Driving business value with enteprise social

The next webinar I was lucky enough to listen in to was from Yammer and was called "Driving business value with enterprise social" and included presentations from Charlene Li of Altimeter and Roland Hulme of Tyco.

Charlene began by looking at the evolution of collaboration from Knowledge Management to Collaboration Platforms to where we are now with Enterprise social networks. These enterprise social networks effectively mirror the social networks used in the consumer world.

Charlene then explained that there were four ways in which organisations could drive business value through the use of enterprise social tools. They are by;

  1. Encouraging sharing
  2. Capturing knowledge
  3. Enabling action
  4. Empowering employees

Charlene then went into some detail about why these elements are so important. So in relation to encouraging sharing, this is important because it creates a two way dialogue, makes business personal and makes people feel closer to leaders by reducing the distance. So if an individual sees a blog post from a CEO or CFO they're likely to feel more connected and closer to them because they can read what they've posted and potentially comment on it.

Next Charlene looked at how it's important to be able to capture knowledge, especially if you're often asked to identify expertise. Capture knowledge effectively will avoid duplication of effort and also means organisations should have more effective coordination, if they can see what other individuals are working on and what expertise they have. Capturing knowledge is also important in sharing best practices to ensure your organisation is working as effectively as it can. However even more important is how your organisation captures tacit knowledge, that is the knowlegde that exists inside someones head and that isn't written down anywhere. This can be the most important knowledge to capture as it will include questions that individuals are asked again and again. Capturing this in an effective and efficient way is a potential role for an enteprse social tool.

Another area where enterprise social tools can help is around solving problems. How well essentially because enterpirise social networks cane help bring outsiders into conversations that might not have otherwise been involved in. Finally enterprise social networks an help empower employees by giving them a voice they might not have had otherwise. Enterprise social networks also allow employees to make meaningful contributions, increase engagement and potentially increase satisfatction and retention of staff. However in order to do this there needs to be engagement by those at the very top of the organisation.

Finally Charlene looked at how organisations could move forward with enterprise social networks. She outlined four areas that form a strrategy for the development of enterprise social tools. They are;

  • Objectives, these need to be clear and identify and prioritise the gaps that an enteprise social tool can fill. Organisations should also ensure that they design their long terms goals with a clear purpose in mind.
  • Metrics, whilst you might not think metrics would be important at the start of the projetc, it's important to have these in place to measure the success of the project.
  • Relationship management, is an important consideration. So this means ensuring that there is an appropriate budget, number of staff and that the project is resouced appropriately. Organisations should also ensure that executives are involved at an early stage.
  • Think about the relationships you want to build with enterprise social. This is very important and essentially means looking at what you relationships and conversations you want to encourgae and build your enterprise social tool around this. Not necessarily around features. Once your enteprise social tools is in place then you should think about having simple guidelines and investing in evangelists.

After Charlene we heard from Roland Hulme of Tyco who talked extensively about how they had moved their intranet from an unknown tool (my guess SharePoint 2010) to Yammer. Roland talked about some of the issuses they had with their existing intranet and some of the reasons why they chose Yammer. From the perspective of an intranet manager this was very interesting.

One of the biggest driver for adopting Yammer according to Yammer was that it matched the strategy of the business in that they were looking to make communictation more open, get answers faster, be seen as a unified and reduce IT and other costs. Roland also explained how the did it, which again was quite interesting, although sadly there weren't any screenshots of what I would call traditional intranet content. How they did it, looked like it was very well planned and included an audit of review of all resources.This is something you'd definitely see in a normal intranet project, so it surprised me to see it here!

Finally Roland outlinded the results, which were quite frankly impressive;
  • A siginficant increase in enrollment (users)
  • Engagement
  • A huge increase in the amount of content being created.

What I would say in relation to all these points is that this is what Yammer is designed to do. So it's not really a surprise. Overall a really interesting webinar, which an interesting case study and some great hints and tips from Charlene Li.

Creating value with social collaboration platforms

I've been lucky enough to be able to listen to a couple of webinars recently on collaboration using different enterprise social networking tools. The first of these was "Creating value with social collaboration platforms" which was hosted by Jive.

The webinar started with Larry Cannell, Research Director at Gartner outlining the evolution of social (software) business platforms. In general what we're seeing now is products that contain functionality we might have once called called a wiki or a blog, but we don't use those terms anymore. Possibly because people don't understand what those terms mean, or might likely because we want them to focus on the collaborative platform as a whole rather then a small but significant element of it.

Larry also outlined some of the drivers behind the development of collaboration platforms, these are;

  1. Consumer social media sites
  2. Smartphone and tablet applications
  3. Business applications that are starting to use activity streams

What these drivers do is two things; they change the type and variety of conversations that are taking place within enterprises and they influence the design of software.

So what we're beginning to see within enterprises are 3 very distinct types of collaboration platforms, which will all incorporate activity streams to some extent, these are:

  1. Enterprise social networks (Facebook clones) with social messaging features, but for internal use only
  2. Enterprise 2.0 suites. These would originally have been a collection of tools (wikis, blogs, document libraries etc) They will also include activity streams to "wikify" the experience
  3. Finally we have Business applications and middleware, these will include Event notifcications and Exception handling notifications. For example you might choose to follow a record in a CRM system these systems would allow you to do this 

Were also increasingly beginning to see the development of social online workplaces, these are workspaces that contain activity streams, collaborative content, business applications and notifications. These workspaces keep track of conversations in activity streams which are surfaced in prominent places. These activity streams can be used to create social graphs (much like the new Facebook social graph) which can provide a more relevant search by telling us/showing us things that we may not be aware of.

For example one way social graphs can be used is to recommend friends and to show the link between different friends. Social graphs can also include application data, for example information from Customer relationship management systems.

Larry finished by providing two recommendations in relation to social collaboration platforms:

  1. Important to focus on providing people centred experiences. Whilst these require deeper engagement it means that the collaboration platform is seen as as extension of key business processes/functions.
  2. Do not push social networks and collaboration platforms as the next email system

Next we heard from Simon Levene of PWC, who talked extensively about their experience of using Jive to create a "socially networked organisation" The main driver behind this was to improve the organisations ability to connect and collaborate with each other and create more value internally and for clients. PWC were also looking to:

  1. Make a large network (organisation) feel small
  2. Bring fragmented groups together
  3. Accelerate insights (sharing of insights)
  4. Engage clients in issues that matter to them

Whilst Simon's presentation was interesting, there wasn't a huge amount to take away from it apart from the following tips on getting buy in, which I thought were useful:

  1. Go where the energy is within an organisation
  2. Let usage emerge and then encourage it
  3. Be aware of some of the risk issues associated with technology
  4. Deal quickly and effectively with any IT issues

Overall this was quite an interesting webinar. Sadly we didn't get to see any screenshots of Jive being used, which I think would have been interesting.

My Marathon journey

In case you weren't aware I'm running the Brighton Marathon on the 14th of April with two of my work colleagues. We're running for the Alzheimer's Society, which we think is a very worthy cause to run for. This is my first Marathon and to be honest the training hasn't gone particularly well, or rather it hasn't been going very well in the last month.

In January I did the obligatory 3/4 runs a week, but was suffering from a pain in my left hamstring, which turned out to be really tight hamstrings. This was fixed by a visit to a local Sports Massage professional (whom I'm still seeing). Following this I was running very well, although I managed to turn my ankle over and suffered with a sore ankle for a while.

In February I did my longest run of 15.5 miles, this was preceded by runs of 14 miles and 12 miles, which all went well. I then ran 13.2 with one of my colleagues and had a lot of thigh and back pain afterwards. I visited my Sports Massage Professional that week and he indicated that it could be a groin strain, which he didn't want to touch. Unfortunately he did massage my quads and this I believe inflamed it, which meant I couldn't run for 10 days :-( Following this break from running I tested the groin and whilst it's still a bit sore my pace was still pretty good and has continued to be.

