Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Interesting Enterprise 2.0 Readings - Week 48 2009

11:56:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
C.C. Liew found the latest post with my weekly set of links via Twitter and suggested I should call it "Weekly E2.0 Links" instead. I guess his point was that I should name the weekly post in a way that more clearly communicates what it is about (even though it is broader than Enterprise 2.0). Hear, hear. I just chose to call it "Enterprise 2.0 Weekly Digest" instead. Why? Because it actually contains more than just a set of links.

"State of Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Q4 2009" by the 2.0 Adoption Council (the summary below includes some excerpts from the report):
This paper and the research behind it are based on a web-based survey conducted during the latter part of October 2009. The survey was open exclusively to members of The 2.0 Adoption Council.

Of the then 100 members, 77 completed the survey. As explained in more detail in the Demographics section, despite the relatively small number of responses, the research findings represent a market milestone and represent not the opinion of the general masses, but the fact-based experiences of the market’s early adopters– the true practitioners of Enterprise 2.0.
  • More than half of the survey respondents (61%) believe the market is still in the early adoption or innovator stage.

  • In 73% if the cases, some form of management has been exercised, indicating a partial best-practice

  • Among these benefits some clearly emerged as "most popular"...Connecting colleagues across teams ang geographies (92%), Enabling access to subject experts (88%), increasing productivity (81%), capturing & retaining institutional knowledge (78%) and fostering innovation (78%)

  • Among these top 5 benefits 4 focus on knowledge management-related benefits. This is likely why ROI for many organizations is difficult to prove in hard dollars [only 18% have established ROI].

  • ...the majority (82%) of respondents indicated that their organizations are satisfied with the Enterprise 2.0 iniatiative to date.
"Enterprise 2.0: How a Connected Workforce Innovates" (an Interview with Andrew P. McAfee) by Anand Raman:
How do the new social technologies transform innovation efforts?

Companies have traditionally been very specific about who’s going to do the innovating: their designers, engineers, scientists...Those people have the credentials—the right combination of education, experience, success, failure, and so on. More recently, companies have allowed major users of their products to participate in the product-development process.

Some companies now say: Why stop at lead users? Why not let everyone take a crack at helping us develop a new product, improve an existing one, or solve a vexing problem? They no longer specify who can participate in the innovation process; they welcome all comers. Enterprise 2.0 tools are designed to help with these more open innovation processes. In fact, most new types of innovation, such as open innovation and crowdsourcing, are based on these technologies.

Does the use of Enterprise 2.0 technologies yield better ideas? Won’t a company simply drown in bad ideas?

Keep two things in mind. One, there’s no guarantee that your next innovation challenge is going to look anything like your last one. It might require a fresh perspective or skills that your existing innovators don’t possess. A company that uses Enterprise 2.0 technologies can publicize the challenge widely and collect responses from many people. Two, the community that forms around the challenge can help sift the ideas. People suggest improvements and vote on one another’s ideas, so the best ones eventually rise to the top.
Most employees have quite effortlessly switched paradigm, from “work as value” to “work as creation of value”, as it relates both to their day-to-day experience as customers and to their expectations in Enterprise world, but managers are facing a bigger challenge, as they are less and less connected with a traditional (pre knowledge economy era) role of managing teams, and expected to consider management as transformation of value. As obvious as this might be, seen from our Enterprise 2.0 heralds’ seats, we have to keep in mind that organizational and behavioral gap: from gatekeepers of business processes, managers must now dynamically harness existing knowledge to transform it into competitive advantages for their company; a tough challenge for most.
In 2015, staff will have ubiquitous access to information and functionality, delivered at the point of need, regardless of where they may be. This means going beyond the “intranet as an internal website”, a concept that has been holding back intranet teams for many years.

Ubiquitous access means unlocking the silos of corporate information, and delivering needed tools and answers to all the platforms and systems being used by staff.

  • The concept of an intranet goes away. There will always be a need for an “intranet”, a central web-based point of access that connects information and systems. The world is moving towards the web, not away from it, and this is no different within organisations.

  • Everything on the web. There have always been an enthusiastic minority who want to dump the desktop entirely, moving everything into the web. This worked poorly, and in 2015, staff will still have desktop tools, most likely running on Windows.
This vision used to be very difficult, almost impossible, to deliver. Much has changed. Point-to-point integration via web services (and the like) has become mainstream. Mobile devices have much richer capabilities. Enterprise systems are becoming more open to being tailored and connected.

The necessary integration doesn’t need to be perfect. The “good enough” principles that underpin the web are sufficient to allow staff to look up phone numbers on their mobile device, or get access to policies within call centre systems.

