I am pleased to be back for my sixth Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. Here is a link to a summary of last year’s notes. This is another of my notes for this year. There will be more to follow. I attended session - Design Considerations For Enterprise Social Networks: Identity, Graphs, Streams & Social Objects led by Mike Gotta, Senior Technical Solution Marketing Manager for Social Software, Cisco. Here is the session description:
“Organizations can improve how employees connect to co-workers by understanding the influence design has on participation within social platforms. This session examines key social networking building blocks and how design practices should accommodate multiple networking strategies as employees seek to mobilize their connections to satisfy different work and professional needs. Attendees will gain a better understanding of social networking technology found within social platforms; insight to the cultural aspects of social networks, and how social networking strategies help people cultivate relationships and build social capital they can later leverage to achieve work and professional goals.”
Mike provided a vendor neutral view of design considerations. Social networking has been around since the 1600s but now the new tools allow you to see the social networks. There is a lot of business value and benefits to the organization. The trick is getting beyond the high-level benefit possibilities to realize them. He showed some of the architectural capabilities that relate to social networking. You want to integrate the existing enterprise apps and the data and content within them. You also want to link with business processes, as well as deal with compliance and other issues. Then you want to play this capability over any device.
The traditional way projects were run were: plan, build, run; and resources were released so that modifications based on use after deployment were not made. The resources committed to the ongoing program should include design to avoid this problem. All work interactions should occur in a social network context. Now social in the context of my work is a big theme. The issue has been around a while but is getting more recognition.
It is important to think about the cultural aspects as cultural productivity is intersecting with work productivity. People are not aligned or engaged with their work. How do you get engagement? One way is to delegate authority. (McKinsey data supports that the lower the decision lever is in an organization the higher the operating margin). So you cannot just focus on the task but keep the broader cultural issues in mind. You need to not just design for the screen but beyond that to the person and the work and the culture. No reason people feel disengaged is that they feel that they do not belong. If you do not make culture involved do not be surprised if the app is not used. We need to design for the user and for the network effects.
One issue is identify. You need to let people construct their own identity. We have moved from assigned identity to claimed identity. In some organizations this goes well but in others people do not want to be found because they might get laid off or they do not see the reason for it.
Another issue is recognition and reputation. This helps to identify expertise. Determine what ties you want to support within a network. Is it a project? Is it an interest? How long will the context be around?
Another issue is social objects. You take work items from a decision process and put it into an activity stream. How do deal with this? Ask a question or do a poll or something else? What do you want to do with it? You need to create mechanisms and context for connecting. Who should provide input and where should it go? What relationships do you want to build and grow?
Another issue is activity streams. It will be as bad as the inbox if you do not provide filters or other ways to focus it and not let employees get fire hosed. Activity streams are places to get information and a place to connect with others. It is not simply an information source. Think about the networking aspects. You also want to see trends over time and be able to archive and access events over time. After activity streams have been used they could provide a greater history of how work is done. Activity streams are a new form of presence.
Another issue is social analytics. You need to ensure algorithms are transparent and adjustable. You want the systems to make recommendations and allow people to understand what is happening so they can make recommendations. You need to be able to figure out how the algorithms work so you understand what is being generated.
What is next? How to integrate social into the work life of the employee? Neighborhood networks of people doing similar things can help. It provides context that is related to what you are doing. Making networks mobile is another issue coming up. In summary, the project starts after deployment. It does not end there. Platforms are not the end of the journey. Do not think “social everything.” The four building blocks: identity, social graph, activity streams, and social objects. Great session.