Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The 10 most visited posts in November 2008

Below are the 10 most visited posts on The Content Economy during November 2008:

  1. Taxonomies and tagging in MOSS 2007
  2. Knowledge exchange key to IKEA's success
  3. Ambient awareness and findability
  4. Cisco sees the future
  5. Using a Wiki for Requirements Engineering
  6. SharePoint - Dream or Nightmare?
  7. The business case for Enterprise 2.0
  8. 12 quick steps to improve MOSS 2007 for collaboration
  9. A few voices on why information governance is important
  10. Is the business case for Enterprise 2.0 enough?

These are the most commonly used keywords in November when arriving from a search engine:

  1. cisco sees the future
  2. efficient meetings
  3. enterprise content architecture
  4. the content economy
  5. ikea success
  6. content economy
  7. enterprise 2.0 business case
  8. sharepoint nightmare
  9. content architecture b
  10. etter than sharepoint

Friday, November 28, 2008

This week in links - week 49, 2008

"Building Social Capital: the secret to SOA success" by Richard Watson

I’ve followed my own advice this week and stepped out of my comfort zone. This week’s Burton Group Inflection Point podcast features my foray into socio-organizationomics to discuss social capital as the secret sauce in SOA success stories. Here's the direct link to the audio. All InflectionPoint podcasts are also available on iTunes.

Our much discussed SOA contextual research study earlier in the year involved dozens of service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiative leaders. The goal was to uncover in-depth data on SOA roadmap dynamics and success factors. This contextual research study and the hundred of discussions we’ve had with our clients over 5 years, confirms our position – a position now resonating widely - that the greatest challenges to SOA success are cultural and organizational, rather than technical.
Reflection: Changing how humans behave is always more difficult than changing how the technology behaves.

"Study: Only one out of five SOA efforts bearing fruit" by Joe McKendrick:
What about that 20% (presumably four companies) that saw success with SOA? The Burton Group found that success came to SOA proponents who pay attention to the cultural shift that needs to take place within the business, cemented by good governance. The successful businesses had what Anne called “incredibly inspiring” stories to tell.

Here are the common denominators Burton Group found within the successful

  • Business and IT reorganization, usually with a new CIO coming on
  • Sponsorship at the C-level or by the Board of Directors
  • Agile/iterative development methodologies put into place
  • Projects tied to and measured by business goals, not IT drivers
  • Well-defined funding and maintenance models that balance the needs of service providers and consumers
  • A simplified architecture, making it easier to access and manage quality data
  • A culture of trust between business and IT
Reflection: Aren't these success factors the same for almost any large IT initiative?

"Two Paths For Information Management Pros In An Economic Downturn" by Matthew Brown:

So it strikes me that the downturn could take one of two paths for IM pros. Those that can't communicate the connection between information management practices, workforce productivity, and business process will find it increasingly hard to fund new projects. Many will be asked by the business to build more transparency into their costs - across staff, software, and hardware expenditures - in order to justify their very existence. Conversely, those information management professionals that can articulate the value of information management tools and practices, may just find themselves helping to pioneer substantial changes to how people work. After all, it's a lot easier to bring about change when there's burning reason to do so, like this economy.

Reflection: I would say that IM professionals that cannot articulate the value of IM tools and practices are not getting what Information Management is about. Here's an analogy that explains what IM is essentially about.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to successfully implement social software company-wide

2:44:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
In the post "Six Steps to Company-Wide Adoption", Michael Idinopulos at SocialText shares some advice about how to successfully implemend social software company-wide:
  1. Encourage a broad range of use cases. Different groups will find value in different ways: finding experts, managing projects, surfacing ideas from the field, communicating to staff, building social communities, monitoring competitors, staying in constant contact with customers, etc. Encourage the diversity, while looking for common patterns.

  2. Recruit energetic champions across the organization. It's very clear from the customer studies we've done that individuals play a major role in determining who adopts these tools and how. Enlisting energetic evangelists in their respective geographies and divisions is critical. You need both generalists who touch many different parts of the organization and specialists who can deliver deep penetration in local areas.

  3. Launch the tools with hands-on experiences for new users. Social software is fun...once you try it. Don't just show it to your company; create a moment that forces them to actually try it out. Use large-scale gatherings (physical and virtual) to pull in large numbers of people at once.

  4. Route repeated activities through social software. Use your social software to supplant email on routine information requests. Some of those activities should be common across the entire company, while others will be group-specific. 

  5. Integrate with existing systems of record. Social software can be a great way to enhance CRM, document management, and other structured systems of record with more free-form context, conversation, ideation, and socialization. 

