This post is the third on an interesting press session on social software at IBM in Cambridge on November 7, titled: “The Future of Enterprise Social Networks.” Today, I cover the demos of stuff going on inside the enterprise. These were some of the most exciting efforts.
Martin Wattenberg, IBM Research presented a demo of Jam Analytics, a tool that allows you to look at discussions with internal collaborative experiences designed to obtain greater employee participation and dialog on key issues. The initial World Jam was designed to capture input on ten important issues. It lasted 72 hours and had 52,000 IBM employee participants globally. The paper, World Jam: Talk Among 50,000+ descriobes the event. The Jam Analyzer helps visualize what is happening and lets you drill down on specific participants and conversations. You can seen posts by the same person or about the same topic or product or from the same location. This way you can go through a huge amount of data and cut it many ways. A good tool for the Beercaster (Greg Narian records conversations in bars and sorts by person, place, and topic)
David Millen next gave one of the most interesting demos with immediate application within many large firms. He showed the IBM internal social book marking (or tagging) application, Dogear. It gives you tagging capability combined with authentication of the tagger. Your corporate directory presence can also have your tags (as well as your blogs). You can see others within your firm with the same book marks. You can see the book marks of individuals and you can subscribe to them. They now have about 17,000 tags in a few months with limited promotion. I think this has great potential and IBM did a great job on this version of enterprise tagging. It was built by Jonathan Feinberg of IBM Research. David also showed Fringe which crawls around and looks for associations between people how they are connected. It has integrated Dogear, the tagging tool.
Dan Gruen next presented Unified Activity Management. As the IBM web site states, “The goal of the Unified Activity Management (UAM) project is to recast collaboration technologies in terms of the meaningful business activities in which people are engaged, both to support the work of each individual person and team and -- more significantly -- the enterprise. This includes both formal elements such as workflows and structured documents, as well as informal collaboration such as chats and emails that is so critical to getting the work done.” It looks at work from an activity perspective and lets you chart business process (e.g. responding to an RFP) and associated best practices. You drag in documented sub-steps from other processes to improve your process. You can find work process related documents and people.
I wish we had this application in 1993 when we created the insurance underwriting KM system that was very process-centric. A key concept Unified Activity Management is that you do not have document processes as a separate activity. The application records the process in the context of supporting it. Then you can access this recorded process and mix and match past processes to create new ones. This was the illusive goal of some of our early KM efforts. Just do it and the system will document the useful stuff without you having to do the extra work that often interfered with documentation. Kudos to Dan.
Our panel followed with Dave Weinberger, Stephen Sparkes, and myself. Dave blogged it so I defer for the most part to his notes at the end of: IBM shows del.icio.us for the enterprise, and more. Matt Hines of eWeek wrote a story, IBM Sets Its Sights on Social Networking Tools, which trigger my memory of some of the discussion. I did comment that by gathering evidence of workers' specific contributions through the transparency of blogs , businesses will be better able to give credit to people who come up with truly innovative ideas, rather than hand down praise through levels of corporate hierarchy where senior people are more likely to take credit for what their staff actually does. When asked if the transparency will inhibit people, I said that blogs can have the opposite effect and may even inspire people to try harder at their jobs based on the (increased visibility) of their work.
The Irving Wladawsky-Berger briefly summarized things with a point that all the transparency that comes with these new tools might have a positive impact within a democratic society. Whether this occurs I think it can help break down silos and encourage dialog. It might even break down hierarchies in organizations. All of these would be good things. enterprise 2.0 enterprise tagging