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Archive for the category “Enterprise 2.0”

Useful Resources for Looking at Library 2.0

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately into Libraries and their adoption of web 2.0 principles/technologies and also Enterprise 2.0. In my research I have come across some excellent information which I am going to share to those of you who are interested.

These resources all come from the Online Computer Library Centre website in the reports section. I cannot stress how complete, in-depth and useful these resources are. The OCLC team conduct huge environmental scans and collect masses of data on Library usage, social networking, emerging technologies, perceptions of libraries and so on with plenty of statistics and graphs to support their studies.

The website contains the following studies (of which can all be downloaded from the website in PDF format):
(Particularly useful documents to the Library 2.0 assignment for INB students are marked with *’s)

You can visit the reports homepage here.

Hope this helps others completing the Enterprise 2.0 RFP assignment as well as anyone looking for information and data to back up Library 2.0 implementations.

LibGuides – Enterprise 2.0 for the Library

Currently I am completing a Request for Proposal document outlining a web 2.0 implementation plan for the QUT Library. After investigating the Library’s current situation and identifying the tools they are currently offering their clients, I have come across one in particular which I am going to discuss in this post. This tool is known as LibGuides.

LibGuides is a software package developed by Springshare, a company who has made it their goal “to develop practical web 2.0 applications built specifically for libraries and educational institutions,” (Springshare, 2009). LibGuides is a “web 2.0 content management and library knowledge sharing system” that can be used to create attractive, multimedia rich web pages to share resources, content and knowledge collaboratively amongst users. LibGuides puts the power of content creation in Librarian’s hands. It provides a flexible and easy to use interface from which Librarians can create customised pages specific to the content they wish to display.

Below is a fairly long and unintersting video about the uses and benefits of LibGuides… but if you don’t feel like watching it all (Iwon’t blame you) I’ll give you the low down of how LibGuides works, what it offers and the benefits it provides.

How does it work?
The benefit of LibGuides comes from the ability for Librarians to customise the look and feel of the website and add content modules to the page similar to MySpace’s Profile 2.0 system. Dragging and dropping modules onto the page is simple and these modules range from plaintext modules to fully-fledged RSS modules, multimedia modules, Delicious tag cloud modules and so on. These modules or widgets depending on what you prefer, can be further customised to enable commenting, polls and so on to enable participation from its users.

What does it offer?
LibGuides offers Librarians with an unlimited potential to create meaningful, attractive and useful content for their clients. With the ability to drop LibGuide modules onto the page, multimedia, tag clouds, polls, commenting systems, social media integration and sharing are all at the finger tips of the Librarian without the need for profound technical knowledge.

What are the benefits of LibGuides?

  • Integrating and embracing Web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter, syndication in the form of RSS feeds, social media sites such as Facebook, wikis and blogs has never been easier and with thousands of pre-made templates designing is even simpler.
  • Creating communities, sharing resources, monitoring usage and catalysing learning is much easier.
  • Receiving user opinions and running polls or questionnaires is as simple as dropping a module onto the page and customising a few fields. But for advanced users, customisation is powerful and can be used to adjust the appearance, look, behaviour and content of a module.

All in all I believe LibGuides is a huge step in the right direction for Libraries wanting to embrace web 2.0 concepts. It offers more flexibility and control in areas such as subject guides, learning portals and so forth allowing content to be customised and encouraging, enhancing and increasing collaboration and sharing in ways that Web 2.0 can only offer. You can try out LibGuides in use at the QUT Library’s subject guides: http://libguides.library.qut.edu.au/
Or if you are looking for more information on LibGuides you can visit their website at: http://www.springshare.com/libguides/index.html

Grassroot Enterprise 2.0 projects lead to success

I’ve previously written about adoption of Wikis in company intranets. What I found quite interesting was that Disney’s wiki started as an unsanctioned effort at speeding up and increasing the productivity of their internal faction. It was later recognised as a valuable tool by the higher ranks and upgraded to fully accommodate for their needs. This kind of Enterprise 2.0 stories are often called grassroots stories. This means that the employers have addressed their needs and then the project has risen up through the ranks and recognised by those in authoritative positions. A recent article in the Social Computing Journal found that:

  1. Underground efforts yield big results – Companies are turning a blind eye to underground social software efforts until they prove their worth, after which they integrate them more thoroughly.
  2. Front line workers are driving the vision – Many senior managers still consider social tools something their teenagers use. Young workers, who do not need to be taught or convinced to use these tools, expect them in the workplace.
  3. The business need is the big driver – Social software is not about the tools, it is about what the tools enable the users to do and about the business problems the tools address.
  4. Communities are self-policing – When left to their own devices, communities within enterprise intranets police themselves. Workers tend to retain their professional identities, leaving little need for the organization to institute controls.
  5. Organizations must cede power – As companies have been learning from using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with their customers, they can no longer fully control their message. This is true, too, when Web 2.0 tools are used in internal communications.

What many people would consider a rare occurrence is now being realized as commonplace. Employees are demanding social media enters their working lives and are even taking their own steps to ensure it is incorporated into their work. It’s an interesting find and I look forward to sharing any other news on the topic that I find.

Discussion on Failures in Adopting Enterprise 2.0

I’ve been reading lately, a tonne of articles discussing why Enterprise 2.0 projects sometimes fall short and why sometimes what sounded so good at first suddenly fell in a big heap of over-hyped software. In this post, I’m going to discuss 3 reasons why Enterprise 2.0 can fail. Check out: 14 Reasons Why Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail - for a more indepth discussion. A lot of my ideas for this post came from here and it has some very good links to other articles.

1. The tool isn’t sharp enough

Every company has its own requirements when it comes to Enterprise 2.0. The fact of the matter is Enterprise 2.0 giants such as Microsoft Sharepoint (the most popular E2.0 tool on the market) are made to satisfy the masses and appeal to the largest audience possible. What they don’t provide are solutions to individual companies that quite frequently need something specific to their business domain. More specifically, the tools are there, they just aren’t customised enough making it an eternal struggle for the users to make it fit. If your business requires something different to the masses, it could be worth investing in something with more than just the default settings enabled.

2. Spend some money

Not usually what your CEO would want to hear but a lot of Enterprise 2.0 projects fail because no one knows what they are doing. Spend some money on giving basic training about social media tools and what Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 is. Of course, this varies greatly on the context and employees in your business. Usually there will be a portion of a company’s workforce who are keen forerunners in adopting these tools and will learn themselves. But the older ranks will be skeptic and giving them basic information about how “users add value” will get them interested and using the tools in the right way.

Dion Hinchcliffe puts it well, “Understanding what tags are and how they help users locate content later on, publishing frequently requested information in blogs, teaching that wiki editing is safe and that it’s virtually impossible to harm them are all key learnings that many less-social media literate workers will greatly benefit from and can actively address many upfront barriers to adoption.”

3. Why do we need this?

Starting an Enterprise 2.0 project without having a clear idea of what it is going to be used for and what problems it will address is like an 80 year old buying a high-end computer with quad-core processing to read emails. Don’t get sucked in because everyone is doing it. Have a clear purpose and know what it is you are hoping to achieve. That way employees also know what to use it for. There will always be employees who invent great ways to use a tool however to encourage uptake, market it as a solution to an age-old problem that everyone encounters on a day to day basis. For instance, “Don’t send each other a billion emails a day and spend your whole day reading emails. Instead, use a wiki or update your status to let your colleagues know what you are doing.” Everyone hates a full inbox so the interest will rise.

These are just 3 reasons why Enterprise 2.0 projects fail. Of course every failure has its individual reasons but these ones I found quite interesting and possibly more fitting to a wider number of cases. And finally, slightly off topic but entertaining none the less.. here is a list of the “Nine worst social media fails of 2009…thus far“.

Feel free to add comments :) and let me know of any E2.0 fails you have heard of.

Zoho Projects Review

zohoprojectslogo

For this post I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’m going to do a review on a Zoho.com product called Zoho Projects. This is a project collaboration tool designed specifically as a business app. I’ve done this review using the “one free trial” that comes with registering to use Zoho products.

