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  • Socialtext Chairman, Customer to Speak at Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

    I’m pleased to announce that Socialtext’s chairman and co-founder, Ross Mayfield, will be a keynote speaker at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston on Wednesday, June 22, at 10:15 a.m. eastern.

    The event will also feature Socialtext customer the American Hospital Association (AHA). Karthik Chakkarapani, the AHA’s IT Director of Technology Solutions & Operations, will be hosting a session about how that organization built a vibrant social intranet on Socialtext. Karthik will speak Thursday morning (June 23).

    Ross is acknowledged across the industry (even by our competitors) as a pioneer in the world of enterprise social networking. He co-founded Socialtext a full three years before Andy McAfee published his famous “Enterprise 2.0” paper for MIT Sloan Management review. He has been an advocate for utilizing social software to improve business processes and the way we work together in a collaborative context.

    Last year, our CEO, Eugene Lee, gave his “Social Layer” keynote at E20. Eugene encouraged the industry to embrace social software as a layer that spans all systems and applications inside a company, rather than silo them off into point applications (like a CRM or ERP system). We have built on that vision this year with our customers via the use of Socialtext Connect.

    I can’t share too much about Ross’s talk yet, but here’s the description we submitted for the Enterprise 2.0 website that is now public. You can watch it live on E20 TV (free with registration).

    The Social Software Evolution, Not Revolution

    Social Software in the Enterprise adapts the best of the web with practices that make it work in the context of an organization. In this keynote, Socialtext Chairman and Co-founder Ross Mayfield will chart this evolution over the last ten years. Core patterns that have emerged help form strategic planning assumptions for Enterprises. But there are also core anti-patterns in social software deployments that fail to account for the context of an organization and their existing culture, processes, and infrastructure. While creative, they lead to tactical destruction. Understanding these evolutionary forces is critical for any strategic implementation seeking change and growth.

    Karthik, who presents Thursday, plans to cover the following:

    Consumer-oriented social media platforms are transforming the way that people communicate and accelerating the spread of information at the speed of light. This session provides an overview of Enterprise Social Collaboration, how to develop an effective strategy and implementation plan, and best practices and adoption strategies, as well as a demo of AHA’s collaboration platform using Socialtext. AHA has built a vibrant social intranet running on Socialtext and its success is largely due to utilizing enterprise social networking to enhance existing business processes and systems.

    Eugene, our CEO, and many Socialtext executives will also be on hand. We look forward to seeing you in Boston!

    Why It’s Not Just Filter Failure: Managing Tasks in the Unstructured, Social World

    One of the main benefits to social technology — and the Web in general — rests in its lack of structure. Or at least in our ability to surrender structure as a concept we held dear for ages.

    The Google founders were the first to figure this out in a meaningful way. They realized that packaging data into tidy, digital folders was an unrealistic endeavor. On the Web, too much information was already being created every second. We’d drive ourselves mad trying to keep up. Just let all that data be, they said. Google will go back and find the most relevant information for you whenever you need it.  Other features in the Web 2.0 era, mainly tagging, assisted in making things findable in this unstructured world.

    Then came Facebook, Twitter, and the general emergence of Activity Streams. These firehoses deliver a wealthy stream of unstructured data and information generated by both people and machines. Some of it might be annotated and tagged, but it’s still lightweight in its organization.

    Many ask, isn’t that too much data and information for people to process?

    Every consultant or social media expert, for their part, will cite Clay Shirky’s “it’s not information overload, it’s filter failure” theory to answer that issue for you. The problem is, when it comes to using these tools inside companies to get work done, it’s not filter failure that worries me; it’s an execution and prioritization failure within those filters.

    Filters have improved and are getting better (in fact, it’s an area where enterprise social networking is ahead of  consumer social networks). In many enterprise social platforms, you can filter by group or virtually any object type, which helps put relevant information at people’s fingertips.

    But while filtered enterprise social networking tools give people greater awareness for colleagues, projects and initiatives inside their company, it’s harder to keep track of which things need doing first. If we collaborate around enough work issues in a social environment, something needs to be done to ensure the individual — and the groups he or she interacts with — knows where they stand on a certain set of tasks, projects and issues within this collaborative context. And this  needs be done without imposing too much structure since business processes change so quickly.

    Right now, I think the enterprise social networking world has just scratched the surface of how to deal with this challenge.

