For an early adopter market, adoption in this space always seems to get a bad rap. Why is that? Because adoption is not the end-game. It’s the beginning. In the Council, the members are focused on changing hearts and minds and promoting the use of social tools in order to drive acceptance for a new way of working. In Deloitte’s excellent report issued today, Social Software for Business Performance, we couldn’t agree more with the findings. In fact, the rap on “adoption” uses our research to make the point. There is no benefit in adoption for adoption’s sake.
It’s important to understand that “technology” adoption is the beginning of the journey. It’s the first wagon wheel turn on a Westward Ho! trek toward complete embrace of a workforce that is socially calibrated and connected. If you want to experience the benefits of working socially, workforces need to be comfortable and see the benefit of the radical internal organizational change it requires. It sometimes amuses me that the folks who are critical of the adoption effort required are not particularly proficient in working socially in the first place, and cling to the world they know which is process-oriented and rooted in the industrialization (machining) of the enterprise.
I’ve often said that the adoption story is much less about the technology than it is about the organizational dynamics required to rewire the culture toward a more open, more egalitarian society if you will. My source on this does not hail from any new technology fad. In fact, it’s a paper originally published in 1957. It is a supplement to a paper called, “How Farm People Accept New Ideas.” It draws from a sociology, not technology foundation.
Introducing these concepts and making them stick inside a large organization is, indeed, a lot like cat-herding. But, these are not cats or kittens. Change is painful and difficult inside large organizations. One of the best quotes we heard from last year’s BlackBelt Workshop at the Boston Enterprise 2.0 conference was from one of our members who said, “These are not cats we’re herding; they’re Tigers, and they bite!”
Business process oriented vendors are getting savvy to social. Council members just had a great Q&A yesterday with SFDC’s Chatter lead, Chuck Ganapathi, yesterday, and we’re planning a demo and conversation with Tibbr in the near future. My prediction is we will see new business processes that replace or obsolete old ones more and more as, well, adoption proliferates throughout the enterprise.
I just read Kate’s post on today’s announcement about Dachis Group acquiring Powered. I had to chuckle, because those of us in that “alternate universe, E20” used to think the same about the social media space. In fact, I joked to Peter Kim this year at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, “How does it feel not to be a celebrity?” I feel the same way at SXSWi. (Truth is, I didn’t even go last year.)
But, Kate is correct, the world is changing and fast. Every day one of our Council members, who’ve historically come from an E20 orientation – what we at Dachis Group refer to as “Workforce Collaboration” – is being asked to help out with the enterprise social strategy whether that means social media initiatives, connecting to suppliers, or partners. Some of our members have relocated entirely out of IT and into Marketing (who wouldda thunk?). And it’s not just IT and Marketing driving these initiatives, either. Social is touching every business unit in the organization.
I caution all our members to keep their eye on the bigger picture. The Council is expanding to embrace all facets of social business. Going forward, it will not be possible to separate where social media initiatives begin and e20 ends. And, every customer will tell you they rarely use any jargon when they’re presenting business cases to their executives. The language they use is rooted in the benefits of social collaboration, not the features. This is typically different for every company too, and becoming more and more strategic.
This next phase of the evolution of the social business market is about integration. Social Integration of people, process, and technology. Integration of Work, Society, and Technology. Integration of the past with the future. It’s all good, and it’s why I’m particularly thrilled to be a part of a company executing with precision on that vision.
The gala event, Dreamforce, isn’t really my gig. The Enterprise Irregulars know “up and down and sideways” everything related to Cloud-computing. One of our EIs, Anshu Sharma, was a key architect of Salesforce’s database.com offering announced last week. In short, I spare everyone my uninformed opinion on most things Cloud-computing related for which I’m certain my EI pals and everyone else is grateful. But, because I’m an Enterprise Irregular blogger, I guess, I was invited to attend Dreamforce this year. And even though I’m not really clued into Salesforce (the company), I accepted the invite because I wanted to see for myself – eyes and ears on the ground – what Chatter was all about and how it would fit into the social business landscape.