The goal is clear: staff have the information and tools they need, when and where they need them.
"Does driving adoption mean being off the point?" by Bertrand Duperrin:
I’ve never been that comfortable with the concept of adoption when applied to enterprise tools. More precisely when the point point was “driving adoption”.

Of course adoption is necessary. And, like every necessary thing, businesses can not afford not to drive it. Nothing but pure logic…but it can’t prevent me from feeling its sounds odd. I was slowly getting used to these words when Paula Thornton brought it back to my attention.

Let’s start with the meaning of words.

Driving : giving oneself the means that are necessary to achieve something and the appropriate indications to pilot actions.

Adoption : action of making something one’s own in a voluntary way. Supposes the benefit, sense and implications are understood.

If both are necessary, I still can’t put them together in the same sentence. The reason is obvious: if adoption implies spontaneity and a choice that’s not made under duress, driving means make people do something unnatural because if it was natural people would adopt without any external intervention.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Who is in the driving seat of Enterprise 2.0 adoption?

11:30:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , 1 comment

I've followed Bertrand Duperrin for a long time and enjoyed his writings on his blog. When reading his latest post "Does driving adoption mean being off the point?", my thoughts really got spinning. Fast. I have to admit that I had to read Bertrand's post several times before I finally (I think) got the message. It then became clear to me that my original thoughts were spinning in a completely different direction than Betrand’s. The main reason is that I started out with my own definitions of the terms “driving” and “adoption” instead of the definitions that Bertrand used. I advice you to read his full post to get the message, but here is a small teaser:

if adoption implies spontaneity and a choice that’s not made under duress, driving means make people do something unnatural because if it were natural people would adopt without any external intervention.

Since I used the my own definitions of these terms, my reasoning below should not be seen an argument against Betrand’s reasoning, but rather as an alternative perspective on the expression and concept of “driving adoption”.

To me, adoption is about leaving something old for something new, such as leaving the practice of writing status reports in documents and emailing them to your team members and instead publish them on wiki where you can all contribute.

Adoption can happen voluntarily, or involuntarily (forced upon you). Inbetween these two extremes, there is a sliding scale. Regardless, adoption always happen under some kind and degree of influence from one or several external forces. It can be that management and the pressured financial situation at work requires you to change your practices. Or it can be that you are subject to peer pressure from your colleagues. Or maybe you just decide to follow someone elses example because it makes sense to you. Or it is that you are expected by others try out new things and that they let you lead the way. My point here is that I don't think there is a situation where you adopt something without any kind and degree of external influence.

I think the expression "driving adoption" has bad a bad ring to many people. Maybe it is because it suggests that you are forced to leave something old for something new (which not necessarily has to be something better from your perspective). Maybe it is because it suggests that you have little to no control over the adoption, that you have no choice. Someone decided to introduce a new policy, routine, or system and you just have to adapt and adopt, like it or not. That is how things typically are done in the 1.0 world.

But what if "driving" just is meant to describe the external influence that moves things in a certain direction? Couldn't that external influence be anyone and anything, such as that you get an invite from a friend to start using a new web-based tool?

As I see it, what is being changed is WHO is in the driving seat and HOW the adoption is being driven. Instead of your boss being in the driving seat, with you in the back seat, it might be that it is your collegue, or a group of people that you belong to, or your friend who is in the driving seat. People you trust. The friend who is inviting you to the new web-based tool is not forcing you to change your ways, but rather triggering your curiosity and recommending the tool to you, suggesting that it will be of value to you. Since you trust your friend, you listen to what she has to say. It feels natural to follow in her footsteps and you decied to give the web-based tool a chance.

The thing is that adoption is still driven in this scenario. What is different is who is in the driving seat and what driving style and technique that person or group is using.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This week in links - week 47, 2009

10:43:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
Social Technologies are a Horizontal –Not A Vertical Approach

It continues to amaze the market that such simple social technologies can impact the entire organization. In fact, social technologies, at the core, allow people to connect to each other without a middle person in the way. As a result, expect social technologies to impact every employee and customer touchpoint. CMOs must prepare in their 2010 planning how to leverage social, not as a skunkworks but as a strategic shift in all communications.
From a social viewpoint, the architecture of business seems all wrong. People aren't really designed to do one thing, like a cog in a watch. They have various relationships with other people, and through these relationships they have influence on the work going on all around them. They are not alone, like a moth in a bell jar. We are not alone, in our work. Even the most repetitive of work -- screwing bolts on an assembly line, or delivering the mail -- happens in the context of other people, and is made more valuable by their exertions.

Increasingly, people's work is being viewed as a shared aspect of social relations. Time is a shared space, where we cooperate toward shared ends.

