Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Making Connections: the Social Object

Originally posted on The Dachis Group Collaboratory. Reposted here just so I have my own record.

There seems to be almost a collective deja vu among some of the social business commentators of late, with lots of talk about a sense of having been here before, for some more than once. For example, Andrew Gilroy, Oracle’s EMEA Enterprise 2.0 spokesperson, even though attending our forward-looking Social Business Summit in London, still found himself wondering if we’d all been here before: Is Social Media Groundhog day 2.0?

So what is creating this uncanny sense of a recurrent History, if not actually repeating itself, at least having a particular resonance today? Let’s start with IBM’s Collaboration evangelist Luis Suarez, who posted a blog called KM, Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business: One and The Same. What Luis contends is that when we look at the issues facing firstly Enterprise 2.0 and now more latterly with Social Business, we’ve been here before with Knowledge Management. But not only that, Luis sees a clear legacy between them all:

“In fact, if folks have stated how Enterprise 2.0 is the father of Social Business I would venture to say that KM is the father and grandfather of E2.0 and Social Business, respectively.”

What Luis hopes is that those of us working with enterprise 2.0 tools and social business transformation will learn from the experiences of knowledge management, but he also notes a point of at least potential tension between the two disciplines. Putting Luis’ argument simply, knowledge management wants to manage knowledge, social business wants to socialise it. One looks at structure and order and managing the ‘unstructured chaos’ of social data; the other side says ‘you cannot and should not ever try this!’

How do we reconcile the two, which is the right course to take?

Now Luis is very canny. He says that both are right. How can this be?

The answer to this I think can be found in one of the Social Business Summit speakers, namely Salesforce’s Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami’s and the writings in his blog ‘Confused of Calcutta‘, especially those around the ‘social object’.

Simply put, the social object refers to the all the social implications embodied in objects, that if actually not introducing, the internet has certainly accelerated. Whilst the social object is a very nuanced object, there’s one important core element that’s relevant for this discussion:

“An object becomes social only when it is shared; it is the sharing that makes the object social, not the object per se.” Thinking more about social objects in the enterprise

Why is this important? The reason is this -as we all know in the traditional 1.0 enterprise the vast amount of objects are not shared much at all, they are stored, sorted away in filestores, e-mail folders, even in filing cabinets. That they are not social at all for most their existence means that they are essentially lifeless, moribund documents gathering one form of dust or another.

In contrast to this, we have all the information that is generated by us as people. These are our conversations, both face to face and via all the communication channels at our disposal: “post, telegraph, telephone, email, IM, SMS, twitter, video calling…” These two systems JP describes as the System of Record and the System of Engagement.

Systems of Record: those tools, repositories, and systems upon which organizations have built their business processes for the last several decades.

Systems of Engagement: These tools overlay and complement organizations deep investments in systems of record by providing Web-based access, usability across a variety of hardware and software platforms, and cross-organizational collaboration. (see here for more on this).

The task ahead of us is how to connect these ‘tectonic’ systems up in meaningful and productive ways.

This is something of interest to Sameer Patel, who has been talking of the importance of the systems of record and Enterprise Content Management for some time. He is of course also acutely aware of the importance of social tools. In his latest post he talks of ways that these two systems can be practically connected up with a ‘social connector’: Jive , Alfresco and SolutionSet turn Content into a Social Object

In his post Sameer looks at Alfresco doing the ‘heavy lifting’ of content management and Jive providing the social functionality. Connecting these two spheres creates the social object, or perhaps rather releases it from the system of record into that of interaction and of people.

As Sameer points out there are many different ways to do this, Jive can be connected to SharePoint 2010, realising the social potential of all those documents in the Microsoft SharePoint repositories. The same process can be done with Oracle and with IBM Connections.

However, as we all know, and Sameer underlines too, the ‘devil is in the detail’ of connecting these two systems.  JP  also stresses some of the potential risks around security and data privacy: often materials in systems of record are locked away because they are private and confidential and thus we need to manage “the export of private objects from the systems of record into the public space of the systems of engagement.”

