Digital Illiteracy

Some time ago my friend Ana Silva wrote an interesting post about a very important topic: digital literacy. Please read her post (and the comments). The main point of her post is that we should not assume people get the internet or get social media and will start working out in the open by themselves. Some do, but many need to be helped. We have to teach them, step-by-step, to be digitally literate. This is hard work.

I’ve written about this topic quite a bit as well using a different term: ‘personal knowledge management’. How do we become more productive working out in the open and using the new (and old) social concepts and tools?

As I wrote in a comment on Ana’s post, this is not a small issue. Recently the Dutch newspaper I read ( ran an extra section of the newspaper about ‘searching in a smarter way on the internet’ (Dutch: Slimmer zoeken op internet’). Very interesting stuff with all kinds of tips & tricks to improve the way you use the internet. But what struck me is the economic implication of digital illiteracy. The University of Twente published a study “Ctrl Alt Delete” and they found that 5.3% of our work time is lost due to digital illiteracy. That’s 10 billion euro’s per year in The Netherlands alone! That’s a lot of money. And there’s a lot of work to do.

Talks about gamification, money and the future of work #socialnow

This is my final post about the SocialNow conference 2013. In this post I’d like to share some highlights from four talks. Two were about gamification, one was about money and one about the future of work.

The presentations about gamification by Andrzej Marczewski (of Cap Gemini) and Paulo de Carvalho (of Vodafone) were very interesting. I really enjoyed how these presentations were placed back-to-back. Andrzey gave a general but very good introduction to gamification. He talked about the what, why and how. I really enjoyed how he also talked about cheating and gamification.
Paulo talked about his experiences with gamification inside Vodafone. He gave a detailled overview of how they applied gamification to certain business processes and how they deeply thought about the right metrics and incentives for the game to be useful.

Ana Neves gave a short presentation about the cost of social tools in the enterprise. Don't focus on the license fees only. The Total Cost of Ownership for Social tools is just as important as for other tools. Even een free internal tool is never really free. And make sure you pay attention to adoption costs as well. I liked how Ana also addressed the cost of not implementing social tools inside your organization.

Future of work
Stowe Boyd gave the closing keynote at the conference about the future of work in a social world. He made some really interesting remarks about the shift from collaboration to cooperation. I was planning on sharing my notes about this talk, but just saw Ana Silva has a good blogpost summarizing Stowe's talk. So, please go ahead and read her post!

The SocialNow conference was very interesting. I thought is was even better than last year. This was due to a great panel (Ana Silva, Phil Hill and Pedro Custodio). They did a great job asking questions to the vendors and opening up the discussion with the rest of the participants. The participants had great questions as well. It was a true learning experience for this reason. There were deep and fundamental discussions about all aspects of internal social design, features, implementation, adoption, etc. Great stuff!
Furthermore I see some disappointment in the field. People have been at the break of the Enterprise 2.0 field are evaluating the past year's and wondering what the future of the enterprise 2.0 and social business market and practice will look like.
Most organizations doing internal social hardly every have one platform with all the functionality. Because the SocialNow conference is built around vendor presentations, I'm wondering how we can bring this fragmented (and more realistic?) world in the conference. Could it be that some vendors should team up and do a presentation together?
And once again we see innovation happens on the edges. Some vendors 'simply' copy the good social tools on the internet and make internal versions of them. But there are also vendors that think differently and challenge the status quo of tools and... business.

I really enjoyed SocialNow and hope to meet you there next year!

Enterprise 2.0 tool vendors at SocialNow #socialnow

Now for some highlights from the vendor presentations in my second post about the SocialNow conference. 

Foulders has not been launched yet, but presented their concept and tool at the conference. They want to start where the users are: their email inbox. And most people have multiple inboxes. So they provide a super dashboard over all your inboxes and help you organize the tasks that come out of your email. They use language technology to help the user quickly and efficiently organize emails in tasks and folders.

Podio was at the conference for the second year. I didn’t hear anything new with respect to the product. There will be a big update to the product in the very near future. Podio is still an impressive product that wants to help us overcome email and make spreadsheets better. Spreadsheets can easily be turned into open and smart Podio apps to improve collaboration and communication around them.

Another new tool to SocialNow is Wordpress with the P2 extension. Wordpress isn’t a new tool, of course. It’s an impressive and widely used platform. The P2 extension makes it very easy for organizations to set up an internal social networking, microblogging and document sharing platform. I really like Wordpress with P2, but I’m biased, because we have developed intranets based on Wordpress and P2.

Xwiki was at SocialNow for the second time. Xwiki is also, like Wordpress, an open-source platform. I saw some new things in Xwiki that I hadn’t seen before. One, you can drag-and-drop documents to wiki and it has a document viewer so you can view the document without having to open it, this also works for video.
Secondly, they add ‘track changes’ and commenting features to wiki’s. So it shows edits and comments in the way you see them in MS Word for instance. As an owner of the page you can accept and reject changes.

Evernote for Business presented their concept. If you know Evernote, you know Evernote for business. The pricing is pretty steep: 10 euro per user per month. They focus on small and medium-sized businesses. I like they way they clearly said who the product if for and who it isn’t for and what kind of things work in Evernote and don’t. For instance, for task management they pointed to other kinds of tools.

Sharepoint revisited SocialNow, but with a different approach. Last year, Microsoft had just acquired Yammer, but it was unclear what this would mean for the Sharepoint platform. Now it (slowly) is becoming clear. This year’s presentation was ‘only’ about Yammer and hardly talked about Sharepoint. Newsgator was not mentioned at all. It was said that Yammer will be the social layer for Sharepoint. And they are working on integrating Yammer with Sharepoint Online and Office365.

