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  • Posts tagged ‘enterprise social software’

    Move Over Intranets: The Blue Man Group’s Collaborative Workspace is the Shiznet

    As a growing number of companies can attest, traditional intranets have become irrelevant. Some employees have started using external social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to set up workspace groups to share information, have group chats in real-time and ultimately get their work done in one location. They also turn to channels, such as YouTube to get information and expert guidance that is simple to find and even easier to consume.

    Intranets may have had their day, but too many become information graveyards containing out-of-date, poorly organized documents and other resources. Traditional portals are also not segmented by user, forcing employees to sort through materials that aren’t relevant to their jobs. And typical intranets may not allow for conversation strings, which forces timely exchanges to take place on other external channels. The final nail in the coffin is intranets that are not mobile-ready.

    Today’s social workspace should mirror the functionality, collaborative nature and ease-of-use of popular social media sites—organized, configurable to users’ needs and accessible 24/7 through any digital device. More importantly, collaborative hubs encourage greater employee engagement and strengthen your organization’s business goals and strategies.

    Discover how collaborative workspaces are superior to traditional intranets.One great example of a truly powerful collaborative workspace is BlueMan Group’s Shiznet social intranet. The Blue Man Group theatrical show has skyrocketed into a vibrant global brand with productions in 11 worldwide locations and experienced by more than 17 million people.  However, they knew there was a problem of collaborating with over 500 employees and 50 blue men. They had an outdated intranet and knew it was time to replace it with a social collaborative platform for four compelling reasons:

    1. Accelerate real-time innovation and knowledge sharing: Social collaboration platforms provide knowledge sharing capabilities so employees can obtain needed job skills and immediately adapt them to their everyday work. Leveraging collective knowledge also fosters innovation and bolsters employee engagement by unleashing the intelligence and creativity of internal teams. Blue Man Group’s Shiznet is the Creative Cauldron, a workspace that was developed specifically for “Blue Men” to collaborate on new show ideas and brainstorm on bringing ideas to life. The Creative Cauldron has served as a launch pad for new show ideas, stunts and creative content.
    2. Encourage informal learning: An effective social intranet allows employees to easily access informal learning tools in their moment of need. The Shiznet also acts as a central repository for the hundreds of videos, audio and digital assets that are regularly used and created by the Blue Man Group. From the latest production stills to commercials, anyone within the organization can easily locate, tag, access and share content within The Shiznet. This allows the company to centralize its creative assets into a single repository, streamlining the ability to save and distribute informal media assets.
    3. Digital Connection In today’s world, no technology is complete if it is not mobile-friendly – the same is true for a social Intranet. Organizations need to ensure that their enterprise collaboration workspace is accessible on devices, such as smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Through these technologies, employees can communicate and share resources 24/7, remaining connected and strengthening internal collaborative communities.
    4. Showcase and utilize your internal experts: While it is a good thing that employees are doing their own research, it can also be unfortunate when they learn tactics, skills and habits that run counter to organizational culture and strategy. Having a powerful enterprise social collaboration platform provides easy access to internal experts, who will put the right skills and knowledge at employees’ fingertips.

    If your company is looking to gain a competitive advantage, an updated social workspace is key. It leverages internal knowledge, ensures resources are in alignment with company culture and strategy, and keeps your employees engaged and loyal to your organization.

    New Years Resolution: Achieve Social Digital Workspace Greatness

    resolutions-catThe beginning of a new year is usually a time for reflection, as well as a time to think about creating positive change in ourselves and our professional careers. With a high sense of optimism we set our goals, determined we will meet them successfully. This is good – because we are enhancing ourselves – understanding that we can be better, we can do better and more importantly that we look to be challenged and to grow by learning to overcome obstacles and fears. It may be hard work, but in the end it’s extremely rewarding.

    Some of my 2014 goals are to lay-off chocolate (OK, that may be an unattainable goal, good thing I have a few), to work better with my team, provide more value in what I do and to learn  from knowledge experts both inside and outside of my organization on topics that are of interest to me, so that I can both be challenged and enriched in many different areas of my life.

