This blog continues to share ideas and hopes to generate discussion on social business, knowledge management, and emerging technologies. It also increasingly covers my home, New Orleans, my painting, and travels.
The AppGap posts began toward the end of January 2008. Here, I am primarily doing product commentaries with a few other things thrown in. Below are the ones for September. There will be more in October.
Here is another excellent site created by Jerry Bowles, Social Enterprise Today. It aggregates a number of bloggers on the topic and I am pleased be to included. Others include my friend Luis Suarez, Greg Lowe, who I just saw again at the Forrester Content & Collaboration Forum, Ross Dawson, whose work I have written about several times and one of the people I most frequently RT, and Jacob Morgan whose work I follow.
I recommend that you bookmark it as a useful aggregation of writers in our space. Here is one that I especially liked by Nathan Gilliatt, What If Intelligence and Analytics Are the Same Thing? Nathan notes that, “we use labels like intelligence and analytics to divide the analysis of social media data into closely related specialties. In the process, we risk losing sight of the bigger goal, which all of these specialties support: Uncover the information in the available data in order to develop insights that support the business.” Makes a lot of sense to me and it is our goal with the Darwin Awareness Engine™.
Mark Fidelman of hamon.ie notes in his blog post that “since the demand to make SharePoint more social has increased tremendously over the past 12 months, our goal for the list was to identify the SharePoint thought leaders providing the best guidance for companies looking to increase their social and collaboration capabilities.” I am pleased and honored to be on this list.
I have been talking with a number of the software providers in the social business space. It seems that many of them have recognized that SharePoint has a dominant and secure position in many organizations for document management. Many organizations have already invested a lot in their SharePoint implementation and will not let go of it lightly.
So these social business software providers are deciding not to compete with SharePoint but to acknowledge its presence as the document system of record. They are positioning themselves as the tool to make SharePoint more social. They are positioning themselves as an engagement layer that sits in front of SharePoint.
In my view SharePoint, and other document management systems, should be treated like other enterprise applications of record in the same way as an ERP or CRM system is being treated. At least that is how I would suggest that it be treated for firms that have already invested heavily in SharePoint or similar tools. The social tools then make these enterprise applications of record more social and increase engagement in their use. This is the goal of harmon.ie with its email integration capabilities, as I understand. I think this is a smart move. Of course, if there is no embeded document management system the field is wide open for many options.
Mark Fidelman’s post gives the details on the methodology they used to determine the list. I think they are doing a great service with this effort. Despite being biased since I am on the list, I think it raises awareness that SharePoint can be made more social and that it should be made more social to increase engagement. I would only add that the other enterprise applications should be treated in the same way and I am encouraged to see many of vendors moving in this direction. Social tools need to be interagted into work processes to realize their potential and to avoid beconming isolated chat (see Putting Social Media to Work)
I will add in closing that we have designed the Darwin Awareness Engine™ so that it also integrates with SharePoint out of the box to provide visualizations of the conversations that are going on within SharePoint. It can enable organizations to listen to the voice of the employee to use the term from Forrester’s Leslie Owens. It can also look at the conversations within most of the other social software tools, as well as those on the Web. You can find more about it at our web site and I will be writing more about our SharePoint connection next week.
Last week I attended Forrester's Content & Collaboration Forum 2011 and was pleased, but not surprised, to find it to be a great event. Forrester notes that in five years, almost half of US workers, about 63 million people, will be working virtually. I am already one of them. This will change everything in workplace IT support from designing workplace information strategies for collaboration, to delivering content experiences to people across channels, to engaging the next-generation workforce to serve customers better.
The Forum explored what the “current demand for more portable, social workplace experiences means for your workplace strategy.” I covered seven sessions across three different blogs so this post provides a listing of all of them in order of appearance. I will add one more based on my interview with Leslie Owens as soon as I can finish it.
Last week I attended Forrester's Content & Collaboration Forum 2011. Forrester notes that in five years, almost half of US workers — about 63 million people — will work virtually. I am already one of them. This will change everything in workplace IT support from designing workplace information strategies for collaboration, to delivering content experiences to people across channels, to engaging the next-generation workforce to serve customers better.
The Forum explored the “current demand for more portable, social workplace experiences means for your workplace strategy.” On Friday I attended Driving Business Excellence With Formal, Global Networks led by Dan Ranta, Director of Knowledge Sharing, ConocoPhillips. Dan is a very entertaining speaker. Here is the session description:
“In 2004, ConocoPhillips launched a large initiative to create internal communities of practice that would enhance knowledge sharing within the firm. For this international, integrated energy company with thousands of job sites (often quite remote) spread across 30 countries, the challenge of sharing knowledge was very real — and the potential payoff was large. Facing fierce competition on all fronts, ConocoPhillips knew that to continue on its success trajectory, it needed to rapidly and effectively harness the knowledge of its highly skilled but geographically distributed workforce. Instead of assuming that technology either was the solution or was irrelevant when creating online communities, senior managers understood that effective global communities required new processes, roles, cultures, and technologies. Moreover, they recognized that each had to be focused on solving difficult business challenges. Seven years later, the ConocoPhillips' knowledge-sharing program is ranked as best-in-class across industries.”
Dan mentioned that Conoco Phillips is fourth largest traded company in US with 30,000 employees around the world and many contractors who also participate in their knowledge sharing. They have been many changes in the last 12 years as a number of companies were acquired, along with the merger of Conoco and Phillips. This activity has triggered a big need for knowledge sharing. He likes the term knowledge sharing rather than knowledge management. I completely agree. Dan said it is about getting people to talk to each other. Trust is important for this.
