My notes from the Internet Trends 2012 Update

I find Mary Meeker's reports on internet trends very interesting. They're packed with interesting data and insights. I've been following her work closely. She recently published an updated overview of 2012 and I thought I'd share my highlights with you at the end of this year.

sheet 9: stunning slide showing shipment of iPads, iPhones and iPods over 10 years compared. This slides is old(er), but it just underlines the interesting times we live in
sheet 10: You thought the ramp up of Apple products is huge, well Android ramp up is 6 times that of iPhone
sheet 12: 30% of US adults own a tablet, less than 3 years ago that was 3%
sheet 17: mobile advertising is growing rapidly; $0.7 billion in 2008, $19 billion in 2012
sheet 18: 24% of online shopping was done via tablets on Black Saturday, versus 6% 2 years ago
sheet 20: we are in the midst of a huge change powered by new devices + connectivity + UI + beauty. Meeker highlights the effects for the pc, photography, phone, knowledge, navigation, news, note taking, content organization, magazines, cash registers, lending money, idea building/funding, recruiting, product design, etc. market (and we are still in "spring training", Meeker says [sheet 58])
sheet 24: very interesting overview of the market share of Microsoft compared to others. Used to be 96% and is now just 35%.
sheet 61: I like how Meeker digs deeper into the consequences of the internet by addressing what it means for our space, time and money and how we balance these
sheet 77: Meeker mentions markets that still can be opened, such as the time spent in cars and watching TV, education and healthcare.

And here's her complete slidedeck:

Is our web slipping away?

Sometimes I read a post that really gets me thinking. Anil Dashes' recent post 'The web we lost' did it this time. I think reading the full post is well worth your time if you're interested in where the web is headed. Two fragments from the post triggered me the most:
We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

The first step to disabusing them of this notion is for the people creating the next generation of social applications to learn a little bit of history, to know your shit, whether that's about Twitter's business model or Google's social features or anything else. We have to know what's been tried and failed, what good ideas were simply ahead of their time, and what opportunities have been lost in the current generation of dominant social networks.
One of the things I really like about the web is that I know what it was like before the web was there and became so important in our lives. I can also remember the first steps 'web 2.0' brought us and how thrilled I was (and still am) about the next version of the web. After years in the internet and intranet version of the new web, I too am wondering if we're loosing it. I understand Dashes points to business models and what existing services are doing (building walls, cutting off integration opportunities based on RSS, etc.) as reasons for loosing the web. However, I wonder if we should ask even more fundamental questions. Web 2.0 and social media was about refinding our voice. More and more I see the services that helped us refind our voice are becoming less human (walling their garden, changing privacy settings, etc.). They're going against important statements from The Cluetrain Manifesto. And I see less and less people blogging and starting deep conversations (although I must say this is one of the reasons I love Google+). Monetization of services has become more important than the core values of the new web.

Or aren't we loosing it, but are we just getting started? Is it that the early adopters have to slow down and understand that the majority is just starting to understand the concepts and tools of the new web?

Just when I wondered if Dashes would share his ideas about rebuilding the web we lost, he posted his ideas. They are good ideas, even though they're focused on technology, design, funding, business models and the like. These could be good starting point, but as I just mentioned, I wonder if this cuts deep enough to really bring back the web we lost. What do you think?

UPDATE (5 minutes after publishing this post): My friend Ana Silva recently blogged about this topic as well, pointing to Dashes' post and other related posts.

Social Students?

What social tools are young people using? As a (internal) social media advisor for several companies I'm very interested in the answer to this question. So, when I get a change to talk for students, I'm honored, but also very curious what they will tell me.

Recently I was asked to guest lecture for students at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. It's the university I went to years ago. I was asked to share my experience with using social media concepts and tools inside organizations. I basically used a shorter version of the slides I use for my guest lectures for a college, but spent more time on the conceptual, philosophical if you will, side of 'social'.
I also asked them which social tools they use and why they use them. What did they say? Here's what I learned (there were 40+ students attending my lecture):

  • None use Google+. Why? Nobody/none of their friends is there.
  • All except 3 use Facebook. The 3 that didn't use FB, just didn't see the value of using the service.
  • None of the students blog. Some said they didn't because they thought nobody is interested in what they have to say. Some said they wanted to but didn't have time.
  • There are no Hyves users in this class (Hyves is a Dutch social network).
  • 75% uses Twitter. Most use it to consume information, not publish/share it.
  • They know Foursquare but don't use it.
  • All have a LinkedIn account, but don't use it. It's for after their student-life.
Interesting, I find. It's pretty different from the usage pattern I collected while lecturing at a college. To me the most worrying answer is the one about blogging. At college and university hardly anybody blogs. I usually point to my blog and tell them what it brought and brings me. I hope that inspires them...
What's worrying to me is the reason why they don't blog: because they conclude what they think and would share is not interesting to others. And these students will be paid to think in the future. Wouldn't it be great if these young people would share their thoughts with us? I think so and hope they will in the future. The big question is: how do we get them to share?

Emailing with @elsua?

You all know +Luis Suarez, right? The guy from IBM, that live on the Canary Islands and has declared war on email. Well recently I wanted to get in touch with him to discuss an opportunity that popped up. Contacting him is easy, right? He’s all over social media. Just DM him on Twitter, send a message via Google+ or Facebook. LinkedIn will do as well. I thought I’d share how it went. Did I seduce Luis to hand over his email address to me? 

But what to do if you want to send him a longer piece of text? Do you request for his email address? I was tempted to but refrained to ask because I knew I would be whipped by him. ;-) So I reached out to him via Twitter (direct message) and asked if we could call sometime soon. That was possible and we had a chat. But, still, I had to send him more information about the opportunity, about 10-15 lines of text. And I’m not going to chop this into 140 character messages. LinkedIn could work, but feels like email. I’m not connected to Luis in Facebook, so I couldn’t message him there either. So I left it up to him. And what did he choose? We had a one-on-one conversation in Google+. Which worked fine. There is no limitation to message link there. Although attachments can’t be sent, a link to it works as well.

This does make me wonder: this one-on-one conversation is basically email in a social network. The shift of email-like communication to social networks is evident and understandable. But does it really make sense to move this kind of conversation there? Isn’t this the sweet spot of email and basically it’s best use case. To use it for one-on-one confidential conversation? I could think of two good reasons to move these kind of conversations to social nets:
  1. When we think the conversation might me opened up to a larger group later on. When the conversation has been held in the network where this group is, it can easily be shared with them. 
  2. When social networks instead of email is de central hub of the knowledge worker. For most people this is not the case yet (just relate to what application you open first in the morning when you start working…). 
So, what do you think? Are there other reasons to communicate one-on-one in social media instead of email? And how would you have interacted with Luis if you wanted something from him?

By the way, Luis will be at the 2013 Intranet Conference (the company I work for is the organizer). He’ll be sharing his thoughts on the skills of the knowledge worker in a keynote and in a pre-conference workshop he’ll be talking about ‘a world without email’. You can register here!

