What is Your Network Telling You?

I caught up this week with Cai Kjaer whom I’ve known via the social web as one of the founders of Optimice.  We used Optimice at Change Agents Worldwide to map our core competencies within the network.  I’ve always been a big fan of Social Network Analysis (SNA), and feel we are leaving a lot of actionable information on the table when we don’t observe what is happening organically within our networks.  As just one example, ESN strategists spend a lot of time identifying who might be a good candidate to advocate for working socially, but a lot of this work is anecdotal, and champions are identified via word-of-mouth. Software can do this fairly easily once you map the activity on the network.

crossteamThe Optimice team has launched an analytics tool, SWOOP, that may help large networks reveal intelligence that is not intuitive or otherwise obvious.  The software platform is the result of over a decade’s worth of consulting mapping organizational networks. At present, the team is working with Yammer and Chatter networks, but they have plans to work with more large-scale ESNs.

For large enterprises that view the ESN as the foundation for culture change, quality improvement, and innovation, it’s more or less a no-brainer to employ a tool like SWOOP. Some of the ESNs already have fairly sophisticated analytics, or at least used to, last time I checked.  But Yammer, in particular, has experienced explosive growth now that it’s free with O365, and the analytics are really weak. Something like SWOOP has not been available to its large communities until now, AFAIK.

The good news around this software is there is a lot of interest in introducing the power of SNA to large enterprises, but there hasn’t been an easy way to do that without expensive, complicated consulting.  With SWOOP, at a low price/seat investment, you can immediately start “listening” to what your network is telling you. The power of SNA becomes more attractive when you can start identifying how your network can save you time and money.  It’s not just eye-candy, in other words. Kjaer likes to say, “Collaboration is a contact sport.” So true. When you can look at connections cross-organizationally, and see data that reflects the role individuals are playing within their groups, you have a guidepost, a key performance indicator of sorts. Moreover, the ESN starts to take advantage of the potential for “emergent” behaviors that got the original Enterprise 2.0 champions so excited. (Myself included.)

I will be watching this area with much interest.  I’ve already got some ideas of how SWOOP can make a difference among some successful ESN customers already.  If you want to give the platform a try, you can sign up for the company’s free benchmarking tool.  I’d love to hear your progress.





WIIFM on Working Socially?

Let’s be honest: change bites!  Most people do not like change.  Change brings uncertainty, a loss of security and control, a fleeting feeling of helplessness, and even panic.  Helping large organizations embrace disruptive change is a tall order.  What’s needed are roadmaps, play books, guidance, intelligence, patience, and a little inspiration.  But, change can be positive.  And, guess what?  If done correctly, it can be painless and enjoyable especially when you’re working with social software.

To that end, Change Agents Worldwide offers a variety of services to help companies make this transition.  We do it in a unique, network-based, new economy model.  Today, we’re announcing our first group project.  We partnered to help Salesforce’s Chatter team explain the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) of working socially on an enterprise social network.  So many of us are used to the benefits of working socially, but it’s still a foreign concept to much of the working world.  Part of our charter is to enlighten employees on the benefits of working in a new way.  Adoption is still an issue for most social collaboration vendors, and as Change Agents, we want to fix that.  We are experts in this, and we believe an understanding of social networks is core to the future of business.

Take a look at the creative tools we helped create for the Chatter team under the tutelage of the fabulous Maria Ogneva.  Maria is one of the most knowledgeable social collaboration professionals in the business.  We worked very closely with Maria and our amazing creative and brilliant friends at The Tremendousness Collective to create this animated video and accompanying infographic.  Also, a hat tip to our Change Agent Bryce Williams who coined, “Work out Loud.”





Download the infographic here:


Two Surprising Statistics on Social Business Progress in the Enterprise

Over the summer, we conducted a short survey among the Social Business Council members to gauge where large enterprises are regarding their progress introducing social to the enterprise.  The request was made by a Council member who was looking for some hard benchmarking data he could share with his team.

We wanted to answer the question:

“How far along are the leading early adopters?”

The results were eye-opening.  So many of us who track the market are always saying how early we are, how we are just at the beginning of this transformation,  how it could take a decade or so to really start seeing the fruits of our efforts, etc.   But, we really didn’t have a lot of  hard evidence.*  Now we do.

The first eye-opener was where early adopters report they are.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed (57%) reported that that only 10-20% of their eligible workforce is active on the platform.  The flip side of this statistic is, of course, that there is a lot of room to grow, and it opens up large opportunities for consultants, vendors, and social business advocates to help companies succeed here.

The second big reveal for me was the number of companies who indicated there is no real integration between their external social initiatives (social media/customer outreach) and their internal social efforts (a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0).  It was nearly unanimous: 96% reported there was nothing today that integrated their social business initiatives, although nearly half reported this was on the planning board.

In short, the survey asked 10 simple questions, yet essentially debunked some of the hype that circulates on the social web regarding the state of the market. In essence, the social business phenomenon is real, but all stakeholders vested in the market would be well-advised to exercise some patience in expecting game-changing results.

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote a longer piece on ZDnet with some of his takeaways, and you can download the report here.

*These survey results reflect the progress of  a unique cohort: very large enterprises with more than one billion USD in annual revenue that are actively engaged in a social business initiative.  Smaller organizations may report different results.




SMC Austin Chapter hosts a conversation on Social Business

SMC Austin is held at the original Austin City Limits studio. Gorgeous venue.

Be there: Register today.