    One thing my company understands is mobility and I mean that in the most decentralized manner. Many of us work remotely but we all have easy access to each other if it’s by phone, email or online  meetings, we are always connected. However, maybe the most important place we connect is in our digital work-space.

    The reason our digital work-space is the most preferred place for me to connect is that I am able to find personalized information and content that is directed to my team space. I can communicate in real-time with co-workers that I need to communicate with. I can find those outside of my team space that may have valuable information to share and not only can I locate the information easily, I can have it in different forms. This allows me to get my work done quicker and more accurately, which in turn helps the team to reach our goals more efficiently.

    So how can your organization achieve digital work-space greatness? Well, for starters you need to consider the following:

    • What information employees are going to access
    • How are they going to access information
    • Where they need to find content
    • Who they need to communicate with
    • What they are going to do with the information once they locate it

    Key Components of a Great Social Digital Workspace

    Be sure to think mobile Today’s employees are working and communicating using a multitude of digital devices. They should be able to use the corporate intranet across any one of their devices no matter if it’s a Smartphone, tablet or laptop. You need to enable your employees to have access to information; contacts, project status changes and the ability make updates from anywhere, at any time from any device.

    Offer social features Employees spend time in social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and by offering a social intranet you’re giving employees with tools they are already comfortable with and like to use. A collaborative work-space can enrich your employees’ experience. Co-workers can develop areas of interest, foster innovation and exchange knowledge. Plus, social tools allow for teams to follow and share team members without bombarding their email -less noise, who doesn’t like that!

    It’s about ME: So personalize it — don’t contribute to information overload.  Give employees the right information, at the time they need, it in the space they work in. Building profiles allows the platform to better understand what is relevant to the employee and personalizes their work-space so that the employee decides what areas and information are important for them to get their work done.

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    I hope you  take some time to reflect on how your digital work-space is working for you and your employees, and what you can do in 2014 to achieve social digital work-space greatness.

    Live long and have a prosperous New Year!

    Could Your Intranet Win an Ugly Sweater Contest?

    With the holidays in full swing I have been invited to a few of those ugly holiday sweater parties and I was on the quest to find one that will land me first prize. I even shelled out a few extra dollars for some holiday pants too, thinking if I have an over-the top, crazy, but complete ensemble I would surely smoke all of my competition. Wish me luck.

    I then started to think about how so many companies have an ugly intranet and if they did was it ugly enough to win an ugly intranet contest? Trust me I used to work at a company where it could turn into a week long quest to find any useful information. The intranet was so cumbersome and annoying that no one wanted to use it, EVER!

    I bet you are wondering what made it so ugly, here’s the nitty gritty:

    • The home page was a complete jumble of this and that, no structure – no rhyme or reason
    • It was a dumping ground of information overload, where you would have to dig to find exactly who or what you needed
    • There was no sense of content ownership either, there was content posted that was so outdated that it talked about releases that happened years prior
    • It wasn’t connected to other systems that I needed to use such as a CRM or learning tools
    • When I wanted to post something I had to submit it in an unsearchable document library that asked me to fill out all this metadata and key word mubo-jumbo that didn’t even make it easy to find it once it was posted
    • If it was that bad on a PC, I didn’t dare try to use it on my mobile device – why create angst for myself
    • Sadly I could not work or share information in groups with members of my teams – and all correspondence was done by email after email

    If the above bullets about how terrible my experience was sounds like your current intranet experience,  congratulations you just won the ugly intranet contest.  Let me tell you what you won. Don’t worry, it’s not a Chia Pet. Its  a gift from me to you that will help make your intranet sparkle this holiday season.