They are now going to reorganize and the solid state of their knowledge assets will help with this effort. Dan said that more than 70% of their good ideas have come from their employees. Good things happen when employees talk to each other.
Dan said that his boss is the SVP of Planning and Strategy and he reports to the CEO so people listen to him as where you sit in the org chart matters within his firm. I think this is true for most firms. The most successful KM efforts I have seen all have a senior sponsor of rank and respect in the organization. Most KM groups are placed too far down the hierarchy to be effective. Their KM effort started when a senior executive felt they were re-inventing things too much. The focus was always connecting people more than collecting documents. They grew by sharing success stories. Sharing these success stories was connected to their variable compensation plan and this really triggered response.
They started the Archimedes Awards to knowledge sharing. Categories are: Give, Grab, Gather, and Guts. Dan gave some examples about safety improvements that also led to big financial returns. They have documented over 9 billion dollars in gains through the program.
Dan said that they have functional excellence models that give specifics for improvements. They promote purposeful collaboration. Dan said serendipity can be useful at times but being purposeful works best in their firm. He said that knowledge accumulates in networks and their firm has a matrix organization. Leadership behavior is important for knowledge to flow and manager support for knowledge sharing is critical.
They now have 150 networks of excellence. The first few were launched in 2005. They had 20 by the end of the year. These networks were built on trust and relationships, not technology. Prior efforts failed because they were technology focused. He showed an example covering upstream rotating equipment. A big problem is lost production opportunity. There is a group that addresses this issue to keep equipment running safely. Networks are open to all employees, not just group members.
Related networks are connected because issues are related across networks. Their Ask and Discuss component has led to 100,000 exchanges. He does not believe in formal lessons learned. It takes too much time. Informal connections work better. I would agree and add the formal lessons learned become out of date very quickly and talking with people gives the most current ideas. People want to help each other but they also want answers quickly. Dan showed a diagram of all the cross-connections. They are massive. Knowledge silos do not seem to an issue for them.
They have three main tools: Ask and Discuss, Knowledge Library, and One Wiki. The wiki is the first place to look for content. Ask and Discuss was covered above. All of their success stories have an economic impact. One had 87 million dollars of benefits. Sharing this is important. Giving credit to the employees is critical. Getting middle managers on board was done through conveying business value of knowledge sharing. It was fun for me to hear about a successful knowledge management effort as I used to be involved with many in the 90s and early 2000s.
I am attending Forrester's Content & Collaboration Forum 2011. Forrester notes that in five years, almost half of US workers — about 63 million people — will work virtually. I am already one of them. This will change everything in workplace IT support from designing workplace information strategies for collaboration, to delivering content experiences to people across channels, to engaging the next-generation workforce to serve customers better.
The Forum explores what the “current demand for more portable, social workplace experiences means for your workplace strategy.” It “shares the latest trends in technology adoption and how firms forge better business outcomes from a more mobile, social, and virtual workforce.” I attended the session, Extending Workplace Strategies To The Age Of Distributed Work - Should You Move Your Email And Collaboration To The Cloud? It was led by Christopher Voce, Principal Analyst & Research Director.
Chris asked the audience in the next 12 months: Who is keeping email and collaboration on premises? It was twice as many as evaluating options to move to the cloud. No one said that they are actually making the move or have already made the move. I would imagine that the email is more of the barrier than other forms of collaboration. This session focused on email. Chris’ data support that the challenge is email as over 90% of firms are now keeping email on premise while many other collaboration apps are moving to the cloud. Video conferencing is one of the most moved with less than 30% remaining on premise.
The cloud can enable IT to focus more on business apps and keep email apps more up-to-date in terms of features. Another presenter noted that over 70% of most IT budgets are for operations and not for strategic business capabilities. There is also more cost savings, at least up front and likely for the total cost of ownership (but not always).
Email is one piece of the broader collaboration strategy. There are several alternatives to on premise: fully hosted, hosted supporting services (hybrid), and split domain (another hybrid). You can split off supporting services such as archiving. The split domain hybrid model means that some of workforce is in the cloud and some stays on premise for regulatory or other purposes. Pharma is an example here.
When you move to the cloud mobile device options are limited. However, despite the rise of mobile, US organizations are slowly moving to the cloud. Currently over 70% are on premise but in two years over 50% say they will move to the cloud for email. In Europe there is much less movement as these countries are more concerned about issues such as privacy.
What are the issues in the move to the cloud? First, there are significant investments in enterprise directories, sometimes to clean up patchwork solutions. The coexistence in the interim can be painful. Calendar is one area where this occurs. For this reason companies are moving to the “big bang” all at once approach to migration. Migration costs tend to run about .5 to 1.5 x annual fee per user. Part of the issue is how much data is carried over. Also movement to a new platform with training costs associated with it can raise the cost.
Lessons learned include the need to have representatives from all groups in your pilot. The use of communities and employee evangelists can reduce migration costs. Pick the natural helpers. Issues that can slow things down: integration, security, SLAs, and legal terms.
How to do things right? Start with employee requirements (e.g., mail box size, archive requirements, SLAs, mobile). Segment employees if warranted. Then determine integration requirements. Conduct a cost requirements study. Forrester has a model for this. Discover external regulatory requirements and finally, determine internal security requirements.
There are many vendors that can host mailboxes. You do not have to limit yourself to the big names such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft. There are specialists, telecoms, and traditional outsourcers.
