Social Business: Pining for the Fjords!

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it…  It’s dead!”

So, which is it dead or not dead?   There is so much confusion in the market about what “Social Business” is, it might as well be a dead parrot (too).  And there is no shortage of people who come at this conversation with a perspective that simply adds more confusion based on their orientation or specific economic agenda.

No one knows this struggle better than I.  I had lost the battle to preserve “Social Business” for its original owner, Muhammad Yunus, who by-the-way is trying to solve global poverty and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, sometime in 2009 in discussions with the social cognoscenti.  My former employer and friends at the Dachis Group had settled on repurposing Social Business to describe the evolving phenomenon, and after I was acquired, I too fell in line eventually rebranding the Council I had created for early adopters of Enterprise 2.0 to become “The Social Business Council.”*   I think the goal had always been to create a singular view for the market, and I supported the direction.  But, even as I was leaving Dachis Group in the summer of 2012, we took a pulse to see how many of the early adopters had fully integrated their internal social collaboration initiatives (collaboration and learning) with their external social media marketing initiatives (sales and marketing), and wished we hadn’t asked.  I knew the number would not be high, but I was literally shocked to see the response was nearly zero.  The actual number was 4%.   The number was so startling that when I presented it at a Jive user’s group meeting here in Texas, people were somewhat alarmed.  So, I repurposed the figure in the report to reflect how many people said they had plans to do it, but currently had not done it.

planets

The reality that surrounds this issue is we are really talking about two different planets that share the same language based on the principles of the early web 2.0 phenomenon and open web.  But, anyone who’s played in both these camps will readily acknowledge that a digital strategist or VP of Consumer Strategy has no idea what social collaboration is inside the enterprise and most likely spends his/her entire day in email, teleconferences, meetings, and ppt.  And, someone who’s running an internal enterprise social network has no idea who the top players are in SMMS (or what that acronym even means).  The problem is becoming somewhat unwieldy, however, because people who do not know better can easily confuse expertise in one area with the other.  Some of the senior enterprise folks in our network are facing career track issues with this right now.  Further, there’s now evidence of attempts at rationalization taking place, trying to shoe-horn the whole shebang into a singular phenomenon.  Nice try, and if it leads to changing the world, we’re for it.

One of our Change Agents, Richard Martin, pointed out that Nilofer Merchant side-stepped the issue quite neatly in her book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era: “You might wonder why I’m not using Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) or social business (#socbiz) terminology. Enterprise 2.0 primarily focused on the tools necessary to create information flow, based on the idea that we can do better if we share information freely. Social business (#socbiz) was a term first created by Muhammed Yunus, but more recently has been a popular way to describe the way companies function and generate value for all the constituents (stakeholders, employees, customers, partners, suppliers)—the idea being that we add a social overlay to the existing structural framework. Here, I pose a new question with the notion of Social Era: in what ways can we structure things entirely differently to create more value in the context of our times, to be fast to market, to be fluid in mind-set, to be flexible in how we organize, deliver, and create value?”

She nails it in that “new” question.

We’ll be talking about some of those answers in an upcoming webinar we are doing next week in cooperation with our sponsor partner, Socialcast by VMware. The webinar will provide a reality check on where social is today, but more importantly, will talk about the underlying trends that are driving enterprise-sized businesses to become more network-based and adaptable.  You’ll have the pleasure of listening to thought leaders Simon Terry and Harold Jarche share their insights on why social matters now more than ever before.   Simon will explain how we got here, what the problem is in the market, and Harold will explain ways we can begin to address these problems today.  We’ll cover a few case studies and have lots of time to do Q&A with webinar participants, so please sign up and join us.  We look forward to your participation.

Webinar: Moving Forward with Social Collaboration
Date:  December 12, 2013
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST

 

This webinar kicks off a series of projects we’ll be doing with Socialcast to educate the market.   We have a lot more in store as we roll into 2014 too.  As always, thanks for your support for the great work we’re doing at Change Agents Worldwide.  You can support us by tweeting (@chagww and #caww) about us, liking us on Facebook, following on on G+, joining our public community on G+, and following our updates on LinkedIn.  Of course, don’t be shy about joining us as well.  Things are going to change in 2014 for new members, so if you’ve been considering joining, now would be a good time.

