What social business is. And isn’t.

A newsstand in Milan (next to the Duomo)Sometimes you have to make a choice.

Mild or spicy. Grande or venti. Revolution or practical, commercial change.

When it comes to your applying social tools and practices to your firm, what’s it going to be?

Missing in Milan

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the Social Business Forum in Milan where over 1600 people signed up to “learn about Social Business opportunities, success stories, best practices and more.”

It’s the 5th year in a row they’ve had this conference. And I was struck as much by the notable people who spoke there as I was by what was missing.

There were several experts there. Authors John Hagel (“The Power of Pull”) and Frank Eliason (“@ Your Service”) gave keynote talks. Practitioners with deep experience – Luis Suarez, Peter Reiser, Megan Murray among others – were there presenting and contributing.

Several of them had come from a prior conference in London and several others would be heading to Boston later this month for Enterprise 2.0.

But while the experts keep getting better and better, the audiences don’t seem to be.

The haves & have nots

The conference is in its 5th year, and the term “Enterprise 2.0” was coined in 2006, but there are still too few stories about people generating commercial value by using social tools and practices. After 5 years, I’m disappointed that audiences come to hear that “traditional management isn’t working,” applaud the revolutionary speaker, and leave without a clue about what to do next.

(In a panel on community management, for example, Luis pointed out that companies like IBM have had community forums for 50 years. But when the moderator asked an audience of 100 how many actually had communities at their firm, only about 10 hands went up.)

As Megan Murray tweeted after one of the presentations:

2 fundamental questions

“We’ve got work to do.” What is the work Megan refers to? I think it starts with answering 2 basic questions:

“What’s it worth?” and “What’s in it for me?”

It’s much easier – and, initially, more exciting – to talk about overthrowing management than about eliminating waste in your company. It’s easier to talk about the success of Amazon and Apple than to figure out how to incentivize thousands of individuals at your own firm to change their behavior.

If you can’t or won’t answer these questions, you shouldn’t pitch social business to your senior management. And you shouldn’t buy a platform.

You should start someplace else.

If you care, contribute.

Social business isn't a baby any more. It's time for some successes.Conferences like the Social Business Forum are great. Not for fomenting revolution, but for making connections with people who’ve done something. For learning from them how you can make constructive contributions at your own firm.

If you want to bootstrap a social business movement, find someone who’s done something at a firm like your’s, build a community, and start learning how to connect people to drive change.

Overhauling how big companies work won’t happen via Powerpoint and evangelism. We’ll need to get to work. And we’ll need the combination of commercial value and personal benefit to sustain such an ambitious effort.

The social movement is past its infancy. It’s time for more meaningful successes.

About John Stepper

Driving adoption of collaboration and social media platforms at Deutsche Bank. (Opinions here are my own.)
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34 Responses to What social business is. And isn’t.

  1. John: Great post. I like the dual emphasis on firm impact and personal incentives. Without motivating people to change behavior, there is little impact. Changing culture is real work happens… not always sexy, but always essential.
    @margaretmolloy

  2. AnaDataGirl says:

    Interesting reflection John and very much in line with the great conversations during coffee breaks or informal gatherings that made the Social Business Forum such a great experience.

    Let me just make a point regarding the “After 5 years, I’m disappointed that audiences come to hear that “traditional management isn’t working” comment. I would argue that the level of awareness as to the impact of social media (concept & tools) for improving the way employees work & collaborate is still lower in Europe than in the US, so most corporate leaders on this side of the Atlantic are still in the “making sense of this whole social stuff” stage. In fact, most of them aren’t yet actually making sense of it, though they are already signing off budgets so that their communication agencies get them more followers on Facebook…

    So part of the audience in this type of events still needs to see their beliefs on traditional management shaken up by a keynote speaker. But, hopefully, part of them will start planting seeds of change inside their companies. Which makes me reflect on the last part of your post: yes, we [practitioners & companies already walking the talk] need to ship more (as Seth Godin would say) and to think about both the company and individual value we’ll be bringing about with our efforts.

