Category Archives: Management

A Very Different Kind of Sales Presentation – Sales Presentation 2.0?

I hate the fact I just wrote Sales Presentation 2.0, but hey, it got your attention.

Below I’m sharing a presentation format I’ve been using with Knowledge Plaza. It’s based on my original Meet Charlie and Daniel Siddle’s Meet Charlotte follow up.

This version is based on an imaginary Pharmaceutical company.

I’ve adopted this presentation style when visiting a client’s site after discussing their aims, ecosystem and aspirations.  Each slide-deck is customized to include their own tools, terminology and vision.

The feedback has been amazing.  Apparently most vendors go in with narcoleptic slide-ware without considering how their solution plays with a broader strategy.  I’m not blowing my own trumpet, merely highlighting a successful presentation style and somewhat naive but well received approach.

If you use these slides please credit me/Sid, unlike a few large consultancies I could mention who embedded my slides into their own narco-deck without a mention :-0

Lee Bryant on Enterprise RSS and Independent Consultants with Short Attention Spans

Lee Bryant, of Headshift fame, just put out a post lambasting the trend of independent consultants announcing certain technologies are dead just because they happen to have found something shinier.

One of the most annoying habits of self-appointed technology gurus, sheikhs, czars or experts is that they take their own behaviour as the basis for extrapolation to predict how the rest of the world will/could/should use tools. A side effect of this is an inability to empathise or understand the needs and culture of non-geek workers in non-technology companies. What they do as individual consultants sitting in their pyjamas in a home-office, eating Granola and ego-surfing is regarded as a template for people trying to get things done inside a corporation or a government department.

I’m glad someone is putting these sort of views out there.  I’ve been struggling with the ‘scene’ for some time now in that every other person you meet nowadays is an independent consultant on something or another, often without a grounding in big company politics or IT that brings balance to their views.  I recently met a CIO of a very large company that told me that he’s sick and tired of ‘fresh’ independent gurus telling him that he needs tools like Twitter to run his business and that things like RSS are ‘dead’.

Lee also very eloquently and insightfully highlights the current state of enterprise RSS adoption, noting that it’s still motoring up the adoption curve and we’re a long way off seeing it’s wide spread ROI being realized across the corporate world.

I am convinced that enterprise RSS is only just beginning it adoption curve, and it has tremendous value to offer both individuals and groups. Solving the information needs of an individual is pretty easy. Finding better ways to co-ordinate the activities of thousands of people is a lot more difficult, and flocking from new tool to new tool every six months is not an option. Weaning people off the Outlook or Blackberry inbox for actionable information and intelligence is widely recognised as an important need, but it will take time. RSS and similar syndication approaches will be a key part of that solution.

I encourage you to read Lee’s full post.

Understand and Embrace Web 2.0 for Marketing Success

The following is a recent article I submitted to a marketing publication.  Guess I may as well blog it!

Embracing Web 2.0 and social networks is becoming a key component to the success of many firms, especially those in the marketing industry.

Participation in social networks, blogging and online collaboration is no longer limited to the under 25’s, nor should it be limited to an outside of work activity. Firms need to embrace the desire and ability of their staff to use Web 2.0 tools and services and know how to facilitate and extract real business benefit from the activity.

From a marketing perspective, it’s about being where your market is, being part of your market and having visibility of conversations relating to your brand or products.

Yet where social networks such as Facebook are concerned, many employers block access and warn their staff against using such sites. An alternative would be to create a culture where using these Web 2.0 tools is permitted and encouraged in line with a Social Media strategy. Such a strategy would identify the benefits of using sites such as Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed, and put in place a framework for responding to the opportunities presented. An example would be to implement an internal blog for employees to discuss the trends, contacts, conversations and opportunities they are seeing when participating in such sites. Managers can then act on any opportunities or threats.

The way brands interact with consumers is also changing. On sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we are seeing brands interact with consumers in a bid to improve loyalty and drive brand equity.

