Category Archives: Intranet

The coming arrival of Social Business Processing

An Imagineering Post

Two posts caught my particular attention over the weekend. The first was an alert in SocialCast by @jimworth about a Gartner press release on the trends for 2011. The CIOs Jim pointed out that if they are not already onboard with all that’s 2.0 they will certainly be coming onboard after this symposium. Why? Well Gartner places Social Communications & Collaboration as number 4 of their top trends for 2011:

Social Communications and Collaboration.  Social media can be divided into:

(1)Social networking —social profile management products, such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendster as well as social networking analysis (SNA) technologies that employ algorithms to understand and utilize human relationships for the discovery of people and expertise.
(2) Social collaboration —technologies, such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative office, and crowdsourcing.

(3)Social publishing —technologies that assist communities in pooling individual content into a usable and community accessible content repository such as YouTube and flickr.
(4) Social feedback – gaining feedback and opinion from the community on specific items as witnessed on YouTube, flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us, and Amazon.  Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications. Companies should bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social site initiatives into a coordinated strategy.

To this I would add a 5th, but more of this later. The second post that caught my eye was from Dion Hinchcliffe: Making Enterprise Applications Social: Looking at the Intranet and OpenSocial. Here Dion takes up the implication of Open Social on the Intranet. This is something I wrote about a while back, Open Social and the Enterprise Intranet but Dion takes the concept further and consolidates in superb form and links it to the Enterprise App Store:

Open Social & The Enterprise Application Store
Open Social & The Enterprise Application Store - Dion Hinchcliffe

Now what I’ve started to think about is this (see also A cloudy intranet of HTML5 :

1) As the Cloud & SAAS becomes the dominant technology meme it will include the intranet inevitably (the Jive instance I’m currently working on is hosted)

2) The components of the intranet can be widgetized’ – see Dion’s Social External Applications Store and the HTML 5 link above.

3) These cloud based widgets connect via Open Social.

4) Common function paradigms are made as x widget connects with y to create z result – social bundles.

What I can see from this is that we begin to have collections of intranet functional widgets, possibly from different vendors, all socially enabled and connecting, bundled around particular business processes. It should in theory then become possible to both standardise these processes and to enable them to perform core business processes. The model I’m drawing from here, albeit hazily, is commercial commodity exchange, currency conversion and the like. These can be standardised into processes.

The ‘pure’ business process can be automated – it can run without people, without the social. Yet, it is socially transparent – anyone with the right authority (and this is a political / comercial decision) can in this model, see the transactions. More complex processes, those requiring more people input could be standardised and a business process created and modelled – I’m thinking of the sort of analysis that DMAIC entails. The task then becomes one of identifying the process and rebuilding. The build would be made of clusters of social business applications forming processes: social business processing.

We then have a 5th element for Gartner’s division of Social Communication and Collaboration: Social Business Processing: social technologies joined together, connecting with OpenSocial to perform specific and open business processes in a social and transparent way, often, though not exclusively using cloud platforms.

One outcome of this worth noting is that the traditional intranet would become much more a working tool and would cease to be a simple repository or channel of information. The phrase you can find it on the intranet would be replaced by you can build it on the intranet.

On social intranets, the evolutions thereof

Bit of a jotting pad post really this one. I noticed a Gartner report I’d completely missed (and a few of my peers in the Adoption 2.0 Council had too, I think Gartner are missing a trick here. Of note is this:

  • By 2010, more than 50 % of large scale companies will be using lifestreams and microblogs internaly.
  • By 2014, more than 20 % of all business communication is conducted primaly through social media.
  • Within the next three years, 70 % of all internal social media initiatives run by IT departments will fail.

Of note the last point. Yes, but. If a project is run only by IT then it will not have much of a chance of success. But the but is, it’s a truism that successful Enterprise 2.0 is itself a collaborative entity, it entails teamwork and collaboration between IT, Comms, often Marketing and HR and always in the final analysis, the senior management. Culture is key. Technology is secondary.

