Archive for the ‘Corporate Social Networks’ Category

Attack of the clones.

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Consumers/employees now have better gadgets than can be provided by their companies and their UX expectation is increasingly being set in the consumer world – after all if you are building software (or hardware) the bar for things like security is much lower.  Just walk past any Starbucks to see how many people are sitting there with their MacBook Air or iPad. This is great in many ways as it is making all of us working in the enterprise world up our game and go back to what is most important – the USER! However this can also be dangerous take a look at what is happening in the enterprise 2.0 space at the moment – ATTACK OF THE CLONES. Every corporate social network vendor out there is doing the same thing – copying facebook. Am I the only one who has noticed this? It is sort of like the windows 3.1 days when pretty much every desktop application looked the same and had the same way of interacting. There is a distinct lack of originality out there – Good artists may well copy but come on.

Let’s for the sake of argument say that this is the only way a social business platform should be implemented why is everyone so sure that this is what is needed? Look t the statistics posted by facebook at the f8 developer conference – they were very impressive:

  • 50% users log in every day 
  • The average Facebook user spends 20 minutes on his or her account during each visit.
  • The average user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 pages, events and groups.
  • 91% of online American adults (approx. 129 million)access some form of social media each month. (Experian 2011 Social Media consumer report)
  • 98% of 18- to 24-year-olds access social accounts monthly 800Million or so users, 50% of users logging in daily

Now let’s compare that against enterprise adoption (where possible – from what figures I’ve managed to find).

  • “Just 22% of social software users tell us the technologies are vital to their jobs –Forrester
  • “We have anywhere from 10% to 20% of our employees logged onto Yammer at any given time.” -IGN Entertainment
  • ‘ What is interesting, however, is the fairly low estimates of actual adoption by Forrester, citing that only 12 percent of information workers are provided with enterprise social collaboration software, while just 8 percent of them use it once a week.’ – Dion Hinchcliffe – ZDnet.

Already I’d say the numbers aren’t looking hot… what good is a collaboration tool if you’ve not got anyone to collaborate with? I’ve no got the statistics on email usage but I would hazard a guess that 100% of workers who have an email account (for business purposes) access their email every day. That is what Social business tools should be seeing if they are doing their jobs right. These should be the first thing that is launched in the morning and the last thing that is turned off. As for ROI – it is often difficult to get hard ROI figures but if done correctly Enterprise2.0 will produce genuine ROI –

“ Intangible assets such as knowledge and technology seldom have a direct impact on financial outcomes such as increased revenues, lowered costs, and higher profits.  Improvements in intangible assets affect financial outcomes through chains of cause-and-effect relationships.“ – Bob Kaplan and David Norton – Strategy Maps

My suggestion to find out if it’s working at your organisation, try turning it off and se what happens – if people start shouting or calling meetings about it then you know that you have reached a tipping point and that the tool has become part of the organisational DNA.


“Getting the message” The art of building corporate communities

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Over the past few years we have seen the world’s largest software and hardware vendors commence battle for mind- and market-share in the Unified Communications (UC) space. Additionally, the traditional providers of voice communications have been moving towards conquering the desktop domain and maintaining their market share. What’s more, the increase in available bandwidth has given software companies the opportunity to push Voice and Video over IP as a new market. This provides businesses with obvious cost savings and increases employee productivity.

These propositions of reduced telephony and travel costs combined with an increase in efficiency contain wisdom and the fact is that enterprises can, and do benefit from implementing UC strategy. In reality, whilst all of these companies try to provide innovative ways of reducing the overhead of doing business, they are actually ‘building a better mousetrap’; or at least a less expensive one. As a matter of fact, they should ask themselves if they need to catch mice in the first place or consider going out to buy a cat!

This paper highlights the ways in which companies could implement software tools to change the way they work and communicate:

  • · This will yield benefits that are more than simply a reduction in costs.
  • · The returns on investment may be harder to quantify but they deliver lasting change and build a truly collaborative environment that welcomes the new world of work and the consumerisation of enterprise technology.
  • · The way we work is transforming, it’s now time to embrace the change.

To read the full paper please download it here: Getting The Message White Paper – Chatter – or just noise.

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

In one way shape or form I’ve been involved in enterprise social networks since early 2006, so you could say I started late. Not as late as it seems as with their corporate social networking tool ‘Chatter’. The concept of an enterprise social network is a good one however like all these things the value is all about the execution of that concept and here is where I think they have got it wrong. The have simply stolen Facebook changed the name and said that it is ready for the corporate world.

I don’t agree. The world of the consumer and corporations are very different and people want and need different things. The consumer world is now more in touch with new technology like smartphones, tablets and social media however their use  doesn’t all translate exactly into the enterprise and this needs to be understood by vendors as well as organisations implementing the technology.