For a company looking to engage marketing professionals this kind of familiarisation of Web 2.0 is fast becoming part of the selection criteria. Marketing firms should be able to demonstrate their staff are keyed in to the most popular sites and services on the web and have a process for leveraging this involvement.

Any business wishing to learn more about Web 2.0 and the opportunities it presents can attend the Web 2.0 University on the 30th September in central London.

Web 2.0 Executive Bootcamp

http://www.web2uni.co.uk/

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Reactions to SharePoint session at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

Coverage of the SharePoint session at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference on Twitter:

MS guy: “Sharepoint is between major versions, so we can’t do all we want to out of the box”

WTF squared. that Microsoft guy just said its strategy for master data management was to integrate an acquisition into Sharepoint????

MS failing dismally at showing off Sharepoint collab tools. IBM totally ate their lunch.

Watching MS demonstrate SharePoint in an ‘out of the box’ manner…seems very slow and not as intuitive as Lotus Connections

Watching Sharepoint suck … LIVE! … Enterprise 1.1 FTW!

Sharepoint showing old fashioned activity feed: “Send me a portal link when the official HR info about a direct colleague is updated”

This Sharepoint walkthrough makes we want to weep for people in companies where IT are walking zombie-like towards the product. Really.

Ouch!  I think the problem is that Microsoft’s aggressive marketing at the Enterprise 2.0 / online collaboration market is up against some pretty slick solutions from other vendors.  It’s not that SharePoint is bad all round, but they’ve have been pitching it too high and wide.

Bootstrapping Online Collaboration with OneNote

Ben Gardner and team have been raising eyebrows at the global Pharmaceutical giant by combing two Microsoft products to create a neat collaboration tool. They are rolling out OneNote to their customers in conjunction with SharePoint to create…..OnePoint ! Yes, they thought of the name all by themselves.

We have combined OneNote 2007 with SharePoint 2007 to create an excellent team knowledge management tool, which we refer to as ‘OnePoint’. This implementation provides an intuitive user-friendly interface onto a SharePoint document library with automatically managed online/offline capability. In addition to this the ability to add hyperlinks, text and pictures alongside these document files adds significant value to a team – users doesn’t always have to open a document to find information.

Teams with OneNote installed are jointly accessing and working on notebooks and libraries stored in SharePoint, thus using SharePoint as a mini Amazon S3. Their data is in safe hands.

I hear from reliable sources that it’s going very well, with users requesting it across the company.

OnePoint is not only revolutionising team collaboration, but also reducing email traffic, eliminating information silos and being demanded by users of all technical ability!

Ben’s slides are on his post which detail the positioning of the product in the ‘heirachy of information’.

OnePoint: Revolutionising team collaboration

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Enterprise 2.0 & Blogs – First Mover Advantage

It’s something I’ve seen a few times now. If you’re the or one of the first people in your organisation to start an internal blog, you can leverage much more influence than if you’re late to the party.

I’ve seen people get the ear of the board, senior Vice Presidents, influence company policy, gain exciting projects and become promoted to official ‘2.0’ ambassador both within and outside of IT lines. How and why? They have been quick to leverage one of the most powerful communication channels emerging inside the firewall. They’ve also realised that getting in early, before it gets ‘noisy’ is key to success.

First a word of caution. If you really are the very first person to set-up an internal blog you are going to be subject to scrutiny, risk being shut down and might be disappointed if your efforts go nowhere. This is especially true in large bureaucratic organisations.

Now the good news. Being the very first (or one of just a few) puts you in an influential position. People will sit up and take notice. Here are some reasons you’ll attract attention:

  1. Senior management will want to know who you are and what you are saying. Are you a threat or an innovative individual who’s willing to share his thoughts in a public forum?
  2. The first blog is like a when a new kid starts school. People want to know who you are, what you are like and what you have to say. Whether they take to you after this is another matter and is up to you.
  3. It can feel like a new era has dawned on your company. This is especially true if the blog originates outside of a technical IT line. Such a simple thing as a blog can make people feel like the company is moving with the times both culturally and technically.
  4. You are doing something new that others wish they had the courage to do, so they’ll take notice and champion your efforts.
  5. You’ll be seen as a risk talker and innovator. In many companies this is a good thing.