Who/What is Zoho?

Zoho is a relatively new player in offering online applications. However, they offer a comprehensive suite of web-based applications for anything from word-processing, powerpoint creating to project management, web conferencing and invoicing. You can check out the Zoho Corporation about me section here, or visit their web app. home here. Registration is free, and you can use your exisiting Google, Google Apps or Yahoo! account to register also.

The Low-down on Zoho Projects

The interface for a project is rich and simple to use. It provides easy access to a diverse set of tools related to project management and collaboration. Each user has their own dashboard and can upload some details about themselves to their personal profile. They also have a status update field much like Facebook and Twitter that lets them update others in the project about what they are doing in less than 140 characters. The dashboard displays all project members’ updates and  latest activities whilst also providing access to an RSS feed to receive these updates in an external RSS reader. See the dashboard below:

ZohoDashboard

As you can see Zoho Projects offers the following sections: Tasks and Milestones, Calendar, Meetings, Reports, Forum, Wiki, Chat an Users.

Tasks and Milestones
In the Tasks and Milestones section you can create Milestones. Under each Milestone can lie several task lists which each contain a number of tasks. Each of these can be allocated to a project member and assigned dates to be completed. In addition, tasks can be given dependencies so that one must be completed before the other. The milestones are then reflected on the calendar showing when it is due. The dashboard updates section highlights new tasks and they are also feed into the RSS feed.

Meetings
The meetings section lets users arrange meetings. The meetings have a time and date associated with them and can be allocated to specific users in the project. Notes can also be attached to the meeting for further detail. The calendar displays upcoming meetings and status and RSS feeds are updated with new meetings.

Reports
The reports section presents the user with a number of charts and such to document current task lists and milestones. These can be separated into each user and presented as bar graphs, Gannt charts and so on.

Forums
The forum section is just like any other standard forum platform allowing forum posts and users to reply to posts.

Wiki
The wiki section allows users to create pages and edit them like any wiki platform. Nevertheless, the Zoho Wiki has powerful word processing tools available from the custom GUI at the top of the editing pane. This allows for complete manipulation of the wiki content. RSS feeds are available for all pages so users can subscribe and receive updates. Comments can also be posted on individual wiki pages for feedback and collaboration amongst workers.
ZohoWikiExample

Chat
Chat enables users to communicate via an Instant Messaging service. It is similar to a group chat in any messenger service such as Windows Live Messenger. You can also send files to other people in the chat.

Users
This section is for managing the users associated with the project. Users can include employees, contractors and even the clients. This is the one-stop hub for viewing fellow employees profiles and communicating directly with them. Having clients as users is useful for gaining feedback from them by communicate directly to better understand their needs.

Summary

I think Zoho Projects is an extremely powerful tool for managing projects. The wide range of useful and applicable tools it offers its users are both powerful but at the same time extremely simple to use and navigate. I believe that this web application would be useful for small businesses and project teams. Whether it can handle extremely large project teams is another issue but I think it could quite possibly do the job. Just like all the other applications Zoho offers, this tool has exceeded my expectations and I will quite happily use it in the future. This tool is a prime example of an Enterprise 2.0 tool because of the intergration of many web 2.0 features such as: status updates, RSS feeds, wikis, and so on.

Wikis in the Enterprise

What is a wiki?

Wikis were first introduced in WikiWikiWeb a website designed by Ward Cunningham in 1995. A wiki is the term given to an online document that many people can collaborate on. That is, they can edit, update, delete, add pages/links, change content and so on to wiki pages. The most common and well known wiki is: Wikipedia.

What is an Enterprise wiki?

Infoworld declared 2004 as the Year of the enterprise Wiki, as wikis began to emerge in businesses across the globe. Bascially, a wiki that is used for conducting work in an enterprise is an Enterprise wiki.

What is so great about wikis?