    • John Stepper says:

      That’s, Ana. If social business awareness is lower in Europe (and I’d bet you’re right), then all the more reason to bring out commercial examples to convince them.

      Instead, it seems we only have a few handfuls of commercial successes globally. (How many times have you heard the SAP community story?) To me, that means too any practitioners are focused on the wrong things. If we focused more on commercial value, we’d have more stories to share at these conferences.

      On a constructive note, I’m more motivated than ever to generate commercial value in my own firm’s social business effort.

      How about you? :-)

      • Ana says:

        John, on the topic of measuring social business value I leave you with a few resources in case you are interested (though running the risk that you already know them which is highly probable):
        » It seems the measuring part is a recurring topic as Dion Hinchcliffe acknowledges in the “important notice” bit of this post: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe/social-business-success-burberry/1932
        » I like this article from Deb Lavoy about “Social Enterprise ROI: Measuring the Immeasurable”, it sheds a light on some of the difficulties in measuring value: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/social-business/social-enterprise-roi-measuring-the-immeasurable-015149.php
        » I also like how Olivier Blanchard dissects what is (& isn’t) social media ROI in this excellent post http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/101-success-stories-yes-101-examples-of-roi-no-heres-why/
        » I really like how this paper from The Deloitte Center for the Edge (supervised by the wonderful John Hagel) ties social software with business performance & addressing pain points and can’t seem to understand why I never see it mentioned in presentations http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Industries/technology/e9c1b39fb701e210VgnVCM3000001c56f00aRCRD.htm

        Now, I totally agree with the need to tie social business efforts with what you call commercial value – improving business performance, whatever the specific “pain points”, and at the same time facilitating people’s work (I’ve written a, yet unpublished, book chapter on this. Will share it as soon as it is out) -, while also reaping the “soft” benefits of increased connectedness inside the enterprise.

        That said, I’m pretty excited by the challenges ahead for folks like us! I’m sure that we will keep addressing these “tougher” issues and connect this small crowd of practitioners (online and offline) to share lessons learned and move things forward. As you wisely said, “if you care, contribute” :)

      • John Stepper says:

        What a generous comment! Thank you for schooling me. (I was only familiar with half of the material. You’re way ahead of me.)

        As Luis and others pointed out, we want to make firms *better* for people as well as more efficient and effective.

        I think the balance is wrong now. And the best way to fix it isn’t a blog post but rather to do what I can to shift the balance, starting with hard work at my own firm. (Blog posts are much easier. :-))

        The conference inspired me to increase our value targets and accelerate them. And maybe we can help other banks to do the same. And then…

        Looking forward to collaborating in the future. Now it’s a matter of if, not when.

  3. This made me think, John, and consider my own experience. It’s both, I think it has to be both. At BlackRock we built momentum with a revolutionary story and then we delivered on that story (or at least highly inspired one)..

    You’re right, if we hadn’t delivered, the story would have started to work against us. But without it, I don’t think we could have made it real. In the beginning, it’s all you have in the face of enormous inertia. Later, the story and the software and the community are inseparable.

  4. John, a simple question without a simple answer. In a global enterprise financial firm, it is the equivalent of “moving a mountain” with your bare hands. “It takes a village” comes to my mind. Lastly, if you don’t convert @data2dollars nothing else matters…

    • Irene says:

      I understand your situation. However, a village can start with one person. I’m an administrator (bottom of the ladder) in my company, and yet with just a couple of us, there’s some change happening. It may take a village, but it has to start somewhere.

  5. Cheers John! Key take-away: Overhauling how big co’s work won’t happen via Powerpoint & evangelism. Honest view – state of the nation.

  6. Hi John,
    thanks again for being with us and also for your post.

    In a sense I tend to agree: after 5 years (not only of Social Business Forum but nearly of Enterprise 2.0) many companies seem to still be at the point where a lot of “work should be done”. The largest part of the market still needs proof that internal collaboration can move the needle and another part of it is still at the beginning of the transformation.

    5 years ago, I already believed this was the case and launching a conference look to me like an accelerator of the process. After 5 years this process is still ongoing (I think like in every other market, US included) with a growing level of awareness and maturity but also lots of room to grow.

