Crossing the streams with Newsgator & Yammer

I’m sure some users would get plenty of value from just being able to see updates happening in Yammer along with all the other data that [Newsgator] Social Sites can bring together (and we have some very cool features coming that make it extremely powerful to aggregate all the social data in one spot).  But when we add in the potential to take an item from any external system (including Yammer), allow for editing, tagging, and workflow, and generate a wiki page in SharePoint from it, I think we get a really compelling reason to add this integration.  Whatever microblogs are flowing through Yammer, delivering an easy way to turn the best of them into real knowledge objects in SharePoint really adds a significant amount of value.

There have been questions about the future role of products like Newsgator in the new world of “Microsoft Yammer”, however its worth remembering Newsgator’s origins as an aggregator of information. The reality for many large organisations is that there is typically no single platform in place and that just about every enterprise social software solution supports some kind of activity stream. For the moment its worth thinking about if your social intranet is going to be SharePoint-centric or Yammer-centric, then build out from there.

John Stepper explains “Working out loud”

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A great explanation from John Stepper about how we use social business platforms for “working out loud”, “observable work” and “narrating your work” in the workplace. These are simple but powerful ideas that underpin the value of social intranets and enterprise social networks.

He writes in his introduction (emphasis added):

Two of the most common objections I hear are “I don’t have enough time” and “I don’t know what to post.” That’s because people often think of using a collaboration platform as an extra thing to do. An additional way to communicate.

And people at work are already overloaded: email, phone, voice mail, mobile phone, mobile phone voice mail, instant messenger, group chat, desktop video, desktop video messages.

The last thing anyone wants is Yet Another Communications Channel.

So, instead of focusing on communicating in new ways, it’s important that collaboration and contribution is in line with the work people do every day.

And no, its not about describing what you are having for lunch, although certainly even social business tools should also be used to let people socialise. After all, that’s how people build social capital when they work face-to-face. Working out load and observable work can also be created from activity in systems, not just posting a statement about what you are working on.

Probably the only other concepts I’d highlight as part of this is the shift from open by exception to open by default or alternatively, from gather then share to share then gather.

Yammer case study: Hall & Wilcox, a law firm in Melbourne, Australia

We have discussed the importance of adoption events to the success of enterprise social network adoption a few times. A successful adoption event informs users of the benefits of using the ESN, models desired behaviors, increases awareness and establishes a call to action. An example of a really creative launch came to my attention, and I just had to get to know the company that made its own Yammer shirts (and sent me one!), and baked Yammer cupcakes. That company was Hall & Wilcox, a law firm in Melbourne, Australia. I caught up with Yammer champions Josephine Murfey and Chris Warburton at Hall & Wilcox, and this is what we talked about.

I’ve talked to and worked with enough people in professionals services firms in recent years to know they have mixed success with a viral adoption approach. One law firm I spoke too commented that all staff did on Yammer was share funny jokes and it wasn’t perceived as adding much to the work culture or practice. However, Hall & Wilcox is a good case study of the kinds of activities you could be using to help create and maintain momentum if you wanted to do more than simply throwing open the doors to an enterprise social networking platform. The other common factor here of course is Pete Williams, who you many have noticed acts as the idea virus in many of Yammer’s Australian success stories.

Observations from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

A few of the reports from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week included some interesting observations.

From NetworkWorld:

Past Enterprise 2.0 conferences have suffered from a lack of end-user case studies, but that didn’t seem to be the case this year. Many presentations were akin to business management seminars rather than technology discussions, with the technical nuts and bolts of the software selection and implementation process kept in the background or not mentioned at all.

Another strike against those claiming its all just rheotoric. The number of case studies is increasing.

Dan Keldsen writing in CMSWire about Nike’s presentation:

With a focus on what [Nike’s Director of Enterprise Collaboration, Richard Foo] calls “Performance Value” — focused not just on “the goals of the business” but also on those of the individual — a disconnect that I constantly have to fight in consulting work as well. There has to be value FOR EVERYONE if you are going to succeed these days, not just a self-serving, one-sided value statement.

You definitely have to answer the WIFM question at an individual, group and organisational level.

Also quoting Richard Foo, The BrainYard:

Foo said he values what he has learned from the Enterprise 2.0 conferences and from connections with other organizations pursuing similar goals. But researching what was going on within his own organization has proven just as important. “We’ve discovered several collaboration-type initiatives in the company,” he said, meaning “we’ve been spending millions of dollars on several redundant things.”

Don’t just look at what others are doing, look at what’s already happening inside your organisation.

In Techworld:

One overarching theme representatives from companies like Nike, American Airlines, FedEx and Virgin Media echoed was their use of social collaboration tools for more than just managing a Facebook or Twitter account: Collaboration tools are about driving more efficient internal business process and extending the reach and user experience of external customer engagements… The end-game, says Wells Fargo collaboration strategist Kelli Carlson-Jagersma, is to improve customer service. “We’re here to solve the customers’ needs,” she says. “These internal tools will help us do our customer-facing jobs.”

Social business is about inside and outside the organisation.

and

The bigger changes for adopting such technology, show speakers say, is around getting end user buy-in…

…[But] As part of [Virgin Media’s] annual survey this year, employees who were part of the initial pilot reported a seven-point bump in employee engagement compared to workers not in the pilot.

The challenge of organisational change doesn’t go away, but its well worth the effort.

You do need a strategy for your enterprise social network, says Yammer

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A great post from Stephen Danelutti at Yammer explaining why even if you use viral adoption as a catalyst to get started, you still need a strategy:

“The ease of use and virality of a platform like Yammer can be deceivingly simple and lead people to think that a deliberate strategy is not necessary. That’s a mistake, because without direction and an end goal in mind, the network will simply meander and fail to deliver business value.”

A Live SNA Experiment on Collaboration at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

Nice to see Social Network Analysis (SNA) getting airtime at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week. The network map above is the result of a live SNA experiment by Lithium Technology scientist, Michael Wu, using NodeXL.

If you are interested in applying network analysis like this I suggest you check my friends at Optimice, who have been working and specialising in this field for many years.