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  • Posts tagged ‘enterprise microblogging’

    Why the Yammer Migration Service

    As we announce our Yammer migration service this morning, I want to provide context for the decision to offer this service and our reasoning.

    First and foremost, this was driven from conversations with our customers and prospects. It’s not meant to be vendor jockeying. Like us, these companies hold a philosophical difference with Yammer for how technology should be purchased and deployed throughout the enterprise, and this service is meant to help them transition to Socialtext as painlessly and cost effectively as possible.

    There are 2 main themes that emerged from these conversations:

    1. The business model of “free for users, but charge IT for control” just doesn’t sit well with many of the IT folks we work with. The unplanned, unbudgeted cost is at odds with the way IT works in most mid-to-large businesses.
    2. Compliance and security concerns mean many customers need microblogging deployed behind their firewall.

    Many of them don’t want to engage in this publicly because it would expose the fact that valuable data was being traded across their network (on a free version of Yammer), only to find out they had to pay for the seats already in use to get control of that data. It doesn’t feel good, and it’s something we believe has frustrated many people in the market. At Socialtext, our customers (and their respective IT leaders) always own their data — before, during and after their time as paying customers.

    So we’re responding to the needs that an increasing number of customers and prospects have presented to us. Socialtext has a history of positive go-to-market strategies, both publicly with our marketing campaigns and privately in our sales conversations, reflecting the respect we have for our competitors. As in any competitive market, we are attacking similar problems using different approaches. This service is a reflection of that difference.

    Turning Enterprise Microblogging Inside Out

    “What if instead of focusing on the time or person, we instead focused on the assets being shared?”

    Over the last year or so, Enterprise Microblogging tools (like Socialtext Signals) have become of one the main ways colleagues share information with each other. People ask questions, post status updates, share links to web pages and upload files they want their peers to see. The information shared via microblogging is displayed in what we call “streams.” These streams display information chronologically, meaning as new posts or comments are made they are added to the top of the stream, pushing older information down. The posts flow by like a river, and while you can scroll back to see things you’ve missed, typically people just pay attention to the information being discussed right now.

    As we spoke with our customers about Signals, we quickly learned that the information being shared had tremendous business value. Marketing teams were sharing information about competitors. Sales were sharing presentations about customers. Engineering was sharing links to support issues. So we asked ourselves, “What if instead of focusing on the time or person, we instead focused on the assets being shared?”

    Our answer, Socialtext Explore, the next stage of microblogging. Explore takes the stream and turns it inside out. Instead of showing who shared what and when, it provides you a way to focus on what was shared. You can choose to look at links, attachments, or both. Explore not only displays the link or file being shared, you can also expand to see the entire conversation that took place around the asset, providing you all the context of the discussion and the participants.

    Socialtext Explore - Sorted By Recency (click to enlarge)

    Filters along the left hand side of Socialtext Explore make it simple for you to narrow down the scope of the information being displayed. You can filter by time, by tag, by group or by person. Here are just a few of the countless ways Explore could help you:

    • Find the most popular links shared by members of the Marketing team during the last month
    • Which wiki pages did your manager ask you to review last week
    • Which customer presentation has the Sales team linked to the most this year
    • Find all the signals tagged about a specific competitor or customer

    Socialtext Explore - Sorted By # of Mentions (click to enlarge)

    I believe Socialtext Explore will dramatically improve the way people accesses the information being shared via microblogging.   No longer will you have to worry about missing something important in the stream.  Just take a quick look at Socialtext Explore, click a few filters and you’ll discover all the things being shared.  I’m wicked excited about Explore, and how Socialtext once again is leading the industry in Enterprise 2.0 innovation. I’d love to get your feedback, so please leave your comments below.

    Socialtext Partners with Momentum Worldwide and Fuz1on Portal

    When Eugene talks about the Socialtext platform, he often refers to it as a platform with a lowercase “p.” What he means by that is we don’t consider Socialtext a Swiss Army knife of features, but rather a flexible platform built on open web standards that makes it easy for our customers to use everything or anything, and integrate it with other technologies that help drive their business.

    Momentum Worldwide is a Socialtext customer with some 1,300 employees utilizing our enterprise microblogging and wiki workspaces offerings. Momentum has connected those applications to other cloud-based, SaaS technologies to build a custom communications portal inside this marketing agency, where employees collaborate and manage customer needs more efficiently. Momentum represents a perfect example of a firm in the professional services arena that have embraced enterprise social software.

    Led by global IT director Doug Pierce, the Momentum portal was recognized by his peers in the ad and marketing agency world as a game-changing technology. This inspired Doug and his team to productize the portal offering, naming it Fuz1on. I’m proud to announce today that Socialtext is an official partner.

