2.0 | Lessons Learnt

The recent proliferation of the term ‘2.0’ across almost every domain leaves me with a few questions as my research approaches completion. What is the big deal with ‘2.0’? Why has it suddenly become so important to re-invent so many processes that have been around for ages? Have we gone too far with extending this trend?

Following this, I want to see just how far the term has changed the way we look at traditional processes. As it turns out Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Health 2.0, Government 2.0, Marketing 2.0, Bank 2.0, Classroom 2.0, Travel 2.0, Identity 2.0, Library 2.0, and Human 2.0 are just some of the trends in this ubiquitous paradigm-shift that has seen us question some of the most fundamental assumptions that have persisted for as long as we have experienced these domains. If you’re wondering what the big deal is, let me try to put this into context.

This decade has witnessed a phenomenal adoption of Agile Software Development processes; certainly Scrum, XP and even basic iterative practices have been around for longer, but the fact remains that this decade has certainly witnessed a tremendous adoption of Agile SD. What makes this relevant to the ‘2.0 movement’ is the basic fact that they have both required significant changes in the way we evaluate processes, with a much higher comfort level towards change. This is perhaps why so many 2.0 initiatives are best run iteratively, in small incremental steps which are more comfortable with an experiment-first-evaluate-later model.

However, it is easy to get carried away with the apparent ease of deploying open source web 2.0 platforms to fit perceived business objectives. In a lot of cases, 2.0 initiatives appear to present the classic situation of a ‘solution looking for a problem’. Research shows that the best approach to experimenting with 2.0 initiatives is to focus on the correct sequence of priorities.

1.       Start at the people. Whether it’s your employees or your customers, they are at the core of your business. Every quantifiable benefit of a 2.0 initiative can be traced back to the actual people it affects.

2.       Then look at the information. Once you figure out the ‘who’, then focus on the ‘what’. What information/data/knowledge is best suited for collaborative consumption?

3.       Finally, work with the technologies. Now you’re ready to get into the whole debate of open-source vs. premium platforms and how you are going to inject these platforms into your existing Enterprise Architecture.

I’d like to propose what I feel is the best approach to experimentation with 2.0 initiatives. From a famous talk by Sir Ken Robinson, ‘School Kill Creativity’:

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.”


..Robinson, K. 2006. Do Schools Kill Creativity? Retrieved September 29, 2010 from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

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Blogging in the Enterprise

Blogging. It is here to stay, so if you’re not on board yet, here is something to really push up on your priorities list. A study by Guidewire Group, shows some amazing statistics of the penetration of blogging within the enterprise.

“The vast majority of companies (89%) are either blogging now or planning to blog soon.”

“Blogging has penetrated virtually every industry.”

“55% of corporations have adopted blogs for both internal (91.4%) and external (96.6%) communications, and are finding significant benefit to both forms.”

“No respondent reported launching a blog initiative that was found to be unsuccessful.”

That was in 2005; the blogosphere has certainly gone viral since. In this context, organizations would certainly benefit greatly from the facilitation of blogging and even micro-blogging within the enterprise. One of the main reasons for the high adoption of blogs is the fact that they can effectively facilitate knowledge management across departments, teams and business units.

Let’s look more closely at some examples.

Susan Hanley discusses a study by Ehrlich and Shami, who analysed ‘Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace’. The study –summarized by Hanley – clearly shows that encouraged by IBM, employees utilize internal and external microblogging tools productively and ethically. From the study:

“There was no ambiguity about posting confidential information.”

“..there is a greater sense of community amongst internal microbloggers.”

“..the value of reading Twitter was to get access to good information sooner than through other sources.”

“..participants were very conscious of the value of posting information for enhancing their own reputation, as a form of impression management”

“..people commented on the sense of connectedness that came with participation in microblogging.”