One casualty of this large-scale shift in business doctrine may be the hallowed business process. The notion of a process -- a defined series of steps in the production of goods or the delivery of services -- subordinates individuals to the their roles in the process.

We will have to devise a new, richer way to think about people's interactions -- via social networks -- and our connection to mechanical processes and devices. In effect, we will need to model work with two layers, one where people are communicating with each other in a very fluid and flexible way, and machinery communicates with us and other machinery in less fluid ways.
Mature larger companies are often akin to large cities. Los Angeles or London for example have grown over time to consume and incorporate the towns around them, forming a complex network of places within a greater whole. The navigation systems connecting this urban fabric develops to match the travel patterns of inhabitants. Enterprise information architects in equivalent large companies should be like town planners watching traffic patterns closely and anticipating need.

Small business is in contrast often like a single campus community, hopefully rapidly growing and feeding off its surroundings. The commonality is broadband internet connectivity, which like the transport options connecting small campus to large city makes all sorts of interesting collaboration possible. Add in the realities of globalization and associated clustering of business entities and it’s easy to see why the concept of business ‘performance fabric’ is seen as a critical collaborative trade competitive advantage.

Helping planners of collaboration understand these concepts is vitally important to prevent the adoption of milquetoast tentative pilot schemes, which are typically experiments to try and find business value through experimentation.

Peter Drucker, the brilliant management guru who defined the term ‘knowledge worker’, was clear these employees or partners couldn’t be controlled but must instead be motivated and given integrative collaboration environments to excel. Common goals, values and sense of purpose empower them to succeed on their own terms.

As an advocate of decentralization and against ‘command and control’ management, Drucker was clear knowledge workers would collaborate effectively as a community if driving to specified business objectives. While the new 2.0 technologies realize this and facilitate execution, strategic planning in many cases lags behind broadband application development and are not aligned with Drucker’s clarity of thought.
I recently came across this quote from Peter Block in an online booklet of his entited "Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community: Changing the Nature of the Conversation":

My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.

This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.

We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.

We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.

What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.

We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.

This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.

Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ECM meets Enterprise 2.0 – 7 key trends

In the post "ECM in the age of the social web - new slide deck" I promised that I would put some words to some of the slides from my presentation "ECM Today - Trends & Reality". Well, here they are.

To start with, I define Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as:
"All the things that are needed - from vision and strategy down to digital nuts and bolts - to be able to manage all the content within an enterprise regardless of type, format and location throughout its lifecycle, from creation to retirement, so that the content can be found and used when needed by users."
ECM is not about managing content for the sake of managing content. What matters is that we can use the content, and get the information we need when we need it.

Most organizations say that effective information management – where ECM is a key component - is a key to their long-term success. Still, many organizations (top management) don't put information management and ECM on their top 10 lists. Why is that?

When a customer cannot find the information she needs on a web site to buy a product or service, she will likely turn to another company and web site to buy the product or service from them instead. This is quite easy to understand for most people. It is quite obvious that we need to make sure that the customer has all the information she needs to make the decision to buy our product or service. It needs to be there on the web site, on the page and location where she expects to find it, right at her fingertips. Unfortunately, the cause-effect chain that starts with an employee not beeing able to find information or spending a lot of time looking for it or recreating information that already exists is much harder to see than cause-effect chain starts with a customer not being able to find a product on a web site to lost profits.

In the light of the current shift taking place in most businesses in the developed part of the world, it will become even more important for organizations to be good at information management, and specifically ECM as the amount of unstructured content grows significantly faster than more structured content (data). Today, it is not enough to improve transformational and transactional processes to stay competitive. Businesses must also become better at collaborating and innovating to stay competitive. So, improvments efforts are slowly shifting more towards how they can improve knowledge work. Exactly how to do this is not clear to most businesses, as current methods and strategies do not apply.

We are also seeing that different technologies are converging. The engine, or the epicentral if you like, that is causing this conversion is the current development on the web with concepts such as social media, social networking, Software as a Service, Cloud Computing, and so on. The web is becoming an operating system for more and more businesses.

One major trend affecting ECM is the exploding volumes of what we call user generated content. Tools such as blogs and wikis have made production of content so cheap and easy that single individuals can make an income of it, and some are even able compete with the leading traditional media corporations. The usability, reach and low cost of these tools have also made business users, on their own initiative, introduce them internally for business purposes. These business people form what is sometimes called a “Shadow IT department”. It is the responsibility of ECM to provide a platform where the user-generated content can be created, managed and used and integrated with all other kinds of content.