  • Collaboration. Participation. Harnessing collective intelligence (Tim O’Reilly)
  • Wikis provide users with simple and easy to use methods of content creation via a wiki markup language.
  • Linking -> An important part of the SLATES paradigm in Andrew McAfee’s blog, wikis make linking to other wiki pages easy by stripping it down to the bare essentials in the Wiki markup language. Provides an easy ability to forge deep interconnections between data sources.
  • Edits and history of the document is tracked so you can return to previous versions and look at differences between versions.
  • User access control: Wikis can have the power to allow and deny users. Users who are not registered can be disallowed the ability to edit. Registered users will have their username fixed to edits so that these changes can be tracked to particular users.
  • Modern wikis can integrate with other tools such as e-mail, RSS and blogs.

Weaknesses of wikis?

  • Giving many users access relies on their ability to contribute effectively and advantageously.
  • Spamming can be possible when masses of users can contribute anonymously.
  • Control is sacrificed for empowerment, that is managers lose control while users take/get control.

Businesses using wikis?

  • Disney:
    Disney’s Digital Media faction started using a wiki when its team decided they needed a tool that matched their department. They needed speed and collaboration, so they create an internal website without consulting their boss. They just did it. The project was not seen as defiance of their management but rather a tool to enhance their performance and better use the resources of their 150-strong team. Reader here – Online version of the magazine article.
  • Dell:
    Socialtext co-founder discusses how their product helped Dell:

    “The second use case is a participatory knowledge base. So at Dell, for instance, we did a knowledge base for their call center. Their call center handles exceptions. That’s what they do all day long. Answer a call, hear the problem, look for an answer, and then they don’t have the information. Now, [with a wiki], they tap the informal network that exists inside the call center and document the solution. 99 percent of the pages created [on the wiki] and tagged allow the call center to go from 20 clicks to find information to four, substantially decreasing search costs and decreasing the average call time by 10 to 20 percent.” (Source: Discussing the role of enterprise wikis).

  • Yahoo:
  • “…we use TWiki internally to manage documentation and project planning for our products. Our development team includes hundreds of people in various locations all over the world, so web collaboration is VERY important to us. TWiki has changed the way we run meetings, plan releases, document our product and generally communicate with each other. We’re great fans of your work!” (Source: The Yahoo Twiki success page).

  • Others:
    See the Twiki (Wiki product provider) customer list with quotes from users of the software. Customers include: Nokia, Yahoo!, Oracle, Trend Micro, Sony, United States Coast Guard, Allergan, etc.

Blogs in the Enterprise

This post is concerned with the use of blogs for business purposes (Enterprise 2.0 – blogging). It is important to note that there are two different kinds of blogging for an enterprise: the internal blogging and the external blogging. In this post I’m going to address both of these types of blogging and give some examples of companies who do it well and why the do it well.

Internal blogging

Firstly, let’s discuss internal blogging. This kind of blogging is used by a business to help their internal workings and knowledge management. The blog is used by employees usually on an intranet the business has set up. Each employee can have a blog or specific people such as managers could use a blog to broadcast announcements to their workers. Either way the primary use of a blog is to communicate with co-workers about anything and everything. Business plans, news, pictures from work functions, project updates, ideas, thank yous, meeting notes, the list goes on. A good summary of uses for an internal blog can be found here – GoBigAlways.com – How we use blogs internally. Blogs also provide the ability for other co-workers to provide feedback via commenting system built-in to most blogging platforms.

More benefits for blogging can be found here: Seven Reasons for your Company to Start an Internal Blog,

So now that we know what they are used for, lets have a quick look at some good examples of businesses using internal blogging with great success. Check out these videos on the internal blogging communications for Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and Dell (One Dell Way).

What are your thoughts about internal blogging via anonymous user accounts and anonymous commenting? Good or a bad thing? It certainly provides employees with the ability to make their opinions heard without backlash.

Does anyone have any more information on Dell’s internal blogs? One Way Drive sounds interesting. Let me know by adding a comment.

External blogging

The second, and perhaps more well-known use for Enterprise 2.0 blogs is communicating with the outside world. Companies use corporate blogs to communicate with their customers and the general public about product updates, news, release dates, their day to day doings,  funny events, successes, failures, reviews, asking for feedback, commenting and communicating with customers.

