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Saturday, December 27, 2008

This week in links - week 53, 2008

Time now for the last set of links for 2008. See you all in 2009 - Happy New Year!

"2009: Planning Considerations For Enterprise 2.0" by Mike Gotta:
Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) is a disappointing platform for social computing in my opinion. The blog is barely acceptable, the wiki is not, the decision to implement RSS rather than Atom was short-sighted and the "Corporate Facebook" capability is not that impressive. Still, many organizations are deploying SharePoint for many valid reasons unrelated to E2.0 and are "ok" with undertaking extensive customization or adding specific partners (e.g., NewsGator) to augment what SharePoint has in terms of E2.0 capabilities.

My position for some time has been that the next release will be a tipping point for Microsoft's social computing efforts. Either Microsoft "gets it right" and delivers a forward-looking release with significant improvements that transforms SharePoint into a market-leading social computing platform, or it delivers a release that has only incremental improvements to existing functionality that reflect a backward-looking competitive landscape (circa 2008 as things get locked-down).

If customers fail to see a forward-looking release and realize that they will again have to wait "another three years' before Microsoft delivers credible capabilities, then I expect to see a sizeable backlash within the SharePoint install-base. Organizations will leverage SharePoint for traditional productivity and content management needs but will look for an alternative social platform to sit alongside SharePoint while a minority of shops that have not over-committed to SharePoint (e.g., WSS only) will de-prioritize the platform.
RJ: What’s your response to people who say that all this information that’s out there, all this knowledge that we’re producing is great, and there’s all this access that we didn’t have before. But we also risk information overload alongside, and we don’t—

CS: Oh, those are the stupidest people in the entire debate because they, I mean, almost all of the people arguing that this is the Dark Ages are narcissists, because they’re essentially trying to preserve a particular piece of it. But the information overload people are the most narcissistic because information overload started in Alexandria, in the library of Alexandria, right? That was the first example where we have concrete archaeological evidence that there was more information in one place than one human being could deal with in one lifetime, which is almost the definition of information overload. And the first deep attempt to categorize knowledge so that you could subset; the first take on the information filtering problem appears in the library of Alexandria.
"Instant Messaging: The Business Case" by Bill Pray:
For years, IM has been marketed to enterprises as:
  • Enabling new agility and responsiveness in the organization through real-time communication
  • Reducing latency of communication transactions
  • Improving coordination
  • Enabling rapid response
  • Facilitating globalization
And while all of this can be true of IM in an enterprise, it can be very difficult to assign a value or a ROI to these statements. The difficulty to assign hard monetary value to IM is, I argue, one of the major reasons enterprise IM has not been implemented as ubiquitously as many have anticipated.

While researching this question of enterprise IM ROI for my next document, I have found that many enterprises resort to specific use cases to help them assign value to enterprise IM. There are nearly a dozen different use cases that I have identified for enterprise IM that provide benefits.

The major vendors (Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft) include enterprise IM in unified communications platforms, making it part of a much broader business case.
"Economist Finds True Believers in Business Value of Social Software" by Bill Ives:
The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that Web 2.0 has moved from buzzword to reality in many of the world’s largest corporations. They conducted a survey of 406 senior executives worldwide and found that 79% of respondents see the collaborative web as a way to boost revenues and cut costs. They said that, ╥perhaps the most interesting finding is that a full 85% of C-suite executives see the sharing and collaboration aspects of Web 2.0 as an opportunity to increase revenue and/or margins, versus 75% of middle management. Nothing like having top down sponsorship delivered to a largely already convinced group of middle managers. This top down effect also extend to the view that Web 2.0 is transformative, affecting all parts of the business (35% versus 28%) and is making a significant impact on the company╒s business model (41% versus 22%)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This week in links - week 52, 2008

The predictions for next year (and beyond) have been piling up in my RSS reader. Here are a few of them and some other stuff I've found interesting:

Peter Kim has put together a list of 2009 predictions from people he identifies as thought leaders. You can download the list as PDF. Here are some excepts:
"Although it is now cheaper to launch an initiative leveraging Web 2.0 technology - it requires qualified and passionate people to make them successful." - David Armano

