Category Archives: IBM

IBM Connect 2013 – Purposeful Adoption

IBM Connect 2013 (Lotusphere) is in full swing today. It is clear that the focus this year is driving adoption of IBM Connections. At the opening general session, Alistair Rennie pitched the term “purposeful” adoption. Later in the same session, IBM announced three initiatives here to help, including a set of 10 best practices for social adoption (link to follow).

It was clear from the focus of these best practices that we’ve moved past the point of technology, and to the point of process and cultural adoption of social business. IBM Connections, as a platform, is very impressive, and the demos of Connections next were even more so. But, as IBM’s pitch discussed, the technology is simply a means to an end. If the end is to socialize your business, to turn your business into a collaboration engine, then the reality is that you need to get people engaged with the platform, and the way that you get people engaged is to give them multiple reasons to use the social business platform.

What is also clear is that the business partner community seems to have finally realized that the future of Lotus Notes is IBM Connections, and the majority of the exciting products on the show floor are Connections based rather than Domino based. Finally, the rest of the community is understanding the vision of social business.

As we have blogged previously, the value of a social business network grows non-linearly as the number of people connected to the network grows, AND THEN is multiplied by the number of business contexts and processes that are brought into the social platform.

As we blogged then:

“Social Business Applications are the value multiplier of social business platforms.  They provide new reasons for users to engage with the platform, and they provide value above and beyond traditional versions of applications for all the reasons that social business platforms provide value – they connect the right resources (inside and outside of teams ) in order to get work done more efficiently and effectively.”

IBM is pitching “purposeful” adoption. We say that if you give people purpose on the platform, they will adopt the platform willingly. As we’ve argued previously, Project Management is an excellent “purpose” for social business, and it a natural fit for companies.

ProjExec 5.5 integrates seamlessly with IBM Connections 3 & 4, as well as the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Come see us at booth C20-C21, and find out how Social Project Management can multiple your investment in IBM Social Software.

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IBM Connections: The Market Leading Enterprise Social Platform

The news is out. IDC has announced that IBM Connections is yet again the #1 Social Media Platform, and its advantage is growing. We here at Trilog Group congratulate our partners at IBM for this excellent achievement, and we are proud to be a leading social business application provider for the IBM Connections platform.

Read the IDC report here.

Read Luis Benitez’ blog about this here.

ProjExec is the social project management solution for the IBM Connections platform. It provides full, rigorous project management capabilities, while also providing the social collaboration features that today’s teams require. Check it out below.

2011 – The Year Social Business Software Crosses the Chasm?

According to Gartner, 2011 social software revenue will approach USD 1 Billion. It seems likely that with companies like IBM Lotus, Trilog Group, Tibco, SocialText and others builing their social portfolios around the concept of syndicated activity streams, 2011 will become the year when social software really makes strides in enterprise adoption.

The reality is that social software is expanding beyond the social interactions of people, and is embracing the integration of the “social” activity of machines, projects, and processes.

Imagine a single activity stream that shows your human interactions, notices of new or late tasks from your projects, an alert from a file server that it is low on disk space, or that a business process is failing SLAs.  A single activity stream that shows questions that you might be able to answer asked by people you’ve never met. Add that to the ability to expand this activity stream selectively with business partners and customers, and the power of the social business software activity stream becomes apparent.

This is the promise of social business software standards like Activity Streamsthe emergence of social convergence.

What does social business mean?

Over on Luis Benitez’ blog, he’s got a post about what it means to be a social business, there’s a lot in that post, and most of it’s really good.  Be sure to check it out!

One thing that is really refreshing about IBM’s view on social business is that it is not especially technology focused.  In the past, Lotus, especially at Lotusphere was incredibly tool-centric.  (e.g. – Want to become an e-Business? Here’s the software for that!  Want to become a Knowledge Business? Here’s the software for that!)

However, in Luiz’ post social business is described as follows:

“Social Business:

  1. embraces networks of people – It’s not about B2B or B2C. It’s about P2P (person-to-person) to create business value.
  2. is engaged and has conversations online with its customers, employees, suppliers and embraces
  3. is transparent and is ready to be open to ideas and capitalize on those
  4. removes boundaries both inside and outside so that your people reflect your brand
  5. is nimble because they are engaged and transparent (see #2 and #3 above) and can make quicker business decisions”

What is missing from that definition?  That’s right…technology.  While it’s true that most of these things can [only?] be enabled by technology, the fact is that no technology in the world will make a business into a social business as described above.

So, social business is about doing business a new way.

Technology can help that along…but it can’t do it for you.

Picking an Entry Point into Social Business, Part 2

As discussed in Part one of this post last week, until recently the typical value proposition for social business was on the customer engagement and marketing side of the business.  This clearly has been, and will continue to be, a core area of social business strategy and value generation.