Another trend is that a lot of the traditional content production workflows have been radically altered for a lot of the content that is created and maintained in a business. The read-write web, with tools such as wikis, are blurring traditional roles such as author, editor and reader. ECM needs to support this content production model. ECM is not only about content production workflows tied to business processes, but also about the everyday and sometimes ad hoc production, management and use of content that occupy knowledge workers.

With Software as a Service and cloud computing, content is now also produced, managed and distributed on the Internet, beyond the corporate firewalls. It means that ECM becomes even more complex. How do we manage and integrate content in internal systems with content that resides outside of the firewalls?

Today we also have much more open and structured formats for content than the traditional and opaque documents. Most documents formats today - such as OpenDocument or Office Open XML - are based on XML, with content separated from the presentation. So what is a document?

So, the notion of what a document is is blurring. The evolution of hypertext and the web makes it harder to determine what we mean with the term document. Besides the fact that we now have much more open and structured formats for content than the traditional and opaque documents, the distinction between the content and the user interface is also blurring due to the introduction of new technologies such as AJAX. We are seeing smart and dynamic content products that go beyond the passive and static nature of traditional documents. Content can be assembled from different sources into one container, with so called mashup technologies, where the individual pieces of content can be constantly updated independently of each other.

One of the more interesting trends is that the conversations we have about content is now often captured and associated with the content itself. New tools and technologies allow us to discuss and comment on content, as well as rating and recommending it to others. In the end, content is just something to talk about. It is used to feed the conversations that drive the operation and management of a business with relevant, timely, complete and actionable information. These challenge for ECM is that these conversations are also content and needs to be managed so they can be found and used when needed.

People are now also creating metadata embedded in the activities they perform, such as uploading and sharing a photo, or writing a blog post. They tag and describe the content to be able to share it with others and help others find their content. Popular services like Slideshare, Flickr and YouTube handles enormous amounts of content. By collecting a lot of metadata and using user profiling, they make possible for users to find and discover content they need or are interested in. So how do we take advantage of this for improving ECM?

The key message here that I want to make is that we are facing a new reality and that reality dramatically affects Enterprise Content Management and how we manage information within a business. We must study and learn about this new reality.

To tackle the challenges of ECM, we need to create an vision and strategy for ECM and ensure commitment to this from top management. Secondly, we have to establish some sort of governance for ECM which allows for common funding and decision-making for enhancing shared ECM capabilities. Finally, we need to build some kind of competence that can provide the required resources, skills and support to ECM initiatives. We can see this as a kind of shared service for ECM initiatives within the enterprise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Morgan Stanley: 8 Key Mobile Internet Themes

8:18:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
Morgan Stanley presents some interesting statistics about the economy and Internet trends in this presentation (pptx) from Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. In the presentation, they point out 8 Key Mobile Internet Themes:
  1. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think.
  2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near-Term.
  3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.
  4. Mobile in Japan + Desktop Internet Provide Roadmaps for Mobile Growth + Monetization.
  5. 3G Adoption / Trends Vary By Geography.
  6. Carriers in USA / W. Europe Face Surging Network Demand But Uncertain Economics.
  7. Regulators Can Help Advance / Slow Mobile Internet Evolution.
  8. Mobile-Related Share Shifts Will Create / Destroy Material Shareholder Wealth.
Here are explanations of a couple of the trends above:
2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near Term

Near term, Apple is driving the platform change to mobile computing. Its mobile ecosystem (iPhone + iTouch + iTunes + accessories + services) market share / impact should surprise on upside for at least the next 1-2 years.

Long term, emerging markets competition, open mobile web (paced by likes of Google Android) and carrier limitations pose challenges. RIM likely to maintain enterprise lead for 1-2 years owing to installed base.

3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) are Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce

Improvements in social networking and mobile computing platforms (led by Facebook + Apple ecosystems) are fundamentally changing ways people communicate with each other and ways developers / advertisers / vendors reach consumers.

Mobile devices will evolve as remote controls for ever expanding types of real-time cloud-based services, including emerging category of location-based services, creating opportunities + dislocations, empowering consumers in unprecedented + transformative ways.

This week in links - week 46, 2009

Organizations are positioning the intranet as the entry point into the organization’s ensemble of information, applications, collaboration and communication tools.

Approximately one third of the organizations have a high-level intranet Steering Committee.

Twenty-five to 30 percent of organizations that have already implemented some form of social media have experienced 3 general benefits: increased employee engagement, more effective knowledge sharing, and better-informed employees.

Concerns are changing as organizations gain experience. Doubts are considerably lower about the relevance of social media to business needs, senior management hesitancy and employees wasting their time. At the same time there is a higher degree of concern about two things: the difficulty of finding information and potential user resistance.