    How to do this? Human beings (manager are still human beings) need booth a vision and a path. The vision, the energy, a broader comprehension of the long term change is given by people like John Hagel and Steve Denning. I understand this message can be redundant for those already along the journey but I can assure you it is well needed for the others. On the other side, as you said, we need connecting with the examples, with the pioneers, with the initiatives able to show the way at a more pragmatical level. For this same reason we have had something like 20 companies on the stage (not consultants on behalf of companies but employees at those companies) from every area of the world, every industry, every size. The previous year the number was 15. This is the opportunity for connecting, posing questions, accelerating your change.

    Vision and path needs also metrics and measurable returns. During the various editions we have seen many good examples of ROI frameworks and actual returns not only for big organizations and well-known international names. This year we also had a panel with international experts on how to put together the right metrics both internally and externally.

    Lead the revolution? Yes! Do the revolution? Yes as well! We need both of them.

    Let’s being realistic. Changing a huge organization takes lots of time (years and decades) especially in terms of changing the mindset. Many organizations will be dead before changing.

    Even with our limited scope, we’ll keep being on the fore-front to support this change.

    • John Stepper says:

      Thanks, Emanuele, for your comment and your conference.

      You’re right about the different kinds of people and needs at such a conference. Perhaps it’s time to have beginner and intermediate tracks so that those just beginning can get inspired while those on their way can get better. Or, maybe better, it might be time to form industry verticals so we can accelerate the changes we want to bring about.

      I met so many good, smart people in Milan. More, please.

      • Ana says:

        Emanuele, spot on comment! Love the “Lead the revolution? Yes! Do the revolution? Yes as well! We need both of them”.

        John, the issue of different tracks at events (for folks on different levels of the maturity curve around these topics) keeps popping up. Or maybe we should do a special get-together for practitioners that have been walking the talk for several years :)

  7. Hi John, what a fantastic blog post and quite thought-provoking altogether! Brilliant! I think I am going with Ana on this one though. I have been using social networking tools rather extensively since early 2001 and even today, in 2012, I am still having conversations about topics related to social networking for business that I had back in 2005 and 2006. There is certainly quite a few distinctive waves of adoption across the business world and in this case both cultural and geographical barriers do matter. I would love to invite you to spend a couple of years working in some countries in Europe, where social networking is not even part of the equation. For that matter, they don’t even allow free, open access to the Social Web (Specially, within the banking & finance industry!), never mind using simple real-time collaboration tools like Instant Messaging.

    I agree with your premise that social networking for business needs to start showing some of the money and business value, and I am sure it’s showing up already, as Ana graciously mentioned with all of those insightful links. However, there is still a lot of ground to be covered and much much to be discussed and evangelised about. After all, changes as fundamental and radical as the ones provoked through social networking tools (Towards a much more open, public, transparent, democratised, trustworthy, collaborative, knowledge sharing workplace) will take time. In the decades, more than in the few years and one sign of concerned from yours truly in the recent months is how “complacent” some folks working in the Social Business space have become to the point of forgetting some of the premises of why they started advocating and evangelising about social business back in the day, as I have briefly mentioned on this short interview with Bjoern Negelman.

    It’s time to bounce back. We are not done just yet. We are only just scratching the surface and a lovely trip down at the heart of how businesses operate still today would confirm how we haven’t even covered 1/4 of where we should be to generate that mindset and critical mass to let it go by itself …

    PS. Here’s a blog post I put together a couple of months ago and how it’s still resonating as rather accurate more and more by the day and just a quick highlight of the challenges that we are still facing :)

    • John Stepper says:

      Thank you, Luis. I appreciate your points (and your post you linked to).

      Here’s a quote from your post that stuck out:
      “Because somehow using Social Business, just like we did with Knowledge Management back in the day, to optimise resources to drive business revenue by cutting costs alone in the short term somehow sounds like shooting ourselves on the foot,”

      The key word in that sentence is “alone”. If all we do is cut costs, then we’ve failed. I aspire (and, as you’ve been saying for years, social business should aspire) to make firms better, more human, more fulfilling for the people in them.

