Category Archives: Cost Benefit

e-Learning Strategy Guide and Template

A quick note to promote the free e-learning strategy guide and template I produced at ASA Interactive.  It’s targeted mainly at training companies but could also be interesting for internal training departments.

Our free E-learning Strategy Guide and Template includes advice and examples for training providers looking to explore more info

e-learning as part of their service offering. Content and examples include: * Vision & Aims * Technology Uses/applications * Content * People * Training & Support * Promotion * Return on Investment * Implementation Plan

e-learning strategy template

Top 3 Business Benefits of (internal) Enterprise 2.0

I was recently asked what are some of my top business benefits of implementing Enterprise 2.0 tools.  Here are three.

1. Personal Information/Knowledge Management

Until recently how did cialis price individuals inside an organization manage their own information and knowledge?  Well without having access to an official KM tool (which most don’t) they use email, their C:\drive and in some cases network file shares.  Now, with many E2.0 offerings the first way a user gets benefit from a tool is to manage their own information.  Think of social bookmarking tools, you first use it to store and retrieve your own bookmarks, then discovering other peoples contributions before finally contributing (with intent) to networks or topics of interest.  The same is true for wikis, and as I saw at Pfizer the first use people get value from is creating pages for projects they are working on to organize their own house before contributing to the community.  When we started selling the solution I part represent we called this ‘Personally Essential, Collectively Critical’, meaning that a tool should first satisfy the need of an individual (which in turn aids adoption) before leveraging network effects to become crucial to the organization.

2. Expertise Identification

One of the top benefits of leveraging E2.0 solutions I often quote is that of finding the experts inside (or external to) the company.  Historically if you worked inside a large organization and wanted to find someone who was an expert in, say, the IT aspect relating to acquisitions, you would first look at the company phone directory or person listing.  You’d try and find someone who indicated they worked in acquisitions or a related department and would have to rely on what their job title says.  Or you might ask around to see if colleagues knew anyone with this particular expertise.  The problem is that a persons job title does not necessarily reflect their real work involvements, expertise or interests.  The same is true for LinkedIn in many respects.  If I wanted to I could change my job title to Technology Director for E2.0 for ACME INC and start fielding inquiries from around the world.  Just because my job title is XYZ it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.  Now enter E2.0 tools for the enterprise and you are quickly able to tie people to content and people to people.  After time you are able to identify people related to a topic or function not by job title alone but by their real life interactions.  Surely this is a BIG reason to implement E2.0 especially for large, diverse organizations.

3. Collective Intelligence

Often misunderstood and sneered at after being a term overused by KM consultants over the years, collective intelligence is my third capability enabled by E2.0.  Collective Intelligence is a product of both personal (but open) information/knowledge management and expertise identification.  By opening up an organization’s content, user defined networks and interactions you get to both feel the pulse of the company knowledge but also access it on demand for specific topics and queries.  All it takes is the correct implementation and integration of the various competence of E2.0 tools to create this ‘virtual brain’ of the company.

There are more, but these are near the top of my list.