Last thing –  Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review are running a fairly good survey on trying to get to the bottom of some of these issues and to mitigate some confusion in the market.  I highly recommend you complete the questionnaire.   We’re also very excited about Change Agent Jane McConnell’s Digital Workplace results which will be out in early 2014, as well.

See you next Thursday!  And, as always, interested in your comments.

 

*Sadly, one thing is deader than a dead parrot: The Social Business Council.  Dachis Group shut it down this month.  It was a great resource for many early adopters and fans, and its legend lives on in the halls of Wikipedia if you’d like to update the page.

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Come Shake your Cosmic Thing in Atlanta this Fall

Gandhi-quotes-In-a-gentle-way-you-can-shake-the-world.-300x300In my new role as social mercenary while I work on the startup, I’ve been doing some work for my good friend, Robin Carey, founder of Social Media Today (SMT).  Robin is one of the key influentials who served as an early catalyst to introduce the social phenomenon to the business world. SMT is a disruptive publishing and community hybrid that has delivered the right mix of thought leadership, exposure, brand value, and community engagement to thousands of early adopters worldwide.   SMT launched in 2007 and as chiefly a new media online enterprise, Robin has always avoided the temptation to get into the conference game.  That changed last fall when Blogworld approached her about doing a conference.  Blogworld’s New Media expo draws thousands to its flagship event in Las Vegas.

What I love about Robin is that she sees the whole market – the macro market – for social’s total potential for impact on a 21st-Century business.  Where she could easily be content to stay sequestered in the profitable social media marketing large chunk of the social pie, she has never lost sight of what social can do internally for an enterprise.  Robin credits her heroes as the inspiration for the conference, but she is a hero to many of us who are thankful she has never let go of that vision.

Robin chose another one of my good friends, Maggie Fox, to serve as MC and content producer for the event.  Maggie too has always been a champion for seeing the larger possibilities in the market beyond social media marketing and serves as a strategic advisor to large companies trying to navigate the social possibilities of a changing world.  She is focusing the conference agenda around issues that demonstrate how social is developing new models and changing traditional roles for individuals and brands.

So, when is this fabulous conference?  The Social Shake-up Conference will be held September 15-17 in Atlanta, GA.  The tracks are already established, and the sessions are getting filled in quickly.  Although you’ll see a lot of familiar faces in the speaker list for Shake-up, you’re going to be introduced to some new, dynamic speakers too.  The star opening keynote will be Porter Gale, who recently published, “Your Network is your Net Worth.”  I’ve heard she is a fantastic speaker.

In the back channels on the social web, I’ve been hearing a lot of grousing about how there is a hole in the market for a great conference. So many of us who’ve been at this for a while recall the magic that happened when people who knew each other really well online met for the first time in person at an industry conference.   It has always served as a good lesson behind the hoopla that powers the social web that real relationships are forged and forever grounded in the chemistry and bonding of a face-to-face encounter.  I’m looking forward to attending this conference and helping Maggie and Robin in every way I can.  BTW, this is not a conference where you will see a pathetic dearth of women speakers.  Women have been strong voices in the social revolution.  Come celebrate with us in Atlanta.

Early bird registration ends this week, July 5.  There are blogger press passes for influentials too, so just reach out, and I’ll make sure to hook you up.

Bonus question: who can identify the obscure B-52s reference in this post?  

 

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Yes, this is a public shaming. Sorry. (Not really).

Really Microsoft?

MSFT Enterprise

Did you just DM me TWICE?  I will tolerate this from Russian spammers, porn stars, and the occasional life coach, but I will not sit quietly while you damage your brand @MSFTEnterprise.  MSFT has always in the upper right “most likely to fail” quadrant for me with Social because the company has always been late to the party, buys its way in, and has never demonstrates it groks the Zeitgeist of social.

NEVER, never DM an influencer unless you want to have a real, human conversation.  Otherwise, you’ve just set yourself up for reinforcing entrenched beliefs.

Learn how to use Twitter.

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What’s Your Story?

 inmap

 

Every social graph tells a story.  In this sweeping visualization of nodes and connections, you can see the shape of my career history and relationships.  This imprint of my LinkedIn social network was generated yesterday. You can see how new contacts and interrelationships jettisoned off from my base when I started to work at 7Summits.  You can also see  how one person in my network connected two clusters. You can also see how some of my “Austin” friends are also “Dachis Group” friends.  The LinkedIn Maps tool will show you who is most influential in your network and how their connections overlap with yours.  Definitely worth a download and a journey into your own path.

