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.

jive_bridging_image

Recession-ready 2.0 Stimulus Packages, the series.

First post in a series of great products that will help jumpstart the economy.

picture-51

I had a great interview and demo yesterday with someone I admire in the blogosphere, fellow EI Bob Warfield. More than a few times this year, I’ve checked out his stealthy, yet healthy company: HelpStream. What the world needs now is not Love, Sweet, Love or Skittles, it’s products that help create profitable relationships and foster customer loyalty. HelpStream is one of a number of fantastic tools in the market that can help an enterprise improve their customer experience while improving their balance sheet.

With impressive ROI analytics and a gorgeous, easy to use UI, HelpStream goes far to give customers solutions with a minimum of effort and offers companies the means to engage customers on their own terms relying on a searchable knowledge base and self-supporting Web community. Particularly suited for web savvy and web-centric companies, HelpStream brings a social advantage to customer engagement. Further, tight integration to Oracle CRM and Salesforce enables (from the site) “customers and service representatives to search solution articles, post and answer questions, participate in group discussions, engage in idea brainstorming, utilize Interactive Checklists (step-by-step instructions), and instantly transition between unassisted and service rep-assisted processes at any time. In addition, customer service representatives using the pre-integrated solution access all of this information from within the Oracle CRM On Demand or Salesforce system.” What’s most impressive to me is Bob can demonstrate a ROI for HelpStream in months, not years. Ask him to show you the chart.

We got to talking about how there is a lack of awareness outside of the echo chamber regarding the power of communities and socio-collaboration. He said he hears the comment, “I had no idea that was even possible” all the time. There are areas within enterprise that should be moving quickly to embrace social leverage. One of the most obvious to me is customer experience/customer satisfaction. There is simply no better way to treat your customers well and demonstrate the value of democratic leadership and innovation than engaging them in a meaningful, responsive community that is open to ideas and criticism.

UPDATE 3/6:  CRM guru Paul Greenberg validated my opinion on HelpStream.  Excellent analysis of CRM 2.0 on Paul’s blog.

ITSinsider is looking for love not work… :-)

humptydumptyI read an old-fashioned user-generated column in Newsweek this week where a young woman quoted her mother as saying, “…finding a job you love means never working a day in your life.” For the past nearly two years, I’ve had the special privilege to cover the Enterprise 2.0 sector as an employee of nGenera. Hands down, I have had the best job in the business. I’ve met extremely bright people and have had the opportunity to listen to real Enterprise customers as they struggle with the choices related to introducing 2.0 into their large enterprise environments.

I will continue to work with nGenera, as the company continues on its journey. But I will continue as an independent, not an employee. Although, admittedly, it’s scary facing the prospect of not having a salary during oh, say, the worst economic crisis ever in my adult life time, I remain optimistic. Let’s just say I’m taking a huge leap of faith that dictates when I jump off this ledge, there will be a large, strong net– the social web– ready to catch me. I’ve been inspired by so many in the 2.0 community to trust, to share, to work together to achieve common goals. Now I’m putting my own rhetoric to the test. Is there a market here or not?

I hope you’ll help me prove there is. If you’re interested in speaking to me about any way I can help your organization grapple with 2.0, or if you’re a vendor who feels misunderstood and under-appreciated, you know where to find me– I’ll be home, here on the social web. I look forward to having a conversation.

And, if you really want to help, but don’t have a budget (lol), do me a social networking solid and leave me a recommendation on LinkedIn.

ITSinsider Annual Gift-Giving Suggestions

All righty fans of e2.0, there are some great books coming out or are already out that I wanted to bring to your attention, in case you’re looking for that perfect gift for your E2.0-loving loved one or friend/colleague.

Not in any particular order, here goes:

Tara Hunt needs no introduction in the ranks of the social media elite, but may be less known in the corporate community of Enterprise 2.0 enthusiasts. I’m particularly looking forward to her book because I admire Tara for her unshakable faith regarding how social networking is bringing out the best in us. Tara’s thesis (and it is proven again and again) is the currency of the 2.0 economy is not $, but rather social capital, which conveniently leads to $. (I’m paraphrasing, but I’m sure Tara will correct me if I’m wrong.) You can pre-order the book today, but it won’t be shipping until Q2. And might I remind everyone, by Q2 in this economic downturn, we all may be very interested in increasing our net worth in social capital. So, do something good today for the world and pre-order Tara’s book, “The Whuffie Factor. ” I did. (I also ordered Paul Gillin’s Secrets of Social Media Marketing. Gillin is one of the very best writers on social media marketing. Another great suggestion, and it’s available now.)

