Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

God & social media guidelines @ work

A thought provoking  Tweet from Kenan Malik pointed me to a great article in Philosophy Now from Emrys Westacott, “Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better?”, or as Kenan put it, “Should God have placed CCTV cameras in the Garden of Eden?”.

The article looks at systems of control that prevent transgression (speed cameras and the like) and asks if they make us better people or not. The rum idea is that by choosing not to do wrong, we might be better than simply not being able to do wrong (at least not able without the certainty of a a resounding thwak on the metaphysical or corporeal buttocks).

This made me think of all those discussions of social media governance at work and whether one should or should not be able to chat with friends and enemies on FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn while at work. It also ties in with the ability for an intranet to effectively monitor our every keystroke. Systems like Autonomy for example, have the potential to monitor all an employee types while logged in (at least so my boss tells me) and send off an e-mail to HR, the minute you type ‘CV’…

The article does raise, and I think answer the question of what sort of people we want at work – ones monitored all day long, clocking in and clocking out all their actions and chained to the cyber keyboard or their corporate duties. Or, do we want ones who exercise choice and responsibilities; ones who are judged and rewarded on what they deliver, rather than how many rules they obey?

Social Media Guidelines at Work Policy
In light of this, I think the best Social Media Guidelines at Work policy could be whittled down to a commandment of almost Biblical simplicity:

“Thou shalt not take the piss.”

And what I mean by this is simple. Do not restrict access. Trust the employees. But those employees in being given this trust, should not abuse it. I think this is fair and honest.


Should God have placed CCTV cameras in the Garden of Eden?
Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better?

Communications Featured Articles Intranet

Cisco Cius – tablets for the Enterprise

Interesting product release from my old chums at Cisco, the Cius (‘See-us’, oh really yes…) a tablet for the Enterprise. Looking at the promo video, Cisco are selling this with clout – Cisco can deliver and all that jazz. based on Android it’s heavily video orientated. It also works on wifi & 3G / 4G. Oh & multitasking too…

What it does is combine iPad type display with full industrial collaboration. What I mean by this is video conferencing via  TelePresence on HD.

OK then this raises one big question. Bandwidth. What sort of wifi is needed in the office, what will your carrier bill be at the end of the month if you use the Cisco Cius outside an enterprise contract? Note that even the iPhone 4 doesn’t really do video conferencing out the box on your data network unless you cook up a deal with your carrier – it’s only wifi so far.

Internal Communications
Possibilities are a collaboration and comms tool are endless though. Should be fun to use too. Seamless funky video conferencing across the enterprise & mobile to boot. Internal Communicators will have kittens when they realise what it really opens up 😉 I for one am looking forward to battle testing this in a full blown internal comms environment.

Still convinced that your traditional monolith of an intranet is future-proofed and worth all that investment? Think again, mobile collaboration apps like this (and more to come) will radically change the way online corporate information is presented, consumed and shared. What this means is a radical rethink of what an intranet is and does.


Cisco gets Funky

Cius…Is believing

Cisco Video

Cisco Finds its Tablet

General customer feedback

Garden Furniture World / Customer Feedback

Experienced a nightmare of e-commerce of late when I tried the simple task of buying some garden furniture online. All I wanted was a 5 piece Teak patio set of 4 chairs and a table. I was however,  caught out by 3 elements, successful Google PPC, consequent good user experience and architecture and finally the most stupid of my mistakes, getting caught out by the upsell temptation.

Skip rant

If you want to skip my rant and see my recommendations, please nip to the end of the post.

Garden Furniture World, puts the wooden into service
To begin with all looked ok – on a Wednesday afternoon I called to find out the deadline for nextday orders was told noon and placed my order at twenty past ten the next day. Friday morning I received an SMS telling me that delivery would be between 9 am and 6 pm. These suck, but I was for once able to work from home that day (wfh is another story, laters).

