I really enjoyed this quote from Amy Holt, Vice President of Marketing at Red Thread (emphasis mine):
After interacting with our key partner, Steelcase, via its Jive-powered dealer community, we immediately saw the value of this collaborative approach and knew it was time to replace our stale, document-centric intranet with something that better reflected our company mission of creating inspiring workplaces.
Our Virtual Café has reinvigorated Red Thread’s culture and transformed internal communications and collaboration. Jive’s intuitive, customizable desktop and mobile interfaces help us serve clients even better and faster than before because they seamlessly facilitate connections and engagement throughout our distributed workforce.
In my experience, this is a evidence of a very common interaction that I see many times each year.
One organisation (Steelcase) implements an external-facing community for customers and/or partners (or an internal community that supports external access), another organisation (Red Thread) gets to experience real communication and collaboration taking place in-context within the personal and commercial relationships that sustain their business, and they then look to harness the same kinds of cultural and productivity benefits for themselves.
The Red Thread interactive intranet, known as the“Red Thread Virtual Café”, is based around a fairly standard set of use cases:
[The] new Jive-powered Interactive Intranet is fostering more personal connections between employees, enhanced project collaboration and a strategically aligned company culture. This vibrant digital space lets employees share ideas and content, and discuss their projects, clients and strategic initiatives.
Permissions-based collaboration groups bring together departments and cross-functional project teams on the fly, and executives share important messages. For example, the company’s CEO and other executives use Jive to publish regular blog updates on everything from the company strategy and new team members, to progress on goals and processes.
Parsing the quotes above, we have:
Ideation and innovation
Strategic initiative sharing and management
CEO/executive engagement and communication
I have no doubt that there will be other deep and wide use cases supported on the Virtual Café, but this case study emphasises the strength of the default go-to use cases that are supported by best-of-breed social intranet platforms (such as Jive-n and IBM Connections), and the rapid benefits that can be gained by organisations that look to transform their approach to internal communications and employee collaboration.
If your organisation is still operating on a combination of email and a stale corporate intranet, perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at the possibilities afforded by the latest internal and external community platforms? Why don’t you ask your commercial partners what solutions they are using to transform their businesses and see whether you can experience them first-hand?
Community Manager Appreciation Day is January 23, 2017 and we are gearing up for an amazing eight hour webathon featuring a keynote with Jeremiah Owyang, the Founder of Community Manager Appreciation Day! It’s 100% FREE thanks to our sponsors; just RSVP to secure your spot!
Sorry for the late notice on this, but CMAD 2017 is today! RSVP and join the webathon now.
Atlassian’s active customer count was up 27 percent in its fiscal second quarter as the company topped sales and earnings expectations.
The company, which makes team collaboration, project tracking and productivity software, reported a net loss of $1.7 million in the second quarter, or a penny a share, on revenue of $148.9 million, up 36 percent from a year ago.
The 27% rise in active customers included some notable names:
We added 3,164 net new customers during the quarter, including online home-furnishings retailer Wayfair, the U.S. subsidiary of auto-manufacturer Porsche, Japanese life insurance company Mitsui Life, Australian financial services provider Latitude Financial Services, aerospace manufacturer Goodrich, travel IT solutions provider TravelSky, digital design consulting services provider Fjordnet, online travel agency Kiwi.com, and the city government of Buenos Aires.
Then there’s the company’s recent announcement of plans to acquire of Trello and its visual workplace collaboration tools.
Atlassian’s sales model (to focused development and IT teams, then to the wider business) has always been interesting, and continues to seem at odds with the approach taken by the larger collaboration software players (though Slack is definitely following a similar route). Ben Thompson commented along these lines in today’s Stratechery subscriber-only Daily Update newsletter:
In fact, though, Atlassian’s approach of selling to teams, not to CIO’s, is not only the future of enterprise software (and one fully embraced by Slack, amongst others), the company itself is very much making a bid to own the most compelling part of that future: the layer that ties everything together. The big question in a cloud-based future is which companies, at which layer, tie together the various parts of the enterprise stack; those that own identity have an inside track, but so do those who own files or communication. Atlassian has a play in all those areas, and a business model to match.
