Bookmarks for April 19th from 15:44 to 17:05

Social business pinboard links for April 19th, syndicated automagically:

  • Die Corporate-IT-Abteilung von Amazon stellt SharePoint 2010 in der AWS-Cloud bereit – Die Corporate-IT-Abteilung von Amazon stellte ihre äußerst geschäftskritische IT-Anwendung, das unternehmenseigene Intranet, in der AWS-Cloud bereit. In dem Whitepaper werden die Bereitstellungskriterien, die Sicherheitsanforderungen, die Architektur und die Implementierung der betriebsnotwendigen Anwendung erläutert. Es wird nicht nur beleuchtet, wie sich die Abteilung die Sicherheitsfunktionen von AWS und Microsoft SharePoint 2010 (und Microsoft SQL Server 2008) zu Nutze machen und eine Anwendung, die überaus vertrauliche Daten beinhaltet, bereitstellen konnte, sondern auch offen und ehrlich dargelegt, welche Lehren daraus gezogen werden konnten.
  • Three Principles for Net Work | Harold Jarche – Conclusion These three simple principles of narration, transparency and shared power should provide enough guidance to motivated leaders in an organization. Implementation depends on the specific context of each organization and the ability to keep things in what I call, “perpetual Beta”. Power-sharing and transparency enable work to move out to the edges and away from the comfortable, complicated work that has been the corporate mainstay for decades. There is nothing left in the safe inner parts of the company anyway, as it is being automated and outsourced. The high-value work today is in facing complexity, not in addressing problems that have already been solved and for which a formulaic or standardized response has been developed. One challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they already know has increasingly diminishing value. How to learn and solve problems together is becoming the real business advantage.
  • Alexander Stockers Weblog zu Web 2.0 für Unternehmen: Erfolgsmessung von Social Media – Die Frage ist (für mich) immer, was kann überhaupt gemessen werden – und was nicht.
    Sind denn vielleicht gerade die nicht messbaren Effekte jene, die den meisten Nutzen für das Unternehmen bringen.
    Eine einheitliche Aussage zur Erfolgsmessung gibt es nicht und wird es niemals geben – denn die Ziele sind zu individuell und die Parteien zu interdisziplinär.

    Ich selbst stelle mich aber grundsätzlich auf die Seite der Befürworter der Erfolgsmessung – denn wer nicht misst, der kann sich und andere nicht verbessern. Dennoch gebe auch ich zu bedenken, dass man nicht jeden Effekt zu jeder Zeit messen kann. In Zeiten der Wirtschaftskrise befürchte ich daher, dass viele gute Projekte daran scheitern werden, wenn ROI-fokussierte Entscheider diese gleich verhindern bzw. laufende Projekte abdrehen

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Discussing the business value of Enterprise 2.0

I am so looking forward to the Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference tonight – promises a lot of value not only to the “believers” but also to the (business) people still evaluating.

Listen to Oliver Marks and Sameer Patel talking about their plans for their keynote – and send in your questions.

Posted via web from stirring the frogpond

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Collaboration is the recipe for market-dominating speed and scale

Some days ago I posted David Terrars keynote slides about community building in the Enterprise at the enterprise 2 open blog.

Being the community manager for the E2.0 SUMMIT I am perfectly fine when you click on through and continue there, all the while my posts are spliced into the regular frogpond feed too.

Whatever, I wanted to expand into something David mentioned in his talk – a video of Cisco’s John Chambers and see where it gets me. Interesting hooks make me follow trails (plus I have observed Cisco moves and Chamber’s video already before, see below for some pointers to past posts and there was this neat article about Cisco in Fast Company too) so the tagline “shifting from command and control management to collaboration and teamwork” made me investigate.

Let’s start with the Harvard Business School video of John Chambers David mentions (seen also at Oliver Marks):

[…] he envisions a Web 2.0 premised on collaboration and social networking that will similarly transfigure all business life. Since 2001, he’s been positioning Cisco to catch this massive market transition, and indeed, is “betting the company’s future on it.”