Looking forward

It’s that time of the year again when we look back and evaluate the year that has passed by so quickly. And lots like to make predictions for the year to come. I don’t want to share my predictions and my ponderings on the previous year. It has been an exciting year for me though. Many interesting projects, many interesting interactions with colleagues, customers and you. I moved from being a senior consultant to manager, visited interesting conferences, had discussions about and changes to the company I work for, etc. I’m just happy to have a great job, in times when many are looking for a job.

I would like to thank you for the previous year. For reading my blog, thinking about things I’ve shared with you and the interactions we’ve had here and elsewhere. I’m looking forward to 2013 and hope you are to.

I wish you and all your loved ones happy holidays!

I’ve seen the future and (part of) it’s Qbengo

In the past I’ve written quite a bit about expertise location and knowledge mapping. Expertise location is about supporting people to find people with certain expertise they’re looking for. In larger and multi-nationals organizations this is a big issue. One aspect about expertise location is also finding out where the person is. This can be a static location (e.g. the person works in room 3, building 4). This is difficult enough, but it can be done as I wrote some time ago.

However, the workforce is more mobile than ever. Less and less employees have a fixed space they’re working in daily. They work in several rooms in an office during the week, they work from home, in the car, etc. Supporting expertise location in this context is even harder. In theory it can be done. I wrote about this as well. But I never saw a company actually connect the dots and make it work. Until recently.

I had the pleasure to visit Qbengo. Qbengo is currently focused on connecting people at larger conferences. You’ve been there: a large conference with many booths. You have specific questions and would like to have them answered, but finding your way to the right person and/or booth, is hard. Furthermore, you don’t want to walk by all the booths, because that takes too much of your time.

Qbengo has developed technology to support this process. They can quickly map out a conference location: the conference rooms, lunch area, booths, etc. By downloading there app you get access to these conference maps. But you can also register and connect with people and vendors there. When you set up a meeting with Qbengo you are subsequently helped to find that person or booth with turn-by-turn navigation inside the conference location. The cool thing is this also works in 3D. And this was exactly one of the issues I pointed to some time ago. For (expertise) maps inside organizations to work, you would need 3D-mapping technology, because most offices are multi-layered.

Qbengo is a start-up and a start-up needs focus. But you can easily see where I think they should and could go, right? Yep, expertise location for organizations. They have all the elements to make this work. This is (part of) our future and I think this is very exciting.

Why do we share?

Maybe a better question is: why do I share? I was wondering about this while reading +Oscar Berg’s post ‘Why do people share?’.
Oscar makes several interesting statements about sharing in his post. Like this one:
The act of sharing something tells our colleagues something about us and that we think and care about what they might be interested in. If what we share is relevant and valuable to them, they will understand that we have really tried to understand what their needs and interests are. Their trust in us grows.
And, citing from an MIT Sloan article about reputation and knowledge sharing:
Reputation also plays a role where rules or systems are unable to spur sharing. Because critical information is often held privately by individuals, workers often can choose to share or withhold such information in their interactions with colleagues without fear of sanction. That leaves reputation as a key motivator in any decision to share or withhold information.
Oscar also relates to the influence of culture on sharing. Furthermore, referring to another article, the content of what you share also depends on whether you’ll share it. People share content that will bring them ‘emotional communion’ and not all content is fit for that.

And at the end of his post he points to a post by Nancy Dixon in which see distinguishes two types of knowledge sharing. One is, in my own words, work-related, the other relation-related. Examples of the first are reports. Experiences are examples of the second. More interestingly, both types of sharing have different motivations. Only the second kind of sharing was done for personal benefit.

Interesting stuff, I think. I’ve been collecting articles about knowledge sharing and blogging about his topic for some time as well. It’s not an easy topic. And the above provide interesting insights, but only scratch the surface of this topic.

At the end of Oscar’s post I was wondering what motivates Oscar to share. I can’t talk for Oscar, of course, but I will share why I share. To me there is one big reason to share information and knowledge (as far as I know them now):
Share to learn: I share what I know and see with others because I want to learn. By wording my knowledge in text or speech in itself, helps me to learn. But I also hope to learn from the response I get from the person I’m addressing or that has asked me the question. I hardly withhold information from people. I will if I think that person does not respect me or will use the information in a wrong way.

I think I can unpack this general reason and distill underlying reasons from it. These are:
  1. Share to show-off: to me there is definitely a show-off element to knowledge sharing. It’s not the most important one, but I do share to show what I know, read, bump into, etc. 
  2. Share to listen: an important part of learning to me is listening. So I enjoy what others are sharing, because it helps me learn. It also triggers me to share by posting things I find interesting and asking questions. 
  3. Share to remember: sharing information is also a way for me to capture things I find interesting. So I bookmark a link, tweet a link or statement, etc. In this way I’ve stored it for later use. 
  4. Share to be more effective: I share to learn and this helps me become more productive. Asking a question in my (digital) network, helps me find (partial) answers more quickly. Once I’ve written about something on my blog, I can refer to it later on. This makes more productive in the long run.
So, these are the reason for me to share. Do they make sense? What are your reasons to share?

Satisfying Knowledge Worker Values

Bribing the knowledge workers on whom these industries [of the Information Revolution] depend will therefore simply not work. The key knowledge workers in these businesses will surely continue to expect to share financially in the fruits of their labor. But the financial fruits are likely to take much longer to ripen, if they ripen at all. And then, probably within ten years or so, running a business with (short-term) "shareholder value" as its first—if not its only—goal and justification will have become counterproductive. Increasingly, performance in these new knowledge-based industries will come to depend on running the institution so as to attract, hold, and motivate knowledge workers. When this can no longer be done by satisfying knowledge workers' greed, as we are now trying to do, it will have to be done by satisfying their values, and by giving them social recognition and social power. It will have to be done by turning them from subordinates into fellow executives, and from employees, however well paid, into partners.
This was written in 1999 by Peter Drucker (Beyond the Information Revolution). We still have long way to go...

What's the real issue with Information Overload?

What's the real problem underlying information overload? Nathan Zeldes has been finding answers to this question for years. Recently he wrote a must-read post on the answers he found. There are all kinds of reasons we keep on using email in an unproductive way. But the underlying issue, according to Zeldes, is mistrust. To solve the information overload problem within organizations we need to address this "dark side" of overload. If we don't we'll never structurally solve the problem. Address this dark side and change the underlying culture, Zeldes advises.

I agree this is a way to fundamentally root out mistrust. But what if this is not possible? What if the company just doesn't see the problem and therefore does not want to spend time on this extermination process?
I think every person can start by settting an example. Be counter-cultural! Show how the way you use email is more effective and productive. It's the long bottom-up approach, but this road empowers you, instead of waiting and complaining until "the rest of the company" gets it and starts the "improve trust program".

