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    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    Intranets may have had their day, but too many become information graveyards containing out-of-date, poorly organized documents and other resources.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 They had an outdated intranet and knew it was time to replace it with a social collaborative platform for four compelling reasons: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.

    spocktwitter

    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!

    Finding People – My profile is just an opening bid

    Well-written use cases presented by prospective customers is a fantastic sign that a new technology space is becoming less immature – and this is definitely happening in the Enterprise 2.0 market. I’m excited by the scenarios that our prospects are presenting to us. They have well-defined business problems that they want to utilize social software to address. It’s a great step forward from the generic “we want to get social inside our company” we heard a couple years ago.

    The ability to assemble teams around a new business challenge is a use-case that has flourished the past year. Whether it’s a pitch team for an advertising RFP, a launch team for a new product introduction, a cross-functional team investigating new market opportunities, or a consulting team for a new client – all of these scenarios share some core, common questions:

    • “Who has worked with this client or customer before?”
    • “Who knows their industry issues?”
    • “Who has expertise and experience in specific technical skill XYZ?”
    • “Who is a well-regarded thought leader in issue XYZ?”

    And so on.

    Most people presume that using enterprise social networking to assemble teams inside a company would be based on a LinkedIn or Facebook type of model, but we don’t find that practical.

    Let me explain why.

    Facebook and LinkedIn are symmetric networks based on mutual “friending.” Symmetry in those social networks works because it strengthens intimacy and increases confidence to share. But because corporate social networks need to be transparent, you can see everyone that a colleague friends anyway, making this model less useful. It can cause corporate networks to devolve into what I call the “VP Trading Card collection game.” (See my post, Will you be my friend – yes or no?). In other words, you friend people for reasons of status; not because they’re the right people to help you get your work done and serve customers.

    More importantly, most people logically assume that the way to make sure you can find people with the right attributes (answers to the above questions) is to ensure that their profiles are rich and thoroughly populated. Unfortunately, this relies on people filling out dozens of profile fields, most of which they might not update after their first day on the job. Consequently, what I do and what you say about me trumps what I say about myself.

    Socialtext People, our profile capability, takes a different approach for some important philosophical and strategic reasons.

    • What I say about myself (my profile) is really just an “opening bid.”
    • What others say about me (Tags on my profile and how my colleagues interact with me in the Activity Stream) is much more interesting
    • What I DO (my activity stream generated by my in-the-flow-of-work actions) is the MOST relevant set of information about me – what I do, what I say, who I work with, and on which topics

    Vote with my attention, not my politics

    Moreover, we’ve adopted an ASYMMETRIC social networking model (ie Twitter’s “follow” instead of Facebook’s “friend” model) – anyone can follow me, and I don’t need to “approve” them. And I can follow anyone. This leads to a much more scalable network for the transmission of signals with much less noise (See Tim O’Reilly’s excellent post Goodreads vs. Twitter: The Benefits of Asymmetric Follow). It also avoids funky unintended political behavior (see my post A different kind of social capital at work – Attention especially for a humor interlude from Geek ‘n Poke).

    For example, if a VP of marketing limits his or her network to other VPs and senior directors, that person might miss out on some valuable information or knowledge held by someone lower in the organizational hierarchy. So if that marketing VP was working on, say, a strategy to reach new markets in Asia, they may want to start following someone in business development or the new sales rep based in China. These other colleagues may not be as “powerful” as the Marketing VP, but their updates may be far more relevant to what that VP is working on.

    It’s these kinds of connections that can lead to the elimination of silos and true business transformation inside a company.

    Case Study: In Disrupted Media Industry, Meredith Drives Profitability with Enterprise Social Software

    If you follow the media industry, you know how much it has struggled to adapt its business model to the Web. But what’s not written about as frequently is how some media and publishing companies are using social software — one of the very technologies that disrupted the industry — to pursue new business opportunities and grow revenue.

    That’s been the case at Meredith Corporation (here is our full case study we published today). Meredith counts 23 subscription-based publications in its portfolio, including Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal. With its various properties, Meredith serves a readership of nearly 75 million women.