"Dwindling budgets suddenly make low-cost social media look like the pretty girl at the ball." - Ann Handley 

  1. Cloud computing will cause a shift in the BI balance of power from IT to business users
  2. Simplicity will be the driving mantra for both consumers and vendors of BI
  3. The continued drive for simplicity will cause a shift towards prebuilt analytic solutions with best practices built in, and away from generic toolsets
  4. Data interpretation will become a significant challenge for new BI users

Moving towards suites…with wiki at the core...//...Inside organizations, people are already using wikis at a growing place, so a tool that has the wiki at its core, but also lets people blog, share documents, embed YouTube video, share presentation slides, and embed Flickr photos becomes even more useful.

This isn’t the oft-promised “portal” of the ’90s - it’s something different, and better, because people have a much easier time with a tool that’s centered on one major capability, but can do other things as needed. 

For me the absence of Enterprise RSS (and perhaps along with other key infrastructure, like Enterprise Search and social tagging tools) in environments where we find wikis, blogs and social networking tools is a sign of tactical or immature implementations of enterprise social computing. We are just at the beginning of this journey.

...if we really want to bring Web 2.0 inside the firewall, then we need Enterprise RSS functionality in that mix. And that's because the 9X email problem isn't just a barrier for Enterprise RSS adoption, but a barrier for Enterprise 2.0 itself.

In this respect, I can actually see many opportunities for integrating Enterprise RSS features into Enterprise Search solutions or into existing portal platforms (actually, Confluence is a great example of a feed friendly wiki platform - both to create and consume). And why doesn't Microsoft Exchange play a greater role in supporting sophisticated Enterprise RSS capabilities? I suppose in a way this is exactly what Newsgator are doing for the Microsoft suite.

"The Great Disruption" by Scott Anthony:
A recent New York Times article mentioned how the media still hasn't found a compelling way to describe today's economic climate. Everyone agrees that something important is going on, but no one has found a simple, memorable phrase that captures that importance.

Why the Great Disruption? In the Great Depression, demand, output and wages declined across the board. Today's times are different. It isn't just that demand is sagging. It's that change is ripping through markets at unprecedented pace. Competitive advantage that took decades to build disappears seemingly overnight.

For many companies, the Great Disruption requires nothing short of transformation. It requires fending off attacks from below and making the creation of new growth systematic. It demands embracing new forms of innovation, such as business model innovation, and dramatically improving the productivity of innovation efforts. Investing in transformational efforts in a brutal market appears difficult, but the alternative isn't stagnation, it is extinction.
That's all. 

Happy Holidays!

If you ever thought different - Enterprise 2.0 is not about technology

9:43:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
"Enterprise 2.0 is the USE of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers"

Definition by Andrew McAfee.

I see Enterprise 2.0 as about taking promising and successfully applied ideas and uses of social software on the web to explore if and how they can be applied successfully within a business context. In other words, it is really about trying to understand for WHAT and HOW the technologies are used on the web and then exploring for WHAT and HOW they can be used in a business context to create business value. Business value can come from increasing internal efficiency and productivity, from increasing external efficiency, and from fostering innovation of new products and services or business models.

The first lesson to be learnt is that Enterprise 2.0 is more about changing business models, strategies, corporate culture, attitudes and behaviors of individuals, and ways of working than introducing new technologies. The introduction of social software is of course a necessity, but just implementing a social software platform will not be enough. The hard work is in figuring out what to use social software for and how to create business value and then – which is by far the hardest part - to change all the things and people that need to be changed to realize this value.  

The first step towards Enterprise 2.0 is to gain awarness about all the major changes that are happening on different levels today, from society and industries to individuals and how we live our daily lives. Organizations need to become aware of the possibilities and challenges that follows major trends such as globalization and specialization, the consumerization of IT, social media and the democratization of communication, digital natives entering the workforce, and so forth. There is no way around it unless you stick your head in the sand, but then you don’t know what to expect when you decide to check what is happening above the sand. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social revolution at Cisco ignited by CEO John Chambers

9:11:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
You should read this article in Fast Company by Ellen McGirt. She has inverviewed Cisco's CEO John Chambers about his radical transformation of Cisco from a command and control organization to a consensus-driven organization that aims to become more profitable by distributing the power to the people. Some excepts:
Today, a network of councils and boards empowered to launch new businesses, plus an evolving set of Web 2.0 gizmos -- not to mention a new financial incentive system -- encourage executives to work together like never before.