Email integrated with Social Software

James Dellow has a nice post researching the history of email and why email is so successful. More importantly he wonders what this means for social tools and their success. He concludes his post with the following:
Enterprise social software can also learn some important lessons from email:
  • We need interoperability between enterprise social systems.
  • Users prefer standardised interfaces.
  • It needs to be cost effective to own and operate.
Far from being a nemesis, email and enterprise social software are more likely to form a strong symbiotic relationship.
I've been thinkings and blogging about this topic quite a bit as well. I did research and product concept development on document management tools in the past. One of the things we said back then is: integrate document management into email. I think this principle still applies. I also think the killer social tools will be deeply integrated into/with email. For that reason I think Google+ has a good chance of winning the social game. People want one spot to do a lot of different things. They live in their inbox. To me the holy grail is to have a platform from which you can easily share content to email, to social nets, etc. Don't worry this will lead to less email, not more.

The importance of punctuation by @wimdaniels #webred12

The last keynote of the Copywriting & Content Marketing conference! About the importance of the comma by Wim Daniels. If you focus on the comma you don't need to worry about content marketing, says Daniels...

And with respect to the rest of his talk: you should have been there. It was hilarious! :-)

Content marketing: from buzz to business by @robert_rose #webred12

Next keynote at the Copywriting & Content Marketing conference is by Robert Rose.

Marketing processes have changed. All content people are now marketeers. Why? Marketing is not only responsible for leads and visitors, but also for retention, satisfaction and upselling. We need to work towards customers that will defend us to death (evangelism).

Buyers used to solve their problems and that's how they bought products. "People don't notice ads, they notice what interests them and sometimes its an ad." (Gossage)
But buyers have changed due to the internet. Audiences now filter. Email and direct mail are less effective. Buyers are rising above the noise. They are empowered and more informed.

Some numbers: 90% of buy start with a search and 30% (and rising quickly) is done via social media. 40% and rising is done via mobile.

People don't search in Google and social media about you. They have a question and are looking for answers. "People don't buy into your product. They buy the way you solve their problem."

However, you are still important. Tell stories. Differentiate! Tell a different story, not the same story better.
Rose refers to the 2020 project by Coca-Cola. They are going to double their sales by brand storytelling. The goal is to fill the emotional well of consumers.

Rose shares some more numbers: content marketing spending is up compared to previous years, except for mid-sized companies.

The biggest challenge in content marketing is to create content that is engaging. This is difficult because we are slaved to data (analytics). Rose stresses we all know how to do this. We all can tell stories and we often are already doing this. Rose pointed to the Statefarm (William Shatner commercial) and Whole Foods (blog) case to prove it works this way. Both cases show webcontent editors starting something innovative that ended up being big.

First rule of content marketing: you are not competing with other tactics (like ads)! But all the tactics should be focused on cultivating evangelists. This starts at the content editor level of the company. So, become marketeer. It's so much more interesting. Move away from the data-driven approach. Be and become a rock star. It's your story, make it remarkable.

Online storytelling @joepvanloon #webred12

First breakout round during the Copywriting & Content Marketing conference. Colleague Joep van Loon will talk about online storytelling.

What is a story? The shortest story is: For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn. By Ernest Hemingway.

The difference between storytelling and online storytelling: in online storytelling you have lots of tech tools to tell your story. (YouTube is the number 1 way to tell and sell stories.)

Why stories? Because our brains like them, says Joep. We can remember stories and a good story touches us. Therefore authenticity is key in stories. Joep points to several examples of 'stories' and stories on the web.

Joep finished his breakout by sharing different types of stories, like a scenario and synopsis. And examples of the tools that companies can use to tell stories, like infographics, video and photo.

When there is perfection there is not story to tell (Ben Okri).

Get the most from your website by @gerrymcgovern #webred12

Gerry McGovern is the next keynote at the Copywriting and Content Marketing conference. His talk is about 'Getting the most from your website'.

Gerry started out by looking at several presidential campaign websites. What are they about? Their core tasks are clear: to get names from people.

The biggest challenge for companies and their website is to cut content, to understand what we don't do, to simplify.

Gerry explains his top-task management approach and shows how certain tasks show up and are important for organizations. A great website has things to do on the homepage.

Customer success should be your number one priority (also on your website).

I'm not a copywriter by @polledemaagt #webred12

I'll be live-blogging the Copywriting & Content Marketing conference today. First up is Polle de Maagt. His keynote is titled 'Relevant and notable content: it's possible'.

Polle's goal is to change companies to do less with ads and act more. Content is never the end goal. Real people want something and content is the in-between step to get there. Polle showed the KLM Surprise campagne. He learned from that campaign that people loved it, but are also very practical. They want to get things done and, e.g., find their suitecase.
Now, let's talk managers. When working on cool content we need to work on input for their talks at the golf course. Make sure you show them lots of facts and figures, even though this is not what it's really about. The underlying construct is important. Technology forces us to rethink content. And metrics dictates creativity.

Copywriters and content marketeers are in the squeeze between tech, managers and consumers. And there's an exploding number of touchpoints. And things get even worse... consumers expect more. He refers to the Skyfall Coca Cola campaign. But is this a good campaign? Does it get things done?

De Maagt is obsessed with solution-driven content and copy. How do you show that content has value? Start with a business case focusing on things that is important to your managers. Polle also points to the Net Promotor Score.

Wrap up:

  • layer your content calender
  • construct concepts worth sharing
  • talk the management porn (they don't understand content)
  • try, test, experiment and scale what works
  • build momentum and change the organization
  • don't reinvent, learn from others (don't trust your agency, trust your competitors)

And, ACT (within the next 48 hours)!

Thoughts about Top-Task Management

Top-task management is a method championed by Gerry McGovern to improve and optimize websites. I’ve been thinking about this method for some time now. I was planning to start by sharing my understanding and experience with the method. But then I bumped into a post about the limitations of the top-task management approach by Philippe Parker. Bottom-line of the post is that top-task management doesn’t work for sites with which you want to achieve engagement.

Top-tasks vs. engagement
I’m sure the top-task approach can work in some cases, but I see too many consultants always applying this method. Top-task management tries to make something simple when it can be simple. But I see it applied to websites when the need is complex as well.  A task is clean and can usually be clearly described. But real work like searching, learning, listening, processing is messy. Parker says: tasks are not the only thing people come to the site for. He goes on to say ‘engagement’ is the other reason why people go to sites and use them. He points to platforms for engagement (not tasks) like Facebook. I find ‘engagement’ a very vague and broad term. If I were a top-task proponent I would say: updating and interacting on Facebook can also be seen as a task. The task to inform your friends and the task to reply to your friends’ update.

Top-tasks, conversation and context
Would it help if we changed the term ‘engagement’ for ‘conversation’ or ‘networking’? Conversation and networking relates to the things we do on Facebook. And I would like to add ‘context’as well, because I think focusing on tasks alone is too limiting. Yes, there are situations people just want to get things done on a site. But most people also want to know what they are doing and why it works in a certain way. For that reason context is important. Context helps people define meaning and make better decisions (and do the right task).

