Tag Archives: enterprise social network

The quiet arrival of the SharePoint killer

It was with some interest that I read The Forrester Wave™: Collaboration Platforms, Q3 2009 after a link was Tweeted out yesterday. I was reading in reverse order from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, see my Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence… My main interest in Forrester’s was to see where Jive were placed. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of hands-on work with Jive and getting to know the platform in a great amount of detail.

forrester

On reading the wave report, I was struck by one small arrival – a horse of even darker hue,  that of Cisco WebEx Connect as a collaboration platform. Most people are aware of WebEx as a webinar tool and have not used Connect.  I was at Cisco when WebEx was acquired and in San Jose too and remember all the WebEx signs in the carpark. It all looked a bit puzzling, for me at least, until I found out about Connect. Connect is a superb tool and worth acquiring for that alone. It’s a SharePoint killer.

Here’s why. Connect is 2.0 in a way that SharePoint never will be. It’s modular, making it infinitely extendable and uses accessible open APIs:

  • URL commands
  • XML Request / Response interfaces with well-defined schemas
  • Web Services interfaces that support Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) with access through Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
  • Representational State Transfer (REST).

What this means is a rapidly deployable, file-store and  silo-busting collaboration app with the ability to slot in any number of friendly mash-ups. Twitter for Connect/ no problemo, just load it up and slot it in. Facebook, ditto, iPhone easy. What’s more it’s robustly secure, no worries about the firewall with this baby. And of course it’s backed up by a tech behemoth. This is no start-up.

Potentially, this is the Enterprise 2.0 application.

I say potentially as to be frank I was surprised to see it in the Forrester Wave (and it’s not present in Gartner’s). The product is superb but I’ve never seen it pushed out and really marketed for what it is. Go to the WebEx site (and it’s still on the WebEx domain) and Connect is listed but not featured much. It doesn’t scream out what it does. What’s more, I couldn’t find the link where I might connect up with Connect. Puzzling.

Now if you go onto the Jive site you’ll see a lot of publicity about SharePoint connectivity. All good stuff as SharePoint is almost a defacto standard in many corporations. This could change almost overnight. Here’s how and why.

Cisco, Miscrosoft and Google are in a cage fight. That fight I dubbed The Battle of the Cloud a while back. Cisco own the Network, Miscrosoft the Software and Google own the Experience. All of these 3 areas get completely mashed up in the metaphor we currently know as the cloud. And I believe, the stakes are high enough to see severe casualties amongst the 3 big players. (See also Dion Hinchcliffe’s Cloud computing and the return of the platform wars…estimate is for $42 Billion by 2012, I’m taking the argument even further).

Against this backdrop, singular products like Connect, that many don’t even realise exists, provides some wonderfully disruptive possibilities as a disruptive Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tool. Given this, what I’d do if I was sitting in the board at San Jose would be to ramp up the marketing for Connect. And if I really wanted to shake up the whole apple cart, I’d also make it free.

ROI as 'Risk of Ignoring'

I rather liked Mediaphyter, aka Jennifer Leggio’s blog in ZDNET yesterday, 10 Fortune 500 companies doing social media right.Here, she lists out comments from the movers and shakers in 10 American giants. My favourite quote is from Polly Pearson (no relation) of EMC:

“I tend to think of ROI in this case as “Risk of Ignoring.”  If you are a high tech company that prides itself on innovation, being responsive to customers and providing its employees the freedom of a start up with the brand strength of an industry leader, are you supporting that identity by avoiding social media?  I believe the real measure will be in opportunity lost.”
Polly Pearson, vice president of employment brand and strategy

While there’s a long term consensus amongst the bloggers that says ‘avoiding 2.0 = business loss’ it’s interesting to see this chime with comments from within the big corporations. And OK, so whilst EMC have some very large offices down the road from where I live, I wonder how long it will be before we can see a FTSE 100 list with the top half dozen, and I also wonder which industry sectors we will see them in.

Intranet Bounce Rate

Of late I’ve been spending some time looking at the Intranet Bounce Rate on an enterprise social media project I’m working on for a large multinational. And by Bounce Rate, (rather than Intranet Bounce Rate), I’ll take the definition found on Wikipedia today:

It essentially represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.
The formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page ÷ Total Number of Visits

The metrics produced by Google Analytics look quite good to me, at least bythe usual  industry standards:

Bounce Rate

As the Wikipedia article cites, this is very good indeed:

Google.com analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik has stated:
“It is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.”

