Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 is a process, not a solution

9:40:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg 2 comments
If we take out the less sustainable parts from social media, what do we have left? It’s surely not the tools and solutions. The tools and solutions will come and go, just as they always have.

The real shift that is manifested by social media is that we have taken our attitudes and behaviors from our real world social life to the web. We have the same needs to express ourselves, meet new people and so on as we have always had as human beings (social by nature), but with the web we now have new and more powerful ways to satify them. Thus the web has become an extension of our "real" lives.

The social web (I like this term better than Web 2.0 and social media to describe this development) is being built on values such as informality, dialog, participation, honesty, trust, openness, directness, and so on. But how do these values translate to a corporate context? If we just take the tools and solutions from the social web and implement them in a corporate context, will people start sharing, interacting and collaborating as freely and readily as they do on the social web?

Definitely not.

The values which are dominating the social web are not necessarily dominating at work. Work is often a highly competitive environment. People compete for salary raises and status, and when doing so they don't necessarily act in the same as they do to achieve a higher social status outside work.

Having said this, let's go back to the discussion about the definition and meaning of Enterprise 2.0.

I believe we are at a point where we can take either one of the following views on Enterprise 2.0: either we see it a solution, or we see it as a process. I'm with Gil Yehuda (and Sameer Patel) on this one. As Yehuda writes in his post “Denial is a river full of crocks” (great post by the way):
I don’t believe “Enterprise 2.0″ is a solution, I believe it is a description. I agree with the bold statement in Sameer Patel’s post: Enterprise 2.0 is a state that Enterprises achieve by employing an appropriate set of social computing concepts. I word it my way: “Enterprise 2.0 describes a transformed organization.”
Enterprise 2.0 needs to be seen as a process, not a solution ("process" is a better term than "state", which I previously used - see comment below by Tom Graves). As a matter of fact, I think it quite useless otherwise because when the tools and solutions have gone, Enterprise 2.0 will be an empty vessel without either destination or direction.

What we need to do now is to define the transformation which is needed, and when doing so we should put the emphasis on the values and principles needed to be successful in this transformation.

You might agree or disagree on this point, but nevertheless I think it is safe to say that Enterprise 2.0 since long has got a life of its own, independent of the person who originally coined it. It is up to us together to fill it with purpose.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A comment to McAfee's "A Defining Moment"

10:01:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
In a recent blog post that I provocatively called "Why McAfees definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed", I highlighted a part from Tom Graves post "Annoyed at Enterprise 2.0" and made the following point:
"In order not to forget the human dimension, we need to constantly remind ourselves about it. So, the least thing we can ask from a definition of Enterprise 2.0 is that it does just that. In this sense, McAfee's definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed. It is missing what made the social web to the social web - the people, not the technology."
In response to this, McAfee writes as follows in a blog post called "A Defining Moment" (I have left a comment on his blog with the same contents as below, but it has not yet been published when I publish this post):
"People have always been around on the Web and in the enterprise, and they’ve always wanted to find each other, interact, and collaborate."

"The 2.0 era came about because the technology toolkit available to help them do these things took a great leap forward with the appearance of emergent social software platform"
I do agee with the first sentence (without people, there wouldn't be a web), but I do think that the great leap forward should be attributed more to how people have "matured" in how they perceive and make use of the web.

Only 10 years ago, most people were skeptic to revel details about themselves online and to contact or communicate with people which they didn't know in real life. Many were worried about their integrity and privacy. At the same time, many of the technologies and tools that we now call Web 2.0 were available on the web. There were lots of communities, social networking sites and collaboration services that offered very similar ways to interact and communicate with other people as the once we have today. The tools and technologies have surely evolved since, but I think its dangerous to attribute the massive adoption of Web-based tools and technologies to the tools and technologies themselves.

Over the last decade, people have become accustomed to using and socializing via the web. In the dotcom years, many of us thought people were ready for it, but they weren't. Now they are. We also have a new generation that have grown up with the web. That is the major difference. Now, even my mother in law is now on Facebook. Ten, five or even two years ago, it would not have happened.

Here are some statistics about social media that many wouldn't have believed in only 10 years ago:
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  • The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations (online)
How much would you attribute to technology for this development, and how much to human attitudes and behavior?

Here are the use cases for Enterprise 2.0

Let's face it. Most large western companies that develop and sell products don't have any factories anymore. The factories have been outsourced to "partners" in China or elsewhere where wages and other manufacturing costs are low. And those who have not yet oursourced their manufacturing processes will, unless they want to be killed in the competition.

So what is left?