I agree with Philippe's final statement. The big issue is the barrier between both, making it easy to switch between tasks and engagement. Or in my terms: between tasks, context, and networking.
I’m curious if you think this makes sense.

How do I consume and share social and digital media?

Oscar Berg wrote a blogpost about a short discussion we had on Google+ recently. In his interesting post he shares how he consumes and shares social media. Over on his blog I commented on his post by asking him some questions about his strategy.
But I thought I'd share my strategy here as well. I've shared my strategy in the past, but it has changed over the years. Here's my current strategy in one picture:

A couple of remarks about the picture:

  • I use Flipboard to interact with my Twitter Lists (3 lists) and Google+. I also consume the HBR-, National Geographic-, Vimeo-, and Instagram-feed there. I read interesting tweets right away or email them to my inbox to read them later.
  • I view my Twitter search every now-and-then on But will move that to Flipboard as well after reading Oscar’s post.
  • I read my feeds in Google Reader. If I want to read a post I star it and make sure I find time during the day/week to read the starred items. When I know I’ll be offline and have time for reading, I’ll save posts to a Dropbox folder to be able to read it whereever I want (Dropbox supports offline reading).
  • If I find a post interesting I post it to Twitter, Google+ and/or LinkedIn using a Chrome extension. Some of the interesting links are also bookmarked in Diigo (and I back them up to delicious). I like Diigo because it allows you to bookmark a link and also highlight text in the post.
  • I use blogger (my blog) to write about my work learnings.

So, what is your strategy? Is it comparable or a lot different from Oscar and my strategy? Please share it so we can all learn from each other.

A Google Glas intranet?

Most people know the history of the intranet. And if you’re older you will have experienced its history. Many organization that have had an intranet for years are looking for ways towards a modern and future-ready intranet. But what is the future of the intranet? Many intranet experts and organizations are thinking about this question. Are we eventually going to be apply to wear the intranet?

From intranet to social intranet 
There’s lots of talk about using social media within organizations. In short this is also called the ‘social intranet’. The intention is to have an intranet that is more than most are used to: news, procedures, who-is-who and the restaurant menu. A ‘social intranet’ should make us forget the old intranet. The old intranet that often hardly supports the way employees do their daily work. 

From intranet to digital workplace 
For this reason the new intranet is also called the ‘digital workplace’ more and more. A new name to help us forget the old intranet and sell the intranet as an essential tool to support work. It stresses that fact that the intranet can be relevant to help knowledge workers get things done. Looking at the definitions of the digital workplace, it is intended to be a bit more than the ‘social intranet’. The digital workplace wants to be the place where a knowledge worker can do his/her work. Therefore it must also connect to and support the business processes (and related tools). (Of course this can also be done when it’s called a ‘social intranet’...)

From intranet to mobile intranet 
If the new intranet should truly support workers, it should also support him/her everywhere work is done. Therefore the logical step for the new intranet is to also become mobile. The knowledge worker needs access to the intranet everywhere he/she is getting things done. Slowly organizations are thinking about how to do this. 

But what comes after this? I want to share two of the steps I see. 

Location-based intranet 
When the intranet gets mobile access there will be a new demand for push-information. We have come to find push-informatie without context irritating. But when information is filtered based on your location, it could be useful. Services like Foursquare, Google Fieldtrip and Google Now give us glimpses into this future. In the same way this could be useful within organizations by providing information about nearby experts when you’re looking for help or which protocols apply to the part of the organization you’re walking around in. Furthermore location information added to messages employees are publishing also provided meaning and context. Posting a message in a factory can give it a totally different meaning, than posting it from a car on your way to work. 

Google Glass intranet 
One step further can relate to projects like Google Glass. Google Glass is trying to make finding and consuming relevant information and publishing it easier. You don’t have to carry your smart phone in your hand; information is projected right into your eyes so you can consume that information and publish and save content with easy gestures. Imagine the access to your intranet being like Google Glass. Everywhere you are you’ll have direct access to (the right internal) information. During meetings, on your way to meeting, when you bump into someone you planned to ask something, working on a document or product/service. The intranet is less and less something you go to, but something you wear. You don’t have to look for information, it will search for you depending on what you’re looking at and wear you are. 

What do you see as next-steps for the intranet? Do the above mentioned steps make sense? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, inspired by Dave Gray's work, I made the little drawings for this post by myself!

[This post was also published in Dutch on the Frankwatching blog.]

The Power of We and Me #bad2012 #powerofwe

It’s Blog Action Day again! And this year’s topic is ‘The Power of We’. What a great topic, don’t you think?

The Power of We
The Power of We is what lots of us are experiencing when we use social media. The fascinating reality that lots of people sharing what they think can change and create things. And if sharing doesn’t create things it can catalyze, support and accelerate it.
Just look at what Wikipedia has done for us. And what a simple tweet or lots of tweets can do. Or how a blogpost can trigger and inspire.
I don’t think we’ve tapped into the full possibilities of the Power of We yet. To me the key is to ask more questions. It’s something we should do, but I’ll just start with myself and encourage others to do the same. Why more questions? Good questions level us with others. It gives others a chance to relate to us and help us. We need more questions inside organizations, between organizations, from (local) government to the people, etc.

The Power of Me
I just wrote I’ll start with myself (instead of talking about we or they). Because, I think, the Power of We starts with the Power of Me. There is no we if we don’t have a bunch of interesting me’s. I think this is where the challenge of social media in general and especially blogging comes in. I hear the following phrases a lot:

  • I’m not going to blog until the organization I work for gives me an assignment to.
  • I don’t have anything interesting to share. Who wants to read my posts?
  • I’m afraid of what others will say about my posts.
  • I’m busy enough with my email and other tools. No time for the ‘social stuff’.
  • Blogging is only for the thinkers. My job doesn’t involve thinking, others do that.

I think most bloggers can relate to these statements. Explicitly or implicity they thought the same things before they blogged. But for good reasons they stepped over them and started blogging. Why?

  • Because they were finally convinced waiting for the organization or your boss to understand is not the way to go. These new social tools can empower me, showing we how it can be done.
  • By sharing their interests, they experienced there are more people interested in the stuff you’re interested in.
  • They found out that almost all bloggers are dead-scared the first time they publish their thoughts. And most experienced bloggers are every time they push the ‘send’ button.
  • They saw in practice social tools can make your more productive, by shifting communication and information streams from email to the new toolset.
  • They realize: Everyone thinks for life. Not only the ‘smart’ people. Everyone. Sharing your thinking helps you learn, connects you to interesting people, etc.

So, for a powerful we, we need powerful me’s. All those me’s have an opinion about blogging, water, fashion, knitting, soccer, nature, famine, business management, innovation, cars, environment or … You fill in the blank.

So, what are you thinking about? Please share your thoughts. And join in celebrating the Power of Me and We!

Re: Which social media do millenials use?