      We need both – commercial value and personal benefit – to sustain commitment on both sides. And I think we have the balance wrong now, with too little focus on commercial value.

      I shall endeavor to spend more time in Europe. (I’ve heard Portugal has some very smart people! :-)) And, in the interim, I will try to generate a lot of value for my European firm while also giving people a voice and better access to the many rich opportunities there.

      • Ana says:

        John, luckily there are smart people everywhere in Europe as the #sbf12 was living proof of :) But glad to know you plan on spending more time on this side of the Atlantic!!

        Luis, I think you meant to link to this video (http://youtu.be/XMTC3qOH5lM) but the one you’ve shared is very interesting.

      • elsua says:

        Hi John! Absolutely! I couldn’t have agreed more with you on your follow-up commentary, but , unfortunately, to be honest cutting costs, including laying off people!, is the first, easy way out, method for most businesses to stay on target to keep driving business revenue, although perhaps a bit too shortsighted, because what may be benefits for today, it’s definitely big trouble for tomorrow, when all of that layoff workforce or that cutting cost mentality just transforms organisations into the wrong kind of sustainable businesses in the long term, which is what I think we are all aiming at.

        I do agree with you that we do need commercial value and personal benefit, but there is no reason why those two would be in denial with more of a radical move towards becoming fully successful integrated social enterprises. In fact, for the last couple of years, perhaps three, I am starting to question whether we do need technology for business to thrive as social businesses. From this perspective: if a business is rather more open, public, transparent, collaborative (both internally amongst employees and externally with customers, business partners AND competitors!), trustworthy, knowledge sharing prone I bet we would all be much more aligned towards becoming social businesses than anything else.

        That’s why we should not stop on a technology focus per se, but those key traits that social networking and social business have been permeating all along. There are, for instance, plenty of industries, including banking and finance, perhaps specially this one, as a good starting point, which could do a whole lot more with openness, transparency and sustainable growth, and I have always thought it’s no longer our intention to do this, but more of an obligation to help push for this kind of messages within our organizations that we need to keep things down to earth and moving, but at the same time we should not neglect and ignore what brought us here in the first place and keep pushing for it into those areas that we know are not there just yet. Only then could we state that the move / journey towards becoming a successful social business will become a reality. Again, lots of hard work that should not prevent us from staying on focus, but also keep pushing to those areas, orgs. etc, that may not have been exposed to social networking as a whole. There are plenty of them out there who are just even getting started now. We should allow them to jump on board of the bandwagon, not leave them behind ;-)

  8. elsua says:

    Hi Ana! Doh!! Yes, indeed, that was the video clip I intended to link to on the original comment, but then again, that other one isn’t a too inaccurate for the conversation, isn’t it? Ahhh, the magic of serendipity! :-D Thanks much for linking to the right video link for me, Ana! It’s greatly appreciated! :)

  9. Interesting post, John. We still have a long way to go. I wrote a comparable post about the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris. http://info-architecture.blogspot.nl/2012/03/reflections-on-enterprise-20-summit.html To me the problem is most initiatives in the social business space are not connected to core business problems. They’re too isolated from what the organization is about and how it flows or should flow. Zooming in on the personal level shows something comparable: employees see social tools as something extra, not relating to their workflow. Workshops like the one you give can be of great help.

    • John Stepper says:

      I see this, too. Collaboration is relegated to an extra thing to do or just another Comms channel. As Sameer Patel (among others) has been saying for some time, we have to make the social tools and practices in line with work.

      So far, the “working out loud” idea seems the most helpful – at least until the tools and processes are further/better integrated.

