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.

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!* Boston is Home Base for e20 Evangelists this Month.

picture-4Well, it’s that time of year again. The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is once again gearing up for an interesting week in Boston. All e20-loving fans and friends will be coming from all parts unknown to proselytize, share war stories, and re-energize for the year ahead.

The keynotes are exceptional this year. I’m really pleased we were able attract Matthew Fraser, co-author of one of my favorite 2.0 business books this year, “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking will Transform Your Life, Work, and World.” We also have favorites from last year include Evening in the Cloud, OpenEnterprise09, and one of the stars of last year’s event: the Lockheed-Martin case study duo.

I’m particularly interested in a few sessions. (In fact, I gave up all my speaking slots so I could attend other sessions!) One that I don’t want to miss is Lee Bryant’s “Transition Strategies for e20 Adoption.” Headshift is one of the really innovative boutique consultancies out there focusing nearly exclusively on introducing 2.0 to the enterprise. Another one I’m interested in is Amy Vicker’s “The Sharepoint Factor.” I helped Amy get this on the program, and I’m sure she won’t disappoint. If y’all don’t have a Sharepoint strategy, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening if you’re serious about large enterprise. I think Mr. tell-it-like-it-is, Peter Kim, is going to surprise with his “Does Social Media and Marketing Matter?” panel. That one will probably break Twitter. To be honest, there are so many great sessions this year, it’s difficult to narrow down my must-attend events. I asked Steve Wylie how the registration is going. Surprisingly, the conference is holding up very well against the economic downturn. Steve said the numbers of customers are consistent with last year’s attendance too.

Once again, I will be pitching in on Enterprise2Open. This is a barcamp-style event where everyone gets a chance to present or share their own experiences. Brian Magierski, my former colleague at nGenera will be there, along with Ross Mayfield of Socialtext. Both companies are sponsoring the barcamp and have serious street cred in discussing the challenges and opportunities with making 2.0 in-roads in large enterprises. Last year’s sessions were well-attended, and I think everyone got a lot out of the group discussions. If you have something you’d like to present, sign up at the Enterprise2Open wiki and promote your event.

I’m still waiting on details for the social calendar (parties, dinners, etc.). But, I saw the first tweetup today. About two dozen people have already signed up. You may want to sign up early for the social network associated with the conference at MyE2. This is also where you’ll access the back channel that was very useful last year.

*”Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!” is from the children’s game of hide and seek where the “it” player summons everyone back to base (essentially because they’ve given up, which is kinda how I feel this year…) 🙂

Putting 2.0 to Work: Spigit

Here is another great product in the “Recession-Ready 2.0 Stimulus Package” series on products that can help jump start the economy. Hutch Carpenter, whom I’ve come to admire and respect deeply for his insight into 2.0 adoption, recently gave me a heads up he was joining Spigit. Of course, I checked out Spigit’s site and had an immediate reaction:

picture-2Somehow in my canvassing of the e2.0 universe, I missed this really cool company. I had a chance to see a demo last week with CEO, Paul Pluschkell and ask him some questions about the product and their journey.

Spigit is a beautifully designed “idea-based” social network for any size enterprise. What’s uniquely interesting about Spigit is it is action-oriented: its sole purpose in the enterprise or within its external ecosystem of customers and suppliers is to generate good ideas that lead to better products, better usability, revenue-producing initiatives and/or cost savings recommendations. In fact, anything can be a good idea and you can virtually find it anywhere– inside the company or out. With Spigit, now you have a way to get support for a good idea and refine it further.

The company offers two basic platforms: one for internal idea generation, InnovationSpigit, and one that faces externally, IdeaSpigit, to reap good ideas from its external community of suppliers/partners/customers/fans, etc. Judging from the live demo I saw, the user interface on this product is gorgeous and has an addicting “game-like” quality to it that encourages adoption. For management, there are over one million different variables for tracking metrics and user behavior. Additionally, this is the first Enterprise 2.0 product platform I’ve seen that incorporates prediction markets technology, PredictionSpigit, (which Andrew McAfee is so fond of).

The good news on Spigit is a single great idea can deliver a mind-numbing ROI. The somewhat bad news is it’s a little pricey. Enterprise licenses range from $25K for less than 1,000 people to $300K for over 100,000 people annually in a standard SaaS-based monthly pricing contract. If you want to host Spigit behind the firewall, that’s also an option. But, it’s probably the most expensive option, as you must buy the license in perpetuity. With each license, Spigit bundles in a dedicated community manager, a kickoff and training program, and a variety of helpful services that encourage adoption and promote meaningful results. Spigit received very favorable reviews from Bearing Point’s Nate Nash who alerted me to this post.