Spreadd was at SocialNow and clearly improved it’s user interface. I like the bold way they address modern knowledge worker issues. Do users really search for stuff or would they like to get things pushed to them, do users really maintain their profile or should it be done automatically? Spreadd integrates all the services employees use and publishes the information that changes to an activity stream (taking the security controls into account). Spreadd has not officially launched but is being tested by a large organization.

Zyncro is an interesting internal social networking platform with all the features you would an internal social platform has. I didn’t see any new features compared to last year. But the language detection and translation functionality is impressive and smart. I’m going to look into Zyncro more deeply in the near future.

Yoolink was a new vendor at SocialNow. They are a French internal social network vendor. They also have a mobile version and support SSO. Interestingly they also provide a collaborative whiteboard, so employees can share drawings and make them together.

The vendor presentations are the core of SocialNow. All-in-all I think the state of internal social technology is impressive. I like the way some are really trying to innovate on the edges while others try to provide Facebook- and Twitter-like functionality inside the organization. I do wonder though how some position themselves with respect to other vendors. For instance, Yoolink and Zyncro are interesting platforms, but how do they compare from Jive and Sharepoint/Yammer? Is it price, company size, features? Zyncro for one acknowledge they currently are fit for mid-sized and smaller companies. And Yoolink says they do not (want to) compete with Jive. 

One thing that continues to surprise me in vendor presentations is how many struggle to really relate to the situation of the customer. In this case Cablinc. Many mention the situation of Cablinc in the first part of the presentation and slide to a regular presentation marketing the product and features. And furthermore, the vendors hardly tell Cablinc what value they will be getting from using the platform. I know the presentations have to be short, but still.

Notes and learnings from the SocialNow conference 2013 #socialnow

The 2nd edition of the SocialNow conference was held in the beautiful city of Lisbon. As you may remember SocialNow is a unique conference. The conference is organized by Ana Neves of KnowMan. The conference is about helping organizations compare and choose internal social tools. Several Enterprise 2.0 tool vendors have to present their tool relating to the situation of a fictitious company and its issues with collaborative project work and topic-based knowledge sharing. The program is complemented with keynotes from leading experts in the field. I really enjoyed this edition of SocialNow and thought it was even better than last year. I’ll share my notes and learnings from the conference in several posts. This is post nr 1. BTW: You can find a Storify by Paul Corney of day 1 and day 2 here.

Emanuele Quintarelli kicked off the conference with a talk about the challenges of the social enterprise. As with many experts in the fields his talk was not "happy clappy". Internal social media and enterprise 2.0 has been around for some time now and the results are not all that positive. Even though several extensive reports by for instance McKinsey and Gartner show internal social can offer considerable affordances for organizations, Emanuele wonders what this really means for organizations trying to move forward with internal social. Do these studies really help them make their first or next steps?

Emanuele shares some facts and figures of what is really happening in organizations. Like:
  • 28% of the knowledge workers actually use collaborative tools monthly.
  • Gen x is the largest group of users not Gen Y.
  • 64% of the organizations are not measuring anything w.r.t. internal social.
So, it looks more like a ghost city than a lively community. 50% of the social initiatives fail… By why do they fail?

Emanuele goes on to list several reasons why Enterprise 2.0 implementations fail. Primary reason is lack of purpose and support of the implementation with community management. Another reason is a lack of focus on people and the way they work. Emanuele stresses we should also pay attention to the negative things humans do like hoarding knowledge.

OK, but how should we start or proceed? (I bundled some of the points Emanuele listed separately.)
  • Focus on people and communities. Connect to communities as living organisms. Community management is very important. It’s like an iceberg: not much is visible, lots is behind the scenes. It’s building relationships, back-channeling, planning, etc. Co-design is the single most critical factor to success. And respect fear people (can) have. “Change is not death, fear of change is death.”
  • Focus on change (management), helping people to work better. ‘Technology changes, humans don’t’. But is this is really true? Adoption is not the end goal, but important. Success is about the majority, not the early adopters.
  • Start from the business. Embed social in the flow. How do the social enterprise initiatives relate to business? Define goals.
  • Try, fail, evolve. Work in pilots!
  • The social enterprise is more about meaning than money. Think about how you reward employee for participating.
One last thing, says Emanuele: be human and have fun!

Should Foursquare head into the CRM-market?

Some time ago I wrote about the usefulness of Foursquare. At that time I shared I use Foursquare for fun, but it’s not really useful to me.

Just recently something popped up that does show Foursquare is useful to me. Part of my work is to visit customers and potential customers. Some of the customers aren’t ready to do business with us at the time I visit them and ask me to come back later. So, after some time, I visit them again. Of course the company I work for has a CRM tool, but it’s a pain to go to that system before you visit the customer to check when you were there the last time and what you discussed. I usually just look up my notes stored somewhere on my iPad.

But it is useful to know when I was there the last time. When I arrive at a customer I check in to Foursquare. And what does it say? ‘Welcome back! Last time you were here was in <date>.’ The interesting thing is the conversation with the customer almost always starts with: ‘Good to have you back, when was the last time we met?’ Foursquare helps me answer that question.

Which makes me wonder. Isn’t Foursquare a great CRM tool? Isn’t Foursquare the perfect place to store (and share?) information about customers? Currently this is not possible in Foursquare. You can share a tip, which is public. Not good for customer data. But if you could, Foursquare could not only say ‘welcome back’, but also tell you what you discussed the last time you were there.

Does this make sense? Curious to hear your thoughts.