Technologies such as presence indicators, instant messaging and web conferencing are found more frequently the more mature intranets

Intranets are leaving the workplace, or rather the workplace is being extended to where the people are.
"Enterprise 2.0 Schism" by Greg Lloyd:
I hereby declare myself an Enterprise 2.0 Strict Druckerian. I believe that "2.0" should be considered a modifier of Enterprise rather than an allusion to mere Web 2.0 technology - which is what an Enterprise 2.0 Strict Technarian would have you believe.

I believe that although both technology and broad bottom-up participation are necessary to achieve the Drukerian vision, neither element alone is sufficient to achieve the noble end of re-engineering how ordinary people work together to achieve the ends of enterprises they choose to affiliate with.

As Peter Drucker said: "The purpose of an organization is to enable ordinary humans beings to do extraordinary things.

Peter Drucker constantly advised businesses to give employees direct control over their own work and environment, with teams of "knowledge workers" responsible for work toward goals stated as broad business objectives rather than prescriptive plans. Drucker stated that management could only achieve sustainable profits by treating people as an enterprise's most valued resources, not as costs. In later years he described his role as "social ecologist" rather than management consultant.

On "Return on investment" debates, I believe that Taylorist time-and-motion studies would show gains that typically exceed the modest costs of introducing and using Enterprise 2.0 software, but studies for knowledge work where the value is not transactional (time to process a purchase order) are difficult to design and far too easy to fudge. Large scale experimental studies based on overall business success are even more problematic - except in hindsight.
Many thinkers and consultants in the Enterprise 2.0 space are recognizing and discussing the need to re-design knowledge work and the small and large structural elements of organizations, due to the growing pervasiveness of today’s information-flow infrastructure.

The principles and elements of socio-technical systems theory, and offshoots like Emery and Trist’s Participative Work Design (on which I have written before), are in my opinion very useful and practical sources for thinking through and implementing some of the changes … in mental models and in practices … that I believe will be necessary to obtain the latent potential available in purposeful social computing aimed at an organization’s objectives for better and more responsive performance.
I'm a huge driver of collaboration tools in the company. But, I'm also a realist - and I know two significant factors that argue against change at the time:

Prioritizing "Improvements": We are implementing ERP and other highly intrusive / foundational systems, and there's a lot of change that comes along with that. I understand that an organization can only take so much change at once - so why not focus on the stuff that's bringing real (ie. quantifiable, bottom-line, significant) business value.

New Collaboration Tools need Lead Time & Practice: Eight months ago, sharing files by e-mail and ad-hoc, unstructured meetings were the norm. To be fair, we were working smaller projects with teams of 10-20, and usually in no more than two locations. Over the past few months, as we were teeing up for Big Go-Live #1, we've been introducing the newer tools in small bits. For Go-Live Weekend, the team was already familiar with going to SharePoint for status updates, or recording a new Issue in the SharePoint list. The mechanics were old hat, and folks didn't need to think about it - which was nice, since we need them thinking about their Tasks. If we introduce new collaboration tools with little lead time before the Big Go-Live #2, Tasks will be interrupted with people struggling to remember how to communicate.

In the right setting, collaboration tools can clearly add value - even for the most conservative jaded technology users. However, you can't introduce something so new and expect people to "get it" in the short term. Better approach is to introduce the new tools early in the process, when there is no pressure. This lets the team build familiarity, understanding, and skills by the time you need to rely on these tools for critical communication.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interesting facts from the Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report 2009

8:56:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
"How do consumers engage with brands in an increasingly digital world? That’s the fundamental question we set out to answer with this year’s FEED report...//...Our goal was to survey what we call “connected consumers.”...these “connected consumers” roughly mirror the U.S. population with broadband access...roughly 200 million people."
I've just read "The Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Report 2009" which was released yesterday. Although I am not in the advertising / marketing business, I find it important to learn about consumer trends. Today, consumers are shaping the future of the web, and thereby also the way businesses need to do business. We also bring our attitudes and behaviors as well as the technologies we use as consumers to work.

Here are some interesting facts from the report:
  • 65% of consumers report having had a digital experience that either positively or negatively changed their opinion about a brand.
  • Of that group, a nearly unanimous 97% say that their digital experience influenced whether or not they eventually purchased a product or service from that brand.
  • 73% have posted a product or brand review on a web site like Amazon, Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • 64% of consumers report making a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience.
  • 57% of consumers have actively customized their homepages with specific content feeds, scheduled updates, or used other features
  • 84% share links or bookmarks with a friend with some frequency
  • 55% subscribe to RSS feeds with some frequency
  • an increasing number are getting news from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
  • 84% of consumers rely on the web to get current news or information
  • 56% of “connected consumers” own a smartphone. BlackBerry and Apple, to no great surprise, are the most popular—and overwhelmingly so.
Below is the report on Slideshare:

Monday, November 9, 2009

This week in links - week 45, 2009

1:29:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
We spoke today with Mike Gotta, an industry analyst with the Burton Group. He puts it well. For data entry and claims processing, people use other tools. The Enterprise 2.0 offerings augment their work.

