The ITSinsider Blog is now a Series of Books

I had a great career before the Internet blessed me with a second career. This second career was paved with a free tool we now know as blogging. The 300 or so posts that constituted the ITSinsider blog tracked my progress, and enabled me to emerge as a leading voice in the Enterprise 2.0 community of thinkers and activists.

I wanted to preserve the names, dates, the history of this era so we created a book series of these blog posts. You can buy them on Amazon. They’re available in paperback or on Kindle.

It might be useful some day for some researcher or grad student, so the link to the Amazon page is here.

It was an exciting era to be involved in tech– an optimistic and positive decade where a large, connected network of passionate individuals were interested in making a difference in the world. I was thrilled to be part of it.

 

 

Secret Santa Surprise: Land of (not-so) Misfit e20 Toys

Picture 8To close out 2009, I thought I’d write a wrap-up of some of my favorite Enterprise 2.0 platforms that for some unknown reason don’t have the visibility they may perhaps deserve in the broader landscape. If you’re shopping for Enterprise 2.0 platforms in 2010, please be sure to give a few of these a looksee.

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1. Traction Software. Traction Teampage has been around since 1999 and was originally developed by the good folks who created hypertext journaling (like, orignally). As you can imagine, over ten years this product has grown to become one of the most versatile tools in the socio-collaborative arsenal. Traction has an A-list of great customers including many security-conscious Federal agencies (such as the Department of Justice). One of our members, Brian Tullis @briantullis (Alcoa), did an amazing job with his case study at Traction’s annual user group conference. You can watch that here.

Picture 14 2. PBWorks. Similarly, born “PBWiki,” PBWorks has outgrown its wiki origins and has a full-featured platform that now includes voice, micro-blogging, live-editing and notifications, IM, and project management. (I probably left out a few.) This tool also has a very pleasing user interface and could win awards for ease of use. PBWorks seems to have hit a home run in the legal sector, but it’s truly a great platform for anyone interested in collaborating online. ITSinsider e20 trivia contest: First person who comments on the blog who knows what “PB” originally stood for wins a 2.0 Adoption Council coffee mug. (PBWorks employees– you can’t play. )

Picture 153. ThoughtFarmer. Ah. Jevon McDonald @jevon (my brilliant, handsome fellow EI) introduced me to ThoughtFarmer. It was probably love at first site (pun, yes) with me and ThoughtFarmer. The first time I interviewed Chris McGrath, @thoughtfarmer I may have asked him to marry me as I was so swept away with the beauty of the software and its elegant design. The ThoughtFarmer story started like this: “A client hired us to design their SharePoint site. We hated it so much we decided to tear it apart and start from scratch building a product from the ground up.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing from my memory of the interview. What ThoughtFarmer did, however, was design a socio-collaborative platform starting with PEOPLE as the centerpiece. I think when I heard that, I popped the question to poor Chris. As I commented on the ThoughtFarmer blog last week, some of our best contributions in the Council come from ThoughtFarmer members. I look forward to many years of ThoughtFarmer success.

Lotus Connections 4. Lotus Connections. Luis Benitez @lbenitez approached me at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and asked me why Connections is not getting more love from the e20 echo chamber. I told him I hadn’t heard a lot from the Connections team and would like to change that. Considering word on the street is that the SharePoint team calls the SharePoint v. Connections bake-off Mike Gotta held in 2008, “The Boston Massacre,” Connections has lost a little momentum over the past year, especially, as MSFT is now evangelizing SharePoint 2010. Connections is still a best-in-class enterprise alternative. Headshift’s Jon Mell @jonmell has some great experience and posts on Connections. Head there for more details.

Picture 75. Socialcast. Socialcast continues to impress me. The latest redesign of the product is as elegant as it is functional. The platform’s ability to integrate legacy application data, its security provisions (behind the firewall as well as hosted), and the multitude of opportunities to feed external social content make it one of the most simple on-ramping e20 introductory tools available for businesses of every size. Socialcast is also free up to 50 for an unlimited number of users. Check ’em out.

Of course, these are just a few of my favorite tools in the e20 space. I wish every vendor continued success in the category. The pace of innovation in this sector is part of the fun of being an engaged observer.

