Archive for the ‘Enterprise2.0’ Category

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Organisational pyramid – People, Process, and Social Office

In Enterprise2.0 on September 29, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: ,

Delivery of enterprise social software is a journey that involves a process of analysis, implementation and support. This framework is often forgotten as is the pyramid of organisation components which have equal weight on each leg to ensure that it doesn’t tipple over.

Each component, equally dependent, requires attention during the integration framework. Successful integration therefore requires understanding of the process and people to introduce new tools.

Process can refer to the current knowledge and communication management systems that are incorporated into business-as-usual activities. This is influenced further by company policies/standards and organisational culture. These can be measured through empirical research. This is a suggested method to help see where integrations issue could arise and could require attention. Mitigation strategies are common in for managing change but importantly, a perceptive that adoption requires support to alter old perceptions and reduce resistance to new structures and business processes.

People are part of the process and without tying to be too bias, they are the crucial element to successful adoption. Although they are evenly distributed in the pyramid, people are crucial because they are commonly forgotten in the implementation process. Sometimes management have a mindset that if the right process and tools are in place, the people will just adapt. This misconception will cause failure and resistance to changing processes. Therefore, continual support is necessary and should be delivered incrementally throughout the life of the project.

Finally technology suitability is important. This should be acknowledged in the analysis stage of the implementation framework. Common problem with introducing new technologies is that they’re introduced without removing old or redundant tools.  Adding another tool or introducing a system because you can doesn’t mean you should. People are an important element of the business, if not the most important. If they are supported by excellent processes and tools, the work production will flourish.

Technology – Social Office

Consider this, a technology with features that can be easily integrated into the work flow of an organisation and its employees. Sound good? Well then, meet Social Office. What is unique about Social Office is that it has supports the implementation pyramid in many ways that other tools choose to ignore. This is demonstrated by a few key aspects I see as fundamental to the introduction to enterprise 2.0.

  • No new email system
    • Email is one of those tools that some employees are very touchy about. People want to keep using email but what people don’t often realised is that email is a excellent communication tool but is overused by people for misguided purposes. For example: sending out a company wide message, or even a group message, or newsletters, could be more effective on another platform and reduce the overload of static email/ pushed information. Social Office relies on the Pull system of information, whereby people in their own time read about the company or their team’s process. This means it’s more transparent to the company and important information is not lost in the inbox.
  • Integration
    • Integration with the current company systems factors into the effectiveness of the implementation. Social Office has an excellent integration capability including Microsoft Office software which is fundamental to the systems document versions control, formatting, and efficiency to upload documents to the portal (Uses WebDev). Further integration can be seen SOAP, REST, RSS and other proprietary AIPs. These can be fundamental to the transfer of data from different platforms and allows for current data layer to remain rather than redesigning the entire system protocols.
  • Access controls
    • Fundamental in hierarchical organisational structures. Different information and content producing privileges can be allocated and this can be useful in avoiding employee spam or information sensitivity issues with clients.
  • Simplicity
    • The GUI has very simple design making it easy to navigate and effectively complete an activity.
  • Profiling
    • The social networking paradigm has raised some eyebrows across enterprise. Employees could leverage off these online networks and collaborate more effectively.
  • Auditing Performance
    • As it is important to monitor activities on these platform the auditing abilities of Social Office is a helpful feature.  There is great importance for implicit leaders to advocate social networks. Being able to recognise who is a leader and who is lagging in adoption is fundamental. Auditing not only can help the organisations see strengths and weaknesses, it provides management with the opportunities to connect weak adopters with strong leaders to enhance their experience and motivate them to improve. Monitoring these opportunities to link leader with slow adopters is fundamental to the support process.
  • Search/ tagging
    • To have an effective system it needs to be searchable. The tagging method is used in many areas but this could be a weakness as it is not scalable to large organisations. Tagging is more about trending topics. If the system could allow for custom tags for co-worker that is part of your network, this might provide more value. However, for a larger international company, this feature is unlikely to be consistently helpful unless users were clustered into divisions.

