Archive for December, 2010
by Bill Ives
I have been reviewing enterprise 2.0 related tools all year. I though tit would be good to end the year on some goods news about the benefits of these tools. A new McKinsey report, The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday, suggests that there are many benefits to be derived from using “collaborative Web 2.0 technologies.” aka enterprise 2.0.
The results from the analysis of their proprietary survey data show that the using these technologies is significantly improving reported company performance. The state that “our data show that fully networked enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the Web in more limited ways.”
First, the use of collaborative Web 2.0 technologies is substantial as two-thirds of the respondents reported using them in their organizations. Penetration is also strong as nearly half of the companies that use social networking have at least 51 percent of their employees using it. They are also investing as in 2010, nearly two-thirds of respondents at companies using Web 2.0 say they will increase future investments in these technologies, compared with just over half in 2009. This should be good news to all the vendors I interviewed.
There are many quantified benefits. First 77% said the tools increased the speed of access to knowledge, 60% said they reduced communication coats, 52% said they increased speed of access to internal experts, 44% found a reduction in travel costs, and 40% found increased employee satisfaction.
They segmented companies using the new technologies into the internally networked, the externally networked and the fully networked. Market share gains were significantly correlated with fully networked and externally networked organizations. This makes sense and supports social media marketing efforts.
Even more interesting was the finding that “higher operating margins (again, self-reported) than competitors correlated with a different set of factors: the ability to make decisions lower in the corporate hierarchy and a willingness to allow the formation of working teams comprising both in-house employees and individuals outside the organization.” Collaborative technologies create more agile organizations and these companies achieve higher profits.
This is a nice way to end the year. I imagine that this report will get great circulation by the vendors in the enterprise 2.0 space, as it should. Good luck in 2011. The opportunities are there for everyone involved in enterprise 2.0.
by Bill Ives
Expert System provides semantic software that discovers, classifies and interprets text information. They have been operating successfully in Europe for 15 years and have been establishing a larger US presence through their semantic search tool, COGITO. I first wrote about them in 2008 (see Expert System Puts More Meaning into Semantic Search).
COGITO can determine the meaning of words thanks to its recognition of the context and the richness of its semantic network or set of rules. It uses four methods to uncover meaning. First, there is a morphological analysis – what words are related. Then there is a grammatical analysis – what part of speech. Third, there is a logical analysis of how words relate to each other. Finally, there is a semantic analysis to understand the context of the words.
The heart of semantic technology is the quality of results derived from the complexity and richness of the network. The semantic network is a map of associations and meanings of words that includes definitions for and relationships among all words. When it comes to analyzing text, this network enables both high precision and recall in search, and automatic categorization and tagging. See the diagram below for a visualization of these ideas.
I recently spoke with Luca Scagliarini, partner and vice president of strategy and business development at Expert System to get his take on the semantic technology market in 2011. Luca said that the issue of monitoring unstructured information on the Web has become increasingly important over the last several years. I would certainly agree. The amount of unstructured information has dramatically increased through social media and other means. In fact, in 2008 there was more content produced on the Web than the entire history of content. This effort was again repeated in 2009.
With this explosion of content, business intelligence is increasingly important. Semantic technology can go beyond standard search to increase the value of this intelligence. One area of increased adoption that Expert System mentioned is in the publishing industry. Publishers are looking for ways to increase revenue from their online efforts. The new hardware devices, such as iPad and other mobile devices, are opening new markets here.
One way to compete is to provide a better user experience and provide content that is more targeted to the user’s context. One way to provide this context is to gather contextual information from users. However, people are often too lazy or concerned with privacy issues to get much input through this means.
Semantic technology can help here as it can provide a better understanding of the users’ context through their actions, as well as their geographic location and time of day. This better understanding can then drive more relevant content to increase time spent on the publisher’s site and increased revenue. Luca said we are just at the beginning here and this capability will grow over time.
Another area for growth in semantic technology applications is providing a more comprehensive understanding of what people are saying about brands on the Web. There has been a first wave of sentiment analysis tools. Now the market needs to go beyond these initial capabilities to provide a more robust understanding of sentiment and not simply look at volume-based measures.
Luca said that Expert System is moving ahead on three fronts to address these emerging market opportunities. First, it is continuing to develop scalable, useful semantic applications. There is a special focus on advanced knowledge management in niche markets where the value of information is quite high, such as pharma, oil and energy, and financial services. Second, they are looking at customer care applications. Third, they are working with business partners to embed semantic technology capabilities into other applications such as online consumer apps. I agree that there is a robust market here and it is one that will continue to expand. Expert System is taking some good steps to address these opportunities.
by Bill Ives
Since its inception in 1993, at the start of the first wave of internet-based businesses, BroadVision has gone through a series of transitions. It began by helping companies do business on the Web and in the late 90s they were one of the firms to bring personalization to ecommerce. The firm survived the dotcom bust of the early 2000s but came out smaller. I recently spoke with their CMO, Giovanni Rodriguez, to get an update on their current efforts.
The CEO, Pehong Chenwisely decided to bet on the viability of the native cloud. BroadVision then built a cloud based collaboration platform to provide social networking for the enterprise. Their offering, sometimes referred to as “Ning for the enterprise”, is built with the goal of not requiring heavy involvement from enterprise IT to set up. A future goal is to create a “network of networks”, where companies and individuals can discover new business partners, providers, and clients through transparency across networks.
Clearvale is the name for their collaboration platform and it was launched in May 2010. It contains many of the features found within the enterprise 2.0 concept such as communities, profile pages, blogs, wikis, networks, forums, RSS, and twitter integration, which can be customized through drag and drop editing. Here is a sample screen:
In November, they introduced Clearvale PaasPort, which enables companies to host their own installation of the Clearvale enterprise social networking solution. PaasPort hosts can sell Clearvale solutions, as well as premium services, to their own customers. Clearvale PaasPort is a platform-as-a-service solution provided to customers, who can deliver BroadVision Clearvale as part of a large package of services, or as a more specialized solution. One of the initial clients for this service is Softbank Telecom in Japan, which will provide integrated email, IM and voice through this capability. This unified communication will occur through a social network allowing you to store and save voice messages. I see great potential here.
Another major aspect of the new BroadVision Clearvale platform that I especially like is MyStreams, a personalized data stream management and filtering system. MyStreams integrates a wide variety of data streams into one easy-to-use interface. While this includes data from within the Clearvale network — such as updates to wikis, blogs and forums — it is also built to include external data streams, such as email, voicemail, social media, IM, as well as streams from consumer social networks. All of these data streams are integrated into MyStreams and can be accessed and managed without ever having to exit Clearvale. MyStreams also allows users to easily share specific data with other users. It generates an RSS feed and allows for filtering along with aggregation. Below is a sample screen:
Overcoming content silos is one of the necessary efforts with enterprise 2.0. We run the risk of creating new silos with unconnected wikis, blogs, forums, etc. A number of firms are looking at micro-blogging status updates that run across applications as one way to avoid this problem. MyStreams goes beyond basic micro-blogging and serves this cross-application aggregation function along with other capabilities.
I like these steps as they extend current capabilities in cross channel communication integration and exploit some of the potential that comes with making these channels; including voice, into data objects.
by Bill Ives
For those who want to support a brand or simply better understand the thought leaders in a field, Traackr provides a comprehensive, yet very easy to use, tool set. I recently spoke with Derek Skaletsky and Courtney Vaught about their offering. Traackr enables you to discover the top 25 influencers in a topic of your choice. It is designed to primarily support PR efforts. It offers additional features to better enable interaction with these influencers once they are discovered, as well as the ability to monitor what they say about your areas or interest, including your brand.
