Enterprise 2.0 reads – February 2010

February has been a really interesting month. Highlighted by the buzz around the IPad, the launch of Google’s Buzz and the entire media tornado that followed, forrester proclaiming property over their consultants opinions, Yammer’s recent announcement, pleaseRobMe controversy and much much more. But I’m not willing to aggregate news here (There is Google News for that). These series are mainly about thoughts that have been shared by great minds and that somehow hit a cord with me and I’m pretty sure they’ll get you to think as well. If you have other links to share, please do leave me a comment. I’d be glad to enrich the list.

Enterprise software is not like Facebook for a reason 

“Why isn’t enterprise software a lot more like Amazon” is a much more sensible question to me…And so Amazon’s user design paradigm is designed around that business model: find what you’re looking for, transact your business, get out. That doesn’t mean Amazon doesn’t have community features like favorite lists or reviews or collaborative filtering, but they’re designed in service of useful outcomes for the consumer and the business.
For both employees, managers and shareholders, I think that’s a lot more along the lines of what people are trying to accomplish at work and a more worthy model to aspire to.

How Private Or Public Should Location Be? 

The deeper questions I have aren’t about location privacy, which is predicated on the idea that anything that might possibly be kept private should be private unless explicitly made public. I am interested in location publicy: how can we structure our social tools so that location can be shared by default, but with social scale built in.

Something like creative commons for location — a location commons — has to emerge, so that individuals can state exactly how their location can be used. … [This] should be based on a rich social model, allowing us to assert what degree of location specificity we want to share with which degrees of connection in our social networks.

Why the future workplace will be hyper-connected 

The future workplace will be hyper-connected, meaning that we will use multiple means of communication, so that we can be more innovative, quickly adapt to a changing environment and access and use all the best resources…

Our focus will shift from producing and organizing documentation to communicating and interacting in real-time, with documentation as a by-product…

Right now, we are just seeing the dawn of the hyper-connected age.

Social Media =Organizational Change! 

When launching a social media strategy it is so important that companies take a hard look at what the social footprint will do to their operations. …If you are not skilled at taking input from customers then social media will only illuminate your flaws -shining a spotlight on them in a public way.

So, before you put time and effort into creating a digital community… be sure you have a plan for what you will do with the information exchange, who is responsible for interactions, where the information gathered socially will be recorded or captured, and how you will parse the wheat from the chaff.

Social Software doesn’t really matter

There is an instinctive reaction to come up with solutions that seem to make a lot of sense at first. 

Throwing in a social software platform in your organization isn’t going to solve the challenges you are facing. You first need to figure out what is wrong with the process in the first place. 

So stop reacting like Pavlov’s dog. Focus on the people, not on the technology.

Enterprise 2.0 and Social Media: Improving Your Processes vs. Changing Them

If you were an executive at a large or mid-sized company, which would you prefer (or would want to hear)?

…make drastic changes to your organization while abandoning methodologies and processes in exchange for new ones…[or] use new tools, technologies, and strategies to fit in with its current processes and methodologies.

The goal of enterprise 2.0 or social media isn’t to change and revamp the way companies operate. The goal should be to improve how companies operate.  


Social graphs: How Dense is too dense?


Image courtesy : flickr

According to McAfee, in his book : “Enterprise 2.0”, ties for any knowledge worker can be represented in what he calls: “The Enterprise 2.0 Bull’s Eye”  

Consider the prototypical knowledge worker…She has a relatively small group of close collaborators; these are people with whom she has strong professional ties. Beyond this group, there’s also … ‘professional acquaintance.’ In Granovetter’s language, she has weak ties to these people.

Beyond this group there’s a still-larger set of fellow employees who could be valuable to our prototypical knowledge worker if only she knew about them. [these are potential ties]…

[The] fourth ring…labeled “none”…encompasses people who… are not necessarily ever going to form valuable ties…with our focal knowledge worker…however [They] can generate valuable information in the form of prices.

