Category Archives: collaborative-software

The roots of social business (short animated presentation)

How do social networks effect the way in which we conduct business?

I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this question with industry experts, academics and (thankfully) students over the last year or so. I’ve boiled the results down into this short presentation on social business:

Key points:

Scaling the conversational nature of business
In the pre-industrial era, business was localized, customized and highly conversational. Think of the way commerce happened in a small village. Stories would be shared over the sale of a loaf of bread at the bakery. Village folk would talk and trade recommendations.

Then came the industrial era and the imperative to realize economies of scales and produce goods for large global markets. The transactional process was optimized for efficiency (think supermarket checkout lines).

Social networking has brought back the potential for business processes to become more conversational, albeit on a larger scale to what was previously possible.

More customer-focused business
In the field of marketing and communications, we’re seeing chinks in the traditional broadcast model that was ushered in by the rise of mass media. The idea that it is the role of the company to create messages and broadcast those out with the intent of creating demand is being challenged.

Social media are creating forums for discussion with open dialogue occurring between companies (theoretically any employee), prospects and customers.

Increased workforce productivity
Social networking within the enterprise allows for the freer flow of knowledge across teams and departments leading to less information silos and more efficient internal processes for instance by allowing expertise to be more effectively sourced.

The pivotal role of analytics
Social analytics is necessary to uncover the business value of using social networking. This applies at many different levels across the whole enterprise. For instance, monitoring customer feedback following a product launch, determining which employees are the most effective networkers or helping key influencers extend their reach.

Look for further videos in this series which will look more specifically at how social networking is transforming different areas of business.

More introductory information on the nature of social business:

Resources from the MIT Sloan School of Business

Forrester blog posts on social business

IBM on social business

Dachis Group on social business

 

 

Get Social. Build Apps. Meet IBM Watson at Internet Week in New York

This year, Internet Week New York happens to coincide with the celebration of the IBM Centennial in June. So as part of our celebration of 100 years of innovation, we’ll be hosting an Internet Week event on June 9th from 2pm until 5:30pm at the new IBM briefing center on historic Madison Avenue.

What we will be discussing:

Did you know that IBM is focused on helping Startups succeed? Find out how developing social applications with IBM technology can set you apart in the marketplace and learn about the IBM Smart Camp program going on around the globe including right here in New York.

So do you think you are smarter than IBM Watson? Well, you’ll also have an opportunity to get up close with IBM Watson, the artificial intelligence computer system developed by IBM Research capable of answering questions posed in natural language.  See how the technologies are now going beyond game show history to tackle some of the world’s most challenging business problems.

Is your business a Social Business? The integration of social computing into enterprise design represents an enormous shift in how business is conducted. Organizations that successfully transform into a Social Business can potentially reap great benefits – among them the ability to deepen customer relationships, drive operational effectiveness and optimize the workforce. For today’s stand-out companies, integrating social capabilities into enterprise design is a must. That opens new doors for business opportunities to be more engaged, transparent and nimble.

So how can IBM help you? Learn about bringing applications to "the cloud", taking your mobile apps on the go on most major platforms, and get started with the IBM Social Business Framework and Toolkit.

Agenda* (2-5.30pm):

  • Registration and Welcome
  • 100 years of IBM Innovation and IBM Watson Challenge
  • All About Social Business Apps and the Social Business Framework, and Toolkit Demonstration
  • Raising Your Applications to the Cloud
  • Networking and Cocktails

* subject to change

So register now and come check out the New IBM Briefing Center at:

590 Madison Ave.
3rd fl Auditorium
New York, NY 10022

Creating a social business through developerWorks: the GoMidjets story

Even though I wasn’t at Lotusphere this year, I did get a sneak peak at Stacy Pschenica’s presentation on the value of the developerWorks community: to members, partners and thankfully (given the source of my salary) IBM.

One particular slide jumped out:

image

This is the impressive story of GoMidjets, a provider of configuration management plug-ins for IBM Rational software. GoMidgets founder Tamir Gefen was a user of Rational CM and ALM who originally used developerWorks Rational forums to solve problems and pick up tips. Before long he found himself contributing heavily on Rational forums – providing simplified and automated processes to help other users work more efficiently. This led to the creation of GoMidjets: an IBM partner offering plug-ins and professional consulting for IBM Rational ClearCase. Tamir continued to use the developerWorks forums for obtaining product feedback, development and brainstorming around ideas. 

As he pointed out in an earlier interview with Valerie Skinner,

"I use developerWorks as a focused network to communicate with professionals from the Gurus to the users. Through developerWorks, I get to hear what people have to say, learn new ideas, get technical information and more. I like to think I don’t just gain from it but also contribute. More than anything, I use it to answer questions in the Rational ClearCase and ClearQuest forums. I enjoy solving users’ problems."

Tamir now receives 40% of his leads from the developerWorks network. How’s that for a living, breathing example of social business?