Let's look at a successful company such as Apple. Apple is definately in the innovation business. They don't manufacture products. They make ideas come true. They invent and design products that truly amaze us and make us longing for more. What are they up to next? ICar? We never know exactly what to expect next. They are in the expectations business. Everyone else wants to be there to, but few are able go there.

What is left is a bunch of talented and skilled people who need to come up with good ideas and bring them to life - together. They need equally talented and skilled people who market and sell these innovations. They also need a lot of good people in customer service. All these people rely easy access to and sharing of information (which is the vehicle of ideas, needs, experiences, knowledge...). They rely on the ability to coordinate people and their work across organizations, time zones, geography and culture.

The companies we often picture as traditional manufacturing companies, remains from the industrial age and the 20th century, are in fact knowledge companies. They are not much different in their needs than the businesses such as accounting and legal when it comes to information management, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Except that they are usually much bigger, with bigger barriers to overcome.

Are there any use cases for Enterprise 2.0? Are there any problems that Enterprise 2.0 can help to solve? Well, there are so many it is hard to choose. You pick one. Maybe the inefficiency or even inability to collaborate in virtual teams? Or the fragmented information landscape that disrupts tasks and projects? Or the problems with delivering a good enough customer experience due to long response times, many unneccessary interactions and inconsistency in information? Or the increasing volumes of information that users need to spend a day or more per week to filter out what is relevant to them and make them experience information overload? Or the inability to share ideas, knowledge or something else to any other people who might be interested in it and could use it to create value - such as make ideas come to life?

Although being a skeptic to the Enterprise 2.0 movement, Dennis Howlett is full of great insights and good observations which he willingly shares with us. His voice is needed in the discussion. I believe his latest post on ZDNet "Enterprise 2.0: what a crock" is intended to provoke a response from the Enterprise 2.0 evangelists to actually start working on making the business case clearer. Where is the money?

(If you expected to see a list of business use cases - as defined by Unified Process - I will share a bunch of business use cases where Web 2.0 thinking, practices and technologies can make a difference in an upcoming post.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 as a melting pot

In the 80's and even in the 90's, a lot of the issues we had with computers were about lack of memory as we stuffed our computers with new and more capacity-consuming apps and content.

Today, we don't have to bother much about that. Today, our issues with computers are more human, related to how we use our computers and the digital information that we find, keep and consume using computers.

  • On a personal level, we might feel stressed over the amount of time and effort we need to spend on finding, keeping and consuming digital information to be able to carry out our work.
  • On a corporate level, worris are more about the effects on productivity, customer satisfaction, innovation, security and compliance from how good (or bad) we are at managing and using information.

So, we all know that information management is key to resolve the issues and problems we have and to achieve the goals we set up. We are now pretty good at improving and streamlining transformational and transactional processes with the use of information technologies and information management. The challenge now is that we haven’t become good enough at improving knowledge work with the same means. Of cource, we are quite good at cutting down on administrative tasks and reducing headcount: But leveraging worker productivity and fueling innovation in knowledge-intense and highly collaborative work environment is a completely different thing.

What we need to accept is that most of the theories, strategies and practices we have learned for Taylor, Deming and others are not helping us very much here. We need new ones. We to try them out and gain new experiences. But first we need to understand the nature of what we are trying to improve. We need to understand the situation of the knowledge worker and the nature of knowledge work.

One of the first lesson that we should learn is that knowledge work is very collaborative. It is about people communicating, interacting and doing things together. Knowledge work is social.

We also need to understand the environment where the work is carried out and the characteristics of that environment. Today, that environment is to a less or greater extent digital.

That is why we can learn a lot from the nature of the social web and how it is used. That is also why Enterprise / Web 2.0 has become a melting pot for different disciplines (KM, BI, PR, management and so on) that need to upgrade their theories, strategies and practices from a 1.0 world to a 2.0 world. It is a very interesting place to be as a professional working with improving businesses with the use if IT and Information Management.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Enhancements that make a difference - 3 new features from Google

9:21:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
I usually don't write about tools and features other than on a conceptual level, but I make an exception this time. As I use many Google's services, from GMail and Google Reader to Blogger and Google Groups, I subscribe to the feeds from some official and inoffocial Google blogs that write about the tools I use. Several enhancements that I find quite usable have been announced recently and here are three of them:

Now you can do more things with task lists in Gmail. I use tasks lists in Gmail to be on top of things work. I definately won't use the new "Print task list", but I guess some people will (don't). But I might email a task list to myself when I am need to bring it with me on my mobile since there still is no mobile interface to task lists in Gmail.

A new feature which is definately a good one is the ability to edit ambums collectively in Picasa Web. Now I can let other members in my family, or friends, upload photos, videos or edit captions.