The bumpy part -- and the eye-opener -- is that the leaders of business units formerly competing for power and resources now share responsibility for one another's success. What used to be "me" is now "we." The goal is to get more products to market faster, and Chambers crows at the results. "The boards and councils have been able to innovate with tremendous speed. Fifteen minutes and one week to get a [business] plan that used to take six months!" As storm clouds form for the rest of the business community, he says, "We're going to gain market share." Rain? What rain?

Cisco, Chambers argues, is the best possible model for how a large, global business can operate: as a distributed idea engine where leadership emerges organically, unfettered by a central command.

Power to the people -- and profits to the company -- is a bold tech promise we've heard before. If Chambers can pull it off, if he can prove that his model drives innovation at a market-beating pace, he will replace his pal Jack Welch as the most influential leadership guru of the modern era.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Social media beats traditional media - again

9:32:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , 1 comment

Earthquakes do not happen very often in Sweden. In fact, they almost never happen. The one we experienced this morning was the biggest in a hundred years. So, earthquake is not the first thing that comes to your mind if you live in Sweden and your house starts shaking and it feels like it is going to fall apart. Bomb? Someone drove into the building with a bulldozer?

To find out what it was all about, it is natural to seek for information.

I talked to neighbours.
They also wondered what it was about. We all assumed that it must had been an earthquake, but none of us were sure.

I turned the radio on. 

I turned the TV on. 

I visited a number of online news sites.

We kept the radion and TV on.

I found others reporting about an earthquake in the south of Sweden and Denmark. I found links to relevant information at earthquakes USGS which confirmed my suspicions.

It took over 30 minutes until the first news about the earthquake appeared on a news site. They as well as TV and radio did not have any information. By the time they woke up, I had already been able to confirm my suspicions thanks to Twitter. I had talked to other persons nearby and read what others had reported on Twitter. I had found facts. I didn't need their information. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This week in links - week 51, 2008

"Can Established Companies Disrupt?" by Scott Anthony:

Earlier this year, Innosight assembled a database of close to 300 disruptive developments over the past 100 years. The database includes published examples and developments we've picked up through our field work. Most of the examples are success stories, some are struggles, and some are works in progress.

The data suggests that it is increasingly common for an established company to launch disruptive innovations. More and more incumbents are learning how to embrace disruptive principles such as:

  • Put the customer, and their important, unsatisfied job-to-be-done at the center of the innovation equation
  • Embrace the power of simplicity, convenience, and affordability
  • Create organizational space for disruptive growth businesses
  • Consider innovation levers beyond features and functions
  • Become world class at testing, iterating and adjusting

Established companies sometimes perceive disruptive innovation to be risky. But success is possible. In fact, the greater risk comes from assuming that business as usual will allow companies to achieve their strategic aims. History suggests that assumption is questionable, and today's turbulent times should put to rest any notion that operational acumen is sufficient for long-term success.

"Predicting the battle over collaboration infrastructure in 2009" by Gil Yehuda, Forrester Research:

I predict that IT-driven internal collaboration initiatives will be squeezed tight: 1. they are usually more expensive than the Tech Populist options. 2. IT is being asked to sacrifice projects, and they would rather cut fat, not bone. Meaning, they’d rather protect their bread-and-butter IT infrastructure from being outsourced. And 3.The business considers projects initiated by IT to be less vital. Remember who pays the bills.

However, for business-driven internal enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration projects, I see growth. Why? Because the business will find their collaboration needs to grow in 2009, while they see IT providing them with fewer services. Collaboration needs grow as a result of layoffs, mergers, and deepening external partnerships (requiring new infrastructure to collaborate outside the firewall with trusted, external partners). And this happens while IT’s services shrink as a result of layoffs, a focus on streamlining operational costs, while not taking on new projects.

