Tag: e20

Enterprise Connections

“Let’s begin to tap the astronomical, incomprehensible amount of talent in the brains of the 6 billion people on this planet, compared with which Newton is a match in the dark at 100 miles.” James Burke – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Episode 18 “A Fly on James Burke’s Wall”

How many moves does it take to get from the philosopher Goethe’s obsession with a friend of Beethoven to the invention of margarine? According to James Burke’s Knowledge Web, only 8 (visit http://www.k-web.org/public_html/Mystery-tours/Goethe_to_Margarine.html for the full story).

James Burke is a science historian and author, and anyone who has seen his “Connections” series is probably familiar with this line of thinking: progress is not the outcome of individuals or groups working in isolation, but the product of multiple individuals and groups, interacting and connecting, seeking to fulfill their own interests, and rarely having any concept of the ultimate innovation that comes about as a result.

Many innovations are the result of coincidences. But it’s not the coincidences themselves that lead to the innovation, but rather the creativity and ingenuity that were set free on a path paved by coincidence. Coincidence has led to two strangers coming into contact with one another, or someone recommending a book to a friend, or someone remembering a colleague’s previous failure. That last one is a reference to the Post-It note, which was born from Spencer Silver’s failed attempt at creating a strong adhesive. His colleague, Arthur Fry finding the need for a weak adhesive remembered Silver’s failure, which led to the Post-It note (full story here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-it_note)

But that never had to happen. Fry didn’t have to remember Silver’s failure. It’s not like there was some cloud-based, easy to navigate repository for this kind of thing. The point is, it’s not really the coincidence that is important to innovation, so we might be able to take that out of the equation.

In fact, if we take the opposite approach, I think we can speed up and multiply opportunities for innovation within the enterprise. This is most easily evident via the activity stream, and some theoretical examples can include:

  • I learn of a coworker’s project that does not involve me, though I might have some previous experience, and can easily offer some ideas
  • Sales informs the company of a new prospect, which turns out to be the former employer of someone from engineering, who can now offer some insight into the company
  • Marketing posts about working on a video, and someone from finance has experience with video editing and volunteers to help

Of course, the above examples would only represent one “move”. Think about the potential for multiple connections, all working in harmony.

Mr. Enterprise Manners

Although I only make the distinction in my head, I prefer to think of social media as “participatory” media. That is, unlike traditional media, the true value of social media only manifests itself when you participate in it; which can include creating and sharing content, commenting on content, choosing who to follow, etc.

But that also includes whom you choose to unfollow. If you find an old friend on Twitter, you can follow them. But if their constant posts about lunch and picture of dogs turn you off, you can choose to unfollow them. I believe there is absolutely nothing negative about that progression of events; everyone has their own idea of what they want to share and experience, and social media give us the ability to sort through what is available and make our own decisions.

But some people aren’t content with this. They feel the need to make lists about what you should and should not Tweet about, as though there is some kind of universal system that must be adhered to. As opposed to passively choosing who and what content to follow, I find these attempts to control what people say both negative and destructive. There is no universal set of guidelines (other than those set up by the creators of the platforms themselves) that should be followed in social media. I think the old response to TV censorship applies: if you don’t like it, change the channel.

But of course, that way of thinking applies to consumer social networks. Enterprise social networks require a totally different approach. Its up to every company’s HR and legal department to dictate what is and what is not appropriate behavior on an ESN. And those guidelines should and must be adhered to. I genuinely believe they’re designed not to inhibit creativity and individualism, but to protect you and your company.

Over the last year, I have developed some “rules” for how I conduct myself on our own internal Clearvale network. And before I share them, I’d like to make it as clear as possible that these are my own rules, created by me, and never meant to replace or supersede the rules already developed internally.

1. Our ESN is a virtual extension of our office

Just because I may be writing a blog post or responding to a question while physically in my apartment or an internet café doesn’t mean I’m “in” my apartment or the café. When I am using Clearvale, I’m “in” the office and will always behave as such.

2. Someone is watching

I never, ever write anything on our ESN that I would not say within earshot of my coworkers. For me, they are the gold standard. You might conjure your CEO, manager, partner, grandma, etc. Picking someone like this can make it much easier to make a decision when you’re unsure if what you’re about to post is appropriate.

I should point out that this never prevents me from voicing an opinion, commenting on something or uploading a piece of content; that would be the antithesis to what Clearvale is all about. It’s just a helpful reminder to pay as much attention to how I conduct myself on our ESN as I do around my coworkers.

3. Don’t offend, don’t be offended

I’ll never forget my 9th grade history teacher, who told us that you have as much responsibility to try not to be offended by others as you do to not be offensive. He said this in reference to traveling abroad, but it is a rule I’ve tried to stick to in my every day life.