So now you have this attention, what are you going to do with it? Well, I’d steer clear from being too hard-line about anything or controversial to begin with. Remember that by becoming the first blogger you have the unofficial job of setting a precedent, theme and image of blogging in general. If you start off ranting and raving about why the company is in a bad way, then you’ll just give blogs a bad name and represent yourself in a negative light.

Here are some way’s to get started:

  1. Speak on behalf of a interest group or project. This gives you a hook, subject matter and identity.
  2. Brand You. Brand yourself, give the blog and by association yourself an identifiable image. I mean logos, tag lines and aesthetics as well as your writing style.
  3. Be consistent. Get a post out on a regular basis.
  4. If supported, allow people to subscribe to your blog.
  5. Promote the blog in your email signature.

I’d suggest you start off by posting material with broad appeal. Whether it’s something like reporting on developments in a certain area/interest, or discussing an important project, this is your hook to gain readership.

So now you you’re up and running and have an audience how do you up your game and get some of that influence?

  1. Challenge the status quo. If there’s some stupid stuff going on or out of date practices in your company why not question them? Don’t come across as negative; instead offer to be part of the solution. Solicit ideas for how improvements might be made.
  2. Establish an unofficial interest group via the blog. This should be on something important to the company goals, industry or playing on trends on the outside, such as online collaboration.
  3. Be true to yourself. If you’re just playing the game and doing this just for a promotion then people will see through it and you’ll lose respect.
  4. Been seen to facilitate discussions and keep comments and content appropriate. By this I mean keep the language clean and be grown up with what you are saying and allowing others to say. If someone starts an inappropriate rant on your blog, then politely bring them back in line or filter the content. This will establish you and blogging in general as a mature communication medium.

I’m not saying any old Joe can achieve great things just by blogging. However if you really are great, and have great ideas and interesting things to say, then step up and get noticed.

These are just some of my ideas and observations over the last few years. Many factors are at play when it comes to elevating yourself to an influential position. Being first to set up a blog could be one way to gain advantage.

 

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Enterprise Social Search – Belgian Style

Louvain La Neuve, 35 minutes south of Brussels hadn’t featured on my Enterprise 2.0 radar. However, nestled away on a brand new science park, a stone’s throw from the bustling university town is start-up Whatever, and their product Knowledge Plaza.

I spent two days at their San Francisco style offices meeting the team, looking at the product and evaluating their R&D pipeline.

Knowledge Plaza is a Web 2.0 knowledge management environment that mixes the power of a del.icio.us type tool with documents, workspaces, contacts, emails, tagging and some very innovative search and representation.

The team is a great combination of personalities including a star from the open source world, a serial entrepreneur, lots of young talent and……an ex CEO of Apple in Europe.

By the way, if you need reminding of who I am in the picture, then I’m the handsome one, front and center, wearing his iPhone on his belt even though he knows it is soooo wrong! 🙂

Web 2.0 University is coming to the UK!

I’m pleased to announce the Web 2.0 University is coming to the UK!  I’m working with Dion Hinchcliffe to bring the Web 2.0 Executive Bootcamp to London on the 30th September 2008.

 

The Web 2.0 University is a collection of one-day courses developed by Dion Hinchcliffe and O’Reilly Media (the firm that coined the term Web 2.0).  The deliveries are deliberately aimed at the management to executive level, to provide a thorough overview of the topic and explore the many ways Web 2.0 can transform business.

So get your IT & business management to attend.  They’ll come back educated and inspired to adopt Web 2.0 approaches!

It’s a great pleasure to be working with Dion and the Web 2.0 University team.  It’s also a good thing for the UK as this part of Europe is often overlooked when it comes to topics such as Web 2.0 and business innovation. 