"Micro Economies of Attention" by Hutch Carpenter:

The term "attention economy" is one that receives lots of...attention. It is the natural progression of the information economy. The production of information outstrips the growth in users, meaning that attention is a scarce resource. Hence the notion of "economy".

Hewlett Packard's Social Computing Lab released a paper that evaluates the motivations of employees to participate in organizations' social software applications. Revealing the long tail in office conversations studies the interactions, social graph and participation motivations in H-P's WaterCooler social media platform.

Included in that report is the term "micro economies of attention". The context is that since individuals control their own attention and what content they produce, each employee has a supply-demand curve for user generated content. The importance of understanding this dynamic is that adoption by employees is key to the success of Enterprise 2.0. And an important part of the adoption is understanding motivations for participation.

From the H-P research:

"When employees perceived increased visibility of their contributions, they were more likely to actively participate and to report positive experiences"

"Getting started with enterprise social networking" by Lee Bryant:

Control and micromanagement, it turns out, is very expensive, and trusting people is a lot cheaper. In a recession, it will become harder and harder to argue that enterprise IT spending should continue along similar lines to those we have seen since the 1990's. If there are genuinely cheaper and more effective ways of running businesses, then only a fool would ignore them in favour of
continuing with unloved and ineffective five-year-plan IT strategy.

Whereas Knowledge and Information Management have been about capturing and managing content, storing it and then transporting it to where it is needed, enterprise social computing leverages human brain power to derive relevance and usefulness, and instead of managing content object by object, it seeks to help create healthy feeds and flows of information that people can use in their work. Enterprise social computing (aka Enterprise 2.0) places the individual at the centre and seeks to incentivise participation in return for individual benefit, not some theoretical collective sharing benefit.

If we start from the point of view that we are hiring the right people and
they are broadly aligned towards shared goals, then we can use people power to organise information better through social bookmarking and emergent information architecture. We can also leverage peoples' own social networks as more appropriate delivery mechanisms for useful information and also to add value and relevance to information search and retrieval. Business social networks based on weak ties are arguably a vital element of an organisational immune system that can avoid catastrophic mistakes and maintain a healthy level of discussion and debate about the mission of the company.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book review: "Seamless Teamwork" by Michael Sampson

6:36:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

I find "Seamless Teamwork" to be very well written, easy to follow and overall a very usable introduction to anyone who is using SharePoint out of the box and wants to set up SharePoint sites for projects, team collaboration and meetings. It helps you navigate the complex environment of SharePoint, to find the essential features and how to set up SharePoint sites for team collaboration.  

In fact, the book would have been very helpful for me when I first started using SharePoint for the purpose of team collaboration. Now I can simply recommend colleagues and others who seek my help for setting up SharePoint for project and team collaboration to buy and read "Seamless Teamwork" instead of consulting me. ;-)  

The book also does a good job at explaining how to use new tools and technologies such as wikis, blogs and RSS. In this way, it also serves as a good introduction to these tools and technologies for those who are not familiar with them or don't yet understand the business value of a technology such as RSS. 

Furthermore, the book touches on some of the things that are really essential for making collaboration work, such as creating a shared vision. These kind of "collaboration essentials" are well integrated with the more practical hands-on instructions throughout the book.  

From a personal point of view, it would have been great if the book also had touched upon situations where team members might not be using computers with Office 2007 installed, when accessing SharePoint from outside the corporate firewalls or when you need to collaborate with partners and customers. 

To sum up – I find "Seamless Teamwork" to be a very valuable resource that I would (and do) recommend to anyone who is interested in how SharePoint can be used for team collaboration. 

The new social Business Intelligence

I have previously written about how social software can be used for BI  (Using blogs and RSS-feeds for better decision makingBI is about more than informationDecision Support using an Enterprise WikiBI on social networks) and find the potential of a more "social" BI truly exciting. Social network analysis, social media monitoring and text analytics on content feeds present some interesting new developments within the field of BI. 

Business intelligence must be transmitted, communicated and shared in order to be useful and actionable.