    What do you want this holiday season? I bet it’s a social intranet that:

    • Is accessible from anywhere – no matter what digital device you are using
    • Allows you to join and create groups that you can work and share information effortlessly
    • Personalizes your experience so that connections and communications are relevant
    • Your able to work in a space where you can connect to the tools you use every day to do your job
    • Has  resources available in one place that is easy to locate, share, update and download
    • Fosters innovation and share new ideas with employees
    • Can measure how employees use the social intranet and how their activity can lead to improved ROI

    Bottom line – no one wants a gift that they have to stand in line to return, better yet one they wouldn’t even want to re-gift. Why bother using an outdated, undesirable, non-performing intranet when you should be using a social intranet that nurtures connections to employees, directs workers to resources they need, creates a collaborative space into a super powerful communication hub, fosters learning across the entire organization, and strengthens both internal and external relationships.

    By implementing the right social intranet that they will enjoy using, you will give your employees a gift that keeps on giving!

    Happy Holidays!

    Is it time to rewrite the email handbook?

    Email has become quite the hot-button topic of late with companies proclaiming an end to their internal emails and a move to social platforms and why not?  Let’s be frank, email kind of sucks – we are bombarded by an average of 112 emails every day with 19% of that considered spam despite filters. It’s also a time drain, hard to keep track of, and often clogged. French IT company Atos Origin is on its way to banning email altogether. According to CEO, Thierry Breton, who has not sent an email in over three years, “We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives.

    While email is not likely to make its exit from the professional landscape anytime soon – there is a better way to wean your company away from this costly distraction.

    Enterprise social networks (ESNs) are on the rise as they can deliver an immediate solution for aligning stakeholders around activity streams with the familiarity of Twitter or Facebook.”

    —Brian Solis, Altimeter Group

    Although email is still very useful in some situations, an activity stream is simply better for most as it simplifies the communication process and creates transparency that can then open up new ideas. It is also a solution that delivers a social on-line experience that is familiar, easy to use (we love that!) and engaging to employees. Email messaging will start to dwindle and eventually become a thing of the past.

    An activity stream like Socialtext Signals can bring you out of the email doldrums and into an invigorating work experience. Think of a Signal as an email in the flow of work. With Signals, you share information in real time. Signals are similar to “status updates” with additional benefits where you can share information with everyone in the company, a group or directly to an individual. Instead of sifting through emails for information, if you or a co-worker need to retrieve that information, you can easily find it through a keyword search. Being copied and bcc’d is also a drag and cumbersome. But if that message were sent via Signals, you could tell instantly relevance to you and whether you need to react, without the pile up in your inbox. Doesn’t that feel better already?

    The power of Signals is that it also opens up an organization to endless possibilities.  For instance, when employees learn about products that are in the works in other departments, they now have the opportunity to add to the project or give feedback. If this information were sent via an email to a select few, someone with direct knowledge or expertise may never have the opportunity to contribute. With Signals, messaging is spread out laterally and not just from the top down. When new team members are brought in, everyone can say “hi” with a message or warm greeting. That action translates into a welcoming reward that enhances a company’s culture. These and other benefits of using a tool like Signals simplifies getting work done rather than detracting from it. With Signals you can watch your inbox decline and focus on what really matters.

    Here’s a new approach.  Let’s rewrite the email handbook and develop best practices for communications optimization and reducing the clutter in our dreaded inboxes. Here’s a start to outlining the 10 biggest complaints we hear about email and the benefits to using an activity stream such as Signals:

    Email vs Signals
    Unnecessary CCing, BCCing   Transparency, Only Read What You Need, More Time
    Time Consuming Message Sifting   Easy Search, Tagging, Filters
    Overuse Of Reply-To-All   Transparency and tagging ensures visibility across teams and relevant participation
    Information Locked Away In A Silos   Visibility across teams, Distributed Knowledge,
    Information Retrieval Issues   Easy Search, Tagging, Filters
    Limited Collaborative Process   Open Collaborative Process
    Content Duplication   No More Reinventing the Wheel
    Document Versioning Issues   Facility to online workspaces where versions are easily compared
    Lack Of Institutional Knowledge Sharing With The Right People   Easy Access To Information, Ability To Share Openly And Selectively
    Creative Ideas That Will Never See The Light Of Day   Creative Ideas That Are Shared

    Missing anything? Let us know what we left out and how activity streams and Signals are making your workplace flow in an effective and impactful way and of course re-writing the email handbook.

