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    New videos on editing pages, images and more!

    We’ve been busy over here at Socialtext, adding new features and enhancing our latest version of Socialtext 5.0.  Here’s some training videos we’ve put together that highlight some of those new features and enhancements.

    Socialtext Page Editor

    Our easy to use page editor enables you to create pages just like you would in any document editing program.  You can easily change fonts, background color, add bullets, numbered lists, tables of any size, insert images or videos…. The list goes on and on – take a look here.

    Working With Images – Basics

    This video will walk you through the basics of adding images to your pages, how to size images and how to align them as well as few extra tidbits we’ve thrown in.

    Working With Images – Advanced

    Here, you’ll learn how to apply some advanced functions to your images such as word wrapping, adding image borders, linking to a website and more.

    Working with Tables

    Working with tables has never been easier, this handy tutorial will show you how to add tables into your pages and specify the exact look you want for them, including alignment within the page, or defining the size of columns and rows. Our handy one click icons enable you to quickly add rows and columns, move rows and columns or just cells.   You can also customize cells with color backgrounds and also enable sorting on different columns or rows.  We’ve also added a bonus tip so be sure to watch the video to find that tip.

    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!

    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…

     

    Companies Aren’t Communities

    Companies aren’t communities. They aren’t forums.

    Companies are companies.

    Of course company life has community aspects, and those community aspects can be quite important in getting the job done. But a lot of social software folks seem to forget that there’s a lot more to a company than community. They treat companies as if they were consumer communities or forums that all just happen to have their paychecks signed by the same person.

    Why does the difference matter? Let’s look at the numbers. Online communities and forums typically attract very small audiences relative to the total target population: Less than 1% adoption is typical, and 5% adoption would be a grand-slam. That’s fine for the consumer web, but those numbers inside the enterprise aren’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

    Successful enterprise implementations of social software have orders-of-magnitude higher adoption rates. For example, yesterday I was in New York meeting with Getty Images. Getty’s Socialtext implementation is seeing 95% active adoption. Those are the numbers we’re looking for inside the enterprise!

    So how do we get there?

    Companies, by very definition, have reporting structures, established workflows, shared systems and processes, defined roles and responsibilities, and closely managed performance. Those are assets we don’t have in communities and forums, which are typically ad-hoc groups of individuals–mostly volunteers–in a collective endeavor without clearly defined roles, processes, reporting, deliverables, or metrics.

    Getty and others achieve the adoption rates they do by integrating their social software into all those structures, workflows, systems, processes, roles, and responsiblities. As Getty’s Director of Learning and Development, Jennifer Fox, told me today, “We no longer going to teach people how to use Socialtext. We are going to teach them how to do their jobs…which happen to require the use of Socialtext.”

    I’ve been saying for a few years now that companies achieve adoption and business value when they place social software in the flow of work. The tools achieve real benefit when people do their jobs–not their evenings-and-weekends jobs, but their actual “day” jobs in social software. That’s when it becomes woven into the fabric of a company’s business processes. Adoption is almost a foregone conclusion, because that’s where you do your work. Business impact is demonstrable because business processes are measurable.

    What, specifically, does this mean? It depends on your business, but it’s things like:

    • Your company Intranet is social (i.e., built and/or integrated with social software tools like wiki workspaces, microblogging, and social networking)
    • Marketing and Product post sales collateral in your social software tool (not in email!)
    • Customer Support’s knowledgebase is collaboratively maintained in social software (again, not in email!)
    • The executive team and other key teams keep meeting agendas and notes in social software
    • CRM, ERP, and Enterprise Learning systems automatically post major events in social software
    • Quick links to important resources are available–and maintained–in social software
    • Technical Help Desks and other internal support functions field requests via social software

    Contrast that with an online community, like a gaming group or a technical forum. In communities, there is no flow of work. That’s because most people don’t come to communities to do work. They come to get support help, to swap tips, to praise, to complain, to socialize. Even those people who come for professional reasons are casual, sporadic visitors. The only person who really works there day-in-day-out is the forum/community manager.