I’ll be posting more information as we start the marketing, but I wanted you guys to be among the first to know!

Event site: http://www.web2uni.co.uk/

Wiki Collaboration – Visualized!

This is taken directly from the Wikinomics blog – brilliant.

 

Wiki Collaboration

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think this one sums up the power of wiki collaboration better than any 1,000 word essay ever could. The model is courtesy of Chris Rasmussen at US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. I presented this slide during a talk I gave at Nokia today and someone pointed out that the happy faces on the left probably ought to be frowning — he had a good point. “

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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Two Types of Corporate User

 A user profiling piece of work got me thinking…..

There seem to be two types of person within a corporation:

  • Type 1.0: Safe, slightly bureaucratic, long serving, process driven, organized, like granting/denying access to stuff, like tools to support their work, like document management systems, go on system/process training courses, know and quote many a TLA (three letter acronym)
  • Type 2.0: Innovative, scrappy, shorter serving, don’t like access controls, don’t like document management systems, have a tendency to ‘wing it’, like tools that get out of the way quickly, avoid system/process training courses if at all possible, like meeting people, don’t like to use TLA’s

I fit the type 2 model (for better or worse), and prefer best in class web2.0/social software tools.  Most of the type 1’s I know prefer SharePoint and stuff that integrates with SharePoint.

What type are you and which tools do you prefer?  Will the type 2’s learn to love SharePoint as it evolves?

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Digg your questions to management

I saw this on Euan Semple’s blog.  It’s a system where you submit questions via video to the video sharing site of your choice, give it a certain tag and it then appears on another site where users can vote your question up or down.  The top ten get answered by presidential candidates.

So imagine a similar system in a large company where you submit your questions for the CEO/management.  People vote, and once a month the management answer the top 5-10 questions.  Something makes me think it would be a hit with the workforce but not so much with the management.

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Spain, San Francisco, Connecticut, British Computer Society

A quick note on where I am and what I’ve been doing.  So after my trip to Spain, last week saw me present at the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco.  It was a great conference, full of lively and energetic people and I made some world class connections and caught up with folks from the blogsphere.  I’ll write more about the conference later.

Currently I’m in New London, Connecticut.  I’m here to hand over some project management work in order to concentrate on my enterprise 2.0 efforts.

On Wednesday I will be back home presenting to the British Computer Society at Canterbury University.  This is the second time Simon and I have spoken to this audience.  It was at this event the word began to Meet Charlie.

So it’s been a hectic few weeks with lots of travel.  I have much to catch up on and many contacts to pursue.

links for 2007-07-28

There will be no innovation or collaboration

I was at a small conference/workshop recently called ‘Social Software in the Enterprise’. We were there to discuss how social software is changing the way businesses operate and innovate from within. Or at least I was……

There was the usual mix of management and technical types, all getting to grips with wikis, blogs, tagging, mash-ups etc, and how these things can change company culture and ultimately their bottom line.

Towards the end of day the guy I was next to started to ask who was already using this ‘stuff’ and how they see it fitting in with their current business.

The first response was from a guy opposite who quite bluntly said he was there to find out about this ‘stuff’ so they can prevent anyone using/doing it. He then went on to say he worked for a company who does not encourage open collaboration and innovation and they didn’t want their staff ‘getting creative’ or wasting time. The bottom line was they didn’t trust their staff and felt that all innovation etc should come from management or above.

Mr ‘there will be no innovation on my shift’ didn’t reveal who he worked for, but I wish I knew who it was so I could cross them off any potential future employer list!

