Monday 31 March 2008

AIIM's new Enterprise 2.0 report explains why its a "squishy phenomenon"

I haven't seen a lot of discussion yet about the new AIIM report on the state of Enterprise 2.0 (free to download, but you must register) by Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen. Strangely, I only came across it due to a message sent to me via a SlideShare group. Perhaps like me, if you have already discovered this report, you are still working through all the graphs - and there are a lot of them!

Graphs and statistics aside, I did enjoy their discussion in the first chapter where they attempt to define Enterprise 2.0 - nice to see someone actually using Andrew McAfee's original work in this area as a starting point. As part of explaining their definition they share their email conversation with their advisory panel about their Enterprise 2.0 definition. Note my emphasis here, I enjoyed the conversation but like David Weinberger (on the panel) I'm not sure what benefits or improvements their definition brings... after all, Enterprise 2.0 is a "squishy phenomenon".

I'm also not entirely convinced about their second section that traces the evolution of Enterprise 2.0 technical functionality. Frappaolo and Keldsen attempt to map back a range of Enterprise 2.0 technologies to McAfee's SLATES model, but while I see what they are trying to do I found myself questioning the analysis at this level. I think in part this is because they broke down and assigned technologies to different stages (Enterprise 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0) without discussing how the evolution of Enterprise 2.0 technologies might relate as much to how the technologies are used as what they are. For example, Stewart Mader's recent online poll on how people are using wikis highlighted the many different use cases. On the other hand, and you would expect this from an AIIM report, the introduction of issues about findability, control/distribution and security into the Enterprise 2.0 conversation is useful.

With my current obsession with Enterprise RSS, some of the data and commentary in this space also caught my attention, particularly this point from the section covering business drivers:

"RSS, which is actually specified in XML, also is generally recognized as relevant to an Enterprise 2.0 strategy (65% indicated that it was somewhat related or critical to the strategy). If an organization is using this Enterprise 2.0 technology to provide content syndication, then it would “have to” actively incorporate the standard into its strategy. In fact this assertion is supported by Figure 2 in which 75% indicated that RSS its into their definition of an Enterprise 2.0 platform, and Figure 22, in which 51% indicated that they have already acquired RSS technology (with another 21% planning an acquisition).
Conversely, the fact that 70% of the surveyed individuals had no knowledge of the SLATES and FLATNESSES frameworks that govern an Enterprise 2.0 application speaks to the more tactical and less strategic approach to deployment, as discussed above. There is a need for more education and awareness-building in the market concerning fundamental principles and guidelines for Enterprise 2.0.

Later, looking at the state of the market they observe that:

"Deeper investigation into true adoption rates shows a recurring theme of the early days of adoption: a battle  between holistic/systemic use and ad hoc/tactical application of Enterprise 2.0 as a coherent system versus the use of the individual technological components."

If I understand what they are saying here, this gets back to my criticism above that we can't isolate technologies as being in or out of Enterprise 2.0. My take on this is that an immature approach to Enterprise 2.0 points to implementing specific Web 2.0 labelled technologies in isolation ("we've got a wiki"); a mature approach suggests one that considers Enterprise 2.0 as an ecosystem of complementary SLATES technologies. On a similar theme, Stephen Collins recently commented more broadly about Web 2.0 that captures the essence of this problem:

"Here’s what I’m seeing. Many sites out there are getting makeovers that have them looking like Web 2.0 sites, but they’re the same old thing under the skin - walled gardens pushing a message from the top down... Often, [Rich User Experience] is the only one discussed in depth by clients. They want a good looking, sexy site that draws in the customers. However, the remaining six [core attributes from Tim O’Reilly’s September 2005 Web 2.0 definition], adopted to one extent or another are really what makes an application or site fulfil the Web 2.0 promise. With visual treatment only, it’s just lipstick on a pig."

In this context, the authors also examine the issue of Enterprise 2.0 technology having low barriers of entry and conclude:

"As organizations take a more strategic and broader view to Enterprise 2.0, it is likely that they accept that while Enterprise 2.0 is low-barrier, it is not no-barrier.  Unlike the ad hoc deployment of a single user’s blog to broad-cast opinion across an intranet or the web at large, the orchestration of multiple point technologies in support of and as part of enterprise processes will likely always have some expense associated with it, albeit radically less than more traditional approaches to enterprise collaboration."

My take on this is that some organisations may get a nasty surprise when they try to expand their own experiments with Enterprise 2.0 technology to a wider organisational audience - and this is something I'm already seeing in practice.