      • elsua says:

        And here I am, pondering some more on how social networking for business should blend into our core business processes, when if you look into it, one of our most powerful communication, collaboration and processes exception handler, i.e. email, is not only hardly ever integrated into business processes, but also we all yet get to spend 2 to 3 hours every day just processing those incoming emails… Hummm … Not sure what you folks would think, but if we manage to do that for both email, IM and perhaps even the phone, social technologies should not be much different… (Says one who for the last 4 years has moved over 98% of his email interactions into social networking tools, whether internal or external and still manages to get work done…) Hummm … Perhaps we are just waiting for far too much from that blend between processes and social networking. Perhaps, maybe while we wait for it we could do a bit more of preaching what we talk and open up our very own conversations into much more open, public and transparent interactions, whether behind the firewall or externally… Just a thought :-D

      • John Stepper says:

        When I think of integration, I think more Facebook Connect than, say, some complicated custom interface between systems.

        If I can turn apps people normally use (Outlook, a browser, maybe a few special apps in my firm) then anything I do can become social. Every email thread can become a discussion. Every URL a social object that I can share, like, comment on – and see what everyone else at my firm thinks about it.

        The platforms support this today (largely) so I don’t have to wait for the technology. I just have to tweak how people work – and that’s hard enough!

      • elsua says:

        Ahhh, back again into confirming it’s not about technology, but people’s habits, behaviours and how to influence, entice them to think, AND live, different, and advocate for that transition, through integration, into how we collaborate and share our knowledge much more in the open! W00t! Good stuff! Yes, it’s a tough battle to win, but perhaps, the only one worth it. Both of our joint energy and efforts, altogether! Keep it up, my friend! We all need to keep pushing gently for such changes to take place :)

  10. Hey_Eight says:

    John – Another quality post and a lot of great follow up to read. “Lead the revolution”, “Do the revolution” are nice but change/revolution comes from the top/inside (Hannah Arendt via Mr. Robert Sabatelli – a reference my friend Stepper might chuckle at). As is mentioned , often cost cutting and layoffs are the focus and that can impact building better organizations. If the “revolutionaries” get to the top maybe the changes will be easier to enact.
    Also, how often are workers hung up with the “social” part of social media? Does the term itself generate confusion leading to slower or lack of adoption? Effective collaboration tools and knowledge sharing to benefit a/the business are the end game no matter what it is called. Are social media and business media viewed separately and does the use in one arena hinder the adoption in the other?

  11. Hi John, thanks a lot for starting this very interesting discussion – and thanks to Ana for calling my attention to it. Starting where Luis just finished: Social Business is not about technology, it requires changing people’s habits and behaviours – but this is not an end in itself! This transformation is a way to create more business value and make the “social” company more successful – in a sustainable way.
    With Enterprise 2.0, we have the (maybe once-in-a-lifetime) opportunity to resolve the contradiction between business success (which, in recent decades, was mainly linked to lean processes, cost cutting, outsourcing, etc.) and a people-centric, humane enterprise. The people leading this transformation in their companies – or as consultants – have the journey clearly mapped out in their minds and can vividly imagine how it will feel to work in a true social business. I have yet to meet someone in this role who is not a passionate visionary (don’t think this will happen).
    This enthusiasm is an essential ressource for our work – to ignite the passion in others, and to keep going when we discuss whith a crowd dominated by convervatives and sceptics. However, with all our enthusiasm, we need to keep one thing in mind: Not only executives, but also most of our colleagues are extremely unenthusiastic about an objective like “let’s totally change the way we communicate and collaborate, so that we become an open, innovative, self-optimizing company”. And they are right about this! If this transformation would not help employees to tackle pain points in their daily work and the company to become more successful, it would be a complete waste of everyone’s time and energy.
    I had an eye-opening experience when I showed a typical social business conversation on twitter to my husband. His comment: “That looks like members of a cult that is mainly self-centered.” Think of a typical discussion at a social business conference – and imagine a very down-to-earth salesperson or controller from your company would suddenly appear next to you. If that makes you uncomfortable, you know what I mean.
    I fully agree with John, our aim needs to be business value, and we need to prove that social business can increase it. And yes, I am fully aware that this is much harder to do than painting a nice picture of how an enterprise 2.0 would look like.
    Don’t get me wrong, although we have successfully started the journey towards social business at BASF for the past two years, we don’t have that magical ROI yet. And I don’t think the easy way out – theorizing that if every knowledge worker in the company spends 30 minutes a day less on searching for information, then the company saves X mio. dollars a year – will do us any good. We need to come up with tangible business benefits.
    At BASF, we have these success stories where people easily understand the business value. Sharing them is one secret behind the initial success we have achieved. Now it’s time to move from anecdotal to measurable, and to learn how the behaviour that creates most business value can be encouraged.
    We are facing quite a challenge with this undertaking. If a social business conference would focus on this topic, I would make sure not to miss it ;-)

