Tag Archives: collaboration

The Social Factor

Social matchesAround this time last year, I was asked to help some colleagues who were contributing to a book by IBM VP Maria Azua about innovation and collaboration in the workplace. In particular I spent some time reviewing a chapter by Laurisa Rodriguez, who I’d been working with for several years and had met up with along with many of the other contributors at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin a month or so earlier.

I was aware that the book was due to be published during 2009 but I’d been so busy with the day job that it had dropped off my radar. Then I noticed a couple of incoming links from others who were writing about it (and found Laurisa’s blog post about it)… and realised that it had hit the shelves. The book, The Social Factor (Amazon link), is published by IBM Press and features contributions from many of the IBMers I’ve come to know through our internal social networks and tools over the past five years. It contains perspectives which reflect many of our experiences adopting tools and techniques such as tagging, blogging, wikis and social bookmarking inside the enterprise. It also discusses something I’ve frequently referred to in my speaking engagements – IBM’s highly successful Technology Adoption Program (TAP), which Maria herself established, and which continues to drive a lot of innovations inside the organisation that feed out into software products and service offerings. There’s a good Redbook about TAP available, of course, but it’s worth reading more in chapter 10 of this book.

It’s always nice to see one’s name in print… despite being a blogger I’m not sure I’ve got an entire book to write, so this may be as much as I get… so for those interested, you’ll find a small quotation from Laurisa’s interview with me – about Twitter, of all things, imagine that! 🙂 – on page 105.

So, if you’re interested in the impact of social media, crowdsourcing and technology on innovation in a large enterprise, check out The Social Factor. I may be biased because I’m mentioned and several of my friends contributed to it, but I purchased my own copy, I’m making nothing from the book myself, and I believe that it is a great read!

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The future of enterprise collaboration

I have just finished talking to a group of university students who were invited to IBM Hursley today. I had about 15 minutes to discuss Enterprise Collaboration, and I used the time to take a quick tour through IBM’s size, diversity and organisation, and talked about how the way I operate has changed since I got engaged in blogging internally four years ago, and how I “broke through” the firewall.

Towards the beginning of the talk, I asked three questions to get some group discussion going, and asked the students to shout out some answers. Here’s a summary of the responses.

1. What kinds of tools do you think enterprises use to communicate internally today?
“Skype”, “online meetings”, “MSN” (email and phone came right at the end of the list)

2. What kinds of tools would you like to use in a work environment?
“Facebook”, “Skype”

3. Is it a good idea, or appropriate, to communicate and share through firewalls?
“It’s important, for networking”, “companies could have their own version of Facebook internally”

I didn’t seed any of these responses! Very interesting… I think I’d expected the answers to question 1 to be email, wiki, blog etc., but those are all old school (and possibly, irrelevant) as far as this group was concerned. I guess the outcome of this entirely unscientific survey will be old news to some people, but I found it fascinating.

Update 17th June:
Thanks for all the interest in this post! I should just reiterate that this is not new news – as @andysc said to me after the talk yesterday, the idea that “email is how I communicate with my parents” is as commonplace as the idea that some of us may have had that “snail mail is how we communicated with our grandparents”. The point here is about the expectation of speed of spread of technology within corporations. I found it a very interesting perspective, although I guess I’d half-expected some of the answers. I just hadn’t expected the “old tech” to be buried so far down in the consciousness. But then, when I left university, web browsers were just emerging and I had a desktop email client at home, but yet I suddenly found myself at work using a green-screen terminal emulator to access what was, to my mind at the time, a hideously hard-to-use mail system called MEMO which required the use of line-editing commands.

One other point, given my own interest in these two technology spaces – Andy C asks below about microblogging, and I certainly mentioned our use of these tools internally and externally, but it didn’t seem to be on the students’ radar; secondly, I spoke about attending meetings in virtual worlds and the relative effectiveness compared to a teleconference, but again that didn’t come up as an idea in the responses to the questions at the start. So it seems (again, based on a highly unscientific study of a limited pool of London MSc Management students) that the technologies that are “expected” in the enterprise are those that have reached widespread consumer adoption outside it.

Make your own Redbook

If you are involved with IBM products you will undoubtedly be aware of Redbooks – deep technical books, usually written to address a particular product or scenario. The Redbooks are written collaboratively through the residency process. As a Redbooks author I have to say that working on one of them was one of the best experiences I’ve had at IBM so far – getting close to the development team, collaborating with folks from four or five different countries, working on hands-on scenarios and building a really strong book out of it.

IBM alphaWorks now has a mashup called My IBM Redbooks where you can go and “build your own book” based on a selection of those available. Essentially you can choose from a list of the books, pick the chapters you want, add a few title pages (name, abstract and preface), and then you are served a PDF version of the aggregated book. The only slight confusing part is that the page numbers and sections from the original book are preserved, so it’s not entirely customisable at this point.

Pretty neat, especially since you don’t always want every chapter and appendix, and some of the books can be several hundred pages long. Worth a look.