From this quick overview, it’s hard to put anything wrong by Social Office.  This tool has acknowledged the knowledge pyramid and many of its features support the organisation people and the processes.  The feature complemented with the support and end-of-life agreement (migrating future risk of cancellations) makes Social Office my pick for the semester for enterprise software most likely to succeed.

For an introduction into Liferay’s social text, watch the video below.

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Servicing the Wiki

In Enterprise2.0 on September 9, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , , ,

Improve company to client communication

In the eyes of a client accountability and transparency are always high priority. The pressure on companies to provide this to clients is due the competitive nature of business. The efforts to ensure a competitive advantage have been aided by leveraging Enterprise 2.0 tools. Wikis are a excellent resource for service orientated companies as they create a method of interaction for clients and help services companies to meet theirs expectations and requirements. Using an external a wiki allows for greater transparency because it provides a collective source of information on a given project. Introducing a repository mean that clients can access what they require and contribute or comment where necessary.  Accountability is also an attribute of using a external wiki. The information can be tracked to groups and individuals depending on the size of the project. This allows work to be measure more accurately and reduces time discrepancies, as task are defined more accurately.

Wiki ahoy

A developing company RedAnt manages some very large projects and differentiates themselves among other developers by using a wiki to communicate with their clients. Stated in there website, RedAnt wanted to avoid drowning in the tidal wave of information. They introduced a wiki for there internal knowledge sharing much like many their competitors but they also had elements of the wiki specifically designed for client access.

It is fair to say that, a company’s knowledge shouldn’t be accessed by anyone and some information is competitively sensitive. To provide transparency for clients means allowing them enough access to information without jeopardising the organisations position. RedAnt and many other companies including Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, VMware have achieved this using a Wiki software call Confluence. Confluence is a sophisticated wiki tool that has features designed to enhance knowledge sharing. One appealing aspect of Confluence is the range of access controls.  This supports the security of the sensitive information. Although there will always be the problematic human factor, whereby sensitive information to be released by an employee, this is a risk for all aspect of social media (read more on risk). Correct policy and common sense in the organisation is one means of mitigating this risk even if it can never be completely eradicated. The advantages of implementing a knowledge sharing not only internal but external out weights any proposed risk. There is necessary precautions that should be make in regards to sensitive information but quality of service is crucial for an company to maintain. Whilst a wiki will not guarantee this, it will provide the process that will aid the assurance of a project to the quality expectations of the client.

To find out more features confluence has to offer, watch the video below.

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New standards & Old Culture

In Enterprise2.0 on September 6, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , , ,

About Micro-blogging

More and more tools are tossed into organisations with little consideration of the deliverables. The ideology of these tools in work context is that they can create better communication, network and provide an information infrastructure that is not possible in traditional work place email or organisational archiving. One of the goals of micro-blogging is to create a conversation that in is not fragmented and easily accessible. It promotes a message with greater context and value as an informational artifact. Informational artifacts (meetings, a memo or emails) will continue to remain important in enterprise communication but they fail be truly establish an effective information system as information is in disarray from each other.

Considering a micro-blog as an information system whereby the message is a part of an array of relevant information, users are able to submit opinions that could influence the discussion beyond the platform and into the artifact information system. It also supports accessibility of information to stakeholders, and reduces the constant strain employees have with email fragmentation.

Studies on Micro-blogging and emails

To further emphasis the email bog-down that experienced by people Fuser released a study of over 1000 people finding that internet users spend at least seven hours a week managing their emails. This raises the question of what tasks are consuming the time spent in the email and how many of these tasks are repeated or unnecessary? The best measurable outcome for an organisational micro-blogging system is the time that is saves in emails. If the time spent managing emails can be reduced through micro-blogging it can be justified. But is this the only way to measure success? According to a study by Cody et all (2010) employees sending a message or asking a questions on via a micro-blog created a less formal and more convenient channel of communication. This is a less tangible benefit but can have direct improvements on productivity.  A further result from the study compared Yammer and twitter from the perspective of work related and personal use. Higher personal engagement was experience on Twitter rather then Yammer, and Yammer had a high percentage of user discussions where on the platform related topics indicating a process of discussing and negotiating workplace concerns in this context.