Looking at these results, and Slack’s own growth, it appears as though Atlassian’s model is one that continues to help fuel their success.
All told, after a few years where the relatively gradual organic growth of its HipChat, JIRA and Confluence solutions have been less than headline-grabbing, it seems as though Atlassian is one enterprise collaboration software vendor that is all set to make strong progress in 2017.
I’ve long been a huge fan of Louis Richardson‘s presentation and story-telling style.
Therefore it’s really no surprise that Louis delivers the most persuasive explanation (that I’ve yet heard), of how and why collaboration and communication networks can be infused with cognitive/AI abilities to stimulate learning, mentoring and personal development:
On the next WTF Tech podcast episode (to be published this week), Darren, Jesse and I spent a fair amount of time discussing Virtual Reality and our personal experiences with using the new technologies.
What if you could talk to your environment in VR? With this tech demo showcasing IBM Watson speech services and the Watson Unity SDK, you can. Create, modify and destroy objects in an immersive sandbox world using your voice.
IBM has more details on the application and the background to its development in their Mobile Innovation Lab, and the entire article is worth a read if you’re interested in how IBM believes VR can be used in future applications:
Because the world is immersive and users are fully absorbed in the experience, even slightly unintuitive behaviors can be extremely jarring in unpredictable ways. Therefore, it’s important to test often with real users as you are building your app.
People are affected by VR very differently. Some have used VR before and immediately understand the controls, others might not even know to look around the environment, and many could be easily affected by motion sickness. It is important to test with people that have varying degrees of familiarity with VR systems because they will all react differently.
Our process for user testing involved creating different hypotheses, then implementing simple builds of the app that demonstrated each hypothesis. Creating objects using voice was one of the most difficult things to get right; we had to ensure that every user would be able to successfully create objects with their voice and that objects would materialize in the world where our users expected them to appear. We created 3 different interaction models and tested each one, which is how we arrived on the laser-pointer system present in the current version of the game.
The current ‘tech demo’ available on VivePort is somewhat limited in functionality terms, but still allows for the possibilities of voice control within VR to be experienced first-hand.
This video shows the app in use:
Personally, the demo left me feeling a little cold… It would seem to need more than just the ability to create pre-canned named objects in the 3D space to be even approaching usefulness. What about naming the size, colour and character of the objects? What about changing or animating objects that already exist etc.? However, there’s clearly value in researching, modelling and testing these technologies out, and I applaud IBM’s effort to get Watson-capabilities into the hands of Vive users at this early stage.
Please do add a comment if you’ve tried out the Speech Sandbox, and let us know what you think of the capabilities it offers…
Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations were $12.39, down 9 percent compared to the 2015 period. Net income from continuing operations for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was $11.9 billion compared with $13.4 billion in the year-ago period, a decrease of 11 percent.
IBM is touting growth in its cloud and cognitive business units as the enterprise giant wraps up a year of double-digit revenue declines.
Big Blue said that for its fourth quarter of 2016, ended December 31, revenues were nearly flat over the same period last year and net income was up slightly.
There’s no doubt that IBM is still struggling to grow the newer Cognitive and Cloud businesses (up 1.4% and 33% respectively year-on-year in Q4) fast enough to replace the still declining hardware systems and Global Business Services (down 12.1% and 4.1% respectively). Given that there have now been 19 straight quarters of declining revenue, there’s huge and ever-growing pressure on Ginni Rommety and the rest of the leadership team to post a growth quarter early in 2017.
When UBS analyst Steve Milunovich asked Schroeter to put IBM’s turnaround in baseball terms—what inning is IBM in, he asked—Schroeter responded that he didn’t know. Schroeter reiterated the importance of IBM’s strategic imperatives and explained that the company would continue to invest in them.
“I don’t think the transformation of IBM ever ends, quite frankly,” Schroeter said.
On a personal note, I was hoping to compare and contrast IBM’s collaboration solutions revenue with Jive’s upcoming Q4 and 2016 results, but they are now part of the huge Cognitive (Watson) business unit which makes that all but impossible to do.