Every Enterprise 2.0 platform is meant to solve issues relatively to a specific ring. Strong ties, for example, can use wikis to ensure better collaboration and agility. While network bridging (what social researchers like to call spanning structural holes), possible thanks to social Networking softwares, focuses on Weak ties.

Let's model an organization using a collaboration graph where vertices represent the knowledge workers while two distinct collaborators will be joined by an edge whenever they collaborate on a certain project. It will then be obvious how E20 platforms help increase the graph’s density and span structural holes mainly by adding new edges. The question is: How dense is too dense? Is there a point where adding edges wouldn't do the organization any good? Can it even backfire on the collaborators' productivity…?

Fred Brooks, in his famous book “the mythical Man-Month”, introduced the concept of over-communication’s cost. Effective communication is in fact about channeling the right information only to those who need it to complete a certain task or achieve a goal. Effective communication would also be about getting non-redundant information from distinct collaborators. So, to decrease communications’ cost to a minimum, we need to compress a social Network to an extent where only useful edges remain.

While this could be feasible in theory, real-world networks have been proved too complex to be predicted. I have been researching this point these last few days and still can’t find a satisfying answer (I'm still searching by the way). Imagine the possibilities of applying such a theory: A structure with Just-enough links. An organization with no structural holes, no redundancy and where every possible information is within reach and is available throughout the shortest path. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate collaboration Eldorado?

Got any research findings to point me out to? Would be glad to hear your thoughts.

Lamia Ben

Why I gave up on Google Buzz: A simple analysis by a common user


Image courtesy: Buzz meets the Dash 

I won’t lie, I’m still skeptical towards what Buzz can offer and how much potential it has. But for now, I’d rather do without it. I’m sure Google thought that integrating it to Gmail would ensure it being at everyone’s reach; I still think that it was a Strategic Epic Fail.

Two years ago, I gave up both my hotmail and yahoo accounts and have been using only Gmail ever since. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s distraction-free, but I remain actually productive while using it.  Add buzz to this equation and you get a very frustrated overwhelmed user who’s willing to pay Google just to make it STOP (Thank God they thought of the “turn off buzz” link, otherwise I would have been broke).

But seriously, being a twitter user, I have fabricated my own little strategy to deal with information overload. Still, It is one thing to be flooded by buzzes, it’s wholly another to be aspirated into the world of pure redundancy.

While testing Buzz, I thought I’d follow some high profiles such as O’reilly and Scoble (Yeah I know, I went too far). The thing is, Buzz was almost a tweets dump for both. Almost no interaction was happening.

So, I came across a buzz by Scoble and certainly couldn’t stop myself from answering:


 Robert Scoble – Buzz – Public 

Should I stop bringing Twitter in here? I hate seeing duplication, but am trying to figure out if it’s wanted here or not?

lamia ben – right, we hate duplication just as much 🙂

Against popular demand, he didn’t stop!!  But that’s no issue, THIS is: 148 comments in less than 24 hours and an email for each. I filtered the buzz emails to skip inbox but every time I entered buzz, all I saw was Scoble! I finally had to mute the thing.

If I follow you on Twitter or have you on my GReader, why would I want to add up to my already full head another information source that would bring me no real value?

So Dear Buzz, I did my best to bear your persistent noise for a while. But I think we’re done!


Lamia Ben

Relearning to be disconnected


Image courtesy UNPLUG: The Painting

I’ve always had high respect towards people who, with few words, manage to encompass profound meanings. And it’s even better when it’s in 140 characters.

I encountered, last week, a very thought provoking tweet by @alaindebotton :

We have become such experts at being always in touch, informed, connected. Now must relearn how to be silent, disconnected, alone.

I’m the first one to confess, I’m an Internetaholic. I spend hours daily, surfing the web and social Networking. I learned through the web what I had no idea even existed. That’s the beauty of Serendipity often brought up by famous blogger Chris Brogan. And yet, at the end of the day, I feel that indeed only 20% of what I encountered added value to my knowledge portfolio. The 80% left?  Basically Noise. Still I can’t bring myself to focus on the 20%. For one, it’s not that easy to recognize the information’s Eldorado. For two, there is this constant fear of missing something along the way.

