Tag Archives: IBM

Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: Tuesday Keynote

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It is occurring November 12 – 15 in Santa Clara Convention Center. Here my notes from this year’s Enterprise 2.0 2012 conference in Boston. Here are my notes from the Tuesday Keynote. It consisted of a series of discussions.

First, Google on Google was presented by Ben Fried, CIO, Google. Ben began by asking about how many are in IT and most raised their hands and the rest where likely checking their email. He said two factors are driving technology today: the rise of the global scale of consumer Web services and second, the rise of a tech savvy workforce. He mentioned how he learned about this. A new employee brought in a better computer that Google offered and never interacted with Google’s technology, but went directly to the Web. He became the top rated intern.

He said that transparency and respect for the user is a key goal at Google. For example, you can get any tech stuff, you can just go to a shelf and take it and then scan your badge. He said the employees are empowered to decide what they need. The bins are often more full at the end of the day as people return stuff they do not need.

The social contract between IT and users needs to change. IT has been treating users as the non-knowing and making decisions for them. Now workers are often more knowledgeable than IT. At Google you get to choose your devices and your software from a variety of choices. There is no standard requirement. People are shown the cost of the tools they are using and how your peers are doing in the same regard. You can change your devices and apps. Once they started this they got back over $400,000 of not needed stuff in the first few hours.

Google has learned that providing choices has resulted in a lower support costs. He said that they respect their users and users can take a more active role in supporting themselves.  They also hire very smart support people so issues are often resolved right away. This approach has allowed Google to grow quickly. The support staff ratio to workers has shrunk every year as the support staff has increased its efficiency and people also help themselves in this environment of trust.

People can choose their own tools. They found that people were sending more links to Google apps than using attachments. This helps version control among other things. It has also increased their collaboration speed.

An office phone is optional at Google and most people do not have one. However, real time video conferencing is expected and wide spread.

Respect for users matters. Google assumes that people know what technology is best for them.  I would certainly agree with this approach and it should be a model for enterprise IT services. Google also builds its own tech systems to support their culture and they are all cloud based. This takes much of the worry out of the picture so IT people can focus on innovation rather than operations. The CIO only pays for usage so there is much cost savings.

Ben concluded with the point that the world is truly changing. There are great opportunities for cost savings and users are very tech smart. IT is not longer the holder of all tech knowledge. It has to change and adapt to the new possibilities and the new reality.

Second, the Next Generation Enterprise Platform was presented by Michael Fauscette, Group VP of Software Business Solutions, IDC.  Michael began by saying that we are in the middle of a major transformation in tech and work. Today looks a lot like the transformation from farms to factories in terms of magnitude. With factories, people moved from the country to the city. There was a requirement for physical presence. Now connectivity changes everything. I know this as I have worked from multiple locations, including a Greek island, Samos, over the past year. I recently moved back to my hometown, New Orleans, because I can work from anywhere there is wifi and that is almost everywhere.

In the old school there was hierarchy and knowledge was considered power. Businesses were built on stable processes and did not want to change. Now change is the norm and a requirement for success. New competitors can emerge overnight. Startups can begin with only 5 or 6 people and drive millions in revenue in the first year.

Now knowledge sharing is power. Trust and transparency is key. Employees want a place were they are respected and there is culture of trust. Engagement on a common goal is a requirement.

In the 90s we built transaction systems around rigid processes. Now most problems and issues occur outside the rigid systems.  The systems for transaction are still needed but there is more. We now need to have systems for decision. We also need systems for relationships to enable collaboration.

Companies are faced with aging systems of record. But they cannot afford to replace them. To make it new, you can add a social layer on top of the old school stuff. You can have a social layer that becomes the new user interface. You can add new apps but they need to be integrated with the old apps.

The next generation software is being offered in smaller components. Vendors are going away from rip and replace to adding stuff on to the existing. Again, integration is key.  There is social and decision support. It is context aware and there is intelligent filtering to counter the information overload issue. The more your system can filter, the more efficient you can become.

Apps need to be simple in the UX with the complexity behind the scenes. The apps need to be ad hoc and work on any device, any time. We will stop talking about social apps as all apps will be social.

Then, Moving from Notification to Participation with Activity Streams was presented by Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of Business and Technical Strategy for IBM Collaboration Services.  Kevin started by noting that workforce challenges are changing. The nature of connectivity is changing as well. There are now skill shortages and changing demographics. At the same time technology is changing the way people work, collaborate, and socialize.

This changes the definition of social. It goes beyond notification to engagement. The richer nature of social business requirements goes across the enterprise. They you measure the value of the social tools by changes in the process they are embedded within.

