ME2: Social Features or Social Network?

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind.

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

Social Features or Social Network?

A distinction I think that will become more and more important in the next 12-18 months will be clarifying to business decision-makers the difference between software that has social features and software that is an effective social network. We are starting to see more and more announcements from major enterprise application providers that they are introducing one or more of the following basic social features within their platforms, using the Enterprise 2.0 moniker along the way:

  • User Profile / Expertise Search
  • User web publishing (blog / wiki / file sharing / link sharing)
  • Commenting on content
  • Rating / Recommending content
  • RSS feeds
  • Status Updates / Micro-sharing
  • Tagging / Tag Clouds
  • Bookmarking

Until this market shakes out a little more, this could lead to confusion among those only partially paying attention to conclude “I have this enterprise platform with blogs, tagging and tag clouds, thus I don’t need to invest in any other capabilities touted as a social network.” The business case WE then have to make is not about what the specific capabilities are or are not in varying platforms, but if our enterprise environment has anything that is capable / effective at helping cross-silo collaboration communities grow virtually and thrive? Without the following complementary capabilities to go along with the above list of social features, in my opinion, your enterprise and its organic virtual communities within will continue to feel unsatisfied and will continue to yearn for other collaborative options:

  • Community concept with opt-in membership (self-declared Join / Follow)
  • Aggregated Consumption – Filtered Activity Streams of your colleague AND community connections, in one easy to access place
  • Engagement – Features that engage users to continue conversation and contributions (timely and relevant notifications, participation points, highlighting popular contributions, etc.)

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

This week my example is more of an anti-example. I’m not to the point yet where I am shouting from the mountains that email is dying and it has no place in the workplace anymore, because I don’t believe it. But what I do see and what I do prefer as a user is the trend that email is becoming more of a notification system and less of a conversation medium. For folks comfortable with email as a work day workflow mechanism, using email as your “news feed” for keeping up with relevant collaboration activity can work well to drive early adoption of more social tools (by being notified of activity and then linking to the source for further participation), particularly for mobile devices.

But each day I continue to see examples of extremely long emails that contain project status updates, organizational newsletters, brainstorming results in tables / diagrams, etc. within the body of an email and not captured in a medium better suited to later retrieval, central updates and sharing with broader audiences…particularly when better tools for doing so are available. Another illustration that just providing the tools is not enough, but educating and providing examples of it working is a constant grind to get people out of the “email for everything” mindset.

This is teaching me to be more patient as I realize this takes time. I am thrilled to see gradual adoption and new examples of people starting to utilize superior conversation mechanisms, but I want it faster and more often!! Serenity now, serenity now.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. A Collection of 50+ Enterprise 2.0 Case Studies and Examples from Jacob Morgan – I’ll make this my only link this week since it has so much stuff.  But a nice collection of real world applications of Enterprise 2.0 activity. Again, about a month old, but I read it for the first time this week!

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @Mashable: “HUGE: Facebook Secures Patent for News Feed – http://bit.ly/cmn89j – Not sure this will turn into anything, but consider the possible Enterprise 2.0 ramifications if Facebook decided to be difficult with this. One of the key usability elements of drawing employees to such a capability is aggregation of connection-driven content/conversation…a nice use of news feeds!
  2. @hebsgaard: “10 emerging Enterprise 2.0 technologies to watch — http://bit.ly/9Tq1fg #gov20 #startups http://bit.ly/dmlint – Couldn’t help call out the relevancy to the use of the term “social features” when discussion a trend in Enterprise platforms…and “activity streams” beings called out as important to the industry (aka News Feed!..see above).

From the life and times of @GolfinBP:

Sports Minute:

So did anyone watch the exciting conclusion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open? No? Well, I have to admit I didn’t watch much of it either even as a huge golf fan because it was on at the same time as that hockey game yesterday. What most don’t know is that PGA Tour stop is probably the most fun golf television you get outside of the four majors (The Masters, The British Open / Open Championship, The US Open, The PGA Championship) due to the raucous crowd surrounding the 16th hole. It’s an NFL crowd at a golf event, the one and only such environment on the tour. But it has been very unlucky from a scheduling perspective in recent years. For the last few seasons it was always played on the same day as the Super Bowl, and finally this year with some schedule changes I am sure tournament sponsors were ecstatic to highlight that environment to a large TV audience! But then USA vs. Canada: The Rematch happened, Sunday at 3pm EST. Oops. Sorry Waste Management. I bet your ratings got trashed.

I think this video of  Tiger’s Hole-In-One during this first PGA Tour season tells most of the story. And that crowd behavior wasn’t just because of his great shot, they act like that constantly on the weekend and end up intimidating every golfer that comes through. Better luck next year sponsors! Hopefully you don’t end up opposite Michael Jordan’s first game back after he un-retires again and plays for the Charlotte Bobcats next year…against LeBron James.