Blogging also provides companies with the ability to frequently update and renew their website/brand whereas with the old form of a company website, the content was rather static and never new. Perhaps the best link I’ve ever found with regards to case studies on Enterprise 2.0 is here. This site gives tonnes of great case study examples on external blogging successes. It also provides tips from those who have “been there and done that”.

A very good example of a company who uses a blog effectively is Google. Their blog, although a little shakey at the start (see their first post and second post “Is this thing on?“), is great at getting information out about new products/services while keeping it real and story-based. Reading it isn’t just reading a marketing campaign, it’s about reading a story. For instance:

“My cousin is in first grade and sometimes she writes short stories for class. I try to share the stories with her grandparents, but because Japanese is their first language and they don’t speak English very well, it’s been tough. Today we’re releasing a feature for Google Docs to make this kind of multi-lingual sharing easier — you can now automatically translate documents into 42 different languages,” (Google Blog: Translate Documents – Sharing across languages and generations).

Blogging tips (internal and external blogging)

There are a few things I’ve realised from reading vastly about E2.0 blogging. One is thefear employees have of writing something wrong, or incorrect, or damaging on their blog, Facebook page or so on. There is an interesting article here offering tips on what to keep in mind when using social media.

When communicating to customers and clients via an external blog don’t market your product. Don’t use blogging as a way to spam your followers with advertising. Instead, build a relationship with them, offer support and information that is valuable to them. As a side-effectthis will help your business grow and expand. Your company website is for selling your product, the blog is to compliment the product and help customers. It can be used to disclose information about new products as such but should never be trying to sell the new product. Blogging is a way of communicating on a more personal level with internet users and a good blog will help the word of your product spread through the blogosphere and around the Internet.

Post with a point or for a purpose. Don’t post for no reason. And have a sense of humour. A lot of the attraction of reading a blog is in the style and writing ability of the blogger. Keep things interesting, funny, controversial and leading edge.

Social Networking on Company Intranets

People have been quick to jump on the social networking bandwagon for their personal lives but there are several issues that are born when trying to translate the idea of social networking to the enterprise. Jakob Nielsen and his colleagues have conducted an in depth study into some of these issues and written a brief summary of his findings here.

The full 168 page report does cost money, but his summary is quite relevant to what is happening now in Enterprise 2.0.  The study he has conducted looks at 14 companies from across 6 countries and how they are progressing in their adoption of Enterprise 2.0. In his summary he talks about the problems common with dumping Enterprise 2.0 into the workplace and how to overcome these issues. Definitely worth a read.

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/social-intranet-features.html

Enhancing the Enterprise 2.0 community

Introduction

Firstly, I’d like to start by introducing the QUT’s Enterprise 2.0 hub DigitalOrgs.net. Its our community hub for anything web 2.0 including blogs, useful links, wikis, RSS feeds and so on so feel free to come and have a look. The site is new and under construction but is slowly getting there.

Enhancing our community

I’ve been giving some thought into how we can enhance the sharing, collaboration and learning experience within our community of Enterprise 2.0 professionals, academics, novices and those interested. I’ve looked at the DigitalOrgs.net wiki and thought I’d give my slant on some of the ideas and also review some of the web 2.0 tools at the same time.

1. Delicious bookmarking

Delicious is a social bookmarking tool that puts the fun in bookmarking (or so it claims). Embrace the “tastiest bookmarks on the web” by joining the world of social bookmarking. Simply sign up and you can start bookmarking and tagging your favourite links. You can also install the Delicious browser Add-in to make access to your bookmarks and tags even easier.

So what does delicious offer? Delicious gives you the power to tag and bookmark your favourite links from any computer with your online account whether you own that computer or not. Found an interesting link? Send it to your friends via Delicious. Subscribe to tags and users you find most interesting. Furthermore, check out the most popular links on the Web. But best of all, you can organise your links via tags and categories to suit your needs all in your toolbar or via delicious.com.

