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.

Putting 2.0 to Work: Spigit

Here is another great product in the “Recession-Ready 2.0 Stimulus Package” series on products that can help jump start the economy. Hutch Carpenter, whom I’ve come to admire and respect deeply for his insight into 2.0 adoption, recently gave me a heads up he was joining Spigit. Of course, I checked out Spigit’s site and had an immediate reaction:

picture-2Somehow in my canvassing of the e2.0 universe, I missed this really cool company. I had a chance to see a demo last week with CEO, Paul Pluschkell and ask him some questions about the product and their journey.

Spigit is a beautifully designed “idea-based” social network for any size enterprise. What’s uniquely interesting about Spigit is it is action-oriented: its sole purpose in the enterprise or within its external ecosystem of customers and suppliers is to generate good ideas that lead to better products, better usability, revenue-producing initiatives and/or cost savings recommendations. In fact, anything can be a good idea and you can virtually find it anywhere– inside the company or out. With Spigit, now you have a way to get support for a good idea and refine it further.

The company offers two basic platforms: one for internal idea generation, InnovationSpigit, and one that faces externally, IdeaSpigit, to reap good ideas from its external community of suppliers/partners/customers/fans, etc. Judging from the live demo I saw, the user interface on this product is gorgeous and has an addicting “game-like” quality to it that encourages adoption. For management, there are over one million different variables for tracking metrics and user behavior. Additionally, this is the first Enterprise 2.0 product platform I’ve seen that incorporates prediction markets technology, PredictionSpigit, (which Andrew McAfee is so fond of).

The good news on Spigit is a single great idea can deliver a mind-numbing ROI. The somewhat bad news is it’s a little pricey. Enterprise licenses range from $25K for less than 1,000 people to $300K for over 100,000 people annually in a standard SaaS-based monthly pricing contract. If you want to host Spigit behind the firewall, that’s also an option. But, it’s probably the most expensive option, as you must buy the license in perpetuity. With each license, Spigit bundles in a dedicated community manager, a kickoff and training program, and a variety of helpful services that encourage adoption and promote meaningful results. Spigit received very favorable reviews from Bearing Point’s Nate Nash who alerted me to this post.

Innovations on the horizon with Spigit include an iPhone app in the works and customizable widgets that can house the entire product which has already been sold to one large customer. Once customers “get it,” the Spigit choice is easy. Companies prone to innovate and tout the people power of their workforce are eager to get into a relationship with Spigit. Marquee customers include IBM, Sun, Intel, Southwest Airlines, AAA, and Wal-Mart.  Additionally, Spigit has a major initiative underway to layer the product on top of SharePoint.

So think Digg, Dell’s IdeaStorm, Innocentive, mashed and wrapped up in a customized, user-addicting collaborative social network (that also has reporting, analytics, and prediction markets) and you have Spigit, the wonder platform.

Kick me before I miss a product like this again.

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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.

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.

Experimentation, success, failure, and fun with global collaboration.

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In the spirit of drawing the Enterprise 2.0 community together, I started a small experiment this week. On Tuesday late in the afternoon (Austin time), I set up an open Google spreadsheet to capture Twitter IDs for folks in the community who felt they associated with Enterprise 2.0. Within minutes, the spreadsheet was buzzing, popping, and humming with simultaneous edits being made from all over the world. Of course, the initial tweet was retweeted throughout various follower communities and social networks which led to a bit of a viral chaos. A few times we even had a complete breakdown in the spreadsheet where Google couldn’t keep up with the simultaneous edits. At another time, someone had either inadvertently erased all the data, or maliciously erased all the data… in the end it didn’t matter because someone else had made a copy and we quickly reverted to an earlier version. All of this happened in a one – two hour period, in different time zones. Within two hours, there were over 200 names on the list. Today, there are nearly 300 people who’ve added their information to the original list which contained 10 people. You can see it for yourself here.