Recently I had the privilege to give a guest lecture at the Hogeschool Arnhem & Nijmegen (college-level) about Enterprise 2.0. Just like last year I asked the students which social media tools they use and why. I like asking them this question, because it gives me some insight in adoption rates of tools and usage patterns.

Last years results can be found here. I'll share this year's results below. Of the 24 students I had in my classes:

  • 24 have a Twitter account, 6 actively use it and 2 others only consume tweets.
  • 24 have a Hyves account (Dutch social network, comparable to Facebook), 1 uses it actively and some go there every now-and-then.
  • Facebook is clearly taking over Hyves, with 20 accounts in the classes and they use it actively. 14 only consume Facebook updates.
  • Only 2 have a Foursquare account and use it actively.
  • 6 have a Google+ account and none of them use it.
  • LinkedIn: 16 have an account, 5 use it actively.
  • They all have to blog for these classes. Only 2 already had a blog before classes.
  • Instagram is not used actively at all, just 3 have an account.
  • Pinterest is a bit more popular: 6 have an account and 3 update regularly.
  • MySpace: 2 accounts, no active use, but some said they might go back now that MySpace updated it's look and feel.
Pretty interesting, don't you think?
The Dutch social network is even less popular than last year. Everybody has gone to Facebook. Most say they use Facebook to stay connected with friends. They don't follow brands there, they follow and interact with friends.
I'm surprised by how little Twitter is being used. I asked them why, but they couldn't really tell me. One said it had to do with open vs. closed. Someone else said: more of his friends are on Facebook than Twitter.
Just like last year LinkedIn is not used much. They'll use it when they grow up... ;-)
Pinterest wasn't even there last year, but is getting some traction from these youngsters.
Google+ is not used at all. Most said they don't see the added-value compared to the current toolset (Twitter, Facebook).
Blogging is stable: last year 2 blogged before they had to blog for this class. This year there were 2 as well. Same goes for Foursquare.
Finally, it's interesting to hear from the students some will give MySpace a new go after the UI update. They really pay attention to the way things work and what they look like.

What do you think of these results? What should we be learning from these numbers?

Lessons for big people from Caine's Arcade

You've probably heard of Caine and his arcade. If you have't please go and watch the 1st and 2nd video (below) about Caine. It's an inspirational and fun story. It reminds us how special, creative and fun kids are.

Imagine: Caine's Arcade Goes Global from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

After watching the 2nd video I was wondering what we learn from these video's. What are the lessons for 'big people'? These are some of the things I came up with:
  1. The video's reminded me that we all were once kids. And that even at an older age, it's importance to keep on being child-like. Just look at all the grown-up people that came to the arcade...
  2. Building things is an extremely important way to learn and get feedback. Caine built things because he liked to and hoped others would as well. The filmer taped the story because he liked what Caine had built and hoped others would as well. Etc.
  3. We need other people to be effective. Caine built the arcade, the filmer shared the story and people listened to the story. We need all of them, not just Caine or the filmer. And one is not better than the other.
  4. A story (told on film) is a very powerful way to be effective. Listening to the story and seeing the kid behind the story makes me reflect and think.
  5. One person can make a difference for a lot of people. This applies to Caine and the filmer/story teller.
  6. Doing something for someone else's benefit can go a long way. Again, this goes for Caine and the filmer.
Does this make sense? What are your lessons from Caine's Arcade?

My Sharepoint Conference Notes #congressp

SharePoint is used by many companies. Lots of them are struggling to use it strategically. How can SharePoint become essential for our organization? How can organizations drive SharePoint adoption? These are questions I hear a lot from customers.

There are many SharePoint conferences out there. Do we really need another one? My colleagues and I at Entopic found many conferences address SharePoint from a technology and developer perspective. Which is great. There is clearly a market for this. However, we wondered if there are also conferences that address the business- and user-side of SharePoint. We found only a couple world-wide. For this reason we thought it would be good to organize a SharePoint conference with a business focus. And apparently more people were looking for something like this. There were 300+ attendees.

Symon Garfield kicked off the conference with a keynote about how to implement SharePoint successfully. Symon discussed several reasons why implementations fail. Like policitcs, not understanding SharePoint, no feeling for information and knowledge management, no senior management support, etc.
Symon proposed a four step approach to a successful implementation: governance (beware of the tech-focus!), strategy and business case (connect Sharepoint to business processes!), business architecture (know the internal workings of the platform) and transition (make sure you have an adoption plan!).

This last steps leads us directly to the second keynote of the conference by Sam Marshall. Sam's keynote went deeply into SharePoint adoption. He started out by asking the audience who's Sharepoint implementation has a larger 'human' than IT budget. Hardly anybody raised their hand... Sam shared the MARS model with us and discussed it in detail. The model has 4 steps:
  1. Mandated
  2. Accepted
  3. Rewarding
  4. Stimulating
Sam showed how these steps could work when organizations would like to have employees fill in their profile.
I enjoyed Sam's talk. I liked the way he drilled deeply into adoption, clearly showing us all that adoption is not easy and should not be an afterthought.

There were two rounds of breakouts. The breakouts were about Sharepoint for websites, intranet, internal social networking, Sharepoint 2013, etc.
I went to two interesting breakouts. One was lead by Jan van Veen and was about how he positioned their local intranet in a world-wide SharePoint intranet. The other was by Ellen van Aken and she showed how SharePoint can drive business value by supporting business processes.

All conference slides can be found here.

Learn from other intranets, join the Digital Workplace Survey

What is the best way to benchmark your intranet? How can you learn from other intranets?

Comparing intranets
There are many ways to find intranet inspiration. Among others you can:
This list doesn’t mention listening to your users, because I assume you're already doing that…

Digital Workplace Survey 2013
Another way to learn from others is to join intranet surveys. The most well-known survey is Jane McConnell’s. Jane is a well-known intranet expert. Jane’s internal research on intranet has been going on for years now. The scope of her research used to be intranet and has broadened to the digital workplace. Many organizations participate in her research. The survey is broad and deep. Filling out the survey takes about an hour of your time. For this hour of your time you get a free copy of the report. The report is a perfect way to benchmark your intranet. Compare your intranet with the results of the survey and you’ll know where your intranet needs development. Or you might find your intranet belongs to the select class of intranet leaders. 

Please participate!
I highly recommend partcipating in this survey. Just by filling in the survey you learn a lot about the facets of intranet. And you also get the final report which is loaded with inspiration and learning points. I too am curious what the results will be and will blog about them when the report is out.

Personally I hope more Dutch organizations will participate. Last year just one did… I know of many interesting intranets in Holland that others can learn from.

Are you planning on participating in Jane’s survey? Let me know. And I’d also like to know if you will not participate this year.

Do you have more than 150 friends?

Do you know more than 150 people? You probably don't. And do you have more than 150 friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter? You probably do. But are they really your friend? Do you really know all 150 of them? I don't think so.

