All posts in “Enterprise 2.0”

SAP's Social Layer: Making Collaboration Real

You’ll recall a few weeks back I wrote a post about attending SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW user conference this past May [disclosure: SAP has been a Social Media Group client since 2007] discussing the need for organizers of events-based programs to  both consider and optimize their “digital layer”. Not a new concept, but perhaps a more holistic way of framing it.

There’s an interesting parallel to this theme in another piece of news that was discussed at SAPPHIRENOW. Our group of bloggers and digital influencers received a briefing from Sameer Patel, someone I consider to be a great friend, and who is also SAP’s new Global Vice President and GM, Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software. What that fairly long-winded title means is that Sameer is in a newly-created role, in charge of something called Project Robus – an effort to weave together SAP’s “collaboration layer” at the product level, with particular emphasis on the notion of helping bring social business to life by allowing users to have access to the same collaboration workstream, regardless of which SAP application they happen to be using.

Sameer laid out the three points around which, in his experience, people collaborate. They are data, business process and content (documents). He feels that part of the reason there’s been a lag in the adoption of truly effective collaboration at scale inside most organizations is that efforts to date have been largely tool-driven, rather than focused on the why. I believe him. There are parallels to this behavior in social media outside the enterprise – routine “shiny object” epidemics distract from, and potentially damage, effective use of social tools to reach customers; this is largely because the first steps of listening and understanding what your consumers want from you are forgotten in the mad rush to the next “it” platform. This frenzy leaves in its wake abandoned tools and profiles, wasted resources, and a nagging suspicion that the whole thing might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. In the long term, this translates into a loss of competitive advantage; firms find themselves lagging ever farther behind, largely because they’re focusing on the wrong things.

As he noted in the post announcing his new role,

“Many [executives] are still looking for that bridge that practically takes them from a world designed around structured process to one that gets them to blend collaboration at every step of business tasks and processes, and in a way that drives revenue and margin, lowers cost and mitigates risk.”

So it’s Sameer’s mandate to try and help do that, by re-focusing and re-packaging the “collaboration layer” across SAP’s product suite into a comprehensive social software strategy. One interesting question (from my marcom-skewed perspective) is how this will be marketed – Sameer’s team is, in his own words, “horizontally structured”, meaning they will work across product groups to bring this together. They’re a horizontal group inside a vertical organization – this pattern tends to be highly disruptive and it will be interesting to see how consistency in product messaging, results measurement and execution will be managed; that’s a lot of stakeholders.

Despite the looming and significant challenges, it’s a really interesting approach and, frankly, seems in line with SAP’s professed “trademark approach” to integrate their applications. It will be interesting to watch progress as Project Robus matures – there’s definitely a sense of “the need for speed” and the question will be whether SAP – and their clients – are ready, and willing to pay for it.

SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW – Optimizing the “Digital Layer”

Social Media Group’s relationship with SAP dates back to 2007 when I was first invited by Mike Prosceno, as part of the relatively new “Blogger Program”, to attend the company’s annual user conference in Vienna. At the time, SMG was less than a year old, had a client or two (were we going to make it??) and I was hosting a podcast series I’d co-developed with Social Media Today. Mike managed to arrange an interview for me with Craig Cmehil, Community Manager for what was then known as the SAP Developer Network (SDN), and Mark Yolton, the new Vice President of Community. At the time, SDN, the proprietary social network for SAP users, was closing in on an impressive 800,000 members and the discussion was definitely cutting edge.

Flash forward to 2012. Social Media Group is approaching our sixth anniversary with an impressive roster of blue-chip clients, industry thought leadership and work we are incredibly proud of. I’ve missed a few SAPPHIRE events over the years, but have attended more than I haven’t. Mark Yolton is now the Senior Vice President of Communities and Social Media, SDN has been renamed SCN (“SAP Community Network”) to reflect the increasing diversity of the SAP ecosystem, and is one of the most extensive examples of enterprise use of social media at over 2.5 million members (which brings a whole new set of challenges, but that’s another post). The SAP Blogger Program is SOP (“standard operating procedure”) for SAPPHIRE events, and SAPPHIRE itself has been rebranded as SAPPHIRENOW. The company also has a new Chief Marketing Officer, Jonathan Becher, who’s committed to digital, social and transforming his organization into an inbound, rather than outbound, model.

