Tag Archives: e2conf

Does The Enterprise 2.0 Emperor Have No Clothes?

It’s noon, the keynotes have been going on all morning, and I have only just been inspired to blog. I’m not saying that standalone Enterprise 2.0 initiatives have jumped the shark, but there’s only so much rah-rah about enterprise collaboration that I can take before I fall back on three thoughts:

  1. Collaboration is already going on in enterprises, and always has: all that Enterprise 2.0 does is give us some nicer tools for doing what we’ve already been doing via word of mouth, email, and other methods.
  2. Collaboration is just not that interesting if it doesn’t directly impact the core business processes.
  3. The millennials are not going to save us.

People collaborate inside enterprises when they care about what they do. In other words, if you make someone’s job interesting and something that they have passion about, they will naturally collaborate using whatever tools are at hand in order to do it better. Andy McAfee’s keynote included a point about Enterprise 2.0 cargo cults, where organizations believe that deploying some tools will make the magic happen, without understanding all of the underlying things that need to be in place in order to make benefits happen: I strongly believe that you first have to make people care about their work before they will engage in creative collaboration, regardless of the shiny tools that you give them.

That brings me to the second point, that this has to be about the core business, or it’s just not very interesting at the end of the day. It’s not about providing a platform for some fun Facebook-for-the-enterprise; it’s about providing tools that people need in order to do their job better. In the 90’s, I was often involved in projects where people were using Windows for the first time in order to use the systems that we were creating for them. Some companies thought that the best way to train people on Windows was to have them play Solitaire (seriously); I always found it much more effective to train them on Windows using tools that were applicable to their job so that they could make that connection. We risk the same thing today by teaching people about enterprise social software by performing tasks that are, ultimately, meaningless: not only is there no benefit to the enterprise, but people know that what they’re doing is useless beyond a small amount of UI learning. I’m not saying that all non-core enterprise social functionality is useless: building an enterprise social network is important, but it’s ultimately important for purposes that benefit the enterprise, such as connecting people who might collaborate together on projects.

The millennial argument is, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit, and I’m tired of hearing it spouted from the stage at conferences. You don’t have to be under 28 to know how to live and breathe social media, or to expect that you should be able to use better-quality consumer tools rather than what a company issues to you, or to find it natural to collaborate online. Many of us who are well north of that age manage it just fine, and I don’t believe that I’m an outlier based on age: I see a large number of under-28’ers who don’t do any of these things, and lots of old fogies like me who do them all the time. It’s more about your attitudes towards contribution and autonomy: I like to give back to the community, I’m an independent thinker, and I work for myself. All of these drive me to contribute widely in social media: here on my business blog (occasionally cross-posted to Intelligent Enterprise and Enterprise Irregulars), my personal blog, on Twitter, on Flickr, on Facebook, on YouTube, on FourSquare… wherever I can either connect with people who I want to be connected with, or where it amuses me to broadcast my thoughts and creations. For those of you who don’t do any of this, wake up! Social networking is your personal brand. You just need to accept that as truth, and take advantage of it. The ones who don’t, and use their age as an excuse for it, just don’t get it, and you shouldn’t be listening to anything that they say about social media.

To wrap it up: enterprise collaboration is good when it has a business purpose, and anyone can do it.

One Last Conference Before Summer: Enterprise 2.0

It’s been quiet on the travel scene since my four-week marathon of conferences in May, and I have just one last one before we hit the summer doldrums: Enterprise 2.0 in Boston this week.

I’m skipping the workshops today and heading down this afternoon – luckily, Toronto-Boston is covered by Porter Airlines, so I can fly without enduring the hassle of Toronto’s bigger airport – and will be there until Thursday midday. I’ll be live blogging as usual, and tweeting using the #e2conf hashtag.

Although standalone collaboration tools can show significant benefits, my interest is in how social features are becoming part of enterprise software, especially BPM and ECM. Consider, for example, tomorrow morning’s keynote at 10:50am (for a too-short 20 minutes) by Franz Aman of SAP:

Standalone collaboration environments and social networks have been the focal point in the market to date, but what is possible when you marry traditional enterprise software with newer enterprise 2.0 thinking? To start, you free people from the struggle to use enterprise systems and you help them find the right information for daily work. You put into their hands powerful, business-relevant content-including business processes, data, events and analytics -that combines structured data and unstructured data from social and online networks to bring together people, information and business methods in a cohesive online working environment.

I’m disappointed that more of the BPM vendors aren’t here to discuss how social features are changing their platforms; not sure that this conference is on their radar yet.