In short term run a pilot. It is easy. Also stop making any deeper ties into on premise email. Work with IT to determine the operational model for the move to the cloud. In the longer term, consider more than email. Do not over-provision based on your neediest users. Look into existing relationships for help. Are you already working with firms for other needs that provide this service? Time your move with an upgrade. All of this is good advice.
I am attending Forrester's Content & Collaboration Forum 2011. Forrester notes that in five years, almost half of US workers — about 63 million people — will work virtually. I am already one of them. This will change everything in workplace IT support from designing workplace information strategies for collaboration, to delivering content experiences to people across channels, to engaging the next-generation workforce to serve customers better. These notes are near real time so please excuse any typos.
The Forum explores what the “current demand for more portable, social workplace experiences means for your workplace strategy.” It “shares the latest trends in technology adoption and how firms forge better business outcomes from a more mobile, social, and virtual workforce.” Sheila B. Jordan, Vice President, Communication and Collaboration IT, Cisco Systems presented a Key note: Enabling The New Collaborative Workspace. Here is the session description:
“Much of the end user value proposition behind “Enterprise 2.0” is an integrated, contextually aware experience that enables people to spend less time shifting between technology silos and more time getting work done. It’s about breaking past traditional boundaries by empowering and engaging people with a workspace that’s inherently social, mobile, visual, and virtual. Enabling this new collaborative workspace, however, comes with significant challenges — and business leaders are turning to IT, HR, and corporate communications departments to manage these.
Where and how should organizations get started with this transformation? What success factors and metrics can they use to steer their efforts in the right direction? How do they drive adoption, change management, and effective governance throughout the experience? And, most of all, how do they derive sustainable business value from their investments? Sheila Jordan has led the transformation behind Cisco’s Integrated Workforce Experience (IWE); she will share some of the best practices and lessons that she and her team have learned to help you down a successful path of your own.”
Shelia started by saying the collaboration is the IT investment of the decade. The Cisco collaboration portfolio has evolved of the past few years to accommodate this. They have a social platform called Quad. Collaboration can break down any barrier in the organization if architected correctly. This includes an enterprise architecture. You can start with pilots but you need to get to the integrated enterprise. Services oriented architect fits in here. You need to integration to avoid silos.
New business requirements include: mobile, social, visual (video), and virtual. We are in the post-PC world. All aspects of the PC world have been shattered. Trends driving IT now can be grouped as: business, technology, content, and mobility. Speed is key. Now too much IT spend is focused on basic operations. More needs to shift to strategic uses and business capabilities.
Content is the most exciting and daunting. Email is getting worse and now there are many other forms of content bombarding us. The picture is too complex and IT needs to mask some of this complexity for the users. They created an integrated workforce experience powered by Cisco Quad. The themes were connect, communicate, learn. They started by integrated all the Cisco tools. They then looked at collaboration in relation to work needs and not for its own sake. Now they personalized the experience for each individual. The last component was to integrate transaction systems to provide the whole workforce experience.
After doing this for themselves they created a product, Quad. It integrates with EMC and CRM systems, among others. The integrated architecture includes these layers: device, collaboration, transformation layer (to cover all devices), web services and enterprise apps. They have many different types of devices and vendors within each device category.
They set up an enterprise app store to cover the traditional enterprise apps and create personalized apps to fit individual needs. Her vision is to have an app store container that allows you to drag in apps to fit your needs and your devices. This is a work in progress. They also have video for the entire organization with different levels for different roles. Video reduces travel, and speeds up collaboration to increase a variety of work processes.
She next asked what is the value of collaboration. There is an operational ROI, productivity ROI and strategic ROI. This is a work in progress of them to find value in these three ways. They estimate over 1.5 billion in benefits in 2010 from collaboration. She used these numbers to return to her theme of collaboration is the IT investment of the decade.
She was asked about organizational changes to make these things happen. They first created a steering committee with all functions involved. The vision was central but the individual units were responsible for the deployment in their function. Shelia knew from past experiences that this had to be an IT and business collaboration to be successful.
Shelia was also asked about transparency. She said the cultural aspects is the hardest, more that technology or process. With this vision you can get a real sense of the pulse of the company but you have to be ready to hear it.
Last night I went to an interesting event sponsored by the MIT Enterprise Forum. It was part of their Innovation Series: From Social Insights to Social Business Innovation. I have the pleasure of attending an earlier event for startups where my Darwin Ecosystem partner Thierry Hubert presented our story. It was a very useful and innovative format where both a panel of experts and the audience provided feedback on our presentation. Once we presented we could not talk but only listen. This event was quite different and played to a much larger audience but no less useful. Here is the event description:
“The rapid growth and usage of social media by consumers and businesses has created a seismic shift that affects every aspect of our lives today. We predict that this social movement will have the same impact on society and business as Guttenberg had over 600 years ago. Social is making the Global Village possible, it is truly flattening the world, and thus is impacting not only business disciplines such as marketing, sales and customer service but the very core of business itself. New and powerful business models are emerging – models based on social innovation.”
Lora Kratchounova, Scratch Marketing + Media, led the event. Francois Gossieaux, Human 1.0, moderated the panel discussion. He asked the panel for their context that led them to be on the panel.
Betsy Aoki, Bing, said she was recruited to Bing from XBox where she had introduced some social aspects. I interviewed her in 2004 for a business blog book I was doing at the time. She was the funniest interviewee then and she is keeping up with this skill.
Ekaterina Walters, Intel, does social media work and social networks within Intel. They have been doing social media and blogs for about 5 years. Their Facebook community has 3.5 million members
Nathaniel Perez, SapientNitro, is the head of social at Nitro, a PR firm, but they do not use the term, social media, but social experience instead. He is most passionate about generating experiences that lead to innovation, as well as real time insights.