So here is a list of what I think should be considered before jumping on this bandwagon:

1. Individuals: A company is more than just the sum of its parts, gone are the days of a job for life. In an information economy – arguably the greatest asset of any organisation is the intellectual capital and collective wisdom (or in some cases stupidity) rather than one person, the larger the organisation the truer this becomes. If you are looking for an answer to a question you care that it is answered and you don’t want to have to track down the person to answer it for you.

2. Ego: Ah yes I hear you say what about things like linked-in, that is a business tool, but like blogging this is a way of promoting a profile not as a business tool. Yes there are discussion and groups on there but this functionality is a way of connecting with people outside of your own organisation. There will be people who use these new tools to shout from the roof tops, however the saying an empty vessel makes the most noise I believe is true and in my experience the people who are doping REAL work don’t often have the time to talk about it! (says I – busy writing this post!)

3. Marketing: Social networks are a great way of doing ‘below the line’ marketing, promoting your brand or defending it, however few companies have got it right… yet.. I can understand the benefit of using these types of tool for corporate communications but to really drive this sort of use there needs to be dedicated resources to manage and promote it.

4. Content: In a corporation people follow data, documents and content – they don’t follow people. The very idea of listening to an unending stream of unfiltered consciousness (in the form of status updates, micro blogs or blogs) fills me with dread… and having people ‘follow’ me, well on a personal level that is fine, I am interested in what my friends and family are up to but at work? Just plain odd. Lets imagine for a second that this takes off in your organisation and has become a way of capturing the organisational consciousness and building a sense of belonging (YES this is what I was told was one of the goals of the project one of the companies I work with was) – then what happens when someone leaves – do you delete their profile? If so what of their posts, their wall, their followers? HELP?  or worse still what happens if you don’t, gone are the days of a job for life – in this study the average period of employment for those aged between 18 and 44 is a little over 2 years. So if the content stays do you end up with a directory full of people with tombstones as their profile picture? This will do wonders for morale! The saying ‘you can pick your friends but not your family’ is also true for work, few people can choose who they work with. There will always be people who get on better than others.

5. Just because everyone else is doing it: Back in the early days of the intranet every company had one, or in some 10,000 sites (you know who you are!) – it doesn’t make any of them worthwhile or useful. Many intranets ended up being only used the host of the canteen menu or an out of date corporate phone book. The typical causes of failure included most of the items listed in this table:

6. The causes of intranet failure were many, but the same holds true of social networks. And the larger the organisation the truer this is. Rather than follow what the current technology trend is, decide first if it will deliver business value and then choose a tool that fits with how you operate as a business. DO NOT change your business to fit the tool.

7. Security: Finally be aware that information can leak, make sure that if sensitive information is being discussed that only the right people have access to it. Leaking of valuable and or sensitive information can have all sorts of adverse consequences, from humiliation or career limitation of an individual to damaging a corporate image or reputation, or even intellectual property theft.

This rant is not directed just at but can easily be applied to the likes of CISCO (with Quad) and Lotus (connections). There is innovation to be tapped into from the consumer world but a like for like copy just isn’t going to work.

Our new Lync2010 Group Chat WebPart for Outlook.

March 4, 2011 2 comments

And this is what it looks like:

So you may be asking why…. well because we wanted to do this is the short answer.

The longer version is that when Microsoft first acquired Parlano back in 2007 every customer thought that this would herald a new dawn for MindAlign. It didn’t. Whilst they (Microsoft) have done a good job on the back end, the comments we most hear from those out there that are using Microsoft’s Group Chat  (OCS or Lync) is that they want a unified client. Furthermore those that have deployed the group chat console have complained about CPU and memory utilisation and that it looks and feels ‘clunky’.

This is a little unfair but I for one subscribe to the concept of a 4th generation of collaboration tool (thanks for that strap-line Matthew W. Cain – Gartner!) . The idea here is all about convergence of collaboration technology to provide a universal dashboard to the user. I’m not certain I agree 100% however there are many elements that I think are on the money – the key one being is that end users don’t like having too many applications running on their desktops.

As a product idea adding the group chat functionality to outlook for me is an obvious choice, think about it – if you were to walk around a typical office where Microsoft is in use you will see outlook on 99.99% of all the desktops either full screen or in the system tray. According to Litmus outlook has 43% market share of email client usage. moreover if you were to ask the average user what collaboration tool they use the answer would be outlook, as to them collaboration = email.

Lets face it email has been abused – it is no longer a way of replacing paper based memos and has become far more conversational – but it is asynchronous. This new product provides a way of bridging the gap and draws people into the synchronous world of chat without relying on the user to log in and become familiar with a new system. If you combine this with our email connector tool it also allows you to map email distribution lists to chat rooms, thus weaning the users off email.

Here is the Group Chat for Outlook Brochure.