    There are three groups of people who cling to the “company as community” concept: the “kumbayeros” who wish that companies were as open and democratic as communities, public community managers whose consumer-facing experience has shaped the way they view all online social interaction, and community software vendors who are looking to re-purpose their consumer-oriented products for the internal market.

    In the enterprise, we need to take a more pragmatic approach. As the old saying goes, “The business of business is business.” Social software fails when it tries to turn businesses into consumer-style communities. It succeeds when it turns businesses into better businesses.

    Aberdeen Study: Embrace Social Software and Improve Business Performance

    Social software can help a company improve their core business processes and performance across the enterprise — from sales and marketing to support and product management — and it’s something we strive to highlight through case study work and blog posts about our customers.

    But, as is an age-old problem for proponents of collaborative technologies, it’s sometimes difficult to show these benefits quantitatively. So when Aberdeen Group sent us some hard data that proved companies that embraced social software as a strategic, enterprise wide-initiative saw improvements in business performance, we were very happy to sponsor it (click here for a free copy).

    The report surveyed 300 enterprises, and broke them down into three categories based on the maturity and sophistication of their social software adoption (best-in-class, industry average and laggard). I encourage anyone considering the benefits of social software to read the entire report, but here’s a few highlights:

    1. Companies that widely harnessed social software (best-in-class) took on average 11 hours to bring a response team together for a key business threat, while industry average companies took 105 hours and laggards 113.
    2. Best in class companies took five months to complete key strategic projects, while industry average companies took 8 months and laggards a staggering 14 months.
    3. Best-in-class companies saw a 36 percent decrease in time to enact key business changes based on customer feedback, while laggards experienced a 17 percent increase.

    This data about social software improving business performance mirrored what the Deloitte Center for the Edge found in its research about Socialtext customer OSIsoft. During a webinar for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, Deloitte reported that OSIsoft saw a 22 percent decrease in the time it took to resolve customer support issues due to its use of social software for handling exceptions to business process.

    The Socialtext team has been thrilled with these findings, and we look forward to sharing more customer stories like this soon.

    Architecture Matters – Privacy in the Social Platform

    This week I had an engaging conversation with Mike Gotta of Burton Group, whose enterprise and architecture chops are as strong as anyone I know. Concerning enterprise social software, Mike says he’s seeing an increase in the breadth and depth of questions from his clients about security, privacy, control, and regulatory compliance. As I talked about Socialtext at a platform and architectural level, he encouraged me to talk about it more openly, so here goes.

    Enterprise 2.0 requires much deeper thinking than merely copying Web 2.0 patterns, throwing in a little SSL and email integration, and charging money for it. In order for enterprise social software to enjoy long term success, vendors must recognize the importance of security, privacy, identity, IT policies and procedures, and architectural fit, etc. The entire team at Socialtext has deep enterprise pedigrees, and that experience has been key to the robust architectural and design choices we’ve made over the years.

    In our early days, we learned a great deal about the dynamic tension between privacy and collaboration from pioneering the use of wikis in the enterprise. On one hand, we learned that too much privacy is an anti-pattern for collaboration and social software adoption. For example, if different pages in the same workspace have different privacy settings, people can get very confused about who can see or edit which content. On the other hand, we also learned that granular privacy can dramatically encourage collaboration because it helps people feel comfortable about the context of the group and the people with whom they are sharing. People naturally understand what’s appropriate to be shared in the “virtual watercooler” or “social intranet,” while the “Leadership Huddle Workspace” gives executives the confidence to discuss confidential or sensitive topics without worrying about leaks.

    As we embarked on building out our complete Enterprise social software suite, we wanted to build a sophisticated privacy model into the architecture. It’s important for privacy rules and patterns of user experience to be as consistent as possible. This is key not only for enforcement, but also for adoption. I’m pretty proud of how well this has held up since we introduced Socialtext 3.0 back in September 2008, and especially since we rolled out our enterprise microblogging capability, Socialtext Signals.

