Social Software Pilots

pilotThe topic of social software pilots came up recently – I have long thought that whenever possible you need to get social in the hands of as many people as you can. Pilots of a platform like IBM Connections to a restricted set of people rarely works. This is for many reasons but mainly:

  • The more people who have access the greater the success. A social system with 2 people is less useful than with 10, which is less useful than 100 etc. You are looking for knowledge accidents so you need to increase the traffic in order to encourage ‘collisions’
  • Social is about systems of engagement – and removing barriers to collaboration and information flow. If you artificially limit who can connect with whom the platform will fail as you are undermining the entire premise of the system
  • Adoption of the system is not a valid metric of success. Number of posts/likes/comments etc. is a not a representation of the success. You need to look for outcomes (such as speed of getting new products to market, time to resolution on customer complaints, time to productivity for new hires) that actually impact the business. Do not confuse activity with results.
  • Social is the most successful when people who do not know each other interact. Pilots are usually deployed to a team where everyone knows everyone anyway
  • If it is a pilot I am unlikely to engage as if it is a pilot all the information I post will be lost when it ends
  • Probably the most important point… if I am on the pilot and want to share a file or an idea with four colleagues… two of which are on Connections and two are not… I will not email it to two people and post on Connections to the other two. I will email it to all four and bypass Connections. This will give a false impression of ‘lack of adoption’ whereas if everyone has access there is no need for me to stick to old ways of working.

Our most successful customers are the ones who identify business problems that social can solve, and then deploy social technologies to solve those issues, rather than piloting a system and seeing how it works out. What’s your experience?

Flickr credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/2760112757/in/photolist-5cUimZ-4ccCkJ-7TwwPT-9B6BaJ-cjFa1q-kjLcos-czoaMb-fMbrRY-dQshJL-dQshb1-dhtBVT-Bpjn5-a9rPzT-dCBa1m-5C17Bp-jb5Ui-8pooyx-8GkMC3-a6TkcB-5iJVtW-cuDJ83-dJCNtj-4ZrNve-dJCNto-hsWk8d-cGzA3Y-dqWhwW-fJGKKh-cuDHWG-6ktcyu-8XBYCV-avrzrB-fCNLUf-epCuy2-8qx3b9-9B8F2U-61x6Nn-bUNw1R-fUZqqa-99GR4w-cL9Pnh-4wYt5N-2Ybahh-a2qBnm-6m1mgd-8ZQ56m-4DmMf3-9id2ec-4dLmHn-4Dhw5x

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | Leave a comment

New role

Smarter WorkforceOver the past 18 months or so I’ve been running the sales integration of Kenexa into IBM Europe. It was an exceptionally interesting experience, and, whilst it dramatically reduced the amount of time I got to spend with customers it was hugely fulfilling in terms of bringing such a large SaaS based sales team into IBM and watching the evolution of our Smarter Workforce story into our Social Business strategy – something I think is truly differential. If you think about it, you provide a social business platform for your employees to allow them to be as effective as they possibly can be, but it’s only one of the levers you pull in order to have a better and more engaged workforce than your competitors. I have long been arguing that Social Business is a means, not an end, and with Kenexa we have the solution across recruiting, engagement and assessments alongside IBM Connections to empower your workforce to beat the competition. For example, here is a video showing our newest offering in this space, the IBM Kenexa Talent Suite fully integrating Talent Management and Social Business (powered by IBM Connections)

But – these roles come to an end. As of 1st April I have taken on my first UK role (previously I had been focused on Europe) leading the entire spectrum of IBM’s social offerings – social platforms like Connections available on-premises or as SaaS, our GBS consulting and IBM Interactive team that builds sites like Wimbledon, our web content management solutions, analytics, and of course Kenexa/Smarter Workforce.

It’s great to be able to work with the whole breadth of IBM Social Business offerings, as well as really focusing on our UK business.

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | Leave a comment

I must be getting old…


Over Christmas my 4 (and 3/4) year old niece started playing with my parents’ ten year old sound system (it’s not as bad as the picture… ;-) ). “I want it to play Moves Like Jagger”, she declared, and started pushing buttons, assuming that all the songs she would want to hear were stored on the machine.

She hit the CD eject button – “Why does it have a DVD player?”

She then hit the tape eject button – “What is that?!?”

Unfortunately my parents don’t have Moves Like Jagger, so she went back to unwrapping presents…

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | 2 Comments

UK Connections User Group Keynote – what should I say?

I was honoured to be asked to present at the first UK Connections User Group. I know first hand that there is a fantastic and passionate community around IBM Connections and am very happy to be supporting this event. I would encourage any Connections customers, or people thinking about Connections to attend. The Salvation Army have been generous enough to allow us to use their fantastic location in central London, and many thanks to Stuart McIntyre, Sharon Bellamy and Simon Vaughan who have been the driving force behind putting this together.

However, what would a Connections user group want from a keynote? I’d like to do something different from a usual social software presentation. You already see the value of social tools, you know the product, so what would you like me to cover in my 45 minutes?

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | 3 Comments

5 Myths of Social Software – Myth #5 Timewasting

It’s curious that I come across concerns about adoption and timewasting in equal measure. People seem equally worried that people won’t use social tools at all, or, they will use them too much. What if people spend all their time on social tools and not working?