Marcus Nelson, SalesForce.com, is Director of Social Media at Salesforce.com. He was the first one in the group and now they have about 15 globally. They are measuring a lot now that they have acquired Radiant6.
Francois asked the panel about the human aspects of social media, as opposed to the technology. He said that humans are hard wired for reciprocity. I would agree but in my experience this is not universal across all people. There are many who will exploit this reciprocity.
Francois added that we are also hard wired for power and status. If you allowed knowledge to equal power you get knowledge hoarding and this stifles innovation. He also found that people lie to you in interviews and tell you want to hear. For example, Jet Blue asked people what type of snacks they wanted. They said healthy so they provided them and no one ate them. He asked the panel how social innovation got started in their firm.
Betsy said she was the blog queen at Microsoft and helped blogging get started at Microsoft in 2004. Microsoft was one of the first firms to allow employees to blog on a mass scale. There were so many individual bloggers that created a portal in 2004. They still have it as their Microsoft Community Blogs section on their site with a directory to find weblogs about Microsoft technologies written by Microsoft employees. The site said you can ‘Use these blogs to get insights and opinions about using (and creating!) Microsoft technology and software.” There were 385 blogs listed in 2004 when I first wrote about it.
Ekaterina said that half of the population is under age 30 and grew up with social and real time communication so they are attuned to using social tools for innovation. Nathaniel said that you need to go beyond tools and create connections based on human experience for innovation to happen. Marcus talked about PR campaigns generated informally that had a single focus. These can trump the most well funded ones. He gave an example of a $10,000 video that Levis did about walking across America that has had over 8 millions views.
Ekaternia said they are trying to get all employees to help answer customer questions through social media. Nathaniel countered by saying there is a difference between waves and ripples and the waves need more careful planning.
Francois asked how they measure success. Marcus said share of voice is one: how to get people talking about us more than competitors. However, he noted measurement is hard. What is the ROI on your mom? Nathaniel countered by saying that you can measure everything and you should. I sense a contrarian trend here. He added that brand health and perception are key measures. Ekaternia said that for Dell they saved millions through social media based customer service that took traffic away from call centers. Nathaniel said you can design initiatives for measurability.
The audience asked what is the biggest misconception about social media. Ekaterina said the idea the social media will solve everything and do it for free. Marcus said that more input is not always better. You can just get more confusion.
The audience asked if the goal is to find good ideas in the middle of too many bad ones, how do you find the good ones. Francois said use the crowd to find the bad ideas. They are good at that. Marcus said one issue is deciding who you hand off the good idea or insight to get something done with it. He also made fun of the audience members who left early as they were leaving. I guess he wanted to keep the crowd thing going.
Marcus said that people want to be helpful but they do not know the answer so they make it up on the spot. This is a weakness with crowd-sourcing. Nathaniel said that the number of followers is a bogus measure. I would certainly agree here since you can simply buy them if you believe all the ads I see. Key influencers are not effective. Ashton Krucher is an example. Betsy said there are other people who are influential because they are smart not because they are popular. Marcus said the true influencers do not worry about their followers. They just act.
Francois asked about stories. Betsy and Ekaternia talked abut the amplification effects of social media through personal stories. Nathaniel said the potential is limitless. He told about a person who bought a house that had video cameras in every room and he looked at his son’s early sounds. He could trace the evolution of the use of the word “water.” The content is there for many questions but we need the means to analyze it. Marcus talked about how the world can come to you through Twitter before it gets presented in the mainstream media.
I came away feeling that while social media has the potential to provide significant insights we have a ways to go to make the most of these insights. There are certainly examples of success here but we are still in the frontier phase. This is not a bad place to be as the opportunity ahead is huge.
Endeca recently announced the results of a survey that explores the changing business intelligence analytics requirements. The survey polled 228 marketers at U.S. organizations with an eCommerce presence. The demographics indicated that 56% of the respondents came from B2C retail shops, 27% came from B2B Distributors, and the remaining 17% spanned Manufacturing, Financial Services, Education, and Media organizations. The survey found that while it is more important than ever to tap into social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to understand evolving customer behavior and forge new revenue streams, marketers are overwhelmed with the growing number of data sources that need to be measured and analyzed.
Combined with the rise of information overload from the volumes of unstructured data coming from the leading social media sites, it is not surprising that survey results show that more than 60%of respondents admit they are currently making decisions based ononly 50% or less of data availableto them. In addition, nearly half of the respondentsreport that they are still using multiple tools (at least three or more) to support BI decisions.
Nearly half of respondents say they are not currently incorporating unstructured data into analysis, but it is something they would like to do. These firms are missing much of the good stuff. In addition, 35% of respondents say they spend hours combining data from various data sources and over half say they would like to analyze all information in a single view.
The need for a dynamically changing set of PI tools is also seen as 48% of respondents said their analytics requirements changed at least monthly, with 20% of respondents requirements changing daily or hourly. In addition, more than 40% of respondents cited that it often takes months to have their BI requests fulfilled or they often cannot get their requests fulfilled at all.
There is a great untapped potential for business intelligence as firms are still not taking advantage of the vast amounts of user generated content within Web 2.0.
For years I saw and wrote that the only knowledge management efforts (where I had direct contact) that were successful were those that were integrated into work processes. This was the case with my first KM project in 1992 that grew out of trying to improve insurance underwriting and claims results and this trend continued through the rest of them. You had to start with a business issue, add knowledge management into the work processes and then measure success by improvement in the work process, not through usage stats or other disconnected measures.