He gave the example of CEMEX. This is company I did some work for it the early 2000s as a consultant in Monterrey. It was technically advanced then and is even more so now.  Now they are using social software in all of their processes. This allows them to spread their tech expertise on a global basis.

TD Bank transformed its retail banking culture using social software to have their branches operate as a local bank. They foster open communication and openly recognize their employees. They also get employee engagement in new moves like having Sunday retail bank hours. Pepsi created an open collaboration system for their employees and partners to spread new ideas.

He discussed what is new with IBM Connections 4. I recently did an interview with Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager for Connections, on this topic. Here are my notes – IBM Connections 4.0 Expands Its Social, Integration, and Analytic Capabilities.  They use analytics more to filter content for greater efficiency. They also allow for conversations inside and outside the organization. This allows them to share their knowledge with the outside world after it is refined through internal conversations. McKinsey has found that companies than form communities with their partners have higher operating margins.  With social embedded into key processes you get engagement and usage.


Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: The Right Way to Select Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise – Part One

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It is occurring November 12 – 15 in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Here my notes from this year’s Enterprise 2.0 2012 conference in Boston. Here are my notes from the workshop: The Right Way to Select Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise led by Tony Byrne, President Real Story Group. Here is the description.

“The accelerating pace of enterprise technology change offers unprecedented opportunities – along with major stress — for business and IT leaders alike.  Business units looking to exploit new opportunities presented by emerging technologies has given rise to “Shadow IT” and the broad proliferation of tools and suppliers in the enterprise.  Obvious gains in short-term agility have been accompanied by longer-term architectural and sustainability challenges. Designed for enterprise architects, IT planners, and tech-savvy business leaders, this workshop will help you get out in front of emerging technologies.  It will offer you tools to pro-actively identify which technologies will bring the most business value in your specific environment, as well as the savvy to avoid common pitfalls. The workshop will examine the challenge and benefits of emerging technologies in particular technology segments where business and IT interests overlap – and sometimes come into conflict.”

Prior to the session Tony and I were talking about tools used to support SharePoint. I had seen a survey that reported that the top three tools to support social in SharePoint were Yammer at 19%, Newgator at 10%, and Jive at 4%. Tony mentioned that there are three ways to supplement SharePoint in the social space. You can extend it by building your own. You can supplement it through tools like Newsgator, and you can complement it with tools like Yammer and Jive. I found this distinction very useful.

Tony said he is going to offer a means to select technologies for the enterprise. This is the mission of Real Story Group. They only work with customers of vendors and not the vendors themselves, giving them more independence.  There are four traditional approaches to selecting software that often do not work. First, love at first sight. Second, horse race approach – who is leading in the magic quadrant. Third, my cousin Vinne approach – my friend uses it so it must be good. Fourth is happiness is a strong set of requirements. So you create a big checklist.

The best way is to embed your selection within you own unique requirements. You need to get out in front of emerging business needs.  You need to identify common areas where business units are self-procuring to find common solutions. You also need to understand the business use cases.

He began with a discussion of the transition from the intranet to the digital workplace. The consumerization of IT relates to this.  People come to work not excited about their tools but focused on their tasks. The digital workplace goes way beyond traditional intranets to offer many more capabilities that focus on getting work tasks done.

There are two ways to look at this. There is the traditional enterprise architecture approach. The second way is the user experience approach or “glass backwards.”  This bottom up view is increasingly more important.  You need to do both. The bottom up approach often leads to self-procurement if the enterprise IT services do not meet their needs. Activity streams that are emerged in the work process can be very useful like Salesforce Chatter for Salesforce users. However, this can led to siloed activities.

Next Tony covered platforms vs. products. Consumerization of IT means that apps need to be simpler and more agile. There are a whole range of offerings that vary from comprehensive platforms to simple individual products. Microsoft published some data that for every dollar spent on SharePoint, 6 – 9 dollars were spent on services, making SharePoint a platform, not a product. Platforms are more costly but also more comprehensive. With enough time and money you can get SharePoint to do almost anything. This opens up a lot of business for the system integrators. With products, tools work right away.

Tony passed out a very useful product map using the subway system metaphor. You can download it from the Real Story site for free. He said that ROI justifications are growing each year. There are four main categories, revenue creation, increased productivity, reduce costs, increased culture. Software companies now tend to do better on only one or two.