  6. Leverage public communities. The Enterprise 2.0 world is changing fast, and your fellow practitioners are inventing new best practices every day. Use them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This week in links - week 47, 2008

In a panel discussion, John Musser, founder of ProgrammableWeb.com, described mashups as "the next flavor of integration skill," and he pointed to the iPhone App store and the Salesforce AppExchange as places where mashups and cloud-based apps are starting to flourish.

"In the current state of the economy, the word we hear time and time again from CIOs is 'reuse,'" added panelist Hart Rossman, vice president and CTO, Cyber Programs and Chief Security Technologist at SAIC. "By exposing data, providing APIs and letting the user community do a lot of the development work, you can drive down the cost of developing and supporting enterprise applications."
As Web content becomes more granular, compositional, and personalizable (not to mention more perishable), subscribability becomes a design consideration. Users want to be able to opt into dynamic content. This is a theme I've seen emerge over the past year in the Web CMS world as well as in Enterprise Search, where it's no longer enough just to let users save queries; they now need to be able to subscribe to their queries (or the content generated by them).

Bottom line? Feed-based delivery of content isn't just about aggregation; it's about empowering users -- giving them the power to choose how they want to consume content.
While systems and software used to be very “behind the scenes” and often transaction based, it is the case no longer. Consumers and businesses alike buy differently, consume differently, and recommend differently. Trends like social networking, video on demand, ecommerce will continue to force businesses to adapt to keep up with their customers. They cannot rely on systems that take years to implement and most don’t have the budgets to make large investments, at least for the next couple of years.

The growing focus on SaaS, cloud computing, application platforms, etc. are all responses to this growing trend in the market. There will be other solutions in the future for mobile, etc. that we haven’t even imagined. They all support the need for businesses to utilize systems that they can deploy, change and retire quickly. In my real job, I remember meeting with a venture capitalist who talked about how their firm looks for opportunities where they see lots of “wiggling”. He couldn’t describe what that really meant, or how one gets paid for wiggling; I thought he was a lunatic.
As consumers, customers and users of the Web, we are being re-trained as I write this. We expect immediate responses, (not necessarily decisions)—but we are being conditioned to expect some type of response immediately. We’re also making the assumption that conversations are public. To reference the Motrin example again, when the first e-mail went out it of course was copied and pasted on dozens of blogs. Anything you say, can and will be uploaded, screen- grabbed and re-published. Get used to it.

So forget social, forget networks, forget mobile—it’s all about the end customer/user experience. Think like a real person.
Forrester Research has published a new report on the state of wikis, blogs, social networking, and other new tools in the enterprise: Forrester TechRadar™ For Information & Knowledge Management Pros: Enterprise Web 2.0. Here’s what they said about wikis:

"One of the more promising of the Web 2.0 technologies for the enterprise, wikis show good evidence of helping transform collaboration in the enterprise. Users report success with many wiki endeavors when they’re sponsored by business leaders and connected to business processes."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

12 quick steps to improve MOSS 2007 for collaboration

5:34:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

I have been using MOSS 2007 for collaboration in virtual team deliveries for more than a year now. Based on that experience, here is my list of things that you can do to make collaboration a quicker, leaner and simpler experience in MOSS 2007:

  1. Make the log on procedure as simple (few steps) as possible.
  2. Make "My Site" to the start page" and allow users to customize (extend default navigaton options) global navigation.
  3. Place visible links (buttons) to collaborative tools such as instant messenger, mail and web conferencing tool in the top navigation so that users have them readily available and get reminded about using them.
  4. Use a logo for each site to make it easy for users to identify where they are.
  5. Select a theme that makes it easy to visually separate the content from user interface elements (since the MOSS 2007 GUI is so visually cluttered).
  6. Enable posting to blogs via e-mail (and possibly SMS) so users can post to blogs via their mobile phones.
  7. Simplify the administration of user alerts so that those who follow a blog can receive the latest posts via mail – which can be read on mobile phones as well.
  8. Make sure you can retrieve RSS feeds outside the firewall and read them via Outlook Web Access and mobile phones equipped with Windows Mobile.
  9. Make the search result more visually appealing and display a small user profile of the person who owns the content.
  10. All user profiles should include presence and the possibility to contact the user via IM or mail.
  11. Make it easy to discover what is happening by provide separate overview pages blogs and wikis. On these pages you should list which blogs and wikis have most members, are most frequently updated, which posts or pages which has been most viewed or edited and so on.
  12. By default, a site should be open for anyone to access and contribute to. Restricting access should be a conscious act.