[…] Web 2.0 will also bring “effective collaboration,” by which Chambers means network-enabled visual tools, which will make “working together for a common goal truly possible.” Expect much faster business processes and revved up productivity, says Chambers.

Sounds much like an argument for “improving collaborative performance”, heh? Yes, but democratizing decision making by using Enterprise 2.0 technologies (eating dog food and walking the talk, you know …), pursuing a vision of a more innovative and competitive company, of future work styles – that’s the success story and archetypical vision that keeps me and others in the surrounding Enterprise 2.0 consulting space motivated.

See also this video from a presentation and Q&A he carried out at the MIT Sloan School of Management:

Based on Cisco’s own experience in the past several years, organizations will [need to] completely restructure around these new capabilities. Indeed, he offers up his company as a paradigm of this vision. Once a hierarchical, command and control-based organization, Cisco is now much flatter, a company running “off of social networking groups.” Councils with cross-functional responsibilities suggest and take on many more projects (from emerging markets, to video, and smart grid boards); from one to two major ventures per year, to this year’s 26 launches. The next generation company is “built around the visual.” Cisco employees do non-stop teleconferencing with collaborators around the world. The company hosts 2500 such virtual meetings per week. It also employs Webex, Wikis and blogging to move work along.

With this kind of communication and carefully managed process to match, “operations can be turned on a head,” says Chambers. It’s the recipe for market-dominating speed and scale. Chambers is “loading the pipeline” with projects that assume other companies will want what Cisco has and makes. “If we’re right, we’re developing a huge wave of revenue opportunity.” Perhaps this is one reason why he’s “an optimist on global productivity, global economy and our ability to handle the challenges.”

That’s the thing: Enterprise 2.0 can be a way for speed and scale, both depending on and promoting changed decision making processes (“Web 2.0 changing decision making processes within organizations“):

[…] Chambers emphasized that social networks are changing businesses making them less hierarchical and more network oriented.

[…] decision making can be accelerated (and be more distributed, democratized, deconstructed, diversified, …). In fact, the main change effect is not acceleration (but the change effects in brackets …)

Repeat with me: the main change effect is not accelerationbut we may be tempted to measure this first in our efforts to calculate ROIs.

Moreover, with the Cisco focus on video and teleconferencing I am not convinced, see what I blogged about another speech of Chambers in May 2007, noting that

[…] Intel [is] calling for businesses to increase knowledge worker productivity by implementing Web 2.0 social software but also by fostering mashups and virtual conferencing.

[…] I am reserved whether video is really the killer application among the collaboration tools. Requiring synchronous presence of distributed collaborators is both costly and unnecessary most of the time (think more meetings …) whereas tools for virtual distributed collaboration like wikis are a low-cost approach that can be tailored to the actual needs (think more flexibility and serendipidity …).

So my observation that Cisco might not be much of a role model (and that results may vary …), especially when naively imitating Ciscos approaches:

[…] social networking in the enterprise is not “easy”. One reason is that this is not a technology problem (with some kind of tech answer), but a people problem. Supplementing organizational hierarchies and “command and control” decision structures with free-form collaboration and teamwork approaches needs some serious thinking before “kicking-off these projects”, taking into account that this calls for broad implementation approaches, lead and energized by skillful managers, and more …

Anyway, I ended on a very positive note (that now, in 2009, may finally hit it big time):

[when] we employ freeform social software and enterprise 2.0 concepts we can ease implementation, like when we leverage bottom-up mechanisms that are already in place, and allow for the emergence of usage and networking patterns that reflect and support the actual informal networks that exist in the organization anyway.

Social software may enter the corporate world quite naturally in the end …

What do you think? Have we seen a sort of tipping point now that McKinsey has published yet another piece?