As well looking at the technologies of Enterprise 2.0 the report provides some analysis of the survey data in respect to the Enterprise 2.0 business drivers and the impact of business culture, however I'm still reviewing the detail in those sections and will comment later if I read anything significant. The conclusions in the final chapter focus on three issues:

  • Technology (the need for a strategy);
  • Culture (as an impact); and
  • Security (a "double-edged sword").

Overall, I found this AIIM report provides some interesting data about the state of Enterprise 2.0 and the authors have clearly put a lot of effort into making sense of this wealth of information. However, if you are looking for guidance this report might provide you with some pointers but it isn't a roadmap (and after all, I do recognise that this is a market intelligence report) - on the strategy front in particular, I think further and a more in depth discussion about Enterprise 2.0 as a deliberate strategy is needed before you go off and do it. But I am glad that they identify and highlight the importance of understanding what Enterprise 2.0 is (probably the key take away from the report), but I'm left wanting to understand more about this "squishy phenomenon".

Have you read the report? I'd be interested to know what you think about it or my comments.

Saturday 29 March 2008

We're getting this Enterprise RSS party started...

  I'm picking up on a few mentions here and there about the Enterprise RSS Day of Action taking place on the 24th April - thanks to Martin "frogpond" Koser, Jeff Nolan, James Robertson, Steve Richards, Alex Manchester, Stu Downes (our logo designer) and Janet Johnson.

Incidentally, Martin also points to this excellent graphic by Fred Cavazza that he uses to explain Enterprise 2.0 - as you can see, RSS is everywhere:

I also noticed this comment from Anne Marie McEwan on Alex's post:

"I 'got' RSS immediately ( I certainly do not always see things so clearly) and agree with you that RSS is a potentially revolutionary social computing tool. In fact, I wrote a one page piece to give away as a freebie on my old website. I must dig it out. I shall be joining in the RSS Enterprise Day of Action on 24th April. Thanks!"

On Stu's post, Judy comments:

"‘Enterprise RSS Day’ - what a great idea. It’s timely for me - we are just beginning (stress beginning!) to generate interest in this in our firm. We’re part-way there, just waiting on desktop software to be downloaded to the trail group - maybe this will happen on Enterprise RSS Day! And Steve, I think the logo is great."

That's a great action for the Enterprise RSS Day of Action if your organisation is ready for it, start a pilot!

BTW Don't forget that other important day of action that is taking pace tonight, Earth Hour 2008.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Predictions for the future of collaborative working from IBM

Via the eightbar blog, this quote from Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, caught my interest because of the focus on metaverses linked with other trends in collaboration, such as unified communication:

"The Virtual Workplace will become the rule.  No need to leave the office.  Just bring it along.  Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities.  Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being their in-person.   Work models will be changed by expanded globalisation and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home... The definition of 'meetings' will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need.  3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment."

I think some careful interpretation of the word "Virtual Workplace" is needed (i.e. will we be sitting at home working inside a virtual world or rather the workplace will become even more virtualised), but there is no doubt how we collaborate and the options we have to collaborate are approaching an interesting step change. But lets not forget social capital while we are on this journey.

The rest of the post has some links to related articles from around the Web about what IBM is saying and doing in this space.

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Enterprise RSS Day of Action - 24th April

I've been asked to set a date for the Enterprise RSS Day of Action... and the date I've picked is Thursday 24th April. Put this date in your diary now!

This is a little bit of a stretch target, but fingers crossed now that we have a date in mind this will give us something to focus on. Remember, I'm still looking for help with adding content and ideas to the wiki. Meanwhile I've also had some conversations with the likes of Attensa and Newsgator who have all agreed to help spread the word - thanks! And remember, if you blog about the Enterprise RSS Day of Action, don't forget to spell this out in full or tag your post so the wiki news feed picks up on your post.

Monday 24 March 2008

How Enterprise RSS is like Feedburner inside the firewall

Sometimes its easier to describe something by explaining what it is like. It occurred to me that an Enterprise RSS system is a bit like having your own Feedburner running inside the firewall. Lets think about what Feedburner does for blogs:

  • Publicize - Create awareness for your feed, make it sing and dance
  • Optimize - Ensure your feed displays correctly, manage traffic spikes
  • Analyze - Track and monitor usage patterns, trends, etc.
  • Monetize - Kick your content off the couch and put it to work

Now, what does that mean inside the firewall? "Monetize" is probably less relevant, but the other features are something you want inside the firewall. End-users, who produce RSS content or own systems that automatically generate RSS, will value the ability to publicize and analyze their feeds, while IT departments will appreciate the benefits of optimization (and this will flow on to end-users too). For example, I've used Yahoo! Pipes in combination with Feedburner, where without Feedburner's caching of the feed the native output of the complex Pipe I built would time out.