    • elsua says:

      Beautiful insights, Cordelia! Thanks much for dropping by and for sharing them across! I don’t think anyone on this blog post and the extended commentary is denying the validity of striking a good balance into proving the business value and the long term thinking behind the social transformation that Social Businesses would need to go through. I think both of them are more than capable of co-existing. What I am a bit worried about at the moment now is that we may be trying to prove that business value far too soon, without the vast majority of the workforce enabled (As Marie-Louise brilliantly stated below as well!!) and therefore perhaps not getting the most we can and therefore come to question the validity of the 2.0 initiatives themselves.

      I think it was Forrester the ones who were predicting that 70% of all of the Enterprise 2.0 initiatives would be failing over time and I am 100% the main reason behind is that we haven’t allowed for enough time to sink in, be patient, persevere and be resilient that business value would eventually turn out by itself. If we just keep obsessing with trying to figure out before it’s just right, we may be risking it all altogether. Think of it as a harvest, you plant the seeds, you water them, you allow for plenty of sunshine, your pamper and nurture the harvest and just when you know it’s the right time you would go ahead and collect that harvest at its prime and treasure what you have got.

      That’s why I think we should not rush too soon, too badly into proving the value of Social Business when it’s not pervasive enough across the organizations. Patience and reticence would pay off eventually. Not having it would not. Which eventually brings me on to another question I would want to throw out in the mix…

      In today’s Era of the Social Web, what are the benefits, risks, of NOT doing Social Business? Have we proved the business value of *not* doing social networking for business? I mean, what would happen if all of a sudden, because we just can’t prove the business value of social networking, we would all stop doing it? Would we be much much better off?

      Something tells me we wouldn’t …

      • Ana says:

        (John, what a delightful discussion you are “housing” here :) )

        Cordelia, thank you for taking my hint and dropping by to comment! Both you and Luis gave very insightful comments and excellent food-for-thought.

        At big companies, the closer you are to the core of power (the headquarters, usually), the more likely you are to suffer the pressure for quick results. Which makes me think about John Hagel’s advise at The Power of Pull about starting at the edges where less pressure is bound to happen… as Luis says, things need time to mature. But taking an example non-related to social technology, I’ve recently witnessed how the reputation of a set of communities of practice was elevated once savings ($$) from their joint work was reported to the rest of the org. “These guys are bringing us real value, not just chit-chatting” seemed to be the reasoning behind that.

        We must also remember that we live in societies and economies dominate by metrics & measurement. But even here things are changing. At a macro-level, think about the shift in some countries from measuring just GDP to tracking also a National Happiness Index, and the challenges it presents because it’s harder to measure.

        Still much to do… but as Cordelia said let us continue “ignit[ing] the passion in others” while at the same time pursuing the discussion of the challenges amongst ourselves :)

    • John Stepper says:

      Thank you, Cordelia (and nice to meet you :-)).

      I really appreciated your comment and loved this quote, in particular: “Now it’s time to move from anecdotal to measurable, and to learn how the behaviour that creates most business value can be encouraged.”

      I’m glad we have Luis and other leaders changing the long-term thinking. We need that. In parallel, having companies like ours show real benefits – not just anecdotes – will complement his work and further motivate the change we all want to bring about.

      Are we ready? Judging from the audiences at conferences, most companies are not ready. But I think firms like BASF (and hopefully my own) are indeed ready. They can and should move from anecdotes to measures – for our own benefit and to help further the overall movement.