That brings us to this weekend when I was planning to run 16.5 miles. Unfortunately at 01:24 on Saturday morning I was on the bathroom floor, not enjoying myself much and spent much of yesterday recovering from a stomach bug of some sorts. I'm hoping to run 6 miles later today, but we shall see. So what does this mean in terms of where I am. Well I know I can run 16 miles having run a very hilly 15.5 so I'm fairly certain I can run 18. I may need to consolidate my training and run 18 miles on Good Friday and then 20 on Easter Monday before tapering off. What fun!

Yammer on Tour (London baby!)

Last week I was lucky enough to snag an invitation to the Yammer on Tour event in London. The event held at the Old Billingsgate market was an opportunity to see some of the features of Yammer and hear from organisations that were using Yammer successfully. Because it was so well attended it was also a good opportunity to network with individuals successfully working with the tool.

The event started with the opportunity to see Yammer being demonstrated by Yammer employees. The demonstrations also included companies who Yammer work with closely including Badgeville, Spigit and Engage. I stopped at the Badgeville stand and had a quick tour of their product, which you wont be surprised to learn uses gamification techniques to encourage adoption and engagement within enterprises. I have to admit the product looked pretty cool and I can see why so many companies are using it to drive engagement.

Shortly after this attendees were called into the main auditorium and the event began with a keynote from Adam Pisoni. However before that keynote attendees were shown a video called "Yammer: Transforming the way we work" I've embedded this below for you all to enjoy. As you can see a lot of the video talks about how Yammer can help with disruption. For example if you move office, gain an office, gain new employees etc. Yammer helps organisations be more agile in these circumstances putting information at employees fingertips and giving them a voice and a place where they can ask questions and post comments on what's happening in their individual workplace.

After this video Adam Pisoni talked passionately about how Yammer had grown in the last year and highlighted some of the companies key milestones during 2012. Following Adam several individuals talked about the opportunities Yammer provided organisations and individuals. Rather then list them all here you can have a look at the Yammer on Tour storify this presents some of the key tweets and images from the event, including a Tweet from me (fame at last) Of these I thought the Microsoft saying that they thought Yammer was their best acquisition was very interesting. Of course Yammer is about providing a channel in which employees can communicate more openly and the tweets reflect this.

Yammer developments

Of most interest to a lot of individuals was the developments Yammer has planned and the audience was lucky enough to see some of these. The first of these new developments is a Windows 8 application, whilst I don't have a Windows 8 phone I have to see the application looks pretty good. Especially with the touch an pinch functionality users expect and a redesigned feed and navigation menu.

The next new feature was a translate button. My feeling is that a lot of organisations will be very excited about this as it allows users to translate posts into their native language. So if you have a Japanese office your Japanese users can post in Japanese and staff in your London office can translate these posts. From what Yammer was saying it sounds like it will support the automatic translation of 39 different languages.

The final new development (and this wont come as any surprise) was tighter integration with Microsoft Office documents. What this means in practice is that if you double-click on a Microsoft Office document that has been uploaded, Yammer will open a live version of the document. From here you can make edits in real-time which when saved will display on Yammer. A conversation to accompany any changes to the document is also generated by Yammer. This looks like really useful functionality and I'm sure will be of interest to any company that uploads documents to Yammer and wants to encourage individuals to continue collaborating on them.

There then followed a series of breakout sessions which looked at how Yammer could be used in various situations. I attended the session which included presentations by Caroline Thorpe of Gatwick Airport and Lexis Nexis. One of the other sessions was "Driving results with Enterprise social". This session included a speaker from Engage, one of the companies that was demonstrating alongside Yammer on the day, you can read more about this session on the Engage Group website.

As to whether I thought the afternoon was useful, most definitely and I'll leave you with this key takeaway, which I think will resonate with a lot of individuals:

"In order for it (Yammer) to be successful you need champions an leaders, it has to fit with the culture of the company and you should underestimate the time to change. From this original tweet.