Last week, a group of us at Headshift spent a day at the Blogging 4 Business 2007 conference, and we ran a panel on enterprise adoption with Olivier Creiche, newly promoted COO of Six Apart Europe, David Fitch from the law firm Simmons and Simmons and Adam Tinworth, Head of Blog development at Reed Business Information in the UK
Hemma has already captured one key observation about the event, but I thought I would add some notes about our session
We now have some useful and mature social tools available for enterprise use, in areas such as:
- blogging platforms (Movable Type, WordPress, Traction, Blogr)
- wiki platforms: (Confluence, Socialtext, ThoughtFarmer, Mediawiki)
- newsfeed management: (Newsgator, Attensa, KnowNow)
- all-in-one suites: (Suite Two, en.terpri.se, Lotus Connections)
In addition, there are some great remotely hosted applications such as Typepad and Salesforce as well as hosted versions of Confluence, Socialtext, Traction and other tools. Plus, we are now also seeing the first meaningful business mashups that allow people to roll their own social networks, code together in a wiki or map emerging business partnerships on a map
But, as Fun Boy Three and Bananarama once said, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what get results.” In addition to the tools, success is also about:
- concrete business use cases
- engagement & people support
- a connected infrastructure
This is why we focus primarily on use cases, and the mapping between a task and information analysis of these use cases and the behavioural characteristics of the tools, in order to find the right blend of social modes in each project we undertake. During the session, we announced that we are about to open source the use case library that we use internally to capture these examples, so hopefully this will help others get to grips with the many practical applications that currently exist for enterprise social tools
Olivier shared some great business blogging case studies, such as GM, Arcelor-Mittal, Citrix and others
David shared some very useful insights as somebody who has been trying to promote adoption of social tools in law firms for the past few years using under-the-radar pilots and experiments, and how he feels these projects will be able to move into the centre of operations going forward
Finally, Adam told a great story about how got into blogging within RBI and the often unexpected results of the application of blogging to a traditional business publishing venture
Bloggers at the conference (who paid £20 each for the WIFI incidentally, organisers please take note!) also had something to say about the session
Might, the panel is asked, these tools lead to cliques or the Balkanisation of the corporation? Lee Bryant doesn’t think so. It actually helps people organise around ideas, themes and projects.
Got to applaud Bryant for saying all this technology is really all about the people at the end of the keyboard. “With social tools, you get immediate payback because you use lightweight tools to organise information in a way that means something to you.” Example – social tagging (picking your own keywords to identify and structure the information you post, not having to adhere to a hierarchy picked by those know-nothings in the IT department).
Lee: every generation of technology sees itself as a ground-breaker. But they’re all layered on top of each other. We have technology that delivers on the initial promise of the web (equal publication, sharing, etc) (steph-note: yay! I keep saying that!)
Q: MB: Lots of companies have huge intranets – should we just wipe them away?
DF: very familiar with this – there’s a huge wealth of material that’s useful but just couldn’t be found – so we did some work about improving search and findability but also looking at using lighter infrastructure to start again, which will involve some pain, people will have to go back and look at relevance for example, but that change is going to deliver the benefit that we’re moving towards creating communities and connecting people rather than just producing static content.