Categories
Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Harnessing ‘Enterprise Social Networking’

Facebook for the Fortune 500

Following on from my post on what we should call social media inside the firewall “What should we call ‘Intranet Social Media’?” My peers (and Twitter pals) from various enterprises in Europe and the Americas have suggested the following: Collaborative Media, Business Networking Media, IntraSocial Media, Collaboration 2.0 and Social Computing. Now Deloitte have waded in with an article dubbing it ‘Enterprise Social Networking‘ (ESN), or more catchily ‘Facebook for the Fortune 500’.

dancefloor-gagliasReady steady….go?

2009 Deloitte predict, may well be a breakaway year for ESN but they hedge their bets with the proviso of if… This ‘if’ haunts the analysis of both Gartner and Forrester too and now with Deloitte joining the throe, they too proclaim a simultaneous red/green scenario:

the exact extent of adoption may still be unclear. Some commentators claim enterprises are generally not yet deploying social networks; various Fortune500 CEOs believe the opposite.

Primed and ready

What’s going to determine this is when (not if) a big breakthrough is made by one competitor that outstrips their rivals that is a clear demonstration of the productive power of ESN. To gain a clear footing in this market, Deloitte urge that early readiness for a primed market:

Telecommunications operators and IT solutions providers need to invest in ESN so they have the expertise and credibility to deploy these solutions if or when they become more broadly adopted, and start becoming a more significant source of revenues.

ESN Consultancy

Whatever we call it, if anyone is reading this and thinks progressing collaboration, communication and social media inside the firewall is a good idea, but are not quite sure how to do it, then please feel free to get in touch. After deploying these technologies for almost a decade for one of the big 5 IT companies, I’m now starting to actively look for enterprise social networking consultancy work.

Categories
Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

The perigrinations of internal social media

When I used to lecture, I used to find that the areas I at least thought I knew the most about could often be the most difficult to create a good half hour on. This little essay proves the point and I thought it would be an easy follow-on from what so far, has been my most responded to post.

It takes up where my recent missive on what we should call social media inside the intranet left off. There were several comments from fellow Twitterers and by Lee Hopkins at his Talking Internal Communication Blog. Lee extended the discussion by pointing out that where internal communications sits inside the corporation, as who actually ‘owns’ it is an old chestnut and one not yet settled. With this in mind, I’d like to set a new old chestnut roasting, by looking at some of the issues someone dealing with social media uptake and usage inside the corporation has to deal with.

I’ve deliberately left this open by not adding the qualifier of inside the firewall. The reason for this is that like internal communications’ relationship with marketing, PR, corporate communications and HR; internal social media upsets the equilibrium with even more gusto. Social media is a disrupter of established norms and practices and it does this due to a variety of factors.

It’s when we start to look at this in more detail at these disrupters that we can begin to understand the impact of social media in the corporation, an impact that starts to look like the making of a paradigm shift, a business transformation.

First thing we need to note is the simple fact that the major driver for most corporation’s social media practices is marketing, they’re externally focused. Of the case studies I’ve been compiling, something like 95% have an external focus. Social media for these companies is about marketing, brand awareness and sales. This was why when Jeremiah K. Owyang at Forrester looked at ‘How To Staff For Social Computing’ he envisaged a team skilled in marketing led by a Social Computing Strategist and reporting to them a Community Manager.

Now what’s interesting here is that although Jeremiah probably sees the output as external with the aim of integrating social computing into the marketing strategy, the prime role of the Strategist is internally focused. Their role is evangelising, brokering, managing and above all acting as an “Internal Leader”. But whereas this person Jeremiah rightly says needs excellent internal communications skills, the aims of the Strategist would not be particularly those popular internal comms concerns such as employee engagement, alignment of employees and teams to the business strategy or effective communication of what’s happening inside the corporation. These however, are topics that anyone deploying of social media internally needs to be continually mindful of. Even if the aim is to increase collaboration or innovation, these need to be at least aligned with the aims of traditional internal comms activities.