He offered eleven standard use cases for social technologies.  No one is doing all of them nor is any vendor capable of supporting all of them. Two main groups of use cases are collaborate (work jointly) and network (connect outside a specific goal).  This is more of a continuum than a distinction. He offered some examples. The first was a Q&A app designed to help employees find answers to their questions. The second was ideation and innovation support. Next, was project-oriented collaboration. There are also knowledge management, external collaboration, communities, expertise location, enterprise networking, socializing legacy processes, and enterprise conversation.  These uses cases seem to be a better way to evaluate tools that features like blogs, wikis, etc. This is true especially, if you pick the use cases that are important to your organization.

Entitlements are another important issue. Who is allowed to do what? Groups and roles are often as important as individuals in these access. This is important for scaling in a large enterprise.

He showed social as a separate tab in an enterprise stack. This is too isolated. Social should be a service and not a space. I agree. Social should be a layer and not a module. Activity streams that range over all apps can serve this purpose.  Several vendors are attempting to do this but more progress needs to be made. A key question is how these apps work in a mobile environment. The integration needs to carry over to mobile and it often does not.  The big vendors want to own the whole stack but this will be hard to do.

There are four buckets: platforms, suites, layers, and specialists. In the platforms Microsoft is good at collaboration, IBM on communities and expertise location, and Oracle on socializing legacy processes. Since the big guys do not cover all use cases, there is a rise of specialists to cover the soft spots. IBM is also trying to embed Connections capabilities in some of their other enterprise apps.

Tony next covered versions of the cloud: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and managed hosting.  Tony mentioned that most apps are not built for the cloud. For example, Microsoft SharePoint was not built this way originally.  So there is a hybrid model as to what gets shared and what does not.  Microsoft decided to move their own stuff to the cloud. It got very complex with many custom apps to get to the hybrid model. It cost as much as they saved. A big issue is the fact that most transitions are not in a green field environment so there is much old stuff to overcome.  If you do have a green field, like some small businesses, it is easier. For very large enterprises, it gets more complex.

Now there are also cloud file sharing vendors like Drop Box, Google Apps, and Box. Some companies turn off these capabilities on enterprise systems to deny access. In these cases, people go home and use them on their own devices outside enterprise security because they are easier to use than tools like SharePoint. IT cannot stop this. This raises a lot of security issues.  Individuals have access but the enterprise cannot get access unless it signs an enterprise agreement with the vendor. It is important for IT to get in front of this issue so the right tool gets selected with an enterprise view and not just what happens bottom up. The use cases are a good way to start. Box and Accellion cover a lot of them.  Box is cloud only. Accellion offers cloud, hybrid, and on-premise.

Next we took a break and there is enough to read in one post so I will continue this soon in a second post.

Rising Business Complexity Underscores the Need for the Connected Enterprise

Last week I wrote about the potential positive benefits of the connected Enterprise and social business. McKinsey found quantified benefits from the connected enterprise in both 2010 and 2011. Now they have doubled down on their forecasts for the business value of connectivity. See my post, McKinsey Projects Business Value of Social Business at a Trillion Annually, for a look at the bright side potential of the connected enterprise.

There is also a dark side potential for the disconnected enterprise. Forbes provides a number of recent examples in its article by Ron Ashkenas on, Wanted: Chief Complexity Reduction Officer. It notes how there is increasing complexity in the business world and documents how a number of formerly “best in class” companies such as Toyota, BP, and Johnson & Johnson took “huge hits to their reputations (and balance sheets) in ways that no one could have predicted.” This was largely because their dysfunctional internal communication failed to warn of early danger signs and ailed to provide an adequate way to respond to these crises.

For example, “Toyota found that its highly centralized, engineering-centric communication structure slowed down its ability to understand early warning signals about quality.” They added that, “Similarly, BP‘s response to the massive Gulf oil spill was clearly slowed down by its inability to easily coordinate the different businesses and functions involved in the crisis. You could also argue that J&J’s manufacturing problems can be traced partially to a fragmented organizational structure with diffuse accountability for quality and customer communication.” I also know that BP was one of the pioneers in knowledge management in the 90s, achieving significant success through shared learning. I stopped hearing about these efforts in the 2000s as management apparently went a different direction.

The Forbes article notes that a recent IBM study found that: “standout” companies (those who consistently improve operating margins) seem to be those that build “operating dexterity” and “reinvent customer relationships” without waiting for a crisis.” A cornerstone of this dexterity is the connectivity that McKinsey extols. It allows organizations to first learn about risks before they become disasters and to then provide a more coordinated response to reduce these risks.