The experiment was incredibly fun. So many people participated and truly enjoyed the process. It brought the community together, and I think everyone “met” or was introduced to another enterprise 2.0 community member they did not know about who is active on Twitter. Yesterday, a few of us started weighing different options to leverage this community in a deeper forum. I asked Ross Mayfield if he would volunteer a wiki workspace, and he graciously agreed. In the course of setting up the workspace, we discovered (who knew?) in order for folks to complete their profiles, they would have to be invited via email.

Email!? The anti-thesis of the Twitter community! So, with a lot of LOLs, Ross, Dion Hinchcliffe and I realized there are still things we are learning about Enterprise 2.0. The good news is, we all can learn together. Failure can be fun and leads to product improvements, not disaster.

Last week, I passed my third year anniversary on the ITSinsider blog. (Yay!) The spirit of worldwide cooperation and sharing still moves me in this space. This experience over the last few days reminds me of a 2006, great Q&A I did with Joe Kraus, who is now at Google. Kraus’ vision for DIY computing is indeed coming true. These social bonds that are gluing our collaborative energies together are making it all the more interesting and the successes are celebrated universally.

The takeaway here is, don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail or embarrass yourself. We’re still in the early days of reinventing “work.”

The trouble with social media is, well, people.

Last week introduced a whole new twist on the social media pretzel for me. Social media was great when it ran on positive mental attitude and a go-go economy, but now that people (the stuff networks are made of) are acting like humans, well, harrumph, it’s time to re-examine this social media phenomenon, eh?

Jive Software, a company I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, had to face an uncomfortable RIF (Reduction in Force: a euphemism for layoffs; this decade’s answer to downsizing) and let go 40 or so of its employees. I’m sure the company wanted things to go as smoothly as possible, as these things are never easy. Trouble is, one of the RIF’d employees blogged the experience and it got picked up on the mother-of-all-exposure tech blogs, TechCrunch not once, but twice kicking up his blog stats 10-fold.

The topic surrounding the sanctity of transparency in bad times bounced through our company like a hot potato. Our recruiter eventually posted this piece essentially alleging that sour grapes employees should use caution when airing their laundry for fear of future employability or any potential career repercussions.

The individual in question, Chris Kalini, along with his wife Jessa, are both what we’ve come to know as “Gen Y” employees. Chris is a web designer and now happily employed at Euro RSCG as a front-end web developer/designer. The problem with Chris is, well, he blogs his life. Everything gets published– from playing pool, to helping friends move, to ordering pizza, to cooking with Jessa.

Did anyone expect him not to blog losing his job?

Here at nGenera, we have two world-renown experts on this cohort. First is Don Tapscott, who introduced “paradigm shift” into the management lexicon and authored over a dozen best-selling business books, most recently, “Grown up Digital” which is a follow-on to his earlier work, “Growing up Digital.” Second is Tammy Erickson, McKinsey Award-winning author, and President of nGenera’s Innovation Network. Tammy blogs as a discussion leader on the Harvard Business blog and is coming out with a new book, “Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work” in November. I’ve heard both of these Gen Y gurus speak and they both will attest to how young adults of this generation live freely, openly, transparently. It’s partly what defines them as one of the most interesting generations to study. This is also the generation that will lead 21st century politics and drive innovation.

I asked Chris if all this sudden web-celebrity bothered him. His answer was just what I predicted, “I’m totally cool with it,” he said. As for the transparency possibly being an impediment in his life? He said, “I love that my kids will be able to see my blog one day. I wish I could have seen my grandfather’s blog… to have known what he was thinking and doing every day.”

So brace yourself. As the economy squeezes and the RIFs roll in, Gen Ys and all members of the digital community are going to be Facebooking, Tweeting, Friendfeeding, Plurking, MySpacing, and yes, blogging their exit with your company. Put a little thought into making it a humane and respectful departure– if for nothing else, your adoring grandkids’ sake.