Tag Archives: web2.0

Ubuntu Brainstorm – A business use of Web 2.0

Ubuntu, the user friendly Linux distribution, launched Ubuntu Brainstorm this week. Inspired by IdeaStorm from Dell, the Ubuntu community can now suggest ideas and vote online. Its goal is to have a better idea of what Ubuntu users would like to see in upcoming Ubuntu releases.

As a user you can add your ideas or vote for your preferred ones, add comments and see their implementation status. The best and most popular ideas quickly rise to the top and can be creamed off for inclusion in future releases.

Why is this such a big deal? Well technically it’s not, but this really shows how the use of web 2.0 technology and culture can change traditional processes. Any organisation could adopt the same approach for requirements gathering, general ideas, news items, voting on company issues etc. Just imagine how different it would be to gather project requirements in this fashion. You can still hold the workshops and user summits but you would enter every requirement online and leave the community to vote on the functionality important to them. Going forward this becomes a place for feature requests, ideas on new uses for the system, voting on new processes etc.

Designing a system like this doesn’t have to take months and be a bespoke development either. There are ways to leverage existing functionality in some blogs and wikis as well as SharePoint to achieve a rough and ready version.

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A Virtual World Meeting

Yesterday I took part in a meeting with approx 100 people from a multinational company. It was a regular meeting with regular outcomes but there was a twist. The meeting was held in a business equivalent of Second Life. 100 people from around the world immersed themselves in a virtual environment for 3 hours to chat, see presentations, hear from the ‘boss’ and to see how this technology could be leveraged to run large meetings/workshops.

Once inside the environment there was 15 mins of familiarisation by the waters edge before heading off to the main conference centre. The main presentations were shown in a large room with a podium in the middle. The presenter would walk over and control his PowerPoint presentation from there. Yes, PowerPoint in a virtual world….it doesn’t seem right for some reason. There were multiple screens where you could view the presentation, and if you stood on a blue circle you would see the presentation in full screen. As the presenters went through their slides they were talking over the teleconference (just like you would with WebEx etc). Attendees could ask questions via the chat panel at the bottom, whisper to each other or just sit back and watch/listen.

Overall I was impressed. Although it looked like a old video game, just seeing the other attendees move around and talk to each other made it feel like you were really there, all in one room. I even had someone whom I’ve never met, but worked with for a long time, rush over and wave at me before saying “it’s good to finally meet you!”

Elsewhere in the environment you could wander into break out rooms and watch videos that had been uploaded in advance.

Here are my conclusions from the virtual world meeting:

• people still rush over to the boss after a presentation to get his ear (seriously, it must be human nature)
• people feel more confident to speak up
• fooling around does happen but not like I thought and it was over with quickly
• someone needs to facilitate, it’s like any other meeting
• technical barriers were not really a problem (users on a whole got to grips with it very quickly)
• the likes of WebEx do the whole presentation thing a lot better
• the likes of WebEx lack the ability (at the moment) to make you feel like you are really with the other attendees
• drop the corny avatars (knights, princesses, cow boys etc) please – you just don’t need them in a business setting
• you do actually feel like you are in a real meeting with real people – something you don’t quite get in a telecon/videocon
• I can see companies really going for this kind of technology but not just yet

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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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Nice looking, lightweight applications

Lately I’ve been discussing the visual elements of web 2.0 and how they map to my expectations for enterprise 2.0 applications.

Personally I’m more inclined to use a tool which is visually appealing/inspiring. Look around at the top web 2.0 sites, they are all pleasing to the eye. Whether they go full out for maximum design, or keep things simple, all the sites/services I use look neat. Is that a shallow requirement for personal adoption?

The current set of enterprise applications I use mostly depress me. They might do great things, but I hate the interface. I know I’m not alone in this view, but I also know lots of people who would disagree with me. For example the other day someone asked why on earth anyone would want to customize how their internal blog looked. Well, maybe they want to feel inspired, assert their individuality, be different or maybe they just like pretty colors….? I don’t know, but some people prefer to use stuff that looks cool. Whereas some people will live with a boring interface in favor of masses of functionality.