Knowing who talks to whom has always seemed to be interesting if you are tracking gossip or want to know how a rumor got started. But these days social network analysis – as this burgeoning discipline is called – is very much center stage in a number of extremely important applications, especially in the government as it seeks to improve its intelligence capabilities.

Let's start with the fact that business intelligence must be applied if it is to be useful, and it needs to be actionable. In most cases, this implies that the intelligence has to be transmitted, communicated and shared. Whenever the terms transmission or communication are present, we are sure to find that some network must exist to enable the transportation of the bit structure underlying the information that makes up that business intelligence.

Enter social network analysis. Today it is getting a very significant amount of attention because it is a powerful tool in improving the nation’s intelligence capabilities, especially our fight against terrorism. If we can find who talks to whom, through the study of communication links and patterns, we might be able to connect the dots and find the bad guys before they do harm. This leads us to carry out business intelligence not only on the content of the communications, but very much on the structure of the network, its topology and in the identification of the key nodes.

Twitter has proven, for me and others, to be a fruitful source of leads, information and eventually sweet, sweet moolah.

Let’s take the case of a person I know who always searches for mentions of his company’s name with Twitter Search (formerly Summize.) He recently saw a post  recommending his company and one other in response to a query about the best resources in his industry. He tracked down the original questioner, responded, thanked the person who recommended his firm, and opened the door to a potential new client.

Simply put social media monitoring can pay off. As a long term strategic tool you need to know what people are saying about your brand as well as your competitors. Twitter Search makes it easy by allowing you to subscribe to an RSS feed.

At the end of the day, information is a good thing, especially when it is actionable.

The rapid pace and high volume of twitter messaging has upped the stakes for BI on content feeds. BI on content feeds: that would be stuff like monitoring and mining sentiment from social media for reputation and brand management, which you can do with text analytics on RSS and Atom feeds and Web pages.

SQLStream and other, similar products are turning content feeds into BI. Those feeds are now one more type of source that enterprises can and should consider in the quest for competitive advantage.

ECM as haiku

7:37:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
The latest Infonomics Weekly newsletter from AIIM contained these quite amusing haikus (at least for an ECM nerd as me) that I'd like to share:

The uncluttered screen. 
Shades of grey, a small pop-up 
'Document Not Found'
--Jim Turley

My content is here,
My content is everywhere!
I am not content.
--Lance Vieau

Confusion, chaos
A light appears, beckoning
The path becomes clear
--Julie Fleming

Records consume me
Yearning for paper-less-ness
A dream unmet—yet
--Christina Honeycutt

Not in my cubicle, dude.
Better luck next time.
--Denise Harry

Since it is a contest where you have to pick a winner, I voted for the haiku by Lance Vieau.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some insights about information overload

8:34:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
"Information overload refers to an excess amount of information being provided, making processing and absorbing tasks very difficult for the individual because sometimes we cannot see the validity behind the information (Yang, 2003)"

“I’m defining information overload as a state of having more information available that one can readily assimilate, that is, people have difficulty absorbing the information into their base of knowledge. This hinders decision-making and judgment by causing stress and cognitive impediments such as confusion, uncertainty and distraction”

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it"

"Our communication and our attention is going to flow to a few services — the ones that make it easy to have those conversations. Twitter and Facebook seem to be in that camp… at least till something new comes around!"

"The cure to information overload is more information. The power of tags shows that the way to manage information overload is more information. That’s what the doomsayers of the 90’s — Information Anxiety! Information Tidal Wave! — didn’t foresee"

"It's Not Information Overload. It's Filter Failure."

"It’s (the flow) not gonna stop, and the traditional ways information and knowledge have been classified, ordered, made accessible, distributed and stored have had major change visit, as you have pointed out many times. We now need to become, and feel, adept art skimming, dot-connecting, pattern recognition, and deciding well and wisely when to delve more deeply and in more concentrated ways into issue X or issue Y."

"Participating in virtual worlds, making geography collapse, does all that not lead to a dramatic information overload, leading to a nervous breakdown? Well, it is all about pattern recognition. And struggling with information overload is a very good training in making sense of a very complex and rapidly changing world."

