Mama Weer All Crazee-Social Now!

Indeed, a Quiet Riot is percolating in the heretofore boring ERP sector.  I spotted Josh Greenbaum‘s post on “Enterprise Relationship Planning” this afternoon.  In the Council, we have dredged up a 90s label– The Extended Enterprise— to categorize discussions about how our members are architecting their socio-collaborative initiatives to span partners in their supplier, distributor, and delivery chains.  Included here is the massive momentum around Social CRM that is touching the customer in personal ways as well and reinventing what it means to be proactive and responsive to existing and potential buyers.  One of our largest members recently  made a platform selection choice based nearly exclusively on the chosen vendor’s ability to bridge to external collaborators while retaining the ability to keep the conversation secure behind the firewall.  All of our members are somewhere in the adoption phase of evaluating these options.  The confluence of all SaaS and enterprise legacy systems and social is coming… It’s not if, it’s when.

The unique thread that links the revitalization of  all these mechanical, cumbersome, process-driven software “systems” is people.  People with intelligence, with tacit knowledge, with “exceptions” expertise.  We had a fantastic Council guru Q&A last week with Socialtext’s Ross Mayfield.  Socialtext cites a whopping statistic that turns traditional ERP on its head, “An estimated 60 to 80% of an organization’s work is ‘exception’ oriented.”  Squeezing the life (variability) out of a process is passe and will be replaced or supplementing with social data to improve its effectiveness, not detract from it.  This is a revolutionary idea.

This sentiment is expressed by one of our members, Todd Weidman,  who was discussing the rigidity of the Six Sigma process:

“In my experience in financial services, it’s used as a framework to eliminate as much process variation as possible. The processes become repeatable, follow a strict pattern, and ideally you reduce the cost of any transaction (and make it predictable, standard, and outsourcable). That’s fine if your building something to spec (manufacturing), but in any service-based industry, client needs demand many different types of solutions – think financial planning – there may be a number of different inputs for a customized solution. That, of course, requires collaboration between participants.”

Indeed, the future is about relationships.  And relationships are about people, not stuff.

Open Letter to @dahowlett… Customers at #e20conf?

My good friend, Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett), has been a thoughtful critic of Enterprise 2.0 for many years.   Most of the time I agree with his analysis (unfortunately, as he tends to suck the wind out of the hype balloon).  I saw a tweet this morning from Dennis who was simply asking, “…many customers with stories at E20?”  Sorry for eavesdropping on your question to @rhappe, but I felt compelled to blog my answer.

The answer from my vantage point is: this year’s customers/buyers are so plentiful, I am falling over them.  In our unconference session yesterday, the customer stories were riveting.  They came to find answers to their roll-out questions, not necessarily from us (the spin/guru machine), but from each other.  I was rendered speechless for most of the discussion topics.

In short, the Enterprise 2.0 movement is beginning to show real life.  There are real war stories replete with joys and challenges.  And even though I’d probably say the “0” in Enterprise 2.0 still stands for startup profitability, I will definitely confirm: Yes, @dahowlett, there is a Santa Claus.  Customers are interested and engaged in socio-collaborative technology.  So much so that I’ve finally found a business model that makes sense for my own company here. (More on that later.)

This post is just a quick update.  I will be posting my annual “reflections” post when I return to Austin.

p.s. I wish you were here, really! (@dahowlett and all skeptics).

Screeeeech. Oops. Errrr, Sorry.

foot drivingWell? The good news is the ITSinsider blog is back. The bad news is the ReadWriteWeb relationship is not going to move forward as planned. In hindsight, we should not have moved so fast to announce our relationship.

It was important to make a clean cut sooner rather than later. We have all parted friends and hope to continue to work together on Enterprise-related projects. In the meantime, I have a number of consulting engagements I’ll be spending my time on. As well as writing the occasional blog post here where I can add some community value.

I have a world of respect for what Richard has created with RWW, and even more respect than ever for the writing team there. Bernard Lunn and I will continue to explore ways we can bring Enterprise thought leadership to the RWW community of readers. I look forward to that as well.

So, new day, moving on. Back to business. Thanks so much, everyone, for the enthusiasm surrounding last week’s announcement. It was a great match, but not the right formula. No worries.

Enterprise 2.0 meets Reality TV

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Well sort of. Without the TV part, but hey, video may not be a bad idea!

How many years (yes, years) have I been complaining there are not enough case studies in Enterprise 2.0? Well, I guess that old saw: if you want a good job done, you need to do it yourself. (Can it possible I’m agreeing with that nice guy, rightwing agitator, @fleckman? Yes I can! agree.)