Two posts by Dion Hinchcliffe especially caught my eye. He’s been talking about the social intranet and change, introducing the concept of the Social Business Unit (SBU). Drawing on data from Gartner and CMS wire Dion charts the evolutionary forms of  the intranet and how these might coalesce and cohere in the formation of the SBU.

And yes, I can see both the evolutionary path and both the formation of the SBU as being integral, integrated, and yet. Can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s different in Europe and more so in the UK. Maybe it’s a different attitude to all things social both as marketing and as production / distribution but I feel the both the road and the journey are different this side of the pond.

Dion also mentions the McAfee and Purdue University report on the dangers of all things 2.0. Except that this one isn’t, well it isn’t about Enterprise 2.0. I’m starting to believe that using the 2.0 suffix for web 2.0 more productive alter ego was a big mistake. There’s such a tendency to conflate the too and use the risks of web 2.0 to tar the endeavours of Enterprise 2.0. No more did this come across than in a recent CMSWire piece that used all the worries of Web 2.0 to sell solutions on Information Rights Management (IRM) / Enterprise Digital Rights Management (EDRM).

But what of the real world? Rightly, Dion points out that none of us in the Adoption 2.0 Council can seen show-stopping issues when it comes to Enterprise 2.0 and security. That’s not to say that they’re not issues, it’s just that they’re different ones. I’ll cover this off in a future post as it’s something I’ve spent quite some time going over with a fine-toothed comb these last 12 months or so.

Refs
Company intranets are turning social
Gartner Reveals Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond
Social intranets: Enterprises grapple with internal change
Introducing The Social Business Unit
The Rise of Intranet 2.0: The Social Intranet
Security in the Enterprise 2.0 World: Conflicts of Collaboration

Canon’s superb 3D info architecture

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Timur Civan’s adventures with a 102 year old lens and a modern Canon 5 mkII in Wired this week. Civan has popped a lens from a ollensak 35mm F5.0 Cine-Velostigmat added it to the DSLR with spectacular results – we get a superb time-warp vision of contemporary New York, sent back a century. Very PK Dick.

The piece stood out for me as I’ve just bought a rather more modest camera in the Canon range the 550D. This is not my first foray into digital photography but it is my first in digital SLR and I’m transfixed. I’ve a steep learning curve ahead and busy reading through the manuel and getting my bonce around how it all work.

What I’ve been struck by is how well thought out and how well laid out are the controls and display. Canon have created a 3D information architecture and it’s nothing less than superb. I really like the ergonomics and they way that my brain, eyes and fingers can access the information and settings needed with rapidity and flexibility.

And what a pity most intranets don’t take a few leafs out of Canon’s book and make theirs as usable. But then, anyone know what Canon’s intranet itself is actually like…?

Refs
102 Year-Old Lens on Canon 5D MkII

The SharePoint factor – the need to plan & integrate

I’ve recently downloaded AIIM’s report “SharePoint – strategies and experiences” and it makes for a stimulating if number heavy read. AIIM is an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) body and the report reflects this. My background and focus is on social software in the Enterprise. And as I’ve been arguing, the whole area of ECM, internal comms, intranets and content management systems is in a state of flux, not least because of the drivers created by social software.

Reports such as this provide one with a window into this world from one perspective and provide a rich source of information. It was created from inputs from over 600 companies, the majority being US based and followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Of these, almost 2 thirds have SharePoint in one form or another and with this likely to increase, especially with the release of SharePoint 2010.

SharePoint 2010 is of interest of course, in that it provides enhanced social capabilities -the blogs, wiki and discussion capabilities are much better than in previous releases. But what the report shows is that the greatest use is in core data collaboration and document sharing functions and that Microsoft:

…successfully targeted a latent demand for browser-based collaboration with the original SharePoint concept, and this has subsequently resonated with the increase in globalized teamwork and increased mobility.

Of note Company portals and staff-facing intranets are high but not top of the list and are followed by the social aspects:

Enterprise 2.0 functions, such as forums, blogs and wikis. Users are obviously looking to SharePoint to provide their Enterprise 2.0 functionality, as the graph shows that there are very few alternative solutions in already in place [10%].