Of note here, is that regardless of what happens at work, social media is a ubiquitous online phenomena for those, now a majority in the UK, with broadband at home. The net is a collaborative medium and sites such as YouTube, Facebook etc are at the hub of many online experience. And, we should not forget the older well established technologies such as those of e-mail, instant messaging and the enthusiast forum. All of these are social, unless one fires up Messenger to talk to oneself, there’s a mediation between people and the technology here that is part of all our online lives.

The result, as has been noted many many times, is that people, being people, bring this stuff into their working lives. Firewalls and security measures aside, at the very least people will use whatever means at their disposal to gossip, joke and communicate with each other about non work things.

So, we have a ubiquitous technology that people are bringing into work and this not surprisingly creates fear. Social media knows not the rules of internal and external and there’s always a degree of leakage or osmosis. This salient fact instils fear in the social media sceptic. Thus at the outset there’s an urge to control and need to define correct practice to prevent a malpractice, whilst there’s the impulse of people at work to communicate and collaborate with their peers, colleagues and even competitors and frenemies.

This creates an interesting and pretty instant dilemma and concern for senior management as a whole, plus HR, IT and Infosec. Are the workforce risking the integrity of the firewall and security by using Messenger at work, are they doing work, if we police this will it reverberate back at us, are at least some of the questions raised. Anyone working in this sphere has to not only allay such concerns, they need to address them head-on.

The real capital of any company as is often said, are its people, i.e., its social, cultural and living intellectual capital. Should not therefore be the locus of the firm’s social media activities? If so, it means Marketing investing in the literal human resources and Human Resources synching up with the brand. That’s new. It would be about creating a 360 degree brand alignment in ways that are far deeper, nuanced and richer than employee engagement, alignment or buy-in.

What this points to is the need for a strategy that can simultaneously deal with not only the concerns covered by Jeremiah’s role of the marketing led Social Computing Strategist, they also need to be covering internal IT and security issues stretching right across the firewall. There’s more than this however and I think that social media inside the firewall cannot escape addressing concerns that are strictly, or perhaps were the terrain of HR – the people who work in the corporation.

Simultaneously to this, we also cannot escape the fact that the big appeal of internal social is productivity. For Gartner this is such a confirmed plus it should be at the top of the CIO’s to do list – Web 2.0 is not for the chopping Gartner: the CIO and Web 2.0. The driver here though is productivity, operational productivity and thus the matrix enmeshes.

My head hurts after all of this – I thought I had this one in the bag. Social media doesn’t only cross the firewall, it starts to dissolve well established practices and terrains within the corporation. Next post on this I’ll try and gel these ideas together and put some sense into these perigrinations.

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

What should we call ‘Intranet Social Media’?

e2We have ‘Internal Communications’ as a reasonably well-established term for what happens inside the corporation, be it in vocal, print or electronic media forms. I’ve even found a nice and almost legalistically comprehensive definition from BNET:

communication between employees or departments across all levels or divisions of an organization. Internal communication is a form of corporate communication and can be formal or informal, upward, downward, or horizontal. It can take various forms such as team briefing, interviewing, employee or works councils, meetings, memos, an intranet, newsletters, the grapevine, and reports.

A further Google on just how long the term has been in existence has proved fruitless though, Miriam Webster has no definition and the Free Dictionary reverts to a revealing and accurate comparison, that of Internal Combustion:

a process in which a substance reacts with oxygen to give heat and light [!]

All the more problematic then when we come to social media. Social media is by definition, social. It happens out there, in the public sphere on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Twitter, Countless Blogs, forums, feeds , etc., etc.,. But as I’ve pointed out before, what we don’t see a lot of, is social media behind the firewall.

What’s more, we don’t even have a proper name for internal social media, social media that lives inside the firewall. Enterprise 2.0 goes someway in the direction but it seems to me at least as being too Operations driven rather than communication and collaboration lead. It also falls into the same trap as Web 2.0 and seems to curtail the simple richness that the term ‘social media’ has. Finally, it sounds, well just a bit too grand!

I suspect for now that Enterprise 2.0 will be the dominant term, but I wonder if a new, possible neologism will arrive…maybe social medianomics or some other horrid transmutation of the English language!

Is Enterprise 2.0 OK? Or, ideas on a postcard please….