Managing this risk and managing the end-to-end process of creating not only social objects but in creating the social business is what Headshift and the wider Dachis Group are all about. We are in the business of helping others create social businesses.

Doing so means working with technology and getting that technology to ‘talk’ with other technology and with people. It’s about creating social objects to power the social business. If you would like to know more about how we can release all of that locked up content in your ‘systems of record’ – be they e-mail silos, SharePoint 2003, or even the filing cabinet, please get in touch.

Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Enterprise Architects & Internal Communications

‘How do you measure success – what does it look like to you?’ is one of those questions that can elicit a wide range of answers, but what I’ve found is that whatever the answer is it points to a fundamental philosophy of what matters most. It was with this in mind that I asked a couple of Enterprise Architects this very question. One was from really big Pharma, the other a global bank and their answers were remarkably similar. Success they said, was when things don’t go wrong – so long as the business has forgotten that we’re here, then we’re doing OK.

The opportunity to ask these question was provided at Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture Forum 2011 which I had the pleasure of attending along with my Headshift colleague, Imran Aziz. In some sense the answers were a common thread – what matters most to the Enterprise Architect is of course stability, keeping the engines running and with zero downtime. Innovation, agility and all things social business where therefore secondary to this prime aim. But this in turn means that the Enterprise Architects had a continual juggling act to contend with, for no technology stays still, change is always present and the Business will always require new tools and deployments if the company is to stay competitive.

Part of the purpose of Forrester’s event was to look at how the Enterprise Architect might successfully keep the architecture plane flying safely and continually while all the time re-engineering it in full flight. What I found personally interesting was that Forrester recommended what I understand as a  social or pace layering approach, that is a stable slow changing and secure Transaction Layer supporting the more nimble, innovative and agile Interaction Layer.  One way of explaining this that I particularly liked came from Michel Dufresne of Medco, who likened the model to the iPhone. In this analogy the phone itself is the transaction layer – it is solid and slowly changing, whereas the multitude of applications available via iTunes is the interaction layer. For more information on this model and the opportunities it presents for the business, see Social layering can help bring IT and the business together.

I particularly liked the presentations from Gene Leganza, who saw ‘data as the new oil’ and learned a lot from Jeff Scott and Clay Richardson on Strategy and Business Process. One aspect of the event that pleasantly surprised me, was just how prevalent social business was on the Enterprise Architecture horizon. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, given it’s ubiquity in all other aspects of the business, but social, along with mobile were the top agenda items for the Enterprise Architect. Indeed, what was pointed out was that architecture was one of those parts of the business that has a view right across the business. It has to, as the architecture supports all the business transactions and interactions. It is core to the business strategy.

This got me thinking. There’s room here I think for an alliance in the business and one I’ve not seen as yet. That alliance is between the Enterprise Architects and Internal Communications. The architecture enables the strategy from a core foundation IT perspective. The communications infrastructure articulates and communicates that strategy. They’re both sides of the same coin. These teams would do well to talk and plan things together more often. There’s productive synergies in place there, especially when the internal comms guys are leveraging Enterprise 2.0 tools to articulate and bring to life their message. To use social media for internal communications needs an effective and efficient enterprise architecture. And if the rest of the business only thinks about the architecture when things go wrong, there’s a communications opportunity there to be had here.

Creating these sorts of conversations is not easy – if it were they would be happening already. The architecture guys need to understand the communications people and their drivers. In turn, the communications teams need to understand the technology and process that form the Enterprise Architecture. And if Enterprise 2.0 tools are in the loop, as they should be, both need to understand the transformative possibilities of social business for both communications and architecture.



Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Making Social Business a Success

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see a sneak peek of Jive 5 at a private view in London. Now whilst I’m not in a any position to reveal any details (that would spoil the surprise and impact of Jive’s forthcoming launch of the new release), I can say this however – what I saw I liked. And whilst I expect that the new features will grab the headlines when it’s unveiled, what struck me was the consolidation of one aspect Jive have already publicised pretty widely, namely the role of Jive Apps in the future of the platform.