So, we have near on market dominance and with SharePoint set to become the defacto platform for many social endeavours in the enterprise, but. And it’s a big but. Reading the report more closely shows quite a potentally alarming picture.

For over a third of companies (36%) it is their first implementation of ECM and a quarter it is their CMS and 15% use it as their portal and intranet. And of these, nearly 25% have teams site proliferation. Less than a half had any business plan and of those that did, less than half of these but any hard cost figures on it.

When it came to governance, IT owned the governance in over 60% of companies, around 25% did it on a departmental or records management basis. Some 9% had soft governance at a local level and 5% admitted that there was not only no governance but that SharePoint was totally out of control. Where there was governance, this was in the majority of cases on who could set up a site, roles and access.

In no instance was there a clear governance of what we might call the enterprise 2.0 aspect and of driving, guiding and evangelising social software adoption. In no instance was there an indication of internal communications input and guidance. SharePoint is it would seem, a technology and not a collaborational practice that is embedded into the business and aligned to its strategy.

This to me at least rings alarm bells. Perhaps for others too – take for example these comments from the report’s appendix:

  • SharePoint is rather easy to roll out and is attractive to end-users, so the risk is that everybody becomes an administrator and governance is neglected.
  • Need a governance plan FIRST. It is an absolute must and the step CANNOT be skipped under any circumstances
  • Focus on business requirements – don’t let IT drive the implementation.
  • Sort out governance. Sort out training. Sort out an Information Architecture. Sort out a basic taxonomy.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Really work through governance and content type issues.
  • SharePoint can become a black hole unless managed carefully.
  • Plan for governance first, implement governance from the outset.

Refs
SharePoint – strategies and experiences (requires free registration)
SharePoint Surge Continues but Strategies are Lacking
Previous posts on SharePoint

Will social intranets create more social businesses?

Of late I’ve been reading quite a few posts on how we might depict the social intranet. Two in particular I am going to focus on here and they are from Jane McDonnel and from Deb Lavoy. Let’s start with Jane’s post “To technology strategists: how to blend enterprise + business + people?”. Here Jane argues that the workplace has 3 perspectives and to each she ascribes 3 collaborative tools by asking the salient question, of which will meet the differing needs of each of these 3 organisational elements.:

  • The Enterprise : Content Management System (CMS, central, guidelines & Governance)
  • The Business : Collaborative Software (Team Based, IT provided)
  • The Individual : Social Network (Profile based, Evangelist driven)

Jane rightly argues that there are different entry points here and they require different governance. She did seem to point to the individual network driven aspect being in some way created by the individual, I could not see how that would work unless the network was of sufficient scale to create a network, which implies a more collaborative scope. Maybe on this we have the more central Enterprise capability and then the Collaborative sphere that includes the Business and the Individual.

Now when Deb comes to work on this knotty problem she also defines a triple organisational breakdown (with the caveat that they’re obliquely defined) and correlates to these, 3 forms of collaboration:

  • Team : Creative Collaboration> Process driven, Communication, Organisation, team based
  • Community : Connective Collaboration> Serendipity driven, looser ties, ‘expert locator’, network based
  • Organisation : Compounding Collaboration>  Leveraging the already done, Knowledge Management+

What I thought of note here (& not to miss also a fabulous definition of the Intranet), is that like Jane, Deb describes two aspects to these spaces/activities and argues that we have the social intranet sphere, which is enterprise based and the collaborational space which is more team-based. Deb argues that no one set of tools can meet the needs of both.

So if we take a deep breath here, we can see in both descriptions that we have (not withstanding our dire need of new terms):

Enterprise : CMS, KM: Enterprise Social Network platform.
Business/Teams/Communities : Social Networks, Collaboration Tools

or as Deb puts it:

“It’s no longer about social intranet vs. collaboration, but organizational enablement vs. team enablement.”