I have been invited to speak to an upper level undergraduate class at UT Austin,  The associate professor is Dr. Jeffrey Treem teaches a course called, “Social Media and Organizations.” Among other things, I plan to talk to the students about the vital role our network plays in our career. It can serve as the very foundation of our success.  Regardless of the company or the organization you are affiliated with at any moment, the real value in your work experience comes from the relationships you form.  The reciprocal trust and value exchange you negotiate with each and every node in your network is the real asset of your career.  Sure – credentials, knowledge, performance, achievements – all matter a great deal, but they pale in comparison to the power of your own personal network.  Think carefully about your most significant career changes, chances are someone you know played an assist in your move.

I’ve always been fascinated with Social Network Analysis to draw conclusions and make predictions about organizational performance.  The science is there, and I know that some of the larger social collaboration and community platform companies are doing impressive work in this area.  Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, is one of the more interesting veteran researchers to talk to on this subject.  He has been applying social sciences and large-scale network analysis techniques to make actionable observations and predictions for the benefit of Lithium’s many customers for years.  I know that Jive has expertise and some ongoing work in this area too.  David Gutelius, whose company Proxima was acquired by Jive, is a lead in this area for Jive.   While I was at IBM Connect last month, I saw a number of experimental research projects showcased in IBM’s Innovation Lab.  Several of them held a great deal of promise.  For instance, Community Player analyses how a certain event or community member influences behavior in a network.  Community Player is being developed by researchers at IBM Research in Haifa.  It originated as part of the EU-FPZ project ROBUST.  System U focuses on exploring computational discovery of people’s intrinsic traits from the traces they leave on social media.  The project focuses on profiling customers as individuals, yet on a very large scale.  This research is being done at IBM Research – Almaden.  And something that a few of us have been kicking around for a while is being explored at IBM called Work Marketplace.  It’s a concept around crowdsourcing your network for work and projects.

Dr. Treem and his academic colleagues are working on studying this area.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this more and learning as much as I can about the current state of this sort of organizational science.  If you have sources (academic and commercial) on how SNA is being applied in enterprise networks, please let me know.  It’s a key area that holds tremendous promise.

 

 

 

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Setting Sights on New Heights with 7 Summits!

Snapped a shot of the Marquette crew while walking to the office last week. Thought it was a fitting visual metaphor.

Announcing my new gig today! [Press Release]  I’ve accepted an offer to work for a gutsy startup with big plans: 7 Summits. Based out of Milwaukee and Chicago, this fast-growing team has been #killingit building award-winning Jive communities that succeed on a foundation of strategy and solid user experience to deliver clearly articulated business results.

I first heard about the firm via my friend and ex-Moxie (then, nGenera) colleague, Steve Elmore. Steve had recently taken a position there as VP, Social Business Strategy.  I’ve known Steve for a long while, and he’s definitely one of the handful of my industry friends that sees the opportunity for social business through the same lens I do.  When Steve started telling me about the culture and vision driving 7Summits, I felt like it was kind of a dream come true for both of us if we could both be part of a team that shares our core social DNA.

While I was researching career opportunities in the market, I received a couple of other great offers.  But, during my evaluations, I kept coming back to 7Summits.  I ultimately made the decision on a short list of defining criteria:

Experienced Leadership that Executes with Rigor

7 Summits is exceptionally well-managed.  There is a mature and focused approach to goal-setting and performance that permeates every facet of the business. As a result, the company is on a strong trajectory of organic growth. The founders, Paul Stillmank and RJ Reimers, held executive positions at Manpower, Whittman-Hart, and Accenture and know how to scale a services business. The core focus on business direction, achievement, and results combined with a sincere intention to build a company culture with character and integrity at its core is refreshing and highly attractive.  One of the most impressive indicators for me was the outstanding reputation the company enjoys among the clients I surveyed.  Most especially because the company has done very little to elevate its brand.  In other words, the reputation was earned the hard way with performance vs. promotion.