Quite why I like Jive Apps is something I’ve blogged about lately (On Pace and Panarchy). In a nutshell, I like the approach in that it offers the potential of solving the paradox of how we square the business need for stability with the competitive need to be agile. In this model, we have a core transactional layer characterised by slow moving but stable business proceses and a faster changing more agile interaction layer. This model can be applied to an architecture or a platform, the latter we have the core Jive software release and then the ability to provide a customised layer of either bought in pre made or bespoke applications.

Jive already supports a range of these Apps, from Box allowing easy and secure file sharing; through to quick translations via Lingotek and for meeting planning and organisation. Using the OpenSocial standards, there is also nothing to stop companies developing their own bespoke Apps to meet specific needs. What’s more, this does not mean a complete free for all of rogue applications. Precisely which applications are available for users, is centrally controlled via the Jive admin console, allowing for far better management than the anarchy vs. IP blocking approach.

But before anyone gets excited by all these new toys, it’s worth taking both a deep breath and a step back. All the technology in the world will not solve a business problem and this goes for all the social platforms, Jive, SharePoint, Connections as well as their add on Apps. Problems are solved (and perhaps created) by people. The purpose of all these tools is to get people working in new and better ways. But before we look at how we might achieve this, let’s spend a moment looking at what we mean by ‘better’ and how the numbers support this.

Two recent research publications are of note here when looking at the benefits of social business software. The first is from Jive themselves who asked their customers what they thought Jive software brought them. The results pointed to core benefits in employee satisfaction (30% increase), customer retention (31% increase) as well as the bottom line (26% increase in web site sales). Jive software customer survey reveals state of market The 2nd was from McKinsey The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday The McKinsey work differs in only one way to the Jive report – its numbers are stronger, pointing to even higher benefits, with an elite group of early adopters doing even better.

This all looks well and good. There’s new technologies available, with data on its efficacy to support the desire that they can help people work better and successful case studies to aspire to. So surely, all that’s needed then is to roll out the software and productivity, employee satisfaction and sales will rocket? Oh if it were so easy. Like many fine things in life, it takes a lot of effort, ingenuity, patience and process to get it right.

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

The SharePoint Question: 2.0 be or not 2.0 be?

It’s some nine months now since Microsoft released their latest iteration of SharePoint, SP2010. This was done with no small degree of fanfare:

Web 2.0 applications are all the rage now. Different apps delivering different capabilities aim to tackle blogging, wikis, discussion boards, document management, and more all try to deliver great “best of breed” experiences. Trying to implement a hodge podge of applications in a piecemeal fashion presents a number of challenges to any Enterprise implementation.
Announcing SharePoint 2010

It was against this backdrop that good deal of traffic was generated in response to a couple of blogs from SharePoint expert Michael Sampson about the ratio of costs to customise Microsoft SharePoint compared to the license cost. The ratio turns out to be up to 9:1 – for every $1 spent on licenses, $9 get spent on customisation: The Cost of SharePoint = License Fee x9 (It’s a Microsoft Figure).

This as the title reveals, comes from Microsoft themselves, namely Microsoft Director Arpan Shah who presents the figure as part of a long overview of SharePoint’s capabilities: Building Solutions on SharePoint.

This figure attracted a lot of interest both in Twitter retweets and also in more private 2.0 conversations on SocialCast, the premise being in both that it’s rather high.

This response was perhaps not surprising given what Microsoft promised for SP2010, namely:

Today’s corporate IT operations groups know that the real cost of any software is not in the up front purchase but in the subsequent maintenance and integration of those applications. SharePoint 2010 squarely meets the needs of today’s Enterprise.

Out of the box SharePoint 2010 delivers a seamless integrated offering that addresses corporate needs around collaboration, search, BI, content management, social computing, and more.