    Where Is Everybody? Moving Intranets from Static to Social

    Making corporate intranets social is the main theme of Socialtext 4.6, which we announced today. The focus originated from my favorite source of insight: Our customers. I love it when they hit you over the head with use cases that emerge inside their companies.

    Starting several months ago, we noticed an exciting pattern amidst many of newer customers: Their usage and adoption rates were accelerating on a curve previously unseen by us, or, frankly, most Enterprise 2.0 use cases for that matter.

    Interestingly, several of these customers didn’t have grandiose plans of transforming their intranet. They merely sought to leverage social software to solve specific pain points their businesses faced. They were engaging in what our VP of customer success, Michael Idinopulos, would refer to as “In the flow of work” collaboration. They also wanted to eliminate knowledge and information silos that hampered business performance. In one case, the head of worldwide sales tasked about 200 people from his team, product marketing, and sales ops to improve training materials and product launches. In another case, we saw a broad, horizontal deployment to modernize knowledge sharing across disparate teams and functions.

    But after launching these focused deployments, word spread fast.

    Why?

    Other employees looked at their intranets and realized what it was missing: People.

    Pretty soon, employees outside the targeted usage groups at these companies started asking why they couldn’t have the same easy-to-use social applications in their intranet. Why did they have to tolerate the static, frustrating, and out-of-date intranet that was in place?

    We’ve seen two results from their requests. Some of our customers have actually replaced the front door to their intranet with Socialtext – particularly with Socialtext Dashboard as the starting point. Dashboard allows people to not only access tools within Socialtext to connect with colleagues and share content, but they can also access other systems, applications and sites across their company. Others, though it wasn’t their intention at the onset, scrapped their intranet entirely and moved to Socialtext. These customers have transformed the look and feel of their intranet by injecting social patterns into it. Employees can share via microblogging, self-publish through blogs, collaborate on wikis, and form groups across organizational boundaries.

    Meanwhile, my team also noticed a trend in the language used by our sales prospects. They began hearing phrases like “Our intranet stinks” or “No one can find anything in our intranet.” Just yesterday, I talked with the CIO of a large company who said, “We call our intranet ‘The Junk Drawer.’” Last month, we did a webinar called “Your Social Intranet – The Place Where Work Gets Done.” During the event, we ran a fun contest to see who could propose the funniest David Letterman-style “Top 10 ways you know your Intranet needs updating.” The visceral and sarcastic nature of the submissions we received speaks volumes about people’s frustration with current intranets. (More on that in future posts.)

    So the new features that we’ve rolled up into Socialtext 4.6 are really the result of focusing our development and innovation through this lens – helping make your intranet more social. We’re doing as much as we can to make PEOPLE be a first-class object in your intranet. As a result, we can make the intranet be a place where people go to get work done together — not just a place to try to find information, documents, and application links.

    Elsevier Embraces Social Software to Compete in New Markets

    For businesses in any industry, entering a new market creates both new opportunities and challenges. It requires tight coordination and communication across organizational silos — from product development, to sales & marketing on the front lines.

    So when Elsevier, a leading publisher of scientific and technical journals, went to launch a new service aimed at academic institutions, they turned to Socialtext to keep their teams coordinated across different departments. And today, I’m happy to announce that we’ve published a full case study on Elsevier’s experiences.

    With social software, Elsevier has improved the quality of information sales people take to customers, increased the speed with which they can gather and analyze competitive intelligence, and decreased the time to implement product feedback from customers.

