[I]t’s not lost on practitioners these days that many of the largest and most committed efforts with social business are now in Europe. The approach to IT in general in the region is certainly more pragmatic, yet it’s also clear that the evolution of the future of work and the new digital workplace is one the minds of just about everyone around the world right now.
So, is social business the leading model for operating our organizations yet? Perhaps not quite, but it is certainly gaining ground and these are some of the leading examples in top organizations today.
In this excellent piece for ZDNet, Dion lists seven major European organisations that are demonstrating leadership in this space:
I tend to agree, the best case studies I’ve seen in the past 2 years have been European in origin. Not exclusively of course, but there certainly seems to be a theme.
Is this due to the cultural makeup of European businesses, or just coincidence? Can you suggest some US-based organisations undertaking similarly-sized social business projects that would fit into this group? I’d love to hear from you…
One initiative we’re trying at the moment is CoffeeTime. CoffeeTime is an app, created in less than a day by Daniel, one of our developers. It works by pairing people up randomly, to meet and greet each other, often with someone you may not normally interact with. It doesn’t matter what level in the org chart, or role each person plays. Anyone can be matched up for a 30-minute chat (though people can choose to opt-out, of course). It aims to encourage the cross-team communication and serendipitous learning which otherwise happens naturally when co-workers share an office.
At its heart is the idea that the most important things to learn are often those you didn’t even know you needed to. By making more connections with the people you work with, it increases the likelihood that you’ll have access to someone who can help you further down the line. Maybe that person is having a similar problem or has experienced it before and can point you in the right direction. Or maybe you just end up making a new friend!
Either way, once a week CoffeeTime runs and you’re matched up with someone else in the organization. Each of you receives an email telling you who that person is. You then take it from there and arrange to meet in person or over a Hangout, to eat lunch or just chat.
The folks at Fog Creek who invented the CoffeeTime app have now open-sourced it and so you can try the concept out in your organisation.
I believe that any digital transformation project needs to embrace and enable face-to-face as well as online relationships. I therefore think that this model has real potential in breaking down barriers, developing stronger cross-departmental ties and reinforcing an open and informal culture of collaboration.
What do you think? Would you consider running a similar app at your organisation?
Jeff Schick introduces the IBM ConnectED 2015 opening general session, featuring Scott Souder and Luis Benitez:
From January 25-28, 2015 IBM hosted ConnectED. During the conference, digital experience customers and the business partner community heard the latest in successful business strategies and use cases, solution roadmaps, and participated in valuable sessions covering best practices in Cloud, Mobile and Social.
On Monday, January 26, the conference started with the Opening General Session. Some highlights included opening remarks from IBM General Manager Jeff Schick, an IBM Verse demo from Senior Product Manager Scott Souder, an IBM Connections demo from Senior Product Manager Luis Benitez, and several customer success stories.
Sadly guest speaker Philippe Petit is not included in the recording
Timings are approximately as follows:
01:26 Jeff Schick Intro & Agenda
03:52 2014 A year of Big Bets – The year in review
05:34 Notes 25years, IBM Verse
09:17 Gary Dolsen – IBM Digital Experience: Cloud, Mobile & Persuasive content
14:27 Scott Souder – IBM Verse Demo
34:48 Jeff Schick – What’s coming – IBM Verse, IBM Connections, IBM Bluemix
37:40 Luis Benitez – IBM Connections Next Demo
48:25 Jeff Schick – Summarizing
50:08 Rob & Nicole – Digital Experience tool – Demo
1:02:00 Gary – Summarizing the previous demo
1:03:30 Jeff Schick finishing
So glad this was recorded – I had my doubts for a while there!
“That’s our primary metric,” founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield tells Quartz. “If you’re not using Slack every single day, you’re not really using it.”
The chart above shows the peak number of daily active users every week in the last year. Minus the big drop off around the holidays, the company has been quickly gaining steam since August—around the time Wired published a big profile. Slack relies primarily on word-of-mouth marketing, helping keep costs low.