I’m very lucky to work in a place where people are thoughtful and polite, even when time is a precious commodity. However, you might find people leaving responses to your work that might seem brusque. Instead of getting upset, take a breath and ask yourself a very important question: is this comment helpful? How you deal with a person you find rude is up to you (and possibly your HR manager). But while you’re dealing with interpersonal issues, you still have to get your work done.

4. If there isn’t a dedicated space for pictures of your dog or local restaurant reviews, you should probably refrain from posting them

When it comes to my own personal use of Twitter and Facebook, I love to see pictures of my friends and family with their pets. I never get to spend as much time with them as I’d like, and those pictures are a nice, but distant second. I also love reading about food. If I see something I like, it goes into the mental database

There might be a decision within your company to build special communities with your ESN for this kind of content. I actually think it can be quite valuable, in terms of getting to know your coworkers and the locale of your office. But your ESN wasn’t built for this kind of thing; it was built for getting work done.

The Personal Email Tipping Point

A recent survey conducted by Robert Half Technology of 1,400 CIOs of American companies with more than 100 employees suggests that real-time communication tools such as instant messaging will be more popular than email within the next five years.

A press release issued by RFT cited benefits such as speed, convenience and the “social aspect” of IM and collaboration tools such as blogs, forums and wikis as the three main reasons for this potential shift. Back in January, our CEO explored the downsides of email in his post Friendly Spam and Hidden Costs. In both cases, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there are many upsides to social business tools and too many downsides to email to continue using it as a primary communication tool for work.

It’s difficult to say when exactly, but there was a time when email went from being a novelty to being a necessary component to work. There was certainly a time when people could get away with saying they never checked their email, and if you wanted to contact them, you’d need to call. At some point, there was a shift and this was no longer acceptable. For many, it’s difficult to imagine giving up email in the workplace. I suspect, though I have absolutely nothing to back this up, that the shift from snail mail and the phone to email was a result of two things: mandates from leadership and personal epiphanies regarding e-mail’s virtues. I believe that the same is true of moving from email to social collaboration tools.

My personal epiphany about email happened about twelve years ago when I was an intern at an independent record label. It was often my responsibility to contact owners of local venues that would be hosting one of our bands and ensure that they had been using the promotional materials we had sent them: posters, flyers, swag, etc. As this was one of many things I did throughout the day, I always tried to get through with the calls as quickly as possible. But the venue owners always wanted answers to questions, about things like contracts, that an intern such as me could never possibly know, and the calls would go on and on before I could ever get the information I needed. One day, my manager suggested I try email instead. At that point my experience with email had been shaky and I didn’t always expect to get a response. But it worked brilliantly, and I started using email almost exclusively. I almost always got what I needed in the fraction of the time, and could even forward their questions to the right people.

Of course, it didn’t always work. Sometimes they wouldn’t answer my question correctly. Sometimes they would answer a question I didn’t ask. There were plenty of times that I never got a response and had to call anyway. Obviously email wasn’t perfect, but it was the best we had, and it made my life a lot easier.

Flash-forward today and we have something much better than email. I’ve had many, many moments of clarity when I’ve realized that collaboration tools had much more to offer than email: getting press releases approved without filling a half dozen inboxes with one sentence back and forth conversations, posting a case study to our intranet and getting feedback on a from a larger pool of coworkers, finding inspiration in a blog post that might have gone overlooked if it had been an email and many more.

We’re currently accepting submissions for the Clearvale Success Awards in which we’ve invited people to share their experiences with Clearvale, and how it has helped them work better. I am looking forward to the results not just because it will help us serve our customers better, but because I am curious to learn about the personal tipping points many people have experienced using collaboration tools.

Does Your Company’s Intranet Have a Central Park?

This year marks the 200-year anniversary of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811; the plan that gave way to Manhattan’s grid system that still exists today. In fact, it’s just about impossible to imagine Manhattan without it. The often near-perfect 90-degree angles that make up the city blocks (except for pesky Broadway and a few other troublemakers) can provide people with a feeling of order in a place that is often, for residents and visitors alike, overwhelming.

Created as an orderly way to develop the city’s infrastructure, the plan was, at the time of its creation, criticized for being too rigid. However presently, the plan is most often praised for its foresight and utility. Manhattan is one of the few major cities in the world that is not bisected by a major highway, preserving a healthy pedestrian culture; something that might not have been feasible without the grid system and its wide avenues.

However many would find other faults with the plan and its creators knew it. They said so in the plan itself:

“It may to many be a matter of surprise that so few vacant spaces have been left, and those so small, for the benefit of fresh air and consequent preservation of health. Certainly if the City of New York was destined to stand on the side of small streams such as the Seine or the Thames, a great number of ample places might be needful. But those large arms of the sea which embrace Manhattan island render its situation in regard to health and pleasure as well to the convenience of commerce, peculiarly felicitous.”