Problems that occur

There are some common issues that micro-bloggers have with the integration of platforms in the workspace. It is clear that everyone has his or her own criteria on how to use it. Hierarchical boundaries may play a key role in the exchange of information. This is a potential problem for micro-blogging as there are no standards for participants. Furthermore, to create specific standards and policies is to restrict the creativity, flexibility, and enjoyment of the exercise and thus reducing its value as an informational artifact. Observing the activities of micro-blogging could also help understand the organisational culture from divisional or from entire organisational viewpoint.  It is very likely that some organisational cultures are hesitant to use this form of information exchange due to its informal and vertical communication characteristics.

Time productivity is the one of the goals of micro-blogging but what could be a consequence of various standards for user interaction could equate into a loss of purpose, and therefore lower productivity levels. The problem of this is that restriction could make the platform unattractive to employees but no standards could make the system information disjointed and time consuming.

Successful adoption

To make it a information system successful the standards should represent the organisational culture. This is the best way to ensure participation. This requires employee to represent their requirements on how they believe the system could be useful. In the study on successful integration of enterprise web 2.0 tools by MckInsey (2008), the most successful tools that where implemented were not by the IT department but by the business divisions themselves. This clearly represents the failure of understanding requires of the key stakeholders in the implementation process but also represents culture of business divisions. Their culture is better understood by the business divisions and strongly influences the successfulness of adoption. So next time the IT department recommends a new tool or micro-blogging platform, make sure that their analysis and directive meets the expectations. If the right model of adoption and platform suitability has been analysis, it is likely the platform will be a success and reduce the email bog-down experienced by employees. Finally, creating new and supportive information artifacts could have great benefits for the company. Upholding excellent knowledge sharing among the organisation and its divisions, provides a competitive advantage for an organisation and brings to light new and exciting possibility for organiational dynamics.

Yammer is a popular micro-blogging tool that has been successful in orgnaisations. Watch the CEO of Yammer discuss why he thinks micro-blogging works in business operations by clicking below.

–Mckinsey (2008). Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise. Goble survey Results

–Cody, J. Qu, Y. Wu, Y. Zhang, J. (2010). A Case Study of Micro-blogging in the Enterprise: Use Value, and Related Issues.

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You’re fired! The risk of social media.

In Enterprise2.0,Social Media on August 19, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , ,

What are the legal risk for organisational stakeholders? There are all sorts of risk to organisations and it’s employees. Many traditional organisation would rather ignore social media then embrace it due to these associated risks. But does ignoring social media reduce all risks? 

Firstly, lets look at a few risk involved, then look at who’s at risk and some ways to manage risk.

— Confidential information (accounts manager contacts)
— Disclosure by employees (recommended a person via social media and gave key organisational business relationships by publicly letting people know about the two companies working together).
— Copyright infringement (don’t own the copyright material but post it on the Internet).
— Privacy Act (disclosure of improperly sanitised “sensitive information”.
— Discrimination  (acceptance of friend requests of some employee’s but not others)
— Misleading and deceptive conduct – the website is wrong or misleading to the public or business.
— Employers vicariously liable for authorised conduct.

(It is important to note that risk significance will depend on the context)

If you’re an individual reading this for personal reference, the best advice is to use common sense. Acknowledge that there is a risk in posting information, and use personal judgement to whether or not this could have legal implications. Yes, this is not the most helpful advice but the reality is that there are few standards or common law for social media. Therefore, the best precaution an individual can make is being knowledgeable of the risks in order to manage your participation and content you might post online.