Impressive stats, and I really like the metric that they have chosen to represent their growth. Not ‘registered users’ or ‘organisation domains represented’ but real users that are actually using the platform as it is intended to be used. 1And given Slack is not traditional enterprise software, they’re not indicating licences bundled with renewals for other products either
I access Slack from my Mac and multiple mobile devices every single day, using it for the team that runs Social Connections, plus multiple other communities. I have to say, no other tool I’ve used in the past year has had such a dramatic impact on my own personal productivity. As I mentioned in my IBMConnectED post, I’m surprised that IBM hasn’t tried to counter the rise of Slack in any direct way.
However, other enterprise vendors have taken this on, and whilst I can see Slack continuing its impressive rise, it will be interesting to see how that chart continues over the next 6-12 months.
The One Channel Team, which will be led by [Mark] Dupaquier, pulls together 3000 IBM employees across the company’s multiple divisions into one group dedicated to channel needs.
The idea is to simplify the way partners communicate with IBM, making it easier for them to build more profitable lines of business using IBM’s SoftLayer, Watson, security, mobile, systems, services and analytics under a single umbrella.
Having been an IBM partner for almost two decades, I have to think that this is a sensible move. For too long, the partner program has been segmented along product and brand lines, meaning that cross-selling and solution-building has been compromised.
From a LotusICS ESS perspective, the announcement was especially notable:
Dupaquier also flagged the released (sic) of IBM Verse, which is due in March. Verse will provide business partners with an improved mail and social experience offing services like messaging, migration and support according to Dupaquier.
For IBM to mention Verse at a major corporate announcement like this is very significant for everyone that is involved.
Sadly this has also coincided with the conference being ‘down-sized’ somewhat and thus being deprived of the live video-streaming and playback support that it has had for the past 3-5 years. I’ve therefore been watching the event through the somewhat murky and confusing lenses of Twitter and PlanetLotus. This has most likely led me to more than a few misconceptions or confusions on the content shared over 4,000 miles away.
However, that said, here are my thoughts so far:
That there is a conference at all this year is a major testament to the efforts of many truly committed folks at IBM and in the community. They have had to pull out all the stops to get the ‘powers that be’ to cover the cost and risk of running the event, and then completed far more of the tasks themselves than in previous years when they would have been outsourced to other agencies. Kudos to them for making this happen. All my comments below should be taken in the context that I am darned impressed they’ve achieved what they have.
The rebrand to IBMConnectED (from IBM Connect and before that Lotusphere) has confused many. Watching Twitter over the past few days, I’ve seen a good number of questions from those not present asking about the scope of the conference, the level of content (technical versus business), the audience that was invited and so on. Given the general consensus so far, I’m not sure that the ‘much more technical’ target has been met, and thus perhaps the additional rebrand was a little unnecessary – however, maybe there were political reasons why this change needed to happen?
That said, the attendance is said to have exceeded expectations, and perhaps even to have exceeded the ambitions of those on the organising team. Early on, a number of 1,500 attendees had been mentioned, and I’ve now heard that a large number of late (or even, on-site) registrations have taken the attendance past 2,200 people. This is an amazing success and should be applauded.
However, when one plans a conference around one audience size and you get 1.5x that number arrive, it obviously puts pressure on the arrangements and compromises that were made for the original plan. It sounds as though the TechnOasis is very tight for space, the welcome party was somewhat under-catered and that there have been a few issues getting into packed sessions. These are understandable issues and I’m sure that most attendees (and sponsors) would trade some minor inconvenience in these areas for having a vibrant, well-attended conference.
This (perhaps unexpected) success has lead to some discussions around the future of this event and I’ve heard more than a few whispers that IBM has an open mind on the future of ‘Lotusphere’ after 2015, and might be convinced to continue the conference in the future should it be a commercially viable venture. I sincerely hope that this is the case. It has a vibe entirely unlike any other event I’ve ever attended, and for the sake of the community that has built up around these products and solutions, I really do want this not to be ‘the final goodbye’. We’ll see what gets announced at the closing session.