Monday, December 8, 2008

The five most popular feed items - all time

4:48:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments

How to sell your services to a customer

3:44:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Here are a few different ways a consultancy firm can try to convince a customer to buy their services:

1. Play the part of being their customer, tell them that they suck and that you know how to do it right.

2. Remind them you are one of the biggest consultancy firms in the world, showcase what you have done for other customers in the same industry and then convince them to buy the same solution.

3. Be humble to their challenges, recognize that they know their business better than you do, point out a possible direction where they can go and then convince them that you can help them go there.

Each one of these approaches might very well work depending on the specific customer and situation. To mix and match, picking the best from each approach, could also be a recipe for success. But deep down inside I believe in being humble.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This week in links - week 50, 2008

3:32:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , 1 comment
In the post "SharePoint To Run Enterprise 2.0?", Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb presents nine companies - Awareness, Newsgator Technologies, Atlassian, WorkLight, blueKiwi Software, Connectbeam, Telligent Systems, Leverage Software and Tomoye Corp. - offering Enterprise 2.0 capabilities for SharePoint:
Nine companies are saying "yes," having recently launched Enterprise 2.0 offerings that integrate with SharePoint technology.

...businesses won't necessarily be ditching SharePoint anytime soon just to run the latest and greatest "Enterprise 2.0" technologies. However, that doesn't mean they're not interested in running Enterprise 2.0 apps - it just means that they'll be more likely to "maximize their investment" in SharePoint in order to do so.
Seemingly, a large part of the Enterprise 2.0 market will belong to Microsoft thanks to third-party vendors.

The news headlines are awash with gloom-and-doom news about the mortgage crisis, the financial sector's meltdown, and rising unemployment. Western economies are undoubtedly plunging into a recession. Yet, Forrester encourages forward-thinking tech vendors to see the silver lining in today's dark economic clouds. Rather than channeling all their strategic thinking into dealing with the recession's short-term effects, tech strategists must reposition their firms to capitalize on three major business trends that will completely redraw the tech sector's competitive landscape by 2015: globalization 2.0, invisible IT, and the consumerization of IT.

This diagram implies that a successful social media implementation must have culture as its central concern. As technology-only based solutions does not consider culture it is less likely to succeed than the bottom-up or top-down strategic approach as they do not consider the social values and behaviour of either individuals or the organisation itself. That doesn’t necessarily preclude, though, installing technology and allowing a bottom-up process to take hold. This, though, would probably be considered a bottom-up strategy.

With sufficient mass of behaviour, values, and opinion, the suggestion is that the individuals could change the group dynamic enough to affect change within the organisational culture. However, if the organisational culture is sufficiently strong, through, it would resist change and may even cause the bottom-up strategy to rescind.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Translating feeds from Swedish to English in Google Reader

2:05:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
I tried the new "Translate into my language" feature in Google Reader today. It translates a feed into your preferred language in Google Reader. As I have English as my preferred language in Google Reader (my native tongue is Swedish), the feature translates the feeds from Swedish blogs that I follow from Swedish to English. It works pretty well, but far from perfect. Below are a couple of translations: 

"The ubik man" / "Den ubika människan" by Per Axbom:
Ubik (or ubiquitous) means that something is always present and alway everywhere. The idea of ubiquitous computing is that computers are embedded in our daily seemingly invisible but always present. Worldwide currently.

Ubik people

Similarly, we can talk about the ubik man: a person at the same time choosing to be present at MSN and Google Talk, micro-blogs on Jaiku, update status on Facebook, view the relationship flows at Link edIn and debating on blogs industriously. A ubik man is everywhere, all the time, nor bound by the company walls or borders - in a way that is only possible in today's IT age.
"File Ride - a social network, based on interest" / "Fileride - Ett socialt nätverk baserat på intresse" by Daniel Nüüd at Mindpark:
File Ride is a social networking startup with roots in Stockholm, based on a different premise. Namely, to get to know people. Depending on which files you have on your computer, what songs, playlists, YouTube clips, movies, or photo you choose to share with us on your Social file ride profile, created a community of people with the same interests, whims and fancies. Add interest you, We add friends!

