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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 Intranet

SharePoint 2010, Office 2003 and social software (updated)

Will SharePoint 2010 run ok on your legacy environment of Office 2003/2007 and IE6? I’ve been doing some research on this question and here’s my findings on what SharePoint 2010 works with in terms of: legacy browsers, versions of Office and Windows. My focus, as ever, is on the social software side of the tool.

What I’ve found out so far is that the only real show-stopper is Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). Hopefully 2010 could mark the death knell of this horrid browser. But before any of us carp too much about corporations still using it, many big businesses still have to, as they have other processes and applications integrated into it. Put simply they can’t remove it without losing some internal web-based apps.

But back to the main question, this is the overview of what I found that it works with (or not):

To explain – to get tip top 100% performance you need SP2010 running on Windows 7 and with IE8 as the browser. If you have Office 2007 running you get most functionality, but on Office 2003 the core SharePoint 2010 functions won’t work.

However, SharePoint 2010’s core social functions should work ok as they’re all browser based. And what’s more you can use other browsers apart from IE such as Firefox.

As for the $100 million question of whether SharePoint 2010 will deliver all of your organisational’s Enterprise 2.0 needs, the answer is a quiet ‘no’. It doesn’t support microblogging for example but then Microsoft don’t expect it to meet every conceivable need. But does it provide nearly all you’ll ever need, the answer so far is a reserved ‘yes’.

This reservation is based on usablity and sociality plus complexity. In this I still believe that SP 2010 may still well need a social layer on top -e.g., Jive (the one I’ve in-depth experience of using), Newsgator (see the recent webinars with Deloitte) or Socialcast. What’s more, as we move into the rest of the year, on to 2011, 2012 & 2013, (and SharePoint 2010 don’t forget will still be the 2010 version, it runs on a 3 year upgrade cycle) none of these companies are going to sit around and do nothing. So expect some really exciting deveopments and releases from them in the near future.

Back to today however, a colleague at work has kindly set me up with a sandbox on the Sharepoint 2010 Proof of Concept site so I will go and made some sand castles…and come back later with more in-depth findings.

Download the SharePoint 2010 comparison worksheet with notes & URLs from Microsoft.
Thanks to Microsoft for helping with requested info and for a great visit to their HQ at Reading.


Business Productivity at Its Best_Whitepaper

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Imagineering a Windows Social Media Player

I started to think this morning about possible ways that new developments in social intranet technologies might disrupt and accelerate the old formations of 1.0 intranets. For a good into into the evolution see The social Intranet by Toby Ward. Toby rightly points out that not many, in fact only 15% of companies have a full portal solution. Even those with apparent portal solutions often have in reality either a more ‘bespoke’ approach underneath the top layer code or a SharePoint supported deployment.

In Cisco’s case for example, when I worked on it this comprised a rich layer of XML that supports a wide range of social technologies and rich media such as industrial grade Video on Demand and self-serve ‘YouTube’ style video. The aim here, was to bring these together to create what I dubbed at the time a ‘collaboration layer‘ of social technologies embedded into the local intranet.

Let’s get back to the more mundane and prosaic,  for many organisations their intranet is simply ‘flat html’. What started to get me thinking was what might change to disrupt a ‘traditional’ intranet, what Toby calls the 1.3 and 1.4 models and to potentially catapult it into a 2.0 world.

One such way might be the evolution of existing tools into something much more social. One obvious candidate, at least to me is Windows Media Player (WMP). This tool does what it says, it plays media and has been doing that in pretty much unchanged form since Windows 3.0. What if it were social? This could be completely disruptive but very productive.

Here’s the original and XP version:

What a Windows Social Media Player might do
A windows social media player might for example support feedback – embed it into an intranet page and hey presto, native supported feedback on the video. And then tagging, I might want to tag the video and any comments made. And of course I’d want to rate it. If the video was on topic x or y then I might also want to synch it up to a discussion forum, to drop it into a blog and link it up. Or basically let it stand alone, my imagined Windows Social Media Player would become a self-standing fully SLATES supported video blogging platform.