    In addition to Socialtext, Fuz1on includes Netvibes, exalead, Webcargo, Split Cloud, and our friends at Ping Identity (another Socialtext partner).

    At Socialtext, it’s not a cliche, but merely a truism, that we measure our success next to that of our customers. While we’re proud to have Doug and Momentum as a customer, we’re also thrilled to welcome them as a Socialtext partner.

    Avatar Theme Days Are A Fun Way To Increase Microblogging Adoption

    video game avatars

    Yesterday one of our developers changed his profile picture to Blinky, the red ghost from Pac-Man. This sparked a series of updates from other people (I’m DigDug) and a fun conversation ensued. While this may not be “business-related” it did result in good team camaraderie, which is especially nice in a distributed team.

    Similar events happen on the open-web, where people change their photos for a specific cause, to celebrate a holiday or to support their favourite sports team. I remember when everyone became a Japanese manga character, Simpson-ized themselves (site is down), or created vintage yearbook photos.

    The point being, these are all social actions. They get people involved, talking and sharing. Microblogging is a great medium for participation and as more people inside your organization become comfortable with the tools, you will start to achieve greater business value.

    So what theme-days do you want to have?

    I Don’t Always Tweet, But When I do, I Signal

    I don’t tweet very often — maybe about once a week. Sometimes, I’ll share humorous links on Twitter, but I reserve most of the funny stuff (like suburban dads rapping) for Facebook because I know my friends and I share the same sense of humor. But on the whole, I rarely tweet about issues that are really important to me. Want to know why Twitter doesn’t work for me?

    Imagine two circles. One contains every aspect of your life that you’re willing to share publicly. This is your public circle. The other circle — the private circle — contains every aspect of your life that you would be willing to share privately to a trusted audience. Of course, some of what you’d be willing to share to a trusted audience, you would also be willing to share publicly—but how much? A lot or a little?

    That’s my issue. My public and private circles barely overlap.

    For professionals, most of our intellectual energy is focused on work-related issues. Sharing thoughts, getting answers, thinking, executing…that’s what we do all day. While I see how social networks like Twitter can be very effective for some professionals, particularly those in marketing, many of us have too many proprietary concerns to share our thoughts to the general public. What do you do, for example, if your most important work-related thoughts are corporate secrets?

    I manage the Socialtext sales team, and am the executive responsible for generating revenue. I have the best and earliest visibility into our company’s financial performance (at least the revenue piece). I know our competitive strengths and weaknesses, our initiatives and business strategy. I know the key new customer prospects we are working with and hoping to sign. I see market opportunities and want my company to be able to take advantage of them before others.

    Am I really going to tweet to the public about these issues? Of course not. Would I love it if the VP of Sales of my competitors tweeted about them? Absolutely.

    But since Twitter doesn’t meet my professional needs, that doesn’t mean that I’m against social networks generally. On the contrary. Facebook definitely works for my personal interests. I’m a family man, happily married, coach my kid’s sports teams. My family grows avocados on a ranch (we have never called it a farm) in Carpinteria. We love great food. I love history and even wrote a history book. But my Aunt Betty just doesn’t much care for my ruminations on pricing strategy in large, complex accounts or how to manage & empower high-maintenance sales super-stars. And I don’t always ruminate. More often than not, I’m trying to get information or answers. So what now?

    The answer, and why I joined Socialtext, is that private social networks for enterprises combine the productivity value of public social networks with the privacy needs of most professionals and corporations. Socialtext is a leading provider of enterprise social software.

    The ability to share information, links, and knowledge quickly and easily, and without burdening people with unnecessary e-mail, really appeals to me. I was particularly excited about our secure, private microblogging tool, Socialtext Signals. Just as many of our customers use Signals throughout their organization, Signals has been a game-changer for the Socialtext sales organization. Every day, our sales executives are on the phone or WebEx with prospects who are firing questions at them. A quick Signal, and seconds later the sales executive has the exact answer they need, even to very technical or unusual requests.

    Several times every week, most of our bosses ask us for something important and urgent. Secure enterprise microblogging is dramatically more effective than email or the phone to answer them because the whole team benefits from our responses. It’s very much like the activity stream in Facebook, which a half billion people love. But instead of sharing your vacation photos, you’re sharing notes from the critical meeting you just had with a prospect and inviting those you work with to help if they can.

    Because Signals exists in the workplace, the relevance of content is much higher than Twitter, too. The common complaint about Twitter is the ridiculous tweets like “on a bus, eating a doughnut.” This just doesn’t happen in corporations that are using enterprise social software because it’s against company culture and not productive.