I use Google Groups for different purposes and I agree 100% to the following from a post on the Google Operating System blog:
Google Groups is one of the services that would benefit a lot from an integration with Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites and other Google apps. It makes sense to create a document and to collaborate with other group members or to create a calendar and share it with your group
Google has now made all this possible:
We recently rolled out improvements to the way Google Groups interacts with several of our applications. Now, sharing calendars, sites and documents with multiple people is easy — instead of adding people one at a time, you can simply share with an entire Google Group
Just as an example, you an create a spreadsheet in Google Docs and then share the spreadsheet with a group in Google Groups, granting the group members permission to edit. If new people join the group, they automatically get permissions to edit the spreadsheet. If people leave, they loose editing access.

This week in links - week 34, 2009

The point Gary Hamel drives home is that our business and economic environment has irrevocably shifted toward higher volatility and accelerated change. The sundering of companies from healthy industry positions to crisis mode in relatively short order demonstrates the need for updating management philosophies.

What can modern companies do to manage in this new environment?

Gary Hamel prescribes two strategies for companies in the post-establishment age:
  • Increased organizational adaptability
  • Pushing innovation and decision-making out to employees
Adaptability is a critical strategy. It means that companies pivot as they learn new information about their markets, competitors and changes in customer behaviors.

The cornerstones of Enterprise 2.0 include greater information visibility, tapping the emergent knowledge of employees and increased collaboration. Those are the foundational elements. Use them to create a company of higher adaptability and distributed innovation and decision-making.
"IT Security: Context is King" by Oliver Marks:
One of the big blockers for enterprise collaboration uptake is ediscovery and compliance - and depending on the business entity the familiarity, processes and confidence in dealing with legal issues.

A fundamental point in the Information Week report is that security starts with policy, people and processes. Get this right and the long tail of disasters will shrink significantly, and also help broader solutions to be applied in context and not as a band aid. Applying team thinking around strategy and tactics will ultimately result in overall victory through a cohesive collaborative network approach which embraces all of the above in a balanced in-context, holistic way.

Marisa Taylor writes in the Wall Street Journal that email is still the number one source for leaks of sensitive information, according to a new survey:

"In a survey of some 220 companies, Proofpoint found that email is still the No. 1 offender when it comes to data leaks. About 43% of respondents had investigated an email-based security breach during the past year. Nearly one-third of the companies surveyed had fired an employee for violating email confidentiality policies, a 26 percent increase from 2008."

This just furthers the argument for sensitive information to be housed in a wiki where the appropriate people can be given access permissions, and greater effort is required to either intentionally or accidentally leak information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why McAfees definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed

I have been involved in a discussion on Twitter yesterday with Sameer Patel (@SameerPatel), Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) and Tom Graves (@tetradian) regarding the following:
  • Signs that Enterprise 2.0 is being hijacked by vendors
  • Andrew McAfee's technology-centric definition of Enterprise 2.0
Both of these things are counterproductive to what many of us want to achieve with Enterprise 2.0; boosting productivity, innovation etc. Once again, we might forget to pay enough attention to the key dimension in any effort aimed at improving of the operations and management of a business: the human (social) dimension. Just as Knowledge Management (1.0) has been declared dead due to the numerous technology-centric KM initiatives that neglected the human dimension of KM and hence failed, if we see enough Enterprise 2.0 initiatives making the same mistake, Enterprise 2.0 will most likely face the same destiny. Unless we do something about it now.

Today, Tom Graves published some of his reflections from this discussion in a post called "Annoyed at ‘Enterprise 2.0′":
"To me, a core aspect of an enterprise’s architecture revolves around the role of conversation in collaboration and cooperation - the human side of business knowledge, as expressed within the broader enterprise that extends beyond the organisation’s borders. Hence a natural interest in what’s been labelled ‘Enterprise 2.0′, which, on the surface at least, is about the centrality of those conversations, and active support for them within the enterprise."