Categories
Communications

When your ship is sinking…

Shel Holtz has posted a fab article over at his blog ” A  Shel of my former self” called “Julia Hood of PRWeek elevates internal communications’ importance“. I’m pointing this out not only as it’s very worthwhile read (and it does what it says on the tin) but most particularly for this quote:

 

“When your ship is sinking, you don’t throw your radio overboard.” Dave Orman

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0

Social Media is not Internal Communications

Over at ‘Community and Social Media’, Chris Brogan has brewed up a rich discussion over social media in the enterprise: Aligning Social Media Within Companies. Mr Brogan’s obvious clout within the sphere of social media is there for a reason. He draws in info from all ranges of sources and this recent post exemplifies what this means in practice, in spades.

His posts have relevancy and impact across the different spheres of communications and here for me, what the post underscores, is that social media is not internal comms. This is drawn out by asking:

What if project managers decide to use Flip cameras to capture their weekly status meetings, and then podcast the results to the other offices? Not really marketing, eh?

Nope, it’s internal comms, or at least that’s we called it when we cast video to offices globally. But then this was in a marketing department. The soup kettle gets upset when we bring in HR to the equation. Take Facebook for example, Chris does and says: 

I think most organizations keep these kinds of efforts tied to marketing, but is that where it belongs? What’s Human Resources relationship to Facebook and what should it be?

Good question, there’s soup everywhere now. That soup is social media – it’s not comms, it’s not marketing, it’s not IT and it’s not HR. We’re looking at collaboration as much as communication. We’re looking at feedback and feedout as internal comms crosses the firewall. 

But what is it? It’s something new that’s what it is, and it’s us. It’s communications Jim, it’s collaboration Jim, but not as we know it. The big question then – where will social media ‘live’ in the enterprise? Communications and PR, Marketing, HR, IT? That question has long been asked about internal comms; social media accelerates the debate. Enterprises are already roling out social media, some like Ford are ahead of the game. They’re all going to have to address this question of location very very soon if they want to embrace the advantages of social media within the firewall.

Categories
Communications Theory

We are not monkeys – the myth of non-verbal comms

One salutary ‘fact’ that’s trotted out on almost every single piece of management training I’ve ever been on is that most communication is non-verbal. Having read me Derrida and his deconstruction of the primacy of the spoken vs the written word I’d always been a bit suspicious of the theory. And not only that, I was also aware of the popularisation of the idea in its historicity, its popularity grew in a time when Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape theory was at its ascendancy and when the idea that we are all just monkeys was seen as forward thinking science.

The primacy of the non-verbal has of course, massive implications for communications theory and practice. Even science itself. The latter most notably reliant on written peer review and not on testing ideas in the oral agora. Similarly, in internal comms practice I would often hear the face to face meeting heralded as the Holy Grail of all communications, with the primacy of the non-verbal presented as the ultimate justification.

monkeyFor my part, the specificity of the communication seemed the most paramount and while for example I might be annoyed to be fired by SMS, the clarity of the message would remain undiluted by the medium used. McLuhan may have argued that the medium is the message, but that doesn’t alter the message whether face to face or an SMS.

It was therefore with some amusement, that I discovered this 2004 posting today: An urban legend: face-to-face communication is the best vehicle for communication. Here, David Teten explains that the theory arose from a piece of research conducted in 1967 by Albert Mehrabian and Susan R. Ferris, “Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels.” Journal of Consulting Psychology 31 (1967): 248-252.

Looking at the popularisation of the theory by communication skills teachers and image consultants, Tenet notes their tendency to present it as showing that non-verbal in all comms is at the fore:

Not true. Mehrabian’s study only addressed the very narrow situation in which a listener is analyzing a speaker’s general attitude towards that listener (positive, negative, or neutral). Also, in his experiments the parties had no prior acquaintance; they had no context for their discussion. As Mehrabian himself has said explicitly, these statistics are not relevant except in the very narrow confines of a similar situation.

It would be useful to learn about other studies conducted since Mehrabian’s and if there has been any testing / comparison re online vs face to face communications. If you know, please let me know, it doesn’t need to be face to face…

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0 Intranet

Which side of the firewall is hotter?

