Archive for October, 2008

Concentrated Quality Time

October 18th, 2008

I haven’t really traveled much since leaving IBM in May of this year. But Q4 in the software sales world kinda changes things. So, with the increased travel comes a change in family life.

Since returning from a recuperative three-day trip to the Jive Software mothership in Portland, OR yesterday, life has been all about my daughter (except for when I snuck peeks at my laptop when she wanted to play by herself). About 10 minutes after walking in the front door last night, I found myself making high-heeled paper shoes for the stuffed unicorn I brought home for her.

She’s been sort of sick all week, driving my saintly hubs slowly insane, so he got a pass to be completely absent today – he was in college football heaven in his basement man cave. Thank googly Iowa won.

Anyway.

Today was a windy, barely chilly, gorgeous Minnesota fall day. Lots of leaves were kicked and thrown while my girl and I walked, played, ate, and shopped all over our wonderful neighborhood for about five hours. While she ran around playing pirate at the neighborhood baseball diamond, I was busy changing the giant penis somebody had carved out of the hard-packed sand into a pretty flower vase. I think you can see it from space.

But, I think the best part of today was during our morning tea party, when my girl said, “Mommy, I love being with you.”

Yep. It was a great day.

Need help persuading your management about social software?

October 14th, 2008

If you need some help convincing your executives that social software is critical in these belt-tightening times, check out the following use cases on the new Jive Software site. They include quotes from recognizable Jive customers, plus what analysts are saying about Jive. Feel free to request a live consultation with a Jive solutions expert while you’re at it.

Connect Your Team

(Embarq, EMC)

  • Product Management
  • Support
  • Enterprise Social Networking
  • Employee Engagement/Social Capital
  • Employee On-boarding

Accelerate Sales

(Intel, NetApp, VMWare)

  • Sales and Marketing Alignment
  • Accelerate Sales On-Boarding
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Channel Enablement
  • Sales and Services Alignment

Grow Your Market

(Nike, VMWare, EA)

  • Get Leads from Leads
  • Increase Sales
  • Improve Customer Loyalty
  • Drive Customer Insight and Outside Innovation

I’ll be in L.A. Oct 22. How about you?

October 13th, 2008

Derek and I will be at the Jive Software Fall Road Show event in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, October 22. If you’re interested, please be sure to register! It’s targeted to folks who care about online communities, and although I’m pretty focused on internal implementations, I plan to chat with attendees about their plans to blend the two. Should be very interesting.

Here’s what’s in store:

Who Should Attend:

Marketing and business professionals who want to drive customer acquisition and more effectively connect with current and potential customers with social media

What You’ll Learn:

  • Best practices for community planning
  • Discover the different types of communities and which ones work best for your business objectives
  • Connecting communities to your SEO strategy
  • Getting customer and partner conversations started and how to keep them going
  • Turn your community into a 365 day a year on-going event
  • How to bring personality to your community through rich media, videos, pictures and more
  • How to increase brand loyalty and decrease service and support costs
  • The Do’s and Dont’s of successful communities
  • Real world case studies of how businesses are effectively driving results with social media

How to onboard new employees using Clearspace

October 9th, 2008

Are you hiring a bunch of new employees? Want to get them up to speed quickly, and give them an opportunity to make a real difference in your company? I’ve had a few conversations with folks who want to accomplish this. These are some loose guidelines we came up with. Feel free to add your own!

Configuring the Clearspace User Experience

Create these in Clearspace:

Space: New to [company name]?

Group: I’m New Here (or whatever you want to call your new-hire group). Make it a Moderated Group, which forces people to join in order to write anything – they can read everything without joining. A sense of membership is important here.

Widgets to add to the Overview page of the “New to [company name]?” space:

  • Formatted Text widget “Welcome!”: welcome-to-our-company message.
  • Formatted Text widget “Important Information”: links to important information for new hires.
  • Formatted Text widget “Ask for Help”: links to the communities for IT, HR, Products, and Services, etc.
  • Formatted Text widget “I want to:”: links to:
    • “update my profile” – same as clicking edit my profile in your profile
    • “find someone” – same as selecting Browse -> People
    • “ask a question” – creates a new discussion in the space
    • “write in my blog” – creates a new blog post, or takes them to screen to create a new blog
    • “create a document” – brings up the “where to you want to create it?” screen
    • “customize my homepage” – puts their homepage in edit mode, showing widget palette
  • RSS Subscription widget that displays a feed from the I’m New Here Group.
  • Recent Blogs widget, scoped to the entire Clearspace site.

Your Onboarding Team

Get Legal involved

Collaborate with them to create your organization’s social computing Terms & Conditions (lawyers like T&Cs better than some namby-pamby “guidelines”). They can calm their fears of employee harassment lawsuits and more by using their extraordinary CYA language skills. You can configure Clearspace to pop that sucker up and require agreement for everyone who logs in the first time.