    “With Socialtext, we can keep everyone in synch and informed of critical changes in the market that their colleagues encounter when meeting with customers. Because Socialtext is flexible and easy to use, they can work with their colleagues on crafting the material and insight they need to win in this new market.”–  Yukun Harsono, Vice President, Product Marketing

    We’re really excited about this case study because it highlights a pain point that we think is pretty pervasive throughout many industries (like publishing): How do companies create opportunities in periods of intense change? We think social software lets employees take change and turn it to their company’s advantage, and we’re proud of Elsevier’s success.

    Socialtext 4.5 Unveiled at Enterprise 2.0 Conference

    Yesterday was a big day for Socialtext and our customers, as we released Socialtext 4.5 at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Socialtext 4.5 builds on our goal of removing knowledge silos inside companies that stifle cross-departmental and enterprise-wide collaboration. As I write this post, my fellow Socialtexters are setting up our booth and hitting the conference sessions to talk with business and IT leaders about how they can get the most business value from social software.

    First a little context on the news yesterday. Socialtext proudly operates as a software as a service company. We also run on an innovative, agile development cycle. That means we make improvements to our software every few weeks. Consequently, 4.5 highlighted many of the major features that our dev team has been hard at work on the past couple quarters. Like all our releases, our devs and product team do a great job of listening closely to our customers to put together features and improvements that help them accelerate their company’s business performance with social software.

    With 4.5, we announced the addition of Socialtext Explore, a new feature that allows employees to find and discover not just links, but all the microblogging messages, pages, posts, pictures, and files they share with each other at work. We also announced a pre-built connector to Salesforce.com, which enables Socialtext customers to choose actions of virtually any type that happen in Salesforce.com, and automatically inject them as events into Socialtext’s activity stream. The connector was built on Socialtext Connect, our integration offering that allows you to integrate traditional enterprise systems with social software. Connect enables customers to build their own connectors to systems of all shapes and sizes. The Salesforce.com connector follows the launch of SharePoint Connector for Socialtext Connect earlier this year.

    We were excited to see extensive coverage on Socialtext 4.5 from great media outlets like TechCrunch, CIO, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb and many others, and I encourage you to take a glance (the deeplinks lead to the article for those respective publications).

    Also yesterday, our president and co-founder, Ross Mayfield, co-hosted the Enterprise 2.0 Bar Camp with industry luminary Susan Scrupski of the 2.0 Adoption Council. By nature, BarCamp is designed as an “unconference,” where attendees literally create their own sessions based on topics of interest. One cool thing about BarCamp this year is that it falls a little after the fifth anniversary of the first BarCamp, which was held at Socialtext Headquarters in Palo Alto.

    Ross led a session about “bringing enterprise 1.0 to enterprise 2.0,” in which we had some spirited conversation with attendees about how to align social software with existing business processes. Ross highlighted what has long been a passion for him and guided much of his thought leadership in pioneering the Enterprise 2.0 space: How social software can help exceptions to business process. This topic relates to a webinar we had recently, in which the Deloitte Center for the Edge discussed how OSIsoft (a Socialtext customer) improved its customer resolution time by 22 percent. We also recently highlighted how an accounting firm, Hayes Knight, utilized Socialtext Connect to tie its CRM system into a central activity stream. In that case, accountants cut the time in which they served customers in half.

    We’re looking forward to watching our customer, Larry Housel of Industrial Mold & Machine, talk tomorrow about how large enterprises can learn from his company’s use of social software. On Thursday, Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee will discuss the state of microblogging in the enterprise, while Adina Levin, our co-founder and VP of products, will talk about using open web standards to help integrate social software with other key applications across the enterprise.

    /cgl

    Social Software Adoption: When Good Companies Do Bad Things

    Why do good companies do bad things to social software adoption?

    In my previous post, I listed 6 things that companies can do to stimulate adoption of enterprise social software.

    • Make it your Intranet
    • Make it the primary destination for must-have information
    • Integrate with your company directory and, ideally, Single Sign-On (SSO)
    • Integrate with enterprise sear
    • Integrate with existing enterprise applications
    • Launch to your whole company (i.e., skip the pilot)

    This advice ain’t exactly rocket science. And yet, few companies do them–even companies that are working very, very hard to stimulate social software adoption. Why is that?