It’s more important than ever to identify subject matter experts in your company

Over the past few months I’ve been speaking with and meeting more companies than ever before in my life.  I’ve been submerged in conversations around business change and the economic challenges facing businesses today.  From knowledge retention to knowledge management, information discovery to information publishing, the range of emerging (and not so) technology needs have been highlighted by the challenges faced in today’s economic climate.
However there’s one reoccurring theme I keep coming across and that’s subject matter expert (SME) identification.
Organizations now more than ever before need a way to identify the people they have based upon the knowledge they retain.  Of course, this requirement has always been there but now there’s more to gain by being able to find experts on a given subject/topic area.  Knowledge networks exist inside all companies, either explicit or implied but more often that not these networks are not accurately documented or identifiable based upon the loose nature of knowledge.  For example, when I worked in Pharma I was an IT project manager in the clinical space, yet I also had Enterprise 2.0 related passion and knowledge.  The only way for me to identify myself as a potential SME in this field was by contacting people, blogging about it, creating wiki pages etc and branding myself into them.  Otherwise when senior management were on the lookout for someone to manage an E2.0 project, the work would have naturally gone to someone in the content management team, regardless of their experience/interest in collaborative web technologies.
So in today’s environment there are more reasons than ever to have the ability to find internal (and external) SMEs.  Here are a few examples:
  • find people to work on new markets/products
  • identify gaps in knowledge which should be core to your company
  • identify what impact losing an employee in a given area would have – are there others with similar knowledge?
  • find all people who have interacted with a certain product/project
  • for regulated industries – identify everyone who’s worked on a certain drug/product
But how should SMEs be identified?
In my mind it should be a mix of self declaration, identification by others and by the real life information someone interacts with.  As an example you might have Jason who identifies himself as and expert in ‘Karate’, others tag him with ‘Martial Arts’, yet he consistently works with information/content related to ‘Japanese Fighting Systems’.  Jason should therefore be identified, by a greater or lessor extent, as an SME in all three fields.  In other words you are not relying on just job titles and self declaration to find people.
What happens when you find an SME?
In the past it would have been fair to assume that if you used a tool to find an SME in your organization you would at most have access to their contact details.  However new social tools will allow you to do more than just find an SME and see their phone number.
I’ll pick on Knowledge Plaza (naturally) to demonstrate how SMEs are found and used in such a social tool:
  • SMEs are identified with every search result in the system (full text, tag browsing or combination of both)
  • Users can see the profile of an SME
  • Users can see the recent activities on an SME in addition to their user defined network
  • Users are able to interact with an SME, including adding them to their network
  • The SME can be used as a filter
The most useful feature for me is the ability to use an SME in the system as a filter.  Once you’ve found your SME(s) you should be able to use them as a means of finding information.  i.e. if I find Jason in the system I would want to search through his eyes based upon the content he’s interacted with and the network he maintains.  This means I’m using the SME, using his or her knowledge and accessing their intellectual capital directly in the system.  I can then get a feel for Jason, his content, his interests and most importantly his real life interactions with information and people.
For knowledge retention this feature is so important.  In the example above I didn’t say if Jason still works at the company or if he left 5 years ago.  It shouldn’t matter!  Even if he did leave, he still has a link to information, people, the company and his work still has value.
The ability to find and use a SMEs knowledge after they’ve left the company is coming up as a concern time and time again with the companies I have been speaking to.  A new breed of systems such as Knowledge Plaza have some of the answers here and it’s now possible to do what some of the knowledge management systems of old promised but didn’t deliver.
Companies should be able to quickly find people inside their organization based on their content as well as their interests.  Once found they should be able to do more than just  see their contact details!

Communicating the benefits of social media to management

One of the reasons take up of social media within organisations is slower than people anticipated, often comes down to justification to management. On one hand you’d think that the relative low cost and overhead of social media deployments would mean take up would be high. On the other hand you are faced with the fears, confusion and status quo highlighted all too often. So what about that pitch to management?

There are a few things to avoid when making your pitch:

1. Don’t claim the tools will look after themselves and not require additional resource.

Let’s face it, both the culture and audience inside an organisation are very different to that on the internet. On the web, tools ‘seem’ to take off by themselves and attract a massive following. That’s because the potential user base is millions and you only need a small percentage to use your service for it to be seen as a success. Also, you can’t imagine any successful movement to take off without someone behind it, quietly (or not) pushing, facilitating and marketing. The same is true in an organisation, you need at least one or two (absolute minimum) passionate people to encourage use and show the way for how social media can be used. Take the wiki gardener role. It’s almost a must have now to identify a resource dedicated (full or part time) to gardening and evangelising the corporate wiki.

2. Don’t focus on looking for systems to retire in place of social media tools.

Most of the tools we discuss and see implemented inside organisations are adopted differently and fill different needs. These tools often provide linkages between other systems and resources or enhance the use of other tools. Not very often (at the moment) do you see swathes of systems being retired due to social media tools. Remember, this is new, so chances are by adopting Enterprise 2.0 you will be doing new things, having new conversations, finding new markets rather than replacing existing systems.

Here are some things you can do to communicate the benefits of Enterprise 2.0:

1. Identify existing processes and story board the impact of social media

It’s easier to relate benefits of new tools within your organisation against existing processes or practices. Take a wiki for example. It’s easy to identify a ton of processes and tasks that can switch to a wiki. Go and find examples like this in your organisation. Or find teams willing to experiment and pilot new ways of working. Then, present this to management.