Will Social Revive Interest In BPM? Will BPM Make Social Relevant?

Social BPM saw a flurry of activity last week in the BPM blogosphere for some reason; I’ve been writing and presenting on social BPM for about four years now, so most of this isn’t new to me, but it’s good to see the ideas starting to permeate.

Keith Swenson writes on who is socializing in social BPM, and how the major analysts’ view of social BPM is that the BPM application developers are socializing, not the end users; that misses the point, in Keith’s (and my) opinion, since it ignores the runtime social/collaborative aspects as well as the blurring of the boundary between designing and participating in processes. He writes:

The proper use of social software in the business will eliminate the need for process designers.  Everyone will be a designer, in the way that everyone is a writer in the blogosphere.

This last part is not strictly true: everyone could be a writer in the blogosphere, but in reality, only a tiny fraction of those who read blogs actually write blogs, or even comment on blogs. The same will likely occur in runtime collaboration in BPM: only a fraction of users will design processes, even though all have the capability to do so, but all will benefit from it.

Then, at SAPPHIRE this week, I had a conversation with Enterprise 2.0 adoption expert Susan Scrupski, founder of the 2.0 Adoption Council, about her characterization of SAPPHIRE as 2.0 Reality Rehab, and her distressing discovery that 0 out of 20 SAP customers who she interviewed on the show floor had ever heard of Enterprise 2.0.

Distressing to her, but not so surprising to me: enterprise social software is not exactly mainstream with a lot of large companies that I work with, where wikis are used only by IT for tracking projects but not permitted into the user base at large, and blogs are viewed as disreputable sources of information. Imagine the reception that I get when I start talking to these companies about social BPM concepts: they don’t exactly warm up to the idea that users should design their own processes.

Before you jump all over me with examples of successful Enterprise 2.0 and social BPM adoption stories, I’m talking about mainstream adoption, not just in the echo chamber of those of us who think that this stuff is great, and root out the case studies like the rare and valuable gems that they are.

As a champion for Enterprise 2.0, and with only a few short weeks to go before the Enterprise 2.0 conference, Susan is keen to see more meaningful adoption within enterprises: not just more, but in applications that really make a difference for the core business of the company. This is, I believe, where social BPM can help: it’s an application that lends itself particularly well to collaboration and other social aspects, while providing a core critical function within enterprises. I’d love to see Enterprise 2.0 software vendors start to tackle core enterprise software, such as BPM, CRM and ERP, and stop building more enterprise wiki and blogging platforms. Think of it as 2.0 Reality Rehab for the whole Enterprise 2.0 industry.

Social processes #e2open

For the last session of the day – and what will be the last session of the Enterprise 2.0 conference for me – I shifted over to the Enterprise2Open unconference for a discussion on social processes with Mark Masterson. As part of his job developing software for insurance companies, he put together a mockup of a social front end for an insurance claims adjuster’s workplace. The home page is dominated by the activity stream, which includes links to tasks, blog posts, documents and other systems that are relevant to this person’s work. It’s not just the usual social network stuff; it also includes information from enterprise systems such as ECM and BPM systems. There would be rules to set priorities on what’s in any given user’s activity stream.

There’s also more purely social features, such as a personal profile with the ability to provide status updates and indicate presence.

When the user clicks on an item in the activity stream representing an enterprise BPM task, the information from the task and its process is pulled into this environment, rather than launching the BPM system’s user interface; this becomes a unified desktop for the user, rather than just a launchpad. Information about a claim could include external data that is mashed up into the interface, such as Google maps. The right panel of the interface changes so that it always shows information to support what is happening in the main pane; when a BPM work item is open, for example, the right panel includes links to people and content that might be related to that specific case. It also includes a tag cloud that can be used to click through to information across the enterprise about that subject; for example, clicking on the “fraudulent injury” tag showed a list of people who are related in some way (that is, they are a resource with some experience) to fraudulent injury claims, and what their role in the process might be.

Masterson presents this as a vision for what he thinks is the best type of interface to present to all the participants in the claims process: no jumping around between multiple applications, no green screens, and the relationships between information from multiple systems combined in ways that make sense relative to the adjuster’s work. I see some of this type of functionality being built into some of the more modern BPM systems, but that’s not what a lot of insurance companies are using: they’re using out-of-date versions of FileNet and other more traditional BPM systems.