When social media first came out I thought they might be different. I though that that perhaps you could implement them and let people discover valuable use cases. Now, I am now convinced that what held for knowledge management holds for social media and enterprise 2.0. A number of the vendors that I have been talking with are coming to this conclusion and making integration with workflow oriented enterprise apps a priority.
I recently read a post by Andy McAfee that makes the same point in very clear terms. He, in turn, quotes a post by Laurie Buczek, The Big Failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business. “Culture will change as a result of the pervasive use of social tools. Lack of cultural change is not social business’s biggest failure. The biggest failure is the lack of workflow integration to drive culture change.” Ahem.
As Richard Hughes at Clearvale said to me recently, if an enterprise social networking tool does not integrate with the existing enterprise apps it is limited to simply facilitating water cooler chat. It stays on the side lines. I could not agree more. This is what enterprise 2.0 needs to do to move beyond Web 2.0 in the enterprise. Other software firms that I am speaking to have also moved in this direction: Moxie, Traction, Socialtext, and DoubleDutch, being the most recent but not the only ones. I like this recognition of where the value resides.
Information Management published a useful article, Big Data is Scaling BI and Analytics, on how the information overload is changing the way organizations use business intelligence and analytics. They started by noting that IDC research on digital data indicates that the amount of digital information in the world reached beyond a zettabyte in size in 2010 and this equals one trillion gigabytes of information. They added that a zettabyte is roughly the size of 125 billion 8GB iPods fully loaded.
Now Apple sales figures have been growing but that is not the answer to the storage issue. More important than the storage issue is how to use this data as an opportunity to make effective business decisions and not simply a challenge over where to put it.
They go on to write that the term "big data" has emerged to describe this growth along with the related systems technology. There is still some fuzziness on the definition of big data. Information Management defines it as “data sets that can no longer be easily managed or analyzed with traditional or common data management tools, methods and infrastructures.”
After demonstrating how much data jet engine can generate, they move on to social media. Twitter has more than 200 million users who produce more than 90 million "tweets" per day, or 800 per second. This traffic leads Twitter to produce a total of eight terabytes of data per day. The New York Stock Exchange only produces about one terabyte of data per day.
So far companies have just starting to deal with big data. Information Management reports that, using anecdotal references, less than 10 percent of enterprises appear to have deployed a big data project. One of the tools to confront this data challenge is the open source platform, Hadoop. It consists of three projects: “Hadoop Common, a utility layer that provides access to the Hadoop Distributed File System and Hadoop subprojects. HDFS acts as the data storage platform for the Hadoop framework and can scale to massive size when distributed over numerous computing nodes.” Facebook is now operating the “world's largest Hadoop analytic data warehouse, using HDFS to store more than 30 petabytes of data.” A number of other tools are mentioned.
Going back to the original definition, “data sets that can no longer be easily managed or analyzed with traditional or common data management tools, methods and infrastructures,” I want to suggest another related but separate issue: big content. If we simply change content for data we get to a related challenge. Big content is “content that can no longer be easily managed or analyzed with traditional or common data management tools, methods and infrastructures.”
While big data is a challenge for many large organizations, big content is a challenge that all Web users face every day. How do you deal with the fire hose of content coming at you from the Web, especially from the all the user-generated content sites like Twitter or blogs? It is one challenge to find a place to store it and another to make sense of it. Even if an individual is not processing terabytes of information, we all still have to deal with the problem of too much content to absorb and understand. This is why I am adding the term content so the focus is on the meaning and not the number of bytes. The two terms complement each other.
Here is where the Darwin Awareness Engine™ comes into play. I have covered it a bit on this blog so here is a brief summary. The Awareness Engine creates content visualizations that allow you to quickly scan across the themes contained in the content within your topic of interest. To find what is meaningful to you. With the Scan Cloud, the top 100 themes within a set of content are displayed in a manner that allows for easy sorting and investigation. With Buzz tape, the topics of rising interest appear like a stock ticker and then you can make the ones of interest become the center of a Scan Cloud.
It is Fall and Halloween is coming soon, the prime time of the year for Salem, MA. Salem is a very eclectic city with many interesting shops. I used to work there. One of the more usual is Harrison’s at 252 Essex St. next to my old barber shop. Here are some of the goods. As Yelp said, “They carry an armada of quirky, geeky items catering to just about every branch of geekdom.”
Earlier this week I asked the question: do we needed set work hours. One of the dangers of flexible hours is over-working. Here is some research on the consequences of working too long. Technorati reported on new Avaya research that found 81 per cent of the people survyed have experienced negative consequences as a result of devoting too much time to the business, rather than to other areas of their life. These results came from a survey of 700 senior managers in small and medium businesses (SMEs) conducted Summer 2011 in the UK and Germany. Now the UK and Germany are known for protecting worker’s hours so these results may not be quite so extreme in the US or Asia.
However, I was really interested to also read that “conversely, 83 per cent of sufferers say flexible working has helped ease these sorts of problems for them personally, signaling that businesses can aid employees in improving their work-life balance and productivity significantly through flexibility-boosting communications tools.” In my post on the relevancy of set work hours, I cited the concern that flexible hours might lead to work exploitation. These results imply the opposite.
On the negative side, over working can produce many bad results. Over of the respondents (56%) endure stress. While a third (33%) have suffered from poor health and over a quarter (27%) of people admit to marriage or relationship problems. A tenth said their dedication to work has actually resulted in divorce or separation. In addition, almost a fifth (18%) of parents admit to missing out on their kids’ school activities such as sports days and awards ceremonies, as a result of an inflexible work regime.