How can Delicious enhance our community? Easy. By signing up to Delicious, communities of people with similar interests can be formed. Within this community bookmarks to the best of the best in Enterprise 2.0 content can be shared easily amongst one another helping us all learn together.You can follow my Delicious account at: http://delicious.com/benmccallum/

2. LinkedIn

For those of you who haven’t heard of LinkedIn here is a video to show you what its all about. Its a great network for connecting with business partners, colleagues and potential business associates. So why not give it a shot? It could get you that dream job. Add my LinkedIn account here: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ben-mccallum/15/62/a95

So how can LinkedIn help us? You can create communities via LinkedIn wiht people that share your common interests. So by creating an E2.0 community on LinkedIn we can meet and share information with people that share our passion for Enterprise 2.0. DigitalOrgs.net has created a LinkedIn community for Enterprise 2.0 here.

Hopefully these web 2.0 tools can help us to create a larger Enterprise 2.0 community to enhance our learning and share our thoughts and opinions with a wider audience.

What do Pixar, Google, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, P&G and Best Buy have in common? E2.0

Continuing on from my last few posts, I’ve found an interesting study conducted by McKinsey Quarterly titled, “Six ways to make Web 2.0 work“. The article is 100% focused on the internal aspects of Web 2.0 in businesses (or Enterprise 2.0) and discusses topics such as:

  • The new tools available to business in comparison to older style tools. Ie. Automatic transactions vs. enabling participation and collaboration.
  • The gains to be harvested from unlocking this participation
  • 6 ways to unlock participation amongst employees and make web 2.0 work.
  • and what’s next?

Particularly of interest to me were the numerous case studies they reported. I’ve just taken huge chunks of block quotes here to demonstrate my point but you should definitely read the whole article for more clarification and meaning.

At Lockheed Martin, for instance, a direct report to the CIO championed the use of blogs and wikis when they were introduced. The executive evangelized the benefits of Web 2.0 technologies to other senior leaders and acted as a role model by establishing his own blog. He set goals for adoption across the organization, as well as for the volume of contributions. The result was widespread acceptance and collaboration across the company’s divisions.

[...]

At AT&T, it was frontline staffers who found the best use for a participatory technology—in this case, using Web 2.0 for collaborative project management. Rather than dictating the use, management broadened participation by supporting an awareness campaign to seed further experimentation. Over a 12-month period, the use of the technology rose to 95 percent of employees, from 65 percent.

[...]

Google is an instructive case to the contrary. It has modified the way work is typically done and has made Web tools relevant to how employees actually do their jobs. The company’s engineers use blogs and wikis as core tools for reporting on the progress of their work. Managers stay abreast of their progress and provide direction by using tools that make it easy to mine data on workflows. Engineers are better able to coordinate work with one another and can request or provide backup help when needed. The easily accessible project data allows senior managers to allocate resources to the most important and time-sensitive projects.

Pixar moved in a similar direction when it upgraded a Web 2.0 tool that didn’t quite mesh with the way animators did their jobs. The company started with basic text-based wikis to share information about films in production and to document meeting notes. That was unsatisfactory, since collaborative problem solving at the studio works best when animators, software engineers, managers, and directors analyze and discuss real clips and frames from a movie. Once Pixar built video into the wikis, their quality improved as critiques became more relevant. The efficiency of the project groups increased as well.

[...]

To select users who will help drive a self-sustaining effort (often enthusiastic early technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will thus share knowledge and exchange ideas), a thoughtful approach is required. When P&G introduced wikis and blogs to foster collaboration among its workgroups, the company targeted technology-savvy and respected opinion leaders within the organization. Some of these people ranked high in the corporate hierarchy, while others were influential scientists or employees to whom other colleagues would turn for advice or other assistance.

When Best Buy experimented with internal information markets, the goal was to ensure that participation helped to create value. In these markets, employees place bets on business outcomes, such as sales forecasts.6 To improve the chances of success, Best Buy cast its net widely, going beyond in-house forecasting experts; it also sought out participants with a more diverse base of operational knowledge who could apply independent judgment to the prediction markets. The resulting forecasts were more accurate than those produced by the company’s experts.

Source: McKinsey Quarterly. (2009). Six ways to make Web 2.0 work. Retrieved August 21, 2009, from, http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Six_ways_to_make_Web_20_work_2294#SubmitLetter

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