GE Colab

Are you asking users to ‘mingle’?

PCWorld have published an interesting perspective on the adoption of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), entitled ‘Many employees won’t mingle with enterprise social software‘ (and yes, that’s the first time I’ve used the word ‘mingle’ on this site!):

Carol Rozwell, a Gartner analyst, estimates that between 70 percent and 80 percent of companies she talks to about their ESN deployments are struggling with it.

“Too often we see companies whose leaders are thrilled with the technology, and they see how quickly consumer social networks like Facebook have grown. They think they’ll accomplish the same growth rate and participation if they purchase the right tool,” she said. “That approach doesn’t work.”

Gartner predicts that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve their intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology, she said.

GE ColabIt goes on to discuss the success of GE’s internal ESN solution, GE Colab, which has been in place since 2012:

“Hundreds of communities have popped up on Colab,” said Andrew Markowitz, the company’s global director of digital strategy. “It’s very actively used. There are strong metrics around it.”

It has gotten so far about 50 million page views. Several hundred thousand comments have been posted to it. Users spend an average of 10 minutes on GE Colab per visit. “There is good, strong appetite for this type of tool,” he said.

Before turning back to consider the issues involved with lack of adoption in many ESN deployments, with quotes from Charlene Li and Alan Lepofsky amongst others:

Many ESNs aren’t living up to their full potential because they’ve been implemented as a technology and not as a business strategy,” Li said.

Gartner’s Rozwell stresses that there needs to be “a compelling purpose for which the tool will be used.”

Compelling in this context means not only that the software has to be enticing, but that it also helps people get their job done better, whether that means faster, easier, more efficiently or less expensively, she said.

For Alan Lepofsky, a Constellation Research analyst, the meshing of ESNs with business processes is essential. “If an ESN is not integrated with tools like file-sharing, CRM, marketing automation, support tracking or project management, then it becomes just another tool, and that is where adoption issues begin,” he said via email.

Organizations need to ensure that ESNs are woven deeply in to their core business processes in areas such as sales, marketing and engineering, according to Lepofsky.

Some thoughts:

  • It’s terrific that mainstream tech sites such as PC World are finally covering ESNs and collaboration platforms with some level of consideration beyond just publishing vendor press releases.
  • Even though the tone of the article is realistic, it is positive in terms of the GE case study and also the outlook for the ESN market generally.
  • The principal messages are sound.  That ESNs are not simply a technology to be deployed, but instead are an enabler for business processes and strategy, and should be seen as an element to be included in significant business transformation projects. Secondly, users have to understand why they are asked to use the new platforms and how it fits into their role, and into the organisation as a whole.
  • My own experience is that ESNs implemented purely by IT departments or by technology-focused partners or consultants are more than likely to fail.  This should not be a shock to anyone in 2014, yet it still seems to be at the root of so many negative stories and case studies that get published today.
  • Successful Social Business/Collaboration/Open Business projects are those led by the business for the business, that utilise talented teams and individuals with real-world experience of delivering transformation at strategic and cultural levels.  If you don’t have those people involved in your ESN project – stop, now’s the time to get them on board!

Open Business: A new manifesto of trust in the workplace

As those who know me well would vouch, I’ve never been in this business for the technology.  Yes I love my gadgets and shiny objects of desire as much as the next person, but neither they nor speeds’n’feeds nor software feature lists get me out of bed in the morning.  It’s the possibilities for empowering real people to do real work in new, more productive and enjoyable ways that get my creative juices flowing and my backside out of bed at 5am in the morning.

After 22 years or so of a career that has seen those real people shift from being asked to do their work on DOS-based word processors to primitive forms of groupware running on green screens, to graphical office suites, via Lotus Notes to powerful new forms of social collaboration technology often accessed via mobile devices, it’s become clear to me that what the world does not need is yet another technology that promises to revolutionise the workplace.  We’ve had plenty of those over the years – some have seen success, far more have failed and disappeared without trace along the way.