From a organisational point-of-view, the best ways to manage risks related to social media is policy. Social media policy is fundamental to successfully manage the risk associated with social media.

So if there are risk involved why use it? Consider what is at risk vs what can be gained. Depending on the context, risk will vary. Organisational structures, culture, regulations,  and information sensitivity will be different depending on the organisation. The methods of reducing risk is policies and providing education to staff. These exercisers are not only necessary for the organisation but also necessary for the employees to be save and confident in the internal and external use of social media. An organisation refusing to adopt Enterprise 2.0 tools still puts there employees at risk and liable while externally (outside of work) conducting social media activities. Therefore, it is the organisations obligation to ensure their employees and their organisation are protected through education seminars and updated policies.

The blur between work and play is evident and social media is now a part of everyday society.  These tools can be used for great benefit to networking, marketing, and PR activities. But the implications of this are that organisation and their employees need to be aware of the risks involved. Risk are present when an organisations ignores social media just as much as when an organisation implements them. Take precautions for the employee and organisation so that all parties can have confidence when conducting activities online.

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SocialText Benefits & Risk: Emergent Solutions Case Study.

In Enterprise2.0,Social Media on August 14, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: ,

The tools that enterprise2.0 promotes has had increasingly successful outcomes but not without integration failures along the way.  In previous discussions, types of enterprise tools have been discussed, with some key reasoning behind their popularity and integration. What we have found is that there are enhanced productivity benefits using enterprises tools such as micro blogging, wikis, and others alike.
In this discussion, we examine the Emergent Solutions Inc case study including the benefits of SocialText and associated risks for companies considering this tool and others alike.
Case Study: Emergent Solutions
Consulting company Emergent Solutions proudly has integrated SocialText as a means of managing their clients and staff. Consultants have a high level of communication requirement, and participate in a number of knowledge sharing activities. Previously, Emergent Solutions had a number of communication options which were considered by employees as restrictive in the process of managing accounts. They integrated SocialText into their work activities and found great results.
Benefits
Some of the results from using SocialText tools can be illustrated by the Hincheliffe’s graph. In the Emergent Solutions case study improvement in work activities and work progresses where recorded. The open knowledge management of information produced an archive of discussion that ultimately saved repetition of task and time spend face-to-face. This outcome was embraced because it made managing multiple clients and staff more efficient.
It also provided clients with transparency so they could track Emergent Solution employee’s outputs and ensure they were meeting the requirements of the project. This knowledge sharing platform had an overall positive effect on the company and its employees.
There self-managed success of employees could be tracked through SocialText consequently allowing more time to provide a high quality service.  Users would manage their profiles and view other employee profile, tracking their progress in real-time, while also encouraging links, tags and other useful collaborative behaviours. This type of community and collaboration enhanced synergy across the business.
Key Points
Transparency – Internal employee knowledge management & external communication and service to clients.
Knowledge sharing archive – Self managed success, collaborative wiki’s of organisational information.
Improved Resource allocation and collaboration – Focus resources on providing quality service, contributing to the organisational success and synergy.
Risks
Although these enterprise tools can dramatically improve decision cycle time, and organisational effectiveness there is associated risk involved. The fundamental risk involved is success by adoption. Without wide spread adoption by users the productivity fails. Like the Internet, if only few use it the value proposition is low however if many use it the value proposition is high.
With transparency there is always risk of security. Sensitive or proprietary information could have survier consequences if inappropriately released. For Emergent Solutions or other consulting companies, client information is transferred between parties. This information is required to be handled discreetly.
Productivity can be both positive and negative when introducing social tools into the workspace. Employees spending large quantities of time on a particular platform or on a particular task can be counterproductive. These tools need to be recognised as supportive to the work, not work itself..
All these risk are avoidable with the correct implementation strategy. Many successful enterprise tool integration is a result of regulating and policy creation by employees. Viewed as guidance not a restrictions, creating the appropriate environment through procedures can prevent negative outcomes.
Key Points
Importance of adoption – The more users, the more value.
Security – Dealing with sensitive information needs to be handled correctly.
Counterproductive – These are supportive tools for work, they do not complete the work itself
Operation/platform procedures – Are fundamental to avoid risk.
Summary
Emergent Solutions adoption of SocialText has had an excellent outcome resulting in improved decision making, knowledge sharing, and productivity. Although there are always risk associated with implementation, risk can be managed with procedures and appropriate work policies.  Nevertheless, there are also risks of not using enterprise tools. Enterprise tools require adoption as company implementation and integration numbers matures. Not using enterprise tools will likely reduce the quality of service and overall competitive advantage of an organisation. Therefore, not using enterprise2.0 tools could be the biggest risk of all.