These findings support the need to shift to a more results oriented than time oriented work structure for industries that accommodate this type of working arrangement. In the study group over three quarters (76%) of firms offer employees some degree of flexible working but this could go further as employees still spend “an average 74% of their working week chained to their desks.”
There is room for improvement here. Even if you are part of the gig economy and are your own boss, like me, you need to be careful not to overwork.
Here is another in a series of posts that provide access to my favorite tweets that contain links to useful information. Some of these I did to link to things I found useful and others are RTs that I want to save for the same reason. Since Twitter archiving is an oxymoron, I am now going to post my favorite links for the month so they can be easily accessed later.
I spot tested the reduced shortened urls and they all should work. I hope this is also useful for you. Let me know your favorite tweets for the month.
After over fours years of posting the FastForward blog has closed. We started in December 2006. I did my last listing of posts recently (see: My Fast Forward Posts for August 2011). We began working with FAST, the search company and then Microsoft acquired them and continued the blog. I have greatly enjoyed the past four plus years writing for it. We are looking into ways to archive the content.
There were a number of farewell posts beginning with Francois Gossieaux writing: “When the conversation shifts – sometimes you just say goodbye.” As he noted the “aim of this blog was to drive and deepen conversation about how today’s companies can use technology to put users in control of information. It was home to the ongoing discussion about Enterprise 2.0 opportunities and challenges.” He adds, “our content has evolved and our initial purpose has been fulfilled with widespread discussion of E2.0 occurring in businesses and organizations of all sizes.”
Rob Paterson added: “So what happened in 4 years of writing for Fast Forward Blog?” He began in July 2007 and asked himself what were all these new tools going to be about? He wrote that he feels good and bad about how his question got answered by life. Most people have made the new media part of their lives. However, in business there has been more adoption of the tools than the culture that goes with them. Large businesses that do not adopt the culture of openness and connectivity that the tools enable will miss much of the opportunity. I certainly agree.
Joe McKendrick asked What Did You Do in the Social Networking Revolution, Daddy? He notes a number of computer technology transformations but then adds that “social media was more than a platform or a new mode of computing — it was a new way of connecting, of doing business, of leading nations, of working, of making friends and renewing friendships.” It was the possibility of a new culture as Rob mentioned. There is great potential to improve the quality of work life. As Andy McAfee recently wrote, enterprise 2.0 is a rare business movement that benefits both workers and management at the same time because it appeals to people need to be connected. McKinsey has shown us some of the financial returns. But you will only really get them if you bring along with culture of connection with the tools as Rob writes.
Jon Husband picked up on this theme with his post, Leading and Managing (Networked) People Must Evolve. Jon quotes Gary Hamel that, “activities will still need to be coordinated, individual efforts aligned, objectives decided upon, knowledge disseminated, and resources allocated, but increasingly this work will be distributed out to the periphery“. This is part of the culture that Rob mentions. Rigid top-down hierarchy needs to step aside and allow for greater networked organizations that allow the all levels to contribute. These will be the winners. While the new tools enable the possibilities, management will have to embrace them to reap the benefits.
I closed with a post that looked at the brighter side of Web 2.0. A survey by Communispace noted that when asked if technology better connections or creates more distance, 72% of all respondents said better connections. They noted with the more technically advanced group (they called them the “tech fast forwards”) 80% sided with this view. This is looking at how people feel about technology in their personal life. We now need research on how these people feel about it in their work life to see if the same positive benefits hold. It is the need for this sense of connection and the culture that supports it that runs through these closing comments. We will all continue to write on our own blogs. Stay tuned.
Sean Carton wrote an interesting piece, Become a Content Curation King. He first noted that this high flying buzzword is not actually a word. My spell checker agrees but I am sure that Webster will add it soon. He defines curation as “the act of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a coherent way, organized around a specific topic(s).” Sean gores on the rightly note that this has been going on for some time with many blog providing links to interesting stuff (such as this post) and that portals did the same thing in the 90s.
So what is new? Sean quotes NYU Professor Clay Shirky: "Curation comes up when search stops working…[and] when people realize that it isn't just about information seeking, it's also about synchronizing a community." Sean goes on to add that it's the "community" part that's at the heart of the whole curation movement …Just as a carefully-curated museum exhibit is sure to draw like-minded people together, carefully-curated content on the web has the potential to attract (and/or build) an online community of people who are into the same stuff.”
Sean provides a number of useful suggestions for how you can make curation work for your brand. I think the tips are not limited to marketing as curation can serve many functions. He begins by noting that you must think like a curator and simply be an aggregator. First, you need to know your audience and make a commitment to meeting their needs. Think about your niche and help the community make sense of its niche. Provide an ongoing resource (not just an event) and offer an attractive user experience.
These are all useful suggestions. I will add more. Select some useful tools to help you with the curation process. If you spend too much energy looking for useful content, it will interfere with your ability to make sense of it. This is where the Darwin Awareness Engine™ can help. It is specifically designed to help content curators. I have covered it a good bit on this blog and will not go into too may details now. You can find an overview of the Awareness Engine here, a manual here and a list of FAQs here.