    At Socialtext, our developers are probably ahead of the curve. They use a Kanban process that tracks key state changes in their development efforts via tagging. When they build a new feature, it’s chronicled on a wiki page as a “story.” With each crucial step along the way, they use different tags to mark that state change. Those changes are broadcasted in our activity stream, as well as on a visual representation built on a page (think: “assigned,” “in progress” and “completed” types of steps). We have actually made this into a widget for our customers to use to map to their business processes. In this case, our engineers used the lightweight tools within a social software platform (mainly tags, wikis and activity streams) to monitor these key changes without resorting to an overly structured system that would hamper innovation.

    One area that will also help is bidirectional task executions within the stream. Whether it’s approving a task in another external system, the ability to stay in the context of the stream helps end users immeasurably in getting their work done.

    I’m posting this with the obvious caveat that I’m not a social design expert. But what the Socialtext devs have done with Kanban might represent a larger trend with social software and enterprise social networking moving forward, and it’s something I’m listening to closely right now in my visits with companies utilizing these tools internally.

    Chicago Enterprise Social Networking Event Wrap Up

    Last night, we hosted an enterprise social networking event in Chicago as part of an ongoing series to highlight best practices shared by Socialtext customers.

    It followed our event in New York in April featuring the CIO of NYU Stern (which you can read about here).

    Jack MacKay, VP and CIO of the American Hospital Association, led last night’s discussion at Harry Caray’s in Chicago, and it was a great one. Jack shared how the AHA has built a vibrant social intranet running on Socialtext.

    The reason for AHA’s success: Utilizing enterprise social networking to enhance existing business processes and systems. Using Socialtext Connect, our integration technology, the AHA integrated key HR and document management systems into its social intranet, making it a place where work gets done inside the company. I uploaded the slides to SlideShare so you can get more of the details.

    After the presentation, other Socialtext customers — including FONA International and Hospira — joined in a roundtable discussion about fostering adoption and value from their enterprise social networking efforts.

    We’re looking forward to the next event, and appreciate everyone who came out and contributed to a great discussion.

    Socialtext Wins TiE 50 Award

    I’m proud to share with you that Socialtext was named a TiE 50 Award winner. Based nearby in Santa Clara, TiE is “a global, not-for-profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to the advancement of entrepreneurship.”

    TiE provides a platform for mentoring, networking & education, to entrepreneurs with over 14,000 members in 54 chapters across 13 countries. Socialtext, which TiE acknowledged as the first social software company, won the award in the category of software and cloud computing, and Eugene, our CEO, will be speaking at their annual TieCon event on Friday in Santa Clara.

    The award puts Socialtext in some great company. According to TiE, which stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise, previous winners have attracted more than $20 billion in investments. Of the winners, about 42 companies have been acquired, merged or gone public.

    Eugene had this to say prior to my posting the news today.

    “Socialtext was founded on the idea that we could build a company that helps people perform their best work together,” he says. “This TiE award is a nice acknowledgement of the hard work our team does to deliver enterprise social networking tools that people expect at work, and that meets the needs of world-class IT departments.”

    ISS Mexico Brings People to the Forefront with Social Intranet

    We’ve been noticing an exciting trend amidst our customer base: They’ve been making their intranets social. We saw a great presentation from the American Hospital Association back in January about how they’ve built a social intranet on Socialtext, and today I’m happy to share the story of another.

    This morning, we published a new case study about ISS Mexico. Headquarted in Mexico City, ISS Facility Service Mexico is the largest and leading integrated provider in Mexico for cleaning, maintenance and catering services, and has 20 offices spread throughout the country.

    I’ll let you read the case study, but in summary, ISS Mexico wanted to provide a place to connect people with relevant colleagues and information, enabling them to adapt key business processes quickly and flexibly.

    Some key takeaways: ISS Mexico has enjoyed great adoption by identifying key business processes that could be moved into their social intranet, ensuring it’s a technology that employees use to perform their best work together.

    “Adoption happened pretty naturally,” Erick Vera, Enterprise Social Media Manager at ISS Mexico, told me. “People were amazed that they could get all this information about their colleagues in other offices that they’d never had before, both what they were interested in, and all the things they’re working on.”

    Enjoy the case study, and let us know if you have any questions about ISS Mexico’s use case or any others. We keep a good well of them here on our customer page.

    Forrester Research: How Socialtext Customer Hayes Knight Built the Social Layer

    Last June, Eugene, our CEO, delivered a keynote talk at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston called “The Social Layer.” The concept was simple: Social software should be a layer of technology that spans an entire organization, pulling together relevant people, content and systems of record in one easy place. It wasn’t about us or any one vendor; it was about moving the industry forward.