A Culture Based on Shared Values of Openness and Inclusion

The company is run as a social business.  Content is openly shared on the company’s internal Jive instance and daily stand ups occur to gauge how everyone in the company is doing.  Every voice matters and the company operates as a team. Culture is the single greatest asset to a services company. I learned this first hand in my experience covering the largest IT services players in the 90s.   During the interview process, I perceived a company culture based on group goals, a dedication to excellence, and a genuine concern for the customer. (Fantastic!)  My personal goal is to fit in seamlessly with the team and expose this tremendous esprit de corps to the outside world.  The company culture and story will be a magnet for customers, partners, investors, and talent for years to come.

A Platform for Social Business Advocacy

As a trusted advisor to its clients, the company matches passion about the promise of social business transformation with purpose and provides its clients a roadmap for how to achieve the promised results.  And the “soft” side of social does not get buried in the business of delivery.  In fact, “Enhancing people’s lives” is part of the company’s mission statement.  In other words, this is a company that gets it. Internal social, external social, and everything in-between.  It’s the first dedicated firm in the U.S. I’ve come across whose business is centered exclusively on delivering social business solutions to every corner of the market: Marketing, IT, or any progressive business unit that wants to introduce social capability to operate more effectively.

In short, I look forward to introducing this company and the transformational work it is doing to my regular readers, fans, and friends of social business.  We will be heading to JiveWorld next week and I will be proud to participate in the fun programs the company has in place to galvanize the believers.  (Please let me know if you’ll be there!) Additionally, the company is on a growth trajectory and is recruiting smart talent looking for a new home to exercise their passion for this work that we’ve all come to love.  I encourage you to apply for any of our open positions.  If I know you personally, make sure to drop me a note too, so I can add some texture to your application. You can reach me directly at susan.scrupski at 7summitsagency dot com.  And keep checking the job board.  New positions are going up all the time.

Onwards!

 

If Social Media will be like Air, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon

The year I transferred from a small, liberal State college to the ginormous State University, I started the fall semester with a bevy of difficult subjects: Chemistry, Calculus, Introduction to Philosophy, and Abnormal Psychology.  When I showed up for my first day of Chemistry, little did I know I had entered the wrong classroom.  I was seated in an Organic Chemistry class, not beginner Chemistry.  Of course, I made a good show of it– nodding with the professor at different intervals, taking notes,  looking confident.  Meanwhile, I had no idea what he was talking about and wanted to run out of there screaming.  However, I now know that 40 minutes was not a waste.  I learned something day one at that class I never forgot.  That lesson is that all organic compounds (and all lifeforms on the planet) have one thing in carbon: Carbon.

I was thinking of this random fact the last few days when I read somewhere that Social Media goddess @charleneli was recently quoted saying, “Social Media will be like air.” (Love that, actually.)  And also because there’s been a bit of to and fro from the business process stalwarts who have once again found the Enterprise 2.0 conversation to occupy their fancy.

Because (admittedly) I have somewhat of an unfair 50-yard line view of the playing field for Enterprise 2.0 adoption in the work I do for The 2.0 Adoption Council, I feel relatively confident in saying, “If Social Media will be like Air, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon.”  I commented to this effect on Zoli’s Enterprise Irregulars re-post of David Terrar’s @DT‘s blog post, although I’m not sure the EI blog is drawing traffic these days.

This is a great post. Read it on @DT’s blog. Totally agree that the bridge between traditional enterprise systems/data/process is the “missing link” in the e20 evolutionary branch of life. Where social will be “like air” as @charleneli says, Enterprise 2.0 will be like Carbon (where Carbon compounds form the basis of all known life.)

But looking at the enterprise through the process prism is not the right perspective, imho. The enterprise of the future will be a social web of connected individuals and teams– innovating, experimenting, verifying, discovering, deciding. The correct view is to analyze the social layer and align process to meet the demands of an ever more productive and innovative workforce.

My friend @sameerpatel has just completed a report, “The Real-Time Enterprise.” Although I have not read this report, I’m fairly certain Sameer and I see the world through a similar lens. I highly recommend you check it out. Enterprise 2.0 is coming.  It’s analogous to trying to stop the Internet from encroaching on global trade in the late 90s.  In the decades to come, it will permeate every business process, every line of communication, every channel to every member of the eco-system of the Enterprise.  Count on it.