Friday Feb 24, 2012

Is Social Business an Evolution or Revolution?: Webcast Q&A

Christian Finn

Thank you to those of you who attended the first webcast in our Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders series yesterday.

Christian Finn and Andy Mulholland shared their thoughts on whether social business is an evolution or revoltion. Andy hit home on the fact that technology is at a crossroads today. It has always played a key role in spearheading business success and continues to be a driving force for impacting innovation and change. He went on to explain that the key to enabling business innovation is recognizing the shift from the computer being at the core of technology development to people becoming the central focus. 

We had some great questions that came up, and here is a recap of them below.

What requirements are needed for organizations to become "social businesses"?

Mulholland: In common with many others who have experienced using social networking in their day to day activities I believe the change is as much cultural as organizational, telling people to use a social network seldom works, as for most people the first question will be ‘does this help me in my daily work’. Asking them to spend extra time monitoring a social network in addition to email wont encourage them, instead look for knowledge workers in a part of the enterprise that is sufficiently large that the target group of knowledge workers won’t know all the members of the social network. These environments gain most from Social networks as the questions and events are ‘unstructured’ and require the experience and tacit knowledge inherent in the members and the ability to interact and exchange information between people who are unknown to each other around the topics represents a clear difference from e mail. In such a community email usage can be expected to drop by up to 40% thus encouraging more and more people who are knowledge workers to see this as their principle means of communication. This effect then tends to draw in non knowledge workers who find this is a better medium to get their periodic questions answered.

Is there a difference between Social Business being a revolution socially vs economically? Will this change total economic output or just distribute it differently?

Finn: It will definitely distribute things differently.  It is probably too early to tell whether it will raise overall economic output. But certainly, businesses that are more effective in the social dimension will reap greater rewards.

Do you think social media tools will replace email at work?

Mulholland: No I don’t in the foreseeable future is the simple answer any more than the use of paper based intercompany communication has been superseded by email. There is a place where each adds value and in one to one communication as an example email works well and that tends to mean that senior management is happy to continue to use it in their ‘structured’ work around the key business managers activities which is well known to them. The question is longer term if that will continue to be a separate tool or will, as is happening in social communities, the ability to operate a person to person private communication do away with the need.

Does Social Business imply that a firm’s thought-leaders and experts become tangible or at least monetized assets? (i.e. does the fact that I have an expert visible to the consumer relate to a dollar value?)

Finn: That’s a good question. They definitely have economic value, however quantifying the value is hard. And that value is increased because social media extends the reach of your influentials. Interestingly there’s been at least one case of a person leaving a company causing a legal debate about who ”owns” his followers and their goodwill-- the spokesperson or the firm.

In your opinion, what do managers fear most about social media use in organizations?

Mulholland: Loss of control!!!  And inability to use the technology showing up their own limitations as a secondary ‘quiet’ challenge. Btw both these challenges also occurred when email was being adopted in the mid 90s around the changing business model that ERP under Business Process Re-Engineering introduced and drive the adoption of email to communicate outside departmental structures and along the process threads. Today an event driven front office responding to the diversity of market and customers activities using social tools for answers seems just as dangerously outside the established management communication structure. In practice the whole goal is to answer the questions and responses in a manner that can align this unstructured environment with the established structure and working practices of the enterprise and its processes and knowledge Management.

How do we get a more accurate social representation of feedback as it tends to be more to the extremes of very good or very poor. In the middle, folks do not seem terribly interested in participating?

Finn: It depends on where the feedback is being given. In general, contexts that have strong reciprocity will tend to have solid feedback. Such as within a community of interest or practice, whether that’s formal or not. On the other hand, anonymous Internet comments are the Wild Wild West. Within organizations, requiring people to give feedback under their real names does improve quality, but it tends to skew toward positive only, with few low scores.