For something like 15 years much of my online activity and certainly most of my work has taken place inside the firewall. Of late however, I’ve ventured forth and am eagerly talking with those within and beyond the 2.0 pale. There’s a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of chatter and there’s a lot of Twitter.

In this space, some participants get very excited, especially over the new arrivals – it must be like having a favourite secluded holiday spot that suddenly gets found out by everyone, a sort of fear of The Beach 2.0. I think they think the nouveau arrives are tourists whereas they are intrepid explorers of 2.0. Either way there’s a vast amount of activity taking place and I’m sure someone is already working out the carbon emission comparison between sending a Twitter message (a ‘tweet’) and making a cup of tea. Point to note though is that all this is happening externally, it’s in the public sphere.

My prime focus is internal communications and intranets, so what I’m interested in is who does what in the organisation and how to ensure that both mission critical sales messages and information about the strategic business direction gets through to the right people at the right time. Despite the best efforts of some very clever people, it’s an area that’s notoriously difficult to measure. That said, what we’re interested in monitoring is impact on the business – time saved, better productivity, increased innovation, synergy through teamwork, enhanced collaboration and business transformation. The ultimate measure therefore is the bottom line – are we making the business more profitable?

This question started to get me thinking about what goes on outside the firewall and the merry mayhem that is social media today. I’m seeing a lot of messages and discussion about search engines, blogging, video and even music (see the excellent Blip.fm). But I ask myself, but, what does this achieve?

Is, and I know how heretical this may sound, is social media outside the firewall truly productive? I guess I can guess some of the answers in terms of wisdom of clouds, tapping into the mindset of consumers and turning that into lucrative products, niche marketing in the long long tail. But, does any of this actually generate wealth? In the firewall we create things and sell them, that’s the business model. Most of what goes on there is invisible. We want at least some privacy, and often we want a lot, confidentiality is important to any business – few, if none can be 100% transparent.

What this means is that we don’t see enough of what’s happening in the most important area of social media – that that’s happening in the firewall. What we do see, is all the white hot discussion about social media in the public sphere. That looks hip cool and funky trendy. But is it really hot?

My contention is that it’s what happens inside the firewall that’s really hottest. It’s for this reason that I’ve started to compile my list of Social Media Case Studies. I think I might call it the ‘Hot List’, as this is where 2.0 is really happening, not ultimately in blogs like this.

True or not? Be very interested in hearing what people think about this…

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0

Why Forbes says e-mail is so last century

Web 2.0 has arrived and your company needs it, now. Who says so? Forbes’ Mike Schaffner does ‘Why Companies Need Web 2.0’. For Schaffner we’re in a web 2.0 world now that extends from his daughter’s vacation in Paris through to the next wave of new employees. 

Schaffner lists out the whole sweet shop – RSS, Wiki, Blog, YouTube, FriendFeed, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. E-mail he says is so last decade, it’s an old hat. Thus use Twitter instread says Schaffner, who can can see collaborative communications research done in a tweet:

Imagine someone putting out a Twitter message (a “tweet”) that says, “I’m updating the marketing plan, does anyone have any info on X?” rather than sending out an e-mail that gets lost in everyone’s inbox. The tweet may have a wider reach and generate a better response. 

And it’s not just convenience or the need to attract the best talent that’s at stake. It’s time to move forward or perish:

Like it or not, our employees and customers–not to mention our competitors–are using these technologies now and will soon be expecting you to provide them, too. Don’t do it and you may find yourself at a competitive disadvantage. What are you doing about using these technologies inside your company?

The eagle 2.0, has landed, well ok it’s still landing (07.07.08). But as soon as this is posted I’ll communicate it via Twitter and FriendFeed…as one does.

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

The Tao of 2.0 – The Way of the Web

lao-tzu

Go forth and prosper

If one wants to roll out even the most modest of web 2.0 internal comms initiative in the enterprise it can be very daunting. For every good idea there seems to be dozen doubters, for every champion a league of naysayers. In such circumstances it’s too easy to give up and stick to the traditional old ways – no one will be upset that way and you can always slowly advance your career in the tried and the trusted.