Just when you think you have all the answers, something crops up that challenges your beliefs on how Social Business works and will work in the future.   Whether it’s new platforms/tools, new regulation, organizational changes, even world events — the Social Business world does not stand still and learning in this space is highly iterative.  At Dachis Group and for our Social Business Council members, we face this reality day in and day out.  The good news on Social Business is there are ample opportunities to increase and share your learning.  To that end,  I’m going to be moderating a panel discussion on Social Business at the upcoming Social Media Club Austin meeting next week. (Tuesday, 8/16 from 6pm – 8pm CT).  I hope you can join us if you’re local, and if you’re not, I’m sure the tweet stream will be buzzing.  The twitter hashtag for Social Media Austin events is #SMCA.

We’ll have a great panel of vendors (who just happen to have great “user” experience as well) relating their own journeys on transforming their clients, as well as their own companies, to become fully-functioning Social Businesses.  There is a lot of collective wisdom represented on this panel of experts, so I hope you’ll join us in the conversation.  This will be my speaking debut to our awesome local Social Media Club chapter (most active club in the world, outside of San Francisco I hear).  I’m looking forward to mashing up my knowledge of the internal enterprise social space with the external expertise resident in this town, as well as meeting lots of new social enthusiasts.

On the panel we will have Jive’s Deirdre Walsh, who is somewhat of a hometown hero of mine as she led National Instruments‘ social strategy prior to joining Jive as Social Media Manager.  Then, we have the amazing Kat Mandelstein who has been a terrific champion for Social Business at IBM and one smart cookie on all things social.  Kat is also on the international board for the SMC and has done a great job supporting the Austin SMC chapter as Vice President.  The other two panelists are Will Staney of VMware (which recently acquired Socialcast) and Jean-Claude Monney of Microsoft.  I have not yet met Will or Jean-Claude, but have heard great things about them, so I look forward to hearing their insights.  Will has an impressive background in introducing social media and adoption of social technology at VMWare with a  solid foundation in community management and new media strategy. Jean-Claude leads Microsoft’s technical strategy in the Discrete Manufacturing industry, chairs the Microsoft High Tech Customer Advisory Board and represents Microsoft as the chair of the OAGi High Tech Council, a global B2B standards organization.

In preparation for the panel, we’re soliciting your questions ahead of time so we can get them into the session.  Don’t be shy.  Let us fashion the panel to suit your interests.

Send us questions you’d like to hear answered.

See you there!



Focusing on Adoption (exclusively) is a Dead-End

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.

Adoption is Dead. Long live Adoption!

Rumors surrounding the death of adoption have been greatly exaggerated.

The 2.0 Enterprisey crowd is gearing up to head to Boston for our annual pilgrimage.  This will be my fourth conference as a participant and board member.  Having watched and often interpreted the trends in this sector, I find it interesting to report that things have not changed much in general since our first get-together in 2007.   While it’s true that we have many, many more organizations large and small experimenting with and committing to 2.0 strategies– internally and externally– and the business itself is morphing into something much more grand and all-encompassing, the truth of the matter is: we are still early adopters of this new way of working.

The notion of “adoption” in general occasionally gets called into criticism by bloggers who are looking at the phenomenon purely through the lens of new technology adoption.   The adoption phenomenon is much more far-reaching and encompasses a wholesale reinvention of the way we will work in the future.  Social data and social layers that will filter transactions in the enterprise are the Next Big Thing in enterprise.  Period.  But before we can get there, we need to on-ramp legions of employees to change their attitudes and behaviors to maximize the benefits of what the socially connected universe offers.

It’s easy for us who spend a lot of time on the social web to re-imagine where we are in real terms relative to widespread embrace of social strategy and tactical best practices.   This is a mistake, and we need to scale back our expectations and see the immediate opportunity for what it is: an early adopter market.  This reality has been difficult to swallow, perhaps especially for me.   We’ve kicked off our case study series and early indicators are reinforcing the relative immaturity of the market.  We’ll have more details on those in upcoming months.  The good news is: we are all really early on a phenomenon that is changing the world as we know it.  This social transformation will be larger and more comprehensive than any technology transformation (including the Internet and mobile) we’ve seen thus far.  Those of us who are in this for the long haul know this instinctively and welcome the opportunity to shape the future.

That said, the Council members (who are squarely on the front lines of galvanizing change) have been working hard to put together some thinking on what’s working and what’s not  on the Adoption Trail.  In addition to our full-day workshop, we have an  entire track devoted to adoption issues at the conference this year.  I invite you to hear directly from these customers– at their sessions, at lunch, at the bar, in the halls… wherever they are.  You’ll know them because they’ll be wearing our pins, as well as a star on their badges.  We have over 30 Council members attending from a variety of industry sectors including: IT/High Tech, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Public Utilities, Government, Construction, Publishing, Retail, Non-Profit, Health Care, Financial Services, and Manufacturing.

On the last day of the conference, in the last session time slot, I’ve reserved time to discuss “what we missed” in our agenda planning.  As board members, we try hard to include everything topical that’s fit to present, but invariably, we could fall short and miss or underplay something important.  This session is an attempt to capture that lost content and discuss it with a panel of customers and industry thought leaders (including Dennis Howlett and Lee Bryant, as well as a team of sharp shooter Council members).  So, while you’re attending sessions, please keep a mental note of anything you feel has been missing from the dialog all week and bring it to the session.  We’re going to try and keep the session as interactive as possible.

Look forward to seeing you all in Boston.