But is this good for an intranet bounce rate, or enterprise social network site? A high bounce rate on a large corporate intranet might mean that users are happiest when they bounce away quickly as they’ve found what they want. Here high Bounce Rate = Good? On an enterprise social network site, well what does intranet bounce rate really mean?

Both Bing and Google offer nothing on this that I could see. Indeed when I search for ‘Intranet Bounce Rate’ on Google, it kindly asks – ‘Did you mean Internet? ‘!!

p.s. One interesting point – Saturdays generate the high spikes.  Why?

p.p.s. Some excellent resources from my old colleague at Derby Uni, Dr Dave Chaffey to mull on. Bounce rates in Web design articles

Enterprise Social Network Rollout – notes

Some notes and bullet points on how to continue the enterprise social network rollout after a successful viral launch (5000+ users). Best practice from recent case studies and white papers.

Comms & Marketing

•Viral launch

•Work with local champions

•Executive buy-in: high profile blog?

•Inspire with examples

•Use available communications channels: Print, Online and Plasma

•Create a ‘buzz’

•Support with intro packs and informal training sessions

Profile Campaigns

•Profile Campaign – sell benefits of users filling in the profile

•Connect up users

•Success stories

•Feature top profiles

•Competition – iPod Touch for best profile?

Help and How To’s

•Promote as ‘walk up & use”

•Plus support with ‘How To’ step-by-step guides

•Brown bag sessions

•Help key execs to get them onboard (help to overcome exec-shyness)

•Self-support teams

Summary of recent white papers and e2.0 blogs:

•Plan

•Integrate with events and business process

•Key stakeholder involvement

•Digital native and champions

•Hands-on sessions for training

•Walk up and use

•Keep it simple

•Create a buzz

•Culture is key

•Respond to needs & egos

•Take risks

Combine to plan enterprise social network rollout / strategy / aims. Keep is SMART.

Social Media Rollout: train or not to train?

For quite some time I’ve thought that having to train people to use social media inside a firewall is an admission of failure, in the sense that if training is needed, then the solution is too complicated. As I start to compile a preso on best practice enterprise social network roll-out, I’m starting to wonder more and more about this.

Full-blown training is I think not what’s needed. But as in so many familiar processes, there’s a lot unsaid that only gets articulated when a complete novice asks the show-stopping question of ‘why x rather than z?’ There’s more at stake than a joint learning exercise though. Lack of social media literacy amongst workers is for Dion Hinchcliffe No 1 uptake  issue.  Pointing to basics most of us take for granted, like netiquette, Dion also notes that old lags are going to be much more at home with social media than those who rarely or never use it.

Even the basics of netiquette as well as key techniques to get the most from social computing platforms such as encouraging the building of links between data, tagging information, or establishing weak ties over the network are often poorly understood even by frequent users of social computing tools. In short, social computing requires some literacy efforts in most organizations to achieve effectiveness, just like personal computing skills did a few decades ago.

Ten top issues in adopting enterprise social computing


Now if we add to this 2 salient facts then the picture becomes volatile. All the studies I’ve read tend to recommend that one ought to:

1) Get enthusiastic involved

2) Get leaders involved – (stakeholder support)

But, and here’s the but, we know that getting execs involved is difficult. Dion again:

Despite even the earliest Enterprise 2.0 case studies confirming that social tool adoption is greatly improved by an organization’s top personnel leading by example, these are often the folks that have the least time to participate and little practical experience in doing so.

Quite often in my experience there’s a willingness to engage with the technology, but I sense a distinct lack of comfort.  What I think is happening here is a fear of the new of feeling that they ‘ought’ to know this new fangled trendy 2.0 stuff but a nervous knowledge that they don’t. Add to this the presence of eager enthusiasts and the problem increases.

It’s essential for a successful Social Media Rollout I believe, to provide handy cheat-sheets, informal training and at times 1-1 sessions with key execs if you want to get them on board. The execs have potentially a great deal to offer in both their expertise and setting the lead, but may not come on board unless they feel comfortable. Even if it all looks easy to the digital native, it might not to someone who is unfamiliar with the online world.