Lars describes it, "We set out to answer the question: What would email look like if we set out to invent it today?"

      In answering the question, Jens, Lars, and team re-imagined email and instant-messaging in a connected world, a world in which messages no longer need to be sent from one place to another, but could become a conversation in the cloud. Effectively, a message (a wave) is a shared communications space with elements drawn from email, instant messaging, social networking, and even wikis.

      A key point here is that Google's relentless focus on reducing the latency of online actions is bringing the online experience closer and closer to our real world experience of face-to-face communication. When you're talking with someone, you know what someone is saying before they finish their sentence. You can respond, or even finish their sentence for them. So too with Wave.

      The real-time connectedness of Wave is truly impressive. Drop photos onto a wave and see the thumbnails appear on the other person's machine before the photos are even finished uploading.

      But wait: there's more! Let's say you want to edit your message (or even a message that was written by another participant in the wave). Yes, you can. The original author is notified, but every participant can see that the message has been modified, and if they want, can replay the changes...//...This leads to a change in behavior: conversations become shared documents. The screenshot below shows a simple example, as Gregory and Casey collaborate to produce a good answer to Dan's question. As Stephanie Hannon, the product manager for Googe Wave, said to me, "In Wave, you don't have to make the choice between discussing and collaborating."

      When I saw Wave for the first time on Monday, I realized that we're at a kind of DOS/Windows divide in the era of cloud applications. Suddenly, familiar applications look as old-fashioned as DOS applications looked as the GUI era took flight. Now that the web is the platform, it's time to take another look at every application we use today, and ask the same question Lars and Jens asked themselves: "What would this look like if we invented it today instead of twenty-five years ago?"
      Tim O’Reilly Dissects Implications of Google Wave for (by extrapolation) the Knowledge Workplace...In other news, I’ve heard this past week that Microsoft will plug in, or layer over, Sharepoint with the old Lotus collaboration application Groove that helped bring Ray Ozzie to Microsoft.

      Given these developments, one could not be blamed for assuming that collaboration will be THE fundamental core design principle for the knowledge workplace of the (near) future.
      Though we seem to finally be hitting a tipping point with 2.0 tools at work, Wave itself seems credible enough to get on our watchlists, at least to understand the implications.

      ...a wave is almost a form of social glue between people and the information they care about

      Google Wave is designed for real-time participation and editing of shared conversations and documents and is more akin to the simultaneous multiuser experience of Google Docs than with traditional blogs and wiki editing.

      Participants can be added in real-time, new conversations forked off (via private replies), social media sharing is assumed to be the norm, and connection with a user’s contextual server-side data is also a core feature including location, search, and more.

      The result is stored in a persistent document known as a wave, access to which can be embedded anywhere that HTML can be embedded, whether that’s a Web page or an enterprise portal.

      Google Wave largely complements and doesn’t replace existing communication and collaborative applications.

      Waves are a natural integration point for many enterprise services including ECM, SOA, mashups, and more.

      I’m betting that it’s likely to be one of the most interesting offerings to businesses that the company [Google] has created yet. With the open positioning, early outreach to the world, and the clarity of purpose and design, Google Wave has a good shot at helping take Enterprise 2.0 to the next level in many organizations.
      Wave doesn't require your friends to be loyal to one specific web service; it's designed to combine content from places all over the Internet.

      In the end, Wave's greatest asset could be that all this information can become more useful from ties to Google's core product: search. While you can share information on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, the options for discovery on those services leaves something to be desired.

      The idea of Wave isn't predicated on putting information into tidy folders like you have on Microsoft SharePoint, the document management system embraced widely throughout corporate America. Instead, it's based on the notion of letting information flow freely for users to interact with on a real-time basis, much like we do on the consumer web.

      It will take businesses, and the software designed for them, a long time to catch up with the innovations of streaming applications. Today, employees must sort through messy "reply-all" e-mails to engage with content as a group. If you're working with a document in SharePoint, you must "check it in" and "check it out," making it hard for multiple people to contribute in real-time.

      With technologies like Wave, users can select groups and individuals whom they want to share content with in a much more eye-pleasing way. Because the content is Web-based, they can update it in real-time.
      My skepticism concerns Google’s ability to execute over time (e.g., building in security and management capabilities) if they are serious about Wave being an enterprise solution. However, it is clearly a disruptive approach to current market players and one that entrenched vendors with large revenue streams to protect would never have undertaken.
      With Google Wave, Google has:
      • Opened a new path to reinvent how we collaborate. You have to see it to understand, but why would you need four products when one Wave will do? It's a new conversational metaphor that will also easily support document-based collaboration.
      • Re-asserted its interest in hosting the world's conversations. Google will host these conversations. And that means Google will be curator of more and more of the world's converations. An awesome reponsibility for sure, and one that regulators should pay attention to. Buut someone has to do it. Why not a company with a founding culture of "do no evil?