The Urgency of Now

Picture 1The 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.

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

Circles of Expertise in 2.0 for Biz

For a long while now, Jevon MacDonald and I have been grousing about how the different players involved in delivering 2.0 solutions to business can often be confused and misunderstood. We started working on a graphic, which I’ll happily “open source” for anyone’s input or for re-purposing. Just send me a note and I’ll invite you to the shared space we are working on at Vyew.

Generally speaking, there are primarily four logical groups with similar characteristics:

Digital Marketers: These are the good folks who track what you’re searching for and buying on the web. They create digital brand extensions of leading brands and develop imaginative ways to capture your attention online.

Social Media: This group comprises a vast group of players who are exclusively focused on how communications in the interconnected social web impacts influence. Predominantly, the people involved with monitoring social media are involved in marketing communications.

Enterprise 2.0: Within the Enterprise 2.0 area of expertise, whether it’s behind the firewall or out on the open Internet, this core area specializes exclusively on delivering a business value via 2.0 technologies.

Mass collaboration: This group is more symbolic of a new way of thinking about collaboration than any specific 2.0 tool. The notion of reaching outside of your boundary (whatever it is) to co-create innovative solutions is key here.

Although there is overlap among all these groups, the areas of focus are distinctly unique. Of course, businesses can benefit by incorporating the expertise from all these areas, but they’d need to source it separately.

FREE ITSinsider Pass to Enterprise 2.0 Conference

e2.0 confTechWeb is offering a free conference pass (at a $2200 value) for a lucky ITSinsider reader. All you need to do is post in the comments why you subscribe to/read the ITSinsider blog and why you want to go to the conference. Special preference will be given to an ITSinsider reader who adds me to your blogroll. 🙂

Of course, most readers are already going, so I’m not sure if I’ll get any takers here. If you’ve not signed up yet, and you didn’t win the ITSinsider free pass, you can still register and get $100 off by registering with this code: CMBMEB14 CMBMEB33. The pass is unlimited, so everyone can use it.  The demo pass gets you into see the keynotes and general sessions, launch pad, Enterprise20pen and various networking events.

Very happy to meet you in “carbon” as they say.

photo credit: Alex Dunne on flickr.

Boston in June… Enterprise 2.0 on the Waterfront

e2.0 signIt’s that time again, the hallowed Enterprise 2.0 conference is revving up for early June. I was pleased to work on the agenda this year with Steve Wylie, the conference organizer, along with other members of the advisory board. The conference is in its second year and promises to reflect the maturation that occurred in the space over the past 12 months. Although many first-time attendees to the conference will be new to Enterprise 2.0, the concepts and themes have evolved and been refined over the past 12 months. Three out of the four largest enterprise vendors are big sponsors this year (IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle.) I’m personally hoping we see relevant, interesting developments from these large vendors this year.

We are introducing two new ideas to the conference this year which I’m particularly excited about. The first is Stowe Boyd’s Launch Pad where four (whittled down from a larger number by votes) audience-chosen startups will have an opportunity to demo their products and compete for a winning spot for the best launch pad product/service. As there is such a torrent of new products coming onto the scene, this is a great attempt to filter out the most useful based on collective crowd selection. We are considering doing something very similar regarding sessions for September’s Office 2.0 conference based on the SXSW’s panel-picker software.

The second event, or maybe unevent I should say, is called Enterprise2Open. Modeled after “barcamps and unconferences,” this will be a half-day’s worth of unstructured Q&A and sharing hosted by Ross Mayfield. The unstructured, open-type of event has been popular for some time in the development community, but we thought we’d attempt to try it out this year with a non-technical audience. The format provides a no-hassle, informative forum to ask any and all of your burning questions related to Enterprise 2.0 and get answers from peers and folks in the community who may have experienced the same issues. You may want to consider getting your questions and topics suggested in advance by posting them to the Enterprise2Open wiki. You can actually be a presenter yourself, if you bring your own soap box. Just get yourself on the self-organized agenda. The entire session will run in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 11 from 1-4pm. nGenera is sponsoring the event, so I’ll be there with a few of my colleagues and customers.

Speaking of customers, Rob Carter, CIO of Federal Express is giving the opening keynote. A group of us were in Memphis at Fedex’s central distribution facility in March where we heard Rob talk on 2.0 adoption. Rob sees himself as an evangelist himself for 2.0 in the enterprise. I’m really pleased he accepted the offer to keynote on Tuesday morning. One of the conference themes this year is accelerating user adoption. Having notable icons from the F500 executive board room will go far to lower the barriers of trial and experimentation with 2.0 alternatives.

e2.0 demo pavillionI’ll be at the conference from Sunday to Wednesday. I hope to see many of you there. Please drop me a note or a comment here to let me know if you’re attending. Many thanks to all the folks on the panels I helped arrange.

Photo credits: Jeckman on flickr and Alex Dunne on flickr.

Enterprise Homebrewed Mashups

As I mentioned early this week, a few of us at BSG saw a demo of IBM’s QEDWiki last week with its latest added developments: OpenSearch and Programmable Web. Since my interest in mashups far surpasses my ability to comprehend them, I’m doing the honorable thing and pointing you immediately to David Berlind’s blog where he not only explains Dan and John’s new cooperative arrangement, but has taken the time to put up a viewable video of how it all works.

The upshot of the announcement is that IBM is working with the development community promoting OpenSearch, which should make mashup-making easier for everyone in the mashup ecosystem. Although the mashup phenomenon is mostly still relegated to mashup enthusiasts and developers, I still see tremendous potential in this arena for the enterprise. I give Dan, especially, a lot of credit for reaching out to the community to start galvanizing the move toward some standardization.

An interesting newcomer, well maybe repositioned old-timer, in this market is Serena Software. I haven’t spoken to Serena yet, but intend to. I first saw Bill Ives’ post a few weeks ago with Serena’s new go-to-market pitch for the enterprise mashup arena. According to my Enterprise Irregular compatriots, Serena has been a fairly substantial software company that got taken private by Silver Lake in early 2006. They have, “…a few (update, see comments) hundred million per year in traditional license revenues and a core business that isn’t going away any time soon,” according to Jason Wood. And as it turns out, Bonvanie did a stint doing developer relations for SFDC’s AppExchange and appears to be re-creating the same environment for mashups at Serena. I’ll know more after I speak to them.