A long time ago I ran into Robert Dunbar's research on social networks. I wrote several posts about Dunbar's number and have been collecting interesting links as well. Just recently Dunbar was interviewed  by Technology Review about his number and social networks.
What is Dunbar's number about? His research basically showed...
...that humans have the cognitive capacity to maintain about 150 stable social relationships. 
The first time I read this I thought: What?! But it's is now my experience this is true. Even for social media friends and followers. I follow way more that 150 people, but I know and truly engage with 150-300 of them.
Of course Technology Review was also wondering if Dunbar himself still thinks his number still hold in the social era. Has the number changed due to social media. This is his response:
Apparently not at all. It is important to remember that the 150 is just one layer in a series of layers of acquaintanceship within which we sit. Beyond the 150 are at least two further layers (one at 500 and one at 1,500), which correspond to acquaintances (people we have a nodding acquaintance with) and faces we recognize.
All that seems to be happening when people add more than 150 friends on Facebook is that they simply dip into these normal higher layers. If you like, Facebook has muddied the waters by calling them all friends, but really they are not.
To me this also has implications for organizations as well. If Dunbar's number is correct companies larger than 150 employees have a problem. Employees simply can't know each other anymore. So, employees can't know what (all) other employees know. Shouldn't this have implications for the size of organizations? And isn't this also a good reason to use internal social tools, as they can make visible what other employees know and support the stream of information in the organization for effectively and quickly?
I don't know if it had to do with Dunbar's numbers, but there is a Dutch entrepreneur, Eckart Wintzen, that split his companies every time they grew larger than 50 employees. And Dave Gray's work on podular organization fits perfectly with this as well.

I'm curious what you think of Dunbar's number. Does it relate to your practice? And what are your thoughts on Dunbar's number and organizational size?

UPDATE (2 hours later): Talk about serendipity! Just hours after I published this post, ReadWriteWeb published a post about the same topic: 'Facebook Friends: How Many are Too Many?'.

Is email dead? Or is it moving to social networks?

Is email here to stay or will it die? Will it die because social media is here or will something else replace email?
Recently Steve Dale wrote an interesting post about this topic. It's titled 'Email is dead: long live email!'. It was discussed on G+ and the blogpost itself has many interesting comments. I thought I'd share my comments here as well. Please read Steve's post first. I think it's an important post for social business people.

Steve lists several reasons to use (and keep on using) email:
  1. Email arrives near instantaneously. It can be accessed from almost anywhere. It brings not just text, but pictures, documents, links, and more.
  2. Email is great for non-urgent communication. Things that don’t require an immediate response that others can deal with on their schedule.
  3. Email can provide a powerful documentation trail. Unlike text messages or phone calls, email provides an authenticated audit trail of past communication. It is hard to deny past actions and messages when there is a clear history.
  4. Email is one of the best mediums for communicating across time zones. It allows people on different schedules to communicate at their leisure.
  5. Message formatting features come as standard.
  6. The email client is a personal information management database. It can be browsed, sorted, filtered, tagged and searched. Features which I’ve yet to see implemented in most Enterprise Social Software activity streams.
  7. Email can be closely integrated with business workflows, where an action or decision is required.
  8. Email provides an (almost) foolproof 2-way authentication, hence why it is still used by nearly all online service providers to verify new accounts.
This is a good list. I'd like to add a 9th reason to use email: it’s good for 1-on-1, private/confidential communication. On the other hand, like one of the commentors wrote: This 9th reason may even be the only good reason to use email. The rest of our communication can move to SNA’s, although DM-ing and Messaging in Facebook still seems to be somewhat shaky. And risky… We’ve all tried to DM something that popped up in our public stream anyway, for instance…

But still, email is clearly moving to social networks. The thing I like about that is that communication is being done in a platform that is open by default instead of closed, like email. It triggers us to think open first and make something private if needed.

Moreover, emailing itself is changing rapidly. We used to use email like paper letters. Instead of writing “Dear Sir [content] Best regards, x”, we now just write “Thanks” or “OK”. Email is being used more like messaging and chat.

I love Steve's point about educating people to use email. This is a huge issue. Some time ago I asked someone (who is about 40 years old) to forward an email to me. He didn’t know what I meant and how he should do it… This is funny, but also a pretty serious issue. An even bigger issue is that people don’t use email (and other tools) productively. They simply haven’t learned how. This has to do with learning features of email, but also with learning a good and sound knowledge work process. I use ‘Getting Things Done’ for instance. It has increased my productivity in a big way. When I tell about GTD and train people in the principles it’s a revelation to them. I think 9 out of 10 people don’t control their email and related social tools. They just let it come at them and are overwhelmed by the amount of information every day.
We have work to do! :o)

To wrap up this post: the inventor of email also agrees with Steve! This post was also discussed on G+.

From trees to networks

Just before the weekend I wanted to share this interesting 10 minute talk with you about hierarchies and networks. For one because it's just fascinating to watch how RSA visualizes this talk. Secondly because of the talk itself.
Manual Lima's talk about "The power of networks" is fascinating. He gives an overview of how we used to try to structure everything in hierarchies and trees, because we like order and simplicity. And how we now shift to using networks more because trees simply can't describe reality. Knowledge, species, bacteria, our brain, our body, societies, etc. are highly connected. He wraps up his talk by asking if there is a universal structure? Well, do you think there is one?

Of course there has been lots of thinking and talking about what this means for organizations, people and technology. The shift Lima describes is the shift 'social business' and 'enterprise 2.0' is describing. And it's the shift social technology is trying to support.

Have a nice weekend!

LinkedIn as your intranet?

“Why can't we use LinkedIn for our intranet? At least it works, our intranet doesn't.” Maybe you considered this or heard it in your organization. The question intrigues me and I think we will hear it more and more in the coming years. What do you say in response to this question as internal or external consultant, Communications or IT manager? I'd like to share my thoughts in this post.

Dissatisfied about IT
The intranet is changing rapidly. The internet provides all kinds of free tools, like Dropbox, Yammer and Google Drive. More and more people are getting used to sharing (versions of) documents, online collaboration, sharing short messages, setting up and maintaining a personal profile, etc. Employees are often dissatisfied about the internal IT-tools and content-focused intranets. These tools cannot compete with the functionality we have on the internet.

Free tools as intranet
More and more employees are openly, and sometimes secretly, using free internet tools to get things done ('stealth IT'). Organizations, especially IT departments are struggling with this trend. Making things worse, the developpers of the free tools aren't laying back. They market their tools, implicitly or explicity, as intranet solutions. Recently LinkedIn shared they possibly also want to position their platform as an intranet. Some are even using Facebook as their intranet.