    One thing I learned as a McKinsey consultant is that organizational dysfunction is most frequently what causes good companies do bad things. So in order to understand why companies aren’t doing the most basic things to stimulate social software adoption, I went looking for an organizational explanation.

    I didn’t have to look very far. I have met the enemy and, once again, he is us.

    Looking across  identified three fundamental organizational failures that explain why companies are sabotaging their own efforts to roll out social software.

    1) Technology under-investment. Many companies got into enterprise social software with cheap or free wikis, blogs, or other social software thingies that were thin on functionality, integration capabilities, and administrative tools. “This isn’t about the technology,” people told themselves, “it’s about organizational behavior.” That’s true…but only up to a point. If you’re rolling out to more than a hundred people, you need technology that can stand up to the needs of your organization. I don’t mean just the “social” needs of the organization, but the business, administrative, and usability needs as well. That includes a comprehensive feature set like blogs, wikis, microblogging, corporate directories, groups, and social networking. It also includes back-end stuff like Directory and Single Sign-On integration, data security, technical scalability, and reporting metrics. Isolated point solutions without deep integration capabilities may be cool and fun to launch, but they won’t take you far.

    2) IT-Business Misalignment. With the trend towards Software as a Service (SaaS) and hosted solutions, many line executives think they can do this “without IT”. I’ve even seen examples where an individual department or business unit launched a “secret” social software project that they kept hidden from IT. That may help “the business” get up and running quickly, but it’s a sure path to adoption failure. You can’t integrate with LDAP, make social software your Intranet, integrate with enterprise apps, or integrate with search without bringing IT to the table. Try to hide social software from IT, and you’ll end up hiding it from your end users, too–no matter how hard you try to promote it on the down-low. Even if IT isn’t driving the effort–even if IT isn’t managing the service–they still need to be at the table, and committed to the project’s success.

    3) Innovation Marginalization. Because social software is innovative, companies sometimes think and talk about it in ways which marginalize it as a mere experiment. “This is a cool, crazy experiment. We’re just going to put it out there and see what happens. In a few months we’ll decide what to do with it.” This messaging appeals to innovators and early adopters, but it turns off everyone else. Why should they invest time learning a system that might not stick around? Why should they build content and processes around something that could be gone next quarter? When you position social software as a core part of your company’s technology capabilities, that’s when your colleagues in the mainstream will pay attention and start to use it.

    Taken as a group these organizational factors explain why companies set themselves up for social software failure. Are you having trouble achieving social software adoption? If so, take a page from Pogo‘s book. Look hard look in the mirror. Which of these organizational failures apply to you and your company? What can you do to address them?

    Socialtext CEO Eugene Lee to Speak at E-Summit for International Association of Software Architects (IASA) Today

    As enterprises integrate their traditional enterprise systems with social software, we have spent a lot of time thinking about how this should be done from an architectural perspective. So today, we’re thrilled that our CEO, Eugene Lee, will be speaking at the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) e-summit, sponsored by our friends at Cisco. His talk will take place at 11:30 a.m. eastern time (register here).

    Back in June, we launched Socialtext Connect, an offering that utilizes open web standards behind the firewall to integrate traditional systems of record (such as CRM, ERP and document management) with social software. Connect builds what we call a “social layer” in the enterprise that enables employees to see the critical events happening across their company from both colleagues and the systems they work from, and then easily collaborate and take action on those events with flexible social software tools.

    As Eugene’s talk will illustrate, we want to eliminate information silos that prevent employees from serving customers efficiently, responding to change, and accelerating their company’s overall business performance.

    We hope to see as many of you as possible. If you can’t make it, please check out our whitepaper on ReadWriteWeb that shows how technologies (like Socialtext Connect) that are built on a web-oriented architecture can make it easy for you to bridge your existing applications with your social software.

    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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