Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

How do you ‘sell’ social tools to the enterprise?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on January 18th, 2010 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

This blog post from Cecil Dijoux at Social Computing Journal  sets out some guidance on how to introduce the concept of social media tools into an organisation (in the Enterprise 2.0 sense). It references another post by Bertrand Duperrin that cautions against using 7 specific web 2.0 words with business managers.  Both authors posit that the words ‘conversation’ and ‘social’, among others, will very likely scare managers, creating visions of endless chats and online surfing.

Our suggestion: Use business language.

While we often lament the nature and extent of meetings, meetings are essentially conversations. But they’re not defined that way, because whether they are well run or not their primary purpose is to provide an outcome. We remarked in a previous post that you wouldn’t find ‘conversations’ as a line item on a project plan, even when they might be a necessary part of changing the culture or the context.  That’s because business works hard to define activities, and a conversation is an activity in search of an outcome.

So if I was still in line management and someone tried to sell me a tool on the basis that it would improve, encourage or facilitate internal conversations, I’d give them a look too.

We organise ourselves into social groups defined by interest, interaction and function. Business relies on people working together, talking together and making decisions together. We are social beings, and so at the purest level the word ‘social’ in ‘social media’ shouldn’t put us off.  But I suspect also that the word itself might have inhibited the leap into the enterprise. We use it colloquially (as in ‘my social life’), and it is seen in a highly visible form online in what are primarily friendship and connection sites like Facebook.

So facilitating or improving conversations is not the business outcome. That’s part of the benefit, but what’s needed is establishing exactly what conversations will do for the business. Will they facilitate decision making and so speed up time to market? Will they strengthen the corporate culture by communicating and embedding core values? Will they aid compliance through greater knowledge, gained from the ability to discuss and question? Will they help a business manage risk through improved transparency?

Put simply:

Collaboration tools → One output is conversation → Outcome=?

It seems to me that there is a whole lexicon not yet created around web 2.0 tools in the enterprise. We still talk in terms of social media marketing outcomes, externally to customers, when within the organisation it is about decision making, information management and culture.

The use of web 2.0 tools is a more complex transaction within an organisation. Perhaps this is because the relationships are more complex or multi-faceted. The tools themselves are so flexible that one size does often fit all, and are all the more meaningless because of it. You need to articulate the business case for business people, and to do that you need to speak business language and understand its outcomes.

Can you ‘control’ your brand online?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on January 13th, 2010 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

Imagine this.

You are the VP of marketing. Your new product line is a series of children’s t-shirts, with edgy and quite controversial slogans on the front. Soon after launch, an influential blogger and media personality slams the t-shirts. She charges that they are in extremely poor taste in a world struggling to cope with the early sexualisation of children and an increasing online problem with child pornography.

Almost immediately, the online news media picks up the story. The reports are quite factual but mention the blogger by name and in some instances link to her article. It doesn’t take long for the issue to become a trending topic on Twitter.

Or you are a fast food company. You create an ad for the Australian market, which shows a lone Aussie cricket fan, at the cricket (which is playing at the time in Australia), surrounded by exuberant West Indies fans barracking loudly for their team. After a comment about an uncomfortable situation, he hands out fast food to his fellow spectators to break the ice and settle things down.

The ad is one of a series where the main protagonist uses the same tactic with a number of other cricket attendees. While it is not released outside Australia, in no time it has been posted on You Tube (in breach of the company’s copyright btw), and is picked up by the US internet commentators. It is slammed as racist, perpetuating a stereotype, and the company withdraws it from broadcast.

These are real stories. There are many more organisations that have had similar experiences.

Social media gurus will tell you that if you don’t engage in response to these circumstances, then you risk losing control of your brand and/or your message.

The challenge for senior management in organisations today is that the concept of ‘control’, in relation to brand and message online, is a dramatically different beast than it used to be.  Once upon a time there was authorised content, put out by a company. We relied on the traditional news media to ferret out the stories and bring them to light. The timing was controlled by the channels used. Now anyone can raise the issues. While there is still legal protections in the case of defamation, opinion and factual experience can be freely shared by a great many more people.  

If you have described social media participation to your senior management as controlling your brand and message, then I’d suggest you might be in for a surprise.

I would offer that it comes in several parts:

  1. We should participate online to build our knowledge of and capability in social media.
  2. We must build our knowledge and capability of social media to enable us to act appropriately should there be an issue, or a reaction involving our organisation.
  3. Our branding and advertising must take account of the fact that the market or channel we are targeting is not the only one that will see it, participate in it, or comment on it.

It’s the new version of the old crisis management plan. Only now the speed with which it may happen will astound you.

Interaction is key for BPM and web 2.0

Posted in Business Process Consulting, Communicate / Collaborate, Practice Areas on December 11th, 2009 by Stephanie Chung – Be the first to comment

As a passionate practitioner of BPM and web 2.0, the question is whether both worlds can interact. It was good to see that a discussion has been started regarding “Will new social capabilities drive the next wave of BPM adoption or is social not a good fit for BPM?”