As the January event has always been the number one marketing effort for ICS throughout the entire year, the news made here has to make a splash around the world. Whilst this may change as part of the consolidation into the Vegas based events, I do think that at least for 2015, IBM has to ensure that the impact of the content shared in Orlando is a big one. Clearly a big part of this is IBM educating the analysts and press, and I’m sure they’ll be doing this as well as ever (I’ve taken part in a number of press programs at this event in the past, and have always been impressed with the way they’ve been delivered). However, from my perspective, particularly given my position this year, the event must have a footprint that extends beyond the Swan and Dolphin complex. For me that means:
Live streaming – I can understand that budget was likely an issue this year. However if I had been asked, I would have suggested that streaming at least the main-room sessions was absolutely essential. Heck, that could have come down to just an immediately uploaded Youtube recording of the OGS if truly necessary, but really there should have been no way that even a 1,500 user conference should have been cut off from the rest of the interested audience. I’ve long held (and shared) the opinion that session recordings and presentations are IBM’s best promotional materials for this conference. For me, it is madness that the fantastic news from the OGS yesterday didn’t make it out unedited to the rest of the world.
News summaries of the key OGS announcements – I made this point last year. ICS misses Ed Brill most of all during the week of this event. If you were to trawl back through the archives of his blog, you’ll see that January always saw upwards of 50+ blog posts, mostly during and soon after Lotusphere week. As a blogger attending the event, I could always be sure that immediately following the OGS we’d have a handful of insightful pre-written posts detailing what was shown, what would be delivered and how it would impact users of the software. In the past couple of years, we’ve come away from the OGS thinking, yeah that was exciting and well-produced, but with little in terms of real details, dates or feature lists. I know that this will likely come in the breakout sessions at the event, but not everyone onsite can attend all these sessions, and of course those that aren’t there have even less to go on.
Press releases – Nothing that was announced yesterday at the event was deemed worthy of an IBM press release. Again, whilst the press on-site will have been briefed, the rest of the world’s media (and bloggers) will be left uneducated about the news.
In summary, I find this ‘you have to be here’ approach to be unfathomable for such a well-organised event run by a multi-national tech vendor.
The actual news from the OGS as I could glean from the tweets, Facebook posts, photos and Skype chats that I followed was really positive in a number of areas:
The IBM Verse demos looked really fantastic. I’ve been honoured to be involved in some of the beta testing for the product and so have used some earlier iterations of the platform. However, what was shown yesterday was a massive step forward in terms of usability and UI polish. The integration with Connections looked very powerful, and the omnipresent Calendar bar at the base of the display had many Tweeters commenting on how useful that would be in their daily work-lives. I’m hearing that Scott Souder’s presentation and demo went incredibly well, and it’s clear that the community both likes and respects his approach.
I love the idea that Verse will be available as a Freemium service, and will be open to anyone to use as the client for their email. I’m not sure how the greater IBM will get their heads around this as an offering, and there is previous for free products from IBM (Symphony etc.) being folded when they don’t become commercially self-sustaining. The biggest question I have though is how IBM will advertise and market Verse to the world. As we all know ‘build it and they will come’ is a sure route to failure, so they do have to find a way to win mindshare in startups and small-businesses. IBM Verse has to somehow be considered alongside Office365 and Google Apps – a challenge.
I still have some concerns about Verse, primarily that IBM’s ‘New Way to Work’ message risks over-promising and under-delivering on what is effectively a new UI for iNotes. I do think that a ‘New Way to Work’ is absolutely needed, but don’t think that this means email, in any form. That’s not to say that I don’t think it will be a mighty fine mail client and productivity tool, but I think that that are other vendors out there that are making similar strides forward on mail management (thinking about Google Inbox and Dropbox’s MailBox app in particular). At the end of the day, it is still email, and my position is that whilst any improvement in the management of ones email load is important, we need to be shifting away from email at a personal and organisational level.