    Since I began using social software — and Signals in particular — I’ve personally seen about 70 percent fewer emails. Imagine coming back from vacation (or a weekend) and not having an overload of emails. The e-mails I do receive today tend to be more relevant, one-to-one communications — conversations that had to be private between me and one or two other people.

    So while many of us don’t have as much use for Twitter in our day-to-day lives, Signals is a corporate microblogging medium that is incredibly valuable for sharing openly, and getting answers that helps drive your business forward.

    Stay Signaling, my friend.

    Why Professional Services and Consulting Firms Are Embracing Enterprise Social Software To Better Serve Clients

    One key aspect of social software rests its flexibility, a quality that allows it to be utilized by a variety of industry verticals to improve business processes and facilitate enterprise wide collaboration.

    Following our announcement that highlighted how media & publishing customers have harnessed social software to turn disruptive market conditions to their advantage, today I’m happy to share the stories of innovative companies in the professional services and consulting arena who have done the same.

    From executive recruiting firms to digital marketing companies, these companies use social software to share knowledge internally, coordinate more effectively on projects and ultimately serve customers faster.

    Companies such as Egon Zehnder, Ogilvy & Mather, Momentum Worldwide and Eurogroup Consulting exemplify how professional services firms can benefit from having their employees share more information openly, and retain their knowledge as a long-term, strategic asset.

    • Egon Zehnder — With Socialtext as the backbone, executive search firm Egon Zehnder built a new intranet that empowered people to update content and share knowledge in real-time. Egon Zehnder’s “intranet 2.0″ includes current research on specific industries, functions, and executives; up-to-date information on the firm’s work with strategic clients; approved templates for engagement proposals; current marketing materials describing the firm and its approach to specific types of searches and thought leadership on industry trends.
    • Momentum Worldwide — This global integrated marketing agency uses the Socialtext collaboration platform to generate ideas, collaborate, and manage projects with some of its major blue-chip clients.
    • Ogilvy & Mather — This large digital marketing agency has implemented enterprise microblogging and wiki workspaces to improve business processes inside call centers for its major clients.
    • Eurogroup Consulting — Based in Europe with headquarters in France, Eurogroup Consulting is a management consulting group comprised of independent consulting firms throughout 16 countries who band together under the same brand and organization for shared resources and industry knowledge. With Socialtext, the firms located in disparate locations share collateral, best practices and research to better serve their business customers.

    We look forward to sharing more industry specific stories in the coming months. In the meantime, please see our customer page for companies in your industry who are transforming their core business processes and driving new opportunities with enterprise social software.

    Accounting Consultancy Hayes Knight Utilizes Socialtext Connect To Serve Customers Faster

    With the recent launch of Socialtext Connect, Socialtext customers have begun surfacing events from other critical business applications (CRM, ERP, etc.) inside of Socialtext Signals and Activity Streams. This gives employees the ability to see relevant work their colleagues do in other systems, engage in conversations around those events, and take action on them.

    One great example is Hayes Knight, an Australian accounting and consulting firm. Hayes Knight uses Socialtext to share knowledge and provide its clients with the best and most up to date information about tax and accounting issues. Hayes Knight utilized Socialtext Connect to trigger a microblogging message when critical actions occur inside of Salesforce.com.

    Hayes Knight’s knowledge management company, Knowledge Shop, provides a web-based member service subscribed to by 500 accounting firms and the thousands of accountants who work for them. It serves as a place for members to ask questions about accounting issues and get access to all kinds of tax and accounting information that experts at Knowledge Shop deal with everyday. The questions range from general accounting questions, to more complex tax advice issues.

    The customer service representatives for Knowledge Shop use Salesforce.com to manage membership information, seminar registrations, and to assign and track questions for Knowledge Shop advisers. When a rep enters a question into Salesforce.com from a Knowledge Shop member, the service rep can push that question into Socialtext Signals with the click of a button. Even though the question is addressed to a specific tax adviser, Hayes Knight finds value in letting others see the questions being asked.

    Then the Knowledge Shop adviser documents answers in Socialtext Workspaces, for current and future use. Once they’re completed, using a customized button inside Socialtext, they can send the proper answer back to Salesforce.com for processing.

    Hayes Knight CTO Jack Pedzikiewicz used Socialtext Connect to perform the integration. The ReST API within Socialtext Connect allows Socialtext customers to take events from a variety of other enterprise systems and surface them inside of Signals. Jack says he wants the advisers working in Socialtext because the software has deep collaboration features that allow them to create, share and capture knowledge −− something they wouldn’t get if they worked in Salesforce.com.