At 9.30, 1st upsell item arrives (a garden firepit). 12.30 four cushions arrive. I ask the driver where the table & chairs are and was told he didn’t know, but probably on the supliers own van. as the other upsell item had arrived by separate courier, this seemed plausible.

Of course the table and chairs did not arrive and so at 5 pm I follow the instructions on the SMS and call the couriers. They say they’ve delivered at 12.30 and I ask where my furniture is. Of course the couriers no nothing of this as they’ve only been given the cushions. They call Garden Furniture World for me and are told that was all that was ordered. The couriers advise me to call the suppliers and the ‘sub-optimal e-commerce experience begins (ok I say begins, by now I’ve sat in all day waiting for the goods to arrive and all that).

After several attempts I reach Garden Furniture World’s customer service who say they haven’t any details of the table and chairs going out and are not sure when they’ll be delivered. I ask for someone to get back to me. No one does, office closes at 6 pm.

I send an e-mail asking where my goods are, not really expecting a reply until Monday. However one arrives on Saturday saying the good will arrive Monday. I ping one back via iPhone saying this is no good, I’ll be at work and they should have arrived Friday. A few hours later another e-mail arrives telling me that orders needed to be placed before 10 am for next day delivery.

By now I’m more than a bit cheesed off. It’s 30 degrees C in London and a chance to relax in a chair in my garden would be just the ticket. But hey ho, I have to wait until Monday to sort it out. On Monday I ring Garden Furniture World and tell them how fed up I am. On this I’m told that delivery will be today, sometime between now and 6 pm. Utterly rubbish delivery times, as I’m out at work.

So, I request a full refund, including carriage and ask for someone senior to get back to me. i also use Whois to find out who owns and see that it’s owned by From Whois I see and e-mail for a certain Joe. now Joe is listed as a director here so I pop him an e-mail too

Quite soon after a lady called Hayley calls me. I explain what’s happened and that unless I can get delivery by 9.30 am this week then I’d really like to cancel the whole lot. I explain that a neighbour might be able to take delivery today but it’s pretty hit and miss. Hayley says she’ll get back to me.

A short while later I do indeed get a call. Hayley then tells me that the delivery for today is not after all my table and chairs, but a maintenance kit for looking after them. I ask for a full refund – this is agreed, but I’ve still got to sort this out with the courier myself  (potentially another day waiting in). The table and chairs it now turns out, aren’t even in stock, let alone on their way to me.

What gets me irritated though is now a notionally professional e-commerce outfit can have such an awful logistics back-up. Their process was quite prepared to make me wait in for 2 whole days for 4 cushions and a wood maintenance kit, but not the actual main items I’d ordered – the actual chairs and table. If I’d have resisted the upsell and not been took in by the IA and UX I’d have at least had accurate information – couldn’t delivery my wooden garden furniture of a table and 4 chairs.

Where fail and how to fix it

1) Accurate stock levels shown on their website. Synch up database with suppliers.

2) Track the entire order in 1 system. Get some decent dba guys in.

3) Use some sort of e-mail notification system. Track process of entire order and send e-mails for each step. Order received, goods ready, goods despatched, ETA.

4) Poorly informed sales staff. Train staff in sales to provide accurate info on deadlines & delivery.

5) Poorly informed customer service staff. Firstly employ more of them and let them have access to the entire order process data. Next train them to provide accurate information to the customer.

In sum rubbish service. Now got to someone who can deliver and work out how to be in to collect the goods. Worst of it is, I’ll be driving past WorldStores HQ @ 70 London Road, Twickenham on my way home later. Maybe I should print this off for Joe and Richard to read and post it through their letter box, as they’ve clearly got some way to go before they successfully enter the digital world…

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Thoughts from a social software practitioner

For a project I was asked what I thought about the impact of social software and employee communications. I quite enjoyed jotting down my ideas in less than 400 words and so I’d like to share them with you.

