Happy New Year

So my first quarter in my new role was a lot of fun. So much so that I didn’t really blog or talk about it at all! Hopefully I will have the chance to talk more in 2011 – right now I’m off on holiday for a week…

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Travel plans…

Looks like I will be in Boston 4th-6th October, and Dusseldorf 11th-13th. Would be great to meet new customers / partners / colleagues that are around!

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Full Circle – Going back to IBM

After 2 fantastic years at Headshift, the IBM umbilical cord is pulling me back… From 1st October I’m going to be the sales lead for their Portal and Social product lines for North East Europe (which includes the UK and Ireland).

So – why the change? I believe the social platforms and traditional Portal markets are coming together, which is fascinating. Traditional Portal vendors are trying to become social, and the latest social software startups have realised the value of integration with traditional enterprise applications. I think IBM has a huge advantage in their mature Portal offering to bridge portal intranet and enterprise social software spaces. As my former colleague Lars Plougmann blogged recently:

“As the 2.0 platform becomes one of the primary interfaces people interact with, building connections to legacy enterprise applications provides a new lease of life for the investment in legacy architecture. Old style apps can be surfaced in the 2.0 platform as frames in a dashboard.”

IBM has been doing this for years, and an offering which combines over ten years experience of enterprise application integration with a social software platform based on over fifteen years of doing internal social collaboration has amazing potential. It allows organisations to put social dynamics in the flow of everyday activities to improve existing workflows.

I’m really looking forward to starting on the 1st October, and working with colleagues old and new.

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Speaking at Lotusphere Comes To You UK

I was delighted to be asked by IBM to speak at their Lotusphere Comes To You conferences in London and Edinburgh on 13th and 15th April respectively.

I’ll be speaking on the adoption of social software, based on Headshift’s experience with Lotus Connections customers but also other platforms.

It’s a free event, so if you’re interested in anything Connections related I highly recommend you attend, and feel free to drop by and say hello!

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Knowledge management is about people

Have been meaning to comment on this for a while – Richard Dennison has a post on his excellent blog about BT’s Knowledge Management programme. He quotes three things that he would like to achieve:

  • expose in the network who people are and what they are interested in/working on/thinking about …
  • provide a way to search through the above and then offer a simple mechanism to connect like-minded people together in networks
  • automatically expose the activities of individuals to those in their networks through activity streams.

What struck me about this was that all three are fundamentally about finding people, not documents, records, Powerpoints, wiki pages, blog posts etc.

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Rolling out social tools within law firms

We had a guest author over on the Headshift site today – one of our clients Steve Perry blogging on how he rolled out social tools at a magic circle law firm

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Lotus Connections 2.5 install guide

Plan to (belatedly) update my Connections 2.5 install guide soon (before New Year). Was thinking that for single server install the 2.0 guide works pretty well for 2.5 so thinking of something different… Linux? Clustering? Different LDAPs?

If anyone has requests please comment below.

Update: I found that IBM now has a pretty good step by step guide on their wiki, so no point reinventing the wheel.

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Video on using social software

Good to see IBM finally getting into story based marketing! Actually, I wonder if the guy who wrote it is even in marketing?

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Business 2.0

typewriter-in-officeAs organisations become more transparent, more open, more prepared to share we are seeing more and more intellectual capital being given away “free”. There is the over-quoted example of Goldmine giving away its geological data, Sun Microsystems and IBM giving away software, and pharmaceutical companies collaborating openly on the human genome project.

These organisations haven’t suddenly found a corporate conscience, they are still aggressive, quarterly driven, often American companies with shareholders to answer to. This is part of a deliberate strategy to compete in the modern world. The idea is that if you give away something that your competitors see as core business, you destabilise the market, and make what you charge for more valuable.

Sun giving away Solaris, and IBM supporting Linux, destabilises Microsoft as it devalues and commoditises Microsoft’s core offering, whilst moving the differentiation toward hardware and services.

Open sourcing geological data moves the mining industry away from hoarding data to focusing on how you execute against that data, an area in which Goldmine believes it has a competitive advantage.

Pharmaceuticals can stop spending money on the leg-work of research, and compete instead on the execution of delivering quality products to market at affordable prices as quickly as possible but they are too busy playing www.666casino.com.

This trend, should it continue, is going to effect a profound change in the nature of the workplace and the type of people companies will look to employ. Organisations will differentiate and compete on adding intellectual capital above and beyond what is publicly available, rather than try to milk a trade secret or cash-cow such as the Coca-Cola recipe. This will require more and more “knowledge workers” – people who don’t follow an administrative business process to do their jobs but rely on their experiences, professionalism and networks to add value to their organisations – or, as recently described by Thomas A Stewart,  “someone who gets to decide what he does each morning..” (thanks to Jessica Twentyman for finding me the source!)

Organisations need to trust these professionals, they will not be in the office from 9-5 every day. These are exactly the sorts of people who thrive on their personal networks, they are the people who you go to when you need to know what’s going on. Social software brings the same level of productivity increases for these people as type-writers and then word processors did for a previous generation of workers. It takes their natural propensity to connect, to share, to add value and extends it in the same way the internet extends our access to information.

It won’t be enough to hire knowledge workers to survive and thrive in this recession. Organisations will have to change their business practices to take advantage of their abilities, and provide them with the tools to be effective. Word, Outlook and even Sharepoint won’t cut it. They will need custom built social platforms, or products such as Confluence, Jive, Socialtext and Lotus Connections.

This is not a technology driven change. These tools are a response to a new way of organising and operating companies, breaking free from 1950s management theory and production lines to treating people as individuals who get things done by independently and autonomously adding value through their networks. Organisations need to embrace the business change first, and look at the software second. Otherwise the competition will gain a significant competitive edge, whilst you’re worrying about the ROI of the investment in the latest “it’s like Facebook, but…” product.

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Openness, transparency and MP’s expenses


windowThe recent MPs expenses saga has shown an interesting case study in common sense vs business processes. When judged by whether or not their expense claims were against the rules or not, hardly any MPs have been found to have acted inappropriately. The public derision to this excuse shows that following the rules is not enough, there should have been enough common sense to know that these claims were wrong, and should not have been made, irrespective of whether they were in line with the rules.

Now it seems a new set of rules will be drawn up – however, this is unnecessary. All that needs to happen is to retain the one rule, that expenses should be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred to perform their duties – and publish all expense claims on-line. Knowing that the information is publicly available will motivate the MPs to claim only what is appropriate, irrespective of the rules.

Openness within organisations is a key factor in behaviour, it motivates people to make the right decisions, whether in terms of executive pay (as we are seeing in the publicly owned banks), company strategy or engaging in difficult conversations with the public (eg big oil).

Complex and convoluted formal business processes, as well as the expensive enterprise software required to “enforce” these processes may be required for regulatory reasons, but do not forget how simpler, social solutions (such as putting all MPs expenses on-line) can generate better results, at a fraction of the cost.

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