Seriously though, there are people and companies out there who see Web/Enterprise 2.0 as a massive waste of time, or something to be feared. Old fashioned managers and CEO’s might see only the bad potential of their staff collaborating and getting creative. It’s an alien concept to me as I have seen first hand how some of the simplest and lightweight software ever installed behind the firewall (MediaWiki) has transformed the way not only I but hundreds of people work. The problem is no-one has been able to effectively communicate the power of Enterprise 2.0 to these people. They’ve probably just read a few tabloid articles on how a rouge blogger published some company secrets, or how a secretary spent 37 hours a week on MySpace……

Yes there are some things to exercise caution over, but on the whole it’s a no brainier for most companies. In fact I’m pretty sure even the guy in question will start to see Enterprise 2.0 within his company over the next few years, he might just not recognize it. It will either creep in by some resourceful users, or someone like Microsoft will sell it to them under a different name.

RSS and the Enterprise – Examples

I often refer to RSS as the glue needed to hold any Enterprise 2.0 implementation together. Or at the very least RSS is needed to get the most of your shiny new Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Companies are already drowning in data, and the introduction of social software will add to the data being created, or at least shift data to different platforms and means of delivery.

RSS allows the user to subscribe to content or a source, and then be notified when the content changes, or when new content is available from a source.

There are many benefits and applied uses for RSS, so here are some of the ways I’m using it:

Tools

  • Google Reader

This is my general purpose, browser based reader. It’s neat as it’s available anywhere including on my mobile phone. I subscribe to a number of blogs, industry sites, tags, news alerts and some smart filtering.

  • Attensa Outlook Plugin

Attensa provide a FREE plugin for Outlook which gives you an RSS reader in your normal folder hierarchy. They also provide a feed server (not free) from which administrators can publish and manage enterprise RSS feeds.

Uses

  • RSS as a ‘Smart Filter’

So let’s say you want to subscribe to content from a certain blog or application but you are only interested in a particular category or taxonomy. If the source site/system supports it you can subscribe to just the content you are interested in.

  • Persistent Searching

One of the great things about the Attensa Outlook plugin is it’s persistent search functionality. You set up a search term to be run against a number of search engines and you get a daily dose of new content/results against the search. If your company is in the news a lot it’s a good way to keep up with who’s referencing you and in what way.

  • Corporate Wiki

I receive a list at the start of each day for all new wiki pages. Sometimes I will spot something which makes me reach out to the author to either collaborate or to just say hi. It’s also amazing how much info you take in without knowing it. You can be sitting in a meeting and someone will mention system ‘xyz’ and you’ll know there’s already some information available in the wiki.

  • Corporate Blogs & Podcasts

There’s not a large number of blog and podcast creators at the company I work for, but for the ones which do exist I subscribe to them with the Attensa Outlook plugin.

  • Tags from Delicious

If you browse to http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/ and then the your tag, you expose the RSS feed for the particular tag. This is great because it means I receive a daily stream of new content tagged with ‘Enterprise 2.0’ etc. You could try it out for your company name….. could be interesting as a market intelligence source (coupled with persistent searching).

  • RSS Mash-ups/feedbot

I use http://www.mysyndicaat.com to mash a number of different RSS feeds into one super feed. For example I’ve created an RSS ‘feedbot’ in MySyndicaat for a number of tags within delicious and technorati I am keeping an eye on. Normally you would need to add a feed into your reader for each tag you are watching, but with MySyndicaat you can mash them all together into a feedbot. If you want to you can also opt for username and password authentication to your feedbot .

  • RSS Live News Feeds at point of Operation

Another team here are using an RSS feed from a certain taxonomy (smart filter) to feed content directly to engineers building desktops and servers at the build screen. The build screen has a news pane displaying content from the RSS feed notifying engineers of issues, developments, things to look out for or to alert them to new versions of software etc.

So all this information is available to me on a daily basis, without me looking for it. Nice. If nothing else, knowledge management and market intelligence professionals should get switched on to RSS.

Of course this is just scratching the surface of RSS use, and it’s not really specific to usage just within the enterprise. However as application builders and content providers add RSS support into their apps, we’ll see a whole bunch of new tools and uses for RSS. Widgets are set to be the big thing this year, and with good reason. We’re currently looking at how we can expose more corporate (user selected) content in a user friendly way by using funky desktop widgets.