In organizations, what business functions get the most value from social media tools? (Marketing & Sales, Communications, KM, Product Development, IT)

Mulholland: The broad answer is front office where the work is unstructured and the number of people is sufficiently high that nobody will know all of their colleagues by name or role, in these environments the ability to ask a question that will be automatically be directed to the community with the relevant expertise and avoid wasting the time of everyone who is not involved is a double win. I.e. on one hand the people whose knowledge you are seeking will be able to respond and on the other the remainder will not have their time wasted. Email reductions of 40% seem to be common and leave people with the time to do their real job!! But there is a further win, analysis of the social networking conversations and flow reveals new insights into what is really happening in this complex area, as an example the oracle Utilities Service engineers suite allows field engineers to share knowledge and experience but also to analysis this to gain new insights into what is happening in terms of types of faults, ways to solve problems, who has which knowledge and experience etc. all very real and important new insights into vitally important human centric activities that was not previously possible.

Do you feel the younger generation has different expectations/opinions on bringing social media tools into the business?

Mulholland: There is little doubt the sub 30 or may be 35 years old people grew up on line with the internet, web and increasingly with a different view to how they communicate, share and learn. To them it is natural to work in real time, to find information from others, to place views into social networks, and frankly to expect to be in a social networked online environment. Indeed their expectation of this is so developed that if a company doesn’t provide this environment they will find ways to create it on public social networks. This will rob any enterprise of the all important ability to gain information and insights to offer very real levels of improvement to their levels of interaction with customers, markets etc. I liken it to the service engineers or the sales people going into a locked room to discuss all important aspects of their work and how to improve it whilst keeping the management out of the room, crazy but quite literally what happens in enterprises that don’t wake up to the value social tools bring.

If you missed the webcast, you can catch the replay here and the slides available as well! Be sure to keep up with Andy and Christian as they continue on in the conversations about social business! 

Wednesday Feb 22, 2012

Social Business: Evolution or Revolution?


Christian Finn

By Christian Finn (@cfinn)

At the Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston three years ago, I made a splash during the keynote panel by arguing that social business was evolutionary, not revolutionary. This wasn’t the most popular stance at the time, and it was back when I was with Microsoft, which wasn’t the most popular vendor at a conference dominated by startups. I sure did get a lot of attention though and whether people saw social business as an evolution or revolution became an informal theme of that conference and led to some very interesting and fun debates with social thought leaders such as Ross Mayfield, Thomas Vander Wal, Dion Hinchcliffe, and many others.

Fast forward three years later, and the evidence suggests that I was wrong. Social business really is a revolution, one that is causing rapidly accelerating change in how companies and customers engage with one another and how employees work together. The perception and rate of change is, however, being experienced differently between line of business units on the one hand and organizational IT on the other.

The business side is eager to seize on innovations that can help improve marketing, sales, customer service, and brand reputation. iPads, for example, are becoming a necessity for sales and field service personnel in many organizations, and if these aren’t being supplied by the company, the sales people are bringing their own tablets to work—and demanding that the applications they need from the back office run on those iPads. Bloomberg recently cited an IDG Connect survey which found that 51% of managers say they always use the iPad at work, 40% say they sometimes do, and 79% said they use the iPad for work outside of business hours. Business users are at the gates of IT with torches—on their iPads.

IT, however, is more reticent to adopt social tools, at least outside of IT itself. Enterprise 2.0 as a term, after all, was coined by Andy McAfee after studying a bank’s IT department’s use of social tools in this seminal paper that started it all. But the consumerist convergence of social, mobile, local, and cloud technologies challenges long held IT paradigms of command and control, locked down systems, systematic rollouts, and long cycle application development. These approaches have served well in the era of client/server and with large application deployments such as ERP. But they don’t fit with the emergent, chaotic, rapidly changing consumerization era in which we now find ourselves, so different from even just three years ago. It is a huge shift, for example, to think of your intranet as a large set of individual apps served up to mobile devices based on user need and interest—the way people consume apps today in their personal lives—and not as a monolithic portal that’s PC centric and is one size fits all, with most of the content touched by a minority of users.