The assumption was that Manhattan’s waterfront would provide an open, clean space for its citizens. Obviously, this did not work out as originally planned.

Crowded, dirty and loud, the city continued to grow without a “place” to disconnect from the realities of the rapidly changing urban lifestyle. Facing a serious civil disaster, the city didn’t begin planning a solution – Central Park – until 1850, and Central Park as we know it today didn’t really open until 1873.

The point of all of this, as it relates to enterprise social networks is that it is entirely possible to create something that perfectly solves the problem it was designed to fix which ignores other issues that can be just as dire. The health issues, both physical and psychological, that began to accumulate before the creation of Central Park would have almost certainly reached some kind of critical mass if a solution had not been found, and New York City would probably not be anything like what it is today.

It has been apparent for some time now that the way we work is changing, and much of the infrastructure needed to do that work is virtual. At least one study has already shown that some people are experiencing fatigue with Facebook, which for many people is used as a leisure activity. Who is to say that employees won’t experience a similar type of fatigue when working in a virtual environment?
As companies build there own “Commissioner’s Plan” for organizing virtual enterprise spaces, it might not be a bad idea to consider developing areas within their intranet that facilitate interaction that isn’t totally work related, at least not in the strictest sense.

Synaptics, a leading developer of human interface solutions, has built a Human Resource intranet using Clearvale Enterprise. Earlier this year, they discussed plans to creatively develop communities within the intranet for some often overlooked uses. One such community would be the platform for an “employee wellness program”, where coworkers can share experiences with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and dealing with illnesses. Synaptics hopes that this will encourage employees to interact with and learn more about one another, as well as potentially decreasing sick days and mitigating healthcare costs. Additionally, the company is considering developing an internal social network where employees can further get acquainted and get a better sense of one another’s roles within the company.

Enterprise Social Networking certainly provides us with unique way to improve workflow, but it also provides us with ways to creatively solve issues whose “2.0” version (such as fatigue) have not yet fully manifested.

CRM at the Crossroads: An Evening with Paul Greenberg

We’re all very excited to be partnering with the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, enabling us to bring our Clearvale SecondFloor speaker series to Boston.  The event will feature author, thought leader and CRM expert, Paul Greenberg.

Taking place on Tuesday June 21st, the event will include food, drinks and an insightful conversation between Paul and Richard Hughes, Director of Product Strategy at BroadVision, as they discuss the topic of Social CRM and how companies are using technology to engage customers. A raffle will also be held, giving guests the chance to win a free iPad at the event.

Space is limited and we’d love to see you there. To sign up, please visit: http://www.clearvale.com/mkt-eco/en/e2boston2011.php

Paul is an excellent speaker and expert in the field of CRM, and CRM at the Crossroads will be a great opportunity to answer the question that many people have been asking lately: “what is social CRM?”

We did a little pre-show primer to help things get started:

So we know what we’re dealing with, can you provide a working definition of “social CRM”?

The answer is probably simpler than it should be, it’s almost a ‘Tweetable’ definition, but the best working definition is: “a company’s programmatic response to the customer’s control of the conversation.” The company is saying that the customer is in control of the conversation. The social customer is communicating in channels that the company does not own, and impacting the company in ways it does not control. Consequently, for a company to respond to that, they have to accede to the fact that that is occurring; that they do not control the conversation.

When we’re talking about a programmatic response, we’re saying several things. Given that the customer is in control, the customer is communicating in different ways with other customers, and potential customers. Because they’re not under the control of the company, they can potentially impact thousands of other people. The reason that impact matters is because the person who is making comments about the brand is assumed to be similar to the person who is listening to the comments, and therefore is trustworthy. That category of people is replicated by the thousands. The company then has to consider that person might be influential, or even minimally influential, and that the person is communicating where the company is not present, the company has to do one of two things. The first is they have to go out and engage them in places where the company is not present, which could mean Facebook, Twitter, Get Satisfaction or any other external social network. The other option is the company has to have social inputs where the customer can get enough information from the company (which requires the company to be transparent) so that they can make an intelligent decision on how to interact with that company. Also, the customer has to be able to provide the company with information so that the company can decide how to engage the customer. It can be information about a product or service, but either way it benefits the company and provides the customer with the ability to get the kinds of products, services, tools and consumable experience s they want.

Is the transition from traditional CRM to Social CRM a natural one, or is it something that people rooted in traditional CRM will find difficult?

