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  • Posts tagged ‘Enterprise 2.0 adoption’

    Social Media Efforts Need To Begin With Your Own Employees

    A common theme I hear preached at “social media events” is how organizations need to focus on building their brand, engaging with their customers and building a community. That is all well and good, but unfortunately far too little is said about participating in similar activities inside your own organization.

    Shouldn’t employees be able to openly collaborate internally before being asked to do the same externally?

    /doh

    I believe external social media efforts will have a greater chance of success if the people involved practice what they preach and use social software internally as well.

    Too often I meet people who talk about using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and the like… but when asked how they collaborate with their own teams they hesitantly respond “email and office attachments.” The write press releases in Word. Create budgets in Excel. Organize plans in Project. Worst of all, team communication and sharing is all done via email.

    It is time for that to change. Thankfully enterprise social software platforms like Socialtext provide an easy fix.

    Colleagues can now share information, ask questions and provide status updates via internal microblogging. They can securely and collaboratively create content via wiki pages and online spreadsheets. People can learn about their peers via profiles and a corporate wide directory. Everyone can keep up with what is going on via activity streams. The tools are there, it is time for people to start using them.

    I’ll be speaking about this at unGeeked Elite in Toronto on Oct 28. Visit the conference site for more information and registration and follow @ungeeked on Twitter. BTW, use the discount code THESOCIALCMO for 10% off a three day ticket.

    Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee to Keynote Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

    I’m thrilled to announce that Socialtext’s CEO Eugene Lee will keynote the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston the week of June 14-17. In his talk, Eugene (@eugenelee) plans to focus on how social software provides value to enterprises by transforming key business processes inside their organizations. While many in the world of Enterprise 2.0 seem to concentrate on the issue of adoption, Eugene will make the case that the focus should be helping companies use social software to solve specific pain points in their organizations and accelerate their ability to pursue new business opportunities.

    For us, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference has been the place to hear from the best thought leaders in the industry who are working to help companies utilize social software to meet their business objectives.

    Other keynote speakers include:

    • Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist, Center for Digital Business, MIT Sloan School of Management
    • JP Rangaswami, CIO and Chief Scientist, BT Design
    • Murali Sitaram, Vice President and General Manager, Cisco’s Enterprise Collaboration Platform
    • Gentry Underwood, IDEO

    Eugene is excited to share what he has learned from his experience in the world of collaboration, and the thousands of Socialtext customers who give us valuable feedback and insight each and everyday.

    SaaS Forces Alignment between Customers’ Success and Socialtext’s Success

    During the past month, I’ve spoken with a lot of analysts, journalists, bloggers, customers, and prospects about the great momentum in our business and explaining the underlying reasons for our success. One topic I always emphasize is Socialtext’s business model, which is all SaaS (Software as a Service). In the software industry, the term SaaS can mean many different things. To me, it means that all our contracts with customers are on a subscription (usually 12 month term) basis.

    Many folks (investors especially) like the SaaS model — and its “gift that keeps on giving” annuity feature, but that’s only true when renewal and retention rates are sufficiently high to cover the costs of customer acquisition and support. For Socialtext, the good news is that we’ve been in business long enough to be in what I call the “SaaS economic leverage zone.” What I mean by that is our renewal revenues are a healthy chunk of our ongoing business, and our renewal rates have increased by an order of magnitude during the past two years. I’m really proud of this achievement. It can be attributed to the combination of major product enhancements, coupled with more pedestrian operational improvements, including faster contract-to-launch times , improved coordination with customers pre-launch (often pre-contract), and more intimate partnerships with our customers throughout their lifecycle.

    Adhering to this this SaaS model has great benefits for us and our customers. Here are some of the benefits we have seen and what about the Socialtext offering that’s different than other vendors out there:

    SaaS forces alignment

    What I love the most about this business model is that it completely aligns my team with the goals of our customers. If our customers don’t realize the value from our platform that they were expecting, then they just won’t renew. If they do find value, they renew. If they achieve results beyond their expectations, they’ll increase their Socialtext footprint. The best testament to our progress on this front is that our business from customer expansions tripled in Q3 and Q4 of 2009 vs. our previous average.