The good news on Chatter
The good news on Chatter is more about Salesforce.com than it is about Chatter the social tool. Like I said last year, having Benioff move front and center to embrace the social revolution is like a dream come true. This sector needs a Benioff. Grafting on JP Rangaswami to the SFDC social story was pretty slick as well. It occurred to me at Dreamforce that an item that has been conspicuously absent in the internal social-collaboration space (heretofore called Enterprise 2.0) has been high quality marketing with great creative and real reach beyond the echo chamber we’ve been nestled in for the past four years. So, the combination of Benioff who’s somewhat larger than life in real life and agency-designed creative is a huge plus to our sector. Score one for professional marketing, awareness building, promotion, and tech rockstar iconoclasts. Related is the nature of Salesforce’s corporate culture. Again, I admit ignorance writing about a company I don’t know very well, but there is a detectable undercurrent of raw ambition that seems to drive the company ethos. It’s also a winner-takes-all, scrappy underdog vibe that is easy to spot from Benioff’s jabs at old skool enterprise vendors and thinking, to the high energy vibe on the floor of the Cloud Expo exhibit hall emanating from Salesforce employees and partners. Score two for raw ambition and high energy. To make a distinction, Salesforce strikes me as the perfect blend of raw ambition without hubris. That’s tough to achieve in a competitive market, but that’s how I see it. From a company whose primary customer is sales people, it kinda makes sense. The remaining plus in Salesforce’s corner is its deep technology prowess and its playa status in the broader tech market due in some part to its status as a public company with revenues over $1B. It’s unlikely to me that Chatter will face any technical obstacle it can’t solve or any partner who’ll reject its overtures. So, score three for technology wunderkind with deep pockets.
The bad news on Chatter
Even though it was announced last year at Dreamforce, Chatter is late to the party. In the Council, we have hundreds (yes, hundreds) of the largest enterprises in the world already engaged in a social business initiative. Granted, Dreamforce, is like a “revival” (h/t Dennis Howlett) for Salesforce customers and its ecosystem, so there was a lot of giddiness surrounding Chatter and its game-changing energy. I found myself commenting to my blogger friends, I felt like I was surrounded in a sea of n00bs who just discovered social. That’s actually not bad news, but it is bad news if the legions of non-converted enterprise employees flock to social via SFDC and cause a disruptive wrinkle (and endless analysis paralysis) in the strategic plan that’s already underway on another platform. In truth, most of our members are not zealots for their platform (well, some are), but most of them simply want to deliver the best social collaboration platform for the company. When we first started discussing the Chatter phenomenon, most of our members said something similar to this,
“I am a little worried about it “cannibalizing” some of what we are trying to do.”
Remember, the Council represents a small minority of all organizations on the planet who will eventually move to social platforms. But, they happen to be some of the furthest along and most advanced. One of our members summed up a good response after it was all said and done,
“I just got off the phone with Salesforce, followed by a conversation with our internal team that manages it. We will “turn it on” for current Salesforce users only. It will not be positioned for or compete with our enterprise solution. In doing so, we get data on how many Sales folks choose the “Hide Chatter” button, and if by some chance it does take off wildly, that becomes a good problem to solve later next year, and we can look at a much bigger play…”
So, net net Chatter arriving on the scene is probably a good thing for our sector. I personally am counting on those ambitious SFDC n00bs to spread the word far and wide to the unconverted. The faster social becomes a phenomenon in the Enterprise, the sooner we get to the promised land.
When we set out to investigate case studies, we were looking for “slam dunk” examples where 2.0 initiatives were inextricably tied to business results. In effect, we wanted to begin to dispel the criticisms that e20 was just the next silly, narcissistic exploit to enter the enterprise on the heels of yet another consumer fad: web 2.0.
Well? We didn’t find those “slam dunk” examples. But, neither did we find any “failures.” What we did find was a massive movement shaking the bedrock of enterprise as we know it. The enterprise plates are still firmly in place, but our investigation revealed tremors– sudden energy being released among the employee population that is poised to crack the foundation of business as we’ve known it.
Time and time again we heard, “This is the most important initiative I’ve ever worked on in my professional life.” There’s something chilling, something inspiring about the people and companies who are leading the charge toward reinventing themselves to become socially savvy. As you read through these profiles and cases, you’ll come to appreciate while all of these companies are still early in the process, they all are confident they will succeed in their long term goals. Some are realizing early successes already. The prevailing operational mission at present, however, is to succeed at catalyzing the “ideological reformation” at the root level of the organization that needs to take place before real business value can be extracted, measured, and fine-tuned. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, and almost as maddening and dangerous as originally described in the novel that coined the phrase.
We will continue to track the progress of these early adopters. Regardless where you are in the spectrum, we all succeed when every case succeeds. We’d like to thank IBM and MIT’s Center for Digital Business for lending support and sponsorship to this series of cases and profiles. Special thanks to all @20adoption members who participated in the series.
Current profiles and cases are posted on The 2.0 Adoption Council web site. Feel free to download at will. We have a few more coming, as well.
We have a wide range of experiences with executive support relative to adoption of 2.0 in the Enterprise. Some of our members are ecstatic when their CEO blogs on an internal platform without first going through PR; some try to keep the initiative under the radar of the leading executives. We’ve seen it all.