One of the most enjoyable educational apps I’ve yet experienced :
Join broadcast legend Sir David Attenborough to explore more than 1000 of the greatest wildlife moments ever filmed.
Explore the most comprehensive collection of Sir David’s work ever released online.
Includes six decades of highlights from more than 40 landmark BBC programmes, including Planet Earth, Blue Planet, The Life of Mammals, Africa and others.
Watch unique collections of films curated by Sir David and others.
Create and save your own collections and share them with friends and family.
Hunt for hidden films featuring Sir David, recorded exclusively for the app.
Explore extraordinary sequences of animals and plants, from iconic large species to rarely seen enigmatic creatures. See them hunt, mate, eat, travel and communicate in their natural habitats; ranging from the high mountains to the deepest oceans, across deserts, forests and the polar ice caps.
Watch lions, polar bears, whales, sharks, eagles and giant lizards and many more.
There a good number of really excellent task management/GTD applications on the App Store these days. From the simple to-do list apps like Wunderlist and Things, through to the comprehensive GTD-derived toolkits like Omnifocus and Todoist, I’ve probably tried them all!
Over many years of use, and numerous attempts at refining my work practices and task management approach, the app that I’ve come to feel most at home with is 2Do.
Available on iOS, Android and the Mac, 2Do sets out to offer the perfect blend between a rich feature-set and ease of use. It is super quick to add new tasks, there is the option to run with a GTD Native Inbox (my preference) and the options for triaging and managing tasks in the flow are really powerful. I really find that 2Do works in the way that I need it to in order to suit my mix of business and personal tasks, rather than forcing me to adopt an inflexible methodology that the app vendor has decided upon.
A few more things:
there is a fully-functional desktop-class app for iPad, supporting the iPad Pro resolution
the Apple Watch is also supported, allowing access to the most important lists from your wrist, manage upcoming tasks or add new ones using voice dictation
the iOS and macOS extensions are powerful and all-pervasive. It is easy to add a new task from just about any other app, email or web page
2Do is fully supported by my email app of choice, Airmail, on both the Mac and iOS. This allows a one click share of the email contents direct into a new task, with a link automatically added back to the source email, which works even when the email has been archived
2Do is probably the single most effective productivity enabler I have on my iPhone and iPad homescreens – it is such an intrinsic element of my workflow these days. I really couldn’t imagine executing my projects without it!
2Do is free to download on iOS, with an £14.99/$19.99 in-app purchase to ‘Go Pro’ (enabling sync between devices, and customisable alerts) – the Pro features are enabled for 21 days with the free download. It costs £39.99/$49.99 on the Mac.
Leisure App of the Week: Overcast
Just like task management apps, there’s no shortage of very high-quality podcast apps for iOS. There’s a handful that I would recommend ahead of the built-in Apple-developed Podcasts app every single time – Castro, Pocket Casts and Downcast all do a great job.
However, I have a clear favourite app in this category, Overcast. Developed by Marco Arment (of Tumblr, Instapaper and ATP fame), Overcast’s USP is the ability to save you time listening to podcasts whilst also delivering great audio quality. It does this using two technologies that Marco invented for the product:
Pick up extra speed without distortion with Smart Speed, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.
Conversations still sound so natural that you’ll forget it’s on — until you see how much extra time you’ve saved.
Boost and normalize volume so every show is loud, clear, and at the same volume.
Listen in more places, such as noisy cars, and still hear what everyone says without cranking the volume so high for quiet people that the loud ones blow your ears out.
Many other audio apps offer the ability to speed up the playback of recordings, but what you often find is that the audio becomes more difficult to follow, or that the tone of the voices changes. What Overcast’s Smart Speed offers is the ability to dynamically shorten the silences between phrases. This has the effect of reducing the length of time it takes to listen to a podcast by approximately 10-15%, with no noticeable impact on the audio quality. In addition, you can then speed the audio up in the traditional way as well, thus saving a total of 25-30% of the duration.