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Who and What; Enterprise2.0 tools

In Enterprise2.0 on August 5, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , , , , ,

Looking into the future, web technologies and social networking usage will be significantly integrated into work life. This prediction is based on business and social trends, and emerging patterns. There are tools available to enhance communications, marketing, PR, productivity and collaboration, which have increasing popularity in the workspace, some of which I will examine in greater detail.

Firstly, it is important to note that resistance to web technologies and social networking within an organisation is rapidly disintegrating. Although there is a lag for some, organisations have been accepting the effectiveness of enterprise2 tools. Some tools such as blogging, micro-blogging, social networking, Email, outsourcing, storage, and documenting have shown their worthiness in the corporate setting. Issues in information ownership, security, and reliability are still present but with many variations of enterprise2 solutions, so it isn’t a question of why, it is what and when.

Jive is a great enterprise software vendor that incorporates the best techniques of web tools into reliable, culture sensitive, productive software.  Jive like many others have been extremely popular for business but as a vendor of enterprise tools, how do they different themselves? Well one of the ways is by profiling employees much in the same way that Facebook allows you to profile yourself.  This is demonstrated in their software release, Jive SBS 4.5. This is scalable software with excellent usability, which includes integrated blogs and wikis. But what makes is great, is its customisation and an extension beyond organisation firewalls and offers SharePoint integration, for those stubborn Microsoft lovers.

Software vendors are emerging to take on tasks associated with enterprise social networking tools. But some open sources methods are emerging. The disadvantage of this is the associated risk involved. SAP and Novell had heavy investments in Google Wave. Today Google Wave was canned and developers are diverted to other project.  SAP is a leading international software development company that has introduced a number of web tools to enhance their business operations.  Uniquely they have developed an add-on for businesses within Google Wave. Google, when developing the Wave platform encouraged this but due to Google’s perpetual beta strategy, businesses have been reluctant to integrate, and see it as risky (for good reason). Nonetheless, this type of platform has much potential. Besides having add-on’s developed for specific business purposes, the platform was a robust email client. This is used by SAP and the outcome is a hybrid platform to collaboration; mashing email, instant messaging, and social networking into the one platform.

What can be very useful to enterprises is collaboration.  In a large corporation, sharing resources and solving complex problems is a significant issue. Another tool seeking to solve this is micro-blogging. A popular vendor of micro- blogging tools is Yammer. Yammer can be used to discuss and present difficult problems and solutions within the company.  Sharing knowledge and encouraging employees to engage in the organisations can transfer a company social capital and create a competitive advantage.  Utilising productivity tools like yammer has seen success in companies.  Primarily, this is a push strategy of information, but is very effective in reducing the communication barriers within the hierarchy, fostering openness and transparency.

Many emerging tools can deliver greater value to an enterprise. Some are still in beta stages, some have already integrated into thousands of businesses from, SME’s, to Enterprises, to government. Many more tools are available, similarly promoting collaboration, productivity, and social networking.  The difficultly for business to choose what is suitable for their culture, organisational structure and tools that meet their expected outcomes. Open source, hybrid, individual services tools, add-ons, plug-ins are widely available, but suitability is very much dependant on business operations. Nevertheless, there are ways for all business to improve operations through enterprise tools. And the right tools will ensure successful outcomes.