Some key points that come out of the GoMidjets story:

  • Social networks represent great assets for business development. Forums contain detailed market intelligence: users openly share their pain points. If you can help address these, you could be looking at a viable business proposition.
  • Don’t underestimate the altruistic motive. Look to add real value to the community. Spend time answering questions rather than just pumping out sales/marketing messages. Develop relationships: who know where these will lead in the future?
  • Take the risky business of product development out from behind the closed doors of your organization. Think of forums as focus groups where you can obtain user feedback and find out if a new feature really does have legs, or is just an attempt to solve a non-existent problem.

Want to replicate the GoMidjets story?

Our forums are one of the most popular areas of our site – check them out. If you would like to setup a specialized group with the opportunity to collaborate over files, activities, bookmarks and more, go right ahead. If you have a message to share or would like to provide regular updates to our community, request a blog via the link on this page.

Stacy took the opportunity to talk a little further about the developerWorks mission to the Lotusphere video press gang:

Have your own social business stories to share? Comment below!

#LS11

IBM unveils the Social Business Toolkit: the dawn of the ‘everything inbox’

What if your company inbox could show you a lot more than just emails? What if you could see all the recent blog posts by those in your network. And the presentations they’ve recently posted? What if you could also see updates from that revenue tool you check every week to see whether you’re on-target to hit that all-important quarterly quota? Oh, and voicemails: can they be added to the stream too?

Such dreams (and more) can be realized with the launch at Lotusphere this week of the IBM Social Business Toolkit. This package includes a set of APIs that can be used by developers to feed updates into the Lotus Connections Activity Stream (effectively a corporate version of the Facebook Wall). The big news here is that whilst in the past this was restricted to activity that took place within the Lotus Connections environment (blogs, groups, tasks, etc.), the toolkit cracks open this functionality, allowing for updates from any application. With APIs based on all popular web development frameworks, exactly what gets pumped into the Activity Stream is limited only by a developer’s imagination. Integrate this stream into your email client and you have an inbox that goes way beyond showing just your latest emails.

What bloggers are saying about the Social Business Toolkit

Dan Burger, writing in the IT Jungle puts the toolkit in the context of IBM’s wider social business play. With Lotus Connections now becoming available on every major mobile platform, the Activity Stream becomes a central repository available anywhere:  

"An example of this could be a report from a sales analyst prompting a team meeting, or other business systems on premise or in the cloud. It conveniently allows a user to view and interact with the Activity Stream from a central location. IBM has indicated it will integrate the Activity Stream into the next version of social collaboration products accessible from mobile devices."

Meanwhile, Alex Williams on ReadWriteWeb sees the Social Business Toolkit is an implementation of a technology which is gaining widespread adoption in the consumer market, suggesting "Developing a tool kit is a smart, natural step and a necessary one for IBM."

Over ten days ago, the prescient James Governor alluded to this announcement when stating the need of IBM to produce solutions meaningful to developers as well as the line of business crowd:

"The winner in any tech wave is the best packager- so far no enterprise company has nailed and packaged the web development wave."

With the social business toolkit, are we seeing the first iteration of such a package?

IBM’s own Luis Benitez does a good job of summing up the Social Business Toolkit:

"The idea is to take all your existing apps (and even those from 3rd party vendors) and merge all the activity and information across those existing silos into a single, unified view (or stream)"

and goes so far as to show an early-stage mock-up:

Interested in learning more about creating an ‘everything inbox’ with the Social Business Toolkit? We have more information on developerWorks.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 opening session: mobile, social business has arrived

Lotusphere Opening General Session So IBM’s premier social business event, Lotusphere 2011, is now fully underway.

Who better to get things started than Hollywood legend Kevin Spacey: few have done a better job of capturing the zeitgeist. Whether it’s a portrait of middle-aged, middle-America ennui in American Beauty or producing the Aaron Sorkin-scripted dissection of the rise and rise of Facebook (‘The Social Network’), Kevin Spacey is a man with his proverbial finger on the pulse. (If you missed it, I can recommend his recent appearance on the Colbert Report). “Stay open and listen to other’s points of view” is one of his takeaways.

Key themes from this year’s opening:

Marketing page creation

The energetic Brian Cheng shows off some of the powerful new features of Lotus Connections 3 (LC3) for building an external web presence. Drag-and-drop functionality allows a marketer to build a web landing page on the fly – fully incorporating those social features demanded by the market today. You can even see how the experience will be for someone who is logged in to the community (eg. maybe they see their network connections and have the ability to comment on specific parts of the page) versus what a new visitor will see. Full integration with Coremetrics and SugarCRM means you have can see instantly just how well the page is performing.

Interesting development from Lotus Connections given its general perception as an intranet tool. Will we see a further crumbling of the iron curtain that separates the intranet from the external presence of an organization? 