"The catch is that that isn’t what the ’standard’ definition of ‘Enterprise 2.0′ by Andrew McAfee actually says. Instead, it’s all about the software...//...People are not even mentioned in the definition at all. Neither is the enterprise - nor the actual purpose of any of this. It’s just about software, and characteristics of that software."
In order not to forget the human dimension, we need to constantly remind ourselves about it. So, the least thing we can ask from a definition of Enterprise 2.0 is that it does just that. In this sense, McAfee's definition of Enterprise 2.0 is flawed. It is missing what made the social web to the social web - the people, not the technology.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

This week in links - week 33, 2009

Many organizations understand that Web 2.0 is where they need to go – but I don’t think they have any idea how much of a spotlight it will shine on their organization’s culture and real values (not the ones in the Mission Statement – the ones that actually get acted out day to day). What it comes down to is: Does your culture walk the walk of what Web 2.0 promises? Are you trandsparent? Do you value Innovation? Are you open platform? Do you value and SUPPORT collaboration and knowledge sharing?
  • Only 17% have no understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is;
  • Linkedin is twice as popular as Facebook for business networking;
  • 71% agree that it is easier to locate "knowledge" on the web than to find it within their internal systems;
  • Only 29% are extending their collaboration tools and project sites beyond the firewall;
  • 40% feel that it is important to have Enterprise 2.0 capabilities within their document management suite, with SharePoint TeamSites cited as the most likely collaboration platform to enable this.
Download the AIIM Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 research.
"Take this E2.0 Pill" by Mary Abraham:
So, if you’re serious about E2.0 adoption, you’re going to have to get serious about change management. You’re going to have to focus on building relationships. In addition, Dennis Stevenson suggests that “driving change in people is about motivating them to want to change.” Think about what motivates your potential users. Help them answer their first question: “What’s in it for me?” And then figure out how to support them as they begin to use the tool. After all, you’re not just trying to recruit users, you’re trying to create social media advocates who will help E2.0 go viral behind your firewall.
"Ten top issues in adopting enterprise social computing" by Dion Hinchcliffe:
  • Lack of social media literacy amongst workers.
  • A perception that social tools won’t work well in a particular industry.
  • Social software is still perceived as too risky to use for core business activities.
  • Can’t get enough senior executives engaged with social tools.
  • There is vapor lock between IT and the social computing initiative.
  • Need to prove ROI before there will be support for social software.
  • Security concerns are holding up pilot projects/adoption plans.
  • The needs around community management have come as a surprise.
  • Difficulties sustaining external engagement-
  • Struggling to survive due to unexpected success.

How to avoid failing with Enterprise 2.0

5:36:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
You run the risk of losing the entire benefit of implementing social software if you don't...

...build a strong business case with clear business benefits which will convince people that you are doing the right thing

...provide a clear vision as well as guiding principles, a map and a compass to guide you towards the vision

...show leadership and demonstrate your organization's commitment to achieve the vision

...actively promote a culture characterized by openness, transparency, dialog, trust and participation

...encourage and reward collaborative behavior, mentoring and sharing instead of hoarding among co-workers

...design software solutions which support work in-the-flow and inhabit the typical 2.0 characteristics such as easy of use and universal access that make people willingly adopt them

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tweeting vs blogging 2-1

9:04:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Blogs are still an important part of the foundation for online conversations, but the actual conversations (in the blogosphere: comments on blogs or posts on one blog linking to posts on other blogs) are moving to Twitter. This is making the blogosphere thinner while the twittersphere is becoming more and more dense.

One explanation for this development is of course the ease of use, immediacy, reach, informality and interactivity of Twitter. It possesses all of the key social media super-powers, and it is a little bit better than blogs in all these areas.

To me there is one very important thing that separates Twitter from blogs: it is more democratic. Anyone can join and the barriers to start tweeting are even lower than the barrier to start blogging. Twitter has also room for those who only want to follow and listen or speak. But more importantly, Twitter also provides a neutral ground - I like to think of Twitter as a public square or park where everybody have their own Speakers Corner - where bloggers and readers, who are often the same persons, can meet on more equal terms than in the blogosphere: they are all tweeters and have the same powers in the twittersphere. On a blog, the blogger is the one who is setting the rules and who has the power to silence someone who thinks differently. In the blogosphere, you also need to master how to set up and promote a blog to be heard. There is of course more to it, but I think these things are important when explaining why conversations are moving from blogs to Twitter.

Friday, August 7, 2009

This week in links - week 32, 2009

8:12:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
I'm back to work and blogging after four weeks of vacation. Here's a new set of recommended readings.

A wall we are hitting at work is the need for ad-hoc group spaces to work on something rather than using email.

Lots of people belong to CoPs, but when it comes to working on a task with diverse people we get stuck…we could choose to nominate a CoP, but we’d rather an on-the-fly room.

Email is private by default, and if all we use is email, then our organisational activity is private by default…same goes with meetings…so at the moment organisational communication and coordination is a slave to inferior technology (non-conducive to the knowledge age).