Announcing SharePoint 2010

This is a compelling argument and in many corporations, it’s a winning one. It’s one also frequently bolstered by a premise that SharePoint is free. From one perspective it is – SharePoint is usually bundled with other enterprise Microsoft as part of a wider enterprise deal and so from an IT perspective it’s as good as free (i.e., it’s already paid for, so it won’t add any more to their budget).

It’s perhaps not surprising then that when someone within a corporation that already uses SharePoint; reads, sees, or experiences, the benefits of social business software and wants to deploy the same in their company that the SharePoint Question kicks in.

This questions often gets played out like this. Someone, often from IT rightly points out that  the company already has SharePoint, that it’s paid for and “does all the social media 2.0 stuff you’re talking about – blogs, wikis, rss, discussions and the like.”

At this point the business owner of the Enterprise 2.0 project needs to make a decision. They can either:

1) Agree and use SharePoint out of the box with no customisation

2) Agree, but ask that it be customised to meet the specific needs of their organisation

3) Agree but insist that it’s used in conjunction with other tools -adding a ‘social layer’ for example using Newsgator, Yammer or Jive.

4) Disagree and go down what Microsoft call the ‘best of breed’ route – namely use IBM Connections, Jive or Telligent etc.

5) Disagree and build their own from scratch or using Open Source solutions such as Drupal.

If IT are positioning SharePoint as the one-stop-shop for social then option 1 comes compelling and any other route might appear extravagant. The interesting thing is this however, in my experience at least, in the longer run companies rarely end up using SharePoint out of the box. At some point they almost always take one of the other options.

I think this in part where the 9:1 figure comes from – many people running 2.0 projects learn learn that SharePoint is an extremely powerful enterprise tool when it comes to managing documents. But when it comes to people collaborating as teams and communities in the ways that the ‘best of breed’ do in almost seamless fashion, SharePoint struggles in out of the box form. When this is realised, many companies decide to customise SharePoint, many try adding a social layer on top to get the best from it and some decide to adopt a completely different course by using another platform.

Putting the platform together is however, the easy part. No matter which platform is used and how much it is customised or tweaked, getting people collaborating together in new ways is the difficult part. This means getting non technology issues right: creating the right strategy for adoption, putting in place the right set of tactics to achieve it and creating the sort of corporate culture where collaboration can thrive. It is this where the rewards are. It is also the area where the ratio of gain can potentially far outstrip ratios of cost and license.

On Michael Sampson, we’re meeting up for lunch on Monday and my weekend read is his “User Adoption Strategies: Shifting Second Wave People to New Collaboration Technology (2010)” I’ll be asking him if we can really do this successfully with SharePoint out the box!

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

The Social Business paradox

“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.”
Niels Bohr

Thus spake the Danish Nobel prize winning physicist Niels Bohr. I was reminded of this quote on reading Alex Williams’ post on ReadWriteWeb The Paradox for Jive Software . The paradox he sees here is this, Jive he believes are a solutions orientated company and “Solutions oriented companies build custom configurations.”

As evidence, Williams cites Tim Bertrand over at the Drupal builders Acquia. Jive, Bertrand reckons, are playing a time-old game of building highly customised solutions, that not only cost the client a lot of money themselves, but also cost even more every time a new release is made: “Proprietary Social Business Software and Its Dirty Little Secrets” .

I don’t buy this argument as it goes completely against my own experience with Jive. They have a well developed Professional Services wing, but they’re not exactly keen on producing customisations. For sure, Jive will make customisations if requested but as they publicly stated at a Jive customer event in London last year, they do not see this as their core business. Their business they said was selling software, not to produce bespoke solutions. As this market is worth a potential $100BN a year, there might well be some mileage in this approach.

No even if a quarter of this size, this market is still pretty huge and the question remains on how customers’ needs are going to be met – is it best met with Open Source solutions such as Drupal (or my own personal favourite for small business solutions, WordPress); ‘best of breed’ vendors such as Jive; or the architecture behemoths such as IBM’s Connections or Microsoft Sharepoint?