"Dennis has a point," Gotta said. "These systems are not workflow driven - we already have tools to do that. "These tools augment work. They enhance it, they enrich it."
It is common knowledge that “what you can’t measure, you can’t manage”. And because knowledge is intangible by nature, it is not measurable and therefore not manageable. This argument is seated in a fundamental law of Science. Consequently, the only way to move forward is to rematerialise knowledge, which we do by transforming knowledge into information or data.

As I have maintained on many prior occasions, social computing is useful in this ‘rematerialisation’ process. Social software helps rematerialisation tacit interactions that occur around formal, corporate (computer-based) processes and workflows by capturing conversations (wikis, blog posts and comments) and references (social bookmarks, RSS feed portfolios, profiles) in organisational / group platforms. Social computing helps transform tacit knowledge into formal transferable knowledge. This is why social software fundamentally complements existing organisational information architecture, as well as provides a constructive replacement for email, which is often considered a silo because of its overtly individualistic nature.

Another difficulty we face in a knowledge economy is that most activity measurement tools date from the glorious days of the “old” physical economy. My point here is that reporting process are one key reason for organisational blindness when it comes to knowledge-related practices. As such, ‘management’ in a knowledge economy requires a serious revamping of reporting tools, metrics and processes.

Because we deal with different stuff, we need to invent metrics that are relevant to what we are trying to follow and drive. For social software, one can start with the usual web and online community metrics.
In large organizations, we have seen Enterprise 2.0 efforts face some typical roadblocks:

Free information flow vs. Chain of Command

Free info flow from the frontline to executives? Managers get suspicious when information easily skips a level or two in the hierarchy. Not that they necessarily want to keep the information under wraps. But they prefer controlling the loop – when, how, to whom the communications happens. If it’s good news, take some credit for it; if it’s bad news, let’s add some spin (explanation or blame).

One-way street of transparency

A CEO recently informed his employees that the calendaring system has been changed so that she could see everybody’s calendar – and that he may make use of that capability. While some applauded the honesty, some employees asked if they would be able to see the CEO’s calendar. Well, not really. Cultural lesson learned for the organization: transparency is less required as you get to the top. Why not practice in advance?

The Black Hole Syndrome of knowledge sharing

“Knowledge sharing feels like a black hole. You throw a lot of stuff in, and never hear about it again.” While this typical complaint was probably a good characterization of past KM approaches, many managers are still burnt by this experience. Today’s solution allow for better attribution of authorship, tracking of use, and feedback. However this signal has to get across the noise level.

Too much visibility? Never change a winning team – especially if it’s mine

Good managers spend of lot of energy on building good teams. While they enjoy the visibility into the skills and experience of employees – theirs and those of other organizations – they tend to be protective about their team. “If other managers see the quality (or capacity) I have build in my team, they are tempted to plunder. Good for the other managers’ career, but not for mine.”

Culture of “internal trade secrets”

In an insurance company, a sales manager had figured out a very effective way to sell packages to law offices and accomplished phenomenal sales growth. For quarters, that sales technique would remain the ‘secret sauce’ of her team’s success. It remained a secret because she was pitched against the other sales managers. In an effort to motivate performance, the executive team had established a stack ranking of the company’s sales regions. While collaboration between the teams was possible, the incentives were punishing it. Many reward systems have baked constrains into the culture which are deterrents to Collaboration 2.0.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 for dummies

10:33:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

Executing a process is “easy”. If nothing unexpected happens, it's just routine.

Inventing the process, designing and implementing it, fixing it when it is broken, continuously improving it, quickly adapting it to new conditions, capturing and incorporating the voice of the customer into it, getting people on board and making them feel part of it, developing and capturing our knowledge about it, and reinventing it and what comes out of it so that we can stay competitive - THAT is not easy.

It comes without saying that all those things are higly dependant on humans and our ability to find, trust, connect, communicate, interact, share and collaborate with each other - across time, space and organizational barriers. This is true even for executing a process, regardless of how easy it might seem in comparison to those other things. We need to get together and do these things in collaboration because we simply cannot do them alone.

Now to the point...

Whenever new possibilities to find, trust, connect, communicate, interact, share and collaborate emerge, the ways in which enterprises are operated and managed will be profoundly altered and, most likely, also considerably improved by any measure we use.