What else has changed?

For the last few years SAPPHIRENOW has taken place in Orlando. This year I was again asked to attend, along with a collection of my colleagues from a group known as the Enterprise Irregulars. These days I go because SAP is a client, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the company and their strategic direction and it’s a great chance to connect with incredibly smart people and just generally catch up. This year at SAPPHIRENOW there were also some interesting new developments in the effort to weave together social functionality across SAP products under the leadership of Sameer Patel, the new Global Vice President and GM, Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software at SAP; I’ll cover that move in a subsequent blog post.

In Orlando, Brian Ellefritz, SAP’s Vice President, Social Media Strategic Services, who is also responsible for leading the teams that help syndicate and amplify the massive amounts of content generated by SAPPHIRENOW attendees, was kind enough to give me a tour of his operation, introducing me to analysts and community managers who were gathering, producing and sharing owned and earned SAP content. The process and program was impressive, and also iterative; Brian estimates that they shake up about 25% of their social and digital activities each year to keep things fresh and ensure that they’re remaining innovative and relevant.

On the second day of the conference, I’d finally gotten around to checking in on Foursquare, and noticed that the check-in had likely been set up by a user rather than as an official SAP channel (it was off-brand, the event was listed as “Sapphire Now” and missed a good opportunity for a link or other metadata). I was a little surprised, but understood that there might have been some resistance to “gamification” of the event.

Which got me to thinking.

SAPPHIRENOW, in fact any live event, in fact any experience, has the potential for what I’ll call a “digital layer” – that is, the digital content produced by attendees, official representatives and people watching from afar. This can be everything from slick video interviews uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, #hashtagged tweets (tip: you don’t need to include the date – Twitter search is ephemeral, it’s hard to find content from three weeks ago, let alone last year), blog posts, the comments people leave on them and – yes, this matters – check-ins on services like Foursquare.

CC image from Foodfreak

The question that all event organizers (and, really, all brands – this is not only about campaign- or event-based activity, it’s also about your pervasive, ongoing digital presence) is whether you have truly looked at your “digital layer” as a discrete thing, a horizontal experience across your vertical organization or program. It’s a touchpoint that’s not always triggered by you but, regardless, it is an important vehicle for communicating a consistent message.

Here’s a great quote from Pat McClelland, a member of the Board of Directors at the Corporate Events Marketing Association:

“Just check out the digital conversation generated by bloggers and attendees… it’s augmenting the content with live commentary and debate, facilitating networking, making key business connections and generating leads. And that conversation among attendees helps create the virtual experience for those not on-site… The challenge for us is to facilitate and enable that digital layer, without expecting to control every aspect of it.”

Have you fully optimized your digital layer?

Enterprise 2.0 Summit

Do you want to learn how to design your social enterprise? The 2012 Enterprise 2.0 Summit is happening next week (February 7-8) at the Cercle National des Armees in Paris. Speakers and attendees will dig into the understanding and designing of social business excellence.

Enterprise 2.0 and its social techniques are nowadays an integral part of many corporations on their way to business excellence and improved performance. They strive for the design of a new model for the enterprise, the value creation, the business processes as well as the collaborative environment.

The conference will discuss current practices and future visions on how to provide more business excellence by the introduction of a social business design. The focus will be on the key challenges and success factors for three crucial parts: The new model of the organizational setup, the “socialized” processes and the collaborative workplace. The topic will be discussed from three different angles in parallel tracks addressing:

  • Enterprise 2.0 Project Excellence: The key excellence factors for the transformation phase
  • Enterprise 2.0 Practice Excellence: The overall use scenarios
  • Enterprise 2.0 Organizational Excellence: The new organizational setup

What is the Summit about?

Some of the keynote leaders of the conference include:

It’s not too late to register!

For interesting news leading up to the conference, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Social media adoption, the serendipity economy and flock behavior in communities

Okay, okay – the title is obscure. I’m pretty sure you know what social media is, but the serendipity economy? Flock behavior in communities?

Don’t worry – there’s a connection, and I will explain…

Last week I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, where I managed to catch an amazing session with Daniel W. Rasmus called “The Serendipity Economy“. I found myself compulsively live-tweeting throughout Daniel’s talk. His thesis is essentially that our legacy, industrial-age approach to economics does not fit within our modern knowledge economy framework.