I see it as the File Ride takes over where Facebook ends. I am a devoted Facebook users just like so many others, but some feel like that you can not come there anymore. I have 471 friends on Facebook. My account has been turned into a city that has become too small. I have grown from the Face Books municipality. Apart from the occasional friend request a little now and then you can not find as many new faces. It is still an excellent forum for keeping track of existing friends, but not optimal when it comes to finding new ones. There are often considered intrusive to try to be friend with a Facebook is not known, and the attempt met frequently with the answer: Who the f - n are you?
The translation feature in Google Reader definately makes it easier to share content across different languages. The cost of manually translating a blog post or article is often a barrier that keeps information from flowing inbetween different languages.

By the way, "f - n" should be translated to "f - k". There is obviously some room for improvement. ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Can Google Trends reveal when the recession actually started?

12:30:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 2 comments
This will be my last post on the recession (at least for a while) that many countries already have entered as I will focus my energy on the opportunities that information technologies can create for individuals and businesses. But I find the "psychology of economics" to be very fascinating and just need to share this.

By definition, a recession is a significant decline in economic growth that lasts six months or longer (two successive quarters of falling GDP). But the thought of that we were heading into a recession must have started somewhere (I do not believe the financial crisis initiated the recession, it just accentuated it and made it worse than I would have needed to be).

A search for the word "recession" with Google Trends reveals that the "average worldwide traffic of recession" (the keyword) has been low since 2004 until it suddenly got a small revival in early 2007. After that, it did not take long unti the traffic began to increase and peak in January 2008, rise to a level above the usual and then peak again this fall. What conclusions would you draw?

Turning things around with Enterprise 2.0

9:47:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Following up on my previous post "When will the recession end? I know the answer", here are two good examples of positive, constructive thinking in the name of Enterprise 2.0.

"Enterprise 2.0 Recovery Plan" by Andrew McAfee:
I asked myself what I would do if I were put in charge of IT as part of the turnaround effort at a big US automaker. To be a bit more specific, I imagined that one of the big 3 American auto companies was taken over tomorrow by enlightened and aggressive new leadership whose only goals are to restore the company to operational and financial excellence. This leadership is enlightened (in my book) because it believes firmly in the power of IT to help businesses achieve their goals and differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and will fund and fully support whatever initiatives I propose (this is a complete fantasy for several reasons, but thought experiments aren't supposed to be constrained by reality.).

So what would I propose?

As I got to work and tried to deliver results and benefits as quickly as possible, I'd be guided by a set of principles, many of which I've discussed in this blog:
  1. The company 'knows' the answers to our questions.
  2. Most people want to be helpful to each other, and to the company.
  3. Expertise is emergent.
  4. People are busy...//...This implies that any new tools need to be perceived as 'in the flow' of work, rather than 'above the flow.
  5. Weak ties are strong. Weak-tie networks are great places to look for novel information and introductions to valuable people. And social networking software (SNS) is a great tool for building, maintaining, and exploiting networks of weak ties.
  6. The ability to convert potential ties into actual ones is valuable.
  7. Platforms are better than channels, for a lot of reasons. Channels like email hide information; platforms like blogs, wikis, Facebook, and Twitter make it visible, persistent, and widely consultable.
  8. Search is the dominant navigation paradigm. People navigate online content by typing words into search boxes rather than navigating through menus. This implies that we should do everything we can to make sure search works well.
  9. The mechanisms of emergence should be encouraged. For search to work well, online content needs to be heavily interlinked. So people should be given the ability to link to content they find valuable and encouraged to do so. They should also be encouraged to tag, vote, rate, and to all the other things that help identify what a particular piece of content is about, and how good it is. In addition to this explicit work people also vote on and rate content implicitly as they browse through it.
  10. Anyone can learn the new tools, but they need to be educated, trained, and encouraged.

"Recession 2.0, Meet Enterprise 2.0"by Joe McKendrick:

I don’t intend to join the gloom-and-doom crowd, because I believe the economy is very diverse and resilient. However, it is an inescapable fact that business growth moves in cycles — up and down. In the event of a downturn, let’s ponder the role of our hyper-networked space in managing through tougher times. We may have not seen anything like it.