Innovations on the horizon with Spigit include an iPhone app in the works and customizable widgets that can house the entire product which has already been sold to one large customer. Once customers “get it,” the Spigit choice is easy. Companies prone to innovate and tout the people power of their workforce are eager to get into a relationship with Spigit. Marquee customers include IBM, Sun, Intel, Southwest Airlines, AAA, and Wal-Mart.  Additionally, Spigit has a major initiative underway to layer the product on top of SharePoint.

So think Digg, Dell’s IdeaStorm, Innocentive, mashed and wrapped up in a customized, user-addicting collaborative social network (that also has reporting, analytics, and prediction markets) and you have Spigit, the wonder platform.

Kick me before I miss a product like this again.

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ITSinsider is mashing up with RWW

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I am pleased to announce that I am joining the ReadWriteWeb team effective today. I’ve been in conversations with Bernard Lunn about how opportune a time it is for ReadWriteWeb to seriously layer on enterprise coverage to the already phenomenal job ReadWriteWeb does in covering various web 2.0 startups and the industry. We concluded those conversations shortly after SXSW, and I’ve decided to accept their gracious offer to join the team. ReadWriteWeb’s Enterprise channel will focus exclusively on how the evolving Internet and its ecosystem of related products coupled with the 2.0 philosophies of openness, collaboration, transparency, and sharing are disrupting markets and revamping business processes all over the globe. We’ll cover large enterprises, medium and small businesses, vendors, and all sorts of consultants and ecosystem participants. If you’re conducting commerce and relying on Internet technology to make a buck, we’ll be watching.

Of course, because of my background, I’ll be focusing especially on Enterprise 2.0 developments which will include most of what you’ve come to find here on the ITSinsider blog. But through my affiliation with the Enterprise Irregulars and many of the consultants and gurus I’ve met on the social web who specialize in different aspects of Enterprise expertise, I’ll be broadening my reach beyond simply wikis, blogs, RSS, and mashups. I will be depending on my “friends” to help shape the relevance and meaning of new developments in the Enterprise space by going back to my roots as a journalist and seeking expert sources for commentary.

Additionally, because of the flexibility we have as a management team to experiment with business models and new channels for income generation, we will be rolling out a host of products and services that will add tremendous value to our readers and sponsors. Stay tuned for announcements there.

In the meantime, look for Richard‘s announcement later today. If you wish me well (and I hope you do!), please get me off to a good start by leaving a comment on the ReadWriteWeb site. Thanks for reading ITSinsider. I look forward to many years ahead of quality reporting and “community” service.

4/14 UPDATE: Screeeech. Stay Tuned.

SXSW through the Enterprise Prism

There was something about SXSW that reminded me of trick-or-treating. It’s an amazing opportunity to travel around in groups (in various costumes) and collect delicious bite-sized morsels of innovation. But it reminded me of something my (once) 3-year old son said after he flopped into bed after his first Halloween night, “Let’s do that again tomorrow!”

SXSW is a once-a-year phenomenon, but a great harbinger of trends. Much of the conversation is about web-related design and measurement, politics, the social media revolution, and every-possible-thing-that-could-ever-be-possibly-said about Twitter. In the mix of fun and frolic, there were a couple gems that I picked out that would bring value to the enterprise.

Pepsicozeitgeist

One of the best, IMO, was Pepsi’s sponsorship of the PepsiCo Zeitgeist Twitter Visualizer. This eye-candy visualizer was created by Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs, two Ruby on Rails/Javascript knighted heros and the brains behind Freckle and Twistori. Pepsi turned to NY digital strategy stealth firm Undercurrent to link its brand to SXSW. Pepsi had a number of initiatives at the show, but the zeitgeist effort was really interesting to me on a number of levels. Before I discuss how enterprise could make practical use of such a visualizer, I want to highlight how courageous it was for Pepsi to get behind the zeitgeist project. I spoke briefly to Pepsi’s Josh Karpf, Manager Digital and Social Media and Bart Casabona, Sr. Manager, Communications/New Media about it. “It was a leap for us; it hadn’t been done before,” said Casabona. Jordan Berkowitz, Group Director at Undercurrent pointed out that when they designed the application, there was to be, “No filtering based on content.” The PepsiCoSXSW team was integrated into the social media scene and knew there might be objectionable content broadcasting at the event and online, but wanted to create an authentic, digital experience with the Pepsi brand. Even though we were in bluedot Austin, where weird rules, it occurred to me a corporate brand like Pepsi had a lot at risk attaching its logo to random tweets. What I loved about that, however, was the giant brand was willing to move outside of its comfort zone. And the brilliance of the zeitgeist project is Pepsi integrated its brand into the customer experience of SXSW in an authentic and subtle way. “We’re social media folks,” said Karpf. In other words, they get it. Even though the community acknowledged Pepsi was behind the visualization, Karpf pointed out they were saying, “This is a brand, but it’s still awesome.”

The complete visualization can be seen in a series of one-minute videos on the Pepsicozeitgeist YouTube page.