This video by member @ted_hopton‘s company, UBM, is the new standard-bearer. For all of you battling for executive support, watch it and weep. 🙂
Of course, we all hate the fact UBM calls its socio-collaborative platform a Wiki, but we’ll take it.
With all my dedicated passion for the social web and its inspirational, world-changing promise, people often wonder why I’ve chosen to focus on the enterprise. My answer is: because it’s hard and #ifnotyouthenwho? One of the last bastions of resistance to embrace the tenets of 2.0 philosophy is found in the large corporate culture. It also happens to be an area where I feel I can do the most good and leverage my career relationships to inspire individuals to start thinking and acting a different (read: better) way.
That said, the “2.0 for the enterprise” community is small. It is a mere fraction of the worldwide tech population. Consider the Enterprise 2.0 Conference brings out maybe 1500 people. Compare that to, say a tech conference like Oracle OpenWorld, which will draw over 40K people to San Francisco alone next week. Even if you layer on the explosion taking place with social media, social CRM, and online communities, it’s still a relatively new phenomenon even here in the USA where professionals are still just now signing up for LinkedIn and Facebook. The #newTwitter will arrive as the only Twitter for the millions of people who have not been Twitter enthusiasts from the beginning. There will come a time when social media will be like air, but that is still a time in the future.
Considering where we are in the evolution of making a difference, today’s mission should focus squarely on inspiration, not perspiration. It’s that 1% of spark of genius that will ignite a revolution in our time. Last week, I tracked JiveWorld 2010 via Twitter (#JW10). I so now regret not going. My hat is off to Jive for inspiring its customers to go beyond, to literally encourage and support them in their mission to change the world of work. So many of our members who are Jive customers are having career-changing, life-changing experiences as a result of this newfound freedom and empowerment. Take Council member Bart Schutte, for instance, who blogged passionately,
“As someone who has been in the IT industry for 28 years… together we have the opportunity to define this new revolution…I can’t remember being more pumped up about my work. Nothing that I have done over the last three decades will have as big an impact as what I am doing now.”
And it’s not only Jive customers who feel this excitement. Whether our members are working with SharePoint, Lotus Connections, ThoughtFarmer, or the so-called Frankenstein suites that have been integrated to meet the needs of the large enterprise, customers who are in the driver’s seat of this transformation all share a similar desire to create change. My hope is all vendors will inspire their customers to get as charged up as Jive’s customers are. In a small market, it’s easy to get drawn into religious wars over platforms and persuasions, but petty in-fighting is counter-productive to the larger task at hand. That task is expanding the small pie sliver that now comprises the social business movement, so real change can occur on a grand scale.
To the uninspired that are not feelin’ the passion, I feel compelled to address the principle argument against embracing working socially: what’s the ROI? Management theorists have posited that employee engagement leads to business outcomes for years. There are books, lectures, MBA courses that even pre-date the 2.0 enterprise movement that validate this premise. I am not worried there are no formulaic guarantees on social business successes yet. “If you do x, you’ll get y.” Personally, I wish we could change ROI to become Return on Inspiration. The fact remains, large companies who are experimenting and rolling out these massive deployments are still in the early stages. I’m certain the proof positive is coming, but ask yourself: are we measuring the right indicators? Are we (only) looking for evidence under the spotlight of things we know?
Which brings us to the job of the Internal Evangelist. We call them evangelists because they are preaching a foreign gospel in their large organizations. I’ve done this, it’s tough. It’s a thankless and oftentimes painful job. We are researching salaries for internal evangelists in the Council at present. Although I’ve been pleased to see we have fairly high level managers responsible for driving this change, it occurred to me that our members should receive “combat pay” bonuses as part of their compensation package. The career risks our members take every day on the front lines of change, should be rewarded in every way possible. The members come to the Council for refuge, to get support when they are faced with skepticism and setbacks. Yet, we rejoice a lot more than we complain. In fact, we have a running tag in the Council: #clang. We ring a bell for every victory. This tag is by far one of our most popular tags.
Don’t hate the playa; hate the game.
So to all those who wish to derail the conversation away from what is needed right now– passion– I offer this video interview with Seth Godin and dedicate it to the hard-working folks who are doing this every day.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here are some nuggets:
“The heart of what’s going on here; the heart of the shift in our economy is this at the core. You don’t have to be [famous] to do this.”
“It’s not about permission; it’s about the passion and the decision to make an impact.”
“…highlighting and talking about the good stuff and giving those people a platform to succeed.”
“If you’re going to have an impact, you’re going to have to find out where the fear is. What tricks do you have available to you to overturn that resistance to change?”
“Happiness’ best friend is kindness.”
“Passion’s best friend is generosity.”
“Give people the emotional gift of connection and meeting them in ways that matter.”