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IBM Pass It Along – social learning!

Posted: - Modified: | enterprise2.0, ibm, web2.0

I’m happy to share that one of my favorite Enterprise 2.0 tools within IBM is now available on the Internet. IBM Pass It Along is now available on Alphaworks, a public IBM site for people interested in trying out emerging technologies–all you need is a free ibm.com account. IBM Pass It Along is about sharing what you know and learning from other people. If you have a how-to you’d like to share, create a topic for it. If you’re curious about something, request it. If you’re just curious about the crazy tools we use within the enterprise, check it out! =)

Here’s what I love about Pass It Along, and I think you’ll love it too:

  • You can find out who’s learning a topic and see what else they’re interested in. Sharing what I know becomes a lot more fun when I can see who’s learning, because it gives me feedback that what I’m sharing is useful. Lists of people are much better than anonymous hit counts because I can view their profiles to see what else they’re interested in.
  • You can learn from other people’s contributions. People can add links, related presentations, discussion topics, and other updates. For example, the "How to Make the Most of Your Commute" topic I started within IBM drew lots of interesting suggestions.
  • You can create a place for discussions. I give a lot of presentations, and Pass It Along topics are a terrific place to hold follow-up discussions and reach out to more people. I post my presentation material using the Presentation Wizard and include the URL of the Pass It Along topic on my slides. It’s a great way for learners to connect with each other, too.

I also really like how a newbie like me can create value for other people by sharing what I’m learning. =) Whee! I’m copying some of my public content over, and you can find my topics on Pass It Along.

IBM Pass It Along on Alphaworks is a public site open to everyone. Access controls will follow soon, so you can limit topic access to just your organization if needed. IBM Pass It Along is even better inside your organization, where you can link it up with your employee directory or do all sorts of other cool stuff.

Check it out – it might be a great fit for your organization!

IBM Pass It Along

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How to talk to execs and clients about social media

Posted: - Modified: | enterprise2.0, web2.0

“Know the differences between Technology, Features, Benefits, and Value,” Jeremiah Owyang
 advises in his blog post about effectively talking to executives and clients about social media. He goes on to provide concrete examples of all four approaches, and suggests how to establish trust and respond to indicators of interest or disinterest. Good stuff.

I’m an emerging technologies evangelist focusing on social computing in the enterprise. Some people come to me with a technology focus. They want to use a blog or a wiki, but their objectives aren’t clear, and they don’t know where to start. Sometimes they start on their own, but they quickly lose interest in it when people don’t reply to their posts or update their wiki. Part of my role as a technology evangelist is to get them from focusing on the technology to focusing on at least the benefits as soon as possible. In order to do that, I need to know who they are and what matters to them. What are they looking for? What words do they use to describe what they do? Listening is a huge part of evangelism. (This makes me want to find another term, actually, as “evangelist” brings up images of people who just talk at other people.)

When I talk about benefits or value, I talk about WIIFM: “What’s in it for me.” It’s a good idea to lead with personal benefits, and let the social benefits follow. Blogs, social bookmarks, wikis… All of these things should pay off for you on a personal level, because the social benefits might not kick in for a while. When I talk to people who are new to blogging, for example, I emphasize how it’s useful as a professional notebook for recording lessons learned and questions to explore. I talk about how the practice I get in thinking about what I think makes it easier for me to talk to other people. I talk about how my blog helps me remember what I’m passionate and excited about. When the personal benefits are established, then I can talk about the social benefits: the unexpected connections, the deeper conversations, the online and offline interactions. But personal benefits have to come first. Otherwise, it becomes a chore and you won’t be able to appreciate the social benefits.

Kids are a great way to show some of those benefits, because kids pick up the technologies that have good WIIFM value. Here’s an example: At a recent kick-off meeting, one of the clients mentioned that he saw his daughter using del.icio.us to coordinate a school project with some of her classmates. Using del.icio.us, they could quickly put together and share relevant sites. And hey, if his daughter could do that, maybe people in his company could, too.

The caveat is that it’s also easy to get locked into thinking of social media as just for the kids, or just for our personal lives. That’s why it’s also important to tell stories about older people using social media. (My mom shares business tips on her blog!) It’s important to tell stories about the business benefits of social media. (I got my job because of my blog, my bookmarks, and my other social stuff!) We need to tell those stories so that we can help people see what’s in it for them and what’s in it for their company.

So how do you talk to people about social media?

  • Listen well. You need to pick up and use their vocabulary. You need to watch how they react. People give you plenty of cues; you just have to listen.
  • Focus on people and value, not the technology. The technical details come later, when you’re talking to IT for implementation.
  • Tell stories whenever possible. They make your benefit and value statements concrete.

(xpost: The Orange Chair (team blog), personal blog, personal internal blog; thanks to Stefano Pogliani for the link)

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Reading about Enterprise 2.0

| enterprise2.0

Nearly forgot to mention that Google Reader is my new favorite RSS reader and that I had a lot of fun dipping my toes back into the Enterprise 2.0 blogosphere. It isn’t hard. Start with a few favorite blogs like Luis Suarez: elsua, follow a couple of links, subscribe, follow a couple of links, subscribe… I look forward to getting back into that space, and might look into finding a way to categorize my posts. =)

By the way, does anyone know how to get Feedburner to forget your
default feed reader when reading a SmartFeed feed? Right now, it
automatically tries to add stuff to Bloglines. Old habits…

Random Emacs symbol: nntp-wait-for-string – Function: Wait until string arrives in the buffer.

