Sunday, June 14, 2009

This week in links - week 24, 2009



If we continue to manage information as we did in the past we will inevitably create information overload and increasing sources of frustration for our consumers. In the past, the job of information managers was to codify and store information. Most of the metaphors surrounding this work related to about putting information into boxes. This approach is not robust or scalable and leads to filter failure. We need to move away from the obsession with storage, and to a weave fabric of information through which people operate. Notably, the connective tissue (e.g. signals, links and tags) is as important as the information it points to. All of this is based on people who by their actions indicate what they think is important and useful.

To cope with these problems, we need better filters and better radars.

Online social networking acts as an excellent operational information filter. We are used to connecting with people and exchanging information in spaces, and this behaviour is reflected online in social and business networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead of going to Google to search for the best restaurants in NYC, people now go to their network and get better more relevant results.
"Business 2.0" by Jon Mell:
Organisations need to trust these professionals, they will not be in the office from 9-5 every day. These are exactly the sorts of people who thrive on their personal networks, they are the people who you go to when you need to know what's going on. Social software brings the same level of productivity increases for these people as type-writers and then word processors did for a previous generation of workers. It takes their natural propensity to connect, to share, to add value and extends it in the same way the internet extends our access to information.

It won't be enough to hire knowledge workers to survive and thrive in this recession. Organisations will have to change their business practices to take advantage of their abilities, and provide them with the tools to be effective. Word, Outlook and even Sharepoint won't cut it. They will need custom built social platforms, or products such as Confluence, Jive, Socialtext and Lotus Connections.

This is not a technology driven change. These tools are a response to a new way of organising and operating companies, breaking free from 1950s management theory and production lines to treating people as individuals who get things done by independently and autonomously adding value through their networks. Organisations need to embrace the business change first, and look at the software second. Otherwise the competition will gain a significant competitive edge, whilst you're worrying about the ROI of the investment in the latest "it's like Facebook, but..." product.
Enterprise 2.0 adoption is on the rise, with a majority of companies in a new survey planning to increase their funding of E2.0 projects. These are the results of a survey conducted by organizers of the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. (Details provided in a white paper available at the E2.0 site.)

The survey also found organizations are slow to change to E2.0-style thinking. The leading impediments to E2.0 include the following:

Resistance to change 52%
Difficulty in measuring ROI 42%
Integrating with existing technologies 41%
Security concerns 32%
Budget 25%
Product knowledge 23%
Tools not enterprise ready 22%

Let's take ten of the most popular new consumer technology products in recent years (with a couple of our portfolio companies in the mix): iPhone, Facebook, Wii, Hulu, FlipCam, Rock Band, Mafia Wars, Blogger, Pandora, and Twitter and let's try to describe in one sentence or less why they broke out (feel free to debate the reasons they broke out in the comments):

iPhone - mobile browser with a killer touch screen interface
Facebook - a social net with real utility
Wii - gesture based user interface for gaming
Hulu - your favorite TV shows in a fantastic web UI
FlipCam - a video cam that fits in your pocket comfortably
Rock Band - everyone can be a rock star for a few minutes
Mafia Wars - a natively social game built for social nets
Blogger - a printing press for everyone
Pandora - drop dead simple personalized radio
Twitter - blogging everyone can do in less than a minute

In most of these cases, the breakthrough product or service delivered a new experience to consumers that they had never had before...//...it seems to me that consumers are driven to new experiences that are simple and useful and/or entertaining. It is not enough to be the first to market with a new technology. You have to be the first to market with a version of the technology that is simple and easy to use.