  12. Marie-Louise Collard says:

    It’s also about training and having lots of community facilitators to help that integration process.
    How many time have I heard “now I know how I can – I will!” after training on how to use the tools that these platforms provide. No amount of evangelism and enticement will work if you don’t give living proof of local adaptation – rather than forced adoption.

  13. Pingback: E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez » Reinventing Relationships with Social Business

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  15. Cecil says:

    What a glorious conversation ! Which brings me to the question : how were we doing before these collaborative tools ?
    I think Cordelia coment is bang on “I had an eye-opening experience when I showed a typical social business conversation on twitter to my husband. His comment: “That looks like members of a cult that is mainly self-centered.” Think of a typical discussion at a social business conference – and imagine a very down-to-earth salesperson or controller from your company would suddenly appear next to you. If that makes you uncomfortable, you know what I mean.”
    When I read the definition of Social Business as it has been given during the conference Cordelia’s comment resonates all the more. A brilliant definition, don’t get me wrong but who outside of the the evangelists mob will fully aprehend it ?
    I’m sorry to insist but I think we should start with the tools. These are new disruptive tools and we need to understand what they bring both in terms of capacity and in terms of culture. These are disruptive tools on both aspects. They are the first many-to-many tools to integrate the organisation (capacity) and they have a strong culture as these tools were born out of passion on the public internet (open source software + agile) – which makes a huge difference with enterprise software as we knew it, software that was born out of arranged marriage between HR or CMO and CTO.
    It seems to me that rather than wondering if we should focus on short term business value or long term enterprise culture why understand how these tools can help on both. I do think that we, evangelists, we need to build some kind of simple framework allowing for quick wins and long term benefits regarding 3 main value streams : operation excellence, product development and customer engagement. We are close, we just need to make it more explicit and straight forward.
    Man, how I love these collaboration tools – thanks to them I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of you.

    • Really a pity I couldn’t particpate to Social Business Forum in Milan. Must have been a great event.
      Thanks John and all the others for these really really interesting discussion and please let us have more of those discussions on conferences. You all raised so many interesting points here where I immediately wanted to step in and discuss. So sorry, I might jump between the topics.
      Thanks Cecil for raising the point on the usage of tools. I very much liked your comment:
      “Man, how I love these collaboration tools – thanks to them I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of you.”
      Without those tools I believe we wouldn’t even talk about Social Business as we are doing today. But of course: Yes, we all know that at the end of the day this is not – only – about tools. We are talking about change – of behaviour, of culture if you want to and from my experience the best way to make people change is to solve their problems. Show them whats in for them (I liked Johns initial comment on the two main questions.). And here I agree very much to the comments Luis made in his video to Bjoern. We need to integrate these tools into the existing business world. Into boring administrative processes, into the daily live of the people. And make them very very easy to use.
      This is not the interesting discussions we have on conferences on how to make our lifes better (I agree Cordelia, this is maybe a once in a lifetime chance and I’m very happy to have the chance to support this). This is hard and often time consuming basic work getting for example the technical infrastructure right. And to convince people, little by little until it crosses the chasm. And this will happen in a different way from company to company. But these interesting discussions give me the vision where I want to go. Thank you all for your inspiration.
      John raised the question if we need to continue to talk about these well known examples (SAP, IBM, BASF you name them). I believe yes because people need to know that this is not something that happens on a Facebook posting but serious companies working on it. The first question I have been asking by my CxOs when I presented my vision: but we are not the first in doing this!! I was very happy being able to present all these great examples. And please don’t forget that outside of our discussions and conferences there are many many people who have literally no clue of what we are talking about. (I liked your example Cordelia about the Controller and I received similar remarks from my wife;-). I just came back from the Dresdner Future Forum where I had the chance to discuss with Bjoern on the same topics. It is amazing on how far away many people are from what we are talking about on conferences. A lot of the people I talked to know about the existence of Facebook and they are either scared or they don’t take it serious. But these people are normally not participating in SocBiz conferences – why should they? So I agree to some of the comments made about offering different tracks on conferences. And having more of these kind of discussions – via collaboration tools and in real life.

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