LinkedIn as intranet?
Could LinkedIn fit as an intranet platform? LinkedIn has functionality many intranets have or should have, such as:
  • Detailled profiles and connections between profiles (social network)
  • Groups and subgroups to ask questions, share knowledge and publish news
  • Share documents with 3rd party apps
  • Available everywhere
  • Mobile access
Advantages LinkedIn intranet
The advantages of a LinkedIn intranet aren't hard to imagine:
  • (Most) employees are already there; they have a profile
  • They know how the tool works (intuitive UI)
  • Fast development of new functionality
  • The platform is free
  • Customers are there as well (so collaboration and co-creation via the intranet is easy to set up)
  • The LinkedIn intranet can be set up and configured quickly
Disadvantages LinkedIn intranet
But there are also disadvantages of LinkedIn as an intranet platform. I'll list a few:
  • Security of company informatie is fragile
  • Ownership of content is not clear: is it owned by the company or LinkedIn?
  • Navigation of information is defined by LinkedIn
  • No functionality for content management 
  • Integration with organizaitonal processes and tools is impossible or complex
  • Integration with user management tools (ADS) is impossible
  • Search is limited: it works in LinkedIn, but you can't seach  from one searchbox over all your free tools and in your business tools, like ERPS
Balancing and directions
When chosing a platform it's always important to weigh the pro's and con's. If costs and collaboration with customers are important, then a LinkedIn intranet could be a good direction. However, if information security and integration with business tools is a priority, this direction is probably not right.
A mix of different directions is also possible. E.g. a LinkedIn intranet for specific goals like knowledge sharing and facilitating internal networks, and an internal platform to open up business tools and share internal work methods.

What are your ideas about a LinkedIn intranet? Is it a viable direction? Do you know organizations that successfully use such an intranet?

(This post was also published in Dutch on Frankwatchting.)

Difference between internal and external consulting: is there a question?

I used to work for a large organization. One of the things that intrigued me most when working for that company is how little questions were asked. It seems like everybody was looking for ways to create a need and get people to ask them a question.

The strange thing about looking for needs and questions is that I look for the ones that I can answer.

In my work as a consultant I experience the complete opposite. Working for an organization always starts with a need, a question. Often I have to help the organization articulate the need and detail the question, but the need and question is there.

As a consultant the big question is: do I or the organization I work for have what it takes to address the need and answer the question.

To me this is a huge difference. Does this relate to your experience as a consultant or employee working for an organization?

Responsible business before shareholder value

One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is HBR Ideacast. Recently Paul Polman, Unilever's CEO, was interviewed. I thought the interview was great and inspiration. You can find the podcast and transcript here.

There's lots of talk about social business lately. What does it mean? How can it be done? And how does it relate to new social tools? I like the way some are stressing social business as human business. Businesses consist of humans and should do what is good for humans inside and outside of the company.

The interview with Polman give a short insight into what a human business could or should be. A human business is a responsible business. It takes it's responsibility for the world, environment and humans in general. This has to do with how they produce products and services, the packaging they choose, the way they take care of employees and partners, etc. Polman went even further by stating that responsibility and sustainability comes before money and shareholder value. Money and value will come if a company takes up his responsibility and is sustainable.

Based on the interviewers questions it was clear he could hardly believe the ceo really meant what he was saying. It's basically a good story, good marketing to say Unilever focuses on being a responsible company. The interviewer is not alone. We've become used to nice polished stories with no practical follow-up. We've become so focused on money and shareholder value that all else has become secondary. The way Polman answers the interviewer's (and my) unbelief with concrete answers and specific examples is great and inspirational. I hope many companies will follow his example.

Only an iPad for conference tweeting and blogging

Social Now 2012 - Samuel Driessen pays attentionI really enjoy going to conferences. Listening to other people’s or organization’s experiences helps me think. Good talks and breakout sessions inspire me and trigger me to try the approaches as well. Bad talks help me sort out what my convictions are and what my approach would be. Conferences are also great for meeting up with people I already know and meeting new, interesting people. In short, conferences help me learn.

One of the great use cases for social media is conferences. I really enjoy social media before, during and after conferences. Before conferences social media is great to find out who’s coming and what other people are expecting of the conference. Letting people know you’ll be at the conference gives people who couldn’t attend a way to experience the conference anyways by following your tweets and blogposts. After conferences social media is great to evaluate: thank the conference organization, provide feedback about the conference and thank participants.

Social media during the event is most interesting. Tweeting and blogging about the talks helps me remember what the speaker said and reflect on his/her statements. Furthermore, the discussion about the talk usually also starts on Twitter before it has ended. It gives multiple perspectives on the subject in real-time. Of course, Twitter and the like is also used during conference to coordinate meetups and dinner.

Up until my last conference visit I always brought my laptop along to tweet and blog. My iPhone comes in handy as well.

Recently I went to the Social Now conference in Porto and only brought my iPad along. I was wondering if that would work. Would I tweet more or less? Will I be able to keep up with the tweets? And does liveblogging work on the iPad?

Well, to start with the last question: I didn’t liveblog the conference. I was master of ceremony and had to pay attention to speakers, tweets and time. What I did do though is jot down (with my stylus) and type lines I could use for a blogpost about the conference. Basically a summary of the most interesting statements that could also be found in the tweet stream.

Following the tweet stream, posting tweets and replying to tweets worked great on the iPad. For one, battery is not an issue (as it is on the laptop). Finding a plug for the laptop is still a pain at most conferences. I basically used the Twitter app to follow the hashtag. Even though I was the conference chair I posted the most tweets. I found the tweet stream to be very insightful. As the conference chair it gave me great insight into what people thought of the talk, which questions they had, etc. Interestingly even when the number of tweets were low during a talk, I could use that to give it back to the audience and ask why. At this conference it meant people couldn’t follow and didn’t understand the talk.

There’s been a lot of talk about tablets taking over the pc market. My experience with only an iPad at a conference seems to confirm this trend.

I was wondering if liveblogging would have worked. Typing on an iPad is harder than on a laptop (although it works well enough). Tweeting from a iPad works fine. Of course I could buy an external keyboard for the iPad, but then I could just bring along the laptop, right? I’ll see if liveblogging works at the next conference I’m going to.

But if tweeting from an iPad works, it would be great if I could just mark several tweets and push them to a draft version of a blogpost (I use Blogger). Or is that what Summify does?

What are your experiences with an iPad at conferences? What works for you and what doesn’t? Do you have experience with liveblogging on an iPad? I’d love to hear from you.

Social media is about finding our voice

Recently listened to this keynote by Euan Semple at the 'State of the Net' conference. I thought it was a very good and insightful talk. It puts social media into perspective and helps you think about the underlying concepts of the internet.

Semple basically starts out with the difference between the old(er) web 2.0 and new web 2.0 world. In other words: it started with blogging and now we have Facebook and Twitter. I like how he tells about how nervous he was when he published his first blogpost. (I can relate to that...) But goes on to stress how important it is for us personally and for organizations to find their voice (- remember the Cluetrain Manifesto?). We have to move away from the industrialization of our worklives.
On the other hand Semple acknowledges that asking people to say what they think, should never be underestimated. It's a big step for many.