This might seem strange, after all the point of listening to a show is to enjoy it, right? However, I find that one attuned to Smart Speed, it is really difficult to go back. In fact, if I ever catch one of my favourite podcasts live-streamed, it sounds as though the hosts are pausing unnecessarily long between sentences, struggling for the correct phrasing, or simply can’t get their thoughts in order. If you’ve ever seen Over The Hedge, that bit where Hammy consumes the energy drink, and the world appears to slow down? That’s what podcasts are like once you’ve heard the benefit of Smart Speed!
As someone that struggles with his hearing, I love the more subtle but very noticeable benefit of Voice Boost too. It enhances the volume and clarity of voices, and is of use particularly when listening through an amplified speaker or with background noise, such as via Bluetooth audio in the car.
Lastly, Overcast does the basics brilliantly well – a well-populated directory to make it really easy to add new shows, push notifications when new episodes are released, downloads that are blisteringly fast over wifi or LTE, support for MP3 chapters, numerous options for fine-tuning storage per podcast and in aggregate, and the ability to create dynamic playlists to control the order and priority of episode playback.
Overcast has been through a few pricing models now, but is currently a free download supported by ads. There is an Overcast Premium in-app-purchase costing $9.99 per year, for ad-free use, file uploads, and some future features. I personally had no hesitation buying the Premium version (Qand thus supporting Marco’s continued development of the app), knowing how many hours I spend listening to podcasts in Overcast every single month!
Overcast supports the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and CarPlay. There is also a web version for listening direct from your desktop or set-top device. I could not recommend it more highly.
As I mentioned on my recent post introducing the WTF Tech podcast, I’m a massive consumer of podcasts as well as having hosted a few in my time.
My listening habits tend to be whenever I’m alone in the car (or driving my 16-year old geek son around – we tend to trade podcast recommendations), when I’m out walking or running, doing chores, or when there’s mindless work to be done (company accounts, expenses etc.). Across all of those situations, I probably get through 20-30 hours of podcasts a week on average.
Whilst I’ve been a fan of podcasts since the start (2005 or so), there have definitely been phases were I’ve fallen away from listening. In particular, around 2010-12 it seemed as though every podcaster was heading towards video as the medium of choice, rather than straightforward audio MP3s – I personally felt that was a backward step, not that we don’t need informative community-generated video, but that the natural place for news and conversation-led shows is via audio.
There has undoubtedly been a resurgence in podcast production in the past 2-3 years, with a number of focused audio podcast networks growing rapidly – organisations like Relay, 5by5, and The Incomparable are launching new shows on a regular basis. Meanwhile, major broadcast corporations such as the BBC, CNN and NPR are putting an increasing number of their productions out in podcast format to allow replay and listing offline.
If it has been a while since you checked out podcasts as entertainment, I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you take some time to peruse some of those listed below. There’s some real gold to be found!
So to kick us off, a number of sites have aggregated really comprehensive lists of the best podcasts of 2016, with their first picks:
People read highlights from their childhood diaries in front of a crowd of strangers. Wonderfully cringeworthy. Episode of the year: The Summer Camp Spectacular, largely for the line: “Dear Mum and Dad, I cut my penis when I flunked my canoe test …” Rowan Slaney
Heavyweight explores the tricky business of redemption and estrangement by starting with the premise that to make something right, you have to first get over the idea that someone is at fault. You also have to laugh, to the point of tears, as much as possible. Each episode finds the host Jonathan Goldstein moderating a fraught moment intensified by years of distance: a time when someone broke a promise, or another person’s heart. The hurt is still there—sometimes for everyone, sometimes for just one person who can’t let something go (like the time a man named Gregor lent the then-unknown musician Moby a collection of CDs that were never returned). As Goldstein presides over these thorny divisions, he injects the narrative with a buddy-cop mania, letting the listeners laugh at how flawed his subjects (himself included) are, without ever being demeaning. Goldstein leads special-ops soul-searching missions, seeking common ground between the aggrieved and the blissfully ignorant. With him as the host, Heavyweight can’t help but try to make amends with everyone it seeks out.