You can see how this all fits together (and what I’ve described isn’t so far from the collaborative layer I mentioned above). If such a Windows Media Player were to be built I think Microsoft’s temptation and inclination might be to simply hitch it up to just the MOSS architecture. I think this would be a shame and it would be much more productive (and in the long-run lucrative for Microsoft) if it could connect to other APIs, LAMP technologies such as WordPress or the leading Enterprise 2.0 platform, Jive.

Maybe there’s an opportunity here for Jive, Apple or an open source player. The first hurdle would be the fact that for many companies Windows Media Player is the default player on the corporate image. It could be an opportunity for Real to get back into the central game. The Real media player does support a social element in that users can share videos on Twitter and Facebook but it’s not geared for the Enterprise market.

But then of course if someone were to make a fully social media player for the consumer market? All we need is some venture capital…or has someone beat me to it??

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

WebEx Connect, the Quiet disappearance of the SharePoint killer?

Spending time looking at SharePoint 2010 and had a really good look at its capabilities at Microsoft’s UK HQ in Reading last week. Under NDA so can’t say much more than is in the public realm, that it’s an impressive beast and offers a lot of social capabilities.

Last October I blogged about a potential SharePoint killer in the form of Cisco/WebEx Connect The Quiet Arrival of the SharePoint Killer so it was with some interest that I saw a Tweet this morning pointing to mobile versions of WebEx for the iPhone, Nokia and Blackberry. On viewing the page for the mobile client, I was surprised that there was no mention of the Connect capabilities, this was all about the more familiar side of WebEx, the online meeting capability.

On searching the site it became apparent that WebEx Connect had gone. It was no more, disappeared. This (and I’m presuming that I haven’t missed anything – please correct me if Connect is still here) is to my mind a massive missed opportunity. Update: see below, it’s still there but not being heavily marketed

Why do I say this?  Well this is the reason, this is from WebEx themselves:

Collaborative Network Applications
The WebEx Connect client, built on the concept of Spaces, brings people, process and data together in an easy to use context. Interacting with the Connect grid, the client supports a wide array of applications from WebEx and its partners. Beneath it all is the MediaTone network that insures reliable delivery of these applications to anyone, anytime anywhere on the globe. Once knowledge workers take advantage, companies will be able to reduce cycle times, increase sales and find efficiencies throughout their business processes.
Adroit developers and product visionaries have an open field to innovate in totally unique ways on the Connect platform and to feed off of others sharing their ideas on the developer community. It all starts with the capabilities that are that are available to you from the Connect Platform Services, Application Framework specification, organizational and event models and the concept of Spaces where users get business done.
(my emphasis)

An open field for visionaries and innovation…Now take a look at the architecture:

You get the idea of just how elegant and how lucrative this mashup is was. Partner apps integrate in (iTunes eat your heart out), Fee based Content Provisioning, means it is was already ready to be monetised. But no more, it’s gone or as WebEx themselves pointed out:

This is a preview of the Connect platform and all contents, specifications, and details are subject to change.

Copies of the whitepaper “WebEx Connect Platform Brief Overview April 2008 can at the time of writing, be downloaded from the WebEx site

Update: looks like it’s still breathing – but with what vitality remains unclear:

More to follow on this – drop me a note if you’d like to connect to the Connect Space

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Tagging in an enterprise social network (part 6)

Back to basics….

In order to progress, let us look next at the basics of tagging. Tagging of user-generated content is an inherent part of the enterprise social network. All the leading social network applications – for example Jive, Telligent, Lotus Connections, Socialtext, (and SharePoint 2010) have tagging as a core function. This allows a user to tag their individual blog postings, contributions to a discussion forum, uploaded video or documents with tags describing and defining their content.

This simple act of naming user contributed content has a number of cumulative effects. Firstly it identifies the content with multiple descriptors, allowing the content to be found and related to in a variety of mutually supporting ways. These include for example Search, Tag Clouds and Tag Trails. Each of these can be either individual aggregations or socially constructed. Take for example, a Tag Cloud:

“A tag cloud or word cloud (or weighted list in visual design) is a visual depiction of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, used typically to describe the content of web sites. Tags are usually single words and are typically listed alphabetically, and the importance of a tag is shown with font size or color.[1] Thus both finding a tag by alphabet and by popularity is possible. The tags are usually hyperlinks that lead to a collection of items that are associated with a tag.”

