Saturday, 28 September 2013

#smwSMILE: capturing the online resources

On Monday 23 September, simply-communicate run SMILE London, the conference on Social Media In the Large Enterprise.

The event, which was attended by 150 professionals with an interest in enterprise social networks (ESN), focused on the value of making business social.

During the day, stories of a variety of companies successfully adopting internal social media, as well as experts' discussions took place in an interview format.

Sessions guided by moderators gave attendees also the opportunity to network and share ideas around internal communications and social media.

The level of involvement and participation to the conference was very high, that a great amount of online content and conversations were created during the day and afterward.

This Storify is meant to be a source of information and curation of all the material generated around SMILE London and shared on social media. As such, it will continue to be updated with more content made available in future.

The next SMILE London conference will be on 17th March 2014. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

#smwSMILE is coming! A Storify preview

SMILE London (Social Media In the Large Enterprise) is the simply-communicate's conference on the value of enterprise social networks (ESN) and social collaboration to help change the culture of organisations and improve their internal communications.

On Monday 23 September, the conference will be an opportunity to learn, get new insights and knowledge around making business social.

Fascinating case studies from large companies that have successfully embarked on their internal social media journey - for the benefit of both their employees and the whole organisation - will be discussed.

Key findings from a new research will be presented.

A dozen of sessions will be also moderated to exchange ideas and share knowledge around a variety of topics: leadership communications, internal social media policies and practice, community management, the future of intranets, content and news, employee engagement, social networking, internal communications qualifications, collaborative technology, social media and HR, and how social media can extend the lifecycle of seminars.

For the occasion, I have created a Storify preview of the conference to capture some of the content and online conversations that has been shared around SMILE London during the past days.

To follow SMILE London on Twitter: go to @simplycomm #smwSMILE #SMILEnet 


Sunday, 15 September 2013

New media ecology, new language for internal comms

This week I came across a report by The Institute for the Future (IFTF), titled Future Work Skills 2020”. The paper identifies the key drivers that are likely to transform the context of work and explores the professional skills needed in the next decade.

One of the drivers of change highlighted by the document is the “new media ecology”.

I found the definition of this concept of particular relevance for the world of internal communications and the networked enterprise.

The report makes the following case:

New multimedia technologies are bringing about a transformation in the way we communicate. As technologies for video production, digital animation, augmented reality, gaming, and media editing, become ever more sophisticated and widespread, a new ecosystem will take shape around these areas. We are literally developing a new vernacular, a new language, for communication.”

Already, the text-based Internet is transforming to privilege video, animation, and other more visual communication media.”

At the same time, virtual networks are being integrated more and more seamlessly into our environment and lives, channeling new media into our daily experience. The millions of users generating and viewing this multimedia content from their laptops and mobile devices are exerting enormous influence on culture.

New media is placing new demands on attention and cognition. It is enabling new platforms for creating online identity while at the same time requiring people to engage in activities such as online personal reputation and identity management.”

It is enabling new ways for groups to come together and collaborate, bringing in new levels of transparency to our work and personal lives.”

At the same time, our sensibility toward reality and truth is likely to be radically altered by the new media ecology. We must learn to approach content with more skepticism and the realisation that what you see today may be different tomorrow. Not only are we going to have multiple interpretations of recorded events, but with ubiquitous capture and surveillance, events will be seen from multiple angles and perspectives, each possibly telling a different story of individual events.”

The new media ecology as delineated above, suggests many implications for the enterprise, and for internal communications.

Organisations will have to engage with workers by critically evaluating and developing activities that takes into considerations these latests forms of communications and assessing their impacts on people behaviours, approaches to work and employees' identities.

It will become the new normal for social collaboration platforms, blogs, podcasts and videos to be fully integrated and adopted for business purposes in the workplace.

At the same time the ability of discriminating and discerning information from vast amount of data will be paramount for employees to focus on what is important to them to perform their tasks. With this, the practice of social filtering – for example tagging content - will support more and more the situation where relevant information can be easily found and productively used.

It seems very likely that we will see this stimulating communications environment brought about by the new media economy, developing on a large scale. It will translate everywhere possible, into the new way employees communicate, work and engage inside the organisation. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Exploring a 'meteorite'. LinkedIn Maps for IC

This week, I decided to experiment with LinkedIn Maps, a recently new function provided by the social platform LinkedIn.

As you can read on the home page of the feature, it consists of “your professional world. Visualized. Map your professional network to understand the relationships between you and your connections”.

I found the idea of having a visual of all my LinkedIn's professional connections of interest. Here it is:

At the beginning I looked at it with fascination (and a little bit of perplexity, I must admit). Like if I was in front of a piece of abstract art, I was trying to figure out a possible meaning of what at the beginning seemed to me just the picture of a colourful meteorite in the sky.

However, after exploring my meteorite and playing with it, I was surprised to notice the potential usefulness of having this sort of representation of my professionals connections.

You can examine your own map by dragging it, moving it, zooming it and going dip into details of every single connection.

Different colours are meant to describe different types of relationships. For examples, my blue area shows the connections that I have with other professionals who are involved with internal communications.

Within this area I can see my colleagues, people who like me are part of associations and groups of interest in internal communications, plus all the other connections that share with me the interest in this particular profession.

I can also make a distinction between those connections who are more involved with internal social media and enterprise social networks, and those who are more in employee engagement and leadership communications (some of the latter moving towards the orange area). Again, I can find the people who work in publishing, the ones who work in-house and the ones who do consultancy.