Aisha Tyler may be best known for her work on TV—she plays Lana on Archer, hosts The Talk, and has been seen on Criminal Minds, Friends, 24, and CSI—but she also has some serious interview chops that she showcases on her podcast, Girl on Guy. Tyler started out in show business as a stand-up comic and she uses her quick wit and stage-honed reflexes as she interviews the actors, comics, chefs, writers, and Hollywood coworkers who stop by the show to talk about their passions, their lives, and their ideas of fun. Whether she’s hanging in a gaming lounge, kicking it at Comic Con, or throwing back whiskey with her fascinating guests, Tyler is engaging and entertaining.
All three lists offer some really great recommendations, along with terrific descriptions of why you should give them a try. I’ve used them to pick out 5 or 6 new shows to add to my playlists for 2017, including a few that are well and truly outside my comfort zone. The great thing about podcasts is that you can try one episode and simply unsubscribe if you don’t enjoy it.
Next up… my own recommendations.
Now it’s fair to say that I have a heavy tech focus, and within that area I also tend to head towards Apple-biased shows – after all, most of my ‘daily driver’ tech is Apple kit. Definitely not all the shows listed below are that way inclined, but some definitely are. So, with that in mind, and without any further ado, here are my top 10 shows you should try out this year…
CGP Grey and Brady Haran talk about YouTube, life, work, whatever.
No question, my favourite podcast of the past year or so, and I wish I’d found it sooner. CGP Grey and Brady Haran are educational YouTube creators, who get together about once every two weeks to chat over a wide variety of interesting topics, usually in a very funny and informative way. Topics range widely, but have recently covered the New Zealand flag referendum, self-driving cars, the county flags of Liberia, movie reviews, the mighty Black Stump of Australia, and much more. There’s plenty of YouTube and social media conversation as well, plus a heavy dose of personal productivity. There’s a huge and very loyal following growing around HI, and there is a real sense of community spirit that pervades the show. They even produced a recent episode on vinyl. Why? Just for the fun of it… I really can’t sum it up in a paragraph – just give Hello Internet a try.
Three nerds discussing tech, Apple, programming, and loosely related matters.
Hosted by well known Apple bloggers Marco Arment (co-founder of Tumblr, creator of Instapaper and Overcast), John Siracusa (author of those massive Mac OS X reviews) and Casey Liss (an iOS developer), ATP is ‘accidental’ in the sense that it started out as these three hosts getting together to discuss cars in a podcast called Neutral, that was rapidly cast aside as the tech took over. Topics are mostly Apple news related, but there are regular trips into the world of application development (discussions of the relative merits of Go, PHP, Swift etc.), alternative tech solutions, AI and cars (usually in the after-show). The hosts are insightful, well-informed, funny and never short of an opinion. They are definitely not wholly pro-Apple, that’s for sure. A weekly show, that is also streamed live.
CGP Grey and Myke Hurley are both independent content creators. Each episode, they discuss the methods and tools they employ to be productive and creative. Hosted by CGP Grey and Myke Hurley.
Another show featuring Hello Internet host, CGP Grey. This time he joins Relay co-founder and serial-podcaster Myke Hurley, to discuss their respective creative tools and approaches, the challenges of running small businesses, how they use technology and apps to help them stay efficient and profitable, and their somewhat unusual methods of staying focused on the task in hand (spoiler: one of the hosts uses two Apple watches and as many as 5 iPads in their daily routines!). Published every two weeks.
A weekly challenge show hosted by Merlin Mann, Alex Cox, and Max Temkin.
A new show from the very funny Merlin Mann, framed by the three hosts attempting to accomplish a named task by the end of the week (this week’s was ‘take a nap’, last week’s ‘watch an episode of Star Trek: Voyager’ and then to discuss the experience on the show. However, this is really just the start of a very entertaining romp around their lives, the internet and our relationships with one another. Unlike many shows on this list, Do By Friday is relatively new, being only 10 episodes old, so there’s no time like the present to jump in, and then catch up on the back-catalog!
A show about news, politics and pop culture. Every episode, your hosts talk about their favorite stories of the week … and probably at least one random current event that has nothing to do with anything. Hosted by Gillian Parker and Quinn Rose.
