Tag Archives: Web 2.0

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…

Social Media Case studies project

A new page posted starting a list of Social Media Case studies – an ongoing project which I plan to update regularly.

Case Study list so far covers Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 @

SAP

Walmart

Graco

Intel

Cisco

UPS

The Home Depot

Kaiser Permanente

Ford

SeaWorld

Lego

X-Men

British Telecom

Starbucks

Hooman TV

Dwell on Design

British Airways and Open Skies

Pet.net

Breaking Point

Janssen-Cilag

Click to view

Folk Devil 2.0: beware the 50 Cent Army

Looks like the 1st full-blown folk devil 2.0 is shaping up in the form of China’s ’50 cent Army’ (The Guardian) or ’50 cent Party’ (BBC); because as Datamation proclaims the Chinese will wreck Web 2.0. What’s happening here is that the president and apparatchiks of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) have called on their loyal acolytes to spread the word social media style, calling on:

comrades of good ideological and political character, high capability and familiarity with the Internet to form teams of Web commentators … who can employ methods and language Web users can accept to actively guide online public opinion

For Mike Elgan at Damnation Datamation, this means the end of the world wide web as we know it. The Chinese 50 cent army he says will work like a massive astroturf* campaign Digging up the ratings here and thumbing them down at will.

Over the long term, the existence of China’s 50 Cent Army erodes the value of the Web 2.0, which is based entirely on the actions of users. If half those users are working for the CCP, then the results of user actions are compromised. Nobody can trust it.

This, on this occasion I’m glad to say, is a panic. It won’t happen and it won’t mean the end of free-speech or anonymity on the web as Elgan fears.

vintage-modsIt’s a classic case of what Stanley Cohen dubbed a ‘folk devil’ in his 1972 classic “Folk Devils and Moral Panics: Creation of Mods and Rockers“. The 50 Cent Army in this sense is akin to the Facebook Republican Army, who led a brief media panic, wrecking teenage parties. Even when it turned out to be some lads having a laugh at the British tabloids – they didn’t even exist, the media continued to drive the story forward.

Whether or not there’s 300,000 Chinese Web 2.0 cadets undermining the interweb is a moot point, but even if there were, we should not really worry. For one, any human would be as easily able to spot them as an ad-bot on a site, and secondly, if they did start to skew the data on YouTube, Digg etc, then I’m, sure that some new algorithms would soon put in to stop to it.

In the meantime, in the words of Lance-Corporal Jones of the enjoyably fictional Dad’s Army, Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic…

* Astroturfnot to be confused with what The Chiswick Gardener does!

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.

Gartner: From the tie to 2.0, CIOs & 2009

Sailing against the cold winds of doom, a refreshingly upbeat set of recommendations from Gartner for the embattled CIO. The synopsis is straightforward – the current crisis presents opportunities to be seized:

In time of a recession, organisations have more time for introspection that identifies what the deep needs are and also creates demand on what IT can do. It brings the opportunity for businesses to exploit the technology they currently have to create something new. John Mahoney Gartner.

To achieve this Gartner recommends 10 resolutions for the CIO. What the CIO needs to do is walk the walk, talk the talk re new technologies and social media, using it to connect with the talent base old and new.

Social Media can create new communities of knowledge among past and current employees plus there will be bargains to be had in 2009 as the crunch continues:

This will create something of a buyers market for some high-calibre IT talent in 2009. However, company recruitment lockdowns will stop CIOs taking advantage if they don’t take specific actions. Mark Raskino, Gartner.

The lead is by example, from the tie to 2.0. The CIO needs to be seen using the bright new promise of 2.0, making YouTube the default search engine for the day, being seen to use social media. What’s more, the need to start taking the cloud more seriously than previously – take somecalculated risks and to learn from the experience.

Are we going to see this happen? The emphasis here has to be on the seeing aspect. If any CIO takes Gartner up they’re going to be visible. And that visibility might be more transparent than say the comfort of a company blog nestled in the safety of the firewall. Will we therefore see CIOs on Twitter actively engaging with the everyday bustle of conversation? Are there examples now we can examine and even gently prod converse with on public social media platforms? Such data would be interesting and might provide a useful barometer on just how socially active and prepared for the opportunities, the 2.0 savvy CIO is in 2009.

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….

Forrester: Strategic Management and Globalization 2.0

20The last post on Spinning Mule 2.0 was originally posted last week but I thought it a bit OTT so saved the HTML and deleted it. I’ve now done a repost and made a note to trust my judgement a bit more in future. The reason for that is the arrival of a nice little number from Forrester called: “Innovating Strategic Management Paradigms And Models To Thrive Amid Global Change.”

The report bandies about some dandy terms such as ‘Globalization 2.0? ‘Invisible IT’ and ‘Technology Populism’. By these they refer to the truly global market and the increasing impact, influence and importance of the BRIC economies; the evolution of IT into a ubiquitous business technology; and the fact that rather than the military it’s now the Facebook generation, i.e ordinary tech-savvy punters who are driving change.

To survive in this new world, Forrester recommend something that caught my eye – they recommend that corporations adopt what I’ve always thought as the prime mantra of internal comms, namely align whatever and all you do to the business strategy.

Strategic management paradigms are the über-approaches that: combine several discrete activities under one umbrella; have a direct and complex impact on a company’s strategy setting; and require comprehensive implementation efforts. Examples of strategic management paradigms include the core competency concept or the management by objectives (MBO) approach, which emanated from the academic world.

To back this up and to validate it for good or ill they say a measurement system is needed, such as SWOT, Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma. What follows however takes an increasingly 2.0 twist – old business paradigms need to take the tectonic social media shift.

dotThe focus then should be on a customer-centricity. These they argue becomes part of a Business Transformation model. This transformation is one not only about organizing and behaving to meet customer needs, it’s also about adopting social media technology and practices to foster innovation and to adapt in agile fashion to meet new and evolving customer needs and desires.

credit-crunchWill this happen? Forrester note the huge challenges present. I think this is the rub. Also there’s not a lot of choice. Global market, increased competition, global skills market, next gen 2.0 employees expect at least the very basics of what they use at home and at leisure. This opens up the market – opportunities as much as threat. The game is being completely re-written. We’re in a Crisis phase at present, but as the Chinese note, this is both Danger and Opportunity

While traditional IT service providers can rejoice in the fact that their contributions will gain in importance, they can’t become complacent, as the new game represents an opportunity for entrants that excel in both strategy and technology. As a result, Forrester foresees active consolidation in the consulting and IT industries over the next five years.