The answer of course is ‘it depends’ and each of these solutions can and do meet customer needs to great effect. How they do this points to a bigger paradox than the one facing Jive and one that impacts all players. This paradox is this: how do you achieve standardisation and security and still provide agility and customisation?

The answer to this paradox is quite possibly revealed when we look at the pace or Social Layering model of an IT architecture. See Lee Bryant’s Social layering can help bring IT and the business together and my On Pace and Panarchy. To reiterate, this model posits a slower changing and tightly controlled IT foundational architecture – the ‘transaction layer’ and a more quickly changing and less regulated social or ‘interaction layer’.

Such a model points to the way that standardisation and customisation can coexist as happy bedfellows. The foundational transaction layer provides the economy of scale and security needed for the core business operations. The interaction layer supports the winning edge of people driven innovation and collaboration needed for the modern social business.

What strikes me is that this model is one that we can actually see mirrored in some of the vendors mentioned above. SharePoint for example provides the potentially corporation wide architecture, but can happily coexist with a social layer provided by Yammer, Newsgator and the like. Perhaps at the other end of the scale we see this at a micro level with WordPress and its legion of plugins. The most interesting model is seen with Jive however.

Jive sits in the middle – there’s a core product that does the job pretty well indeed, at least according to Gartner and Forrester. It also can connect up to SharePoint and socialise a Microsoft architecture. The really interesting aspect of Jive is coming out in the imminent release of Jive 5.

What Jive 5 promises, is a core product, a standardisation, with the ability to create customisation via bespoke applications, named not surprisingly Jive Apps. Using OpenSocial these adhere to global standards and great flexibility. They can be built in-house, bought from vendors selling them as commercial apps or built by specialist agencies as part of a social business design. I like this approach as it combines stability with agility – it solves at least potentially, the paradox of how to customise without getting locked into the endless ‘vicious’ loop Bertrand speaks about.

Next blog will feature another physicist, Einstein, when I’ll look at how to make things simpler…;-)

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

On Pace and Panarchy

Enterprise 2.0

Social Business Scorecard Presentation

A development of my ideas in presentation format. This was a really useful exercise and it has helped me draw out some of the ideas and to identify areas to work on and  make more robust. The project is one I’d like to make concrete, working with a team to solidify the ideas and to ground them in standard business practice. Areas that need developing are legion but there needs to be more work on the external / marketing aspects to draw the elements together.

Enterprise 2.0

CiscoCast: Executive Messaging in Cisco EMEA

How Content Networking Delivers Executive Messaging in Europe – CiscoCast. Just some links to PDFs of content for future reference. CiscoCast was a project I worked on for a number of years and used BackWeb and then latterly Skinkers technology to push targeted rich media video messages to users’ desktops across EMEA. It was a very powerful tool for delivering video messages from Cisco executives to the Cisco EMEA employee base.

Cisco_IT_Case_Study_ACNS_EMEA_print Presentation (0.7MB PDF)

Cisco_IT_Case_Study_ACNS_EMEA_Summary Summary (0.2MB PDF)

Cisco_IT_Case_Study_ACNS_EMEA Case Study (0.4MB PDF)

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Social Business Predictions for 2011

As it’s that time of year again, I thought it as well to make some Social Business predictions for 2011. What I’m really looking at though are not Social Business predictions as such, but more tech trends and paths rolling forward. But here goes in any event.

1) Mobile devices will increasingly play a part in how the social business operates, particularly at two of its keenest nodal points, corporate and internal comms and secondly, the .com and the intranet. Key drivers are both from the business and consumer worlds – iPhones, the Blackberry and Adriod smartphones; tablets whether Cisco Cius, Blackberry Playbook and an other, a Black Swan of a mobile device that no one has thought of yet but which will be blindingly obvious when it appears. Taken together these will stimulate and drive demand for more social business operations. The reason why being that these tools open up new ways to collaborate and communicate that can only be answered and delivered by more socially organised businesses. They also offer ways to drive productivity and to make life a little more fun.

