Tag Archives: enterprise20

The People I Will (and Won’t) Meet at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

See you next week in Santa Clara!

Next week, I’m attending and speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. I’ve attended many social media conferences over the years and have posted several times about my experiences at these events.While the vast majority of people I meet at these conferences are highly intelligent, ambitious, and well-meaning, I have noticed a pattern emerging among social media conference-goers. From Web 2.0 to Gov 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0, I always seem to run into the same people yet miss the people I really want to talk to at these events. Based on my conference-going experience, here are ten people I assume I’ll be meeting (and not meeting) next week:

Who I Will Meet:

The overzealous Director of Business Development. Don’t you realize that his product has revolutionary features not found anywhere else?? Well, that is, until you go two booths down… If you sit down for a demo, you’ll clearly realize that this is the ONLY product with this feature. Just listen for a few minutes and he’ll show you…wait! Come back and hear all about it!!

The Director of Social Media/Virtual Collaboration Lead/Social Collaboration Team Leader. The company’s designated social media “guru” – there to find out how to turn their company’s Intranet into a “Facebook or Wikipedia behind the firewall.” This individual is usually well-meaning and excited, if a bit in over their head. On the first day, they’re enthusiastic, ready to absorb whatever they can over the next few days. But by the last day, they’re usually simultaneously overwhelmed and frustrated by all the stories of what’s possible, yet still lack any actionable steps they can take when they get back to their office.

The codemonkey. He’s the guy in the back with all the stickers on his Macbook. Mashups, visualizations, dashboards – you name it, he can code it. Keep in mind that he probably doesn’t actually use of the tools he’s developing, the features he’s working on really only interest the early adopters at this conference, and they probably do more to hinder user adoption because while they look cool, they really just overwhelm people and hinder user adoption because all the average employee really wants are tools that are accessible, fast, and reliable.

The self-promoter. Got his (oddly-shaped) business card yet? Don’t worry, you’ll get it soon enough. He’s the CEO for some new startup or he just got some VC to invest a boatload of money in his company or he’s writing a new book – it doesn’t really matter because he’s going to tell you all about it…whether you care or not. Don’t you realize how lucky you are to get an opportunity to talk to him?

The booth babe/dude.” He or she is always very nice and very conversational, but unfortunately lack ANY details about the company they’re representing. Good luck getting any actual information from him/her beyond a fact sheet, a demo, and someone else’s business card.

Who I Won’t Meet:

The IT Security specialist. Time and time again, I find myself talking with a client about Enterprise 2.0 only to hear that their security guys won’t allow them to install any Enterprise 2.0 software or that SAAS isn’t an option, but very rarely do I actually see any of these individuals at these conferences. Just once, I’d like to meet some ambitious IT Security professional who says, “you know what, I want to attend this conference so that I can learn how to allow our employees to use these tools AND be safe and secure?” 

The Lawyer. The relationship between lawyers and Enterprise 2.0 is tenuous at best. Everyone tries to have as little interaction with them as possible, but when they do have to get involved, it almost always results in a whiny, “do we really have to pass this through them????”  But what if your legal team was actually knowledgeable about Enterprise 2.0? If they knew the success stories and the potential? Have you ever spoken to a lawyer who actually “gets it” and asks you “how can I help?” How refreshing is that?

The Failures. I loved that Kevin Jones was a speaker at the last Enterprise 2.0 Conference and will be there again in Santa Clara. He was among the first people I’ve met at these types of conferences willing to talk about how he failed, what failed, and how he would have done things differently. Unfortunately, these people are few and far between as most people only want to tout their successes, their products, and their features. We all know getting this stuff right is hard – where have others stumbled and what can we learn from them?

The C-suite. Director of Social Strategies, Social Collaboration Lead, Virtual Collaboration specialist – where are the traditional organizational leaders? Where are the CIOs and CTOs? Unfortunately, Enterprise 2.0 still isn’t integrated into the other business units so it will continue to be marginalized. Until we get more actual decision-makers to attend these conferences and learn of the benefits for themselves, we’ll unfortunately continue to have to fight to justify social to the senior leadership.

The average employee. Where are all of the project managers, supervisors, associates, and HR specialists? Where are the people who are actually supposed to be using Enterprise tools to do their jobs? I want to meet more average users and find out what they want from the dozens of vendors who will be present. I want to find out why Cindy, the HR specialist in Omaha refuses to use the discussion forums that her company set up.

Will I meet you at Enterprise 2.0 next week? If you want to meet me, I, along with my colleagues Walton Smith and Jay Leask, will be there all week. Walton and I are speaking on Wednesday at 12:30 in the Expo Hall where we’ll be giving an abbreviated presentation of our webinar, “It’s not the Players, It’s the Game,” and then on Wednesday at 8:45am, David Berry and Jay Leask will discuss how organizations have successfully leveraged SharePoint as a social platform within their organizations in their session “Options for Leveraging SharePoint as a Social Platform.

