Tag Archives: enterprise

The thorny question of social software ROI

One of my good friends from IBM UK moved out to New Zealand a few years ago. Since then, Chris Sparshott has been, as he puts it, “morphing into a Social Media Specialist within IBM” (aren’t we all!) “along with running the day job as a technical Sales consultant”.

In a recent post, Chris shares a slideshow where he attempts to demonstrate how it is possible to measure the value of Social Networking within an enterprise. The whole question of ROI has been a tricky one, and various people have dismissed the very notion of attempting to measure “investment value” in this space. Chris has come up with some other options – measuring time and effort, and measuring contribution. It’s an interesting discussion, and I think it works well.

By the way, Chris has some other great slideshows over on Slideshare. Well worth a look. He’s sparkbouy on Twitter.

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Message Brokers and Forbidden Cities

I’ve been reading a lot about the Beyond Space and Time project, which is bringing Beijing’s famous Forbidden City to life. As an eightbar person I’ve been aware of the project for quite some time, but I have to admit that I’ve not really done too much digging into the underlying technology.

According to the reports, the project has been built using the Torque engine, with WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Message Broker on the backend, with dynamic provisioning of servers. This is awesome stuff. I frequently refer to Message Broker as “my pet product”, since it’s the product I’ve specialised in for the past 8 years of my professional life. I’m going to probe further into exactly how the middleware stack is being utilised.

As we’ve been evangelising virtual worlds within IBM (I’m not a full-time Metaverse Evangelist, but Ian and, in the past, Roo have frequently been kind enough to put me forward as a speaker on the topic when they’ve been unavailable), the question has arisen as to “why we’re even bothering with all this game stuff”. Well, as someone whose day job has been in enterprise middleware and transactional systems for the past several years, I’ve always seen some of the key connections here. The 3D Internet environment needs to be supported by a multitude of technologies, and enterprises with well-defined Service Oriented Architectures are well placed to have their systems connected to the next-generation environments. If they are going to be successful, Virtual Worlds need hardware to run on, they need some of the enterprise-quality levels of availability, security and service that we’ve become accustomed to in business, and they need to be able to connect up to existing systems. A product like WebSphere Message Broker is ideal for helping to enable this, as it essentially provides the ability to connect to any “legacy” backend and mediate requests on behalf of the avatar needing the data.

So, check out Beyond Space and Time, enjoy it, and you’ll probably forget all about the middleware that enables it to run – which is exactly how it should be. The whole project really does bear out some of the stuff that we’ve been discussing over on eightbar for the past couple of years, and I’m completely thrilled to see it launch.

IBM’s updated Social Computing Guidelines

IBM has had some guidelines for employees who want to blog for a while now. They’ve been very helpful for those of us wanting to go out and start blogging externally, and the principles also apply to our behaviour internally, and across many of the social media tools that we use. I always refer to them as “lightweight”, by which I mean they take a relatively light touch, don’t attempt to impose control, encourage us to be respectful and sensible, and generally fit in with our existing standards of behaviour. They’re largely common sense.

Over the past couple of months we’ve been working collaboratively to update the guidelines. We did this in the same way that we developed the original document – via a wiki, and some lively discussion on our internal blogging platform.

The new IBM Social Computing guidelines can now be found on the IBM website. They’ve been extended to talk a little about new technologies beyond blogging (social networks, media sharing sites, and so on), and just generally tweaked to ensure that we’re taking account of changes in online behaviours over the past couple of years. One of the things I like is that we’ve actually made very few changes to the document, and certainly no major revisions… I think that again demonstrates the “light touch” and flexibility of the original guidelines and the level of trust that IBM is showing in its employees. For me, this is a good place to be.