TV Minute:

I proclaim proclamations: For the most part I thought the Olympic action was “tremendously tremendous.” But I found the opening and closing ceremonies to be overwhelmingly underwhelming.
Top Reads of the Week:

  1. LOST Cast and Creators Give Scoop to Fans on the End from Watch with Kristin at E! Online – #5 says “Some IS coming to the island.” And here I thought Jacob’s statement was just a metaphor for convincing Jack to come to grips with his destined role to the island. What do I know?
  2. Crosby beats Miller in OT to earn gold for Canada – You didn’t happen to see this game did you? Anyone, anyone? I am not an avid hockey watcher, but something about the speed, intensity, unpredictability and lack of commercials during periods made this great sports television! Way to go to both teams.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @SI_PeterKing: “RT @MikeVacc: And now, thus mandatory historical reminder: in ’80, US trailed Finland 2-1 after 2 periods … Thanks, Mike.” – This was posted at the beginning of the 3rd period of the Gold Medal hockey game between US and Canada.
  2. @ProFootballTalk: “More details on the possible overtime changes http://is.gd/9opkK #NFL” – Hopefully some changes get passed on the NFL overtime rules. Much overdue now that field goal kickers are so much more efficient (distance and accuracy) these days vs. when the rule was created.
  3. @EricStangel: “USA Canada – Al Michaels is running to the microphone right now. ‘Come on, let me say something about another miracle!!'” – Immediately following the goal for the US that tied the game against Canada.
  4. @golfinbp: “Dang. The one night I get out, I can’t get foursquare to check me in! At Fleming’s in Indy. Shout. #nevergonnabemayor” – Seriously, this was a big deal. With children the ages of 3 and 4 and no immediately family within a 2 hour drive, we really don’t get out much. I was just excited to use my new Foursquare Blackberry app. Come on, man!

ME2: Horizontal Collaboration

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind.

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

Horizontal Collaboration (AND Vertical Collaboration)

I have been using the term “Horizontal Collaboration” recently to describe to colleagues a key objective of our Enterprise 2.0 efforts – better enabling cross-silo community collaboration. This illustration also incorporates Andrew McAfee’s E2.0 Target Analysis concept to demonstrate the opportunity of encouraging culture and technology to better enable Horizontal Community Collaboration – significantly higher throughput of converting Potential Ties into Weak and Strong ties.

I am not pretending that the Enterprise 2.0 “movement” invented communities. Workers in the corporate environment have certainly operated in horizontal communities longer than I’ve been around, however, the means by which these communities have had to populate/share/communicate/persist have been a rate-limiting factor. Community originators and participants have been forced to work with business capabilities and culture rooted in Vertical Collaboration, resulting in high entry barriers, poor participation and attempts at knowledge sharing left poorly consumed, etc. Technology tools targeted at Horizontal Collaboration in combination with more transparent work behaviors can turbo-boost the benefits of organic communities within an organization.

It is also important to point out that advocating Enterprise 2.0 / social collaboration isn’t necessarily the equivalent to denouncing all forms of Vertical Collaboration. Each have their value and their place for particular types of work. Advocating Enterprise 2.0 / social collaboration is the recognition that we’ve found something effective at filling in the knowledge gaps left by traditional Vertical Collaboration methods that prevent organizations from maximizing the capacity of their people. Thus, encouraging the use of capabilities and behaviors that fill those gaps – Web 2.0 / social media inspired methods proving to be effective for Horizontal Community Collaboration – will complement your traditional collaboration methods well.

The trick then becomes 1) Aggregating the user experience of both styles of collaboration as to not add clutter to already inundated employees and 2) Education on easily identifying the unique merits of each method and how to make choices to maximize their contributions within each.

Fellow Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council member Stan Garfield shared with us this week his incredible Communities Manifesto. And I thought his table (copied here) was a great educational tool for clarifying the reasons and benefits of Horizontal (Community) vs. Vertical (Team) collaboration of a person’s work/knowledge:

Communities Teams
Purpose
  • Learning
  • Problem-solving
  • Innovation
  • Mission accomplishment
Motivation
  • Voluntary
  • Assigned
Duration
  • Ongoing
  • Finite
Interaction
  • Asking and answering questions
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Reusing good ideas
  • Solving problems for one another
  • Brainstorming new ideas
  • Sharing documents and files
  • Using a shared calendar
  • Attending regular conference calls and meetings
  • Maintaining a list of team members
  • Editing shared documents
Alignment
  • Practice
  • Interest
  • Responsibility

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

Most blogs that are authored and published within Lilly’s collaborative environment are either 1) Authored by a single person or 2) Authored by a small group of people but for the intent of pushing knowledge out to people not a part of the small group.

This week I came across a team using our blog platform in a slightly different manner and I thought it was clever. They had a team blog they used for communication within their team amongst one another, but they had the security open so others could read and benefit from their internal team conversations. The team was using this technology platform in place of an email distribution group (no more Reply-To-All-athons!). Obvious benefits include single instance of a message instead of many, transparency of responses and resulting conversation and long-term storage for history retrieval.

Sample (and generalized) interactions within this blog include:

  • “Team, I’m over booked this week, can I get some volunteers to help me with these 4 tasks I am not going to be able to get to….?”
  • “X task is complete. You can find the results stored in Y at this link.”
  • “I can’t remember the ingredients to product Z. Does anyone know what they were or where I would look to find out?”
  • “Don’t forget to stay up to date on your safety and compliance training by Feb 1!”
  • “I have completed the work to get equipment X replaced. The new machine will be installed and ready for you to use in 3 weeks.”
  • “Thanks to everyone for such great work today!   We have the following 3 outstanding requests that need to be escalated: 1, 2, 3″

Email distribution lists with many replies and difficult to track response threads drive you crazy? Consider this approach if possible for you.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. The Business Value of Social Networks – “Value creation has thus been shifting from protecting proprietary knowledge, to fostering collaboration, both within the company and beyond its boundaries, in order to help the firm participate in as broad and diverse a range of knowledge flows and thus improve its competitive position.”
  2. Social Media in Life Sciences – Not new, but I read it this week!  “The Social Workplace – Employees who actively share their knowledge emerge as experts, and companies that encourage employees to share their expertise build stronger peer-to-peer networks, accelerating internal productivity gains.”  My experience with the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council is certainly a testament to this statement.