We have our business units (functional), our teams (execute), our communities of practice (learn)…but what has been lacking online is mirroring the behaviour in how we work offline ie. ad-hoc groups from diverse parts of the organisation assembling in meetings to achieve an objective…and then this is where the mirror should appear, in that we go back to our seats and rather than use email use social networks and group spaces
In a new study released this week found that many of the most successful social media initiatives on company intranets start as underground, grassroots efforts led by front-line workers, and which later are officially sanctioned by the enterprise.

The study, published by Nielsen Norman Group, concludes that “social software technologies are exposing the holes in corporate communication and collaboration and at times filling them before the enterprise can fully grasp and control the flow.”

Key findings in the study include the following:

Underground efforts yield big results: “Companies are turning a blind eye to underground social software efforts until they prove their worth, after which they integrate them more thoroughly.”

Front-line employees are driving the vision: “Many senior managers still consider social tools something their teenagers use. Young workers, who do not need to be taught or convinced to use these tools, expect them in the workplace.”

The business need is the big driver: “Social software is not about the tools, it is about what the tools enable the users to do and about the business problems the tools address.”

Communities are self-policing: “When left to their own devices, communities within enterprise intranets police themselves. Workers tend to retain their professional identities, leaving little need for the organization to institute controls.”

Organizations must cede power: “As companies have been learning from using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with their customers, they can no longer fully control their message. This is true, too, when Web 2.0 tools are used in internal communications.”
We see a natural emergent network effect at play on the Web when consumers (and also small business users) start to use a particular collaborative or social tool, but in most large organisations of course access to new technology is strictly controlled. In those environments the temptation when introducing any new technology is to step carefully, check the likely return on investment and maybe run a few pilots.

But the results of this approach will never tell the real story of collaborative and social tools. You will never see the true benefits and value until that technology is made available to everyone in the organisation. Unfortunately what we've typically seen with collaborative technologies is quite the opposite - restricted deployments, consumption based charge back systems and as a result little support for users to help them integrate them into everyday work practices.
Stop right now! Call it off, tell staff that in these challenging times its more about them than some shallow tinkering of the org structure.

Organisations are not like cars. They can't be tuned or refurbished in the same way as the parts are people, not mechanical parts that can't think for themselves. So having provided a 100% productivity boost by NOT restructuring how do we get the next 100% productivity boost? I would suggest that once staff are aligned with what the organisation's charter / mission, provide them with room to meet and negotiate how they could best work with other departments to achieve the mission. Facilitate and allow time for familiarity and trust to be built across the organisation. Emphasise that commitments made to peers are equally, if not more important, than those made to their line management. A trustful organisation is a highly productive one.
In President Obama's address to the weekly address to the nation on Saturday, he said he believed that the current economic downturn is winding down, and the key to growth in America's [or any country's] future is to foster a situation that encourages a spirit of innovation. His recent $787 billion stimulus package has done a lot to help numbers, but full recovery could take a few more months. In order to facilitate this innovation-driven environment, we need the best educated and highest skilled workers, a healthcare system that leads to innovation, we need to build a clean energy economy and continue to invest heavily in research and development.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tweeting vs blogging: 0-1

7:57:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 2 comments
Now that Twitter is under attack (and Facebook to), I suspect a lot of tweeters who are also bloggers will return to their blogs. Blogs are more powerful in this sense. Blogger and other services might be attacked, but there are so many services and a lot of people host their own blogs. This makes the blogosphere much harder to attack and silence.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Dark Matter of the Business Universe

11:41:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg 4 comments
To become or stay successful, businesses need to be able to see, understand, and nurture the conversations, transactions and relations they engage in - and how these interplay.

Businesses obviously record transactions today, and most businesses try to learn from them in order to find ways to improve how they manage and operate their business. But how much does the average business really know about the conversations taking place?

Most business conversations are transcient and passes by without a notice, only touching a those individuals who participate in the conversation. Why? Because the vast majority of business conversations either take place over phone or face-to-face. Most of the conversations that are captured are typically buried in email inboxes and almost impossible to access, analyze and learn anything from.

In a way, most business conversations are like dark matter. We know it must be there, but we can't see it and don't know what it is.

What is strange is that we seem comfortable with the fact that most business conversations are invisible and inaccessible to us (well, many people in middle management have build their positions on this fact). At least we have not reflected much over it, probably because it has always been like that. Until now.

Social software and the use of tools such as wikis, blogs and micro-blogs in a business context help to make potentially important business conversations visible and thereby possible to analyze and learn from. Social networks does the same thing with informal networks. The informal networks which are so important for most business can now be charted and analyzed. It is a can't-miss opportunity for organizations that want to know their business better and improve how it is managed and operated.

(This post was written and sent via my smartphone from the sun deck on the ferry from Swedish island Gotland to the Swedish mainland)