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Blogs in organisations: Framework & outcomes

In Enterprise2.0 on July 27, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

What makes a good blog?  To answer this question we have examined at a number of resources for the purpose of understanding why blogs can be an effective medium of communication and a meaningful contribution archive for organisations.

An effective blog conveys a message, opinion, or an activity. This method of communication draws from sources of material and personal experience. What can a blog achieve, is unique to the context and style of the blog itself. Self-gratifying dribble is not a blog. A blog is a way to engage with a community, share ideas and build a reputation.  This can be applied to both individual and organisational context yet they share different methods of execution. Blogging as an individual compared to an individual blogging for an organisation; the delivery should have the same characteristics but an organisation could purpose their blog differently.  For instance, if employees were asked to blog about their experience at a conference it’s purpose is to factualise rather than to personalise.  This is the result of strick guideline that are forced upon employees. Nevertheless, blogs in the context of an organisation can have positive outcomes.

Enterprise 2.0 blogging infrastructure

An analysis by Thomas Davenport on organisations “dawn of the emergent collaboration” introduces SLATES, an infrastructure for fostering a blog community within an organisation.  To summarise much of the insightful article, Davenport promotes the use of transparent knowledge archives that make information widely accessible and permanently visible. The SLATES framework is methods to assuring standards are met within this emergent archive but also so that delivery and retrieval are highly effective.

One of the fundamental points that distinguishes blogs as a communication method is mass authoring. Authoring is contributing, and somewhat surprisingly very popular.  Weather it be knowledge, insight, experience, comments, fact, edits, or links, authoring is producing and re-producing, layer upon layer. Ward Cunningham highlighted the willingness of people to contribute by inventing the first online Wiki. During this he found that linking peoples experience created a pool of valuable knowledge. Much can be said about blogs and without blurring the two, it is important  (especially organisations) to realise that collectively employee contributions/authoring can be very valuable.

Far from a traditional organisational archive, enterprise2.0 contribution seeks to decentralise content and rightfully deliver a bottom-up effective communication.  Two outcomes that authorship promotes are, (1) better understanding of front-end service delivery, and (2) resources for employee’s seeking advice or answers.

Execution of Enterprise2.0 tools is key successful integration. Following the SLATES framework is fundamental to this, and a great start for any organisations enterprise2.0 endeavour.  It simply provides the groundwork of effective methods of using enterprise techniques. The web2.0 tools are available, it’s the method that will make or break the execution of modern enterprise activities.

Organisational information systems consist of channels and platforms like an email client or a website. What is noted in Davenport’s studies is that employees are not satisfied with these portals as they have very poor access via search engines, and information is not common to any platform.  The introduction of Enterprise2.0, its counterparts (SLATES) promote easy to use, information rich technologies. Furthermore, blogs are a good example of authoring and can improve transparency of information thus improving work delivery consistency. The contributive nature of blogger can be used effectively to deliver in an enterprise with integrated web technologies. With the right methods and framework, this visible, collective information can be extremely valuable to an organisation.

Externally, an employee encouraged to write a blog has is own problems. While more of what our discussion so far has been on blogging within a “walled garden” of an organisations intranet but increasingly employees are asked to blog externally. Corporate blogs such as IBM, Dell BBC, Sun Microsystems, Google and are using this as a means of PR and customer relations.  Of cause there are strict guidelines associated (click hyperlinks). Without going into too much detail, this is also a good exercise for companies. There are commonalities of external blogs and internal blog in the regulations but more so for external blogs, which makes sense, as they need to cover themselves from potential lawsuits.  The intended audience is also different but the reasoning is very simular. Communication, information rich, transparently, collaboration is still present in all blogs and can be a PR, employee relations, marketing, HR, purposed. Either way value of blogs for an enterprise both internally and external is justified and useful for communications.