    “Signals allows us to respond faster,” Jack told me recently in a video chat. “The speed with which we’re answering questions has been cut in half, and is a full 7−8 minutes faster on average. The wonderful thing is, as we capture these great answers inside of Socialtext workspaces, we also cut back on repetition where questions cover the same issue and build best of breed responses and knowledge on key issues of importance. It allows us to serve our customers faster and more consistently.”

    We’re always looking for more great uses of Socialtext Connect to share. Please feel free to send me yours. Customers or business partners interested in joining our Socialtext Developer community, where practitioners can learn how to get the most from Socialtext Connect and share best practices, please contact us at socialdev@socialtext.com.

    GT Nexus Builds “The Grid” To Facilitate Enterprise-Wide Collaboration

    Here at Socialtext, we work hard to communicate the importance of transparency and sharing information openly inside companies to foster greater innovations and drive better business results. We believe in it philosophically, and design our products to work well under that paradigm.

    So when we have a customer who feels as strongly about it as we do, we know we have a good fit — and that has been the case with GT Nexus, an on-demand cloud supply chain technology company with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. With Socialtext’s enterprise social software platform, GT Nexus built “The Grid,” a place where all departments share vital company information, such as implementation best practices, key sales & marketing materials and technical product knowledge.

    “Every time someone plans to send an e-mail or completes a phone call, I want them to ask themselves: ‘Could someone else benefit from this information?’” says John Atherton, Vice President of Solutions Consulting & Knowledge Management at GT Nexus who championed The Grid. “I’m a big believer in explicit versus tacit knowledge, and the importance of getting more knowledge to be explicit — in this case, using enterprise social software to do it. This is true for both internal and external knowledge pools alike.”

    Using Socialtext Signals, a secure enterprise microblogging tool, GT Nexus employees can keep each other updated on the changes made within The Grid, keeping new stuff in the flow of work. The teams also use it to exchange deal-related data, an important aspect in global sales cycles. With easy-to-edit Workspace pages, any employee can update critical content that their peers need to do their jobs more efficiently and serve customers better.

    Prior to Socialtext, John says that GT Nexus relied on Windows shared folders to exchange documents and collaborate. This proved inefficient, as they grappled with version control and limited search capabilities. Now, the goal is to keep information current on The Grid ( the company’s “central nervous system”), and use robust tagging to help GT Nexus employees find the people and information they need to serve customers and prospects.

    Just how pervasive has GT Nexus’s use of enterprise social software been? Here’s some use-cases that span across departments.

    • Sales and marketing –> To keep sales and marketing better in synch, GT Nexus keeps all of its sales collateral and marketing material inside The Grid in a workspace fittingly called the “Collateral Center.” Now, when a sales representative walk into a meeting, they can be confident they have the most current materials (white papers, webinars, powerpoints) that explain the benefits of GT Nexus products. On the technical sales side, this means sharing demo scripts and sample EDI documents by industry vertical.
    • Supply Chain Knowledge –> GT Nexus helps some of the world’s largest enterprises efficiently manage their inbound and outbound supply chains. Coupled with the ever-changing technical landscape that is could computing, this requires GT Nexus to chronicle the best practices around the supply chain and IT disciplines, which is now kept inside The Grid.
    • Technical Knowledge –> All the best FAQs and product requirements are kept up to date in a central workspace. As GT Nexus improves and modifies its products, the documentation surrounding those are kept up to date, such as release notes and recordings. In-depth product configuration documents are also available.
    • Purely Social –> And it’s not all work. The GT Nexus Signals stream routinely sees updates on general social activity — a new employee visitor, a department-sponsored happy hour or a personal success are some examples.

    GT Nexus utilizes Socialtext’s flexible SaaS appliance. It gives GT Nexus the ability to deploy Socialtext behind the firewall and hook it into the company’s existing infrastructure, while still getting seamless updates to the software sent from Socialtext. John believes, however, that internal collaboration is just the beginning. He is already adding another Socialtext appliance, where GT Nexus can securely and privately interact with external customers and partners (a B2B Extranet).

    “This will help our customers stay in touch with the products and services we offer, and will improve our ability to serve them faster and better than ever before,” John says.

    Socialtext Signals Gets File-sharing, Tagging, and More

    You can now use Socialtext Signals to share files and links to web sites and Socialtext workspace pages. You can also use tags to group similar conversations together and make them easier to find via search.

    Here you can see the new Insert action buttons:

    Insert objects into a signal

    Sharing Files: Using the new Attach File action, you can now add richer content to a conversation including pictures, presentations or documents. If an attached file is an image, a small thumbnail version of it will be shown which can be clicked on to display the full size.   All other attachments can be downloaded or opened in their native application.

