Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ambient Awareness, Part Deux

In writing about Web 2.0, Clive Thompson coined the phrase ambient awareness. He said, “Each little update, each individual bit of social information is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of people’s lives.” I have no quarrel with his assessment and even like the phase ambient awareness.

Lew Platt, former CEO of HP approached the same idea with a different thought: “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more profitable.” As I’ve considered both men’s assessment on collaboration and knowledge management, I have begun to form my own definition that is a compilation of their thoughts and those of others.

In my experience, successful application in a business setting of Web 2.0 and all the technologies surrounding the space (a.k.a. – Enterprise 2.0), is really about using social computing platforms to make relevant information not simply more accessible. But to have it flow throughout the organization as a byproduct of organizational activity such that a shared view of the business is derived by all participants in the social computing environment. Just as we do not give conscious thought to breathing or maintaining our body temperature, the creation, dissemination, and maintenance of tribal knowledge can be made implicit in daily activities through application of social computing platforms.

If such an environment can in fact be fostered, what benefit is to be had? I anticipate the benefit will come in two forms:

· Capitalizing on the viral spread of innovative ideas in a rapid, iterative, entrepreneurial fashion.

· Better decision making by improved contextual awareness for each and every business decision.

The benefits I mention are of my own opinion. I welcome dissent and robust debate on this.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enterprise Social Computing

Too often firms select software in hopes that it deliver a solution to a problem. Typically, this is done without serious consideration to the affected business processes; or hoping organizational change can be avoided, yet expecting improved business performance.

I remind myself of these experiences as I embark on an interesting engagement leading a team through the process of defining requirements for an enterprise social computing platform.

The early days will focus on developing a common language, governance models, and a broad understanding of the business goals and objectives for such a platform. This process of surfacing the team’s thoughts is really a framing exercise designed to guide additional days of requirements definition. The requirements will lead to the selection of a solution or solutions and an organizational structure and method for managing collaboration.

There is a clear need for social collaboration inside and outside the four walls of the business. Along with collaboration is portal functionality to support document sharing, ratings, reviews, and collaborative development of text, video, presentations, and other media for internal and external consumption. I am wondering if this becomes a single solution or multiple pieces of software. At this point, I don’t see a single, monolithic solution out there. But I may be proven wrong.