A telling illustration of the conflict for IT comes from a conversation I had with a CIO of a major outsourcer at a tradeshow when the iPad had first come out. We were talking technology and he ticked off the list of all the reasons why he would not write iOS devices into outsourcing his contracts. They weren’t secure enough, the CIO said; he couldn’t get a confirmed wipe of application data, and without that his firm was exposed to liability for data loss in the event of lost devices. And so, if you were a client of his firm, your employees would not be able to use iPads. After we wound up that discussion, I offered to find a time at the show to demo a new device we were working on privately. The CIO said, “sure, let me see what times I have available”, and promptly proceeded to open up his iPad to schedule our meeting!

Anyway, you don’t have to take my word on the subject of whether social business is an evolution or a revolution in how we work today. This week we have invited Capgemini’s Global CTO, Andy Mulholland of Capgemini, to share his perspectives in our first Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series webcast tomorrow at 10:00am PT. Andy has given a lot of thought to the implications of social disruption for both business and IT, and this week in our webcast he’ll discuss these in detail and offer frameworks for business and IT to come to the same mental model and work together in this new era of computing.

If you are not familiar with Andy’s work , he was rated one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and his Capgemini CTO Blog has been voted as the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years by the readers of Computing Weekly. Andy’s role at one of the world’s largest global technology consultancies gives him a unique vantage point to see changes across many industries around world. Our webcast will cover plenty of thought-provoking ideas, and I hope you’ll join us.

Meanwhile, vive la révolution sociale!

Monday Feb 20, 2012

Introducing the Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series

Christian Finn

By Christian Finn  (@cfinn)


A few months ago when I joined Oracle, I introduced myself as an evangelist for Oracle WebCenter and promised that you’d be hearing more from us in the future.  I am pleased to announce today that the future has arrived with this week’s launch of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series. Featuring thought leaders and opinion shapers drawn from the social, web experience, portal, content management, collaboration, and mobile markets that WebCenter serves, this brand new webcast series is intended to bring the best thinking on the subject of social business to you, free of charge, on demand, and absent any sales pitch.

Sure, we hope that the series generates goodwill and consideration of Oracle in your technology buying decisions.  We are making major investments in product development and by acquisition to offer WebCenter as the best-of-breed user engagement platform for social business in a crowded marketplace.  Yet we firmly believe that customers don’t buy products as much as they buy a long term strategy with a trusted partner; and fundamental to buying into a strategy is having a deep and current understanding of the issues, challenges, and potential of a world rapidly being reinvented by technology.  So offering you the unbiased thoughts and opinions of wise people who can help you, as an IT or business leader, navigate the swift currents of change we all face today—seems to us like a great place to start.

And so in that spirit, we are very pleased to kick off the series this week with Andy Mulholland, the Global CTO of Capgemini.   If you are not familiar with Andy, he was rated one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and his Capgemini CTO Blog has been voted as the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years by the readers of Computing Weekly. Andy’s role at one of the world’s largest global technology consultancies—Capgemini has over 115,000 employees doing technology projects in more than 50 countries around the world—gives him a unique vantage point to see changes across many industries around world.

I hope you will join us for our inaugural webcast this Thursday, February 23 at 10:00am PT and keep coming back every month for a new speaker and topic.  And we’d especially love it if you would use the comments here on the blog to suggest speakers and topics you’d like to hear from.  We’ll also take questions in the webcasts and answer them here on the WebCenter blog, so please join us in the conversation! 

Join us for our Social Business Thought Leaders webcast series featuring industry experts with leading perspectives about how social tools, technology and the changing workplace are affecting businesses today. 



Wednesday Jun 29, 2011

Oracle Partners Delivering Business Transformations With Oracle WebCenter

This week we’ve been discussing a new online event, “Transform Your Business by Connecting People, Processes, and Content.

This event will include a number of Oracle partners presenting on their successes with transforming their customers by connecting people, processes, and content:

  • Deloitte - Collaboration and Web 2.0 Technologies in Supporting Healthcare, delivered by Mike Matthews, the Canadian Healthcare partner and mandate partner on Canadian Partnership Against Cancer at Deloitte
  • Infosys - Leverage Enterprise 2.0 and SOA Paradigms in Building the Next Generation Business Platforms, delivered by Rizwan MK, who heads InfoSys' Oracle technology delivery business unit, defining and delivering strategic business and technology solutions to Infosys clients involving Oracle applications
  • Capgemini - Simplifying the workflow process for work order management in the utility market, delivered by Léon Smiers, a Solution Architect for Capgemini.
  • Wipro - Oracle BPM in Banking and Financial Services - Wipro's Technology and Implementation Expertise, delivered by Gopalakrishna Bylahalli, who is responsible for the Transformation Practice in Wipro which includes Business Process Transformation, Application Transformation and Information connect.