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Enterprise 2.0 Success is About the Players, Not the Field

Watch your local Pee-wee football team’s practice sometime and you’ll see a lot of dropped passes, missed tackles, and a whole host of other mistakes. But…what would happen if you put that team on Heinz Field and gave them all the same amenities as the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yep, they still wouldn’t be able to complete a pass, kick a field goal or break a James Harrison tackle. Clearly, just because they were put on a better field and given the latest equipment doesn’t mean they will suddenly learn to play football.

Southern Tier Youth Football Conference, NY - Newark Valley @ Maine Endwell Gold

It doesn't matter what kind of equipment you give them, these players aren't going to win the Super Bowl

Similarly, simply adding the latest Enterprise 2.0 platform behind your firewall doesn’t mean your employees will suddenly learn to collaborate with one another. Collaboration doesn’t just magically happen because you went out and bought the latest Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business software. It happens because they have a reason to collaborate. It happens when they are rewarded for sharing information. It happens when they like working with the people around them.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen dozens of failed wikis, blogs, microblog platforms, forums, and idea management deployments, and I’m sure I’ll see many more. This is frustrating on a couple of different levels for me. First, since I suffer from HOLI (“Hatred of Losing Information“), I hate seeing the missed collaboration opportunities that result from these poorly implemented solutions. Secondly, I know that because of these failures, these organizations will most likely write off social media behind the firewall as some sort of snake oil.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of all of these failures is the reliability with which their failure can be predicted. If you’re implementing some sort of social media behind your organizational firewall, and you’re doing any of the following, I can tell you right now that you probably won’t be successful:

  • The same IT department who installed your email system, your ERP system, or your databases is responsible for leading the implementation of your wiki, blog, microblogging platform, etc.
  • You don’t have anyone talking about user adoption and community management on the team from the very start
  • You don’t have a plan for funding this initiative beyond this year
  • You’re measuring success by the number of “users” you can claim
  • You’re talking about giving away iPads and candy bars to get people to use it
  • There are numerous conversations among senior leadership about how to mitigate the risks of your employees using the tools “as a dating service,” to “goof around,” to complain about everything, or editing things they don’t know anything about.
  • You’re more concerned with the available features instead of making it fast, reliable, and accessible
  • The team responsible for the platform doesn’t even use it

Instead of trying to give the players the latest and greatest stadium and equipment, start focusing on improving their passing and tackling skills. Maybe you could have them run some pass patterns instead of installing a state-of-the art locker room?

  • Do my employees have a reason to collaborate with people outside of their immediate team?
  • Is collaborative behavior rewarded during the performance assessment process? Are they punished for hoarding information?
  • Does leadership model collaborative behavior?
  • Are colleagues encouraged to spend time with each other outside of work hours (softball teams, happy hours, etc.)?
  • Are there multiple levels of approvals needed before anyone can share anything?
  • Do your employees trust each other? Do they trust management?

If you’re interested in learning more about why your Enterprise 2.0 implementations are failing and what you can do to help them succeed, take a look at the webinar that I just did for UBM TechWeb.  The “It’s Not the Field, It’s the Players” webinar will be archived here, and the slides are now available below. 

[UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE PRESENTATION BELOW]

[slideshare id=9663453&doc=e20webinar-draftfinalslideshare-111012142902-phpapp02]

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Mr. Popularity and Your Enterprise 2.0 Community

Let’s do an experiment. Take five minutes and do a quick search of your organization’s blogs, microblogs, wikis, and forums that are available behind your firewall – and then let me know what the most popular topics are. Do they involve “social media,” “Web 2.0,” “new media,” “mobile,” “enterprise 2.0,” or “collaboration?”

Now, take a look at who is posting and commenting on these topics. Are these the same people who also have the most overall comments, posts, edits, and connections? If so, Mr. Popularity may be taking over your community and the worst part of it all? He may actually think he’s helping you.

Starting and maintaining a vibrant online community behind an organizational firewall is already fraught with challenges – integrating it into the workflow, securing funding, scaling across the organization, developing policies and guidelines, creating rewards structures, identifying active champions – and now I’m here to tell you that those very active champions who are so critical to the early growth of your community may also be the cause of its downfall.

You see, while these active champions are responsible for seeding a majority of the content, answering questions, posting content, editing pages, and creating topics, they can also skew the content to suit their own agenda and create a chilling effect on opposing viewpoints and topics. This makes your communities far more social media and technology-oriented than your organization really is. In the early days of your online community, this may be of little concern to you – content is being created, new members are joining, and discussions are happening. This creates a vibrant community for those employees interested in social media and technology, but unfortunately, further dissuades those interested in other topics from joining. Mr. Popularity, once an ally, now becomes a challenge to be overcome.