It has become so essential for us to stay connected and up-to-date that we are starting to lose the ability to be silent, to shut ourselves from the world for a while, meditate, and let the information we receive all day settle.

I have been struggling with this for a while now, and it only worsened when I joined the Twitter community. Too many great links, never enough time to check them all. I’m getting better at dealing with it though, using a 3 simple words mantra: “It doesn’t matter!”

Yes, it doesn’t matter if you miss a great article or two, it doesn’t matter that your GReader displays +1000 unread posts, and it doesn’t matter that you weren’t there when Gmail’s latest feature got announced on twitter, it doesn’t matter that you can’t keep up on a geeky conversation because you didn’t follow @Scobleizer ‘s twitter stream the day before…

Relax, take a day Off technology. Turn off your laptop and your phone and just go outside, take a walk. Meet real people, have real conversations, use a pen and paper, and take an hour to scribble down what you’ve learned all day, digest it and rewrite it your own way. Let your mind whirl in a disconnected realm, you’ll be surprised what you’ll discover…

Lamia Ben

Enterprise 2.0 reads – January 2010

Here are some great reads of January. You can also check @oscarberg , @bduperrin  and @aponcier for their weekly updates. Have a great February everyone!

Yammering away at the office

Social networks are being used to break down internal barriers in the corporate world …The argument for using a system that allows the world to see what a firm’s employees are up to is that it helps make faceless corporations seem more human in the eyes of their customers.

A study last year by IDC, a research firm, found that knowledge workers spend between six and ten hours a week hunting for information. By using social networks to find data faster, employees can free up a chunk of that time for other things…

The networks are also a great way to capture knowledge and identify experts on different subjects within an organization…. Social networks … combine content with commentary from people whose know-how might previously not have been recognized.


Is your Company Creating Zombies 2.0? 

Monitoring Enterprise 2.0 adoption should … focus on communities, networks, and flows of knowledge, These are the real bricks on which to measure change, with a lot of precautions nevertheless.

Communities are the bodies, while networks are the souls of the collaborative enterprise.  Without a real cultural change, ‘change toward Enterprise 2.0 adoption’ merely means creating Zombies 2.0.


Defining Enterprise 2.0  

I usually dodge questions about specific vendors and their offerings, and instead answer how I'd look at any particular deployment of collaboration software to see if it met my definition of Enterprise 2.0….… I check to see if the environment meets three criteria: Is it freeform? How frictionless is contribution? And is it emergent?

Freedom…people come together as equals within the environment created by technology, and do pretty much whatever they want.

Frictionless means that users perceive it to be easy to participate in the platform, and can do so with very little time or effort. 

Emergent …is the appearance over time within a system of higher-level patterns or structure arising from large numbers of unplanned and undirected low-level interactions.


Practical Advice for 2010 on 2.0 Adoption

Some tips:

  •  Do your homework first… Don’t deploy ‘E2.0 tech just because others are. Find out what the business need …and then make sure you target that
  • find where the trust is already and build upon that.
  • If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
  • Don’t try to explain 2.0 to executives. They will either not get it or will panic. Try to “sneak” them into a 2.0 tool
  • E2.0 is not a new system or program you add to your old. It becomes part of your old – it is not separate, it is integrated into it. Don’t try to make a ‘another thing,’ make it part of ‘the thing.’
  • The ROI for 2.0 tools is going to be defined – at least in part – by correlating network engagement with employee engagement (e.g., Gallup Q12) and consumer engagement.


What is Social Media? [the 2010 edition]

So what’s social media? It’s the opportunity to create shared vision.

All these platforms are just the tools, but look what they enable. In the way that mass media has shaped our perceptions about culture, politics, and society, now social media also has that ability. But the message isn’t traveling from them to us, top down, from the aristocrats to the plebes. It’s moving from us to us.

If you’re using social media as part of a new vision for your organization (social business design, social CRM) or as an addition to your personal learning network (PLN) or to empower people or to build and spread ideas, you get it. 

Lamia Ben