For enterprises, it’s easy to see how this live-pulse tracking visualization could be used during a large Enterprise event such as Oracle’s OpenWorld or SAP’s Sapphire and ASUG events (providing, of course, everyone was a faithful Twitter user). But even beyond live events, the visualization could be customized to monitor conversations among key customers and fed to field sales forces. The location-based data could provide some very interesting G2 for key accounts. HR and internal communications groups could use the visualizer to monitor employee sentiment, as well. The uses go on and on. Worthy of some exploration.

Apture

Another impressive tool was Apture. I ran into CEO Tristan Harris at one of the sessions. Harris himself impressed me because he pitched me while waiting in line from his iPhone. He had his demo-to-go all queued up (presumably, in case he ran into, say, a reporter). In the blogger’s lounge, I signed up. I had a little trouble signing onto the demo with Apture because I don’t manage my own blog server files, but it seemed easy enough to install once you got past that hurdle. Apture is a free blogging tool that lets you instantly find any type of media and link them in-place. It’s used by the Washington Post, BBC News, and since SXSW, The New York Times. I see an enormous potential for this product inside the enterprise… again, providing we can get the Enterprise onto collaborative 2.0 platforms.

Check out Apture’s Twitter demo.

iStockPhoto

I also really appreciated a discussion I had with Marketing Manager, Yvonne Beyer, at iStockphoto. picture-1Here’s a tip for iStockphoto fans: CopySpace (TM). Check it out under Advanced Search. It enables you to “grid” your search by the area where you need room for copy on an image. GREAT tool for those large image slides. Not sure everyone is using iStockphoto in the enterprise, but you should definitely add this to your DIY toolkit. Some quick stats on iStockphoto include the company adds 40,000 new images and other media products a week that are vetted by 100 inspectors around the world. It has paid over $1.1M in royalties to artists, and many members of their community are making more than six figures with iStockphoto. Not really a pure enterprise product, but a great service for business folks who want to create their own visuals coupled with a strong business model that depends on community.

Even though SXSW is in Austin, I’m debating on going next year. There really wasn’t a lot of good enterprise content to be found. My plan is to liven up the Enterprise 2.0 conference (June, Boston), so we have a pseudo-sxsw of our own. I made a recommendation to the Advisory Board that we actively solicit sponsors for more parties and fun venues. Zoho sponsored a cruise a few years ago that was a lot of fun, for instance. Even though the sessions are always great, the best reason to attend events is to network in the traditional sense– meet and greet and share war stories face to face.

Hope to see you in Boston. Pack a lampshade.

UPDATE: Yvonne Beyer pinged me with a staggering correction: iStock pays out around 1.1 million in royalites a WEEK. She also added Lise Gagne from Montreal is one of the iStock contributors disclosing she makes 6 figures with well over 830,000 downloads to date. www.istockphoto.com/lisegagne

Jive Goes Bigger (Than Ever)


Now Business Is Social from Jive Software on Vimeo

I’m not sure you can announce your leadership in a category, but that’s what Jive has done with the announcement of its Social Business Software application suite — Jive SBS 3.0. The product does bring a deliberate focus to the logical organizational interests of a social enterprise– namely, Employee Engagement, Marketing & Sales, Customer Support, and Innovation. With that segmentation, along with an overhaul of its Jive Clearspace 2.5 released last summer, the software has been reborn– perhaps in the original image of its founders, according to Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer. With this new release, Jive is stridently targeting IBM and Microsoft customers with what could prove to be a superior solution.

Lawrence is the beloved Enterprise 2.0 author of the “Go Big Always” blog. For years, he has been framing the issues facing the “category” in entertaining and educational ways. For the wholesale formulation of the category (re)definition, Lawrence solicited help from customers, industry analysts, and other influencers. Lawrence sees the market space in terms of a vast social capital marketplace where business intelligence meets interpersonal relationships. It’s powerful stuff and the software now enables levels of insight that were unavailable from one company until now. The emphasis Jive is taking toward effecting business results is also refreshing.

The key new enhancements include:

  • Bridging: The ability to view employee, customer, and partner communities in a centralized, customizable dashboard.
  • Analytics: Indicators that cull from a data warehouse and track activities in the enterprise
  • Insights: Detailed reporting including sentiment and engagement
  • Video: Secure, high quality video for conversation and training
  • Social Bookmarking: Capture and share content from internal and external sources
  • User Experience: A refreshing, simple and elegant look and feel that spurs adoption

Jive says beta versions of its new product suite are in the hands of customers today. We’ll be looking for customer feedback on how the transition is going. In the meantime, Jive has taken a tremendous leap ahead. I would have liked to have seen an enterprise micro-blogging capability, such as Socialtext recently announced with its AIR-based Signals, or more comprehensive wiki capability for deeper collaboration among work teams. With that said, however, I give Jive much credit for taking the lead on forcing a category definition and building its future on the back of that architected vision.

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