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Discussing measures and concepts for “collaborative performance”

Björn is asking what the Return on Investment of Collaboration is and writes up some neat (and programmatic) questions to systematize the discussion:

1. How to conceptionalize, realize and gain collaborative performance?
→ discussing the value chain of an collaborative enterprise, the economics of sharing, processes of open innovation
2. What are the main drivers for collaborative advantage and efficiency?
→ discussing communications, processes, infrastructure as well as (self-)management
3. What are the key values of a collaborative culture?
→ discussing the key characteristics as open, transparent and decentralized as well as others – and how to realize the cultural change in a multinational environment as we have in a lot of European companies
4. How to introduce and adopt social and collaborative approaches within the company?
→ discussing the steps of adoption especially in the context of multinational companies

Like him I notice that Enterprise 2.0 discussions fall back to the topic of ROI quite often, seen this many times before and again at the Cologne Enterprise 2.0 FORUM. So trying and exploring the subline of the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT (“Improving Collaborative Performance”) with these questions is a good idea. I won’t dive into all of them now, let’s look at number one first and take a first stab at why it’s collaborative performance we’re after.

To me, thinking about the economic measures and dimensions of Enterprise 2.0 is important. That said, I can also say that thinking about ROIs isn’t important for the reasons one might assume at first: It’s much like with “strategic planning” where the actual plans you derive are much less important than the process of planning (and the mental exercises you get when doing it up-front …) in itself. Two points to discuss:

  • Defining and measuring an ROI of collaboration is both easy and hard – getting and measuring numbers is as easy as getting relevant numbers is hard.
  • Thinking about ways to conceptualize ROI holds benefit, more than having an actual ROI definition.


What does this mean? Let’s start with the definition part, Return on Investment that’s the thing. Nice and easy way to calculate a range of possible alternatives and help in deciding on what to do, huh? But that definition is utterly flawed when we’re dealing with social software in the Enterprise. What does I stand for? Investment, i.e. basically all the Euros and Dollars we’re pouring into our Enterprise 2.0 endeavours. But wait, we’re much smarter than this, aren’t we? After all, we know or sense that buying and deploying IT systems (some of those are even open-source to make things even more complicated) is the easy part, and the bigger part is the soft stuff, like e.g. enabling and supporting collaboration. So we may start to add the hours of the people involved in our projects, and continue to count in all the costs that we’re guessing (when they write blog posts or edit wiki pages they don’t do any actual work, huh?), all the time spent collaborating … Yikes, it’s almost as hard to measure the “investment” as measuring the “returns” of social software in the Enterprise is. This is flawed too as this social stuff can exhibit nice benefits in areas that don’t seem to be related, that are too far in the future or that rely on extrapolations of things – things that are moving way too fast. There’s something to learn from neighbouring areas: Measuring improved knowledge retention isn’t easy – the KM guys are pondering this space for more than 20 years – thus, measuring the effects of a more collaborative corporate environment and a knowledge sharing culture that we may get via Enterprise 2.0 can’t be much easier …

Yet there are very good reasons for discussing measures and concepts for “collaborative performance” – we need to do some planning to know what to do, to get a sense for the environment we’re in and where we stand, what to do to progress and what actions to take when we sense that we’re drifting off from our course. And we need to define and point out our successes, if only to bootstrap and fund the little experiments we started off with (did I mention that calculating ROIs is hard when the I is small? Little lightweight pilot projects make it quite hard to calculate reliable numbers …).

Now, in the past I sometimes argued along the lines of “Please forget about ROI calculations, ROC is much more important”, arguing that the “Return on Change” is what we should look for in Enterprise 2.0 (One word as a focal point for change – Collaboration and Cultural change and developing collaboration capabilities). But it doesn’t take you far in the corporate boardroom (nor do other measures like the RoNI – Risk of not Investing that is plagued by overuse – how often have CEOs heard that “now’s the time to act or else”-thing? Business decision makers are wiser than that).

Whatever, the leading question “How to conceptionalize, realize and gain collaborative performance?” is giving us lots of things to discuss. We’ve not even scratched the surface (yes, it may lead us to discuss the value chain of an collaborative enterprise, the economics of sharing, processes of open innovation, …), use cases and “arenas for social software in the enterprise” and different takes on systematization. In the end it’s necessary to do the deep thinking to be prepared when trying to convince people about the benefits of Enterprise 2.0.

(Now onto posting Euan Semple’s expert profile over at the Enterprise2Open blog, later on I will dig into the new McKinsey Quarterly article “Six ways to make Web 2.0 work”. Both deserve a long post too.)

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