The social web, or social software if you like, brings us a wealth of new possibilities across this spectra.

Seeing and understanding these new possibilities, translating them into a business context, and applying them gracefully to a business - that, to me, is Enterprise 2.0 in a nutshell.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Real Enterprise 2.0

10:17:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
Nenshad Bardoliwalla, former CTO for Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) at SAP, has written an excellent article that provides "the missing components of the full Enterprise 2.0 picture". It is a must read, both for those who don't see how Enterprise 2.0 fits into their business and for all those Enterprise 2.0 evangelists that seem to think that a new major version does not build upon all previous versions, whether it is a software or an enterprise. Here is a teaser, but you must read the full article since it describes where Enterprise 2.0 fits in the Enterprise:
These definitions of Enterprise 2.0 and their juxtaposition against the definitions of Enterprise 1.0 are misguided. I am certain based on my experience that the free form emergent world depicted as Enterprise 2.0 is NOT an evolution from the structured world of Enterprise 1.0, but rather, the two will exist in an intertwined tapestry that defines the full breadth of what today's enterprises need to look like. It's extremely unhealthy for our industry to pit these two worlds against each other because they will perpetually co-exist."

If an Enterprise 2.0 tool can: increase the average deal size, reduce cost to serve, increase customer loyalty, decrease new product development time, etc., than there is a legitimate business use case and a hard ROI associated with it. So my advice to both the zealots and naysayers of Enterprise 2.0 would be to take an existing, legitimate pain point, like offer creation, or product development, or customer service, and start by benchmarking your current metrics. If an Enterprise 2.0 tool can move those metrics in the right direction in a provable way, you will have real, hard ROI. If the tool doesn't contribute to moving those process metrics in the way you hoped, then you might have a problem with your executive sponsor.
My comment to the last part about ROI, as I argued in my previous post, is that most organizations are missing "current metrics" when it comes to "knowledge work" that surrounds, enables and supports existing business processes in, say, the R&D and Marketing & Sales departments. They either don't have enough metrics, or the right ones to tell them how they actually perform. This means that there is no baseline to start from and from which to build your business case and calculate ROI. The challenge here is that we need to establish this baseline before we can prove that we can improve it. To be able to do this, we also need develop new or refined approaches, methods and metrics that allow us to establish this baseline because the ones that we have used when measuring performance in transactional business processes can't easily be applied to knowledge work.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Eureka! Now I know how to calculate the ROI of Enterprise 2.0

3:16:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 3 comments

Sorry to disappoint you, but I actually don't know how to calculate the ROI of Enterprise 2.0. But I will at least tell you why I don't know that.

The debate about where the Enterprise 2.0 use cases are hiding, and whether or not you can calculate the ROI from Enterprise 2.0 is quite interesting. It is especially interesting if you consider that the debate is based on the wrong assumption: that we can apply the same approaches, methods and metrics that we have used to improve transformational and transactional business processes in order to improve knowledge work. Obviously, this won't work.

I personally find it quite easy to reason about and communicate the value that Enterprise 2.0 can bring to a business. This can be done by telling stories, such as telling the story about a team of people that tries to collaborate on a document by sending it back and forth via email, and then contrasting it with a story of a team that collaborates using a wiki.

But somehow, these stories are not enough to convince some people that they need to start looking at how to improve knowledge work, and that they need to start exploring the possibilities of new tools and technologies - the same kind of tools and technologies which are already being used successfully on the social web for tasks which are very similar to the tasks we perform at work. Talk about opportunity!

When it comes to Enterprise 2.0 use cases, there is definately not a shortage of use cases. It is just something that the sceptics say because it sounds good to them. Rather, from my experience it is the other way around – there are almost too many of them. Just by watching how my collegues use Yammer, I have identified well over 30 use cases that micro-blogging supports and which are very hard to carry out with other tools and technologies. And new use cases are being identified all the time.

Some of the use cases, such as crowdsourcing ideas for PR activities, wasn't possible before, at least not feasible from a cost and management perspective. It is either that, that we couldn’t afford to perform the use cases, or we didn't bother to make the effort to define the value they generate or to measure this value.

Do you know of any organisation that has tried to and succeeded in measuring how it performs at building market intelligence? Or that has succeeded in measuring how efficient and effective the communication within a project team is? For example, do they measure how much communication it takes and how long time it takes to delegate a task to a team member? Do they measure the effectiveness of this communication - if the right decision was made or the right task was carried out in the right time?

I'm all ears.