There are of course much more that can be done, especially if you bring more extensive customization and third-party tools into the picture. I would be happy to hear about your experiences, opinions and tips on how to improve MOSS 2007 for collaboration.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Internet is full of holes

7:58:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
(...and I don't mean security holes.)

Have you ever experienced surfing the web from within an organization where the IT department (well, management) has blocked access to sites such as YouTube? It is an interesting experience. What becomes clear to you after a while is that a site like YouTube is not just a site . YouTube is present more or less everywhere on the web as videos from YouTube are embedded on blogs, sites and RSS feeds.

It is a fact that more and more companies, organizations and users both share their own video content via YouTube and reuse externally produced video content from YouTube on their own sites. This means that organizations that choose to block access to YouTube are not just keeping their employees users from accessing video content at YouTube.com; they are keeping their employees from accessing is a large part of the information, knowledge and experiences that is communicated via video and distributed online.

It's stupid, just plain stupid.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This week in links - week 46, 2008

8:51:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
A pan-European survey of more than 2,500 people in five countries shows that the use of social networking tools as part of everyday working life has led to an increase in efficiency. The study shows that 65% of employees surveyed in Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands say their company has adopted social networking as part of their working culture. The research also reveals that the rate of adoption is most popular in Germany, leading the way at 72% while Great Britain lags behind with 59%. The study also reveals:
  • 65% of employees surveyed say that social networking sites have made them and/or their colleagues more efficient
  • 63% say they have enabled them and their colleagues to achieve things that would not otherwise have been possible
  • 46% say they have sparked ideas and creativity for them personally
The Internet, à la industry giant Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), has finall (finally!) come up with a way to maintain and rekindle friendships online. It's called socia networking. And it's totally brand new and completely awesome and not at all something we've already seen recreated a thousand times in the past year alone.

Sorry. I'm trying this new thing, you see, called being facetious. Because the news that Microsoft will be "rolling out" a new social networking platform over the course of the next few months is, at best, dull.

We can't blame Microsoft for trying (albeit a few years too late). They had to do something in this space. But I wonder why it is that the creator of the software industry is now only capable of jumping on the bandwagon rather than spending a little extra time on something truly innovative where the Web is concerned. It's going to take more than the ever-exciting prospect of a Twitter feed to my social network to make me want to hand over my social graph data to Microsoft.
One of the key ways that UC can benefit an organization is by reducing human latency. The idea is that if you can shorten the time it takes people to find the subject matter experts that they need to solve a particular problem, you can achieve demonstrable benefits such as increased sales, increased customer retention, or greater efficiency of contact center operations.

Most vendors here at VoiceCon San Francisco are spending a lot of time talking up UC as a way to reduce human latency, but few are saying “how” you classify and identify subject matter experts. Typically you hear discussions around grouping people by role, but what is missing is the merging of social computing and UC so that your employees (and perhaps even customers & partners) can self-identify experts based on concepts such as tagging or rating user profiles. It’s not hard to see how a company can integrate something like Lotus Connections or Microsoft SharePoint with Teligent Community server to let your users create the knowledge base that allows individuals to find the experts they need for a given problem.
RightNow Technologies 2008 recently released their Customer Experience Impact Report conducted by Harris Interactive.

For the third year in a row, an increasing number of consumers indicate they will stop doing business with an organization or company because of a negative customer experience. This year it was 87%, up from 80% in 2007 and 68% in 2006.

The study found that 58% of consumers said outstanding service is the number one reason they would recommend a company to someone else; up from 51% in 2007. This beats service low prices (44%) and quality products/services (43%) in the recommendation-stakes. The flip side is that customers are almost twice as likely to tell others about poor treatment. The study found that 84% of US adults who had a negative experience with an organization or company said they would spread the word about a bad experience – up from 74% in 2007 and 67% in 2006.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ambient awareness and findability

8:54:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , 3 comments
Mark Granovetter’s research on the strength of weak ties for spreading information in social networks is indeed groundbreaking ("The Strength of Weak Ties", 1973) and in September this year, Clive Thompson discussed how weak ties can be strengthened by ambient awareness in an excellent article in The New York Times called "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy". He used the newsfeed in Facebook as an example of an environment which creates ambient awareness and “…brings back the dynamics of small-town life, where everybody knows your business”. That is in short what ambient awareness is ultimately about according to Thompson.
"Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life. "

The concept of ambient awareness and creating an online environment which fosters ambient awareness among employees should be interesting for any organization that has a large and distributed workforce. In a way, it can be seen as a way to mimic the dynamics, efficiency and agility you can achieve quite easily in a small organization due to reach, transparency, trust and immediacy.