Many of the shows listed here are a) tech-related and b) hosted by men. Mixed Feelings is delightfully different. Two US-based students, Gillian Parker and Quinn Rose discuss current affairs, including a heavy focus on the lead up to the US elections and the fall out since. Entertaining, informative and educational, I find this show to be a real breath of fresh air…
Hosted by Federico Viticci and Fraser Speirs, Canvas is a podcast all about mobile productivity. Armed with iOS, Federico and Fraser will be walking through workflows, exploring the best apps for the iPad and iPhone and helping users solve problems.
Despite being an iPad user since the first device was released in 2010, it was only when I switched (almost) full-time to the iPad Pro as my work environment of choice back in the summer that I began to realise the true abilities of the iOS platform from a productivity and creativity perspective – before then, the succession of iPhones, iPads and iPad Minis had primarily enabled consumption and communication triage, anything serious waited for my Mac to be available. This podcast, and the other work of host Federico Viticci, were a significant driver for my switch to making the iPad my workhorse rather than an accessory.
Canvas focuses on how iOS can enable true mobile productivity, whether on the iPad or iPhone, and each week the hosts zone in on a specific area where iOS and third-party apps are delivering benefits. Their recent series on using the incredible Workflow app is a must-listen for anyone interested in improving their efficiency on the iOS platform. The
Community Signal is a weekly podcast for community professionals. Social media is set of tools. Community is a strategy you apply to those tools. Marketing brings new customers. Community helps you keep them.
Hosted by Patrick O’Keefe, this show zones in on the art and science of community management – whether on the social web, inside organisations, or in other kinds of online community platforms. Recent shows have discussed the career prospects for community managers, why some associations struggle with online communities, and how to manage interactions with law enforcement if or when they are required. The host is clearly very experienced in the field, and produces and engaging and educational show. If you come at enterprise social networks and collaboration platforms primarily from the technology aspect, then this show may really widen your perspective as to the methodologies and challenges involved in deploying and managing the communities they enable.
The director’s commentary track for Daring Fireball.
For those that aren’t familiar with John Gruber, he is one of the best known Apple commentators, having been around the industry for the best part of two decades – he developed one of the most-respected editors for macOS, BB Edit, invented the Markdown syntax, and writes prolifically on his blog, Daring Fireball. John has hosted podcasts for a number of years, and the latest self-published incarnation is typically a 2-3 hour (yes really!) conversation with a guest co-host from around the Apple community. Perhaps the highlight of The Talk Show back-catalog are annual live shows with Apple executives at WWDC, though my personal favourite is this election-results-night ‘holiday party’ special with Merlin Mann, when neither of the hosts could really bring themselves to discuss the results, instead consoling each other on-air and talking about stuff that makes them happy. A 2 hour+ show may seem like an extravagance, but it is always entertaining and seems like a much shorter show. If I have a long drive to a customer, it’s very often The Talk Show that I turn to.
A pop culture show about the sometimes strange things we love, that other people… don’t. Each episode, comics and games writer Antony Johnston asks a new guest to explain why that thing you hate is actually really great.
There are plenty of pop culture shows out there, and in essence, thats what The Incomparable network is all about. However, this one takes a different tack, instead of the show being about pop culture fandom, it asks the guest to justify their decision to like their favourite publication, movie or series. The format means that you are guaranteed a great conversation, and in most cases, a new entry on your play- or wish-list… 😏
John Hodgman’s Today in the Past podcast is now The Judge John Hodgman Podcast. Have your pressing issues decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge.
So here’s your slightly random pick of the bunch! I love John Hodgman – his work on the Apple ads, and many TV chat shows was topped off by his appearance at a tech conference I attended a few years back, where I was hugely happy to get the chance to have a brief conversation with him. Incredibly funny guy. This podcast has a simple setup – a listener emails their issue to John, he hears the evidence and rules on the appropriate decision. Straightforward, huh? Always good fun, and great to have a break from the news and tech of the day!
So there’s ten of my favourite podcasts for you to try out in 2017. I hope you enjoy the shows!
Do you have any podcast recommendations to share? I’d love to have you add them as comments on this post – that way we can all give them a try…