One of the questions I ask people who say they don’t want or need a social collaboration system is to ask how their anti-social collaboration tools are working out for them. This idea that using social tools is ‘special’ or some kind of ‘treat’ misses the point. I don’t stop work, be social for a while, then come back and work again, more engaged since I had some fun during my break with social tools. I do my work using social tools. If my access to Connections at work is disrupted for whatever reason I cannot do my job. I live and work in Connections to get things done. I organise visits from our senior executives. I work on closing plans for our large deals with our sales reps. I collaborate on proposals. I find people who can help me with a problem (I’m lazy and selfish, any time I can get someone else to help me I go for it). I steal good slides from my colleagues’ presentations.

Rather than seeing social as somehow separate, we need to embed social working into our existing processes. What does it mean for HR’s talent identification processes? Or customer services? How can social tools help us speed up the innovation process? Can it transform that process by taking creative ideas from all employees, or even customers? Organisations like Threadless have completely reengineered their product development process, outsourcing the creative element to their customers. As my old Dachis Colleague Lars said the other day

“Show me a process and I’ll show you the social business ROI”

As well as using Connections as a destination point to work, we also push Connections functionality into our email clients, our intranet, and other applications. Many people end up using Connections at IBM without realising they are doing so – especially as Connections drives more and more of our intranet search results.

Seeing the use of social tools as timewasting only happens when they are not targeted at business problems. Remember, it’s Get Social, Do Business

Flickr Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpstyles/3091707912/


Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | 2 Comments

5 Myths of Social Software – Myth #4 Adoption

This myth I have the most fun with. People spend a lot of time worrying that people won’t use a social platform. A lot of the worry comes down to whether or not they will want to spend time sharing their knowledge and expertise in order to help other people. People are busy enough and don’t have time for yet another IT system. Some think of well intentioned but ultimately dangerous ways to encourage or promote sharing, setting targets of a number of blog posts or status updates per week – or putting levels of contribution into performance assessments.

This doesn’t work and is almost immediately gamed. I hope that statute of limitations has passed but when I was previously employed at IBM in 2001 we had targets (with a bonus payment) of posting 5 items to a teamroom in a quarter that got rated 7/10 or above by two colleagues. I got together with two other colleagues and funnily enough the three of us always made this target.

Rather than try to encourage people to share for the greater good we should instead accept that people are, in fact, lazy and selfish. If we expect people to use a social system we should only expect them to do so if there is a direct benefit to them. For example, I use social bookmarking within Connections so that I can find sites that are important to me, quickly. The fact it also helps other individuals is a happy accident to me. I use wikis when I am asked to coordinate complex customer responses between groups of 10-15 people because it eliminates a huge amount of work in terms of synthesising “reply-all” email chains, which I usually only have time to do out of office hours.

So I use social tools because I am lazy and selfish and don’t like working weekends.

I post questions using my status update because it draws the people most likely to help in, rather than requiring me to think about who the best person is to ask a question. It also happens to put the question into the public domain, so that a ‘knowledge accident’ might happen and it could help someone else next week, next month or next year, but that isn’t why I do it.

My motivation to use social tools comes from my own individual productivity. It just so happens that the software then shares any benefits with my social network and beyond. Many people within IBM share because they don’t want their time wasted by people coming up to them and asking for “that really useful document”. There is an individual within IBM who posted the video to “The Man Who Should Have Used Connections“. This has been downloaded over 16,000 times. That’s 16,000 times he hasn’t been asked to send it to someone.

Finally, “Adoption” is the one thing you shouldn’t worry about. How are you going to measure? Number of comments? Number of blog posts? What about the time someone accidentally finds a subject matter expert on your system and then communicates via the phone or face to face in the future? That would register as one hit in your server log but could have significant business outcomes. Instead, we should help people realise that using social software benefits them, saves them time, and measure business outcomes instead. How long does it take us now to bring a new product to market or respond to a sales enquiry? How effective were we at answering customer queries before and after we implemented social tools? This should be the true measure of success, rather than adoption targets.

Flickr credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/69902372

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | 4 Comments

5 Myths of Social Software – Myth #3 Crowds

As well as trying to find a Facebook for the enterprise and worrying about generational divides, another myth that seems far too common is that you need lots of people for social tools to be a success. This often comes from the misplaced view that corporate social tools have to be like Facebook, and Facebook only works given the billions of people who use it.

We have to remember that social tools in the enterprise are all about addressing existing business problems that can be addressed by social techniques. Going back to Chris Rasmussen’s diagram (I know, I do this a lot, but this is the diagram after every presentation or meeting people want to take back to their boss to help them “get it”) we show massive improvements in a process involving just four people.

I first started using these tools when I worked at Trovus, a startup at the time, and there were just three of us. Using Quickr to share documents delivered a significant improvement in productivity. By the way, the adoption (even among three people who talked to customers every day about social software) only really got going once we integrated Quickr into Outlook, prompting us to share files rather than send them whenever we tried to email an attachment to each other.

Placing social tools in the context of their existing workflows (like email) and targeting identified business problems (even if they initially involve small groups) is far more successful than trying to get large numbers of young people using Facebook-like tools for the sake of it.

Posted in Enterprise 2.0 | 2 Comments