2. Do quote success stories and industry examples

They are out there if you look. Books like ‘Here Comes Everybody’, ‘Wikinomics’ and ‘The Long Tail’ have some good sound bites. So do the vendors. Vendors are getting really good at capturing and communicating case studies of how their tools are being used and impacting organisations. Use these stories to highlight what’s happening in your industry, and how new tools are already being used by competitors or otherwise.

3. Communicate differently

Try to be different. Much of what we talk about is a change in culture, design and behaviour. Your communication to management should reflect this. Try not to do the boring old PowerPoint and standard pitch. See if you can usher in some of this new culture with your pitch. Obviously if there are standard processes to follow, then do so, but try not to be constrained. Show them you are thinking differently and ready to adapt to emerging trends.

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Not excited yet?

Over on the FASTForward blog there is a post from Bill Ives where he asks “is IT looking over it’s shoulder at web2.0?”. The question is in regards to whether IT are really embracing web2.0 or becoming a victim of this looser and ultimately cheaper operating model. There is one quote from this article stating “We’ve cut IT staff by 20%, and we’re providing a whole lot more in terms of IT services.?

When I first started evangelizing web2.0 /enterprise2.0 I was really eager to have the IT crowd as an audience, as I thought they’d be the first to get excited about this stuff. How wrong I was. Out of all the people I speak to and work with, it’s the IT folk who are the least excited about web2.0 use within a company setting. Even in my own IT department at the time there was only a handful of us who saw the potential in this new breed of tools. However, over time we did find some very supportive IT sponsors and supporters, and it was essential we did as working on web2.0 outside of an IT setting is very tough. Maybe the reason is that this ‘stuff’ doesn’t look like a classic solution to a classic problem. In many cases there is not much to build (if you exclude SOA etc), few need to be involved and classic system lifecycle development does not always apply.

So back to the matter at hand. Can embracing web2.0 really reduce costs and increase revenue? Well think about these examples:

  • You are a big company with a dedicated communications team who write and publish material to the intranet. What would happen if you reduced their publishing time and effort by providing a simple blog? And what if everyone in the company had a way to blog to a central news site? Even the ability to DIGG content they thought was valuable? What about the editing process of internal communications. How about you let the author have control of the message and engage on conversations, rather than pass it through several review cycles before publishing to a static page without the ability for the readers to comment?
  • In this big company you also have a team dedicated to rolling out training and help files to end users via a ‘training portal’. Content is authored, published to the training portal and reviewed at regular intervals by interviewing project teams and gathering user feedback. The material is then revised and re-published. How about placing all this in a wiki, and letting users add to and amend based on their own experiences with the system/process being used. Living and evolving training material in the wiki alongside all other system/process related information, and editable by anyone.

I’m not saying the (two random) examples above will necessarily save money/cut staff, but they would shake things up a bit and turn current models on their head. If nothing else it would cause current roles to be re-purposed and revised to facilitate and nurture this new user contributed model.

BTW, I originally missed the post from Bill, as I’m behind on my RSS feeds due to workload and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s been keeping me away from my laptop. However, as a testament to the power of web2.0 behind the firewall, I picked up a link to the post from the front page of the social bookmarking tool we implemented only a couple of months ago. Thanks for the link Bruce 😉

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Oh to be a small to medium sized business….

I keep telling people that it will be the small to medium sized businesses who will lead the way in enterprise 2.0 adoption and innovation. Today I heard from a number of people, in a number of large companies, about how internal turf wars, agendas or the overall technology strategy is preventing some truly great tools from being deployed.

It’s inevitable really. Big IT departments have been so focused on cost reduction, standardization, a one size fits all approach and a need to show value for money, that the desire/ability to innovate and be flexible has simply been lost (or forgotten).

So my message is to all the innovative SMB’s out there. You can use your size, desire to grow and nimbleness to quickly and efficiently explore what a web 2.0 world can offer you – before your larger competitors do! Of course there will be exceptions, and I personally know of some very large companies deploying enterprise 2.0 tools, but I think the exciting place to be right now is in the SMB market.

Ed: I’m not IT dept bashing, I’ve worked in one and still do to some extent. I’m highlighting the experiences of those around me.

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