This clearly helps to highlight some of the misconceptions about confidentiality as one of the key issues in Enterprise Microblogging. Not only do blogs and microblogs work, they help unlock tacit knowledge in the workforce, reduce time spent in looking for information through increased knowledge management, generate proactive community participation leading to a greater sense of employee engagement, all-the-while keeping the interactions professional and therefore, productive.

(For more information about the specific benefits for IBM in promoting web 2.0 tools, read my blogpost – ‘Enterprise 2.0 | Benefits & Risks’.)

Another really good example of Blogging in the Enterprise is Oracle’s Blog. A very well organized community platform, I’ve found it serves two main purposes.

1.       It serves as a central knowledge hub for all things Oracle containing posts about all their projects, products, insights under the single roof of the blogging platform.

2.       I’m sure the folks at Oracle already know this, but it is also a brilliant showcase for customers, industry experts and even job seekers! The tag cloud on the right, takes you directly into highly specific blogs about SOA, Fusion Middleware, php, Exadata, Siebel CRM, Solaris, etc.

Communities that develop through the collaboration facilitated by the Oracle Blog are closer, more productive and almost always in the best interests of the Enterprise.

Another study by the Department of Computer Science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology found while studying tweeting patterns that “it’s a surprisingly interconnected network and an effective way to filter quality information”, as reported by MIT’s Technology Review. An analysis of information distribution mechanisms across twitter helps explain ‘Why Twitter Is the Future of News’.

Journalism – probably the oldest and most experienced Enterprise around – is fast becoming dependent on information shared on twitter as a primary source of news stories. Surely 140 characters cannot be considered authoritative or descriptive, but the success behind twitter is that the short messages force customers to focus on brevity, keeping content highly concise & specific and keep us connected to cloud, according to Rohit Bhargava.

There are many lessons to be learnt on the road to effective collaboration in the Enterprise; however blogs and microblogs are a surprisingly effective paradigm that helps organizations succeed at employee engagement.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss this further, so if I’ve piqued your interest please take a moment to comment..

References

Bhargava, R. 2010. 7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Twitter’s Success. What did YOU learn? Retrieved September 03, 2010 from http://blog.mrtweet.com/7-lessons-entrepreneurs-can-learn-from-twitters-success
Ehrlich, K. and N. Shami. 2010. Microblogging Inside and Outside the Workplace. Retrieved September 03, 2010 from http://www.cs.cornell.edu/~sadats/icwsm2010.pdf

GuidewireGroup. 2005. Blogging in the Enterprise. Retrieved September 03, 2010 from http://www.blogonevent.com/archives/Guidewire%20Survey%20Executive%20Summary%20-%20Blogging%20in%20the%20Enterprise%20-%20Oct%202005.pdf

Hanley, S. 2010. What’s happening? “Micro-blogging” inside the Enterprise. Retrieved September 03, 2010 from http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/59324

MIT Technology Review. 2010. Why Twitter Is the Future of News. Retrieved September 03, 2010 from http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/25128/

Image link: http://www.innovationcreators.com/Structured%20Blogging%20within%20the%20Enterprise-thumb.png

Blogging | Why sharing your thoughts contributes to human evolution

Given the audience of this blog, it is safe to say that you have all heard of blogs, and the inevitable etymological background – Web+Log. However, what I want to share with the blogosphere is not what blogs are, or why you should at the very least – experiment with them, but rather an insight I had into just how significant a platform blogs are and how they are the natural progression of human evolution and will therefore be instrumental in taking us forward into the unforeseeable future.

This particular paradigm was triggered by a very interesting talk by Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex. He is a particularly insightful speaker on TED.com who explains that the process of human evolution – in every sense – has only been possible through the interchange of ideas. Ridley argues that Homo-Erectus built the same kind of spear [below] for over 30000 generations due to a lack of an exchange of ideas.