Rob Paterson used the Awareness Engine as he acted as a content curator for the St. Louis community around the topic of immigration through their PBS station, KETC. Rob said that “what I have found incredibly helpful about Darwin is the uncovering of emerging trends and gaining clarity on the issues…The value of Darwin is that on a daily basis it starts to reveal patterns of content on the Web. It could be immigration but it could be anything.” Rob said it saved him several hours a day by bringing together the content on immigration in one source. He could focus on the results rather than spending a great del of time looking. Darwin works best in the hands of a skilled curator who knows his or her topic well. Then they can see the anomalies and pull out the interesting and useful content.
Last week I asked if you were engaged in your work? Another post-Labor question is whether your job should have defined hours. This is the question asked by Mathew Ingram at Gigaom. Many people already do not have defined hours and I am one. However, I do not think there is a blanket answer. For example, many customer facing service jobs require either constant coverage or coverage during defined hours so the staff proving this coverage needs to be scheduled and coordinated. In addition, work that requires synchronous teamwork such as factory production lines need coordinated schedules.
That said, there are a growing number of jobs where defined hours seem irrelevant. I wrote about this last week (see:The Gig Economy – Intrapreneurship – A New Style of Work). This is the case for many who work primarily on-line. Hours used to be a way to determine productivity and for many jobs it is now results, not hours. When I first started doing consulting in the 80s, I did contract work for several large old style companies where many people felt they needed to have their car in the parking lot before their boss arrived.
I also remember several consulting projects where my firm and another firm partnered on several projects. My firm focused on results and the other also focused on appearance. They said they were trying to instill a greater work ethic in the companies they consulted to and part of this was showing up before the regular employees and staying later. We thought this was silly. When we did work together for a UK firm the British clients also thought it was silly. They felt if you were working too long hours you were not being productive with your time and were deficient. Our view on work seemed to win out as each time we partnered with the appearance oriented firm their staffed team members shrank and ours grew as the project progressed.
Later, I was involved in a long term consulting project with a different firm where our entire team was from out of town. We would arrive mid-day on Monday, taking the first flight from our home base, and leave on Friday to get home for dinner. The local employees complained about us arriving late on Monday and leaving early on Friday. However, one weekend I stayed over and left at normal hours. I noticed that the local employees cleared out as soon as the consultants were gone.
I offer these examples to help make the case that for some types of work set hours are counter productive. They place a focus on attendance rather than results. The danger is that employers will placer unrealistic demands on their employees and flexible hours plus constant connectivity means always working. The defined work week was started to protect workers from exploitation and that need remains. Here the challenge is to set realistic expectations. I now am part of the gig economy and done many things so the only person that can exploit me is myself. However, when I still worked for a single firm but had flexible hours, I always felt that I was doing something wrong if I had to work weekends. I would examine what I was doing to correct the situation and was usually successful. The responsibility for making the transition to flexible hours lies with both workers and employees. Those firms that can avoid exploiting their employees in the process will be the winners in the long run.
This is my sixth year in a row to attend the Onset Bay Blues Festival. This was the best one yet. Gil was the announcer and one of the bands. I have seen him several times now and he keeps getting better.
As I mentioned on this blog I am now helping OutStart with their social media efforts as part of the OutStart team. I am one of several people contributing to our OutStart Knowledge Solutions Blog (see: My New Role within OutStart’s Social Media Efforts). I will not be repeating my posts for that blog on this blog. However, about once a month I will post links to my writing there. Here is the third set covering August. I am including posts by other members of the OutStart team. I welcome your comments.
My friend Luis Suarez pointed me to an excellent article by Irving Wladawsky-Berger, A New Style of Work. I met Irving at an IBM event around 2005 before he retired and was impressed with his thinking. In this blog post he refers to the post retirement phase of his life that has launched this new way to work for him. In another blog post on the topic, Tom Foremski, a journalist blogger commented, “In some ways, I see your post-retirement life as being somewhat futuristic, in that it will be the way many people will be working in the future. It's what I call an "atomic" model - collaborating with others on specific tasks/projects and then dissolving those collaborations as you work with others on different projects. In some ways, this is the way Hollywood has been working for decades. And it's also one that I increasingly see in Silicon Valley.”
This rang very true as I am now seven years into the post-retirement phase of my own life. I find myself operating in the same way that Irving describes as I have written about on this blog a number of times. I wear multiple work hats and am connected to several organizations. I also find an increasing number of my former colleagues doing the same. Except for most of them they are not yet in a post retirement phase as they are much younger than me. Luis himself falls into this latter category and his post discussing Irving’s article provides some useful thoughts.
Luis defines Intrapreneurship as an era, “where thanks to the Social Web, whether internal or external, or both!, knowledge workers, for the first time ever, are now in charged of their own productivity, of their own workflows and personal business relationships with others, of their own responsibility not only towards the work that needs to be done, but also towards the fellow peers they collaborate and share their knowledge with.” The reminds me of Charles Handy’s comment in the early 90s that when the workers own the means of production, that is their own minds, things will change. His forecast has come true.
Luis expands Handy’s idea to add that one of the ways that things have changed is now workers are much more transparent about their work and having more fun at the same time. We are out from under the hierarchical cloud imposed by the industrial revolution. It is easier to do this as an enterprise of one that is connected to many organizations as I have experienced. Luis is a great role model for this new style of working as he works from within a very large enterprise but has established a strong personal brand to the benefit of both himself and his employer. He is a great example of the social revolution moving inside the enterprise.
Here are my AppGap posts for August. The AppGap posts began toward the end of January 2008. Here, I am primarily doing product commentaries with a few other things thrown in. Below are the ones for August. There will be more in September.
