mm408: Boston, Day 3, concluded; and Day 4, last day!

MUDGE’s Musings

Day 3, concluded

We ran out of words, and steam, last evening, having only covered the morning sessions of the Enterprise 2.0 conference from Boston Day 3. We’ll try to catch up here.

20. Mash-Ups: Are they the killer app for Enterprise 2.0? David Berlind, moderator

Panelists were Charlotte Goldsbery, Denodo Technologies, Lauren Cooney, Microsoft, Nicole Carrier, IBM, and Michaline Todd, Serena Software.

Berlind introduced the concept of mash-ups, a means of knocking together disparate elements and applets into a web page. Advantage: build it in hours. Risk: brittle, as they depend on outside service providers who may have reliability issues.

A useful distinction was made later. Portals and dashboards also build from disparate elements, but their elements only report and do not interact with each other. That interactivity is what distinguishes a mash-up.

All of the speakers have stakes in this field, IBM’s Mash-up Center, Denodo, Serena Business Mash-ups and Microsoft, who has had a consumer version, Popfly available and who apparently plans a commercial tool soon.

Challenge to enterprise IT: what kind of data can we deliver to the business in a safe way: rules, privileges, policies.

Panel believes that it will be 6-months to a year before business users will be able to build their own. A sample of what’s available on the web right now is Yahoo Pipes.

Examples of business related mash-ups:

  • event registration: showing hotel, map, photo from Flickr, weather
  • emergency response organizations: counter-terrorism situational awareness
  • retailer: an inbound shipment monitoring dashboard (weather, piracy)
  • avian flue data pushed onto remote devices
  • a customer visit: weather, golf-courses, Eventful.com, restaurants
  • HR: applicant search on Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Application enrichment, but it’s brittle.

It was noted that maps are a component of many of the mash-ups on the public web, as well as the illustrations. This observer thought at the time that maps are easy to integrate into other data, because much has a location component, and most especially because maps are finite, 2-dimensional objects, and fit most spaces well as a result.

Panelists offered this advice moving forward (and moving forward was the only way to look, because most of the session sounded speculative rather than real.

  • stay in a comfortable environment (mashable tools)
  • make your data remixable via ATOM (a more robust syndicator than RSS)
  • “good enough is good enough” [one of yr (justifiably) humble svt’s favorite sayings: “the pursuit of the perfect is the deadly enemy of the perfectly good.”]
  • look for a cross-portability/interoperability platform
  • don’t spend on tools, because they’ll be free.

21. Making Wikis Ridiculously Successful, Jeffrey Walker, Atlassian, Linda Skrocki, Sun Microsystems

Walker introduced the commercial field (by the way, the connection: Sun’s wiki was built with Atlassian’s tool). The trend for both internal and external Enterprise 2.0 use in corporations is growing at an exponential rate, according to Forrester. Walker guess that there are about 32,000 commercial enterprise wikis, and a staggeringly high number of open source ones. Accenture has 123,000 employees, and 54,000 wiki users. IBM has 387,000 employees and 100,000 wiki users. DB, the German railroad, has 80,000 employees. Presently 15,000 are consumers or contributors to wikis; their goal is 40,000. Vodafone has a wiki that includes a blogging element; their CEO blogs. Showed an example of a corporation’s finance department wiki, that incorporated a new employee tour, but which also embeds news and blogs. The developers’ network for SAP, sdn.sap.com has 1,000,000 registered users.

Skrocki explained that Sun Microsystems is a unique example of external facing transparency. Its CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, writes one of the most widely read blogs (“most popular Fortune 500 blogger). She talked about what works and what to avoid, in the context of external facing wikis and blogs.

1. Relax and trust your contributors (but there is a policy: don’t be stupid, but have fun). There are guidelines on line as a model. CEO Schwartz insists that they not censor anyone’s blog.

2. Seen the site with content – enlist some champions to get things rolling. Bloggers are all Sun employees, although the public can comment. Wikis are contributed to by both Sun people and outside customers. The wiki has 16,000 contributors from both inside and out.

3. Guide and nurture to create a self-sufficient community, people who care to take the trouble to support, police, “gardeners,” etc.

Wikis are excellent for collaboration; can be edited and commented upon. Blogs are good for debate and sequential organization, for things that are topical and have a shelf life. Wikis better for knowledge management. Some wikis have blogging capabilities built in. She has an interesting blog herself.

Walker made the point that while some leap into web 2.0, others are more shy. Placing a personal page on a wiki breaks the edit barrier. Wikis are places for useful content that people need every day; useful for project management, although widgets and templates need to be added in for tasks.

Reference was made to a useful resource, wikipatterns.com.

In response to question regarding permissions, be open, but recognize that at times security is necessary. Trust your employees.

22. Enterprise 2.0 Social Network Shoot Out, Matthew Lees, moderator.

This was an interesting free for all among four co-opetitors (an ugly term, if useful description), representatives (high, if not highest ranking) from Telligent [Community Server product; MySpace, Dell are customers], Jive Software [15% of Fortune 500 are customers], Mzinga [150 enterprise clients like Disney and American Idol], and Small World Labs [community software as a service SaaS, Save the Children, Dallas Morning News].

Here are some of the responses, to moderator and audience questions.

Enterprise 2.0 tools enable real conversations, with colleagues and clients. Is it right for your company? The companies it’s right for are using it. Social software is going to be as relevant as email [12-15 years ago, email’s usefulness in the corporate environment was hotly debated.]

Can radically change the way organizations work. Webex, a Mzinga client, found that the tools enabled conversation across silos.

Dallas Morning News citizen journalists contribute 500 new articles a week (and people get exposed to advertising while reading them).

Get the tools out there, in a small way, and stand back.

It will be easy to fail if the executive staff doesn’t embrace.

“Build it and they will come” doesn’t work. Small steps are best.

Implementation really matters, like any project. Planning, management, requirements analysis are key, and marketing is required. Have a way to measure “community vibrancy.”

Pricing: Telligent and Jive use on-premise models, and price by server or seat. Mzinga and Small World are SaaS hosted tools, and charge on a monthly fee basis, at least to start.

Legal issues: how do I prevent bad things from happening? Jive’s response: a good concern to have. Small World recommends executive buy in and legal group buy in. Point was made that legal people find absolutely no risk acceptable. But business needs to operate, and thus finds a comfort level with acceptable risk. And if the worst happens, be prepared to dump contents of blogs and wkis into a content management system to accommodate a legal hold. Sobering.

This was another of those unexpected events. The field is new enough, that its senior people are in their forties and sometimes their 30s, and happy to be present at events such as these. Refreshing, and some very honest opinions.

Finished up around 8:00pm. Another excellent day.

Day 4

Day 4 dawned crisp, clear and 20 degrees F cooler than the previous several pavement melting days. The last day action resumed at 8:30am. Boston looked beautiful.

23. Top 10 Design Principles for Integrating Web 2.0 in Enterprise Apps, Michael Kopec, and Dustin Beltramo, Oracle

The point they make is that the typical enterprise computer user is performance and task oriented, and is not rewarded for curiosity and exploration. They hesitate to veer from their routine, and have no motivation for innovation. Thus Web 2.0 people are not like Enterprise 2.0 people.

They corrected their title to 10 design guidelines, which they listed as follows:

  • Do no harm — minimize interruptions to existing workflow
  • Stay in the zone — embed tools in existing workflow
  • Location, location, location — screen real estate is precious, so like Flickr, use secondary layers when clicked on.
  • Keep it relevant — provide access to content not just tools
  • Two sides of the same coin — bidirectional navigation required between mainline tasks and the 2.0 elements. Washington Post was the example.
  • Climb the corporate ladder — be mindful and leverage existing corporate structure; provide links to teammates, groups, division
  • Good fences make good neighbors — encourage the creation and discovery of ad hoc groups, but provide elaborate ways to share within but protect otherwise
  • Keep it simple — don’t give more than people need
  • Support voyeurism — make it easy to see what each other are doing and to reach out, but also to keep private if desired.
  • Look for the duct tape — examine how people use current tools and the kludges they develop to make them work.

I had high hopes for this presentation, but was disappointed that these user experience architects and designers couldn’t show off their own work at Oracle. They had to content us with examples from the public web, which we didn’t need their help to see.

24. Programmable web – consequences for the Enterprise, Jean Barmash, Alfresco

Alfresco, Barmash explained, provides an open source document management alternative to Sharepoint.

The drivers for the 2.0 phenomenon:

  • Information available and accessible (through data portability, REST APIs)
  • Enable creativity by removing barriers (trust users, the structure emerges as a by product of the activity: “Wikipedia doesn’t work in theory, but it works in practice.”)
  • Focus on usability (take advantage of computer power and market forces).

He gave some interesting examples.

  • Seamless Web — restaurant ordering service
  • drop.io — instant, private sharing spaces, totally simple
  • ning — create your own private label social network

The forward looking thinker who developed the term, “programmable web,” as well as the Netscape browser, among many other things is Mark Andreessen, whose blog is here, and worth staying in touch with.

Barmash distinguished functionality available from web sites using web tools as follows:

Level 1 — “Access API” — getting functionality through web services (REST, SOAP, JSON) — provided by sites such as Ebay, PayPal, del.icio.us . These are difficult for technical people to use; the code lives outside the platform.

Level 2 — “Plug-in API” — developers inject application or new functions into the Internet application — provided by sites such as Facebook and Firebox. Similar difficulties for technical people as above.

Level 3 — “Runtime environment” — applications run inside the platform itself, which resolves issues of hosting, scaling — available at Ning, Second Life, SalesForce, Amazon. Easier for developers, can reduce development and ongoing costs by 90%

Facebook was a very public example of exposing itself for outside developers. In the short year since available, 28,000 applications have been added.

So, the Internet is the ultimate enabling platform, because simpler platforms win.

Enterprise concerns: security, security, security. But they need to evaluate carefully how much security, how much process is truly necessary.

Choose simplicity. The best companies and technologies allow people to do what they want to do.

What problems do they solve? What problems do they not solve.

This was an interesting talk, with interesting examples. All the action, however was going on across the hall, where an overflow crowd was dazzled by a presentation from Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor, entitled “Enterprise 2.0 in the context of mission success.” Their installed tools include social bookmarking, blogs, wikis, discussion groups, weekly activity reporting and personal/team spaces. Lucky participants raved. Sigh.

25. Virtual Teams 2.0, 3.0, 4…, Jeffrey Stamps, Jessica Lipnack, NetAge

Jessica Lipnack and her husband/business partner, Jeff Stamps led this last session of the conference. Their field is organizational dynamics, which they’ve studied and consulted about and written about for many years. Her blog (she also led the blogging session earlier in the conference) is an interesting window into her consultancy.

Organizations steadily grow more complex. The Internet has always been about collaboration, only with better and better tools. Teams haven’t changed much, but need to, since large scale collaboration will be critical to solving planet scale issues such as global warming. And now, it’s also increasingly necessary to capture “boomer business knowledge.”

There are a number of critical elements to virtual teams: people, purpose, links, communication, content and time.

Teams are the sources and repository of an organization’s how-to practical knowledge.

Virtual teams can benefit from knowledge management tools. Solution: embed teams within a knowledge management structure. Design a team space to include meeting information and output. Need a template so that spaces are structured similarly.

Showed off a really slick tool called Orgscope, that shows dynamic links within organizations, both position and social. Orgscope, fed by HR or Active Directory or LDAP (“reports to…”) can help uncover management hotspots (30 or more direct and matrix direct reports) which are a risk.

Summary: there have been diminishing returns after the great gains in individual productivity. The next frontier is group productivity, and social tools are the way gains will probably be achieved. But this will be jolting for people used to their hierarchical management model, as it becomes intensely personal to network.

26. (No. 12, completed) Web Culture and the New Ethos of Work, Stowe Boyd, The/Messengers

I did Stowe Boyd a disservice when I ran out of steam covering his fascinating session from Day 2. So, I’ll repeat what I wrote then, and complete my report.

As I am new to this field, I hope I can be forgiven for not having heard of Stowe Boyd before today. Apparently though, he is an often-quoted expert on this emerging phenomenon of social networking. He calls himself a “webthropologist,” and during his one-hour talk quoted Studs Terkel, Winston Churchill, Marshall McLuhan (who predicted a global network in 1964!), Buckminster Fuller, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford (“no laughing on the assembly line!”) and Warren Buffet. Quite a roller-coaster ride.

His theme: the nature of work, caused by the information revolution, is changing. It’s not about the number of servers in the world (an incredible, uncountable figure) but it’s what we’re doing.

For the western world, the Internet has become the “third space,” the place people go when not interacting with home/family, or at work. The third space used to be where people gathered, the bar, the corner store. Now, people gather electronically.

This will create a conflict when confronting business, as business is designed to resist change, to be intensely conservative. He notes that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (I’m a donor!) advises blogging anonymously if one is an employee of such a business, as personal expression, as exemplified by Internet activities such as blogging, is incompatible with business.

I’ve run out of steam, and still have a page of notes to go. Rest assured though that I was mightily impressed with Boyd’s observations, some of which were highly anthropological. We’ll try to backfill the high points that remain in our next post.

The web represents decentralization, the growth of participative media represents the edge (i.e., us) vs. the center (governments, corporations, mainstream media, religion). Thus, the era on one to many communications gives way to many to many communications, and we, the edgelings, aren’t going to give it back.

But, can work move to the edge? There is a web culture paradox. It’s open, but its cliques quickly close to newcomers, making it exclusionary while being inclusionary, progressive yet conservative.

Networks enable self expression through art and individual craft, non-democratic but non-authoritarian at the same time.

Now, to the world of work. Heading for a post-industrial flow, where it will be increasingly populated by video gamers, who’ve been measured and who have enhanced perceptions. Collaboration will change; instead of the team/coach model, a Hollywood model [and I have to follow that one up, but I guess it might mean an always changing temporary confederation of experts who come together for a project, then disperse as their portion completes].

Email changed the nature of work. People used to work on one project at a time. Boyd polled the room: average, seven projects at a time.

Smart leaders are now embracing the back channel (instant messaging during a face-to-face meeting enables shy people’s good ideas to surface for the first time). Larger groups develop more ideas; smaller groups better at picking among the more for the best.

Productivity is changing; network productivity impairs personal productivity. Is this bad? Is business a zero sum game? All new media destabilize organizations.

Fluidity is the new reality. Glocalization (a new term for me, I’m ashamed to admit — haven’t been on a campus in a while!). Find an opportunity — pounce on it. The Virgin Group is an example. In a lot of only semi-related businesses, but it seems to work.

For corporate and personal success, need to drop zero-sum notions. Edgewise affiliations, networks, tribes are the new reality. The edgelings vs. the centroids. Centralized, dogmatic vs. decentralized and enigmatic. In many respects, post-capitalist.

Whew. The man is subversive, in a refreshing way. Lot’s to digest, even two days later. Here’s his blog, if you’re interested in reading more.

It’s over!

And that’s about it.

The conference concluded with a town hall session, where the participants were free to share likes and dislikes. The CIA presenters, who were attending as participants also, apparently were a media sensation. There was more than one complaint about the venue (“a nice hotel in the middle of an industrial wasteland” one curmudgeon [ahem] despaired), which may have become too small for this conference, whose participation has doubled in size each year since the first one two years ago.

I really enjoyed it. One good thing about the extensive reporting I’ve done: I was forced to pay attention, and was rewarded for it by learning a good deal that will inform my understanding of this new phenomenon in the corporate enterprise, and my career.

I appreciate those of you who have accompanied me on this journey (my son IM’d me last night that it sounded like an interesting conference — and I hadn’t discussed with him at all beforehand where I was going or what I’d be doing).

It’s it for now. Thanks,

MUDGE
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