Of course the one important thing Feedburner doesn't do is provide users with tools to actually consume feeds, but the marketplace for tools, software and services on the Web is a different world from enterprise computing network. An Enterprise RSS system on the other hand is likely to include a suite of clients that is designed to fit with other enterprise tools already in use - for example, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, Blackberry, etc.

In addition to the syndication services provided by Feedburner, an Enterprise RSS system is also likely to provide other enterprise-centric services such as secure feeds, protection from script-based malware and integration with enterprise authentications systems. Broadly speaking these enterprise specific features would still fit into Feedburner's benefits model, however we might get away with replacing "Monetize" with "Securetize". An Enterprise RSS system might also provide services that help end-users to create feeds from existing systems (i.e. RSS'ify them) or mashup feeds and data to create new feeds. In other words, a bit like Yahoo! Pipes... so my Feedburner inspired model for the benefits of Enterprise RSS becomes:

  • Mashuperize
  • Publicize
  • Optimize
  • Analyze
  • Securetize

BTW For more on what comprises an Enterprise RSS system, see the Enterprise RSS Solutions page on the Enterprise RSS Day of Action wiki.

Friday 21 March 2008

Adapting to the constraints of wireless broadband

I've just been provided with a wireless broadband card by my employer, which is great! However, I've suddenly become acutely aware of how much bandwidth I'm consuming using different Web-based applications and applications that tap into Web-based services. On a couple of occasions I had used a MB of data without really doing anything.

So far I've used over 50MB of the 500MB/month provided in the data plan and obviously I want to minimise excess usage if possible. Unfortunately the wireless broadband connection software only reports total incoming and outgoing data traffic, so I installed the freeware version of NetLimiter 2 to see if I could get a better idea of what was going on. As result I've made a couple of changes to the applications I'm using and will monitor the impact on my usage:

  • I've created a new connection profile in Lotus Notes so I could configure the mail client to only download the first 40K of each message - I've also stopped the automatic replication of the address book;
  • I'm going to start using the mobile version of Google Reader (I made the mistake of using the offline feature but then realised that unless I read every feed it downloads, then it was actually more wasteful) - however, for the longer term I'm also considering moving to a desktop RSS reader; and
  • I'll switch from Twhirl back to using Twitteroo when I'm connected on wireless broadband for Twitter.

Twhirl was a surprise, but the numbers appear to speak for themselves - Twitteroo used only 22KB to grab the list of recent tweets from my public Twitter profile (I have a private CSC profile too), while Twhirl consumed nearly 330KB for both profiles when it started. Twhirl is a lot more feature rich of course, but at the moment minimising bandwidth utilisation is more important.

(Hmm. I wonder how much this post used?)

Interviews with Ward Cunningham and Ross Mayfield

Links to a couple of interviews with leading lights in the world of wikis:

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Priceless: The Biggest (Email) Losser

I've been meaning to blog about Luis' experiment in living without email for a while now and switching to other social media tools. However, its worth reading how his efforts to lose some email kilos are progressing. You can follow his progress in a series of posts starting here and the latest here.

So far, Luis is seeing a downward trend:

"As you may have noticed, last week was a remarkable one! For the fifth time in a row the number of incoming e-mails has gone down again from the previous week, and this time around quite significantly, going from 39 to 35!! Yes, that’s 35 you are reading here!! That means an average of 7 e-mails a day vs. the 30 to 45 I used to get way before I got things going. Pretty impressive!!"

Poor understanding of Enterprise RSS by large vendors is "stunning"

I haven't had time to do much with the Enterprise RSS Day of Action so far this week, however I did notice Mike Gotta commenting:

"With only three enterprise-class vendors in this space (Attensa, KnowNow and NewsGator), I remain amazed at how poorly large vendors (e.g., IBM, Microsoft, Oracle) understand feed syndication and continue to treat it as an application decision. Stunning."

Its followed by an interesting comment from Microsoft's Lawrence Liu who says:

"We (the SharePoint team) understand feed syndication just fine... As for feed aggregation, management, and sharing, we were hoping that the Exchange team would build that, but they had other priorities. NewsGator has been and will continue to be an excellent partner for us in this area."