Now at this point, I take a dialectical step backwards and argue that there’s a productive engagement in this contest of needs, that they are mutually dependent, that it’s not a question of ‘Or’, but ‘And’. I would like to structure this as the more formally structured and slower changing Enterprise and along side it the less formally structured and more organic, faster changing, area of the Team and collaboration. One is organised as a Library might be, it is Taxonomic, the other more Creative, it is Folksonomic and structures itself in ways more akin to the Library.

I have tried to represent these ideas as so (they’re a little more 3D in my mind and a lot less static) :

Social Business 1

There’s something missing here and which without it, the 2 digital spheres could, perhaps would remain completely disconnected. And that I would argue is the Network, with its prime modus being the Connectedness between People to People and the Intranet, with its prime modus being the Connectedness between People and Data. Thus we have something looking more like this:

Social-Intranet

On this I would argue that we need the social cohesiveness and connectivity to make that, and this being the Holy Grail of KM, to make that Data, Knowledge. But we also have other interesting things happening here, we have in organisations without a full social suite of capabilities, teams and people using collaborative technologies – digital phones both mobile and fixed; webinars and conferencing; and of course any other tool they might shadowly bring into work. These in themselves create drivers for connecting up the individual collaborations and making them more social. They also create expectations too.

But more importantly, we can see the business need, almost imperative to introduce some means of connecting up the parts. What’s needed is a way of connecting up the more formal Enterprise structure with the rest of the Business. A traditional 1.0 intranet won’t do that, it will be forever a static portal onto the silos of data in the management systems.

And then comes the rub. We have on the one had the collaboration tools, the Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Communicators for example, as well as the usual 2.0 tools at play. We have a more social intranet, possible overlapping and interloping into the collaboration space and vice versa. The questions then becomes thus:

Should the more structured Enterprise be integrated into the Collaboration space (and vice versa)?
If so, how can this be achieved without in doing so, creating a Social Business?

Refs
Is Social Intranet a Collaboration Solution?
To technology strategists: how to blend enterprise + business + people?
Scaling the Enterprise Social Network Pyramid

OpenSocial and the Enterprise Intranet

Attended a Jive do for UK users last week and put some faces to names and met up with some of my peers in the UK. We were given some great presentations by Jive’s Bill Lynch, Bob Brown and Nils Heuer (the latter responding to a cheeky tweet I made about the venue, a subterranean London club).

Whilst not going into any detail here, I was encouraged by the content as it confirmed some of my thoughts over a widget driven intranet, the role of the Cloud and the impact HTML5 will have on our future intranets. I could also see a new landscape of competition emerging in the future with social software vendors and more traditional Content Management System (CMS) vendors.

There was one thing I hadn’t thought about though, and that is OpenSocial. This is (or something similar) is essential for all that I’ve been thinking about to work. At heart is the factor of interoperabilty in new social intranets, something that Atlassian’s Jay Simons sees at one of the 5 determining factors of OpenSocial’s importance. What this means is that widgets or other discreet components can work together easily and seamlessly, so long that is that they all use the same system.

The big one that doesn’t of course is Facebook’s and I need to understand more the limits this might put on the interconnectedness of intranety technology. But then, who is using Facebook’s connectivity for enterprise social software?

If the same question is put of OpenSocial then the answer is legion – Jive, OpenText, Google (who made the thang of course and Cisco. And Cisco of course like interoperability – the router is the essence of interoperability and in the fight with Apple of who owned the right to use the work iPhone a key concession wrung from Apple by Cisco was on interoperability.

On doing my research on this, I was pleased to come across this slide deck by Kit Sharma. I’ve worked with Kit on intranet stuff so it brought a big smile on my face to see his work here.

Refs

Five reasons OpenSocial will change the Enterprise Jay Simons, Atlassian
Enterprise OpenSocial – A Year of Progress Adina Levin, OpenText

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.

Links

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

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.

Intranet
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.

Links

Cisco gets Funky

Cius…Is believing

Cisco Video

Cisco Finds its Tablet

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…