It’s evolutionary but they’re going to find it difficult to make. Traditional CRM is very straightforward, very ‘left-brain’. It’s concerned with opportunity management or pipeline management, or lead scoring and nurturing, all of which are based on an application of metrics and getting some kind of quantifiable return that’s based on specific things that either impact efficiencies or the bottom line. The data that is gathered about customers tends to be based on transactional histories that those customers have with the company and they’re organized and structured to fit standard reporting formats.  Senior management can take a look at the reports and say, “we’re doing good” or “against this metric we’re doing poorly”.

However, once you start engaging in those conversations that exist outside of the company, that do not directly involve the company, you end up with tons of unstructured information that does not have a formal format that companies need to handle their operational and transactional details. The people who have been dealing with traditional CRM for years and years are looking at this and saying there’s a problem, because they don’t know how to translate this information into something of value about their customers.

Social tends to be more ‘right brain’ or emotional. The customers says, “the company sucks” then “the company is great,” do they really mean one or the other, or does one comment fit for one particular instance? So all of a sudden companies are dealing with the complexity of identifying human behavior and forecasting future behavior, which goes well beyond transactional and into emotional and sentimental.

So the fundamental strategic approach changes. Now we’re dealing with engagement. The customer wants to sculpt their experience with the company, and that’s a whole other ballgame. We’re all individuals and when push comes to shove, we don’t want to be treated like a demographic.  I don’t want to be treated like a New York Jewish guy who roots for the Yankees; I want to be treated like Paul Greenberg. And not Paul Greenberg the syndicated right-wing columnist, I want to be treated a Paul Greenberg, that Jewish New Yorker that roots for the Yankees.

With so many social platforms and new ones arriving all the times, is it too much to ask that companies be listening to all of them?

No and I’ll tell you why.  Frank Eliason, who is something of a rock star in service channels, created Comcast Cares. By the time he left, there were 11 Comcast employees dedicated to monitoring Twitter, which is quite substantial. That program was wildly successful: you can point to increased efficiencies, reduced costs and more first-contact resolutions. Comcast thought that the success of Comcast Cares was great PR, so they funded it. The fundamental problem with that is that it’s not PR, its cultural shift towards engaging customers. It was successful not just because they could get to customers in a short amount of time but actually solve their problems quickly. The problem is that culture has not spread within the company beyond Comcast Cares.

So the concept of Comcast Cares, not the fact that it was on Twitter, was what was important. If you reproduce that culture throughout the company, than the ability to solve those problems is what becomes important, not the channels the company is listening to.

Customers are going to communicate in channels of their choosing. The company needs to decide that they’re going to solve customer problems no matter which channels are being used.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when you go to Boston, does the Yankees hat stay in the suitcase?

When I spoke in Boston at Radian6 Social 2011, I made it very clear that I was a Yankees fan!

Showing the Money

All the analysts seem to agree, socialising across the enterprise will deliver benefits. But how do you translate these soft benefits into real ROI?

Having spent the past few months introducing HR Directors and Internal Communication Managers to Clearvale and the topic of Social Intranets, there is a clear theme emerging: Employee Engagement. Existing intranets/portals are too static to engage an employee, content is in the hands of ‘the few’, and user generated content is frowned upon. Email is point-to-point even if you are on the cc list.

There have been many studies by academics in the HR world to illustrate that employee engagement is associated with high levels of performance and reduced intent to leave. It is therefore legitimate from a corporate perspective to focus on and to prioritise improving levels of employee engagement. A ‘people-centric’ strategy will deliver sustainable competitive advantage; so where’s the return?

We often quote the Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson) ISR Employee Engagement Report whose studies over a 12-month period showed that those companies with high employee engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7% improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income decline by 3.8%. These metrics are still valid. Towers Watson also points out that those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a 12-month period, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7% over the same period. This is a significant differential.

Gallup, that well-known survey group, cited in Melcrum’s report on Employee Engagement found that engagement levels can be predictors of sickness absence with more highly engaged employees taking an average of 2.7 days per year, compared with disengaged employees taking an average of 6.2 days per year. The UK CBI reported recently that sickness absence costs the UK economy more than £13 billion a year!

On the issue of retention, the UK Corporate Leadership Council highlighted that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organisation than the disengaged. The cost of high turnover among disengaged employees is significant some estimates put the cost of replacing each employee at equal to annual salary and those with considerable length of service with retained knowledge and IP, at considerably more.

The analysts and academics agree: give employees a voice; develop a sustainable open organisation and culture of trust; develop a communications strategy leveraging Web 2.0 technologies with regular evaluation on the use and effectiveness of these technologies. Engaged employees take fewer sick days, they are less likely to leave, and engaged employees are much better advocates of their own companies. The latest blog on people management continues to promote the theme that employee engagement is good for the bottom line