Tag Archives: Social networking

#newjob

In late 2011, I was contacted by a very charming, smart and persuasive French gentleman who spoke of clouds, platform-as-a-service, and polyglot programming. It took him and his team a couple of months to get me thinking seriously about a career change, after 10 great years at IBM. I’d spent that period with “Big Blue” coding in Java and C, and primarily focused on enterprise application servers, message queueing, and integration – and yet the lure of how easy vmc push[1] made it for me to deploy and scale an app was astounding! Should I make the transition to a crazy new world? Over Christmas that year, I decided it would be a good thing to get in on this hot new technology and join VMware as Developer Advocate on the Cloud Foundry team. I joined the team early in 2012.

The Cloud Foundry adventure has been amazing. The day after I joined the team, the project celebrated its first anniversary, and we announced the BOSH continuous deployment tool; I spent much of that first year with the team on a whirlwind of events and speaking engagements, growing the community. The Developer Relations team that Patrick Chanezon and Adam Fitzgerald put together was super talented, and it was brilliant to be part of that group. Peter, Chris, Josh, Monica, Raja, Rajdeep, Alvaro, Eric, Frank, Tamao, Danny, Chloe, D, Giorgio, friends in that extended team… it was an honour.

A year after I joined, VMware spun out Cloud Foundry, SpringSource and other technologies into a new company, Pivotal – headed up by Paul Maritz. I’ve been privileged to work under him, Rob Mee at Pivotal Labs, and most closely, my good friend James Watters on the Cloud Foundry team. I’ve seen the opening of our new London offices on Old Street, welcomed our partners and customers into that unique collaborative and pairing environment, and observed an explosion of activity and innovation in this space. We launched an amazing productJames Bayer heads up a remarkable group of technologists working full-time on Cloud Foundry, and it has been a pleasure to get to know him and his team. Most recently, I’ve loved every minute working with Cornelia, Ferdy, Matt, Sabha and Scott (aka the Platform Engineering team), another talented group of individuals from whom I’ve learned much.

Over the course of the last two years I’ve seen the Platform-as-a-Service space grow, establish itself, and develop – most recently resulting in my recent talk at bcs Oxfordshire:

Last week, we announced the forthcoming Cloud Foundry Foundation – and one could argue that as a community and Open Source kinda guy, this was the direction I’ve helped to move things in the past two years, although I can claim no credit at all for the Foundation announcement itself. I’ve certainly enjoyed hosting occasional London Cloud Foundry Community meetups and drinks events (note, next London PaaS User Group event has 2 CF talks!), and I’ve made some great friends locally and internationally through the ongoing growth of the project. I’m proud of the Platform event we put on last year, I think the upcoming Cloud Foundry Summit will be just as exciting, and I’m happy to have been a part of establishing and growing the CF community here in Europe.

Cloud Foundry is THE de facto Open Source PaaS standard, the ecosystem is strong and innovative, and that has been achieved in a transparent and collaborative way, respectful to the community, in a good-natured way in the face of competition. Rest assured that I’ll continue to watch the project and use PaaSes which implement it (I upgraded to a paid Pivotal Web Services account just this past week, I tried BlueMix, and I’m an ongoing fan of the Anynines team).

There are many missing shout-outs here… you folks know who you are, and should also know that I’ve deeply enjoyed learning from you and working with you. Thank you, Pivotal team! I do not intend to be a stranger to the Bay Area! In my opinion, Pivotal is positioned brilliantly in offering an end-to-end mobile, agile development, cloud platform and big data story for the enterprise. I look forward to continuing the conversations around that in the next couple of weeks.

[…]

What happens after “the next couple of weeks”? Well, this is as good time as any (!) to close that chapter, difficult though it is to leave behind a team I’ve loved working with, on a product and project that is undoubtedly going to continue to be fantastically successful this year and beyond. So, it is time to announce my next steps, which may or may not be clear from the title of this post… 🙂

Joining Twitter!

I joined Twitter as a user on Feb 21 2007. On the same day, seven years later, I accepted a job offer to go and work with the Twitter team as a Developer Advocate, based in London.

If you’ve been a long-term follower of mine either here on this blog, or on Twitter, or elsewhere, you’ll know that Twitter is one of my favourite tools online. It has been transformational in my life and career, and it changed many of my interactions. True story: between leaving IBM and joining VMware I presented at Digital Bristol about social technologies, and I was asked, which one I would miss the most if it went away tomorrow; the answer was simple: Twitter. As an Open Source guy, too, I’ve always been impressed with Twitter’s contributions to the broader community.

I couldn’t be more #excited to get started with the Twitter Developer Relations team in April!

Follow me on Twitter – @andypiper – to learn more about my next adventure…

[1] vmc is dead, long live cf!

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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!

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.

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.

IBM and the Twittersphere

This was one of those comments you start to write on someone else’s blog entry, which morphed into a post all of its own.

As an IBMer who Twitters, I’m pretty astonished that the company hit this list of “brands that suck on Twitter”… in common with Adam, Ed and Ryan’s comments on the post (which Ed follows up in a post of his own).

I’ve spoken about the organisation’s engagement with social media of all kinds before. Looking at my own Twitter usage, I would guess that of my current ~500 followers/followees, a fair percentage of them are folks from across the company I want to keep in touch with, or people that share common technology interests that I want to learn from or that are watching and listening to me. I have search feeds set up for topics of interest (products, brand names, etc.) in my feedreader and make an effort to check what people are saying about our stuff – where necessary I highlight those comments to people internally, or try to talk to the original commenter. I’ve observed IBMers using Twitter to build communities and connections across the company, and with both customers and others outside it too.

I guess that the original post bases the assessment on the @IBM account alone, and reaches the conclusions it does… but look at all the ways in which we use social media and you might arrive at a different endpoint. I’d say we’re listening, engaging, talking, and take these communities seriously.

Adam Christensen sums it up neatly in his comment on the original post, also re-quoted by Ed Brill:

IBM is nothing more than a collection of a gazillion individual IBMers. Really smart ones for the most part, I think. And thousands of those folks are on Twitter. So rather than have a centralized – yet generic – IBM account, we’ve opted for a decentralized approach and let those many individuals be the IBM face to the Twitter world.

Actually that has been our approach with social networks from the outset. If there was a single @IBM account that tweeted about everything that the company touches it would be pretty noisy – our business is diverse. Instead, you can choose to engage with individuals and what their individual voices offer. I think it’s a nice way of working, and I like that my company trusts us to be out there.