In our hearts many of us know this is a loss- a loss of opportunity and of a panorama of never to be seen horizons.

As with all potential great journeys, discovery and advance are only made by venturing from the straight and 1.0. How to move forward then when any approach seems beset by paths of treacle?

Nothing is softer than water

What I’d like to suggest is that the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu might have some interesting advice for us here, so I’ve compiled some of his inspirational quotes to guide us here. With this in mind, I’d like to look at how Lao Tzu can help us with deploying internal communications 2.0. Let’s start by considering of his observations about the unstoppable nature of water:

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.

simplicity, patience, compassion

Social Media is like water. It’s not hard, it’s not machines, yet no matter what we do, or others do to stop it happening, it will find a way into the enterprise. No firewall is hot enough to evaporate it, no working practice to severe enough to prevent it. Remember all of this as the tide is on your side.

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.

Begin the journey

Keep your first 2.0 projects simple and above all have patience. Chances are it won’t happen immediately and don’t get fed up with people not accepting or using the tools. 2.0 like anything else will be used by people because it benefits them. If it goes wrong don’t blame them, look with compassion at why an application wasn’t used.

A tree that can fill the span of a man’s arms grows from a downy tip; A terrace nine stories high rises from hodfuls of earth; A journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath one’s feet.

Lead from behind

Start off modest – maybe some blogging software installed or a forum. While there’s a lot to be said for a joined up approach, far better to gain experience now, rather than waiting months for a large-scale complex solution. So start now, make those first baby steps.

To lead people walk behind them.

What is good

Look at what your audience do now, what benefits them, where they go to find information. Think how you can help them. Learn from what you audience wants and where they go. Lead and be lead at the same time.

Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.

Tell no fibs

Be honest with your audience, don’t try and blind them with science or gobbledygook, no matter how well intentioned. Keep it simple and honest – they will see through duplicity eventually. So no BS, ever!

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world…

Where are you going?

Allow your audience to create their world by pulling in the information they want. Make sure that they can easily find and access the information they need. Use RSS webfeeds so they can get the information without having to surf the entire intranet. Make sure search in the enterprise is tip-top and can find social media info. (But also check it’s not swamping all other search…)

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

The reality check

Set objectives and have measurable aims. Review these regularly – look at your metrics and milestones. Be flexible and don’t be afraid of changing direction!

Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

How to make crooks

Accept and expect the unexpected and learn from where 2.0 takes us and evolves. Don’t try and force an outcome, even if your audience will let you, it won’t work. If media gets used in ways that you didn’t expect then learn from that rather than trying to stop it.

The more laws that are written, the more criminals are produced.

Of that which we cannot speak

Don’t over govern or over legislate web 2.0 in the enterprise. There will always be those who distrust your audience and fear what might get said in a blog or discussion. Trust them, we can all make career limiting moves by sending out an e-mail, social media is no different. So by all means create guidelines and best practice but try and avoid a big list of Don’ts.

He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.

Fishing on the net

Social media can often draw out the shy and bashful who have a lot to say and lots to share. Conversely, it can highlight the real value (or not) of the louder contributors too – empty vessels make the most noise etc. Make sure that you media allows the shy to be heard – you may find that they have the most value to add. Any lecturer will tell you this – the best essays can come in from the quietest student.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Wicked leaders

An old favourite but still true. Provide training and help – many will learn the technology rapidly – that’s what 2.0 is all about, but make it as easy as you can and provide support, aids and training materials. Think of ways that your audience can teach others to fish – forums for newbies supported by the early adopters.

The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’

Our job as 2.0 internal comms leaders is all about enabling our audience. Enabling them to find the information they want at the right time and place (or that information finding them), it’s about conversation, collaboration and sharing. And above all 2.0 is all about the ‘we’us doing it for ourselves….

Categories
Communications Enterprise 2.0

Customer Engagement : Employee Engagement

Some fab data in from eMarketer/Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) over at Mashable on Social Media Marketing and the benefits thereof. Customer engagement and customer comms comes tops. Be really useful to see how this compares within the firewall, especially with employee engagement and internal comms.