    Meredith has been using Socialtext to manage subscriber campaigns, respond to market changes, and ultimately drive profitability in its circulation. Meredith utilizes Socialtext Signals for microblogging to share and discuss new ideas, SocialCalc (a social spreadsheet) to manage subscriber campaign reports and online workspaces to collaborate more deeply on strategic marketing projects.

    At Socialtext, we focus very heavily on the business value that social tools can generate for companies internally. As someone who cheerleads for media companies who work hard to adapt to market changes (I used to work for one), I was encouraged by Meredith’s strong results during the course of my research.

    “Since Meredith began using Socialtext in the fall of 2008, its subscriber numbers bettered an industry that was in decline. According to the most recent State of the News Media report, the magazine industry’s paid subscriptions, which make up nearly 90 percent of magazines sold, declined 1.12 percent overall. Meredith, meanwhile, in the second quarter of fiscal 2010, increased its circulation revenue by nearly half a million dollars from the same period a year before.
    In a disrupted industry where flat revenue or even light losses are viewed as an accomplishment, the increase wasn’t lost on Meredith’s investors when the company reported its financial results. In fact, the company reported that the “revenues, profit and related margin in Meredith’s circulation activities (that) increased in the second quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to the prior year (were) driven in part by efficiencies in subscription operations.”

    Socialtext Enjoys Record 2009 Performance

    Momentum fueled by doubling of user base, record quarter-over-quarter bookings growth.

    PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ — Socialtext enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2009, setting its highest quarter-over-quarter bookings growth in the company’s history. Businesses are turning to Socialtext’s social software platform to gain higher levels of employee engagement, commitment and performance not achievable in the past. As the leading enterprise social software company moves into 2010, it expects continued growth in new bookings and renewals, and another record year in overall bookings and revenue.

    “In 2009, there was a collective awakening about the value of greatly improved knowledge flows among a company’s greatest asset, its people,” says Eugene Lee, Socialtext’s CEO. “In 2010, social software will become a staple for enterprises looking to improve the way their employees communicate and get work done.”

    Large and midsized enterprises across many industries — including media, health care, manufacturing, and technology — have deployed Socialtext so their employees can collaborate more easily and tap each other’s expertise, enabling them to stay connected, aligned and informed. With greatly improved knowledge flow and teamwork, these companies can now respond faster to changing market conditions and new revenue opportunities. In doing so, they better meet the needs of their customers.

    “Socialtext got all my smart people pulling in the same direction.”
    Don Smith, Vice President of Customer Service, OSIsoft

    “People call it the single most useful tool that Davies has introduced to staff, period.”
    Brandon Edwards, President & COO, Davies

    To meet customer demand for its enterprise social software platform, Socialtext is expanding, hiring across multiple departments in 2010. While Socialtext is looking forward to the coming year, highlights from 2009 include:

    • From Q1 to Q4, the company grew bookings by more than 200 percent.
    • The company grew its customer base to 6,500, while active users doubled.
    • Each quarter, the company beat its record for renewal bookings.
    • Bookings growth from customer expansions nearly tripled, in large part due to organic adoption of Socialtext’s fully integrated social software platform inside companies.
    • “Once people saw what they could do with Socialtext, each business unit started their own social software revolution.”
      Steve Brewer, Customer Connection Mgr. & Systems Integration,
      FONA International

    • Socialtext released its Microblogging appliance, allowing companies to deploy secure, private microblogging enterprise-wide very quickly, and then expand into other uses of the Socialtext social software platform later, such as deploying a social intranet, a social corporate directory, and letting the activity streams and other automated mechanisms do the work of keeping the organization informed.
    • “With microblogging from Socialtext, people understand each other more, and they know what others are doing. This lets us respond more quickly to new opportunities.”
      Tim Eby, General Manager, St. Louis Public Radio.