Friday 7 March 2008

Latest updates on the Enterprise RSS Day of Action wiki

I spent a little bit of time tonight starting to fill out some of the supporting pages in the Enterprise RSS DoA wiki, including the FAQ page and also the list of vendors. Still, we have a lot more work to do and one major to do on my list is to come up with some kind of presentation template that people can use - unfortunately, even SlideShare has limited content that focuses on "Enterprise RSS" specifically that I can use as a starting point (however, I've created a group to collect anything we find).

One contributor also pointed me to a vendor I hadn't heard of before, EasyByte, who have what looks like a basic system for creating and distributing internal news feeds (or "tickers") to different corporate groups.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Update on planning the Enterprise RSS Day of Action

I've already had some positive responses via Twitter and email to planning the Enterprise RSS Day of Action, with a tentative date for later in April (gives us a bit of stretch target to aim for, right?). In fact the Attensa team have already uploaded a presentation to the wiki!

So, come on - what are you waiting for, why not help to contribute some content?

Observations from the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum - collaboration, innovation and conversation

Finally, here are some of my observations from Ross Dawson's Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum

Firstly, while there was nothing particularly new in what I heard from Andrew McAfee and Euan Semple, it was great to hear them both speak face to face even if only by videoconference. However, I’m sure for many other people attending the forum this might have been the first time they have come across these thought leaders in the Enterprise 2.0 space – considering McAfee initially defined “Enterprise 2.0”, his ideas and the SLATES model are an important starting point. They also counter pointed the sponsor’s presentations, who quite frankly I felt struggled to really described Enterprise 2.0. A couple of Euan’s points I scribbled down were:

  • Its about bottom up change;
  • Ask for forgiveness, not permission;
  • Deal with the issue of regulating the use of social media tool, by using social media tools to discuss the issues (nice!); and
  • Managers have been operating under the false assumption – “you never had control!

I also enjoyed the local case studies, which is of course in part what the forum was all about:

  • Melbourne-based KM’er Andrew Mitchell talked about his experiences of using social media tools at Urbis – blogging didn’t work so well (this was all the experience of others) and they had more success with wikis. I also like Andrew’s idea that organisations need both lasting truths as well as point in time truths.
  • Victor Rodrigues from Cochlear talked about their slow, bottom up growth of social media that started about 2 ½ years ago and reached a tipping point about 8 months ago – lessons included the need for constant gardening, putting the right infrastructure in place, giving people access to the tools and the providing training and coaching (for both wikis and other tools). I would have liked to have spoken to Victor as I remember hearing that they had quite well implemented traditional collaboration suite, so I wonder what happened to that?
  • Nathan Wallace of the now well known Janssen-Cilag Wiki case study spoke about his experience and more recent initiatives, including experiments with using Twitter to publish awareness information on their wiki. The key take away from Nathan was that Janssen-Cilag aren’t using it so much as a classic anyone can edit wiki (although the functionality is there), but just a very easy to use intranet content management system (and there is nothing wrong with that).

Incidentally, just about everyone using wikis inside their organisations appeared to be using Confluence.

One of the other issues raised during the forum was the issue of time wasting. The consensus appeared to be that some people will always find ways to waste time, but social media tools are a bit more visible. There are far better ways of avoiding doing work, like attending meetings. Further, while organisations say they are focused on efficiency often the processes within them are inefficient and people need personal connections to actually get work done in an efficient way.

Jonathan Stern from IBM Lotus, who were an event sponsor, also made the point that increased efficiency can only take you so far, innovation comes from internal and external collaboration – they also talked about the need for a “collaborative infrastructure”, a concept close to my heart! (while I can’t take credit for the term, its a concept I’ve been using for a while).

So, (and this is from notes) Enterprise 2.0 is all about collaboration, innovation and conversation.

BTW These are just my impressions – check out the E2EF blog, which has exploded with posts from participants, and really demonstrating the interest in the Enterprise 2.0 trend right now here in Australia.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Planning for an Enterprise RSS Day of Action

I've been putting off doing anything about this, waiting for a good time to think about it and get on with organising something. Of course, that's never going to happen! Then tonight I thought, lets apply some Web 2.0 thinking to this issue... the result a wiki for an Enterprise RSS Day of Action.

Its just one page at the moment, but it outlines what I think we need to get this thing started:

  1. Set a date for the Enterprise RSS Day of Action :-)
  2. Turn the wiki page into a dashboard, to pick up blog posts etc about the day of action
  3. Develop a resource pack, containing slides, posters etc, that people can use to run their own day of action
  4. Create a list of Enterprise RSS solutions
  5. Develop an Enterprise RSS FAQ
  6. Collect case studies of early adopters

Its easy to get involved, just start to contribute something!