What are your favorite tools/platforms?

E20/SF: Bigger and Better than ever

flickr by Alex Dunne
flickr by Alex Dunne

Bigger, busier and more “social” than ever, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference San Francisco is abuzz with conversation on how to participate in the market’s riches.

Lots of new products/services have been announced here, and the sessions have been packed– some standing room only or attendees taking seats on the floor.

Andrew McAfee, the father of e20, launched his book here.  You can see him in this photo (bottom left) signing books issued by the publisher.

We have approximately a dozen members here from The 2.0 Adoption Council. As always, it’s great to participate virtually, but the face to face meetings and memory-making events are irreplaceable.

We were extremely proud to announce our “Internal Evangelist of the Year 2009” yesterday.  The winner of this year’s award is Claire Flanagan, Senior Manager KM and Enterprise Social Software Strategy, CSC.  Claire received accolades from her executive leadership, as well as Jive software whose platform CSC is building out to its nearly 100K employees.  The final nominees for this award also included Megan Murray, Booz Allen Hamilton and Greg Lowe, Alcatel-Lucent.

Today, Council members will participate in a morning keynote session addressing the highly charged question, “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?”   And once again, Ross Mayfield and I will be facilitating a few unconference sessions this afternoon starting at 3:15pm.  If you have a burning issue you want to address with peers, this is your opportunity to share informally with conference attendees and get some personalized answers.

Fact-gathering on 2.0 Adoption

The recent acquisition of Headshift by the Dachis Group was largely celebrated in the e2.0 community. As I commented for RWW, it’s a testament to a growing, maturing market. Enterprise interest in incorporating 2.0 tools and practices has never been higher. With this stage of evolution comes the good stuff, the fact-based data that helps guide our understanding of where we are, what it takes to get this right, who’s behind Enterprise 2.0 initiatives, what expectations are for business results, how much money will move through the market, etc.

I was really excited to see McKinsey’s 2009 “How Companies are Benefiting from Web 2.0” report that came out this week. Having come from a large consulting background tracking the IT services sector, it’s a raw indicator that the 2.0 phenomenon is about to break out of the echo chamber when the large consulting firms start paying attention. Some of our best contributors in the Council are large consulting firms who are rolling out their own initiatives, and I expect these firms will leverage this intelligence to build their own practices at some point. During the first evolution of the web, a whole host of IT services firms cropped up to take advantage of the promise of enterprise transformation via the web. Most of those firms fell flat in the dotcom meltdown bringing down investors, customers, employees, and the echo chamber. I did a huge research report that profiled who those companies were and what dynamics were driving that sector. What did succeed, royally, from that era is the undeniable impact electronic commerce brought to the consumer and enterprise sectors. Seeing “what could be” drove the vision of many of those early firms, and even if their dreams crumbled under the weight of their own ambition (and hubris), they were correct about identifying the potential of the Internet to radically change business.

So, we’ve moved from e-business to social business in a decade. While the hype factor is still a little deafening, I’m thrilled to announce we will be kicking off the first in-depth exploration into the 2.0 adoption phenomenon to bring some clarity to the maturing market sector. To conduct this research, I’m pleased to announce the Council has signed a strategic partnership with Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen of Information Architected to conduct a qualitative research study on the dynamics surrounding 2.0 adoption, as well as quantitative data on our members relative to industry, professional profiles (titles, organization), budgets, and other data points that present a portrait of who the early adopters really are. I’ve done some preliminary inquiries on our Council members and have already discovered a number of surprising findings that I would not have predicted. For instance, budgets for 2.0 are a lot higher than I would have guessed (if at all even established).

budget
Other interesting findings reveal that IT is not driving many of the decisions to implement a wide-scale enterprise 2.0 initiative. Lines of business comprise the lion’s share of our members.

One of the greatest goals for this research is to finally highlight salient case studies that explain the motivation behind the 2.0 effort as well as the expected business results.

