Tag Archives: barriers

Explaining RSS to an End User – The Sky Plus/Tivo Analogy

[image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willsisti/268845126/]

With Sky Plus (UK) or Tivo (US), you can ‘subscribe’ to your favourite programs. You select subscribe and from that point forward the episodes of your favourite shows are stored ready for when you want to view them.

It’s the same with websites and RSS. You subscribe to your favourite site and the content is delivered to your RSS reader ready for when you want to consume it.

I used this analogy recently and had someone complain to me that her friend’s website was not Tivo enabled…..

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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More ways to launch Enterprise 2.0 at your company

My recent post ‘The use of handouts when launching a site seemed to grab the interest of a few people. Simon Goh is launching an intranet and was on the lookout for launch ideas. Here are a few more we’ve used in the past.

About a year and a half ago Simon and I launched an Enterprise 2.0 effort at a global healthcare company. We started off with grand visions of doing it all online and not printing a single flyer or advert. We were saving the planet at the same time you see. The plan was to use viral marketing techniques and distribute content via the existing intranet and email system. This included edgy graphics, wallpapers, podcasts, videocasts, invites to events, launching an enterprise 2.0 related site and blog and anything else we could think of.

However we soon realised we were missing a massive chunk of the workforce. Large swathes of people in many companies interact with technology only when they need to, and when they do they stick to what they know (in this case email and a few internal news sites served up in IE).

We just had to go offline. So here are some of the things we produced:

  • Business cards (similar to above) with teaser info on the front and more detailed info on the reverse. We handed these out wherever and whenever possible. People liked them and we still see them on desks, shelves and wedged in keyboards today
  • Neschens were printed and put on display in high traffic areas (as in photo). The neschens detailed Enterprise 2.0 events and pointed to online resources
  • Posters – quick and easy, although these ones were quite edgy. Different to most posters you see in large companies. i.e. not “Climb the highest peak of success” with a picture of a mountain….yuk!
  • Handouts – these were more like quick tips on the tools
  • Speakers – we managed to secure some great speakers to inspire people with the possibilities of web2.0 in the workplace
  • Lunch 2.0 type meet-ups – to discuss blogs, wikis, podcasting, anything really

Of course this is just the start. Once you have people interested you need to back it up with the tools, support, pilots, workshops, mentoring etc. I’ll save this for another day.


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The wiki and bookmarks win

Yesterday we had space in a poster session at <insert large company name>, so took the opportunity to display some posters on blogging, RSS, social bookmarking and wikis.  The idea of a poster session like this is to stand next to your posters and engage people in conversation when they stop to look at what you are displaying.  This took place at lunch time in the main canteen, so there were hundreds of people around.

When I arrived I had a quick look round at the other posters and they were all of a pretty standard format, with a mix of molecular diagrams, data slices, screen shots of scientific applications etc, and all very well produced with a ton of information on each. 

Compare that to what we had.  Very minimalist, large, slick posters with images of the corporate wiki front page, one with a massive RSS logo, another with a big image of Charlotte next to a tag cloud and another of the front page of the beta social bookmarking application.  We also had two large plasma screens cycling slide shows of the web 2.0 powered super hero himself (Charlie) and his most recent acquaintance Charlotte.  Oh, and a bunch of laptops with one hooked up to yet another large plasma ready to demo the tools.

We stood out.  Maybe we stood out too much as the rest of the poster stands seemed much busier to start with but trade soon started piling in. 

So began the conversations and engagements which went something like this:

Wiki –

Hi, so this poster is about the corporate wiki.  Have you seen <insert company name>pedia before?  No, well ok, have you seen Wikipedia?  Yes, good, well this is the same thing, same software, same goal and same ethos.  We want this to be the default entry point to find out anything about anything at the company.  Do you want to see it in action?  Good, step this way and we’ll get you started by creating a profile page.

Social Bookmarking –

Hi, so this poster is about the beta corporate bookmarking service. Have you seen tags.<insert company name>.com before? No, well ok, have you seen Del.icio.us?  No, er, Ok.  Well, let me guess, you find a site you like and your bookmark it in your Internet Explorer favorites, right?  Yes, good.  So you have a long list of bookmarks that only you can see and use when you are at your computer, right?  Yes, OK, well I’ve got something you might really like, come with me and I will show you how you can store all of your bookmarks online, give them descriptions, tag them, share them and discover new and interesting bookmarks and people based upon your interests.

And so it continued.  The interesting thing was the people at the session were your classic target customers.  This was all so new to them and most reacted in a very positive way.  Here are some of the comments:

Social Bookmarking –

Wow, this is really useful.  Everyone should be using this, why isn’t it advertised to the whole company?  You should send out an email to everyone.  I’m definitely going to use this.

Wiki –

It’s my last day on Friday and I wish I had known about this before, it would have really benefited me on so many levels.

A system like this could transform the way we collect information. It’s a real change to what we do now.

There were a few surprises for me in seeing what the customers took to and what they struggled to get to grips with.  I thought RSS would be the real show stealer, but the response was warm at best.  They liked the concept but I think the combination of needing a reader AND a feed put a barrier in the way.  Also, explaining that not all sites supported RSS seemed to confuse some people.  So there is work to do in packaging a core RSS reader into every desktop build and advertising RSS feeds and RSS as a concept more widely.  The people who saw RSS in action really got it, but as a concept alone I think it was hard to sell.

By far the best received concepts were that of the wiki and the bookmarking, they were really really popular.  I put this down to the fact it’s one tool, one concept and it’s there and ready for people to use.  Nothing to install, nothing to piece together, just visit the site, sign in and go.  Also they offer immediate and obvious payback.

My highlight was the the guy who brought his laptop down so he could import his 100+ bookmarks from IE into tags.<insert company name>.com, literally seconds after he signed himself up for an account.

Credit has to go to Sid who pulled together most of the posters and organized the space, all outside of his official role.  I just swooped in at the last minute and enjoyed engaging, educating and selling.

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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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