Acheulian stone axe from Algeria made by Homo erectus

Once this was possible – apparently around 500000 B.C. – there has since been limitless growth in the cross-pollination of ideas across multiple cultures around the world. Fast-forward to today, when our lives have become so complicated that we – as a species – have developed the ability to create technologies and solutions that absolutely NONE of us individually knows how. This is most evident in the internet and the way it is expanding the horizons of human knowledge geometrically.

Kevin Kelly, in a talk about the next 5000 days of the web, shows us through research that the current dimensions of the internet exceed over 55 trillion links – comparable to the average number of human synapses. 1 quintillion transistors used in this ‘single machine’ called the internet compare closely to the average number of human neurons. If the internet – which is the best example of human collaboration – has already reached levels of complexity comparable to the human brain today, one can only imagine what might become possible in the near future.

You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with blogs. I believe that blogs are possibly the single most powerful form of human expression. They have the potential to reach millions of people worldwide, an unprecedented decoupling of power and influence. However, as the saying goes – “With great power..” To keep it simple (and non-obvious) the most important tips I have found on making it successful and – therefore – influential in the blogosphere can be summed up simply as:

‘Write from the heart.’ Write about what matters, what your take is on it and why it should matter to your audience.

‘Interact with readers.’ Across the widest possible range of social media. Popular blogs engage network effects across multiple platforms like Facebook, Myspace, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, etc.

‘Don’t be afraid to try new things.’ According to Google, as reported on Joop.in, the internet is growing at the rate of about a billion pages a day! Which means that for your blog to stand out, you need to harness every opportunity to explore as many networking opportunities as possible and try newer offbeat ones as well.

Source: Babauta, L. 2009. 12 Essential Blogwriting Tips for Building a Successful Blog in Write to Done | Unmissable articles on writing.

I would like to leave you with a sample of some of my favourite blogs.

http://sachachua.com/blog/2010/06/seven-tips-for-short-talks/

Sacha Chua accurately describes herself as a tech evangelist/storyteller/geek. An Enterprise 2.0 consultant with IBM, Sacha has a web-presence and following that most bloggers can only aspire to achieve. This particular example showcases advice on how to make a 5 min presentation, which offers a refreshing, novel take on one of the most sought after skills in the corporate world.

Sacha also engages her audience through a variety of social media platforms such as Amazon, multiple blogs, Delicious, Flickr, Google Reader/Talk, Linkedin, Stumble Upon, Twitter and Youtube. From her blog, her current reach includes 2278 subscribers with 3160 comments, 3048 on Twitter. The fact that her blogs cover a wide range of interests such as work, technologies, personal life, etc only add to the overall broad appeal of her blog.

http://agatha82.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/life-in-the-blogosphere/

Agatha was recently on Freshly Pressed – the showcase for some of the best blogs on WordPress – for her blog – Whatever happened to two way conversations? Though this blog is certainly interesting, her follow up – Life in the blogosphere… accurately captures the surprise of a writer/blogger when faced with sudden popularity, a unique feature of web audience adoption. It also provides some insight into the true nature of communication and why the internet manages to harness it so potently with blogs.

http://ladyparmalade.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/hiking-the-mannlichen-summit/

Crystal Cun, an avid blogger/photojournalist, is quite a treat for those who have an eye for detail and proper storytelling. Her account of an adventurous trek up to the Männlichen Summit is a truly fantastic and well written blogpost with great photos and even better stories. I used to dabble in professional photography and can say this much for her work: her composition is flawless and every frame tells a truly wonderful story. The choice of specific frames in the blog is very carefully pondered upon and adds real aesthetic value to the quality of the post.

http://alexanderolsson.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/the-land-of-the-loving-people/

Alexander is another truly gifted photojournalist – in his blog, ‘the land of the loving people’, he affords his audiences a glimpse into an evidently touching personal journey through Asia, which has influenced the authoring of a book by the same title. His photos certainly create a great blog which is inspirational, to say the least.

I hope this blog post has – in the very least – got you thinking about what you need to do to engage the blogosphere. Please take a moment to share your thoughts and insights on the art of effective blogging.