For example, I conducted an interview this week with a very well known Wall Street investment bank. It was the audit and compliance global organization that drove an e20 solution to answer an age-old problem: high inefficiencies and underutilization. It’s an impressive global rollout that incorporates 5 financial center locations with approximately 200 of the firm’s subject matter experts in product, trading desk, regulatory, and banking. The initiative has yielded a “huge leap forward” according to the bank due to the transparency and visibility the firm has now as a result of breaking down the fiefdom walls that impeded the firm’s progress in years past. Greatest challenge? The people issues. It forces employees to communicate more. Additionally, the new processes expose the weak links in the firm and threaten job security/relevance. Greatest benefit? The initiative answers to the Board of Directors and provides predictable, reliable reporting that mitigates risk and ensures regulatory compliance. I asked my contact if the effort played any role in the financial recovery of this particular firm, he said not really because this was purely a cost-containment effort, yet he added, “The platform should, however, allow [the firm] to be more nimble in the face of increased regulatory scrutiny. Management can now see the effects of re-allocating resources to review areas of the firm with a higher perceived risk.”

All good stuff. There are so many exciting initiatives going on within the Council membership, I am thrilled to be able to bring them to light via our research. We will be presenting top-line findings of this research at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco (Nov. 2 – 5). The Council has a number of initiatives going on at the conference, and I’ll be blogging about them in the upcoming weeks.

If you are a customer in the throes of adoption and would like to participate in the research, please simply request to join The 2.0 Adoption Council. Membership is free and you will receive a tremendous return on your (non) investment.

A Year’s Summary of Personal Reflection III

DSC00007_3Bear with me. I only do this once a year on ITSinsider after the annual Enterprise 2.0 conference. I post a somewhat more introspective essay of sorts reflecting on what my impressions were from the conference and where I think we are as a micro-movement in the tech landscape.

(If you’re really interested, you can read the first two years’ posts before reading this one: Year I and Year II.)

As I re-read Year II’s post, I realized not too much has changed from last year, and I could probably get by simply reprinting that post. But, no. There are a few things I want to address this year in greater detail.

Here we go:

IMG_07311. My Mind on my Money and my Money on my Mind

I started this post on the plane returning home from Boston (as did Oliver Marks). I snapped this photo of the guy in 27C. Blocked by his left arm is a clever little tool with which he was using to make some decisions. I overheard him telling the guy in 27B, my seat mate, that he was a manager for the terminal division for Continental. He was saying he had three projects he was evaluating, and he was trying to decide which one to do first. As I was gathering my thoughts around this year’s conference and the year ahead, I thought this little bit of eavesdropping would make for a nice intro to this blog post. The deadly little tool in Mr. 27C’s arsenal was a calculator. With a line-ruled notebook, a pen, and a calculator, he was set to make a decision that would most likely affect the work of dozens of people at Continental. And, if he did his ciphering correctly, his decision might even affect the business performance of his division at Continental Airlines. With that vignette, I’d like to suggest a lesson:

“What Enterprise 2.0 Needs to Learn from Enterprise 1.0”

Paramount on the minds of the boards of directors of the types of large firms we’re trying to move to Enterprise 2.0-style thinking and acting are items like… quarterly earnings. So, let me suggest that the currency of the Enterprise is not social connectivity, is not relationships, is not kumbaya, or even whuffie… the currency of the Enterprise is currency (and the colder and harder the better, as those clever credit financial instruments have a way of surprising you). We can debate whether ROI is a sensible metric; whether solutions are off-the-rack or tailored, whether there are enough case studies, whether we have the right brainiac analytical model, and on and on. But at the end of the day, we need to prove our business case in the Enterprise. Just like Mr. 27C, we need to run the numbers and see if our Enterprise 2.0 initiative is generating a positive business result:

  • is it saving us money?
  • is it making something faster?
  • is it helping reduce the cost of something else?
  • is it improving our customer’s loyalty and therefore repeat purchases?
  • is it flattening out a supply chain and thereby reducing our costs?
  • is it identifying new products or services that will throw off incremental revenue?
  • is it measurably improving our performance to our primary customers?

You get the idea.

At the risk of becoming the Paul Krugman of Enterprise 2.0, I can’t emphasize this enough– quit ‘yer socializing and make some money, willya? It’s what we all need to survive. I was actually joking at the conference to my e20 friends that I’m a living example of of the hype factor in this market. I was laid off effectively six months ago, and I have not received a single (real) job offer. Therefore, my joke: “I’m too big to fail” considering (my size – that’s the funny part, and) all the good will I have amassed with my evangelism. Good will doesn’t pay the rent, my friends. I, like all my Enterprise 2.0 compadres, must find a way to make money at this or we will all be looking at working for “The Man” we are so desperate to discredit.

