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.

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?

What (2006), Why (2007), now How (2009) for Enterprise 2.0

3663034859_5127cdbd16_o Yes, the baby was born in ’06, started crawling in ’07, and now is running around like a maniac with boundless energy in ’09. The Enterprise 2.0 movement is now a healthy child, growing stronger and more willful every day (just a cabinet door away from getting into trouble…) I returned from the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week rejuvenated, as I’d hoped to.

The number UNO issue on the minds of this year’s customer conference attendees was: HOW THE >>>> DO WE DO THIS??? Customers wanted to hear from other customers, not us (the so-called experts in Enterprise 2.0). The best sessions for me were definitely the unconference sessions where real practitioners could talk frankly about their challenges and share their successes.

Listening to customers during the conference, as well as culling the data that has been coming in from various surveys, I’ve decided the time is right to launch a community for “Internal 2.0 Evangelists.” As I’ve been a 2.0 Evangelist for the broader sector (and I thought my job was difficult), I realized the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!

So, that said, I’ve begun the 2.0 Adoption Council on LinkedIn. Once we reach a critical mass, we will be moving the Council to a more fluid socio-collaborative platform. If you are a customer of a large enterprise rolling out an enterprise 2.0 initiiative, you are invited to join the Council. Here is a LinkedIn invite I sent to some key customer contacts that explains the Council’s mission and goals:

picture-10

You can reach me on LinkedIn on my profile if we’re not already connected. Send me a note you want to join, and I’ll send you an invite. The Council is free; there are no strings attached. Andrew McAfee has joined the Council, as well as several prestigious global enterprises.

And they’re off… Postcard from Enterprise 2.0 Boston

From the mood here at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, you’d never know we were in an economic recession and still lingering financial crisis.  Most folks I’ve met are upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for business in the sluggish economy.  Of course, the conference has not yet officially kicked off yet, but judging from the tenor of the well-attended workshops yesterday and the wall-to-wall social events that have dominated the experience here, I’d say this mood will probably continue all week.

There are some news items breaking this morning that I want to get out, although I don’t have time to go into a deep dive on them.  Some interesting news out of SAP and Jive includes and OEM agreement where Jive will integrate its business intelligence software into Jive’s “social business” platform offering community analytics to Jive’s customer base.  The new software will offer a means of capturing and understanding the behavoirs and content that flows through social communities in order to make intelligent decisions.  The rumor, of course, all week was that SAP was buying Jive, but that appears to be unfounded.  This new venture, however, marks a clear initiative by SAP to (finally) take social software seriously, and likewise, it provides a grownup capability for a social software platform like Jive to deliver some clear business benefit.  I’ll be taking a look at the new happy couple later in the day in the demo area.

Secondly, Socialtext has finally announced its long-promised SocialCalc which was developed by VisiCalc’s co-creator, Dan Bricklin.  Additionally, the company is offering free use of its social software platform for the first 50 users aptly called, “Socialtext Free 50.”  The move to a freemium model for Socialtext follows on the heels of Socialcast‘s similar free offering for its social software.  In my experience, once folks are exposed to working socially and encouraged to do so by their peers, social software grows virally.  The freemium model is probably a smart move to take the edge off early adopter user resistance.  I will be curious to see how this move impacts adoption for Socialtext and others experimenting with the model.

Finally, my alma mater, nGenera has made some announcements this week at the conference.  The company launched four “Collaborative Enterprise Management” solutions for Enterprise Collaboration, Collaborative Selling, Customer Experience, and Talent Management.  nGenera is hosting a small event tonight in the hotel (Hancock Room) at 5:30 and will feature well-known author and speaker Tammy Erickson.  If you’re curious about who nGenera is and how they fit into the Enterprise 2.0 landscape, I encourage you to attend the session or talk to the nGenera folks at the show.  The company is uniquely positioned in a high-end slice of the market.

Also, if you’re here at the conference, please consider attending the unconference/barcamp sessions I’ll be participating in on Wednesday afternoon with Ross Mayfield and Brian Magierski.  There has been a lot of talk recently about framing the market and establishing a universal view of the semantics that surround the space.  I have a slide I’d like to invite the community to perhaps validate and improve on that I will be presenting Wednesday afternoon.  Barcamps are fun and interactive.  The best part is if you’re bored or a session’s not interesting, you can get up and walk out at any time.

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…) 🙂

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