Where Business Process Meets 2.0

The 2.0 Adoption Council is experimenting with a range of new market ideas that leverage the power of the social web.   The 2.0 thinking surrounding network effects, scale, voluntary collaboration, free (as a business model), and social performance/productivity improvements are just a sample of some of the drivers that have made the Council thrive.  Much of these attributes are present in a new concept described recently by John Hagel and John Seely Brown as, “The Collaboration Curve.” Specifically the authors point out, “The more participants–and interactions between those participants–you add to a carefully designed and nurtured environment, the more the rate of performance improvement goes up.”  Hagel also describes on his Edge Perspectives blog the move away from a transaction-based economy to a trust-based relationship economy.   He refers to as this as a “passionate community.”  His words:

In sharp contrast, passion holds the key to creating and shaping relationships that will help us thrive in a rapidly changing world. It motivates even the shyest of us to reach out and connect with others in ways that become catalysts for creativity and growth. Passion fosters a uniquely strong and productive bond that provides both the stability and stimulus needed to continue to grow and succeed in a constantly changing world.

What Hagel is describing is present in the Council today.  Simply look no further than the comments from the members themselves on my LinkedIn profile and our testimonials.  With this passion, comes business opportunity.  The combined intelligence of our early adopter 2.0 membership has become a no-brainer target for vendors interested in harvesting the group wisdom of these world class customers.   To that end, we are proud to announce today we have entered into an innovative co-creation research relationship with SAP.  SAP announced its 12Sprints public beta today.  It’s important to note that 12Sprints is not typical social/collaboration software, but rather a a SaaS-based, goal-oriented, collaborative decision-making tool that incorporates social features such as activity streams, presence, and profile data.  The objective for 12Sprints is to draw enterprise data into a conversation where it can be discussed, analyzed, and openly decided upon by geographically dispersed team members.

Although I’ve often been critical of SAP in the 2.0 arena, I’ve always marveled at the “engine” that drives global business on the SAP platform.  This first step toward bridging that gap between the core business processes that make the trains run on time and a front-end of 2.0 capability (including integration with various  popular 2.0 tools) is a welcome advancement in the maturation of the market.   Further, it’s particularly encouraging that SAP would choose the Council to partner on the co-development of this strategic new direction for its blue chip customer base.  It represents an unmistakable endorsement and recognition for our business model, the power of our membership, and the promise of innovative alliances to reshape how products get to market.

Below is a Skypecast I did informally last week with SAP SVP Marge Breya that discusses trends in 2.0 adoption and the nature of our relationship.

SAP’s Marge Breya discusses e20 with Susan Scrupski (aka ITSinsider) from susan scrupski on Vimeo.

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.

The S in SAP stands for Systems, not Social

sap_sapphire_2009So, once again, SAP invited me to its annual SAPPHIRE and ASUG event. I find myself wondering if SAP will get return on their investment in me once again. The answer is, probably not. I’d like to think this is not my fault. For instance, if you search the hundreds of events SAP has listed on its agenda for customers, press, and partners for the words “Enterprise 2.0,” two sessions return. One is run by @matzeller (Matthias Zeller of Adobe) and the other is @finnern (SAP’s Mark Finnern, community evangelist), both on the last day and at the same bad time slot. (Great). Both Zeller and Finnern were with me in the blogger’s corner. If you broaden the search to “Web 2.0,” three sessions return. (Sigh).

The reality is SAP and its global customer base are just not ready for the socialization of the enterprise. It’s just not a topic that commands attention at this massive event (despite my valiant efforts to bring it up in every executive briefing). The majority of conversations at SAPPHIRE revolve around common themes such as decision-making, analysis, data, spreadsheets, databases, reports, statistics, and business processes. In other words, the real work that goes on in real businesses. Is that surprising? No. SAPPHIRE is to SAP what Disney World is to young families. (The Orlando location only reinforces my impression). With the pressure on to decrease costs and make smarter, faster decisions based on easily accessible real-time data, SAP customers and its ecosystem of suppliers and partners were buzzing with excitement and possibilities here. Extending the metaphor, Enterprise 2.0 might be considered the Pleasure Island nightclub of the enterprise (which Disney closed last summer, btw). Just an aside– whenever I was face to face with a “real” customer and it happened several times as I did some reporting-by-walking-around, I would ask the simple question: “Have you ever heard of Enterprise 2.0?” The answer was unanimous: “No.”

So, what can we deduct from this experience? SAPPHIRE may just be the best harbinger of the Enterprise 2.0 market’s maturity. Last year, if I searched on Enterprise 2.0, I’m fairly certain I would have found zero returns for scheduled sessions. That there are two this year is, indeed, progress. Further, the soft language of 2.0 has seeped into SAP’s strategic speak and hopefully, strategic consciousness. Leo Apotheker, SAP’s co-CEO and reigning commander in chief name-dropped a smattering of prevailing social buzzwords in his opening address i.e., transparency, collaboration, trust, and social communities. So, a big high-five from me to the speech writer for positioning SAP as a “we get it.” And, in reality, they do get it. They just haven’t incorporated deep social-collaborative functionality into their product suites (yet). This is about where the majority of large customers are. They “get it.” Some may be even experimenting with it (even if they’re not calling it Enterprise 2.0), but it’s not yet core to their business.

We spent some time with Marge Breya, EVP and GM for Business Objects who assured us in the next 6 – 12 months we’d see major social software additions to SAP’s traditional software, but was reluctant to say anything further. I encountered that reaction many times from even my fellow bloggers/analysts who were sworn to secrecy on SAP’s 2.0 plans. Some of the innovation may come from SAP’s innovation labs where the petri dish is hopping already with social trials. For me, the best demonstration at SAPPHIRE was by Timo Elliott, Senior Director of Strategic Markets, BusinessObjects Innovation Center. Elliott showed us Timo Elliott, SAP Business Objects labs various efforts that they’re testing in the labs including a social network analysis tool, but he too was very careful to make it clear that none of the existing experimental work was officially sanctioned as a product offering or improvement. Elliott also pointed us to a rogue, yet informative, web 2.0 site he manages where he is tracking how SAP uses 2.0 with its customers and partners, as well as explains various 2.0 projects underway within SAP.

Once again, I’m reminding that we’re still super early in our evangelism. I sensed some of the SAP employees I spoke to also felt some of that frustration and dare I say, disappointment, that the needle is moving so slowly in the enterprise. Next month, of course, I will be attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. I’m sure I’ll be re-energized there, although I remember good ole’ Tom Davenport who debated Andrew McAfee at the first conference in 2007 where he pooh-poohed Enterprise 2.0 in general. Davenport was right then, and he continues to be. I understand more now what he meant when he said, “I feel like an atheist at a Baptist convention” on the day of the debate. At SAPPHIRE, I was feeling a little like a Baptist at an atheist convention. SAP may one day stand for Social Applications and Programs, but it’s not clear to me when that day will arrive. (Or– why it should, frankly. Which is a blog post for another day.)

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.

Recession-ready 2.0 Stimulus Packages, the series.

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

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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.