2. Re-thinking Diss-Organization

One of the most interesting socio-anthropological aspects of 2.0 evangelism is the dismantling (at least disrupting) of the power structures that rule large corporations. I heard it best at the conference from Marc Smith, Telligent‘s Chief Social Scientist in residence, who casually reminded us, “All social systems have power structures.” Even in the 2.0-osphere, we have a social structures. Who’s connected to whom? Who’s a social CRM rockstar? Who has more friends/followers than whom? Who gets to speak at the conference? Who gets into the best parties? Blah, blah, blah. Who are we kidding? The cruel reality is: we are social creatures driven by base human motives. Same as it ever was.

In short, it’s unlikely we will re-write the rules on social hierarchy for large organizations. What’s different, IMHO, is the role credentials and pedigree will play as we move forward in an ever-more connected world. The more we give voice to innovative ideas buried in the bowels of the organization, the more we will self-subscribe to a tacit endorsement of social darwinism. This can be liberating, yet troubling in many ways. Our peers, our management, and our reports will judge us exclusively on the merit of our contributions. Are we ready for that?

3. A word on Social Business, Social Enterprise, etc.

This last bit is a familiar refrain for these annual reflection posts. Now, with all due respect for my friends at the Dachis Group, my new writing colleague @technically_women, Jennifer Leggio who writes the Social Business blog, and the Jive marketing team (SBS), I want to raise the inconvenient issue that outside of our circle, Social Business and Social Enterprise, have a completely different meaning. Yes, we can loosely associate what we do with what “they” do, but it’s not really the same thing, is it?

Social Businesses seek to profit from acts that generate social improvements and serve a broader human development purpose. A key attribute of social businesses is that an increase in revenue corresponds to an incremental social enhancement. The social mission will permeate the culture and structure of the organization and the dual bottom lines – social and economic will be in equal standing with the firm pursuing long term maximization of both.

Similarly, academic institutions (including this program from Harvard) have been focused on educating leaders to make a difference in the world long before we came along and decided “social business/enterprise” was a groovy fashion statement for a 2.0-transformed business.

That being said, however…

Not sure what motivated you to get into this space, but “changing the world for the better” with computer technology has always been a passion of mine. I believe it is possible to 1. make money at this and 2. use our mad skillz to right some wrongs on the planet, once we figure some things out about working socially en masse.

With that, I will return to the ITSinsider regular programming. What have you learned this year?

The Urgency of Now

The news about Sarah Palin broke today while I was working.  Where did I see the news?   Twitter (of course).  Seconds turned to minutes, and I found myself impatient with not knowing the inside scoop on the why behind the resignation.  What was the target of my impatience?  The Twitter community.  Seems ridiculous, but it’s just expected these days that you’ll get to the heart of a breaking story within seconds.

To that end, it reminded me I wanted to write a post about the “unbearable heaviness of not-being” current.  Way, way back around the Christmas holidays, I was flattered to be one of only three reviewers for Andrew McAfee’s book on Enterprise  2.0 by Harvard Business Press.    They asked me to review the manuscript, and I accepted (for a small stipend).  They gave me a couple weeks to review it, and I submitted my comments in mid-January.

At the back of mind, however, and something I probably should have included in the review and regret now that I didn’t was a lingering doubt.  “This book will be obsolete before it’s published for the community of folks who track this sector.”

When Andy and I caught up at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, he told me that he too is really troubled by the delay on the publishing schedule.  He had hoped the book would have been published by the conference deadline (June), but it is now pushed back until December.  December?   You’re kidding me.

The demand for Andy’s book is today, not six months from now.  I’m wondering if, as a community, we can lobby Harvard Business Press to move the publication date up as its value is inextricably tied to its timeliness– especially in this fast-moving space.  The Editorial Director in charge of the publication timeline is Jacqueline Murphy .   I urge you to contact her and express your support for moving the book up in Harvard Business Press’ publishing queue.  I also started a Facebook group with the same goal.