For over 15 years I have been working with social technologies, back in the days when they were called ‘computer mediated communications’. Whilst I am one of those people who think that they are having a strong transformative effect on the way we do business, collaborate and communicate, we need to be mindful that these are just technologies. It is after all people who make businesses happen and the computer that can actually communicate, has yet to be invented.

Nonetheless, I think we can see businesses being transformed by social technologies. I have both seen and been actively engaged in this process in EU sponsored pan-European projects and in high-tech blue chip and in a mainstream British company. In these roles, I have successfully used the full raft of social technologies, Wikis, Forums, Blogs, Polls, RSS, Tagging, Video, Mobile (and more) to communicate with staff.

On a broader perspective are now starting to see case studies coming though showing the social/business impact and in small but growing measures, hard ROI. The key areas I think we are seeing business change taking place in are in the ability to collaborate more effectively across organisational boundaries, timezones and geographies. This collaboration is both innovative of itself, but also fosters and encourages innovation in the enterprise. One of the reasons for this is that social software can connect people and their ideas both quickly and across the boundaries, but also in new and unexpected ways. Experts can be located, ideas and information surfaced new synergies and alliances created.

One of the most interesting aspects of these technologies is that they are both productive and fun. BT for example are talking about a 20:1 ROI on their social intranet and UBM talk of big savings in their procurement teams. Vendors such as Jive and Microsoft (I used both) also talk about the fun element and how work is made more social by these technologies. This is a key aspect and is also a major factor in an E.20 project’s success.

In sum, the transformation is one that makes businesses more productive and better places to work in, increasing profits but also employee engagement and satisfaction. There is a potential here for something quite different to emerge from the process. Quite what that will be is uncertain, but I enjoy being one of the people making it happen.

Russell Pearson, June 2010

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Cisco Quad, 1st blush

I’ve written a few times about Cisco, nee WebEx Connect and it’s role as a potential SharePoint killer, so it was with interest that I looked at the release of Cisco’s Quad. The video below says more than I can at present, so just some 1st blush observations here.

1) Easy sociality. The app lacks the pure 2.0 finesse of Connect. It reminds me somewhat of the days when companies that made CD ROM based training made a web version and it ended up looking like a web version of their CD. (Who remembers Linksys manuals?)  Nonetheless, Cisco Quad looks robust and usable in a corporate environment. I didn’t get the impression that it would take lengthy training sessions to use and that it could be deployed pretty much out the box. These are vital to success.

2) Presence. On the P word Presence, it’s hot on this. Potential tie in with other products, especially TelePresence, LibreStream and expert locator is powerful. Find the expert and communicate (with video maybe) now. This is key to the battle with Microsoft on unified comms.

3) Corporate Directory. Looks good but what powers this? Does it run alongside an ‘official’ one, it is dependent on there being in this environment, or as the presenter said “So long as people are on the community and are active….”. This raises a whole lot of questions that I’ll look at in more depth in a future post. Is this a standalone, or is it integrated (probably both, but to what degree and with what functionality?)

4) Corporate Directory navigation. I’d also like to see the 3D type navigation that SharePoint offers – I want to navigate up the directory tree and down, but I also want to see who someone’s peers are and to navigate horizontally (just like the elevators in Star Trek).

5) Content Management. We’ve all got content that we talk about – presentations, sales collaterals, white papers, product release docs, and more. These will be talked about galore on a system like this. Where in Cisco’s universe do these live? Where’s the content management? (Do we need one is maybe pertinent, but it needs answering in context.)

& finally the really big one….

6) T-Shirts. These play a massive role in Cisco and it was because of a Cisco t-Shirt was worn outside Google’s HQ that the new logo got released early. There was also a near riot when T-Shirt & sweatshirt production was cut back a few years back,  as for some engineers this was a good 80% of their upper-body wardrobe. Good to see that this has now been overcome and that some are back to that high fashion cut of using double layering of Cisco corporate wares to keep warm.