Looking closely at the technical infrastructure required to support dexterity, we believe that application integration is one of the cornerstones of the connected enterprise. For example, is your issue tracking tool integrated with your collaboration tools to better monitor, manage, and mitigate potential risks?

This is why Appfusions has created plug-in connectors for Atlassian’s JIRA, the issue tracking tool used by 85% of the Fortune 100, to such collaboration and content management tools as IBM ConnectionsIBM Sametime, JiveBoxAlfresco, and Google Docs. We are continuing to build more plug-in application integrations to support the connected enterprise and help organizations better realize the bright side of social business.

IBM Connections 4.0 Expands Its Social, Integration, and Analytic Capabilities

With the latest release, IBM Connections 4.0 continues its movement from providing a suite of applications to becoming a comprehensive social business platform with tighter integration.

Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager, IBM Social Software

I recently spoke with Suzanne Livingston, Senior Product Manager for Connections on the 4.0 release. I have covered Connections a number of times before (see for example, Review of IBM Connections 3.0 and IBM Connections: Analytics + Social). Suzanne and I discussed several enhanced capabilities within Connections 4.0.

First, IBM expanded Activity Streams to include 3rd party applications and “embedded experiences”, a new OpenSocial API to allow for tight integration with other special purpose business applications.

This feature allows the user to not only receive updates from a variety of enterprise apps through the Connections Activity Stream, but also it allows them to take action (e.g., approvals, changes) on these updates directly without going to the originating app.

The Activity Stream is the event listing (“for example, Bill commented on your request for approval”) and the embedded experience is the mini-view that lets you interact with the app. Both the Activity Stream and the Embedded Apps enable 3rd party integration.

Connections 4.0 aggregates Activity Streams that are customized for your context and you can further enhance this contextualization through following or unfollowing items, groups, people, etc. This filtering allows for more relevant content and reduces the potential for fire hosing the user.

I think this is huge and a potentially transformative step toward better enabling the connected enterprise. Connections can become the hub of this connected enterprise, by not only introducing more social features into enterprise apps, but also by establishing greater integration between the apps, the tasks, and the people within the enterprise.

Suzanne said that this is part of IBM’s goal to transform business processes and I certainly agree with this direction.

This embedded experience feature is built on Open Social, a set of standards that IBM and other firms such as Jive Software, Atlassian, Microsoft, and Google have collaboratively developed or utilized.

IBM has turned its contribution into the Open Social Foundation, allowing third-party vendors to make better use of the embedded feature capabilities within Connections for even more robust integrations.

SugarCRM, the leading open source CRM, is one example of a firm that has taken this step. Suzanne said that we will continue to see even tighter integrations moving forward.

AppFusions is actively working on such integrations with Immersive for Atlassian, for IBM Connections, integrating the “Atlassian Suite” to bring business and engineering users and functional system access together.

In IBM Connections – Coming Q1, 2013 firm.

With a target release at IBM Connect 2013, AppFusions will unveil native integration with Atlassian JIRA (issue tracking), Confluence (enterprise wiki), Fisheye (source code viewer, etc.), Crucible (peer code reviews), Stash (enterprise Git), and Bamboo (continuous integration server).

Suzanne next covered upgrades to email usage within Connections 4.0. Now you can work on your email within Connections, without having to go to the email client. They have this feature for both IBM Domino and MS Exchange (Outlook), hitting the vast majority of business email.

Not only can you respond to emails within Connections, but you can also easily share social content. In addition, access to calendaring is provided. This gives you access to the major collaborative capabilities within one environment.

You can have this email access anywhere within Connections and “click to share” updates within your Activity Stream, including adding hashtags and images with these updates.

You can then look for trending topics within related hashtags to follow the flow of relevant conversations by those people you are interested in.

You can also drill down through filters to see more detail and obtain greater focus.

Connections 4.0 also provides expanded metrics. There are now tools to make use of available analytic data and create custom reports. For example, you can track adoption across the enterprise and create reports on this activity.

There are many use cases for this new capability.You could use Connections to roll out a new HR policy and then track who reads it, who shared it, and what they said about it to get a better picture of how it is being received.

Communities are becoming a major use case for Connections and these analytic capabilities are proving very useful to community managers. They can see the most valued content, the top contributors, and other ways the community is performing. They can make adjustments to the community interface and track responses to these changes.

To further support communities, Connections is making it easier to tie different communities together, even those in separate spaces, or inside and outside the enterprise. This latter feature is important as McKinsey has shown that higher enterprise operating margins correlated with the “a willingness to allow the formation of working teams comprising both in-house employees and individuals outside the organization.”