My other small concern is that I find ‘web mail’ in whatever format really difficult to manage – particularly when shifting from web research to mail or and back again. I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday and the advice was to use pinned browser tabs or even a separate browser altogether. However, I find that what works best for me (and for many users I meet) is a separate app for email/calendar/to-dos (that’s currently Mailbox/BusyCal/Todoist in my world, but could be Notes or Outlook), even if this is just a lightweight container that renders the web views (think of MailPlane for GMail). I’d love to hear how IBM plans to deal with this for its own internal users – will all 300,000+ IBM mail users be expected to have a browser tab open all day for them to access their mail?
On the other hand, IBM Connections Next looked awesome, really really great. The new Verse-inspired UI looked fantastic, and is a credit to IBM’s renewed focus on ‘design-thinking’. In addition, the features that Luis Benitez demonstrated were really well received – not least the new and reimagined Homepage and Community Overview elements. We also heard of many planned enhancements to the IBM Connections Cloud SaaS platform – primarily to bring it up to feature parity with the on-premises release. It’s clearly a case of further evolution rather than the revolution that we’re seeing in Verse, but given IBM’s position in the ESN space, that’s no surprise. I really look forward to getting hold of some of the deeper-dive roadmap presentations to find out more. (One feature I am not keen but I know others will adore is that we’ll finally have full nested folders in Connections later this year!)
IBM plans to release a separate paid file sync tool based on Connections that will compete with Dropbox and Box. This is another good step into the ‘general tech utility’ space – a tool that doesn’t require an entire enterprise to buy into it in order to return demonstrable value.
As far as I could tell from the Twitter coverage, there was very little mention of Notes, Domino (apart from it’s integration into BlueMix) or Sametime in the OGS. I’m sure that this will disappoint many, but surprise few.
There was one significant omission as far as I am concerned:
One of the major stories of the past year has been the rise and rise of Slack and it’s contemporaries in the Social Communications space. These lightweight mobile chat platforms have rapidly grown in scope and popularity, and it’s now very unusual for me to meet a customer that doesn’t have at least one of these tools in use in a department or job function around the business. It’s not just Slack either – think of Hipchat (from Atlassian), Flowdock and Hall, all of which are doing well. Also, Cisco has launched Webex Project Squared, and Jive is working on Chime, both of which will compete in this area. All have dynamic mobile apps and most have lightweight desktop apps for OS X and Windows. I’m seeing these platforms compete with (and beat) solutions in both the ESN and IM categories.
In the IBM world, we’re still looking at the complex Sametime platform on-premises, or the more limited (though still complex) hosted variant. To get efficient persistent group chat functionality you would need Sametime Advanced. At the client level, we’re working with the 1 gigabyte (!) install that is the Eclipse-based rich client.
I am surprised that we didn’t hear IBM responding to this threat with either a completely new cloud-based Social Communications platform, or else a substantial commitment to to improve IM and group chat in the Connections Cloud solution.
As always, it sounds as though the social side of the conference has been as spectacular as always. People come and people go, but relationships built at previous events and maintained online tend to withstand change incredibly well.
As I stated at the top, all of the above has been gleaned from following the social media coverage and from speaking to trusted friends. What do you think? Do I have it right, or have I misjudged the conference as far as you’re concerned? I’d love to hear from you…
This Mac OS X app has always been phenomenally good at managing the audio inputs and outputs available to a Mac system, applying filters and effects, and then writing high-quality recordings out to just about any format you can name.
However, Audio Hijack Pro has become a little long in the tooth over the past few years, with the last significant update almost a decade ago. The UI certainly looked out of place on the recent versions of OS X – Mavericks and Yosemite.
The great news is that Rogue Amoeba has just release a brand spanking new version of the product – Audio Hijack 3:
Featuring a beautiful new UI, and significant new features, this looks a huge update for loyal users of the app.
The new app costs $49 for first-time buyers, or $25 as an upgrade.