In Mike Matthews’ session, one thing he will explore is how to CPAC has brought together an informational website and a community. CPAC has implemented Oracle WebCenter, and as part of that implementation, is providing a community where people can make connections and share their stories. This community is part of the CPAC website, which provides information of all types on cancer. This make CPAC a one-stop shop for the most up-to-date information in Canada.

Friday Feb 19, 2010

Realizing the Benefits of Enterprise 2.0 - Q&A from the KM World webcast

Last Tuesday, I co-presented a live broadcast on "Realizing the Benefits of Enterprise 2.0" with Andy Mulholland, the Global CTO of Capgemini. From my perspective, it was a very enjoyable webcast with a highly interactive format as Andy and I discussed best practices for adopting an Enterprise 2.0 strategy and more importantly, highlighted key customer examples showing how it can be done today. If you missed the webcast, you can catch a replay here.

There was lot of interest in the broadcast as we had over 700 people sign up and over 350 attendees. I was very happy to note the high level of audience participation in some of the polls we conducted and in the Q&A session. In fact, there were so many questions, that I have decided to take a crack at answering them in this blog post, grouped by the most popular topics:

Q: What are some best practices to overcome the initial resistance for people to start adopting the newer E20 ways of working?
A: There is no easy answer here. Some of the approaches that I have seen work well include:

• Integrate use of E20 technologies into employees' day-to-day activities and workflows
• Senior leaders model/champion technology
• Provide informal incentives (e.g. expertise rating/recognition) for meaningful contributions
• Integrate E20 approaches with other modes of customer/partner interaction

 

Q: How do you match use of E20 with organizational culture?
A: You definitely need to consider organizational culture when rolling out Enterprise solutions. Enterprise 2.0 is all about empowering users to be more efficient in executing business goals. An important part of the enhancement is around using more flexible, collaborative tools that facilitate improved knowledge sharing - which in most cases is best served if the culture is more transparent and less hierarchical. For many organizations, comfort with transparency and lateralization will be a long-term process often involving new hires, training and new organizational incentives. Of course, increased transparency has to be moderated with regulatory and other legal requirements in many industries.

Q: What is the difference between collaboration and knowledge work?
A: The line is definitely blurred especially as most knowledge work (which I would define as working with information assets) involves working with multiple people either in collaborative teams or in workflows where work products created by one person are consumed by another person.

Q: How do you create a business case and measure results for the benefits of E20 to an organization?
A: This is probably the most often asked question that I hear. What I recommend, based on my experience talking to customers, is to focus on how Enterprise 2.0 solutions can help you better achieve your business goals. Ultimately, it comes down to how E20 can enhance the various business processes in your organizations. If you already measure your key processes, then by using E20 tools, you can measure the delta improvements in pilot deployments which, when combined with qualitative user feedback, can form the basis of a business case for larger deployments.

Q: What are some of the key business benefits companies have gained as result of using E20 technology?
A: This really depends on your deployment and measurement approaches, but generally, the following areas result in measureable gains for companies that have been using E20 the longest:

• Greater ability to share ideas
• Improved access to knowledge experts
• Reduced costs of communication, travel and operations
• Decreased time to market for products
• Improved employee satisfaction

 

Q: How can we balance demand for Enterprise 2.0 with the need for tighter governance?
A: Many organizations struggle with providing their users with more flexible E20 tools while maintaining regulatory compliance with the needs of the business. The E20 tools need to be able to leverage existing security and governance systems, in particular, data privacy and regulatory rules that are often centrally defined. One way to achieve this goal is to use an enterprise-class E20 platform that is designed to integrate with existing IT systems and enterprise applications so that organizational governance is maintained as users create and share content via collaborative E20 tools.

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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