Now one central community can be used to track what is going on in several related communities, becoming the hub for connected conversations. Activity Streams with embedded experiences can be used to facilitate these cross-community conversations.

Suzanne said they are also facilitating the use of public domain content within the communities. She gave an example of using a blog post, such as this one, to spark a conversation within a community.

  • The community manager can ask for responses to the post or comments on it from the community.
  • The manager can also use the post content to spark conversations about product improvements or enhancements to customer service.
  • The community’s reaction can then go directly back into the blog as a response to the post.

They are also allowing for other public domain content from such sources as LinkedIn or Quora, as well as other internal communities, to used by the community.

Connections 4.0 also includes mobile support for iOS, Andriod, and Blackberry. It provides devices specific enhancements such as using the browsing capabilities specific to tablets versus smart phones.

In addition, you can add geolocation to your status updates directly from your mobile device and even upload photos for your network or communities to view.

Collectively, these enhancements are making Connections into a hub for the connected, social enterprise and should greatly extend its adoption and use.

IBM’s 2012 CEO Survey revealed that 57 percent of CEO’s identified social business as a top priority and more than 73 percent are making significant investments to draw insights into available data. The new capabilities within Connections support both of these findings.

Why Knowledge Sharing is Important

My friend, Luis Suarez recently wrote an important post, Why Do I Share My Knowledge? It was a reflection, in part, on a post by the well respected Oscar Berg, Why do people share?  He also links to another writer  Nancy Dixon on: The Incentive Question or Why People Share Knowledge.

As Luis notes, knowledge sharing is the heart of not just social software, but also collaboration and knowledge management in general. I would expand this to say it is the heart of the connected enterprise where McKinsey keeps finding real quantified benefits from this sharing and related activity.

See their 2010 and 2011 studies and their 2012 projections for over a trillion a year in potential benefits.

Oscar notes that sharing is a gift and we cannot expect anything in return. He writes that people share to build their reputation, to gain emotional communication, adds that we share what matters. Nancy lists peer recognition and building relationships as motivators for sharing. Oscar quotes Nancy, “Rather than management asking, ‘How do we incentivise people to share their knowledge?’ It would be more useful for management to ask, ‘How do we develop relationships across the organization that will set in motion more knowledge sharing?’ ”

This is the key to the connected enterprise. These are the organizations that outperform their competitors. See my earlier post on this blog, Doing Well by Doing Good: Humanizing the Enterprise.

Luis adds to the discussion by noting that knowledge sharing is learning. He writes that when he first got involved with knowledge management 15 years ago, he discovered that sharing is a key accelerators for one’s learning, “that one of sharing your knowledge out there, in the open, and the more, the better, allowing others to benefit from it, contrasting it, challenging it, reframing it.”

I agree with this point and all of the above. I discovered long ago that the best way to truly learn about something was to teach it to others and sharing works in a similar way.

So there are multiple benefits from sharing. In addition to personal learning, I think the sense of community mentioned by Luis and others is very real, at least for me. I have met many people through knowledge sharing. Sharing is a great way to enter a community and become accepted by its members.  I value the different communities that I have entered through sharing.

Luis goes on to add that, “sharing your knowledge in social networks is that ability to build a legacy for which people would be able to remember you over the course of time. Indeed, what most other folks know as your personal (digital) brand.”

Here is where the potential for direct financial reward for sharing comes into play. Many people and companies start a blog to gain market exposure because they want to sell something. There is nothing wrong with this. I have benefited directly from my sharing and subsequent personal brand on the Web. However, if the only reason or even the dominant reason is to share as a marketing channel, then this motive becomes transparent and it will not work.

I used to help people start blogs and I would always say, do not do it unless it is intrinsically fun for you. You have to enjoy sharing for your blog to work.  The people who do not understand this miss the main point of blogging and social business.

Organizations have to promote this sense of joy and the trust than lays the foundation for it to occur.

Managers who do not understand this will fail in today’s economy.

And the sad truth is that many still do not get it. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte executives rank tangibles like competitive compensation (62%) and financial performance (65%) as the top factors that influence culture. While employees have a different view, with intangibles such as regular and candid conversations (50%) and access to management (47%) as ranking higher than compensation (33%) and financial performance (24%).

Here are two other studies with similar results, Why it pays to thank employees in HR Morning and (Almost) Everything We Think About Employee Engagement is Wrong in Forbes.

The returns are in. It is no longer simply idealistic speculation.

If you want to succeed in business, build an organizational culture that supports sharing. If you want to succeed in sharing follow the advice of Luis, Oscar, and Nancy. Do it because it feels good.