    Socialtext’s appliance is secure on-premise SaaS

    For Socialtext, “SaaS” does not have to mean “cloud-based solution.” While we offer a shared hosted service like other SaaS vendors, we also provide our customers the option of deploying via an on-premises Socialtext appliance. This secure, behind-the-firewall, 1U rackable box is easily integrated into the customer’s existing datacenter (and enterprise directories, backup, etc.). It comes pre-configured, so there is nothing to download, install, or configure. Our Services team works with the customer to schedule monthly updates which are pushed down to the appliance, requiring no time or cost of administration on the customer side. Finally, for those customers who want the privacy of a single-tenant service, but don’t (yet) have a datacenter of their own, we also offer a “hosted appliance” option. It provides all the benefits of the appliance model combined with the convenience of having the server hosted by Socialtext.

    It’s all about customer success and business value

    The official job titles for our team members that work with customers during their deployment is “Customer Success Manage.” This isn’t just fancy business card blather – these people are measured and goaled on pretty much the same metrics that our customers use to measure their deployment success – timeframes, usage metrics, and most importantly, business value. Our software is fully instrumented to measure a wide range of user activity, and these reports are shared (assuming the customer gives us access) between the customer team and our team during our periodic scheduled update calls.

    By contrast, vendors who continue to follow the perpetual license sales model will continue to be motivated to sell you as many seats as possible up front, which I believe is why there are so many Enterprise 2.0 Adoption “support groups” out there, and why that topic dominates many of the industry conferences and forums.

    Customer-Driven Innovation

    I’ve often used the line “the best ideas come from your smartest customers – are you organized to listen?” A great deal of our product enhancements and innovations have come from feedback and suggestions from our customers – not just in the form of feature requests on a one-off basis, but rather in the context of an ongoing relationship we are proud to build with them. One example is the way Socialtext’s new groups capability works the same way whether you are using groups defined in your corporate LDAP/Active Directory or setting up ad hoc groups for cross-functional teams.

    We only succeed if you do

    An amazing amount has been written about the SaaS model and why it’s good for customers. These include lower up front costs, better matching your expenses with adoption and deployment, reduced risk, less capital needs to self-host software, and lower IT headcount requirements (to name a few). But I think the biggest advantage is that your vendor only succeeds if you do.

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    How to Find Enterprise 2.0 Champions

    Enterprise 2.0 champions aren’t where you think they are.

    olivettifaces.gif

    Many managers these days are trying to identify members of their organization who will embrace social media tools and practices within their organization. That’s a healthy development for Enterprise 2.0. It reflects a shift in thinking from the preliminary questions of Why and Whether to the intermediate question: How?

    Unfortunately, many of the folks I meet don’t know where to look for their Enterprise 2.0 champions. A lot of managers find themselves walking the halls to find colleagues who “get it”. They’re not sure exactly what “it” is, but like Simon Cowell on American Idol, they’re out searching the organization for fresh, undiscovered talent that have “it”. There isn’t universal consensus on the criteria for “it-ness”, but here are some of the things I’ve heard managers say they’re looking for:

    • The Young and Hip: “Jimmy’s only 28. He grew up on Facebook!”
    • The Tech-Savvy: “Mary’s always got the latest gadget. She’s a natural for this!”
    • The Connectors: “Martin knows everybody. He’s the ideal social networker!”
    • The Visionaries: “Isabel is so visionary. She’ll totally get what we’re trying to do!”

    These assumptions don’t lead to effective rollout strategies. There are three reasons for this:

    1. These broad psychological categories don’t accurately predict Enterprise 2.0 adoption. I’ve seen far too many examples of people embracing Enterprise 2.0 long after their crystals would have stopped glowing on Logan’s Run. (If you’re reading this blog and you get that reference, you’re probably in that category yourself.)
    2. They’re not actionable, at least not at any scale. If you’re trying to roll out across an organization of 5,000 or 10,000 employees, how are you supposed to know who the connectors are? Who’s tech-savvy? Who’s a visionary?
    3. They don’t transmit. We’ve all seen the lonely social media evangelist, howling in the corporate wilderness about the fact that no one else “gets it.” Sooner or later that champion gives up, moves on, or simply trudges on in noble obscurity. The energy and enthusiasm of evangelists translates into organizational change only when the enthusiasm transfers. If that enthusiasm stems from the evangelist’s personal quirks, it won’t transfer.