2) The twin consumer and business drives will reap a perfect storm when it comes to creating a more holistic approach to the  social business. By this I mean the trend to ensure what used to be called ‘joined up thinking’ between here the collaboration, communication and marketing operations of the business. Companies that operate different and non-connected, even competing Social Media / Enterprise 2.0 programmes will notice the disconnect and lack of harmony between them.
There will be an increasing realisation that these activities need to be synchronised. This will create a new concept of the Brand that gets Marketing, IT and HR working together.  (OK that’s a bit far-fetched). I can still see a tech-savvy enabling comms/collaboration team approach emerging and a recognition that a chaotic approach is not going to work for much longer – all the more so for companies that have a fragmented collaboration / intranet base.

3) The traditional concept of the firewall and the intranet/extranet will come under more and more strain as the tendencies outlined above play out. The intranet will become not something that you go to, but that can come to you. Infosec and Digital Security will need to rise to that challenge – they will need to support these events and make them secure.

4) Traditional and more established CMS vendors will bolt on social tools to their offerings. IT will like this, the purchaser  will think it makes sense, the users will think it’s pants however. Never forget the users: bolt-ons rarely convince. How this will develop and pan out will be interesting – will there be competitive disadvantage or will the need get delivered by other mean….such as number 5 on my list?

5) Social Intranet Widgets will start to become interesting. We can see how these might work with Jive Apps Market. Using Open Social these should be able to integrate with other like-wise compatible devices. There’s also possibilities opening up with browser add-ons. I like the look of the Chrome add-on Layers. This aggregates social channels such as Twitter and Facebook into the one browser experience. I can see this working in the enterprise to draw a myriad types of content together.
Now these widget thangs could be independent of a specific social business platform – Jive, SharePoint 2010, Lotus Connections or whatever. The social business might be able to create a social potpourri  of widgets, a sort of drag and drop social intranet.

6) Social Business ROI will come of age. We’ve seen plenty of data coming through from IDC, Accenture, UBM, McKinsey, SocialCast and more. This is something that I’ve been increasingly drawn to over the last two years I’ve been writing this blog and it’s something I plan to focus on more in the new year.

Good luck in 2011 – fare well and prosper.

Case Study Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Accenture show the ROI of Social Business

A very detailed case study from Accenture has caught my eye – it goes into great depth about their enterprise 2.0 project and shows in detail the ROI of social business potential. I won’t go into detail here about it – you can read a great overview at Gautam Ghosh’s blog post “ROI of Enterprise 2.0” and at Accenture “Collaboration 2.0 – A Game-Changing ‘Social Strategy’ That Radically Evolved Our Employee-Client Ecosystem

Hard Data Cost Savings
What struck me was this – they have hard data on reaping cost savings – 20 million minutes of company-standard monthly VoIP audio/video usage; 5,000 annual video conferencing meetings, extensive use of TelePresence. This very much reminded me of a project I formed at Cisco just after the crash where we used Video and web conferencing to save hard cash savings but found it difficult to quantify in a way that could convince the naysayer. Nice to see the technology coming through nearly ten few years after with big numbers.

Employee Satisfaction Up
Next gain Accenture report is employee satisfaction up – Enterprise 2.0 and Internal Communications are the best bed fellows and here’s the facts. Some nice quotes here too:

“I found the expert in 15 minutes versus two days.”

“Microblogging helps me connect to the experts. It doesn’t limit me … …. Everybody’s opinion counts.”

Customer Satisfaction Up
Finally Accenture talks about keeping their clients happy – what better aim can there be for a project?

Enhanced ability to staff global teams with the right skills at the right time during critical junctures in client projects.

Just Touching the Social Business Surface
These are great gains and the project sounds like a really enjoyable one to work on. I still think that it just touches the surface when it comes to both mapping out and achieving the potential of Enterprise 2.0 in creating the real ROI of social business. For an idea of what this might look like, please check out my work on the Social Business Scorecard. Accenture have mapped against basically 3 key areas, what might it look like if a company started that holistic mapping across the enterprise?