Once you define the characteristics of your list, Traackr scans the social web to identify the most influential and most relevant people online and dynamically generates your Authority List. Each Authority List includes detailed profiles for each influencer with contact information, influence score, recent posts, an online identity card, and complete performance data. They look at channels such as blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook (when data publicly available).
Traackr provide three scores to hone in on a person’s influence:
Reach – Ability to generate views based on audience size
- Ability to spark conversations based on such measures as retweets comments, and links
- Ability to cover specific topic/market based on relevance to your selected keywords
Traackr has set up a sample A-List on PR 2.0 so you see how the list works. There is comprehensive detail on the social media behavior of each person listed. The results change on a weekly basis and I noticed that people do move up and down, and in and out. I found myself on it a few times and was number 22 this last time I looked. I used their list when I was working on setting up some lists for my firm. You can also star people so they stay on the list even if their ranking metrics drops. Here is the list with the first five shown.
The Influencer Profiles have been split into separate tabs for easier navigation. All the recent, relevant posts from that Influencer are in the first tab and their full online footprint is in a second tab. Here is the footprint of the top person on the list above.
What I especially liked was the way you set the lists up. Traackr demonstrated this but also let me set up my own list so I could see how it worked. You can use up to 50 key words and the Traackr staff provides guidance on this activity. I had initially selected about seven key words and they gave me good feedback on how to expand it.
You first test a key word and then generate examples of it on the Web. This allowed me to see which ones remained on topic. I was looking for enterprise social media experts. I found that the term “social enterprise” was too general as it found socially conscious enterprises, as well as those using social media. They also have a feature that rates your key words from broad to niche. Ones that are too broad are not useful. I was able to work through options and came up with an initial 21 key word phrases that passed the tests. You rank order the key words to determine their relative weight. It was a useful process as I was forced to think through what I was really looking for. Here is the key word list I generated for a list on enterprise social media.
Here is my list on enterprise social media based on the above keywords. I was somewhat surprised to find myself ranked highly but I really did not game the system for this. I am not sure that you can game it. I found many people that I already know and respected and others that were new to me. Some were Twitter friends whose blogs I was less familiar with. I will continue to monitor the list as it changes weekly.
Since the Traackr tool is designed to help PR professionals in both agencies and within an enterprise there are other features to augment the A-List. When you login to your account, you will land on your Account Dashboard. The Dashboard offers a summary of the activity in your account as well as a quick look at any New Influencers appearing on any of your lists.
You can export any of your Traackr A-List as a JSON data feed which will allow you to plug your influencer data into any other application of your choosing. You also have the ability to “subscribe” to any of your Influencer Monitors via an RSS feed that you can plug into any standard RSS reader. This will allow you to feed all of the posts from your Monitor into your reader.
You can also monitor the presence of terms such as your brand or a topic of interested in the writings of the top influencers. You also have other task support features such as notes and to-dos associated with individuals on the list. As someone involved in the marketing of a software product I can certainly see the usefulness of this tool set.
by Bill Ives
Here is a good idea and smart approach to content overload. In 2008 there was more content produced through the Web than the entire previous years. Then it was repeated again in 2009. Search is a partial solution but Google’s approach was created before the huge explosion of content through social media and is subject to SEO manipulation. We need to go beyond simply search to filter down content to find what interest us.
IBM has taken a novel approach through its experimental application, Social Lens. I recently attended a media session at IBM and got a demo of the Social Lens application among others (see 2010 Update on IBM Social Software Efforts: Part Two). The Center for Social Software has created and number of interesting apps. I recently followed up with Michael Muller and Elizabeth Daly for a more in-depth discuss of Social Lens.
Social Lens lets the user set the stage and then provides automated support that the user can continue to refine. To set a lens, users first define people, resources, and communities that form their core interest area. The application is currently operating with the IBM Lotus Connections environment but it appears that the concept could be applied in other contexts. Here is a list of people.
