Empty Office

Digitally-positive UK workforce let down by workplace tech

Fujitsu today published a study revealing a lack of digital services being provided by UK employers to their work force.

In the Fujitsu report, ‘Digital Inside Out‘, 73% of employees stated that digital is vital to the future success of their organisation, despite only 45% of employees feeling they are provided with access to the technology services and applications they need to do their job sufficiently.

A 29% of the working population admitted that their ability to do their job is being hindered due to poor digital services.

Michael Keegan, CEO at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said: “Today’s employees are well informed and understand the benefits digital can bring to them in the workplace.”

The benefits digital brings to an organisation, and to the people working within it, were made clear by the employees surveyed.

Main advantages pointed by the respondents included the ability to work remotely (57%), real time access to information (50%) and time-saving (46%).

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Slack usage chart

Slack hits half a million daily users in its first year

Slack turns one year old today. In its short but fascinating history, the startup has managed the remarkable feat of actually getting people excited about enterprise communication software. The company has more than 500,000 daily active users, and it’s adding tens of thousands more every each week.

“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. ((And 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.

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!

Social Business: The Irresistible Force to Overcome Immovable Objections (IBM Connect 2014 BP310)

Apologies for the delay, but here’s the deck for my session from IBM Connect 2014:

As those that have seen me present will probably vouch, my slides are almost bullet-free, are very graphical and there isn’t a huge amount of text, so it’s all in the delivery! Therefore the deck on it’s own may lack a bit of zing… I’ll rectify that by uploading a version of the presentation with audio very soon. Look out for an update in the next week or so.

Reviving Social Business adoption

A topic close to my heart…

Dennis Pearce of Information Week:

The last piece of the puzzle is how to turn a theoretical model like this into a practical analysis tool to help guide your adoption strategy. The first step we took at my company was to simplify the model to get a more focused communication plan. Since the goal is to jump the chasm and gain critical mass, in practice there are really only three groups to worry about:

  • The Early Adopters (which combines both early adopters and innovators), who mainly need to understand the available features so they can explore what can be done with them;
  • The Massive Middle (early majority and late majority), who need some confidence that this new concept is not a fly-by-night fad and will actually enhance productivity; and
  • The Laggards, who won’t adopt until they are forced to do so. 

If you look closely at the chart above, you will notice an S-shaped curve in addition to the normal bell curve. That S-curve is the sum total of your adopters as your organization progresses along the adoption curve. You can use this curve to help you determine when it’s time to switch tactics.

I really like the graph above.  There are a lot of different methods of planning, modelling and measuring user adoption of Social Business systems.  One of the greatest challenges is to be realistic in terms of the adoption culture of an organisation and its users.  No matter how fantastic the technology is, or how persuasive your communication and adoption strategies, users will always embrace new working practices at different speeds and with differing levels of enthusiasm and commitment.  This chart models that well.


Your organization will need to ask itself two questions: How do we define adoption, and what adoption percentage is considered a success? In our case, our goal of creating an organization that works out loud drives the answers to both questions. We want to track participation — not just logging in and viewing — and we want to strive for 100% adoption.

Good advice… How do you define (and measure) adoption, and what are your criteria for success and/or failure?  Lots to be thought through before you ever think about technology or solution specifics…

[Dennis is an Enterprise Knowledge Architect for Lexmark International, Inc. – his series on Information Week is worth reading and following]

What matters to Collaboration Matters ?

Collaboration really does matter to us. We started our business on the principle that helping people to work together in new and smarter ways was a good thing to do.  We won’t hire anyone in our business unless they exhibit a passion for this. So Social Business is in our DNA.

We understand that many forward-looking organisations are looking for new ways to work together smarter to innovate by capturing, sharing and working on ideas to deliver a better customer experience.

And that some of these organisations will want us to help them to succeed with Social Business projects which drive positive change.

This will take leadership and a willingness to experiment with new ways of working together.

A social business recognises that people do business with people and provides new tools to enhance the ways people can interact to get work done. Our drive is to provide the platforms, processes and know-how to help you do this.

Helping you to work smarter together.  That’s what matters to us.

PignWhistle on 2nd, NYC

LotusBeers / IBMSocialBeerz – NYC, Wednesday 10th April

Humans of New York, I am scheduled to be in town next week for SugarCon 2013 and for a visit to a long-term customer in Midtown.

PignWhistle on 2nd, NYC

Therefore, good friend Victor Toal and I thought it was high time for another NYC LotusBeers session.  The plan is to meet at 8pm on Wednesday, 10th April at The Pig ‘n’ Whistle on 2nd.  All are welcome!

Let us know if you can make it via email, DM or by leaving a comment.  Hope to see you there!

P.S. Given the re-branding effort, I wonder if these sessions should become known as IBMSocialBeerz? 😉

An IBM webcast you must not miss!

“From Liking to Leading”: Transforming Your Business with a Next Generation Platform for Social Business
Event Date: 03/13/2013 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

A comprehensive platform for social business can deliver business value and help you beat the competition. Join us and see first-hand the latest collaboration technology advances and adoption techniques. You will learn:

  • how a complete social business platform can best position you to unleash creativity and create a more effective and engaged workforce. 
  • what you should consider when looking for a social business platform 
  • why thinking early and often about adoption can speed the time-to-value

Hear from Jeff Schick, IBM Vice President of Social Software, and from speakers from organizations just like yours. They will share how social integration has transformed their organizations for competitive advantage. Learn how Microsoft customers in particular can make their existing environments even more social.

Whether you’re a business leader looking to transform your front office, a CIO looking to build a social platform to support organizational growth, an existing IBM customer, or even a Microsoft customer, you cannot afford to miss this exciting and informative broadcast.

Jeff Schick, Vice President, Social Software, IBM
R. “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO, Constellation Research, Inc.

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Think announcements.  Think IBM Notes and Domino 9.0, IBM Connections 4.5, IBM Connections Content Manager and more…  

You need to be on the call!

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!

Social Business: Collaboration comes of age

Deloitte Consulting:

The application of social business systems and practices is facilitating discovery and creating connections across the enterprise. It is also radically changing the way we think about core business strategies and goals. It makes real-time collaboration on tasks and documents possible, and provides a systematic view of who knows who, who knows what, and how work actually gets done. In short, social business delivers on the promises made by collaboration systems decades ago.

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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’…]

Learning from competition

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, writes on the correct way to deal with competition:

Reacting well to competition requires critical analysis of your own product and its shortcomings, and a complete, open-minded understanding of why people might choose your competitors.

They’re not fanboys. They’re not brainwashed by “marketing”. Your competitors’ customers aren’t passing on your product because they’re stupid or irrational.

They’re choosing your competitors for good reasons, and denying the existence of such good reasons will only ensure that your product never overcomes them.

CompetitionHe goes on to discuss why Microsoft’s recent reaction to the threat of iOS is more constructive than Google’s.

It’s a fascinating reflection, and bears great relevance to the way in which we see some Collaboration and Social Business vendors react.

Customers are not irrational, users are not stupid. If you want them to choose to buy your solution, or even more importantly, to desire to use it, you had better go focus your attention and resources on making yours significantly better than the opposition, not on dissing the opposition or those that buy or use their products!