The mobile experience

As mobile usage continues to soar, we demand more of our web applications to be accessible from our smart phones as we wait in line for our Chai Tea Latte. This morning we see multiple demonstrations of just how LC3 performs in the mobile space. Cheng shows how marketing pages created with the Customer Experience Suite can have a specific look for a specific device (in this case demonstrating how the site will appear on an iPad). We also see how presentations shared within LC3 can also be viewed via a Blackberry app. The Sametime messaging system will have mobile support, making it easier to get on the phone when your Sametime instant-messaging chat conversation goes south.

Video support

During the demo, the Lotus Connections team show new web-based video capabilities integrated with enterprise communications systems like Polycom. For instance, video conferencing a la Skype can be embedded directly into the page of a presentation, creating a more interactive experience. The team showcases web-based video so there is no need for the installation of any plugins. Not quite sure what technology underpins this but there is the announcement of a big commitment to HTML5 in the later press conference (yey!). 

Sub-communities

So you want to organize your communities by brand, function, department, etc. LC 3 now supports sub-communities so that you can group together related networks. All settings (including permissions) can be defined at the sub-community level. So, for instance, you can use one sub-community to surface part of a project for external stakeholders whilst keeping the internal workflows more private.

Integration of mail and social

Activity streams can be woven into the mail experience (regardless of mail server) so a user can see all conversation in a single interface. No doubt this will continue to grow and form the segue of modern corporate communications, especially amongst the younger workforce who relate to email the way I relate to fax technology.

So, a lot to look forward to in the next three days in Orlando as IBM’s vision of social business unfolds.

Be sure to check out the live stream recording and live blogging from ReadWriteWeb.

Photo courtesy of Jacques Pavlenyi.

#LS11

Lotusphere 2011 is coming to a social network near you

Collaboration, social networking, disruptive technologies, social media… the list goes on. Lotusphere is IBM’s premier event dealing with this emerging space where technology intersects with people intersects with business.

The event takes place from Jan 30 – Feb 3 in that last vestige of sunshine at this time of year: Orlando, Florida.

As you’d expect for a conference covering all things social, there are a number of ways to connect if you can’t make it down there this year.

Definitely check out the social media aggregator pulling together relevant content from blogs, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. If you are planning on generating one iota of content around the event, register and remember to use #LS11 or #LotusKnows  in your blog posts/tweets to bask in the social glow this aggregator provides.

For the big announcements, keep an eye on the Livestream channel which will be broadcasting highlights from across the conference.

For the extended community (albeit in Twitter, YouTube, Facebook…), the developerWorks team have done an excellent job of putting together a community page.

Let’s face it, Orlando’s a fitting place for a conference on social business: this has to be one of the ‘hottest’ areas of the tech industry right now.

#LS11

Could IBM be the Facebook of the enterprise?

Colette Martin over on the Forbes blogs picked up on a thread which has been floating around the net for the last couple of months: whether IBM can be to the enterprise what Facebook is to the consumer space. That is, can IBM be the social network du jour for company intranets?

IBM has been an early innovator of the internal use of many web-based technologies: email, instant messaging and intranet technologies. The question is whether it can extend that innovative thinking into the social networking space.

What would this platform require? Colette suggests:

“The ability to selectively connect, to share information, to respond/comment on information, and to be able to integrate with other company data and systems”

adding:

“The concept of groups would be key – with the ability to create sub-groups within groups, and groups that bring other groups together”

I’d heartily agree with all of these features. On the subject of sub-groups, some years ago I was ready to execute our social networking strategy across the Ning network, only to find that we couldn’t create relationships between groups (hierarchical or otherwise). This was a major hurdle given that we would not be able to link different product sub-groups across a product line group, so we were forced back to the drawing board.

Social email

Another feature I would like to see in an enterprise social network is the ability to make email more ‘social’. By that I mean highlight emails from those with whom you have a relationship on a social network. I’d prefer to see emails first from those in my team and with whom I frequently work. Both Facebook and Google have recently implemented social emailing capabilities. In the enterprise, where email can be such a resource drain, social email capabilities offers the potential for a considerable increase in productivity.

The extra-intranet

As a social media marketer, I spend a significant amount of time trawling our intranet for content that can be exposed externally. This can include product walkthroughs produced for the sales teams or partners, deeper technical information on our customer case studies, intra-departmental communications. Obviously some care has to be taken to ensure nothing confidential seeps out of our walls, but I’m constantly surprised at the amount of content we have that can be exposed. I’m also woefully aware of the duplicate effort our marketing teams go through to make sure their external marketing campaigns are also promoted within the company.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could post relevant content simultaneously externally and internally? If I have a blog post talking about a new product release, what if I could just check a box so that this message is pushed across both our internal and external social networks? I’m not suggesting this be the default setting(!), but I can see considerable value in having the ability to share content both internally and externally.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

If you are interested in learning more about the enterprise social networking space, I recommend checking out the 2010 Gartner report on Internal Social Software.

IBM, along with two other vendors, make it into the visionary/leader quadrant: potentially giving them the best shot at becoming the Facebook of the enterprise.

More on IBM social computing solutions

Read Colette Martin’s post on Forbes

Read the source post from Drew Neisser on Fast Company