    The problem with these psychological approaches is that they focus on the traits of individuals, in the absence of any business context. They presuppose that it is something about an individual’s personality, experience, psychology, or talents that determines whether that individual will be a valuable contributor to your social media rollout. What it misses is the central importance of organizational role. Recruiting social media champions based on personal criteria is like recruiting for a football team on raw talent, when you haven’t thought at all about who is going to play which positions. If you just pick players based on their individual characteristics (speed, strength, agility, etc.), then you end up with a bunch of fast, strong, agile guys who are collectively unable to move the ball down the field.

    There’s a better way to do this.

    In my experience, the most reliable way to generate sustained Enterprise 2.0 adoption is to target business functions and activities that are structurally motivated to improve collaboration. In other words, look for individuals whose professional success in their role depends on the things that Enterprise 2.0 will help them do.

    OfficeChair In her memoir, “Madame Secretary”, Madeline Albright tells a revealing story. Shortly after transferring from one agency of government to another, she found herself in the Kafkaesque position of writing a formal rebuttal to a position paper she herself had written. “You stand where you sit,” Albright notes wryly. In other words, your actions are guided by your organizational role, not by your personal beliefs or psychology. Or as they say in the Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s just business.”

    The same principle applies to social media. I haven’t seen strong correlations between enterprise social media adoption and age, gender, tech-savviness, political affiliation, sexual orientation, toothpaste preference, or any other identifiable psychological characteristics. What I do see are strong correlations to role. When it comes to using social media, you stand where you sit.

    Here’s an example. Several months ago, we implemented Socialtext for a major global media company. Adoption ballooned month over month until it included thousands of users, with more joining every week. A little social network analysis revealed that most members of the community were invited, through one or two degrees of separation, by a single marketing manager. She wasn’t particularly senior, and she wasn’t based in corporate Headquarters. And yet she was transforming the way her company works.

    We contacted the marketing manager to learn what it was about her that inspired her to invite so many colleagues into Socialtext. It wasn’t her age, her love of technology, or her gregariousness at cocktail parties. It was the fact the she works in Marketing. “I’m responsible for marketing a new product line that’s very different from what we’ve sold in the past,” she told us. “Our sales force is still struggling to understand how to talk about it with customers and prospects. Hundreds of people email me with questions. I’m trying to make it really easy for them by creating a single place where they can find the current marketing materials, get their questions answered, and surface issues with our approach. Socialtext was the best way I could find to do that.”

    Like Madeline Albright, she stood where she sat. The demands of her Marketing role, not her personal passion for social media, made her an effective social media champion.

    This isn’t an isolated example. In most companies we work with, Marketing “gets it” ahead of their colleagues. They’re eager to jump on board, and to invite their colleagues in Sales, Product Development, Customer Support, and other functions. That’s because their organizational role requires them to do many of the things that social media helps companies do:

    • Continuously maintain rapidly changing information
    • Answer questions and gather feedback from their internal customers (primarily Sales and Business Development)
    • Convene conversations about customer needs (across Sales, Marketing, Product Development, and Customer Support)
    • Elicit feedback on the accuracy of public messaging (primarily from Product Development)
    • Identify resources to help with “corner cases” (e.g., non-standard uses of the product, unusual sales pitches)

    Because the Marketing Manager’s commitment to social media wasn’t a personal thing, it transferred quickly to other parts of the business. Other Marketing groups got wind of the project, and started posting their own content, creating their own workspaces, starting their own conversations. Then it started to spread beyond Marketing, to Sales and Product groups that had initially participated as consumers of Marketing content. Marketing’s cross-silo reach positioned them to involve different parts of the organization, which then went on to do their own thing. That would not have happened if Marketing’s success had been a function of one person’s passion.

    Marketing isn’t the only function that works this way. Within every organization, there are multiple functions that are structurally motivated to drive social media adoption. Here’s a pretty good starter list:

    • Research (especially demand-driven research in professional services firms, e.g., consulting, accounting, legal, financial services)
    • Product Development (especially consumer, pharmaceuticals, financial services, technology)
    • Marketing
    • Project Management (especially where teams aren’t co-located)
    • Human Resources
    • IT (for Helpdesk-related issues and for internal discussions about what IT business needs and wants)
    • Corporate Communications

    So if you’re looking for Enterprise 2.0 adoption within your organization, here’s my advice: Pro-actively target the individuals and functions where professional success depends on exchanging knowledge, information, and ideas across large parts of the organization. That’s where the real champions sit–whether they know it or not.

    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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