This got me thinking, would a simple interface overhaul be enough to satisfy me when using current enterprise applications? Nope, because the navigation also depresses me in it’s complexity due to there being too many functions available. So what to do? It feels like what I really want is neat looking tools, with limited but appropriate and powerful functionality. Just like BaseCamp. In fact Simon suggested we ask the BaseCamp crew to look at a classic enterprise application for them to give their recommendations on what they would do if tasked with making it ‘2.0’.

So is this what we will start seeing? Or are we already seeing it? Enterprise grade applications that play nicely with others, offer great but limited functionality and are intuitive to the point of fool proof.

So where does that leave the functionality left out or stripped away from the original enterprise version? Maybe there was never the need for it in the first place, or maybe it just gets rolled into another best in class application….certainly something to think about.

Web 2.0 for the Enterprise – Webinar

I’ve just come out of the Web 2.0 for the Enterprise webinar, hosted by Dan Farber, vice-president of editorial at CNET Networks and editor in chief of ZDNet.

The speaker line up consisted of G. Oliver Young of Forrester Research and industry leader Dion Hinchcliffe, CEO of Hinchcliffe and Company.

The first thing that struck me was just how good Webex is. I haven’t used Webex in a while, and they really have it nailed. It was a faultless technical experience with multiple presenters, slides, audio, Q&A and feedback. I really will have to switch back to recommending Webex.

I don’t attend many webinars, but I really wanted to hear Dion speak on the subject, and I wasn’t disappointed. Whilst the subject matter was entry level, probably aimed at IT mangers as more of a briefing, Dion stood out with his depth of knowledge and quick turn around on the Q&A.

I should be receiving the slide decks shortly, however here are my personal highlights.

G. Oliver Young covered/highlited:

  • An example of crowd sourcing suitable internal RSS feeds at a law firm
  • The SalesForce People Map – something I must check out
  • Hurdles for the adoption of Web 2.0 within the enterprise (security and compliance)
  • 57% of IT managers (from a 200 person survey) are deploying Web 2.0 tools internally facing (as opposed to customer facing)
  • Half of all online consumers partake in at least one Web 2.0 activity
  • IT managers are in denial about the fact their users are implementing grass routes Web 2.0

Dion Hinchcliffe covered/highlited:

  • Euan Semple’s ‘The 100% guaranteed easiest way to do Enterprise 2.0
  • Other ways to foster Web 2.0
  • The fact that Web 2.0/social software evangelists are crucial to creating high adoption rates for any implementation
  • The appointment of a ‘Head of Innovation’ role to research and recommend ways of adopting new technology trends is a good strategy
  • Traditional vs agile deployment of rolling out emergent platforms (go for agile!)

I posted the following question to the panel at the end of the webinar: “What are your views/experiences with SharePoint and is SharePoint the answer to Enterprise 2.0 for global blue chips?” Whilst the question was not specifically addressed they did say the open source alternatives offer very good cross integration and Microsoft do not have all the answers. I was happy with that.

Enterprise 2.0 Case Study…

…well sort of. This is the presentation I’ve pulled together to highlight the work of an unofficial group who explore and push web2.0/enterprise2.0 technology and culture at a global blue chip company. We started the group in July 2006 and have enjoyed a great deal of success (and enjoyment) in the year that followed. I’ve removed any references which identify the company, so sorry if some bits seem vague.


Meet Charlie – What is Enterprise2.0?

Meet Charlie – What is Enterprise2.0? is the presentation I created for my talk to the British Computer Society on the 25th April 2007. It’s a generic look at what web2.0 looks like in the corporate environment. Even if you’re new to all this stuff it’s a quick, fun and visually entertaining intro to Enterprise2.0:


Wiki Wednesday – April 2007

I presented at Wiki Wednesday last week. The event was good and was at Microsoft’s HQ in Soho. I gave the presentation at the bottom of an emptied out swimming pool which was a bit surreal! Here’s a write up which appeared on Technorati and here is the actual presentation.