Let me start with this thought: It’s not 1975 anymore.

Workers are no longer those powerless pawns, locked into 9-to-5 routines, subject to the whims of their employers.

We no longer depend on our coworkers down the hall; we now leverage resources from across the globe.

Many employees simply may not even need a full-time employer anymore. In 1975, the idea of going the entrepreneurial route was not a realistic option for most workers.

Now, it’s possible to start an innovative new business with virtually little or no investment, employing Web-based resources. It’s now possible to run an entire business on Web 2.0-based services — from infrastructure to databases to business intelligence and analytics. Many are free, the rest only charge on an incremental per-use basis.

When will the recession end? I know the answer

6:40:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg 1 comment
Hold on, why even ask that question now? Hasn't the recession just started? Aren't we just seeing the dawn of itÅ

We'll, by sharing the answer I might contribute to that the recession might end earlier. So here it is:

A recession will end when the number of good news exceeds the number of bad news and has done so for a while (a year or so).

Read the newspaper. We are very far from that right now. In fact, we are all contributing to the rapidly growing pile of bad news by writing, talking and commenting about all the bad stuff that is going on in the global economy. It is human nature to dwell in it. To turn this thing around, we need huge amounts of sunshine news for a long time. And we need to be in the mood for sunshine news.

Imagine if everybody would buy the things they want or need instead of saving their money for later or waiting for prices to fall until they buy. If those who have money in the matress would put it in the bank. If all people would start talking about the good news that is out there somewhere. Then the economy could very well bounce back up again. But that won't happen. We are just not in the mood. Right now, we are in the mood for a recession.

Could the conversations going on online, such as what is said on this blog and elsewhere in the blogosphere, help to change our mood? Can we find, produce and share the amount of good news that are needed - with the stamina needed - to turn this thing around? What an incredible moment in history it would be.

Monday, December 1, 2008

BI on social networks

Finally, someone (Seth Grimes at Intelligent Enterprise in the article "Up Next: BI on Social Networks") writes about the potential of using people-to-people connections and people-to-content connections and not just content-to-content connections for business intelligence. 
It's time for the BI community to treat social networks as the business-intelligence resource they are. (BI is more than reports, dashboards, and OLAP!) The recent "Motrin moms" clamor and response to Mumbai terrorism prove networks' value. Both cases involved twitter, the first as a conduit for advertising-prompted outrage and the second for early and rapid news dissemination. It has become clear that twitter and the rest of a broad set of social networks — as messaging / blogging / microblogging channels and as a means of publishing and finding personal and corporate information — hold immense business value. The value of the information that flows through these networks is indisputable. A deeper challenge is next on the agenda: optimizing that flow by better understanding the networks themselves.

Social networks are composed of individuals and interconnections. The value of the networks derives in part from the intentionality of the connections: that connected individuals are somehow related. The relationships mean that user-originated, peer-filtered narrowcasts can propagate more effectively than broadcasts as well as faster and wider than the nearest, non-automated analogue I can think of, a phone tree

The networks' potential business value seems almost obvious, yet traditional BI, reliant on spreadsheets, reports, and pivot tables, has concerned itself almost exclusively with slicing and dicing numerical data extracted from transactional and operational systems.
A business is ultimately about people and conversations (not processes, IT systems, policies, or whatever). As people and their conversations are made explicit online by social software, an organization can tap into this information to learn more about itself and how it performs. Not only that, it can tap into the vast amounts of information on the web that can tell how the competitors, customers, partners, and so on operate and perform. 

Below is from a previous post of mine ("Using blogs and RSS-feeds for better decision making"):
On a high level, business intelligence can be defined as initiatives that use various forms of IT-resources to support better business decision making. But the most commonly definition narrows it down to using facts (= data) to support decisions, a fact being "something that is the case, something that actually exists, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation". (Wikipedia)

In my mind, Enterprise 2.0 is not about creating gigantic data warehouses with numbers and figures from which management can get aggregated reports about how the enterprise performs from a hard fact-based perspective. No, Enterprise 2.0 has much more to do with enabling information to flow between people and making it easy to passively tap into these information flows to support intuitive decision making.