7) Governance, dis-aggregation & the morphing of the intranet to follow…

Communications Featured Articles

Dilbert does it again – Employee Satisfaction

..more from Dilbert, this time on employee satisfaction

See also Dilbert’s take on employee engagement

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Why is the UK slower at Enterprise 2.0?

The uptake of E2.0 in the UK and in Europe is apparently slow and it certainly seems a lot slower than in the US. But why is this so, why is the uptake of E2.0 slower here than in the US?

In a really thought provoking post at Pretzel Logic, Sameer Patel wonders if the cause is tied into different levels of productivity and the higher levels of labour the what he calls the‘labour capacity’ seen in Europe compared with the US. Sameer wonders if the need to ‘do more with less’ is less pressing here and consequently:

“If people are the ultimate producers and you have an abundance of labor, being productive by finding experts faster, searching for data and content less, reducing time consuming meetings and email, etc etc don’t seem to be strong, budget-shifting value propositions.”

I’m not so sure this is the case, the same pressures to be more productive fall on businesses no matter where they are. Sameer points to differing changes of productivity in Europe, America and Japan, but what this misses is the more concrete level of actual productivity to begin with. Britain might be increasing its rate of productivity more favourably than a competitor state but this means little if the comparison is with an economy that was much more productive in the first place. In any event the same drive to be more productive still exists, it’s a primary condition of capitalism.

Given Sameer’s picture of labour capacity this same drive should impact different economies in different ways. It would there create different drivers in different EU economies such as poor old post-industrial Britain and the far more productive and industrial Germany. This is something noticed by Dennis Howlett who also notes that E.20 rollout will be different in different parts of a global company. Dennis’ target here is Hutch Carpenter’s reworking of Maslow, creating what I noted as a paradox – the bigger the impact of 2.0 the harder to measure and vice versa.

What Dennis does next though is shake up the whole 2.0 apple cart and with it, the traditional model / role of internal comms and the intranet (both of which I’ve been arguing will be transformed in the coming years. What Dennis provides is a model of how this will happen). He conjures the following diagram, where the benefit of 2.0 is agility and revenue generation.

Enterprise 2.0: let’s be careful out there

The drivers for this are both customer and employee satisfaction (the holy grail of many an internal comms project) plus cross organisational collaboration. Dennis notes carefully that this is maybe a little simplistic and thinks that at least in an ideal world “we should see the emergence of the kind of breakthrough revenue generation and agility that sit at the top of Hutch’s hierarchy.”

The barriers to this happening Dennis seems to think are cultural and while we can point to potential gains, getting these in place “may well require a much more agile transactional framework than currently exists in many organizations.”

There’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation here, to be more agile requires agility, or as Ross Dawson puts it:

“A collaborative organizational culture needs to be enabled by collaborative tools. These tools by themselves cannot make a difference. However if employees use those tools well, it will absolutely enhance organizational performance.”

How is this situation to be reached? Well it might be helpful to look at what I see as happening here in the UK with Enterprise 2.0. I’m not picking up strong indications of a massive rollout of big 2.0 projects. What I am detecting though is an increasing tendency for companies to start using social technologies as part of their core intranet. In addition, internal comms teams are recognising that social technologies can engage with their customers, i.e., the stakeholders, teams and employees they’re communicating for and to in very effective ways.

Maybe this is a British reserve, a softly softly approach. It does mark a difference from what I see my fellow members of the Adoption 2.0 Council doing in the US though. But what this could well point to is companies taking a reserved almost stiff upper lip approach to rolling out social tools. However, even with this reserve, we could well start to see a transformative effect. The Catch 22 of agility needing more agility might be overcome here.

Maybe these first small steps are what’s needed to create that more long term agility. And so of the longer term impact, whether we gradually more and more transformative and create more effective, agile revenue generating companies, whether instead only the riskier, more large scale projects seen in more often in America, will reap big sudden productivity gains, well only time will tell.