Read this great story on Whuffie in action; be sure to read the comments.

For hard-core e20 fans and wouldbe practitioners, make sure to pick up a copy of Jeremy Thomas and Aaron Newman’s Enterprise 2.0 Implementation. It’s written more-or-less for an IT audience, but there is a trove of great information in here for business unit managers and evangelists too. Sarah Carr from the Deki open source wiki vendor, MindTouch, does a great wrap-up on its contents:

The book highlights the facilitation of collaboration and fosters internal innovation by integrating next-generation Web 2.0 technologies throughout your enterprise IT framework. Packed with real-world examples and timesaving tips, Enterprise 2.0 Implementation shows how to use viral and social networking tools to gain the competitive edge. Get full details on managing corporate blogs, wikis, mashups, RSS feeds, tagging and bookmarking data, and RIAs. You’ll also learn how to maximize ROI, use Semantic Web technologies, and implement security.

Some additional concepts are included, as well:

  • Expand corporate presence to Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Ning
  • Build internal social networks using open source and commercial applications
  • Reduce infrastructure and IT costs through SaaS vendors
  • Consolidate disparate information using Enterprise 2.0 Discovery
  • Manage wikis, blogs, mashups, and RSS/Atom feeds
  • Set up Rich Internet Applications
  • Develop security, risk management, and disaster recovery strategies

(p.s. The publisher asked me for a quote for this book, and there is a comical story surrounding that, if you’re interested. Who knew they’d publish the quote on the FRONT COVER?!! Net result: I’m learning this celebrity endorsement stuff the hard way.)

I just started reading Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom, by Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta. I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. It’s a sweeping trends analysis on how 2.0 is changing society and commerce. Written by two bright guys from the prestigious international business school, INSEAD, it’s high on my list for this year’s recommendations. The publisher describes the book as, “Combining a pop sociology approach with rigorous analysis rich in economic history and organizational behaviour.” Fraser specializes in the intersection of pop culture with industry and Dutta focuses on IT and innovation.

Check out my personal blog for an excellent video from these guys too.

Next, and somewhat out of the ordinary, is a friend’s book, The Cure for Jet Lag. I promised my friend Lynne I’d give the book a plug. As I watch my life-streaming social tickers on Friendfeed, Facebook, Twitter, etc., I’m always hearing someone or other complaining about jet lag. Lynne’s book has sold over a hundred thousand copies and offers an all-natural prescription to tackling jet lag by “tricking your body clock.”

If you’re into publishing or interested in getting published, start feeding Lynne’s blog, The Publishing Contrarian. She is self-described as the “Wicked Witch of Publishing,” but don’t let that scare you. She is alarmingly witty and oftentimes outrageous.

Last on my list are three books I have not read, but are on my shelf for reading this year. Tammy Erickson’s “Plugged In,” Don Tapscott’s “Grown up Digital” and Austin’s own Dave Evans’ “Social Media Marketing in a Day.” Both Tapscott and Erickson are nGenera gurus and these books specialize specifically in the GenY/Digital Native cohort, so I’m eager to dig into them. Dave Evans is really great, smart guy here in town specializing in social media at Digital Voodo. I’m also currently reviewing Andrew McAfee‘s book manuscript which will be published sometime this spring. With all this reading to do, will one of my beloved readers please buy me a Kindle for Christmas??

Finally, if you’re really interested in worthwhile gift-giving, consider gifting a donation in someone’s name to Wikipedia, WordPress, or your favorite shareware product. And finally, finally (Charlie tells me I can make money on this) if you know a mac person who loves their google calendar– give them a life-changing gift: Spanninc Sync. It syncs your google calendar with ALL your mac products (notebooks, desktops, iphone, etc.). It will be the most appreciated $25 you ever spent, much better than a few lattes at Starbucks. Oh, you need to use this code: XK4HHR if you order so I can get my vig. 🙂

Happy Holidays everyone, and I will be back in the New Year with big news…

Office 2.0: The “2.0 National Convention”

So we have the Democratic National Convention starting this morning in Denver, the Republican National Convention starting next week in Minneapolis. It occurred to me that the Office 2.0 conference is like the “2.0 National Convention” for high energy attendees who are looking to shape the 2.0 agenda going forward. With nearly 100 speakers and panelists from all walks of the 2.0 experience, the conference provides a ground floor opportunity to learn what the trends are, what’s working, what’s not. What’s different about Office 2.0 from many other tech conferences is the conference exists purely for the pleasure of the member attendees. It’s designed to deliver the best possible customer experience because it’s a celebration of the phenomenon of productivity and mobility afforded by the cloud-ready second generation Internet.