    • Socialtext shipped SocialCalc, the first and only social spreadsheet integrated with a social software platform, developed with VisiCalc creator Dan Bricklin. SocialCalc has allowed companies to stay in touch with the state of the business.
    • “With SocialCalc, I can go in at one point in the day and see what’s going on in all our active campaigns right now. It helps us distribute information and knowledge faster, so we can react more quickly.”
      Dave Ball, Vice President of Consumer Marketing, Meredith Corporation.

    • Socialtext Desktop allows people to access the Socialtext platform via a fast Adobe AIR app, providing a real-time experience for Activity Streams and Signals.
    • The new Socialtext Mobile brought the enterprise social software platform to employees on-the-go.
    • The company’s new service partners program complements their in-house professional services organization and ensures customers get the fastest adoption and path to strategic business results.
    • The company launched a “freemium” package that allows companies to get up and running with secure microblogging in minutes, providing a replacement for microblogging networks that have cropped up organically among employees, and that are neither secure or IT-friendly.

    About Socialtext:

    As the enterprise social software leader, Socialtext applies Web 2.0 technologies such as microblogging, social networking and wikis to the critical challenges facing large and mid-market businesses. Socialtext’s enterprise social software platform allows employees to share expertise, speed workflows and get their jobs done faster. Socialtext provides hosted and appliance-based solutions to more than 6,500 customers world-wide, including EgonZehnder, Epitaph Records, Mayo Clinic, McGraw-Hill, OSIsoft, Symantec and The Washington Post. Learn more about Socialtext at www.socialtext.com.

    SOURCE Socialtext

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    ROI of Social Networking for TransUnion

    Internet Evolution interviewed TransUnion CTO John Parkinson about the ROI of Social Networking. It is relatively early in their use of Socialtext, but they are already achieving significant success. Here is the sidebar article, quoted in full:

    Transunion Finds Cost Savings, Seeks More

    Can’t put an ROI on social networking? TransUnion CTO John Parkinson has his: an estimated $2.5 million in savings in less than five months while spending about $50,000 on a social networking platform. The savings comes from buying less stuff. TransUnion is one of the big three credit report companies, and it runs on a lot of custom software code. Instead of buying more gear to improve IT performance, employees are brainstorming ideas across larger groups on the company’s Socialtext platform. “The savings mostly come out of teams that would have historically said, ‘Buy me more hardware’ or ‘I need a new software tool’ or ‘I need more processing capacity,’ who figured out how to solve their problems without asking for any of those things,” says Parkinson.

    While the estimated ROI numbers look promising, Parkinson stresses that wasn’t why TransUnion got started with social networking. He thought it would meet a need for employees, and, just as importantly, “I wanted to defend against too much of this going on in public,” he says.

    TransUnion knew it was time to provide an internal social networking tool when people started asking for permission to set up an employee group inside Facebook. So the company did a quick survey. About 2,000 of its 2,700 employees were using some kind of public social networking tool. Since the company deals in credit reports, it wasn’t keen on employees gathering to talk shop on the public Web. So the IT team set up Socialtext inside the company firewall. Parkinson liked the features of the online network Ning but decided he needed the software on its own network for security.

    The Socialtext platform has profiles, a wiki capability, and instant messaging. Perhaps most powerfully, employees can use it to ask questions of a broad group. People can tune their settings to allow all questions or allow only those from certain groups or people. But all the questions and answers get written to the database. The platform lets people vote on answers they like. It also has tools to analyze which answers people are reading and using to solve problems, and how answers correlate to topics that are most valuable to the company.

    Here’s where this idea gets even more interesting. TransUnion is studying usage data to learn who’s best at solving business problems raised in the social network. With that, it’s experimenting with new job descriptions for a couple of them, so that handling these questions within the forum is a formal part of their role.

    “It was never very clear to us, looking in, who the authoritative sources were, who was good at solving problems,” Parkinson says. “Now we can see a lot of that because we’re starting to see patterns emerge, to see who’s following whom, who’s the good source of questions, who offers good answers. All those things that you sort of know by the grapevine, we now have data for.”