I’ve actually experienced the pros and the cons of being Mr. Popularity on our  own hello.bah.com community a few years ago. I was one of the first community managers and was a very visible and active champion for the platform. I became known as the guy who could get conversations started, who could help increase traffic to a post, and who would be willing to give an opinion when no one else would. Our internal communications staff was even pitching me to get me to share official corporate messages because I had built up a decent sized following on my blog. This worked out great in the beginning – I was able to help drive some additional traffic to the platform, increase user adoption, and create a ton of new content that was shared across the firm. The double-edged sword of being Mr. Popularity hit me right in the face though when I got the following email (excerpted below):

“When I ducked into our VP’s blog, I noted you had already jumped in with what appears to be a standard, or getting there, pat on the back and tutorial…  Are you becoming too intrusive beyond cheerleading?  The speed at which you’ve already entered the room is giving me the thought that you are becoming Master Control from the movie Tron. I can’t recall reading anyone’s blog that I can’t remember seeing you there in the first couple of replies.  You write extensive replies very quickly that to me verge on being somewhat inhibiting for others, like me, to weigh in so as to not repeat a point.”

Wow! And here I thought I was being helpful! I thought by commenting on everything I could get to, I could help build and reinforce the collaborative culture we were trying to create. And at first, that’s exactly what I was doing. Little did I know that as the community grew beyond the early adopters, my hyper-activity that was a boon at the start was now becoming a detriment. Instead of a community manager, was I becoming a community bully?

To find out if your Mr. Popularity is negatively impacting your community, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does Mr. Popularity know that he/she is having a negative impact? These active champions probably don’t even know that they’re causing harm. Quite the contrary – they probably believe that they’re helping. Like the email I received above, reach out to them and have a discussion with them about their contributions and show them areas where instead of helping create conversation, they may have inadvertently stopped it.
  2. Who are your most active contributors beyond social media and technology? The best way to lessen the influence of Mr. Popularity is to identify people in other business areas who are willing and able to post and discuss content areas like HR, Legal, and Operations.
  3. What is your role in the community? Do a bit of self-reflection – maybe you are Mr. Popularity. Talk to your colleagues and find out what they really think of your online presence. Do you come across as overbearing? Too focused on one topic? Closed off to other opinions? Publicly, you may be receiving all kinds of positive reinforcement. But what are people saying among themselves that they aren’t sharing publicly?
  4. What other possible reasons exist for the gluttony of social media/tech-related topics? Are community members discouraged from discussing operations? Has the Director of HR banned his staff from participating? Having a few individuals who are hyper-active on your online community and skewing the conversations toward their interests is like having two good quarterbacks and not being able to decide which one to start. It’s usually a good problem to have, and despite some of the challenges identified in this post, they are still likely helping more than they’re hurting your community.

Mr. Popularity isn’t necessarily a detriment to your community. Quite the contrary – they’re likely some of your most valuable members. But, left unchecked, they do have the potential to take over the community – its members, its content, and its discussion. The key is in channeling their energy and enthusiasm and focus it on helping grow the community as a whole, to include topics other than social media and technology.

*This post originally appeared on my AIIM Enterprise 2.0 Community blog.

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Rest in Peace, Social Media Ninjas

Ninja

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Seth W.

Let’s get this straight – a few years ago, you read The Cluetrain Manifesto or Groundswell or one of the other hundred social media books out there, you started reading Mashable, you created a Twitter account, and you developed a bunch of presentations you used internally to help get buy-in from your organization’s senior leadership for your social media ideas. It’s now two or three years later, and you’ve become the organizational “expert,” “guru,” or “subject matter expert” in social media, your social media blog receives a lot of traffic, you’ve championed the use of Enterprise 2.0 tools internally, and you’re managing your organization’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Everything’s going according to plan, right?

Eh….not quite.

Here’s the thing – over the last few years, you’ve probably gotten a few raises, won some awards, maybe you’ve even been promoted one or two times. I hope you’ve enjoyed your rise to the top because I’m here to tell you that the end is near. If you’ve ridden the wave of social media and branded yourself as the social media “guru,” “ninja,” or “specialist,” I hope you’ve got a backup plan in place because what once set you apart from the crowd now just lumps you right in there with millions of other people with the same skills, the same experience, and the same knowledge. A few years ago, you were innovative. You were cutting-edge. You were forward-thinking. You were one of a few pioneers in a new way of thinking about communicating. Just a few short years later, and you’re now normal. You’re just doing what’s expected. You’re one of many. Social media specialists are the new normal. Oh, you were the Social Media Director for a political campaign? Congratulations – so were the other 30 people who interviewed for this position. What else have you done? What other skills do you have? People with social media skills and experience on their resume aren’t hard to find anymore. It’s those people who don’t anything about social media who stand out now.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the end.  Instead trying to be a social media ninja, try being a communications specialist. Try being a knowledge management professional. Try being a recruiter. Try being an information technology professional. Because guess what – THAT’S what you are doing. Instead of talking about how you have thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook fans, talk about what those fans have helped you accomplish. Instead of talking about the number of blog subscribers you have, talk about how much revenue that blog helped generate for your organization. Instead of talking about the number of members of your Yammer network, talk about how that community has positively impacted your organization’s workforce. Start talking about social media for what it is – a set of tools that people with real professions use to do their jobs. Don’t try to be an expert at using a hammer. Try to be the master builder who can use the hammer, the saw, and the screwdriver to build a house.

When everyone’s a specialist, no one’s a specialist. What makes you stand out now?

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