Here are a few comments about ambient awareness that I have come across on the web.
Chad Gabriel commented on a blog post by John Battelles that quoted the article in NYT.
"Has any one heard of this being used in a corporate environment? it seems that it could have great power in raising the awareness of others within an organization. Awareness of what others are working on can create opportunities for learning, collaboration, and innovation; ultimately leading to new product development and great ideas."
That is exactly what popped up in my mind when reading the article and what got my wheels spinning.

I have previously referred to Betsy Carroll post "Fostering Ambient Awareness in Virtual Teams" where she wrote about ambient awareness for virtual teams and I find much of what she wrote worth repeating:
Since virtual team members are typically dispersed, awareness tools might be very useful for leaders to help team members grow closer, building cohesion and trust. Be warned that the use of frequent, small communications may be in stark contrast to the current standard of business communication. The more people are inundated with too many incoming messages to handle, the more they simply shut down to communication. But we can confidently recommend the use of numerous small contacts nonetheless, because the quality of each message will be different from most of the impersonal, directive messages that bury people.
Lisbeth Klastrup has written a piece called "Ambient awareness, lifestreams and personal storytelling. Will it change my relation to You?" where she makes a connection between the concept of ambient awareness and the concept of lifestreams:

His point is that through the many quick and constant updates of what is going on in people’s lives (using Twitter, Facebook status updates etc), we create an ambient awareness of what is going on in their life, that accumulated over time gives us, their followers, an idea of the rhytm and content of their everyday lives. Most posts are insignificant and mundane, but by reading many posts we might end up with a general sense of the interests and character traits of the posters. This particularly pertains to people we don’t really know that well offline, i.e. our so-called weak tie connections. I like the concept and Clive Thompson has some good observations (and user sources), so what follows is mainly a few additional observations and only semi-critical comments of my own:

In many ways, it seems to me that the concept of “ambient awareness” is closely linked with the notion of “lifestream” that also seem to become more dominant as buzzword these days. A lifestream is (as far as I can figure from the various technerds and social media afficionados who are currentlywriting about it) the constant stream of info about what a person is doing, emerging from the collected sum of this person’s posts to online services such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LastFM, etc etc (actually some has pretty high expectations to what lifestreaming should include).

You can tap into this lifestream by subscribing to people’s feeds on services like Friendfeed or PlaxoPulse - or by zooming in on their activities by telling Facebook that these are people you would like “to hear more about”. Hence, not just following postings one place, but following a person’s lifestream, either fully or in pieces, seems to be become part of the process of creating this “ambient awareness” of your network connections.
I am however more fond of the term "ambient awareness" and I am especially interested in how ambient awareness relates to findability which has traditionally been focused mainly on active methods of finding information such as searching and browsning.

I dare to say that humans are lazy by nature and that we are likely to use the method that requires the least effort when we look for information. We even tend to use less reliable information if it’s just easy to find and use. Instead of actively looking for information we prefer to passively monitor the flow of information in our environment. In fact, some say that actively looking for information is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. So, just being in an environment and becoming passively aware about things that happen in it is something we find very natural and convenient.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This week in links - week 45, 2008

10:02:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
"Transparency 2.0" by Daniel Tunkelang:
Our notions of privacy and secrecy are changing as we no longer have privacy through difficulty. Many people–as well as governments and institutions–are reacting with alarm, trying to find ways to safeguard individual or corporate confidentiality in an age of hypercommunication. Perhaps we would do better to accept that privacy as we used to know it is lost, and come up with legal and social norms that reflect the world we live in today.
"Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity" by Clay Shirky:
Process is an essential part of group work, and without it, groups would suffer paralysis. However, though I overstated the case, I didn't misstate it, and I stand by the core observation: Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity.

Process is the feature creep of organizations. In the same way software has to have features, groups have to have process. But like software, process creep in groups is insidious -- each additional check in or form seems to cost little and add much, but over time, the cumulative overhead of process can hamstring an organization, almost without their noticing.

...Open Source works though it has less process than commercial firms. This is not to say that there is not a process to Open Source efforts, but rather that it is considerably simpler than the process adopted by Serious Commercial Software Firms®, who for years misunderstood Open Source, because they assumed no one could build software with that little process.
"Digital boom is about to hit the workplace" by Don Tapscott:
If Barack Obama is elected U.S. president tomorrow, it will be a spectacular display of power by a new generation of young Americans. They overwhelmingly support Mr. Obama, of course, but their clout is far greater than the number of their votes. Their real power lies in the way they use digital tools that give them unprecedented abilities to spread information, work together and organize.

Young Americans have used these tools to rewrite the political playbook in the campaign to elect the first African-American president. Just wait until they start using them to shake up the world of work.

Their Web, the New Web, is not just for surfing or hunting for information. It's not a passive medium. The New Web enables people to create their own content, collaborate with others and build communities. It has become a tool for ordinary people to organize themselves, instead of waiting for orders from the authorities.

The Net Generation are starting to use these remarkable digital tools to transform every institution of modern life - as this year's presidential race has shown in such a spectacular fashion.

(from information aesthetics)

Congratulations to all U.S. (and world) citizens for having elected Barack Obama as president of the U.S.!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This week in links - week 44, 2008

"The 3 ways I expect Web 2.0 to change collaboration – and are you there yet?" by James Dellow:

Firstly, at high level I expect Web 2.0 to change collaboration in the following ways, listed in order of value they bring:

1. Make collaboration technologies more fit for purpose – Rather than a radical change to the tools we had in the past, Web 2.0 technologies, like AJAX and Rich Internet Application (RIA) approaches, are used to improve usability and accessibility – the results are tangible but in effect we are just building a better mousetrap, not introducing new modes of collaboration;

2. Add new functionality to existing collaboration functionality – Adding new, but incremental changes to the collaboration functionality we already have, this might include improving findability and awareness through social feedback mechanisms and content syndication to providing new ways for manipulating information, such as mashups – however, we still haven’t changed the fundamental patterns of collaboration, even if this makes it better; and

3. Support new models of collaboration that didn’t exist before – What the old collaboration technologies didn’t do so well is support emergent needs (Web-based tools like eRoom and Quickplace started to do this, but are still relatively inflexible compared to the Web 2.0 generation of tools), reflect the need for boundary spanning or boundary agnostics collaboration systems and enable dynamic people-to-people and conversational collaboration – however, the challenge is that while the impact should be a radical change to the patterns of collaboration, it may also be technically less tangible because it becomes more about how we use Web 2.0 technologies, rather than what they are.

"Collaboration Requires Systems that Talk" by Evan Rosen:

Collaboration involves breaking down barriers and silos. For this to happen, both people and systems must talk. Unnecessary manifestations of hierarchy, fear and formality create barriers that poison collaboration. I made that point on the first episode of CNBC’s “Collaboration Now.” You can view that video clip from the show here. Sometimes, though, we take the systems part for granted. Highly-collaborative organizations get the culture part right, but they also make sure that the organization uses common systems and processes. Proprietary systems and processes accessible to a single function or business unit reinforce information hoarding, which inhibits collaboration.
"User Adoption" by Dean Thrasher:

If you want your Enterprise 2.0 deployment to work, you have to focus on user adoption.

The hard truth is that if you want an Enterprise 2.0 application to succeed, you must be prepared to sacrifice everything to delight your customers. And these sacrifices will include treasured organizational imperatives. You’ll have to do things like:

  • Annoy the corporate counsel by emphasizing sharing, not security
  • Irritate senior management by stressing flexibility over process
  • Anger “low badge numbers” by promoting expertise over length of service
  • Frustrate the IT department by favoring ease of use rather than ease of deployment
You’ll find yourself in the midst of turf wars and political infighting. There will be squabbles over budget and resources. Change management and training will consume months, if not years, of your time.

"Bosses 'should embrace Facebook'", BBC NEWS:

Companies should not dismiss staff who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo at work as merely time-wasters, a Demos study suggests...//...Attempts to control employees' use of such software could damage firms in the long run by limiting the way staff communicate, the think tank said.

Social networking can encourage employees to build relationships with colleagues across a firm, it added...//...However, businesses are warned to be strict with those who abuse access.

Firms are inceasingly using networking software to share documents and collaborate in ideas, the research found...//...They are part of the way in which people communicate which they find intuitive," he said.

"Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships."

Using technology to build closer links with ex-employees and potential customers could also boost productivity, innovation and create a more democratic working environment, Mr Bradwell added.

"In today's difficult business environment, the instinctive reaction can be to batten down the hatches and return to the traditional command-and-control techniques that enable managers to closely monitor and measure productivity...//...Allowing workers to have more freedom and flexibility might seem counter-intuitive, but it appears to create businesses more capable of maintaining stability."