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Meet Enterprise 2.0

| enterprise2.0

Here are some great presentations on what people who use Enterprise 2.0 look like. =)

Someday I’m going to make slides like that.

Thanks to The Shed 2.0 for pointing me to this group of Slideshare presentations.

Random Emacs symbol: set-file-times – Function: Set times of file FILENAME to TIME.

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The return on investment of social computing

| enterprise2.0

Luis Suarez has another good post on Making the Business Case for Social Computing. He realized that the arguments for informal learning are the same for social computing: the intangible can make a big difference, and these initiatives should be measured the way you measure other changes in the organizations—by the overall outcomes.

The most common objection I hear after my presentations on Enterprise
2.0 is, “I don’t have the time to blog.” The underlying questions are,
“What’s in it for me? What can I expect to get out of blogging? What’s
the return on investment on my time?” It’s hard to give a dollar
amount (“You will earn XXX more”) or a firm idea of time savings
(“You’ll save YYY minutes every week”). I’m still trying to figure out
how to explain the intangible benefits of better connection and
collaboration to people who already think they’re maxed out. Maybe
learning more about how to establish the business case for informal
learning and related concepts will allow me to be more effective at
evangelizing Enterprise 2.0.

Random Emacs symbol: nlistp – Function: Return t if OBJECT is not a list. Lists include nil.

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Tom Purves, Enterprise 2.0 overview

| barcamp, enterprise2.0

I’m at Enterprise2.0Camp right now. Tom Purves
gave a good overview of what Enterprise 2.0 is and what it means for
businesses. “Social media” is fine for Web 2.0, but it raises eyebrows
in business. Tom suggested “tacit media” as a better term, and went
into more detail.

Bryce Johnson pointed out a difference
between barcamp.org wiki and usabilitycamp.org wiki – barcamp wiki was
where organization happened, whereas usabilitycamp wiki happened after
the organization. Tom shared something from Office 2.0: “A blank wiki
is a room without chairs.” (Esther Dyson)

Comments: Seeding a wiki can affect how it goes. Any best practices?
Tom suggested deliberately making small mistakes, which encourages
people to look for how to edit it. Another person points out that this
also lowers the psychological barrier to entry – things don’t have to
be perfect. There are social issues, though, such as implied
permissions. Bob Logan pointed out that you can’t design emergence.
Alex Petrov noted that you can’t predict innovation if you’re going
bottoms-up. Tom acknowledged the loss of control, but talked about
unorganizations that emerge as well.

Another person explicitly distinguished between innovation and
collaboration. Innovation is never really been successful without some
sort of direction, he continues. A wiki is like a blank piece of
paper, which is difficult to work with. Tom replied that collaboration
is a good stepping stone toward innovation or the dispersion of
innovation. The first person continued that R&D expenditure has no
correlation to the performance of the company. Innovation is a very
different function than collaboration. Another person talked about
skunkworks and the possible value of having a skunkworks wiki, which
could be a very powerful tool. Greg Van Alstyne supported Tom’s point
that innovation requires diffusion and adoption, and differentiated
innovation from invention. You have to see it happening in a network.
The person beside him talked about emergence and levels of complexity.

Another person talked about the nature of a corporation as a tree
structure, push instead of pull. You have to fuse them together. Tom
wondered if wikis need critical mass, and if the software isn’t as
good as they thought.

Deb brought the conversation back to the empty wiki. Anything
successful has at the core of it a real problem, so that people have a
motivation to do whatever. Carsten pointed out that it needs to be
appropriate. Bryce brought up the idea of voice. Tom agreed that
different kinds of media fit different tasks.
Brent Ashley pointed out that there’s a
certain constituency of the population who are going to be involved.
So we need to draw out the people in the organization who would be
good adopters of these tools, so that the tools will be built by
people who care about it. Tom agreed absolutely. Firestoker saying:
“Learn to stop worrying and love your 1%.” Rohan said that the key is
to make sure that something there is important. People don’t want to
be left behind. As long as what’s on the wiki is a hobby thing, then
they’re not going to go there. Jevon of Firestoker: A moment of
crisis. Work gets done and operational efficiencies come into play. In
that moment of crisis, it’s a chance for leadership to let go and give
up some of their silos. It’s after that point that we see innovation
and collaboration really come into play, because that’s when people
trust the space. Carsten: I think what makes collaboration
unattractive is the lack of integration. The browser is the great
equalizer. [But it’s not integrated into the applications that I live
in, like Outlook]. Maybe the wiki is not all that appropriate or
practical.

Jevon: Story about Big 5 banks. They had computers in managers’
offices, but no one was reading e-mail because computers were handled
by their secretaries. Then the CEO sent the final paper memo, and then
everyone used e-mail.

Person: If you build technology that does not conform to the way
people behave, no one will use it. Noted problem with signup wiki. UX
experience is the story. The experience of using a device should
complement what you want to use it for.

Random Emacs symbol: char-property-alias-alist – Variable: Alist of alternative properties for properties without a value.

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As Web 2.0 moves behind the firewall…

Posted: - Modified: | enterprise2.0

I’m not sure how much I can say because I’m doing my research with IBM, which is a pity because we’re working on some *really* cool enterprise applications of these newfangled Web 2.0 ideas. It’s beyond blogging or social bookmarking – talk about mashups, situational apps, integration, web as platform… fun!

Microsoft’s getting into the game, too. Liz Lawley dropped a few hints about the social bookmarking thing she’s working on, and it sounds awesome.

I’m not too worried about missing the boat or being late to market on
this one. I think we’ve got something unique and really really cool,
and I have a feeling that I’m close to the edge.

Fun!

Stowe Boyd

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