    To do our part, however, we introduced Socialtext Connect, an integration technology that lets you surface critical events from enterprise applications (CRM, ERP, etc.) and inject them into the Socialtext platform, where employees from across your organization can collaborate and take action. To get started, we delivered two pre-built integrations to Microsoft SharePoint and Salesforce.com.

    But Rob Koplowitz, the lead Enterprise 2.0 analyst at Forrester Research, didn’t just have to take our word for it: In his latest research note, Rob and his team featured Hayes Knight, a customer of ours in Australia that has used Connect to integrate key systems of record with Socialtext, including a homegrown job management system (built on Microsoft .Net) and CRM data from Salesforce.com. (The Forrester report focuses on the first system, and we have a blog post on the CRM integration, which enables Hayes Knight to serve customers 50 percent faster).

    When I visited Hayes Knight’s headquarters in Sydney back in November, I remember being amazed at how much they’d done with Socialtext Connect and our REST API. At the time, Jack Pedzikiewicz, our champion there, told me his favorite part of our platform was its flexibility, and this report does a great job of highlighting it.

    A quick except:

    Every trend needs a trailblazer, and in the case of establishing an integrated social layer that facilitates core operation processes, Hayes Knight is at the forefront. A group of companies offering accounting, business strategy, and complex tax services, Hayes Knight makes its living from the production and distribution of high-end knowledge. And it does so in Australia, one of the strictest compliance environments in the world.

    Like most organizations, Hayes Knight has legacy systems in place to handle key business functions. Yet most systems were largely transactional in nature, and Hayes Knight’s work product was anything but transactional. Jack Pedzikiewicz took on the task of turning the culture to one of knowledge capture, sharing, and collective decision-making while maintaining the context provided by the company’s core business systems.

    Pedzikiewicz targeted several of Hayes Knight’s core business processes for the initiative. Bridging the structured business systems and the new enterprise social capabilities through rich and deep integration was the key technical capability. After exploring the capabilities of multiple core business systems, his primary criteria for product assessment focused on the APIs provided to get information in and out of the system. He landed on Socialtext as the best platform to achieve his goals.

    Meanwhile, at Socialtext we’ve remained focused on moving our part of the Social Layer story forward (see an article today in CMSWire). We’ve not only been developing our own features, but we’ve been working with customers in our SocialDev community to help them create the integration they require to run their businesses. The best part of the community is that customers are sharing code and ideas among themselves, without us even having to be involved.

    I know I speak on behalf of the entire Socialtext team in saying that we’re thrilled Jack and his team got the recognition they deserved in this important research note. And we’re looking forward to more social layer stories going forward.

    ClimateWorks Foundation Connects Global Network Partners With Enterprise Social Software

    The ClimateWorks Foundation supports public policies that help prevent dangerous climate change tied to global warming. With network partners across the world, the foundation supports a global team of organizations and experts within sectors and geographic regions where there is the greatest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the United States, China, India, Latin America and Europe.

    With teams focused on transportation, energy efficiency, climate policy, forestry and renewable energy, ClimateWorks needed a central, secure place to harness knowledge and share ideas openly across these sectors. To support this effort, ClimateWorks chose Socialtext’s enterprise social software platform.

    The addition of Socialtext is part of a broader knowledge exchange program occurring at ClimateWorks to support their global mission to achieve substantial carbon abatement by the year 2020. Socialtext will serve as a social intranet and private extranet with partners, where ClimateWorks employees and network organizations can connect with colleagues across the globe and access the relevant information they need to achieve their combined mission.

    Like many Socialtext clients, ClimateWorks decided to give their social intranet a custom name: CWKX (ClimateWorks Knowledge eXchange).

    “CWKX provides the toolkit for optimizing the collaborative creation, capture, organization and sharing of knowledge throughout the entire ClimateWorks Network of partners and affiliates,” says Sarah Nichols, director of knowledge management at ClimateWorks.

    Inside CWKX, every group (whether a strategy team, an external network partner, or internal department) has a workspace where members post the latest scientific and technical research, collaborate on important documentation, discuss strategy proposals, ask for and receive expert advice, post updates, or plan regional and sector summits.

    Previously, Sarah says, most of this collaboration was done via ad-hoc methods. People would email colleagues with updates or documents. “Reply-all” emails would include various changes, and it became very difficult for people to find the experts and information they needed in order to do their best work.