The issue is that for most of the population, the way that we work as individuals, teams and organisations has fundamentally stayed remarkably consistent over the last couple of decades. We’re still asked to report to the office between 9 and 5 each day, we’re still expected to be at our desks for vast tracts of time working independently on our own curated lists of tasks and actions, to participate in regularly scheduled review meetings that seem to go on for ever without any work actually being done, whilst trying to ensure that our efforts and achievements are recognised by the line manager that we only see a few times a year and yet holds all the power when it becomes time for that annual review and pay discussion!

Yes, this is possibly an overly negative perspective – hopefully not all the above is representative of your own situation, but I would imagine that there is more than a grain of truth to at least one of two aspects of the paragraph above in most workplaces.

Future of WorkI’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the ‘Future of Work‘ in recent months, to what it means to be a knowledge worker within an organisation in 2014, and how that might change as we look forward through this decade to 2020 and beyond.  The rise of social, mobile and cloud technologies in recent years should mean that the workplace of 2020 will look and operate very differently to those that we are familiar with today.

Clearly the technology of now and the future will change how it appears, but that’s not what I think is important.  After all, we’ve been predicting self-driving cars, robot assistants and the like for decades (and that is exciting), but if the fundamental way in which live and work does not evolve for the better then there is little point to the innovations in technology.  What I (and many others) are looking for is a radical departure in the manner in which organisations are organised, leaders operate, teams collaborate and employees work and live.  Technologies come and go, but if a CEO still operates as if in an ivory tower, delivering read-only strategy documents via a corporate hierarchy dominated by middle-aged grey-haired men, emailed out to thousands of employees to be stored for eternity in folders that will be looked at, refusing to be held accountable (or indeed accessible) to their employees/partners/customers then we are no further forward.

In short, the ‘future of work’ has to look different to the reality of today.  Business has to be more ‘open’.  Open in terms of leadership, strategy, collaboration, information and knowledge sharing, relationships, responsibility, honesty, accessibility and most importantly, culture.  The tools we’re currently calling ‘Social Business’ will clearly play a part, but deploying yet another technology won’t make the blindest bit of difference without a overarching and hugely significant change of approach throughout the organisation, amongst every team and in every individual. [Luis Suarez covers this topic incredibly well, and this deck from the 90:10 Group is a great introduction.]

TrustNow clearly this kind of fundamental change takes time and a huge amount of effort and buy-in.  It will not happen overnight.  However, each of us can make a difference in our own work, the way that we deal with others, how we deliver on our commitments and so on.  That’s why this terrific post by John Wenger on Medium really made me sit up and take notice.  He asks the question ‘Can I trust you?’ and goes on to set out a new manifesto of trust:

Want me to trust you? Be a man (or woman) of your word; not a man (or woman) of words. Words don’t cut it. I’ve been lied to too many times. I want to see trustworthy action. Let’s instigate a manifesto of trust. It could say something like this:

  • I will strive to build and maintain good relationships with all.
  • If I make a promise or a commitment, I will strive to keep it;
  • If I break a promise or ‘drop the ball’ with my commitments, I will front up and be accountable and I will work to put things right.
  • No excuses, no blaming, no avoiding, no sweeping under the carpet.
  • No wriggling out of embarrassing conversations or trying to change the subject.
  • I will endeavour to be real with people; no obfuscation, no power games.
  • I will strive to develop myself: this means becoming more self-reflective and more open to others’ feedback about me.

In the realm of the networked workplace, I will trust you when I feel that you value my contributions and that you encourage others to do the same. I will trust you when you are constant. A psychologist friend of mine had a mantra which went, “The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.” While I don’t agree with that entirely , there is some truth in it. My trust in you will build over time, when you are repeatedly and consistently authentic and trustWORTHY. We will not necessarily gain trust in each other simply because we have played some simplistic ‘trust games’ during our one and only staff training day.

Trust is one of the guiding principles of an Open Business – trust in one another, trust in our leaders and trust in the organisation.

So here’s my thought for today…

Do you trust the people you work with?  Can they trust you?  If not, isn’t it about time that we fixed this?

Sandy Carter: Social Business lessons for Education

Many of you will have seen IBM’s Sandy Carter presenting her Social Business Coffee Break series of videos on YouTube.  The series provides a good run through of Social Business concepts and case studies in the form of short sharp presentations that can be easily viewed whilst enjoying a beverage of your choice.  If you haven’t now might be a good chance to catch up some of the recent ones in advance of IBM Connect.