Now that the user has set the foundation, Social Lens builds on this start by suggesting other people, resources, and communities that related to the original picks. These auto-generated selections form the second tier of content sources. The user can either promote them into the primary core of content sources or drop them altogether. Here is a list of initial communities with an additional one.
Content from the primary core has a slightly higher ranking if the user decides to the narrow the lens. You can to cast a wide net and include all the selected sources or narrow down the focus to only get content from the primary core group. You can also continue to fine tune the primary and secondary content sources. Here is a sample social lens.
Content is delivered through a time ordered activity stream that shows the new stuff coming out of the selected group. You can see a sample activity stream below.
This is an experimental application and IBM has conducted research on its effectiveness. They compared the perceived “interestingness” of content served up through Social Lens with content from other sources, one that is a personalized filter and the other is a general one. Social Lens scored higher on both interestingness and also on the “relatedness” of the second-tier auto-generated content. It also generated a large amount of useful content that the user might not have been seen otherwise.
I really like what they are doing here. It offers the user a role and then makes use of what a computer can do best to amplify the user’s selections. Here is another description that appeared in the Technology Review.
by Bill Ives
I have been writing about Traction TeamPage for several years (for ex. Traction Announces New Integrated Micro-blogging and Solid Revenue Growth for 2008) and continue to have respect their accomplishments. I recently spoke with Greg Lloyd about the newest release, Traction TeamPage 5.1.
Now that the enterprise 2.0 market is starting to mature a bit, I think one of the success factors for platforms will be the ability to align with business processes. I observed this with knowledge management. The only successful KM efforts that I saw were business process aligned. This is exactly the direction that Traction is taking with its last two releases. Now Traction is always been about supporting business, but it is now even more explicit with its current integration of project management capabilities.
At the beginning of the year they released TeamPage 5.0 with the new Proteus skin that provides faster performance and a cleaner interface using Google Web Toolkit user interface technology New features then were the inclusion of profiles, Twitter-style status updates, tag clouds, and enhanced metrics. Now with the 5.1 Release they are adding action tracking, calendaring, milestones, and projects using the term “observable work.”
The action tracking concept is not old school project management with Gantt charts and resource allocation. It is allowing employees to manage their work tasks and make this management transparent to those who need to know. This is where the observable work comes it. I have seen considerable improvement in employee and team performance when their work becomes transparent to the right others. The spot light does wonders when applied correctly.
This is the action tracking part of project management for the regular employee, not the program management office. It brings this activity into the enterprise 2.0 world as every task is treated as an object for comments, RSS, and made searchable to those with the proper permissions. Traction has always had great granular security and this permission level technology is applied here, as well. Below is a sample screen for action planning. In this case it is for their recent TUG 2010 user conference.
You can also get an overview of all milestones, goals with a date, as you can see below.
Taking it up a level, a project is a collection of tasks and milestones. Here is a sample screen showing projects. You can drill down into the details.
There is also enhanced calendaring with automatic updates based on changes in tasks and milestones. Only the tasks, milestones and projects that fit your permission profile are displayed. A Traction TeamPage calendar can be referenced and included live in Outlook, Google calendar and others that support the iCal format. You can subscribe to a top-down view of all calendar items, or subscribe to a personal calendar view of just the item’s you’re responsible for.
Each person’s Team Page profile page shows everything that the profiled person is doing within your permission level, including work stream, status, projects and personal task calendar. It can also be auto-updated through changes within LDAP. Here is a sample profile page showing the various features. The tabs are configurable.
You can filter content by person or task. You can also change a note to a task to provide the ability to track it and increase its visibility. Tasks can be treated like tags and added to any paragraph in any space within the system. I think that this complete collection of new capabilities builds on the strong platform already established to take it further into the ideal of enterprise 2.0. Here the activities of an organization are accessible to those who need to know and this transparency operates at the task or action level. It will be interesting to see what they do next.