Ask HR, IT, Product, Services etc. to monitor the space

These folks could designate one “help the N00b” person each week. They’d be responsible for answering new employees’ questions in the space. Maybe give them some sort of spiff for participating. Have them subscribe to the space, either using email or an RSS feed reader. Using email is better, though, because they’ll be able to simply reply to the email notification with their answer.

Find your cheerleaders

These are your mavens, energizers, advocates – the people who love where they work, and what they do. Get them to blog and whatever else they want to do in Clearspace. They will impart a positive sense of your culture, and help new hires feel really good about joining your company.

Onboarding Recipe for Hiring Managers

Tell the new employees’ managers to follow this recipe for onboarding:

  1. Show them their space. “Here’s where you can ask HR questions, product questions, services questions, IT questions, anything! There are people in all of those departments who are monitoring this space for your questions, and they’ll – get this – answer them!”
  2. Show them their group. “Here’s where you can talk to other new hires, and discuss whatever you want. Keep in mind that everyone can see what you talk about. If you decide to make a separate private group or whatever, don’t tell me about it. Heh.”
  3. Show them your cheerleaders. “Here are some people you need to follow. They’ll give you a sense of how things are done around here. You might want to label them with something so that you can keep track.”
  4. Show them their accidental mentors. “Here are some more people to follow. Read their stuff, and you’ll feel like you’ve been working here for years in just a matter of weeks. You might want to label them with ‘smarties’ or something, just so you can manage your connections list better.”
  5. Show them how to customize their homepage. “I suggest you use the Connection Activity widget, because it will show you what all those people you are following are creating and commenting on. It’s a great way to cut down on the noise. Be sure to add the Recent Blogs widget too, because then you’ll get to hear from everyone in the company who blogs. The Your Groups widget is a good one, too. And finally, be sure to add and use the Status Update widget. It’s a great way to let folks know what you’re doing right now.” (Hint: Have your system administrator create a default homepage layout that shows all of these.)

Business Value Statements for your Muckity-Mucks

(Yes, I know I said these were a waste of time. I meant for me. 😉

Need some new-hire-flavored language to convince your management chain of the bennies of social software? Try these:

Talent Acquisition: bring potential recruits into an external Clearspace community where they can “meet” senior employees. This accomplishes two things:

  1. it gives the senior folks a chance to vet the recruits. They can provide feedback to HR about who’s good, who’s not;
  2. it gives the recruit a chance to learn about your culture, job expectations, day in the life, and whether they’d be a good fit.

New Talent Retention: provide new recruits a social software networking environment where they can:

  1. maintain ties with their peers;
  2. follow the content of senior employees, which would potentially accelerate their time-to-value (make them more productive faster).

This would complement existing mentoring programs. Possibly use a Facebook look and feel to encourage more rapid adoption and participation among new hires.

Centers of Excellence: provide senior employees a web-based community where they can:

  1. field questions from their peers and new hires, thereby significantly reducing one-off email and phone requests. Answering a question once for all to see significantly increases a senior employee’s productivity, enabling greater focus on their day job;
  2. share work with their peers in a permission-controlled place that enables more detailed conversations to take place that typically occur via email and the phone, where only the participants benefit. These workplaces would capture those conversations, thereby providing deeper context for any documents that eventually are checked into a content management system.

Let me know how it works!

Social software business value discussions are a waste of time

October 1st, 2008

There, I said it.

If I’m a C-level executive at a large enterprise, and a vendor tells me the business value that, say, four other companies in my industry have experienced using their social software, I will be hopeful. Hell, I’ll be excited. And, to be fair, maybe that’s all business value statements are designed to do – get executives to at least listen.

But, I won’t write a huge check because I don’t know for sure whether my organization would a) actually use social software, and if they do, b) realize the value you describe.

So, guess what? I’m going to ask for proof, and the only thing I’m going to base my large-dollar decision on is internal proof. Maybe I’m willing to pay a bit to get that going, but I’m sure as hell not going to be a doofus and blow a big part of my budget on an enterprise deal with no real proof.

I’m going to want some specific-to-my-company data that shows the value you predict. We erroneously call this “metrics” but what I really want is analysis of those metrics. You tell me 27% of the pilot population actively participated? That there are 73 active discussion threads in a particular community? What the hell does that mean? How can I translate that into, “hey, CEO Jane, this software will save us a bucket of money over the next three years,” ?

Soft dollar, productivity increase, knowledge worker efficiency, greater innovative opportunities… it all sounds good, but will MY people experience it? Yep, organizational culture damn well does matter.

This is why enterprises do limited rollouts first, and hopefully, they have help in analyzing whatever metrics are gathered. Just gathering them isn’t enough. And discussions about predicted business value isn’t enough. Show me.