In case you didn’t know, the Office 2.0 conference was conceived as an experiment, along with the meme. “The term originated with Ismael Ghalimi [1] in an experimental effort to test the hypothesis that it could be done today, that he could perform all of his computer based work in online applications.” (Source: Wikipedia). For the past three years, those of us who’ve helped Ismael, literally scramble in 6-8 weeks time to pull together a best practices agenda and a worthwhile conference experience for all attendees. The process reminds of conferences I used to pull together when I was an industry observer in the outsourcing sector last decade. I created conferences with all the right people, with all the right topics, because I wanted to go!

Because the conference is non-traditional, this year we had a late setback that will hurt Ismael. That upsets me, personally, because this effort is truly such a labor of love for those who take part in it. Despite that hiccup in an otherwise fantastic show shaping up, I’m looking forward to a number of items on the agenda this year:

  • The Unconference. If you’ve not been to one of these… make time on your agenda for this one. Ross Mayfield will once again coordinate this pre-show event. It’s your opportunity to speak, to attend, and participate in discussing the burning issues you have as you consider your own Office 2.0 journey.
  • The Surprise Keynote: Ismael simply will not tell us who it is! ITSinsider will pay an unconference admission if you post your correct guess on the discussion thread regarding the mystery guest.
  • The GE Case Study: I first saw the internal GE social network with my client, Greg Simpson (CTO, GE) early this summer. Greg was going to speak at the conference, but couldn’t arrange his schedule. Coincidentally, Oliver Marks saw Dr. Sukh Grewal speak in July at the Social Networking Conference. He moved quickly and asked him to join the Office 2.0 agenda. I’m certain it will be an excellent case study from one of the most innovative enterprise clients on the planet. See Oliver’s post on the GE social network from July.
  • Platform-as-a-Service Panel: Hosted by SaaS guru, Phil Wainewright, this panel includes leading tech platform vendors such as Salesforce.com, SuccessFactors, Zoho, and Longjump. I’m interested to see where these panelists agree and disagree. The stability and reliability of online apps depend on them getting this right.
  • Wachovia case study: Pete Fields, who only had 20 minutes at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, will have more time to detail his experience with rolling out a social network/collaboration strategy for Wachovia to over 100,000 employees. Plenty of time for Q&A too.
  • The Changing Face of the Enterprise: Adoption in the Real Business World: The theme of this year’s show is Enterprise Adoption. Sam Lawrence, everyone’s favorite e2.0 blogger, will be hosting this panel with a great lineup of early adopter veterans.
  • Entering and Leaving the Workforce: nGenera has a treasure chest of data on this topic. Our Exec VP, Nick Vitalari, will moderate this panel which includes a retired F500 CIO and a 15-year old student!

These are just a few that I know I’m interested in… but experience has shown I generally learn more at sessions where I’m hearing the speakers for the first time. Although there will be scores of new vendors to visit in the pod demo gallery, I’m going to do my best to attend every session.

Incidentally, for small startups who (say, weren’t chosen for TechCrunch50 or can’t afford to go) want to get some excellent exposure for their products, be sure to check out the Office 2.0 Launchpad:

Office 2.0 Launchpad
You’ve started a new company developing a cool Office 2.0 product? Your company has 5 employees or less? You want to show your product to investors and media representatives? The Office 2.0 Launchpad is for you! Hosted by the Office 2.0 Conference to take place in San Francisco, CA on September 3-5, the Office 2.0 Launchpad will let you schedule one-on-one demos with over 50 members of the VC community, and more than 100 analysts, bloggers, and journalists, alongside potential customers and thought leaders from the Office 2.0 industry. If you’re interested, please send an email to ismael at monolab dot com. The first ten applicants come for free. The next get in for $995, barely enough to cover food and hotel costs. Hurry up, for we only have a limited number of spots available!

What’s included:

  • One full attendee pass
  • Listing on the Office 2.0 Launchpad page
  • Access to the one-on-one demo scheduling system
  • Dedicated page on the office20.com website for one year
  • Video recording of your demo and publishing on the office20.com website

Needless to say (but I need to say it), the conference is going to be great. I’m looking forward to meeting many of you for the first time and catching up with friends. Several of the EIs are going, so there will be plenty of socializing in meatspace. Don’t forget to wear your Twitter decal on your badge. 🙂

See you in San Francisco!

photo credit: brian solis