Think of it this way – value in manufacturing is realized the moment a product is created, whereas in a knowledge economy, the presentation I just created has no value until it’s presented. Additionally, because the knowledge economy relies largely on human networks, forecasting much of the value derived is basically impossible (imagine the number of variables. It’s like weather modeling, times a billion!) instead, our challenge is discovering unanticipated value as it happens – and then replicating it (you can download Daniel’s whitepaper here).

Twitter visualization

Image courtesy of Yoan Blanc

Anyway, it was an amazing talk, and one of my biggest takeaways had to do specifically with social media. Daniel rightly noted that there is a huge disruption when you introduce a horizontal technology (i.e. social media) into a traditional vertical structure (i.e. most large organizations), particularly as it relates to adoption. Social, ideally, needs to get to the point of being as widely used as, say, the phone or the PC. Problem? It’s much more skills-based, much more complex and we also don’t have years to roll it out.

So, what’s an organization to do?

In a conversation with a client the very next day, I mentioned Daniel’s presentation, and as we discussed adoption of social media and the very real challenges with integrating horizontal technologies into vertical organizations (so well put!). I was suddenly reminded of something I read in both the MIT Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog and Fast Company, and subsequently did a presentation on in late 2009. My presentation was called “Disrupting Traditional Leadership: Flock Behavior in Communities” and it explored research that showed it was possible for a very small number of leaders to move very large entities, if only you have the right criteria in place:

  1. Distribution: The leaders must be distributed throughout the organization in a fairly consistent way in order to touch the maximum number of individuals. Their own networks must not leave any significant pockets untouched by their mission, vision or goals.
  2. Allegiance: The people in the leaders’ networks must be absolutely loyal. That means the leader must be persuasive, and when he or she moves, their network moves with them, as do the networks surrounding their network… you get the idea.
  3. Communication: To get everyone to move at the same time and in the right direction, messaging about the mission and the action to be taken must be communicated to all leaders and then to the loyal members of their networks quickly, efficiently and consistently.

Interesting model, which raised all kinds of questions for me, including whether it could be deployed to achieve significant change in unexpected places… like large, vertical organizations, who are deeply challenged by quick-moving, disruptive change.

I’m really excited about the continuing challenges presented to us as we help our more progressive clients fully integrate social into what they do. The adoption discussion is a priority for 2012, and our team will be actively exploring new models in an effort to help make our partners more nimble, flexible and just better at leveraging social media. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Announcement: Social Media Group Teams Up With FPinfomart

Today, we’d like announce an exciting new partnership between Social Media Group and Canada’s leading media monitoring service, FPinfomart.

FPinfomart, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., is a one stop resource for traditional media monitoring, covering print, newswires and broadcast in a single integrated platform. Our partnership brings together industry leading mainstream media coverage with SMG’s social media Research and Insights Practice whose principal job is to help clients understand and act upon conversations in social media.

Why are we so excited about this new venture?

  • It recognizes the convergence of channels.  Social and traditional media are now inextricably linked and analyzing them separately no longer makes sense. Social media pundits often reference the decline of traditional channels, but a more honest appraisal of the landscape would still recognize to the mass power of print and broadcast and the conversation it triggers online.
  • Insights from social data now have greater context. Looking at social media data alone is the equivalent to a horse wearing blinders. Brands need to see the bigger picture. At SMG, we’ve witnessed social media groundswell lead to coverage in mainstream media, and vice versa. With integrated measurement, clients can see the entire landscape, not just a sliver.
  • We will deliver extra value to our clients. SMG is all about helping clients succeed on the social web.  Increasingly, the social web is populated by the media and responses to mainstream media activity.  Being able to tell a story and take action based on a holistic view of influence and issues is a powerful, unique and creative offering.

Together, Social Media Group and FPInfomart will now provide a complete, holistic view of the communications landscape that is unmatched in the marketplace, enabling our clients to understand and act upon what’s being said in any channel.

To find out more about this unique offering, please email me at patrick [dot] gladney [at] social media group [dot] com, call +1 416-703-3764 or Contact Us.