    To illustrate our privacy strength, take a look at how we implemented “Edit Summary,” which lets you summarize your edits to a wiki page. Some examples of edit summaries you might write: “Added links to Mike Gotta’s blog post” or “reorganized the lead paragraph.” Alongside edit summaries, we added a nice little feature called “Signal this edit”. If you choose to “signal this edit,” Socialtext sends the text of your edit summary out as a Signal (a short microblogging message) to your colleagues.– That signal will also contain a link back to the page you just edited. And it’s here where privacy safeguards are so important. What if the page you were editing was in a confidential workspace called “Acquisition Planning,” and the page was titled “Functions to be combined and reduced”? Could someone accidentally Signal this edit to the whole company?

    The answer is no, and that’s because of the Socialtext platform’s underlying privacy architecture. The Signal you send, regardless of how broadly you send it (accidentally even), will only be visible to those people who have view privileges to that confidential workspace. From a technical perspective, this privacy is enforced on the server side. It is not an exercise left to the developer writing client-side code, a key to enforcing privacy rules in a consistent manner.

    Privacy is a design pattern in the Socialtext platform. It applies to visibility (who can see a Signal, a group, a page) and participation (public vs. private vs. semi-private groups). This is on top of the fact that security is a core capability of our platform – whether it’s our shared hosted service, or our SaaS appliance that customers install inside their own firewalls. We’ve been thinking about and working on this for a long time – Adina Levin has written a few blog posts on the importance of privacy in enterprise social software, which I encourage you to read: Data Sharing, Context, and Privacy, What’s Different about Enterprise Twitter?, and Enterprise OpenSocial – A Year of Progress

    But we never waver in our attention to these issues. We’re constantly listening to our customers and industry experts to see how we can make it better. It excites us that our customers do mission critical work inside our product, and our team constantly makes improvements in our agile development cycle to keep up with their complex privacy and security requirements.

    Enterprise Microblogging Enables Everyone To Participate

    Conversations via email and instant messaging only reach a limited audience. Often those conversations would benefit from allowing more people to participate. This is where enterprise microblogging comes in.

    Three of the most beneficial uses of enterprise microblogging are: (click each for more details)

    1. Status Updates
    2. Questions and Answers
    3. Sharing Links

    There are many other uses in addition to these three, what are your favourites?

    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.

    Business is Conducted by People, not Users

    One of the more unfortunate words that prevails in the software industry is “user.” “User” marginalizes the importance of people, and subconsciously implies that we should simply use the software in the way it’s presented to us without question. It makes it seem as if people should adapt to a vendor’s terminology, data model, and workflow. In reality, it should be the other way around: Software should enable people to communicate and collaborate with each other, share knowledge, make informed decisions, and get our jobs done faster and more efficiently than ever before, in a model that makes sense to them.

    I’ve only found two industries who describe their customers as “users”. One is high tech, and the other is drug dealers.

    We have even evolved highly specialized disciplines whose monikers involve the word “user” – “user interface” or “user experience.” Worse, the science of “user interface” has historically been called “human factors” – where we’re now describing “humans” as organic life form alternatives to the preferably predictable and “error-proof” silicon powering the machines we force users to adapt to.

    In reality, business is conducted by people, not users. People introduce themselves by job title or organizational affiliation. They have passions and expertise, and like to share knowledge with the teams and groups they’re on. Almost no one describes themselves as “an Oracle user”.,

    Socialtext has always focused on reaching out to business people first – which fits hand in glove with our all-SaaS business model (as opposed to selling big perpetual license deals to IT who then try to stimulate adoption with users). Our whole company is aligned around the priority of enabling our customers to achieve business value, not just adoption. That starts first with designing and delivering functionality that enables customers to answer more substantial questions (such as “who knows what” or “who knows who knows what”, not just “who knows who”). Our entire sales and marketing methodology emphasizes the importance of identifying business champions (see Michael Idinopulos’ excellent post “How to Find Enterprise 2.0 Champions”), and partnering with our customers throughout their implementation to ensure they are realizing business results. We continually adapt and innovate product enhancements based on their feedback.

    Business people feel proud of business results they achieve by being part of something bigger than them – and usually by being part of a team that made it happen. Software should adapt to these people and their needs.

    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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