As knowledge work is becoming a much bigger and more business-critical part of most businesses, they obviously have to do something to get better at it. A business that succeeds in improving knowledge work and leveraging its social capital will most likely become smarter, faster and more innovative than the competitors that don't. THAT is the business case for Enterprise 2.0. A business that rather passively waits until there is a book to buy that will tell exactly how define and measure the value of knowledge work won't have a very bright future. In fact, I am pretty sure it won't have a future at all.

To sum up, let me make a few things clear.

First of all, it is possible to define the value of knowledge work, such as problem solving and collaboration.

Secondly, it is also possible to measure this value.

But the problem is that we haven't yet come up with exactly how to do that yet.

What obviously doesn’t work is to apply the same approaches, methods and measurements as we have used before when trying to improve transactional business processes. So, we have to come up with new and improved ones. But how do we do that?

I suggest that we start exploring the new and improved use cases and learn to do this as we go. I am pretty sure that this is how most businesses are started and how most improvements are being identified and initiatied. You have an idea, you see an opportunity and you decide to seize it. The people who are just interested in maths will maybe make great accountants or managers (good at sustaining status quo), but not great entrepreneurs or business leaders.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ECM in the age of the social web - new slide deck

Below is the slide deck that I used for my presentation at the seminar ”How many information flows are there?” which was arranged by Mid Sweden University, CEDIF project Centre for digital information management and EU Objective 2. I will share the full story (what I said to the slide deck) in an upcoming post.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This week in links - week 44, 2009

In-house experts, with their specialized knowledge and skills, could be invaluable to both colleagues and managers. But often workers who could use their help in other departments and locations don't even know they exist.

Because of an inability to tap expertise, problems go unsolved, new ideas never get imagined, employees feel underutilized and underappreciated. These are things that no business can afford anytime—let alone in this tough economic climate

The answer, we think, is to use social-computing tools.

Activities and interactions that occur in blogs, wikis and social networks naturally provide the cues that are missing from current expertise-search systems. A search engine that mines internal blogs, for example, where workers post updates and field queries about their work, will help searchers judge for themselves who is an expert in a given field. Wiki sites, because they involve collaborative work, will suggest not only how much each contributor knows, but also how eager they are to share that knowledge and how well they work with others.

Tags and keywords, which are posted by employees and serve as flags for search engines, can reveal qualities in an expert that are far from transparent in any database or directory. And social networks can help employees use existing relationships to not only reach out to distant experts but also trust them more than they would complete strangers.
Enterprise collaboration tools will be primarily Web 2.0-based with four years, posing major problems for organisations as entrenched users cling onto old-style working methods, warned a Gartner survey.

Gartner recommended firms take a softly-softly approach to introducing change to reluctant users, explaining the business reasons for the switch and recognising which model suits which situation.
"Using technology to improve workforce collaboration" by James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee:
Knowledge workers fuel innovation and growth, yet the nature of knowledge work remains poorly understood—as do the ways to improve its effectiveness. The heart of what knowledge workers do on the job is collaborate, which in the broadest terms means they interact to solve problems, serve customers, engage with partners, and nurture new ideas. Technology and workflow processes support knowledge worker success and are increasingly sources of comparative differentiation. Those able to use new technologies to reshape how they work are finding significant productivity gains.

But most companies are only beginning to take these paths. That’s because, in many respects, raising the collaboration game differs from traditional ways of boosting productivity. In production and transaction work, technology use is often part of a broader campaign to reduce head counts and costs—steps that are familiar to most managers. In the collaboration setting, technology is used differently. It multiplies interactions and extends the reach of knowledge workers. That allows for the speedier product development found at P&G and improved partner and customer intimacy at Cisco. In general, this is new terrain for most managers.
When discussing E2.0, I often hear "Shouldn't we just implement these social tools and simply let business value "emerge"? My answer is NO, not if you want to maximize business value.

I am a strong believer that organizations, should focus and facilitate the use of these tools in order to maximize organizational benefits.

To drive value, I've often referred to the engagement factors and in this post I wanted to focus on one of the factors, "Motivation".

How do we address motivation? Do we adopt the "build it and they will come" approach? No. But what about Wikipedia? it seems like complete "self-organization" has made it successful. But consider that only 1% of the people who visit Wikipedia actually contribute content. That's alright with a population set of the world, but 1% of your company may not be enough and if you have specific objectives you may need to motivate others to participate.

So what then? Should we use traditional motivation tactics (i.e. Carrots & Sticks)? For example, should we give bigger monetary bonuses or incentives to those who leverage social computing technologies to solve problems or provide innovative solutions? The answer yet again is surprisingly, NO.

Fun, as a design principle shouldn't be overlooked as it impacts the application design from look and feel, through context, content and process. It also should be addressed when designing events leveraging social computing technologies.