In my view, the social capabilities of web 2.0 are not the driver for BPM adoption. Rather, it is how they are implemented that makes them an enabler of BPM adoption. If we implement web 2.0 the right way, then it is a great fit for BPM!

I harp on about process understanding, not re-engineering, and a critical part of that is opening the doors of communication and honesty. For instance, what has been the impact to the people of a process change implemented? Via web 2.0 tools, you can easily gather the feedback on the fly. And how about the key concept of getting buy in from the people involved? Have the workshops and the face-to-face interviews to start with, and then enable further dialogue through blogs.

It comes down to our belief that it is not about the tool, it is about the behaviour. Business process at the end of the day is about finding out what someone’s behaviour is on a day to day basis in their work (what do they do and why do they do it). web services Successful Enterprise 2.0 is determining how to guide people’s behaviour to get the most out of the knowledge captured, and to nurture the collaborative nature of our interactions. So really it comes as no surprise that BPM and Web 2.0 can work as two peas in a pod!

A jury system that caters for the computer generation?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on October 22nd, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

When so many enthusiasts are tweeting, blogging, conferencing and opining on social media and social networking, we really like to see an article taking a very specific issue, reviewing the influence of new technology, and raising some important questions.

So it is with an article from TimesOnline about jury trials and new technology.

‘The jury system is threatened by the internet generation, who no longer get their information from listening to people speaking, the Lord Chief Justice warned yesterday.’

When I did my law degree, an examination at The College of Law was often a ‘viva’, or oral examination.  Add to that moot courts and you can see it was all about learning to order your thoughts, to get up on your feet and speak.

It presupposed that the audience for your brilliance – the judge, your opponents, and in some cases a jury – was used to or able to sit and listen. But as a UK Bar Council member noted, our propensity to sit and listen to sermons, or oratory, has declined over the years.

Not only is information online packaged differently (from bite sized chunks to huge amounts of core data), it comes in so many more forms, from so many more sources.

If we have a whole generation that is used to obtaining information from technology, what does that mean for jury trials? The article suggests that ‘Evidence might be presented on screens; jurors could be given screens to take away; they might then press buttons to obtain the information they wanted.’

And why not? If a new generation is used to sourcing, thinking, analysing and reviewing information in a different way, should we cling to the ‘old’ ways of doing things? Why can’t jurors access more ‘source’ material? Why should I listen to a spoken submission, when a well written paper or pre-recorded session allows me to listen/read at my own pace and return to it when I need clarification?

Perhaps what is confronting about this issue is the assumptions, and the culture, that sit beneath the current model. That’s true for any organisation contemplating social media and web 2.0 tools. But here we have the history of the jury trial, and the role of all the players in it.

As the Lord Chief Justice notes – ‘what we don’t want to have is what we sometimes do have — the acknowledgment of the crisis long after it’s in existence and then efforts to plaster over it.’ Hear hear. When licensing and copyright issues still create very real barriers for organisations in making information available online and retaining some control over it, it would be gratifying to see the profession start to address this issue now.

It’s a fundamental shift, in a complex environment, that has serious ramifications for us all if changes don’t serve us well. Legal practitioners need to be familiar with the technological changes and tools, and legal convention and rules need to be reviewed to see whether they can encompass new approaches.

The Federal Court recently saw live Twitter feeds from journalists following the iiNet case. While that is quite a step forward in transparency, there is a great deal more to do.

Channels and context in Web 2.0

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on October 1st, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

A couple of recent instances have reminded me of how much communication has changed. (And some will read this post and say ‘so tell me something I don’t know’.)

But they represent such a challenge, to some of the assumptions underpinning  the communication function in organisations, that I want to highlight them.

You can’t keep a message in just one ‘channel’

I have a very close involvement in children’s services, so follow any issues touching on the welfare of children closely. So when a recent radio stunt set a dangerous precedent regarding the welfare of a child, I rattled off a response to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

They rang me, and the first question they asked was ‘had I heard the broadcast’? I didn’t need to. The message, and the offending interview, was all over the web.

There’s a real issue here for regulatory authorities who monitor and have authority over particular channels. And a real issue for organisations that think they can still ‘control’ the message. If the topic is interesting enough, someone will take it, tweet it, link to it, bookmark it, discuss it and comment on it.

If you have a role in managing (note that I don’t say ‘controlling’) that message in any way, you need to be engaged in all those possible channels.

The new order has fewer contextual guides

Context in communication is provided by the format, the channel, and the relationship. We have had a myriad of well understood rules that sit around what we read each day. But new channels and user generated content change those rules.

On one of my Twitter accounts, I frequently link to interesting articles online. I will always add the shortened url to my first tweet. But after that, it there are several tweets, I am reluctant to give up 30 characters of my 140 to repeating the url. I’ll usually finish up by putting the url in again, sort of like a bookend.