Here is a good post-Labor day question. I saw an interesting blog post title on Twitter, Going through the motions: Only a 1/3 of workers are engaged in their jobs. Looking within the post, it reported that a recent study by consulting firm Blessing White found only 33 percent of North American workers engaged in their jobs. It notes that low engagement levels have a proven negative impact on business performance. That would make sense. A study from HR consultancy Towers Watson backs up this assumption. They found that organizations with high employee engagement had a 19 percent increase in operating income versus a 32 percent drop for companies with low levels of engagement.
The post went on to describe how US employees feel under appreciated which might contribute to their lack of engagement. The first Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker report found that 55 percent felt they were not rewarded according to job performance, indicating a critical disconnect between recognition and performance. Even more concerning was the finding that 66 percent of those same respondents stated their company doesn't have a recognition program that provides awards based on performance or behaviors tied to its core values. What is the matter with their senior management?
To no surprise the vast majority (85 percent) of U.S. workers surveyed like to have their efforts at work recognized. I wonder about the other 15% and would not like them on my team at work.
I have seen many dysfunctional HR policies in my tenure as an employee with various firms. This lack of awards based on performance falls into that category. However, even with such rewards you have to be careful how they are implemented. When performance rewards are handed out by forcing the ranking of employees, this likely only generates competition between employees and a lot of further dysfunctional behavior. I have seen this in action in more than one firm.
Now I have multiple jobs at the same time and I am lucky to feel engaged with each one. I wonder if there is a connection? This would an interesting study.
It ia holiday in the US so here is a holiday post. This is my sixth year in a row to attend the Onset Bay Blues Festival. This was the best one yet. James Montgomery came on with Doug Bell and Erin Harpe. They each have their own bands. I bought two of her CDs.
This is my sixth year in a row to attend the Onset Bay Blues Festival. This was the best one yet. Rosemary’s Baby Blues put on a great set. It was the most high energy of a great field. Here is part two. The horns add a lot of playfulness to as blues group.
This is my sixth year in a row to attend the Onset Bay Blues Festival. This was the best one yet. Rosemary’s Baby Blues put on a great set. It was the most high energy of a great field. Here is part one and tomorrow it will be continued. The horns add a lot of playfulness to as blues group.
Here is another in a series of posts that provide access to my favorite tweets that contain links to useful information. Some of these I did to link to things I found useful and others are RTs that I want to save for the same reason. Since Twitter archiving is an oxymoron, I am now going to post my favorite links for the month so they can be easily accessed later.
I spot tested the reduced shortened urls and they all should work. I hope this is also useful for you. Let me know your favorite tweets for the month.
David Coupland wrote more on Marshall McLuhan in the Guardian on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of McLuhan’s birth: Why McLuhan's chilling vision still matters today. I tweeted it and got many retweets and this encouraged me to think about a blog post on the article. David starts with the interesting question: “which technological change felt more like a cathartic change to society: TV in the 1950s or the internet since 2000.” David said that a few years ago we would have said TV and now he picks the Web. As someone who was involved with both transitions I would say that it is a close contest. Television may have created more separation within families but it brought the world closer together and this window on the world was often shared within families. Just as people say that Kennedy was the first TV president, Obama is seen as the first president who effectively used the Web.
McLuhan looked beyond the content, whether it was the world or politics. David writes that McLuhan told us, “Mediums change you by their very existence. They do this on fundamental levels because they force you to favour certain parts of your brain over others.” To McLuhan this was a concern as he previewed Nicholas Carr on the Web (see: Is Google Making Us Stupid).
David quotes McLuhan in 1962: "The next medium, whatever it is – it may be the extension of consciousness – will include television as its content, not as its environment. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organisation, retrieve the individual's encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind." He was the canary in the coal mind of media.
I had the pleasure of attending some of McLuhan’s seminars while I was doing my graduate school work at the University of Toronto in the early 1970s. These were exciting experiences with rapid fire pronouncements from McLuhan. He was full of ideas and quickly moved from one to another. Marshall did not like to take questions because, as he said, he was three or four ideas further down the road when a question was asked. David Carr noted a similar trait in his New York Times review of Douglas Coupland’s Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!” when he writes, “He (McLuhan) loved teaching but was oblique in the extreme and had little use for the thoughts of others unless they were written down at length and subjected to rigorous analysis.” He might not have liked Twitter given the 140 character limit but I am sure he would something to say about it.
I was at the University of Toronto indirectly because of McLuhan. I had developed an interest in the effects of media on cognition through looking at how young children did art. David Olson, a psychologist at U of T, was looking at this issue. He had initially been motivated to look at the concept by McLuhan’s work. So I choose to go to Toronto to study with David Olson. I have seen a lot of research that indicates that the communication channels we use help shape our messages and how we receive them. I did some myself.
This was a new concept in cognitive psychology, as well as in the general dialogue. Coupland quotes McLuhan, “We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us,” and David Carr notes that was “describing a television and telecommunications revolution, but he was also setting out the implications of the consumer Web four decades before it blossomed.”
This impact of the Web on our thoughts, relationships, and business continues to interest me. It is ironic that it grew from an interest in the 1970s in the cognitive thought processes that children use as they create art and was indirectly influenced by someone studying Renaissance art and literature mostly prior to the 20th century. I looked at visual versus verbal thought but the same general concepts hold. Media does help shape cognition. I am pleased to see this new work. It both brings back memories and covers the still relevant work of a creative and complex thinker.
Of course, TV and the Web are converging as many studies show. This convergence is a frequent activity for me. I even look up stuff on the Web about what I am watching on TV and I certainly look to the Web to see what is on TV. I am watching a golf event on TV while i write this post.