What is more exciting is the newer concept of applying social business to build trust, and effectiveness  within the organization, across traditional structural and cultural boundaries, and across task contexts.  As IBM’s second two bullet points illustrate. [IBM at Lotusphere identified three “top” entry points into social business:

  1. Customer Service/Marketing
  2. Product or Service Development/Operational Effectiveness
  3. [Operations/] Human Resources (Operations was omitted from several of the presentations)]

Traditional organizational practices create defined and hierarchical communications paths.  Social Business recognizes that while these traditional communication and collaboration channels may provide structure, and reduce information and communication overload, they are too slow, filter out important information, and do not allow the right information to get to the right person.

Because all businesses are social enterprises, impediments to communication must be removed, people must be empowered to get the information they need, when they need it, and be alerted to changes in the project environment from which they must learn. Further, relevant communications should not stop at traditional organizational boundaries.  Where appropriate,communications should be extended across intra- and inter-organizational walls, to access needed expertise, gather and share information, and to engage the wider social fabric of the organization.

New Product Development is a clear example of a corporate initiative that calls for collaborative interaction, but fundamentally NPD is a project-based effort, and therefore IBMs bullet points can be generalized to all projects, as can operations, part of the third bullet point. (I didn’t attend a session where the HR aspects were addressed clearly, but I assume that they are describing general employee engagement via internal social business)

So in the last two bullet points, IBM is clearly advocating the use of social business to drive project efficiency, innovation, and effectiveness, which we believe to be the new killer app of social business – Social Project Management.

We will shift our focus to Social Project Management specifically in our next post.

Picking an Entry Point into Social Business

At the recent Lotusphere 2011 conference, IBM emphatically promoted its vision for Social Business.  While the conference has been blogged about in many places, we’d like to focus on one particular component of the IBM argument for Social Business, namely that of choosing an entry point into Social Business.

Throughout several of the keynote addresses and other sessions, IBM described the need for businesses to choose an entry point into Social Business.   While admitting that “there are many other potential entry points,” IBM’s top three areas are:

  1. Customer Service/Marketing
  2. Product or Service Development/Operational Effectiveness
  3. [Operations/] Human Resources (Operations was omitted from several of the presentations)

While these three areas indeed make sense (as blogged about here), it is important to understand that the choice selected even among these three options is a direct reflection of a business’ key assumptions and its strategy for becoming a Social Business.

When contemplating the choice, ask yourself if you are looking to become a social business on the outside of your organization, on the inside, or both?  While many businesses see value in customer outreach and marketing that comes from having an externally facing social presence, it was refreshing to hear IBM emphasize at Lotusphere the benefits of meeting a business’ internal social business needs.

Externally focused social media and social business efforts are really nothing new.  But the recognition of the potential value of becoming an “internal” Social Business is a much more recent phenomenon.  In the end, businesses are social entities.   Each person in the business is a member of multiple social networks both internal and external to the organization.  Every member of the business team has unique social connections inside and outside of the organization.

What would happen if a business (or a team within a business) could tap into the entire spectrum of social networks to identify the expertise needed to complete business goals?  What would happen if a project manager could “see” the entire social network of her team and leverage those rich connections to better communicate with the greater business community at large?  There are a significant number of internal processes and operations where the visibility and awareness created by social technologies can be brought to bear to deliver real business value.

Getting back to the top three entry points…

IBM identified Customer Service/Marketing – a typical value proposition on the external side – as number one.  This is not surprising given the general acceptance of externally focused Social Business.  Social CRM is in fact a good vehicle for transforming the traditional customer acquisition and marketing channel from a push-based, interruption heavy, broadcasting model to an interactive model of openness and trust between a business and its existing and potential customers.  But really this is just “another” channel for surfacing a shift in marketing focus that is already well established.

We see the real value of creating a Social Business as further pushing the envelop of what social can do for business by fully engaging both internal and external facing processes – entry points #2 and #3 in IBM’s list.  Our next post will focus on the bang for the buck that comes when businesses morph into Social Businesses using this approach.

Article on IBM’s strategy on Activity Streams

In a follow up to our post on Ambient Awareness, Forbes has an article on Activity streams, and IBM’s strategy on them.  (Activity streams are the operationalization of Social Business Apps ambient awareness.)

The article in Forbes stresses the “surprise” that can occur in Activity Streams (although “serendipitous” seems to be the term most utilized “out there” in the blogosphere).  This concept of surprise or serendipitous awareness is exactly the kind of effect that ambient awareness builds.  However, what is missing from the article is the concept that it’s not just the “ah ha” surprise of one post that a user sees that is important.  Rather, it’s is the cumulative impact of hundreds (or thousands) of small pieces of information, some important, some trivial, that over time build into social networks the kind of “ESP” described in our previous post.

Another important thing in this article is the fact that IBM is embracing open standards for Activity streams (as is Trilog Group, our sponsor).  To really get the full effect of social business, platform vendors like IBM have to make their platforms very open standards friendly.