    Now that these interactions are moving into CWKX, “we capture critical institutional knowledge that’s searchable, taggable and easy to find later. Important information doesn’t disappear in an email box or languish on a shared drive. Employees send short messages via Signals, and have deep collaboration inside CWKX workspaces.”

    “At any given moment, we want our network partners to be able to pull together the right colleagues and information they need to tackle the incredibly important challenge the world faces with climate change,” Sarah says. “Our new intranet built on Socialtext helps us deliver on that vision.”

    At New York Event, Customers Share How They Leverage Social Software to Improve Business Performance

    In New York on Thursday, we hosted the first of a Socialtext event series that will be taking place all over the country, bringing together Socialtext customers and IT professionals who want to hear the benefits, challenges and experiences of implementing social software.

    Held at the Silverleaf Tavern in midtown Manhattan, our main speaker was Anand Padmanabhan, CIO of NYU Stern. Anand and his team has deployed social software to nearly 10,000 faculty, students, and staff at NYU Stern, fundamentally transforming communication between those constituencies.

    Anand discussed how NYU Stern approached social software adoption: Combine traditional, informational portal technologies with the easy, social tools inside Socialtext. The result: A vibrant social intranet where work gets done at NYU Stern.

    Michael Idinopulos, our vice president of customer success, also spoke during the event. Michael has coined a phrase that has been very popular in both our customer base and industry followers: Social software in the flow of work. His overall point: If social software exists outside of key business processes and the systems a company has in place, it will be impossible for a company to realize its value. Organizations like NYU Stern, he emphasized, identified key areas and pain points that social software could address, which is why they’ve enjoyed great adoption and value.

    We appreciated everyone who attended the New York event and the great conversations that took place. The Socialtext team is looking forward to our next one in Chicago.

    InformationWeek: Socialtext Named Number One Social Software Vendor

    InformationWeek released its Enterprise 2.0 Vendor Evaluation Survey, an assessment of enterprise technology vendors that deliver social applications inside the enterprise. Not only did the survey find staggering adoption of social software across organizations, Socialtext ranked number one in overall performance, beating out competition new and old.

    Alex Wolfe, the editor in chief of InformationWeek.com, authored a summary of the report, and put the findings into context:

    “We use two sets of criteria to rank vendors. The first set rates the relative importance of 12 standard benchmarks used for all product sets. The other measures vendors against criteria tailored to specific features and capabilities customers seek in the product category–for Enterprise 2.0 applications, these include the ability to integrate with internal applications, quality of the user interface, and completeness of the feature set. Notably, respondents to this survey favored smaller players like Socialtext even when we delved into very specific Enterprise 2.0 features”

    Our friends in the Enterprise 2.0 echo chamber will debate the methodology, but we like the premise of it: Rather than interviewing the vendors, this report is based on the feedback from more than 600 IT professionals. While Socialtext participates in many analyst assessments of the market, those reports tend to be much more subjective, favoring larger and less innovative vendors that check off features rather than adding real business value. We believe social software is successful when it exists firmly in the flow of work — enhancing, rather than ignoring, the business processes a company has in place.

    Our strong performance in this report reflects what’s been a universal goal for Socialtext the past few years: Let’s deliver the simple, social tools that people want to get their job done, while giving IT the security, scalability and flexibility they require — all with the low total cost of ownership that comes with Software as a Service.

    During our all-company meetings, Eugene, our CEO, always says the best innovations come from customers (and the vendors who are smart enough to listen to them). For us, this customer-focused approach is helping us deliver social software that enables people to perform their best work with colleagues. This survey is a nice reminder that we’re having some great success.

    Press & Analyst Happy Hour in San Francisco Last Night

    Last night, outside the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco at the Thirsty Bear on Howard Street, some of the Socialtext brass met with our friends in the blogger, media and analyst community as part of an ongoing set of happy hours. Eugene, our CEO, reluctantly let me pick out the appetizers, though I failed to take into account the fact we had some vegetarians in our midst (sorry again). Ross, our chairman and co-founder, and Britta, our new chief marketing officer, were also on hand.

    For me, I enjoyed talking with Deloitte’s Chris Heuer about how we define the value of social software inside companies, and the semantics of explaining it to people who aren’t ardent industry followers (such as that pesky “Enterprise 2.0 versus social business” argument). We tend to emphasize the former — not because E20 is a perfect term either, but because we find “social business” has the wrong ring to it when you talk to key champions at companies.

    We’re looking forward to the next one…


    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.


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