Enterprise 2.0 and improved business performance
Slash and Burn: Productivity and Enterprise 2.0
Enterprise 2.0: let’s be careful out there
Creating competitive differentiation with Enterprise 2.0
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI
The ROI Paradox of E2.0

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Yammer + SharePoint = agility

Further to my post yesterday when I mentioned SharePoint 2010 and their slow upgrade path (one every 3 years or so). This means they have to plan in advance and can miss opportunities or new technologies arriving. When I went to see them at their UK HQ at Reading they admitted that microblogging was just such a feature of this slow process – i.e., they didn’t have it.

Lo and behold, Microsoft and Yammer announce integration, of sorts, Yammer:

“Yammer users will now be able to put a Yammer feed on “virtually any SharePoint page” and post to Yammer from different areas within Sharepoint. MOSS users will be able to view Yammer messages alongside Sharepoint search results.”

So MOSS too and not only SP2010. This approach of Yammer and SharePoint could overcome that lack of nimbleness I noted. It potentially opens a way for SharePoint to become more 2.0 in terms of being able to mash together more agile and social tools like Yammer. Even more so as BPOS as ideal platform for Yammer SharePoint at work together.

A cloudy intranet of HTML5
Brings its Microblogging Service to Microsoft Sharepoint

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

A cloudy intranet of HTML5

I thought that’s announcement that they’re going full blown ‘drag & drop’ HTML5 was of note for one special reason that hadn’t struck me before with HTML5. HTML5 they say by enabling them to do drag and drop between the web and the desktop, means “the death of desktop software.”

If this is right then it’s not only desktop software that could feel the fatal pinch. Imagine if you will (and I do like imagining) what all this will mean to the healthy well-being of the average corporate intranet. Applications such as using HTML5 mean that the boundary between not only the web and the desktop, but also that boundary between the intranet and the desktop will also dissolve. Problems I’ve seen in the past such as ‘this is the official intranet, this is the shadow version built on x’ will be legion. Large monolithic intranet CMS such as Autonomy and Opentext will have difficulties maneuvering around these nimble technologies. As will of course that noble and tight ruled fellow, intranet manager.

Because why? Well the intranet is governed at the centre but operates at the periphery (c.f. Lukacs). Users, bless them, will turn to what ever technologies suit their work best. And if these cloud based apps, that lithely slide between the dissolved gaps between the official intranet, their desktop and the cloud, actually help them work better, then thet’ll be used.

It becomes difficult here to really draw out those lines in any clear way between the intranet, the desktop and the cloud.

Imagine further, if you will, what these cloudy apps might do when they become more fully social. They become social widgets, drawn from the cloud to make a personal and work collaborative desktop. Teams could pull these together to make a fusion of what we now see as separate tools – the enterprise social network, the official intranet, the file store, etcetera. The Intranet manager, Infosec and Digital Security guys will have kittens trying to police this.

And more so, not only the ECM companies mentioned above, but also think of SharePoint. 2010 has just been released. It’s going to be 2013 or more before we see the next major release. In the meantime we have 3 years of HTML5 based collaborative apps appearing on the horizon. They could make SharePoint look like a slow old dinosaur. But maybe, just maybe, BPOS, the cloud based SharePoint will respond to this. In any event, it’s sure going to be fun watching the show.

Drag and Drop it Like it’s Hot, Powered by HTML5 Adopts HTML5; Adds Drag And Drop Functionality Between The Web And Desktop

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

The ROI paradox of E2.0

We’re starting to see a steady increase in case studies demonstrating a clear ROI on the use of collaborational technologies in the Enterprise. Talking with my peers, especially in the US, it’s clear that there’s also a number of these in preparation. Much of the current focus is on soft measurement and it’s still a less common to see hard numbers being put forward. There’s a neat paradox here as seen in Hutch Carpenter’s reworking of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI

ROI paradox of E2.0
For what we see here is that the easier it is to measure the less impact it has on the overall success of the business.The harder to measure, the greater the impact.