I did want to pick one of the videos out.  This one references Social Business use in higher education – within universities, colleges, schools and amongst their alumni:

Collaboration Matters has always has a great relationship with higher education institutions, including Cardiff University (mentioned in the video – situated in Wales rather than Canada), City University and a number of others.  Social Business in general, and IBM Connections specifically, is taking a firm hold in this area – staff and students stand to gain significantly from greater sharing of content, building of closer relationships based on trust and common interests and the ability to be present whether on campus or on a mobile device.

The next step is to start to network these great institutions together using Social Business techniques to manage research and collaborative projects – this process has already begun and we predict great acceleration in this area during 2013.

Lastly, there is a great need to enhance and manage the student lifecycle – the relationship with prospective students whilst they are considering their education options, through joining the institution and their ongoing studies, then on into post-graduate research and finally into alumni status.  Right now many institutions treat each of these populations as individual and distinct groups, with little continuity or transition of data or relationships from one stage to another.  Our partnership with Social Student is tackling this issue head-on, building a fantastic set of solutions and services to aid those in higher education to deliver innovative social tools to students, faculty and staff, aiding learning and engagement at every step.

If you haven’t heard about Social Student and their work in the HE sector, try get along to session SW501 ‘Social Learning – Redefine Education: Cardiff University and Birmingham Metropolitan College’ at IBM Connect (Tuesday, 10-11am, Swan Egret).  I’ll definitely be there!

Get Social. Build Apps. But first, Get Educated!

Some super ‘on demand’ webcasts from IBM.  Definitely worth watching if you want to transfer your development skills to the Social Business arena:

IBM Social Business Application Development Webcasts

Register now to view the webcasts, visit booths and ask questions to the Experts.

  • The Social Application Model- Charlie Hill, Social Business CTO at IBM Collaboration Solutions, describes how social tools integrate with enterprise applications in the social application model.  Learn about the starting points, common technologies, and social integration points that are the building blocks for social business applications.
  • Building Mobile and Social Applications- Philippe Riand, Application Development Architect at IBM Collaboration Solutions will describe how to build mobile and social applications using IBM Web Experience Factory, IBM Rational Application Developer and Domino XPages.
  • Panel discussion on XPages, Web, Mobile and Cloud Applications – Multi-channel Web Experiences, Social Application in the Cloud, Xpages / Social Business Toolkit, Social Business wrap-up / What’s next.

Social Business Application Development webcasts will guide clients and partners in adding social capabilities to their business applications to capitalize on the collective intelligence from people and social networks.

Don’t miss these exciting webcasts created just for application development professionals.

Featuring Charlie Hill, Philippe Riand, Gopal Gupta, Pete Janzen, Adam Ginsburg, Tyler Tribe and Dwight Morse these webcasts are an excellent way to get started with application development for Social Business.

More >

UKSG Rooven article 300px

The Social Business imperative – a time of radical corporate change

Rooven Pakkiri, Head of Social Business at Collaboration Matters has recently had a paper published by the well-respected UKSG organisation. It is entitled ‘The social business imperative – a time of radical corporate change’ and is featured in their ‘Insights: the UKSG journal’ publication for July.

Here’s the excerpt:

UKSG Rooven article 300px‘Social business’ is about the inspired use of collaboration technology platforms inside the company firewall to solve business problems. It has often misleadingly been described as Facebook or LinkedIn for the company, but it has a much more profound objective than social networking sites. It represents a technology-led paradigm shift that will reshape the culture and processes of organizations within five years. This article explores the very heart of social business: the emancipation, distribution and consolidation of knowledge – which aligns neatly with the traditional roles of publishers and libraries to date. It looks at the background, in terms of economic theory: increasing the value of ‘labour’ over ‘capital’, and the promise of social business: to make better use of the knowledge embedded around the organization, looking at examples from the real world and assessing the cultural implications, such as valuing patterns over process or influence over hierarchy. In conclusion, the article presents a final vision for social business: loyalty and gamification, the future of work and the end of the traditional workplace.