The weighting of the text is defined by the numbers of times that an item has been tagged, the larger or more densely defined the text, the more times that that tag has been used. The Tag Cloud can be set to display information sets for either individuals; spaces within a social network (a social Group or section of a site for example); or a community of individuals. This in turn produces its own set of possibilities in terms of finding both content and users who have tagged content.

Previous Post: Delivering: Tags & folksonomy (Part 5)

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Delivering: Tags and folksonomy (Part 5)

Delivering: Tags and folksonomy

One way forward is to look toward a more socially integrative intranet that by utilising social tools in its framework is able to provide ubiquitous localised tagging of content. What will this mean in practice and why will people tag?

To begin with it means by necessity user-generated content in the intranet. Unless users have the ability to generate their own content they will not tend to tag it. They might rate or comment on content, especially if either critical or keen consumers of it, or bookmark it if they need to save it, but users tend to only very infrequently tag other peoples’ content.
And to create content, requires in the main a socially based intranet in which ordinary users can generate, upload and tag their content. The tools to do this are the familiar raft of web 2.0 technologies, wikis, blogs, discussions forums and video.

Previous Post: The Promise of Folksonomy and the Intranet (Part 4)
Next Post:  Tagging in an enterprise social network (part 6)

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The Promise of Folksonomy and the Intranet (Part 4)

The Promise of Folksonomy and the Intranet

The promise of folksonomy and the intranet is a user-generated and responsive taxonomy providing ease of access to content and enhanced search. This is achieved by creating an ever growing pool of collectively bookmarked and tagged content and in leveraging this semantic knowledge into existing or planned intranet deployments.

The problem is how to do this and this problem is multi-fold:

i) How to get users to tag content and secondly, how to integrate this resource into both the intranet and most importantly into work processes and practice?
ii) Furthermore, whilst many types of enterprise social software incorporate tagging and or social bookmarking, the challenge remains how to ensure that this is widespread enough to have significance and relevant enough to have purpose.

iii) Clearly, any purported benefits of social knowledge lies in the numbers of people contributing: one or two experts might well be able to provide support and maintain a traditional taxonomic intranet, the same is less easy to sustain if there are just six keen amateurs tagging content.

iv) Therefore, if the tagging is made by a sizeable number of users, but this is localised into a small and self-sustained social network, any benefits are unlikely to extend much beyond that network.

In the next post I’ll muse on ways to get this delivered.

Previous Post:  Taxonomies and Folksonomies in the Intranet (Part 3)

Next Post: Delivering: Tags & folksonomy (Part 5)

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Folksonomy: part 3

Definitions & Musings

ii) Folksonomy

Can folksonomy provide a way forward from this dilemma of structure and change? The first thing to make clear is folksonomy did not arise as a solution to the problems of intranet taxonomy but as by-product of the social nature of tagging. The term was coined by Thomas Vander Wal [i and he uses it to describe the act of tagging and bookmarking in a social environment. By this he is referring to the behaviours seen in informally referencing via tags in social sites such as blogs or in social network sites such as the bookmark sharing site or the photo sharing site Flickr. Vander Wal believes that “folksonomy is tagging that works”. And he posits three tenets of a folksonomy:

1)  tag,

2) object being tagged,


3) identity,

are core to disambiguation of tag terms and provide for a rich understanding of the object being tagged.
The concept reaches deep into the collective promise of the social web as articulated into the terms ‘The Long Tail’ or the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’. It is nuanced to the individual yet collective in its articulation, shared universally by those that use a social network yet consumed individually by the person using that network.

Central to its meaning is a sense of many individuals attributing meaning to online artefacts, be they web pages bookmarked, blogs written, or photos shared and that collected assemblage of knowledge equalling and surpassing the sum all of the small acts of giving meaning via a tag.

This collective knowledge of the ‘people’ forms the folk-sonomy, thus provides an alternate form and structure of meaning to that of the taxonomy. It is thin and democratic, cheap and immediate, flexible and fluid.

The big question here for us is, what can this offer the intranet and its users?

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Folksonomy Coinage and Definition Feb 2007