Perspectives on Connected Innovation and Collaboration

Don Smith’s Sabbatical Insights

Archive for the ‘Expert Opinions’ Category

Enterprise Social Media Tips

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Recently, I had a conversation with an leading industry analyst on the emerging Enterprise Social Media space, sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0). I felt like I came away with a few nuggets, some new, and others worth reinforcing. The conversation was centered around the analyst’s perspective on successful implementations of Enterprise Social Media within leading organizations.

Me: What are some common traits among “best in class” users of Enterprise Social Media?

A: The #1 requirement for success is Senior Management commitment, even if mandate and draconian tactics are required. Senior leaders must commit to E 2.0. For example, a Senior leaders could insist on not reading project related emails in favor of project wikis. Also, it’s critical to make Legal a team partner and stakeholder in the process, as early as possible.

Me: What are some success factors for Enterprise Social Media?

A: The execution must be well targeted and well thought out. Don’t look at the entire enterprise as a whole. Do focus in on the parts of the organization that stand to benefit the most from social media. Run smaller experiments at first and show the tool’s tangible business value to employees. Focus on groups of employees that have collaboration problems today.

Me: How do you define tangible business value?

A: Enterprise social media is about allowing people to get their jobs done faster. Employee’s time is precious, so demonstrating clear business value to participants is essential for adoption. For example, consider converting project based emails into wikis. Wikis free up information for all reviewers and users.  Managers could have clear and real time visibility of a project’s status via a wiki as opposed to hunting down emails.

Me: How hard is it to get employees to change habit – from email to wiki?

A: (citing a Harvard study) People overestimate their personal impact of change by 3x. They also underestimate the potential value of change by 3. Combined, that’s a 9x factor to overcome. Email muscle memory is the enemy of Enterprise Social Media. Advocates of Enterprise Social Media must demonstrate, very tangibly, the benefits of using these tools over old methods. Again, small experiments can help build the case.


Written by Donald Smith

April 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

Interview with Josh Bernoff of Groundswell

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photoGroundswell is my playbook for understanding social media and how it integrates with people and business. In it, co-Author Josh Bernoff, provides frameworks for understanding social media and best practices from proven exercises, like Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation. Groundswell defines the POST method, introduces the concept of technographics, and outlines the varying levels of social media complexity, from listening to co-creation. Groundswell transformed my perspectives on social media and inspired me to move ahead in my sabbatical quest. I am a big fan of Josh’s. When I found out that I had a chance to meet him, I was charmed.

On March 18th, I had the delight of lunching with Josh and his colleague Jocelyn Walters, both of Forrester Research. We met at the Cambridge Legal Sea Foods and shared stories and insights collected from our professional and personal experiences. Here is a snapshot of the insights I collected from our conversation.

We talked a bit about social media analytics. I asked Josh what the key indicators or metrics are for managing on-line communities or sentiment flows, like Twitter. Josh was straightforward. He commented that social media analytics only tell part of the story, that off-line research is still required to validate new methods. Josh also added, that when using social media analytics, two things are highly usable – trends and inflections (spikes). When listening to a sentiment flow over time, one should be able to parse out trends from conversations. Spikes or inflection points require action. During a spike, something materially changes to the conversation and requires attention. Was there a product recall or significant event of similar nature? Spikes should trigger response.

I asked Josh using a baseball metaphor, “What inning is social media in?” He commented “It’s early.”

I also asked Josh about how an organization with a diverse brand portfolio could work across silos. Josh commented that “it’s all about best practices.” And that simple, portable frameworks allow for custom tailored applications per  brand. Finally, Josh added that social media isn’t for every brand. You need audience scale or the right mix of technographics.

Josh warned against offering health professionals “widgets” to add to their professional websites. Something about “You’re nuts if you think that will work.”

We talked about the effect of time. What happens to Mom when her kids grow up? If Mom joins a community when her child is 6 months, does she move on to a new community during the toddler years? Pre-school years? We agreed that social media, specifically branded communities,  have not done a good enough job of addressing time factors in their design and utility. How should a brand plan for such consumers movements in and out of communities over a lifetime? People change. More research is required.

Classic Josh – “Social media investment is growing. My phone won’t stop ringing. Different industry groups by the week.”

Finally, we chatted about Twitter and Twitter search. Josh gave me a live demo using certain branded kewords. Very cool. It led to this video, my first Flip Mino recording.

Written by Donald Smith

March 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Exploring the Multiverse with Joe Pine

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joepine1Last Friday, I had the pleasure of catching-up with Joe Pine, distinguished author and visiting scholar at MIT Design Lab. Joe is well known for his best selling books Mass Customization, The Experience Economy, and Authenticity. I first heard Joe riff on Authenticity at MIT in October of 2007, well before the mass media glommed onto authenticity as a theme in the most recent Presidential campaign. I have always found Joe’s insights to be fundamentally rooted in physics, economics, and philosophy, but most importantly, ahead of its time.

Joe shared his latest framework with me – The Multiverse. To define the Multiverse, Joe employs the classical 3-dimensional framework that defines the Universe – space, time, and matter. Joe then layers economic insights gleaned from the Stan Davis best seller Future Perfect onto his framework. In Future Perfect, Davis argued that increasingly, the physical mass of everything that has economic value is shrinking. As the economy becomes more informational and intangible, it is less dependent on physical matter to exist on its own. Think anti-matter. Using the same method, Joe concludes that there must exist a place where space, time, and matter do not exist – a virtual reality. The digital space.

Joe’s Multiverse framework provides clarity around the opportunities in the digital space. The digital space is infinite in possibilities, largely undiscovered, without boundaries, always on, and economically advantaged compared to reality. It’s the world of video games, alternate reality games, virtual worlds, social media, and new business models.

In my own experience, I have used the digital space to create a virtual presence of myself. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and LinkedIn allow me to make new contacts without having to do the leg work. As a result, I have expanded my personal network by orders of magnitude and established scores of new business leads and collaborations. Think of how much time it would take to have built out a massive network via person to person interaction. Reality doesn’t scale.

There is intrinsic value in having an on-line presence, and by Pine’s estimates, it might be infinite.

Written by Donald Smith

February 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Search Insights with Lee Odden

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photoI had the honor of meeting Lee Odden yesterday at a local Wayzata restaurant for lunch. Lee is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and a thought leader in the spaces of search and social media. His blog, TopRankBlog, is  highly regarded and considered one of the best in web-tech.

Lee and I talked about the true value of search. Its predictive qualities, and rich data flows. Lee’s using search in new ways to strengthen his business model and keep ahead of the competition. I’d like to learn more about search’s role in identifying knowledge gaps and how organizations can use search to strengthen collective intelligence.

I tapped Lee as a consumer/customer and asked his thoughts on the use of social media in the food industry. What would he like to see in the space? Lee’s response touched on crowdsourcing a la MyStarbucksIdea but really honed in on trusted on-line spaces for kids. Lee mentioned a need for parents to trust social sites for kids and that trusted brands could provide parents that needed comfort and security.

As a parent of two children who will soon engage in web 2.0, I couldn’t agree with Lee more.

Written by Donald Smith

February 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm