by Bill Ives
InsideView recently launched a new offering, SalesView, an on-demand Business Search and Intelligence application, designed to bring insight gained from subscription-based and user-generated sources to the enterprise. It integrates with many of the CRM products such as those from Landslide Technologies, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and SugarCRM through mashups. Last week I spoke with Rand Schulman, Chief Marketing Officer of InsideView. He outlined what InsideView sees as the convergence of social media, user generated content and enterprise applications. Putting their new offering into context, Rand explained that “SalesView is born of this trend, and delivers on its promise with a smart, fresh and complete approach to business search and intelligence.”
Rand also introduced me to their concept of Socialprise, a framework for understanding the way in which the rich, unstructured data of social networks and media are being leveraged within the enterprise. Socialprise applications are a convergence of social media and enterprise applications, presented as a mash-up of both the information and user experience of these previously separate worlds. Their SalesView release works within this framework and is designed to mash-up social data with enterprise-grade search and intelligence capabilities, to help sales teams automate prospecting and provide actionable insights throughout the sales cycle. Sales efforts often require relevant business intelligence that used to be accessed from a number of traditional, subscription-based , “walled garden” data providers. Rand pointed that his own identity varies widely across these sources as he has held positions at several firms in the past few years. Through SalesView, which aggregates both traditional business data providers and more recent Web 2.0 content sources, he can find an accurate picture of his current identity.
In the brave new Web 2.0 world, social networks and other user-generated content provide the opportunity to gain deeper insight into personal and professional relationships than was possible just a few years ago. This promise of greater insight can only be realized if the business user can practically digest the massive volume of data from an ever-growing number of free and paid sources. There are social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, but also blogs, job boards, and forums. An individual sales person does not have the time to check all these sources and do this aggregation manually. In fact, it is not even feasible for a marketing department or sales operations team to keep up with all of these data sources. Once again mash-ups can provide a solution to another enterprise and internet data integration challenge, in this case with a focus on sales and marketing professionals. This is the approach that InsideView has taken with SalesView. It does not try to replace CRM and its data management and process tracking functions – rather it integrates within CRM to automatically feed it with current, relevant, and vetted content.
Rand showed me an example of SalesView working as a mash-up in Salesforce.com. It draws on 20,000 data sources to get information about companies, individuals, and key business events. Then it consolidates the data to present recent, relevant insights directly within Salesforce.com’s standard Lead, Account, and Opportunity views. SalesView delivers the Who, What, and When of sales – Where it can be acted upon most effectively, in the familiar contenxt of enterprise applications like CRM.
SalesView can be accessed through native mash-ups within the Salesforce.com andr other leading CRM tools like SugarCRM (and soon Microsoft Dynamics and Landslide Technologies). SalesView is also available as a standalone Web application that can be leveraged by any sales and marketing organization, regardless of what CRM they use.
I have also thought, perhaps unfairly, that CRM was overrated since it was mostly a content store that had to largely be manually fed. I think enterprise 2.0 tools such as SalesView can provide real value to CRM by taking advantage of the increasing overlap and transparency that is emerging between the enterprise and the Web. It can make CRM socially intelligent and therefore greatly magnify its value, making it something actually useful. The same could happen for other enterprise applications. There is great promise here in what InsideView has dubbed “socialprise” applications.
The New York Times recently talked about InsideView and other related products in its piece, “MySpace Mind-Set Finally Shows Up at the Office”. The story begins, “As online social networking weaves itself more extensively into the fabric of everyday life, a new class of technology vendors has set out to make the social Web relevant in the workplace, too.” It goes on to point out the richness of the new data available, “For example, a salesman for a financial services company might use SalesView to get information on a prospective client, from her job history and education to her hobbies and favorite restaurants.” Let’s hope the information is used wisely. That is certainly the objective of InsideView as Rand pointed out in the article. I have found that many people I talk to in a business capacity already know something about me from my blogs. In each case this has been useful to our conversation. Imagine being able to quickly view all relevant information about an individual or company across thousands of sources prior to meeting with them. It looks like InsideView has already done just that,
by Celine Roque
There’s still an ongoing debate whether the US is officially in an economic recession – the definitive answer will be determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research soon. Despite the debate, many individuals and small businesses have been feeling a downward economic shift, with the end remaining uncertain. With a downturn at hand, now is the perfect time to maximize the potential of the virtual workplace.
Encourage telecommuting. Having a telecommuting program for your business will lessen costs and encourage higher efficiency with most employees. This type of arrangement, if done right, will provide several benefits for most businesses.
Cut down on business costs. Conduct a financial review and find any expenditures you can remove or minimize by finding an equivalent web-based. Do you have an external IT company doing system backups? Consider automatic online backups instead such as Carbonite and Xdrive. If you’re scheduled to purchase new software, see if you can find more affordable Web 2.0 apps that provide the same features, while looking out for enhanced features as well.
Grow overseas income. If you can, find overseas clients – preferably from Europe. After all, the American recession has less impact there, meaning both individuals and businesses there have more disposable income. With the Euro outperforming the US dollar, you can opt to charge your new, foreign clients in this stronger currency. This is much easier to do in a virtual workspace because of the wide variety of Web 2.0 communication tools available.
Move towards affordable online marketing. Newspaper and TV ads can make your marketing budget bleed. There are many cheap or free online marketing methods you can take advantage of, especially with the popularity of social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Find a social network that suits your business best and attracts people within your target demographic. Business blogs also boost your company’s profile while offering your business a new level of two-way communication with current and potential clients. There are vast online marketing opportunities available if you look hard enough.
Look at trends. Doing a bit of research can help you plan your next move. According to the ads placed in Jobstreet, Monster, and other job forums, what industries are hiring and thriving? What niche markets have you overlooked?
Maximize your website’s potential. You might need to rely on your website more than your brick and mortar office, especially if you want to attract new foreign clients. Get a website consultant, if you don’t have one yet, with a proven track record of boosting sales.
A recession might not be here yet, but taking advantage of virtual tools and technologies at our disposal might prevent or lessen its effects on our businesses.
by Patti Anklam
In my first post on this topic, I looked at how prediction markets can work like a stock market — buying and trading “shares” that reflect a specific value, such as a ship date, sales forecast, and so on. Another popular way to use prediction market technologies is an opinion forecast. Employees (or members of a community) can vote on the likelihood that an event will occur or the positive or negative impact of an event. For instance, one person might enter a value range that indicates “I think there is a 25% to 45% chance that this will happen,” another person might think the probability is 40-50%, another may use wider or narrower ranges, etc. In this variant of a prediction market, the “winner” is the person who comes closest to the final calculated aggregate percentage within the narrowest margin. For example, if the collective intelligence says the answer is 45%, then the user with the narrower range (40% to 50%) gets more points.
I happened to be in a room with a pair of scenario planning experts and a leadership development consultant during this informal discussion with Maurice Balick when we noticed the power of seeing others’ predictions. We’ve all used facilitation methods that rely on “dot voting” to display the collective wisdom in a room. Dot voting is a great technique to use when there are multiple courses of action identified during a workshop or meeting and it’s important to narrow down the choices or see where people’s heads are at. Everyone in the room gets a certain number of colored adhesive dots and can use these as votes on particular topics or items. As dots accumulate on one or two of a long list, it’s easy to see where the room is, collectively.
Balick had previously explained that Newsfutures uses four “R”s as design principles in setting up prediction markets. These must be designed into the environment for successful adoption of prediction markets:
- Relevance – it has to matter to the company or participants
- Rewards – appropriate rewards (monetary rewards, stickers, tee-shirts) need to be in place
- Recognition – people who are the most successful should have “bragging rights”
- Relationship – the market must engender conversation
“Aha!” I said again (but only to myself this time). It comes back to relationships and conversations. While the specific value of the knowledge created by the collective wisdom provides value data to management (who must ultimately decide and act), the process of participating in this medium sparks conversations: it’s about getting people to see not just where they agree with others, but also to see that there are a range of positions possible. By seeking the outliers in estimating and rating, there is the opportunity for the isolated expert or group who may have special knowledge to be recognized and listened to.
When we facilitate a dot-voting session, it’s always important to understand the minority view. The workplace of the future is inclusive; tools like prediction markets can leverage the necessary diversity.
by Jon Husband
Discuss the issues outlined in the excerpt below.
I’m not going to comment on the general structural issues and dynamics, as they’re reasonably obvious. Suffice it to say that using wikis and blogs can easily become another form of ongoing 360-degree review process, running continuously.
The full Globe and Mail newspaper article is here.
The boss isn’t listening
Managers might think the lines of communication are open, but an unwillingness to listen to tough issues leaves many underlings fearful of speaking frankly. Rebecca Dube reports
‘Hi there boss, I just wanted to let you know things are going great! Really great. In general. Yeah … um, though, there are a few issues. Like, the marketing plan? That you drew up? Is not working. At all."
"Hmmm … I’m pretty busy now. Can we talk later?"
"Um, sure. It’s just that the numbers are sliding really badly, and we’re running out of – "
"Sorry, gotta take this call."
Sound familiar? No one likes bad news. But new research shows that unwillingness to hear tough messages is the biggest blind spot for bosses.
"There is, in general, too much fear in organizations," says Patrick Barwise, emeritus professor of management and marketing at London Business School.
He and a colleague analyzed more than 4,000 U.S. managers’ 360-degree reviews – so called because they incorporate feedback from subordinates and co-workers as well as superiors.
"The gap between managers’ self-evaluations and colleagues’ assessments is widest when it comes to gauging receptiveness to hearing about difficult issues," Dr. Barwise and Sean Meehan, professor of marketing and change management at IMD business school in Switzerland, wrote in April’s issue of the Harvard Business Review.
The biggest disconnect showed up when rating managers’ abilities to "Encourage others to express their views, even contrary ones," and "Listen willingly to concern expressed by others."
In other words, bosses think their "open door policy" is working well, while their underlings feel like they’re talking to a brick wall.
[ Snip ... ]
One culprit is lack of time. Listening to a problem and solving it takes longer than nodding along to "everything’s great" updates. Of course, that’s time well spent if it prevents disaster in the long run, but too many companies forget that perspective.
Some companies actively try to foster an environment of openness. Dr. Barwise points to the example of Toyota, where any employee – no matter how junior – is empowered to stop the assembly line if he or she sees a problem.
[ Snip ... ]
Ironically, Dr. Barwise thinks that as the world economy increasingly struggles, creating more bad news for business, the tendency for managers to evade hard truths only grows.
"I think it’s getting worse," he says.
Employee – Speaking truth to power
How do you talk so your boss will listen? Some tips:
Pick the right boss. If you work for a Stalin-type, all your lovely communication skills will be for naught. Keep a low profile and work on your résumé instead.
Present factual evidence. Make your case with data, not opinions. It helps if you’re right, too.
Don’t be a gloomy Gus. Discuss flaws in the context of making the company stronger, and focus on the benefits of fixing them.
Don’t sit on it. If you spot a problem, raise it in conversation as soon as possible.
Boss – Can you handle the truth?
If you’re the boss, here are some tips on encouraging honest communication so you find out what you need to know from your employees:
Repetition, repetition, repetition. You can’t declare an "open-door policy" on the first day of work and expect it to sink in. If you want truthful feedback, ask for it regularly.
Don’t shoot the messenger. Sure, you know that, but putting it into practice is hard. If you freak out when you hear about a cost overrun, chances are you won’t hear about the next one.
The truth takes time. If you rush through meetings and give your employees the impression that you never have time for them, they’re less likely to come to you with important concerns.
If your company does 360-degree reviews, pay attention to them.
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by Bill Ives
Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Puneet Gupta, CEO of Connectbeam. I wrote about them a while back on the Fast Forward blog, Connectbeam: Combining Social Bookmarking and Social Networking. As the post title suggests they believe that business networking begins around the sharing of ideas and information so they tightly integrated social bookmarking into their social networking platform.
Now they have taken things a step further with their Release 2.2. It introduces the Connectbeam web services Application Programming Interface (API) that enables you to add full functionality of Connectbeam social software into your existing IT applications. The Connectbeam web services API consists of a series of programming interfaces that have been modularized into functional areas such as Social Search, Bookmarking and Tagging, Social Network, and Communities – allowing you to pick and chose the functionality you chose to integrate with your existing apps and IT infrastructure. You can find out more about what they are doing at the Connectbeam Social Computing Blog.
Puneet showed me an example of how this works. We saw a demonstration of Connectbeam integration with Sharepoint. We first saw how Connectbeam integrates with Sharepoint search. A search term, java, was entered into the Sharepoint search field. The standard Sharepoint response came back in the left column. On the right side was additional contextual information delivered through Connectbeam. You can see a list of related tags, related users, and related bookmarks. Clicking on any of these links brought you to additional information relevant information about the social context of the search. For example, the clicking on one of the related user provides a list of the documents this person has tagged with the search term.
In the second example of Sharepoint integration, we went to the profile page of the Sharepoint user. There was an about me tab that was part of Sharepoint. Next to it was a social context tab that brought information from Connectbeam. For the individual you saw their tags, their bookmarks, and their communities. Each item in each list was a live link to more information. In both cases the integration between Connectbeam and Sharepoint was complete and not apparent to the user who saw the additional social information as just part of the same interface. You can find this demo through their Connectbeam web site.
In addition to the open APIs, Connectbeam’s Release 2.2 also includes other new features. There is automatic user provisioning for LDAP to eliminate user registration process and dynamic email address lookup for ease of community invitations. Enhanced licensing infrastructure allows you to better monitor application usage and adoption. Multi-language support is also offered for global implementations.
There is a growing trend of enterprise 2.0 applications opening up their APIs for integration with enterprise applications. This is a welcome addition as it brings in the social context in robust manner through Connectbeam’s strong combination of social networking and social bookmarking.
by Jon Husband
I wrote this post about three months ago for my personal blog. Today I was talking with a colleague about it, decided to re-read it, and have now gone through and edited it (in an attempt at greater clarity). I hope it adds to this conversation on the future of work, and I’d also be delighted to learn what anyone may think of it … good, bad or indifferent.
Gary Hamel has called for fundamental management innovation in his recently-published book The Future of Management. This call to exploration, experimentation and action is aligned with the emergence of the much-debated arena of Enterprise 2.0.
Here’s a key excerpt:
This may not be a detailed design spec for a 21st-century management system, but I doubt it’s far off. Argue with me if you like, but I’m willing to bet that Management 2.0 is going to look a lot like Web 2.0.
Most of us grew up in a "post-industrial" society. We are now on the verge of a post-managerial society, perhaps even a post-organizational society.
Before you object, let me assure you that this doesn’t imply a future without managers. Just as the coming of the knowledge economy didn’t wipe out heavy industry, so the dawning of a post-managerial society won’t produce a world free of executives and administrators. Yet it does herald a future in which the work of managing will be performed less and less by "managers". To be sure, activities will still need to be coordinated, individual efforts aligned, objectives decided upon, knowledge disseminated, and resources allocated, but increasingly this work will be distributed out to the periphery.
While Management 2.0 won’t completely supplant Management 1.0, the two versions aren’t entirely compatible. There are going to be conflicts. Indeed, I think the most bruising contests in the new millenium won’t be fought along the lines that separate one competitor or business ecosystem from another, but will be fought along the lines that separate those who wish to preserve the privileges and power of the bureaucratic class from those who hope to build less structured and less tightly managed organizations. Richard Florida sees the same battle shaping up. In The Rise of the Creative Class, he puts it bluntly: "The biggest issue at stake in this emerging age is the ongoing tension between creativity and organization." This is, perhaps, the most critical and intractable management trade-off of all, and therefore, the one most worthy of inspired innovation.
It will take more than advances in technology to issue in the post-managerial age. As I noted earlier, management and organizational innovation often lags far behind technological innovation. Right now, your company has 21st-century Internet-enabled business processes, mid-20th-century management processes, all built atop 19th-century management principles.
It’s getting clearer and clearer today that the capabilities and dynamics of consumer-based social software … those funny things called blogs, and wikis, and widgets stitched together into web services though the use of APIs … are finding their ways into the workplace. Why wouldn’t they ? After all they are the means by which we are discovering how human activity (purposeful and otherwise) translates to the online environment. People have always been creating and building up "... knowledge through exchanging information, talking and arguing and pointing out other ideas and sources of information and ways to do things."
The 2.0 label is said to denote a more interactive, less static environment. Whether we like it or not, we are passing from an era in which things were assumed to be controllable, able to be deconstructed and then assembled into a clear, linear, always replicable and (thus) static form, to an era characterized by a continuous flow of information. Because these flows feed the activities of organizations large and small, they necessarily demand to be interpreted and shaped into useful inputs and outputs — what we call knowledge work.
What today we call Enterprise 2.0 can also be seen as the emergent stage of the intersection of significant advances in information technology, management science applied to business process and the analysis and control of operational activities. These forces and factors are converging in today’s workplaces, wherein a continuous flow of information is the rule rather than the exception. Thus, as Hamel asserts, it’s useful if not essential to cast a critical eye on the assumptions about static sets of tasks and knowledge arranged in specific (and relatively static) constellations on an organization chart. See all major job evaluation methodologies for more detail
I believe that we need to revisit the fundamental principles of work design AND the basic rules used to configure hierarchical organizations in which the primary assumption is that knowledge is put to use in a vertical chain of decision-making. I am not arguing that we need to replace hierarchy holus-bolus … rather, I am suggesting that the combined capabilities of information systems and social computing, and two decades of widespread experience with team and organizational development processes permits centralization (read hierarchy) where and when necessary, and networked configurations where and when necessary … both centralization and decentralization.
That both centralization and decentralization of information flows in the hands of knowledge workers can operate simultaneously and effectively is, I think, a significant state change, and should be used to inform the basic assumptions about the design of knowledge work.
As for the management innovation called for by Hamel … it is my belief that the organizational development principles that have been developed over the past 30 – 50 years represent a large and pretty coherent body of work that stretches from Participative Work Design through QWL, quality circles, socio-technical systems approaches, self-directed and self-managing teams, GE-style "workouts", inclusive and participative large-scale strategic change methods and dialogue-and-consensus building models and approaches to "management" (visioning, objective setting, responsibility assignment, resource allocation, implementation, measurement, etc.) like Future Search and Open Space.
The various elements of these approaches and methodologies have been pushed or pulled into place over the last several decades as software and integrated information systems have brought constant flows of information to the process of designing, developing and delivering products and services. This in turn has led to fragmentation of efforts ay productivity as well as potentially making it easier, faster and more effective to create flows that are integrated and focused. The trick is to be able to do both and choose which is necessary why and when.
Also, now we more and more often live and work in networks as well as hierarchies. The principles cited in the paragrapsh above have developed over the past several decades to soften, mitigate or work around the more rigid and less effective aspects of hierarchical work and organizational design. The daily and copious flows of information both internally and from customers and markets essentially dictate, now, that much knowledge work takes shape as projects or as time-limited initiative. These require collaboration and the horizontal discovery and use of knowledge when and where it is needed or can best be put to use.
The architectural challenge is to design and implement both work processes and the ways humans interact (with both the work and each other) intelligently whilst allowing for change(s) as needed. That means understanding much better the structure and dynamics of networks and the new influence of greater transparency when addressing issues such as decisions about what is to be centralized or decentralized, who is to be involved and why (competencies, availability, fit with team, and so on), what is individual or group activity, and how accountability, reporting and tracking activities supervised,
Many examples of these factors and influences have appeared on the shelves as the management, leadership and organizational behaviour sections of bookstores have expanded rapidly during the past two decades. The experimentation with inclusive, participative and somewhat democratic developmental processes mirrors some of the core dynamics in the more consumer driven and public involvement in use of the Web.
As similar tools, services and dynamics begin to penetrate our workplaces, I expect we will seek methods, practices and philosophies that track closely in parallel with the process of enquiry, exploration, sensemaking, negotiation and implementation set out by Dave Snowden’s Cognitive Edge approaches to intractable issues and organizational complexity.
I think there is an important coherence to much of what has been being developed over the past two decades or so. To reiterate, as this OD framework has developed much of it was aimed, bit by bit, at mitigating the harsher effects of having to lead and manage hierarchically under old models while striving to discover and use what actually works. Dave Pollard, a well-known knowledge management expert, calls these "workarounds", and has often suggested that most traditional management methods are becoming less and less useful but are still in place as the proxies for status and power. He and I both believe that generally people want to do good and effective work and so keep at it, constantly developing and using work-arounds. This is OD at its most basic … discovering what works best when people need to cooperate and collaborate to get things done and meet objectives, and then working at "learning" it, integrating it into the way things are done around here.
OD principles "understand" and play nice with Web 2.0 participative and collaborative dynamics.
I think OD has suffered from being seen as "soft" and a "nice-to-have-time-to-do", especially in the chaotic and ambiguous environment of the first decade of the 21st century. While it is a maxim in the OD field that "the soft stuff is the hard stuff", this can be and often is brushed aside or put down by the hard-nosed management hard-asses, the "I want to measure everything and tolerate no slack" crowd.
Clearly we need both objectives, metrics and well-defined processes AND enough slack and support to help people learn, adapt and work around ineffective or obsolete policies, practices and processes. I am increasingly of the opinion that there is a coherent and pertinent model available for working effectively in Enterprise 2.0. However it is not seen today as the dominant "management" model.
The dynamics generated by today’s networked knowledge workers using lightweight, easy-to-use social computing tools and web services welded together with existing integrated information systems are similar in reach, scope and pace to the the challenges explored by the field of organizational development … only with more regular frequency and greater intensity.
Taken together as a coherent management framework, perhaps the fundamental principles of organizational development and learning represent the beginnings of the innovation in management Gary Hamel is suggesting we need. Another of the great management thinkers, Stan Davis, suggested as much twenty years ago at the end of Chapter 3 in his 1987 book Future Perfect:
"Electronic information systems enable parts of the whole organization to communicate directly with each other, where the hierarchy wouldn’t otherwise permit it. What the hierarchy proscribes, the network facilitates: each part in simultaneous contact with all other parts and with the company (see expanded definition above)as a whole. The organization can be centralized and decentralized simultaneously: the decentralizing mechanism in the structure, and the coordinating mechanism in the systems.
Networks will not replace or supplement hierarchies; rather the two will be encompassed within a broader conception that embraces both."
Tags: hierarchy, Enterprise 2.0, wirearchy, organizational development, management innovation
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by Bill Ives
I have written about Central Desktop before (see Central Desktop Provides Wiki-based Collaborative Platform and How Obama is Using Web (and Enterprise) 2.0 in the US Primary Campaign). Last week I touched base with CEO, Issac Garcia on what they are doing in the security area. This continues to be a major concern for companies as they consider bringing Web 2.0 applications into the enterprise. Central Desktop targets the small to mid-size market and project teams within large enterprises. As project teams within larger enterprises want to expand Central Desktop usage, security issues are likely to come up. They also serve SMBs in high security areas such as financial services and healthcare.
These rising security issues have prompted Central Desktop to add a number of useful security layers through their new Security Pack as an optional add-on for those who need them. Issac took me on a tour. First, there are a number of administrative security settings around passwords such as minimum length, complexity, and frequency of change. Then there is the offering of trusted email domains to addressHIPPA compliance for healthcare service providers. It allows data to be sent via email. Those not in the domain have to go through a secured password site. The Trusted IP address feature allows for access from only certain systems to prevent accidental access. You can also turn off the “remember me” function for sign in. You can even create custom terms of service and privacy policies to go with Central Desktop usage.
In addition to these new features, Central Desktop takes care with security in general. There is physical security with access to the data center controlled and monitored 24×7 by onsite personnel and camera surveillance. The building is seismically designed to withstand most natural disasters, including an 8.3 magnitude earthquake.
Real-time network, server and application monitoring is also used. Firewall and router technology, SSL Encryption and a Network Intrusion Detection System are used to monitor and proactively block worms, hackers, and other undesirables. Log files are retained and analyzed for proactive monitoring of network activity. All server devices and software are protected by encrypted passwords and accessible only through encrypted communication paths. The application security model prevents customer data cross-over and ensures complete customer data segregation and privacy. Customer data is segmented from the Application layer providing additional security buffers. System-wide backups of all data to tape or disk are performed daily. Onsite and offsite backups of all data are rotated and stored on both live servers and tape
Here is what eWeek said about the Security Pack, Google Apps Rival Takes Its Turn at Security. Central Desktop has also received a major round of funding recently, announcing receipt of $7 million in funding on April 16.