I am assuming that my followers, knowing what I usually tweet about, will understand the ‘set’. A great number of them, with whom I actively communicate, will also know ‘my voice’. They’ll have a fair idea as to what is opinion, and what is reportage.

So the contextual guides are there for experienced players. Many of those contextual guides rely on the fact that it is a transaction, not a one way broadcast. If every single tweet has to stand alone, then I’ve lost the conversation. Or 140 characters is simply not enough.

There is still control in the new order, but it is of a different shape and hue now.

Social media for local government

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on September 11th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

Saw an interesting post from a UK social media practitioner, Simon Wakeman, on social media relations for local government. He defines what social media is, why public sector organisations would bother with it, and then the possible benefits.

He highlights the two way engagement that is the great leap for many organisations to make. I’d suggest that the additional challenge is the speed of the interaction. Larger enterprises, particularly those with high regulatory or public accountability structures, generally don’t move that fast. Communication is controlled for very valid reasons. Not the least of which is the time commitment and cost of resources dedicated to multiple conversations.

Taking on social media just because it is there is a bit like signing up for the gym because everyone else goes. Someone told you it was good for you and an essential part of a carefully balanced life, but you would really rather be doing something else, and quite frankly, you’re not convinced that the benefits are really there, or that you can’t get the benefits from doing something you enjoy more. It’s an effort to get to the gym because it is a complete change to your routine, and… you get the picture.

The questions are the same: why should I do this, what do I want out of it, how will I know it is worthwhile, will I enjoy it enough to continue?

And so the fundamental question for an organisation is: who do we need to engage with and why would we want to engage with them?

Over a decade ago we used question and answer forums on a corporate intranet, to take the temperature of the organisation in relation to some really thorny issues. We had the view that it was better to have the questions out in the open, and properly answered, than hurtling along the grapevine and potentially doing damage. I recall using the words to some senior executives more than once: ‘Don’t ask for questions unless you are really prepared to answer them.’

So a simple blueprint for an organisation eyeing off all the ‘promises’ of social media might be:

  1. Education: Understand the levels of engagement and interaction that social media provides,
  2. Assessment: Understand the engagement model you have with your customers/stakeholders etc, and the one you aspire to and why,
  3. Commitment: Understand where the benefits of increased engagement will come from, and what it will take from your organisation to commit to that.

Why are blogs and wikis useful knowledge sharing tools?

Posted in Communicate / Collaborate on September 7th, 2009 by Leanne Fry – Be the first to comment

The latest McKinsey Global Survey Results (June 2009) surveyed 1,700 executives globally about the value their organisations are gaining from using web 2.0.

The interesting thing about the report is that more executives are acknowledging that they are seeing measurable benefits (my emphasis). This is significant progress. Business people like measurable benefits. That’s the language and outcome that gets a hearing.

The benefits tracked are across various usages – internally in organisations, externally with customers and with business supplier and partners.

Externally, they benefit relationships – bringing the organisation closer to customers and suppliers and in some instances allowing them to innovate together. A number of companies reported lower communication and travel costs.

Some companies reported have been able to track revenue increases from improved customer interactions.  You may have read about the CBA mortgage approval where a blunt tweet from a potential customer hit the radar of the head of customer service. While the tool provides almost instant notification, the organisational will must be there to track the conversations, and act to respond to or resolve problems.

The most heavily used technologies are blogs, wikis and podcasts, and this preference goes across both organisations and consumers. That’s not surprising, for not only are those technologies incredibly easy to use, but it doesn’t take much to create a useful information asset in them. By that I mean that they take shape quickly provided the contribution is there. Tools like Yammer (the enterprise Twitter equivalent), which is essentially speedy information exchange, can sometimes be harder to embed.

A key point in relation to the use of the tools internally was that they needed to be tightly integrated into the workflows of employees. That sounds a bit self-evident, but too often we train people on how to use new tools, but not on why. The ‘why’ got asked and answered in the business case, and becomes a hulking great assumption from then on. Asking ‘why would I use this’, ‘in what circumstance would I use this’ and importantly ‘what can this replace’ are critical to take-up. The importance of this in a knowledge management context was highlighted in a CSC paper some years ago – The Fusion of Process and Knowledge Management.

We distilled these concepts into some KM guiding prnciples, but they easily relate to web 2.0 tools as well:

  • Make the use of the tools part of the way people work.
  • Embed the use of the tools in your key business processes.
  • Target business processes that deliver real benefits to teams: save time, cut costs, prevent errors, simplify activities.

The benefits to organisations were greater ability to share ideas, improved access to experts, and better employee satisfaction.

And that’s where wikis, blogs and podcasts have a great ROI. Every information asset in those toolsets (a blog post or a wiki entry) has a person’s name attached to it.  So depending on where you are using them, an organisation can create an expert register at the same time it is capturing knowledge and sharing information.