    TransUnion’s Socialtext platform co-exists with Microsoft SharePoint, which has some of the same wiki and networking tools. Parkinson draws the line this way: If an activity is part of a formal process, the collaboration should happen in SharePoint. In bringing on a new customer, for example, many formal steps are involved, and SharePoint has workflow tools that allow for collaboration while making sure the necessary hand-offs happen and the process is completed. “On the other hand, if I want to improve the process of bringing on a customer, I launch a discussion on Socialtext,” Parkinson says.

    Extrapolating on the company’s success so far, he hopes the platform can deliver $5 million to $8 million in total savings this year. The platform only went live in October, and company-wide in January. Will the momentum continue? Will people find uses that are less productive? Parkinson isn’t declaring victory yet, but he likes what he’s seen.

    – Chris Murphy (cjmurphy@techweb.com)

    What’s different about enterprise social software?

    When people talk about “enterprise social software”, they envision “Facebook for the enterprise” or “Twitter for the enterprise. But creating enterprise social software is a matter of adapting patterns from the public web, not copying identically.

    What is “Enterprise Social Networking”

    In the public web, social networking software has become embedded in people’s lives, as a way to stay in touch and to coordinate. Similar patterns will bolster collegial connections, expertise discovery, and collaboration. However, there are some significant differences between a social network on the web and a network behind the enterprise firewall.

    What is Friending?

    In a public web social network, the primary gesture is identifying others as “friends”. The graph of friends delineates the boundaries in which each individual shares information. Contact information is assumed to be private unless shared with a friend. But in a business social network, the lines of visibility are defined differently. In a plain-vanilla corporate directory, the assumption is that every employee has the right to see contact information for everyone else. You don’t need to mark “Dale” in marketing as a friend in order to see his phone number. More than that, what on earth is a “friend”? Will people simply go around “friending” high-ranking executives? Should I need to have to specifically mark my colleagues in the product group as “friends”? What does it mean if someone is not my “friend.” The gesture of explicit friending doesn’t have much value, and has plenty of potential annoyance and harm. In Socialtext, we use the “following” gesture common to Twitter and Friendfeed, and don’t support “friending.”

    Where does Profile data come from?

    In public web social software, people type in their contact information, alma mater, significant others, pets. In an organization, there is often already a repository of basic contact information in the corporate directory. HR and IT departments share responsiblity for keeping that information up to date. Therefore, a business social network needs to draw on corporate systems of record for basic contact information. Admins need to decide what information comes from the corporate directory, and what information users should add themselves.

    What are the Activities in an Activity Feed

    One of the features that’s most compelling about Facebook is the ability for people to see updates on their friends activities. Talia is dating / no longer dating / once again dating Jeremy. Bob just watched xyz movie. Scott is reading xyz book. This activity stream is compelling inside the firewall, for a different set of activities. People will be interested in updates on what their colleagues are working on, what documents they have edited, what key events have happened in enterprise systems. For example, “Shawn closed the support escalation ticket for Major Customer Q.” It would be nice, and foster adoption, to have some “small talk” applications that enable people to stay in touch regarding ordinary life. It can be highly valuable for the business to be able to be notified of important work-related updates. In social networks, the context of the activity feed is one’s social life. In an enterprise social network, the content is one’s work activities in enterprise systems, documents, and processes.

    What does an admin do?

    In private label social public social networks, administrators do things like configure the available features and the fields in a profile. In business social networks, administrators integrate the social network with existing directories and applications. They play a greater role in defining communities and creating social boundaries. In a consumer social network, the individual assumes that she has control over privacy and disclosure and there is controversy if those assumptions are violated by service providers. In a business social network, the administrator has more control. In some cases, this level of control is good and appropriate. Competing customers shouldn’t see each others information, and the activities of the M&A groups should be secret. An appropriate level of business confidentiality, like an appropriate level of personal confidentiality, increases sharing and honesty. In some cases, admins are familiar with applications deployed on a “need to know” basis, and want use these familiar practices to set up applications designed to gain value by increased sharing. There are gray areas that will need to be worked out in software design, effective practice, and cultural evolution. Next in the series: What’s different about enterprise Twitter

    Introducing Socialtext 3.0

    Today we released Socialtext 3.0 to our production hosted service. Socialtext 3.0 is a trio of enterprise social software applications built on a common platform:

    • Socialtext People – Putting social networking for work
    • Socialtext Dashboard – Personalized dashboards with work-centric social update feeds
    • Socialtext Workspace – Dramatic upgrade to the enterprise wiki for business people>

    There’s likely to be a lot of press and blogger coverage about Socialtext today, and a lot of it is likely to cover our announcement of another exciting product in the works – Socialtext Signals. Most folks are likely to call it “Twitter for the Enterprise” but we are thinking about it much more deeply – particularly how integrating it with People, Dashboard, and Workspace will help make it much more of a tool that blends with the flow of real work, and not just another cool social app. But more on Signals later.

    Socialtext 3.0 has been in the works for awhile, and is the result of lots of learning from our innovative customers, input from our insightful advisors, adaptation of major social software trends in the public Web 2.0 world, and good old-fashioned home grown innovation. But at all times we focus on making our products relevant and useful to business users, which builds on our years of experience delivering business value with enterprise wikis.

    Our team has put together a lot of materials to introduce you to these new products and capabilities – and how they work together. They’ll be posted on the main www.socialtext.com website on an ongoing basis – so check back to see what’s new.

    For our existing customers, we’re completely refreshing the Customer Exchange www.socialtext.net/exchange – where we’re adding lots of content to help orient you and your colleagues to the new user experience in Socialtext Workspace 3.0 with Socialtext Dashboard, as well as the benefits of blending these with Socialtext People .

    A different kind of social capital at work – Attention

    I love Geek and Poke and saw this recently: Geek and Poke - How to make money on Web 2.0 - Attention.jpgGeek and Poke

    I think the concept of attention is a key way to think differently about social networking inside the enterprise. As I already talked about in a previous blog post Will you be my friend yes or no? the explicit network ties between people who work for the same organization is nowhere near as useful or valuable as the implicit ones – it’s not “who knows whom” (and the vanity rolodexes that people put together) but rather “who knows what” and “who knows who knows what” that helps people leverage the company’s social network to personal and group productivity. This implict network is primarily based on who works with whom – independent (but not exclusive) of official org charts.

    In addition to “who works with whom”, we’re enabling a different type of social capital and connections to emerge – “who pays attention to whom”. Given that the most precious asset that we all have is time, work effectiveness is often a result of how well can can find the most efficient paths to information, knowledge, assistance, experience, and context. Socialtext People and Dashboard allow you to “follow” a colleague – which includes their work activity updates (not just status “tweets” but actual work – blog posts, wiki entries, people tagging, group/workspace membership changes, etc.). This is subtly but powerfully different from how patterns emerge in Twitter. People follow Twitterers because they find what they “tweet” about interesting or fun; Socialtext users follow colleagues because they find what they are working on useful, informative, and relevant.

    Back when I was hired into Cisco Systems (September 1997) I remember being overwhelmed by its size, scale, complexity, and pace. My wonderful boss (Howard Charney – one of the best executives I’ve ever had the privilege of working with) gave me some great onboarding assistance and told me that the best way to learn the business and the company and how to get things done was to first meet the right people. He set me up with about 5 different peer VP mentors from different parts of the company. I’ll never forget the advice I got from one of them about the huge amount of information and trying to figure out what’s relevant. He told me to just subscribe to all the same email lists he did, and then unsubscribe from the ones that weren’t useful or relevant to my part of the business. I did that – which was enormously helpful – but I also did the same with 2 of the key direct reports I was now managing who were obviously savvy and effective. This probably improved my onboarding by over 100% as “breathing their information smog” was a really focused way of figuring out which information firehose to drink from. I’ve used that technique at almost every new job since then (although with more modern tools; Ross Mayfield happily donated his ginormous RSS OPML file to me, for example). We think that “following” in Socialtext People will be even more useful, since you’ll get alert feeds based on “in the flow work” from your social network.

    So while the Geek and Poke carton is funny, I think the concept is sort of spot on if applied to the enterprise – following and paying attention to the right people can really make you more effective.

    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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