    Sharing Links: These two new buttons make it easy for you to include a link to either a web page or Socialtext Workspace page.

    Adding Tags: Tags are a useful way to group similar topics together. For example, you may wish to tag all Signals about deals your company wins as “Customer Win.” Tags can be added either via the Insert – Tag action or if you’re familiar with the Twitter “hashtag” convention you can begin a tag using “#” followed by one word. You can click on a tag that appears with any Signal to open a list of all Signals containing that tag. You can also search by tag, using the convention “tag: tagname” where “tagname” is the tag you are searching for.

    Sharing A Web Page As You Surf

    If you’re reading a web site that you want to share with your colleages, you can now simply click on “Signal This!” to share a link to the page.   This will create a new signal for you,  which you can either send as is, or update the text, choose which group you want to share it with and even add tags to.

    SignalThis

    To Install the Signal This! tool:

    • Click on Signals in the universal navigation bar at the top of any Socialtext page.
    • Scroll to the bottom of the Signals stream, click on the link in the sentence “Tip: Use the Signal This! bookmarklet to share any page on the web via Signals.”
    • Follow the instructions on the Signals Bookmarklet page to drag and drop Signal This! to your bookmark bar.

    These new features make it easier than ever to share information and engage with your business colleagues using Socialtext Signals.    We have customers using Signals for: questions and answers, sharing competitive intelligence, making company announcements, taking virtual rollcall and meeting minutes, brainstorming ideas, and more.   What are you using Signals for?

    Enterprise Microblogging For Fun and Profit

    “It’s cool, but is it work?”

    That was the question of the day last week when I visited one of Socialtext’s newer customers, Oxford University Press. We’re deploying to all 4,500 employees, and they’re a wonderful client: intelligent, committed, and keenly aware of both the threats and the opportunities that social media present to the publishing industry. I went to OUP’s New York office to lead a Lunch-and-Learn to help OUP staff understand how Socialtext can fit into–and improve–the way they work.

    When I started talking about Socialtext’s microblogging capability, one of the participants interrupted to ask: “When I microblog on Socialtext…am I working or not?”

    It’s the elephant in the room–not just for enterprise microblogging, but for enterprise social media in general. There’s lots of buzz about Twitter-like tools inside the enterprise. There’s also a lot of skepticism about that buzz.

    The answer, of course, depends on what you’re microblogging and with whom. Like other social media, Socialtext is a vehicle for communication and interaction. So the question “When I microblog, am I working or not?” is a little bit like asking “When I talk on the phone, am I working or not?”. It all depends on what you’re saying, and to whom.

    I find that most of my clients get started by microblogging about, well, microblogging itself. The medium is the message. But as a user becomes more comfortable, the message becomes, well, the message. It’s not unusual to see a progression like this as a new user finds her way into microblogging:

    “Is this thing on?”
    “We’ll use microblogging to share information.”
    “Wow, I’m microblogging. Cool!”
    “There are oatmeal cookies in the 10th floor kitchen. Come and get ‘em!”
    “Does anyone have an electronic version of the slides from last week’s Sales kickoff?”

    There’s a natural progression implicit in that series of posts, from testing to socializing to getting work done. Some users complete the progression, others do not. A couple weeks after launch, it’s not uncommon to see a separation between members of an organization who lead the way, and their colleagues who form the rest of the pack. Sometimes there’s a decrease in the volume of activity, accompanied by a marked increase in quality. By quality I mean that

    • Posts are related to work; and
    • It’s clear that someone (the author and/or audience) could get value from the posts; and
    • They’re not the kind of thing that could be just as effectively communicated via email.

    Here’s a little test you can run. If you have a microblogging platform, search for the term “anyone”. You’ll find that it usually shows up in cases of exception-handling. These are cases which fall somewhere outside the organization’s standard resources and processes. Almost by definition they are relatively uncommon, but they can suck up an enormous amount of time because the organization isn’t set up to deal with them. A post with the word “Anyone” in it is usually asking for information or help, in an attempt to address one of these exceptional needs.

    Oxford University Press let us have a peek at their data, and here are some of the results we got when we searched on “anyone” (reprinted with OUP’s permission):

    “Does anyone speak Turkish and would be willing to review a translation for us?”
    “Has anyone here in the UK got a copy of last Saturday’s Telegraph magazine?”
    “Does anyone know when (Publication) official launch date is?
    “Does anyone here work on (Journal Title). Stock has mysteriously arrived in the journals distribution centre”
    “It’s time to learn more about web usability. Can anyone recommend any training courses, books, or websites/blogs?”

    That certainly looks like work to me.

    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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