The big news today is Richard McManus and Bernard Lunn agreed to let me start writing a series of Case Studies on the RWW Enterprise Channel. From Bernard’s LinkedIn page I lifted this description of RWW:

ReadWriteWeb is a blog that provides Web Technology news, reviews and analysis. It began publishing on April 20, 2003 and is now one of the most widely read and respected blogs in the world. It has around 250,000 RSS and email subscribers. ReadWriteWeb was founded by Richard MacManus and is written by a team of Web enthusiasts. To contact ReadWriteWeb about new Web technologies, apps or services – please email us.

ReadWriteWeb is one of the world’s top 20 most popular blogs according to Technorati and one of the world’s 100 most influential websites according to URLfan. Also RWW is ranked in the top 10 on the Techmeme Leaderboard.

The customers I’ve spoken to are frustrated they can’t reference case studies to build their internal business cases; vendors are frustrated because there is not widespread validity in the market to open enterprise doors for them. The best cure for both vendors and customers is to start unearthing the case studies and highlighting what’s working, even what’s not working. It’s possible that the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 in the marketplace are very different for many different customers, but what’s definitely needed is a series of cases where customers can “see themselves” in the solution. Enterprise 2.0 is not only about rolling out software product initiatives; it’s about people and relationships. It’s about disrupting old ways of working and experimenting with new ways. It’s about taking some risk.

I really look forward to digging into these case studies. And I’m particularly thrilled to do it on the RWW blog. The RWW blog is a fabulous case study in and of itself that demonstrates how a tiny operation can disrupt big media conglomerates.

So, with that, I’m starting today with virtual clipboard and notebook… I’m on the hunt for e2.0 case studies. If you’ve got some that deserve attention, please email me at itsinsider at gmail. Please do not confuse enterprise 2.0 case studies with social media examples. I am interested in customers preferably $100M in revenue and larger that have incorporated what we know to be Enterprise 2.0 technology and business practices as defined by Andy McAfee and Dion Hinchcliffe. I’m also particularly interested in enterprise mashups.

Atlassian’s Confluence 2.9 embraces “legacy work”

Making a deeper commitment to Microsoft, Atlassian acquired one of its community partners, Benryan Software and released its SharePoint Connector for Confluence 2.9. Additionally, the company incorporated over 150 user requests into the latest release and added 10 new production plugins. Benryan has a MS Office connector to Confluence (known fondly by existing users as the word/dav plug-in*) that makes it simple to import all Word Docs (in one to multiple pages), and to edit them in Confluence. You can also view Excel, PowerPoint, and Word docs within a Confluence wiki page and edit them. Also announced is the commercial release of its SharePoint connector. Some key features include the ability to embed Confluence content within SharePoint, bi-directional navigation (link SharePoint content within Confluence and vice versa), federated search (confluence searches reach into SharePoint), and security unification (immediate access: SharePoint permissions and unified security).

For a more detailed explanation of all the goodies in the new release, see @SarahinTampa‘s post on RWW, “Wiki Editing Just Got Easier: Atlassian Confluence Releases Office Connector.”

Jeff Walker, President of Atlassian, briefed a few of us bloggers last week on the announcement. What’s interesting to me is how the company framed the announcement in language like, “We are embracing the Microsoft and Outlook world.” Jeff explained how there are lots of folks out there in corporate America who are “comfortable with Office documents.” Well, true dat, homeboy. IMHO the more sensible we can make the transition for corporate America to 2.0 working, the better. I hope we’ll see more 2.0 startups embracing the legacy installed base of enterprise 1.0 workers and workware.

Check out the MS Office Connector:

*For existing users who have the word/dav plug-in, there have been some major improvements and bug fixes to the software that are appearing within 2.9. And now that it is an Atlassian plugin, it is fully supported by the company, as well. The newer version is completely free to existing customers with current licenses. Bad news? Firefox 3.0 is currently not supported, however the company expects to resolve the issue shortly.

Startups– don’t you just luv’m?

This is a post for Moms and Dads, Aunts and Uncles who consult.

I’ve been around start-ups for several years. I’ve advised them, I’ve watched them, and I’ve even joined a few start-ups. I’ve come to the conclusion that start-ups are like toddlers. 1. They misbehave. 2. They say “no!” 3. They get into things that are dangerous for their health. 4. I’ve even seen the occasional tantrum. On the other hand, 1. They’re adorable! 2. Their enthusiam is contagious. 3. They make you smile. 4. You want to pick them up and kiss and hug them.

Not all startups make it, but the ones with passion and unbridled energy are the ones that add color and vitality to your career experience.