Semple wraps his talk with a nice quote from David Weinberger: Love is what makes the internet hang together, the basis human desire to want connect to each other.

Personal tools show the way in business collaboration

How will businesses collaborate in the future? This is the core question of a GigaOm Pro report released some time ago. It is titled 'Practical business collaboration: personal tools show the way' and was written by Thomas van der Wal and David Card.

Based on a survey of business managers, problematic areas around business content collaboration were signaled and directions for solutions are given in the report.

Much of today's collaboration still happens in email. 96% says they use email for internal content sharing and 92% for sharing with externals (and this does not correlate with age...).

Some companies like Atos are (planning on) banning email. Businesses are looking for ways to increase employee "productivity, accommodate or counter email limitations, and reduce costs". If a new tool addresses these topics it will probably be adopted quickly.

Searching and tracking documents is still a big problem for companies. Access or lack thereof to content is also an issue.

With email the size of attachments is an issue. And attachments create storage problems when sent around. Email is not optimal for file sharing. But email is, as mentioned above, still a central tool for many. The business managers state that the adoption of new collaboration tools will increase if they are connected to email.

Interesting fact from the survey is that 50% use personal tools to overcome the limitations of email and other collaboration tools, often without IT's knowledge.

What should the business tools of the future be like? They should be easy to use (w.r.t. file sharing), connect with email, support employee mobility and be secure. Looking at the current tool landscape there are many solutions that address these needs. But they are usually not enterprise but personal solutions, like Dropbox. I agree with the report, there's a business opportunity here.

When learning is work and work is...

Harold Jarche has a great blog and shares a lot of his thinking on old HR and old learning and what social learning could bring to organizations. Recently he had a post titled 'Work is learning and learning it the work' that got me thinking.

He basically opposed against pulling learning and work out of each other, as it seems to be in many companies. This is shown by the fact that most companies have someone responsible for learning (HR manager or Learning & Development manager) and formal (online) training.

Learning should be the work. Maybe it's even stronger: Learning is the work. Harold challenges us to actively observe how people are learning to do their job right now.

But why is this so hard for companies? I've written about Peter Senge's book before. Hardly any companies I know can truly be called a learning organization. And Senge's book has been out for more than 20 years now...

As Harold proposes, a simple step could be to "provide time and space for reflection and reading". Some companies like Google explicitly give employees time to do something else. But most people are not given time to reflect. They have to take it themselves, because they themselves find it important to learn. What's wrong here?

Maybe the solution is to start at the personal level. Like Harold's focus on PKM (personal knowledge management), we should start with personal learning. We decide to want to learn and therefore need time to reflect and read. If your company doesn't give you that space, maybe you should move on. Is that it? Or are there other ways?

Also refer to this post by John Stepper about why managers do stupid things.

Relating Enterprise 1.0 to 2.0 systems

It still excites me every time when my RSS reader and tweets point me to interesting content I wouldn't have found by myself. It is true: Interesting information finds me.
James Dellow pointed to Cecil Dijoux's interesting slide deck about 'The nature of software and how it changes the business'.

There's lots of good stuff in the presentation. What particularly struck me was slide 55 and 56. Those two slides are about how Enterprise 1.0 tools, like ERP, CRM and PLM tools, relate to Enterprise 2.0 tools. These slides are important for many IT departments and high-level decision makers to understand Enterprise 2.0 is not an either-or, but and-and game. I find we still have a long way to go here.
Some time ago I wrote about this along two lines: relating business processes to networks, and relating different types of work to tools. It's interesting how email tried to fill up all the gaps between the 1.0 tools. And how much better social tools bridge the gaps between the 1.0 tools, provide context to the structured data and excellerate the processing of the information. I don't see email in Cecil's diagrams, but I think there's a place for that tool in the new world as well. :-)

Thanks for the pointer, James!

Choosing the right social tool - Reflecting on the #SocialNow conference

Many companies are looking into social tools for their internal organization. Lots of others just select what related companies have chosen. Hoping this is the right choice.

As with selecting content management systems, many struggle to select a social platform. There are so many tools out there and they all say they can help you support internal networks. How to choose the right one? Is there a right one? Does the success of a tool elsewhere mean it will also be successful in the company you work for?

The Social Now conference in Porto (June 26-27), organized by Knowman, addressed these questions. And it did so in a unique way. Basically the idea was to have social tool vendors present based on a concrete company case that wanted to move forward in knowledge sharing, idea management and collaborative project work. The vendors were asked to share their approach in 20 minutes and then an expert panel helped the company ask the right questions to the vendors. Many brave vendors presented: Alfresco, Confluence, Microsoft Sharepoint, Oracle, Newsgator, Podio, Teepin, Zyncro, Xwiki, SocialIBIS, Oobian, and Spreadd

Also, several expert talks were given:
  • Oscar Berg about how social concepts and tools can improve knowledge work
  • Ana Neves (also conference organizer) gave two talks: one about selecting social tools and the other about adoption techniques
  • Hugo Magalhães helped the audience decide whether to go for Saas or not 
  • Joaquín Peña shared the insights from the Spanish Enterprise 2.0 conference
  • Lee Bryant closed the converence with a talk about the social organization. 
I think the conference was truly unique and successfully helped the audience gain more perspective in the social tool landscape. There was lots of discussion during the conference in which participants shared their situations and tools they are of have tried. Furthermore the vendors were open about what they are good and less good at and also answered the hard questions in one-on-one's.

What struck me during several presentations was the fact that many vendors address the process-side of work and how their social tools relate and connect processes to networks and vice versa. I think this underlines the fact that the social tool market is maturing. And this approach clearly helped the audience with their adoption questions, because most organizations spend lots of improving processes. Social tools are more than fun, they help get daily work done and improve the overall business. 

Another interesting insight is that Oracle (with Webcenter) and Citrix (with Podio) are taking on Google, Microsoft and IBM. Both are extending their current, more traditional offerings with social tools. 

A final insight: innovation happens at the edges. John Hagel and Seely Brown stress this in The Power of Pull. The Social Now conference proved this to be true. The smaller vendors all had much more innovative approaches to the social space. Take Podio with which users can build their own widgets to get the information or application they need to do their work. Or Spreadd that connects all kinds of tools to a public stream trying to automate as much narration as possible. Or Oobian that semantically analyzes content and connections to provide insights over huge amounts of data. And SocialIBIS that converts your stream for text to speech so you can listen to the stream while on the move. Or Zyncro that translates stream updates in the language you understand. Just to list some of the features of these platforms!

I was curious if this new way to set up a conference would work. I think it did. Most conference are focused on business or IT. This conference took a more integral approach. The conference was well-structured, an impressive list of vendors presented, there was lots of discussion going on during, before and after the program. I really enjoyed it.

What do you think of the concept of this conference? How could this conference be even better?
And are you in the process of selecting a social tool? What’s your approach? 

All the tweets and other posts about the conference can be found here.

Disclaimer: I was master of ceremony of the conference, but did not organize the it.