SAP's SAPPHIRENOW: Women's Leadership Summit

Since 2007 I have had the pleasure of participating in SAP’s Influencer Program. This group of digital influencers are invited to attend events like SAPPHIRENOW (SAP’s huge annual ecosystem conference – think MacWorld, but SAP) and TechEd (smaller, regional events with a more geeky bent) to see new products, speak 1:1 with senior executives and generally get a feel for what’s ahead. I enjoy these events tremendously and always get a ton of value from them.

So what was the big highlight for me this year? Interestingly, it had very little to do with SAP product and everything to do with people. A couple of months back I got a call from Stacey Fish in SAP Global Communications, asking if I would be interested in moderating a panel discussion among senior women in technology about diversity. I was flattered to be asked, and last Tuesday I sat on stage with Janet Wood, SAP EVP, Sandy Rasel, CIO of Purdue Farms, Kathi Hanrahan, a senior delivery executive at IBM (pinch-hitting for Jeanette Horan, who was just named CIO of IBM) and Kristen Blum, CIO at PepsiCo in front of an invite-only audience of about 200 women in technology.

Topics covered included the price of professional success (well set up for us by SAP Board Member Angelika Damann’s keynote), the importance of mentoring and networking (two areas critical to achieving a senior leadership role), and how our perception of ourselves in the workplace becomes reality (ie: you make your own success).

Some of the best questions came from the audience, one of which prompted Janet Wood to quote Madeline Albright: “There is a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women,” It was a controversial topic that I would have liked to explore (Is it really a “thing” that certain women “eat their own”, or is it simple professional jealousy, something both men and women exhibit?) but it was a touchy topic; good fodder for next time!

Overall, it was an amazing opportunity to hear  the experiences of women who have achieved extremely senior roles in male-dominated fields, and it was personally a pleasure to have the chance to share the stage with such an accomplished group.

Ahead of our session, SAP’s Natascha Thomson and I talked about the importance of diversity (of all kinds) in the workplace and its impact on innovation. Here’s the video.

[disclosure: SAP has been an active SMG client since 2007]

Webinar: The Art of Giving Up Control

This coming Friday at 1pm EDT I’ll be participating in a free webinar with Charlene Li and Steve Rubel on “The Art of Giving Up Control” (which really means “change management to support social in the enterprise”, but that’s a little too long ;-) . Here’s the official blurb, and I’d love it if you would join us and ask a bunch of tough questions!

Steve Rubel and Maggie Fox work closely with some of the biggest businesses in the world, where they frequently counsel leaders who are afraid to give up control. We’ll discuss how they broach this subject with their clients and how they show the value and upside of embracing being open. Some questions we’ll discuss include:

  • How do you convince executives that giving up control is inevitable?
  • How to quantify the value of giving up control?
  • What are the best ways to bring reluctant leaders into the social space?
  • And how can you help your organization embrace the new openness?

The webinar is this Friday at 1pm EDT, and you can register – free – here. Hope to see you Friday!

Marketing… with user manuals?

peterme_usermanual

We’ve been talking about how effective marketing is increasingly shifting from “interrupt and repeat” to a value exchange, i.e. the marketer gives you something you want in return for your attention. It’s a fairly simple (though still somewhat revolutionary) concept, and we have seen some incredible results using this approach in our emerging area of expertise, scaling social media.

This week I came across this article, written by friend and colleague Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of Mindtouch (one of the leading open source collaborative platforms), and published on Forbes.com. In it, Aaron talks about how Mindtouch and their customers are using MT technology to expose their documentation on the web, and how this, in turn, is driving sales,

“Documentation, once siloed in the realm of how-to guides, is actually feeding top-of-the-funnel activity. In fact, some companies… are reporting that their documentation is bringing in over 50% of their qualified leads. I can report that [Mindtouch] receives 70% plus of our site traffic from organic sources, and our documentation generates more than half of our overall site traffic. Furthermore, over half of our lead generation is driven by our documentation.”

This is essentially marketing with user manuals, which sounds absurd. Except that the audience in this case wants it, and it is helping to generate sales. So the questions I leave you with are: since you are now a publisher, what other materials might you have inside your org that online audiences are eager to consume? How can you work to expose and make them sharable on the social web in order to impact your bottom line?

[Photo courtesy of Peter Merholz]