As with most unconference sessions, this is a small bit of presentation and a lot of audience discussion. Some in the group made a distinction between collaboration and social, and didn’t see the sort of collaboration within business processes that happens within organizations as social. Masterson (and I) disagree: whenever you deviate from the structured business process in a process such as claims adjudication, it’s an inherently social activity since people are relying on their tacit knowledge about what other people can bring to the process, and using (often) ad hoc methods for bringing them into the flow. I think that they are confusing “social” with “public”, and have been drinking too much of the E2.0 Kool-Aid that’s being passed around at this conference.

The real unique thing here is not putting a pretty front end on enterprise systems (although that’s a nice feature, it’s just a relatively well-understood integration issue); it’s the home page as a unified view of a user’s work environment – I hesitate to call it a unified inbox since it’s not just about delivering tasks or messages to be acted upon – and the information relationships that allow the right panel to be populated with relevant information and links for the specific work context. As opposed to tagging of process instances to use as future templates for exception cases, an idea that I’ve been knocking about for a while, this goes beyond that to collect information that might be related to a process instance from a variety of sources including blogs and wikis. Consider that the claims adjuster is handling a specific exception case, and someone else did a very similar case previously and documented their actions in a procedures wiki: this sort of environment could bring in information about the previous case when the user is processing the current case. The information in the right panel is replacing the user’s memory and the line of sticky notes that they have on the edge of their screen.

There’s some cool ideas in here, and I hope that it develops into a working prototype so that they can get this in front of actual users and refine the ideas. There’s a lot that’s broken in how enterprise processes work, even those that have been analyzed and automated with BPM, and bringing in contextual information to help with a specific work step (especially case management steps such as claims adjudication) is going to improve things at least a little bit.

Social media and marketing #e2conf

Peter Kim moderated a panel of three people from end-user organizations – Ben Foster of Allstate Life Insurance, Greg Matthews of Humana, and Morgan Johnston of JetBlue – on social media adoption for both external as well as internal use by enterprises.

Allstate recently launched the consumer-facing Good Hands Community, including both a social site and a Twitter presence, for both traditional marketing and sales purposes, but also to maintain a relationship with ex-customers who may have left for financial reasons but still could benefit from Allstate information and potentially become a customer again in the future. It includes tools and calculators, discussion forums and other information.

JetBlue uses social media – specifically Twitter, where they have 730,000 followers as of today – to engage customers, inform customers about what’s happening at JetBlue, and even provide updates on weather and other information that impacts their service delivery.

Humana has a social site run by their consumer innovation center – a sort of center of excellence for enterprise social media – that they are using to try and transform how they interact with their customers and partners; unfortunately, my bandwidth right now won’t allow it to actually load, so I’ll have to take their word for it. This is run separately from their corporate website, and doesn’t include any private customer data.

All of these are intended to engage the consumers, both for informing and for gathering feedback. Social media can be a sort of “canary in a coal mine” about impending problems, and it’s a valuable channel to monitor in order to hear how people are talking about your products or services, potentially heading off PR and customer service disasters before they occur. It’s also a sales lead generation channel, with companies like Dell using Twitter to broadcast deals that aren’t available anywhere else, generating significant revenue from those tweeted deals.

It’s important for multiple departments in an organization to contribute their ideas and needs for consumer-facing social media. It’s not just an IT project, although IT is going to be involved in order to deploy the platform, and there’s a need for rapid prototyping and changes to the site without having to go through an old-fashioned waterfall development approach: this might dictate that the existing corporate IT not be involved, but a new team formed to support this sort of agile approach.

One of the panelists noted that you can see the trends in conferences: social media is now on the agenda at IT conferences, at marketing/PR conferences, at HR conferences and at customer service conferences, indicating that people from multiple areas within organizations that have an interest and a stake in social media.

You have to learn by doing with social media: people have to get in there and start producing content, then see what the consumer feedback is like for that content in order to tune the message and style. That’s a scary thing for most companies, but these three are setting a good example.

The Future of Social Messaging in the Enterprise #e2conf

An eight-person panel discussed how organizations can use social messaging to improve internal and external communication and collaboration. I’m not even going to try to track who says what, since I’ve lost track of who’s who (except for the lone woman on the panel), so just random notes:

  • Unified Communications vendors need to open up their products to allow social messaging to participate. Voice seems to be ignored in Enterprise 2.0 (note that there are no sessions on voice at this conference), but needs to be a part of it. This is especially true when we consider devices such as the iPhone, which is used to participate both through social media and voice. People don’t want think about what tool to use, they want to focus on the problem that they’re trying to solve.
  • Enterprise 2.0 isn’t about giving people “one more thing to do”, but to help make people more effective. This is a big one that I see when trying to get people within my clients to collaborate, often because they don’t give up doing things the old way, so see the new collaboration tools/methods and an additional step rather than a replacement for an old and inefficient way to do things.
  • Social messaging is about forming weak ties, not necessarily about pre-targeted recipients. The ROI may not be obvious up front, but serendipitous discovery of information and people provides unexpected value.
  • We need to stop focusing on the tools and applications, and start focusing on the people and use cases. That is especially obvious in this panel, which still has too much of a tool focus – Marcia Conner from Pistachio Consulting has to keep dragging the conversation back to the people, practices and conversations.
  • The same issues of information security apply to social messaging as to any other form of communications. Social messaging tools don’t equate to information leakage, they just provide another platform for what is likely already happening by voice, email and other methods if you have employees that don’t adhere to your security policies. Governance begins with individuals, and if you can’t trust your employees, you need to monitor their activities. If the corollary is true – that if you monitor your employees’ activities, that means that you don’t trust them – then I see a lot of companies with no trust in the people whom them so carefully recruit and hire. It’s impossible to completely lock down data in any organization, so there needs to be policies (and education about those policies) that lead to self-policing.
  • There is insufficient granularity of presence: with most social platforms, there is a single view of you that is exposed to everyone who you choose to expose it to, and you can’t tune the experience for different audiences. In other words, don’t put anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t want your employer, your competitor or your mother to read. I’ve noticed that although platforms like Facebook are providing tools to allow you to limit what parts of your profile are available to different groups of your contacts, very few people bother to use them.
  • Enterprises matter less; relationships and conversations matter more. Don’t limit yourself to just an enterprise conversation, think about a participatory culture. (I think that I won the Enterprise 2.0 buzzword bingo on that last statement)

These are just the high points; you can check out the Twitter stream for this session or the replay of the video if you want to hear the entire panel.

Applying the Social Dimension to the Lockheed Martin Mission #e2conf

The morning started with Andrew McAfee interviewing Shawn Dahlen and Chris Keohane from Lockheed Martin about how they’ve progressed on their internal social network since we heard about it at last year’s conference.

Back in 2004, they approached the CIO to get project seed money for internal blogging, since there was a need for internal communications that wasn’t being met by company newsletters. For a few thousand dollars, they were able to set up a blogging platform that allowed internal affinity groups to communicate, then realized that they needed to lock down some of the information for security purposes and closed down some of the access, particularly to employees outside the US.

The 9/11 commission report noted that the existence silos of people and information – a “need to know” environment – was part of the problem in government and defense industries, providing Lockheed with the motivation to start opening up some of their information across the company, regardless of location. They worked closely with their internal legal department to make sure that they were

They took their SharePoint environment, which was already in use for document collaboration, and added more social networking aspects by upgrading the blog and wiki capability. This allowed them to evolve an existing, familiar platform into something more social, providing an easier migration for Lockheed’s 150,000 employees. The revolutionary part was to make these communities open to all employees by default, rather than defaulting to a closed site, and currently 65% of their thousands of communities are open.

Because they were making SharePoint do things that it didn’t naturally do, there was a lot of customization involved, but what they’ve ended up with is the ability for anyone to create a community. Apparently, HR resisted this, and lobbied for more centralized control of who could create an internal site rather than allowing self-service, but with the number of internal communities, this would have seriously crippled the spread of the tools to support collaboration within the company.

McAfee asked the question about how easily Lockheed’s aging workforce adopted these social solutions; interestingly, some of the 20-something engineers were some of the ones that had problems with the social community, since although they knew how to use the tools, they didn’t have the business experience to make the tools support the Lockheed business processes. Some of their most prolific bloggers are from the over-40’s workforce, probably because they just have more knowledge to contribute. In other words, enterprise social networking isn’t about age, it’s about appropriate tools, motivation and having something worthwhile to share. You need to have the younger and older parts of the workforce work together in order to achieve the best results.

They went through – and are still experiencing – challenges with acceptance by the executives and across the organization, and have learned that social media needs to be grounded in the challenges of your enterprise. You need to create tools that support what people need to do, not just push something in and force people to use it. The result is that they have leaders within the company who blog regularly, but more importantly, who read, comment and act on what they read in blogs: this shows that management is participating, and that they see it as a channel for

They didn’t set rules around what content should or shouldn’t be included on the sites, but it has taken on the form of what would be normal employee behavior, which is pretty much what we heard yesterday from IBM, Deloitte and EMC. They provided two examples of “misuse” that were removed from the sites: one where someone was talking about their new car, and the other where someone was complaining about the employee review process using questionable tone and/or language.

There’s a breakout session this afternoon with the two Lockheed guys, going into more detail about their social networking platform and its adoption.