Covering topics such as ‘Background economics: the evolving dynamic between labour and capital‘, ‘The promise of social business: optimization of knowledge‘ and ‘Understanding the value of pattern over process‘, Rooven presents an overview of what Social Business is and how Collaboration Matters takes it to our customers.  This isn’t about technology for technology’s sake, instead as an enabler for a paradigm shift ‘that will reshape the culture and processes of organizations within five years’.

You can download the paper free from the UKSG site.

Advertising Social Business

Seen in New York City today:

And the ad itself?

Whatever you think of the idea of destroying your own office (I’m not too sure about the details of the ad myself), wouldn’t it have been encouraging to see IBM Connections (and IBM Social Business as a whole) being advertised in this very public and visible way?

[It is one of my dreams to say ‘IBM Connections’ to just one of my non-technical friends, acquaintances or family and them say ‘yes, I’ve heard of that’…]

The rise of the Community Manager and the Collaboration Garden: an IBM Social Business Briefing

For our third IBM Social Business Briefing (aka Wicked Wednesdays) on 25th April at Royal Exchange in London, we felt the time was right to move the discourse from thought leadership and education to a more practical footing.

Of course, we still leveraged the superb network of independent thought leaders who we are lucky to have at our events BUT at this latest event we changed / evolved the format.

On this occasion I framed the discussion on the emerging role of the Community Manager (seen by some as the ‘rock star of the Enterprise’) and then actually used a collaboration platform to discuss, collaborate and innovate around the chosen topic.

The objective or rather the output of the debate was not simply to gain a better understanding of this subject (the fastest growing job role in Social Business) but also to create a job description for the role of Community Manager which could then be downloaded and iterated by users.

To help us achieve this we introduced attendees to the Collaboration Garden – a place where the Wicked Wednesday discussion and collaboration goes on in and around the physical events.

Once inside the Garden, users could not only record their opinions and raise questions but they could also examine (through the software) the potential responsibilities and attendant tools on hand to assist a Community Manager with user adoption – e.g. gamification and social media feeds.

The overall sentiment was that this was our best Wicked Wednesday to date and pointed the way forward for future events.  Weaving the use of the collaboration platform into the discussion from the start had a number of important effects:

  • It forced us all ‘to drink our own champagne
  • Individuals contributed to the Garden on-premise and remotely (including from Spain and Ireland)
  • It highlighted how much was lost when we simply spoke and did not record
  • Live collaboration in the platform allowed for multi-threaded conversations which themselves were profoundly different to normal conversation
  • Those who were not familiar with a social collaboration platform experienced it in a way that was far more refreshing and natural then the traditional demo mode

Wicked Wednesdays are all about sharing and collaborating with those who attend the latest trends, twists and turns in the Social Business journey. We take risks at this event; we have to in order to keep things fresh and real.  So it was particularly gratifying to hear that the new format was warmly welcomed by those involved.

We are planning our next Wicked Wednesday/Social Business Briefing to take place in June and in keeping with our need to innovate we are experimenting with moving the venue from the Royal Exchange to a comfortable, friendly, coffee shop in the city which should be fun.

For more information, feel free to contact us directly.

Want to impress your client??

Serve the right biscuits!!

Biscuits ‘key’ to clinching business deals

About four out of five UK businesses believe the type of biscuit they serve to potential clients could clinch the deal or make it crumble, a survey says.

The outcome of a meeting could be influenced by the range and quality of biscuits, according to 1,000 business professionals quizzed by Holiday Inn.

The chocolate digestive was deemed to make the best impression followed by shortbread and Hob Nobs.

Lawyers were most impressed by good boardroom biccies, the survey added.

Dunking Do-Nots

Jammie Dodgers and Bourbons were also among the biscuit types thought to help sweet-talk customers.

However crumbly biscuits are a big no-no in the meeting environment, the questionnaire found, with 30% frowning on a regular digestive in the work environment.

And when it comes to helping yourself to biscuits from a communal plate, the most acceptable number to take is two, the research concluded.

However more than half of respondents looked down on dunking biscuits in tea or coffee during a meeting.

A survey released last year, which quizzed 7,000 people, suggested that the custard cream is the nation’s favourite biscuit.