Thanks to this social graph I can recall many contacts that I made with internal communicators in the past and with which I have not been in touch recently. This could represent a good opportunity to re-connect and re-engage with professionals from whom I have not heard for a while.

By clicking on each node of the network you can also see the full profile of a particular connection. This implies seeing which kind of professional relationships that specific person has developed, which groups they are interested in, the companies and news they are following, projects they are working on, etc.

Can this be relevant to internal communicators?
In the 21st century, limiting and confining the social connections of an internal communicator to the walls of their organisations, could be detrimental to the value of their profession. Instead, knowing who and what other internal communications professionals know, think and do, and being able to connect with people with particular kind of information and skills in this area, could be very meaningful and useful to them.

They can strengthen their relationships with other individuals involved in internal communications, engage with them, form communities, share and broaden their knowledge and expertise of this particular subject so that so to ultimately maximise their role, develop their work and contributions to their companies.

Exploring past, current and potentially new professional relationships; connecting with people who have particular kind of abilities and insights that might be of relevance for particular projects; joining new groups of interest; sharing valuable information with others interested in the industry...these are just a few examples of what internal communications professionals could ultimately do from exploring their own 'meteorite' through LinkedIn Maps.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Stowe Boyd on "The future of work: maximizing your distributed workforce"

A few days ago I watched a webinar by GigaOM research on “The future of work: maximizing your distributed workforce”.

The video examined a variety of topics including the distributed enterprise, harnessing creative collaboration, enterprise adoption, culture and compliance.

Stowe Boyd – Analyst at GigaOM Research whose work and study I follow with interest - was one of the panelists.

Within these marginalia, I would like to recall some of the thoughts that Stowe Boyd shared during the webinar.

The distributed enterprise

There is an interesting paradox for which we are increasingly more connected in work today, but at the same time distributed, decentralised and performing in a 'discontinuous way'. That means that we are constantly shifting from work and personal, there are projects that we do with different groups of people, and increasingly decentralised organisations are becoming more and more agile and innovative, putting power at the hands of front-line workforce.
All these things are currently running together, calling for a very different 'workspace': a combination of the tools, the physical environment and the other affordances that we use to get work done. That includes social technologies and social architectures to make work as fluid and frictionless as possible. These tools are easier and simpler to use, and the energy involved with their adoption is becoming increasingly important.
These workspaces have a great impact on productivity, group identity, and on satisfaction in the workplace.”

The BYOD model has been having a big impact. The wise organisations are taking advantage of this, leveraging the energy of the model. People are given the autonomy of choosing their tools (people are smart and will choose tools that let them make progress).”

Harnessing creative collaboration

There is fascinating research that comes from sociology that suggests that the best way to create context in which change can happen, is through connections. If people have the chance to increase the connections they have at work, then ideas would spread more quickly.”

In some specific cases there is a phenomenon called 'complex contagion': if people feel that is risky to undertake new behaviours, they will not undertake those changes until they other people around them are undertaking those behavioural changes. Therefore, in some companies where people feel that is risky to use social tools, changes can be very difficult to make and can take considerable amount of time.”

A measure [of the benefits from using internal social collaboration tools] can be innovation (e.g. companies can track the proportion of the sales). There are also other direct things inside organisations, which are linked to productivity. There is a lot of psychological and management research that shows that just allowing people to share the progress that they make on a regular basis, sharing that they have achieved and accomplished some tasks that in turn will allow other people to take the next steps, makes other people feel better about work, and more productive themselves.

Enterprise Adoption

One of the aspects of 'discontinuous work' is that people have to shift tools set during the course of the day because of whom they are working with.”

It is seems clear from all the indicators that the issues around collaborative, digital, social, etc. have now been accepted within the business context. Companies are expecting to get productivity increases from these next generation of technologies. They cannot go back and get productivity out of the techniques used in the past.”

The best hope around adoption is getting people being more efficient, more productive, more cooperative. This is achievable through operating faster and looser ways of work: more distribution, more decentralisation, less of the ways of working of the past as people have to make progress quickly.”

Culture and compliance

There is a widespread awareness that companies want to be more agile, resilient, able to make changes more quickly, keep their options open. Once again, all of this is built into the concept that I call “fast and loose business”, that suggests some principles on what the notion of culture has to be. Culture has to give a higher value on behaviours and activities that help the company achieve those characteristics.

That suggests at a very fundamental level of loosening some of the bonds that we have accepted as a sort of given in business in the past – in particular the strong control of management. Some companies have started to intentionally minimise management relationships so that so people can have maximum autonomy to get things done.

Those kind of issues have to be thought about and incorporated exclusively in a culture saying:

'what we value is to move quickly, be agile, respond in a short period of time to challenges and opportunities, and in order to do that we have to change our personal behaviour and mindset about how work has to be done'.

Next steps

I think we are moving away from the traditional notion of collaboration.
In fact, I have been making a differentiation. The most generic term for me is 'co-working'. I believe collaboration is a style of people working that is little tired now. I believe the big shift is going to be towards tools that are more cooperative, that allow people to get work done together, to share information together, but are not based on the same principles of collaborative tools.

For anyone interested in social business and the future of work, Stowe Boyd is not to be missed. I find particularly fascinating the sociological, anthropological and communicative approach he takes when analysing the business context of enterprise collaboration.

Thank you Stowe – I will continue to follow your studies.