Archive for December, 2007


Intranets: A Reflection of your Corporate DNA

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Before you join that next company, consider asking for a look at the corporate intranet first. Why? The intranet is a direct reflection of the ethos, soul, and culture of a company.

An intranet is important, it’s the collective knowledge of your employees, a collection of resources, and directories that should enable business to move forward faster (cost savings) and to grow and support customer focused teams (revenue generation). I’ve read research that indicates that 40% of the United States population will retire in the next few years, (Update: US Census reports that 26% of all Americans are baby boomers. 78M over US population of 298M, since youth and elderly are not working, 40% isn’t much of a stretch) and intranets are a key way to harvest the tacit knowledge from these information wealthy individuals.

[An Intranet is an accurate reflection of the inner workings and ‘Corporate DNA’ of a company]

My German uncle (I’ve a diverse family) runs the health department for a major county in California, his roots are with health inspection of restaurants. He told me one indicator of a cleanliness of a kitchen is to first check out the restroom, it’s often managed and cared for the same way. Intranets are often the same indicator for it’s internal culture. I know as I was an intranet manager, and have been involved with those programs in four previous roles.

You can tell a lot from the intranet, the way it’s designed, displayed, organized, the content all reflect how the corporation is run. Take a closer look at your intranet and compare it to the following attributes

What are the comparative attributes of a corporate intranet?

Structured Organization or Loosely organized
Is the architcture of your site tightly wound around the features of an existing CMS system, or loosely created by different collaborative groups? This is an indicator of how the company may be managed, either centralized or run by different factions.

Static or Dynamic
Is the content rarely updated, or is frequently changing with the speed of business? This could indicate how information is being shared (or not) within the enterprise.

Text based or Media Focused
Is the content primarily text and information geared, or are there uses of more ‘human’ mediums like images, maps, videos, audio? Is your company focused on delivering hard raw data, or sharing the human and ‘life’ stories among employees.

Disparate or Centralized
Is the user experience of your intranet different with every business group? or is it centralized within a single framework. This is a clear indicator of how your company is likely setup.

Product/Customer focused or Employee focused
Is your intranet focused on selling of products, or customers, or on the lifestyle of employees, and how they communicate. I’ve worked for a company where the sole purpose of the homepage was to push sales and marketing information to employees, nearly brainwashing. This indicates the true focus of a company. For example, Intuit is truly employee focused, and former employees tell me the intranet is setup this way.

Top down publishing or Bottom up publishing
perhaps the most telling attribute, if your intranet a publication of just a few key members with power, or are the voices and knowledge shared from across the enterprise? Does management lead with an iron fist, or are the suggestions from the employees on the ground floor (ones dealing with customers/products from day to day) taken into account?

Publishing from Business or Technology Group
Is the content published by a technology group, or is it in the hands of business? I’ve seen some intranets (a business tool) be controlled and owned by IT, which is clearly a mis-use of human tool to empower business units to communicate. This is a reflection of how business information is handled or respected, from a technology perspective or from a business perspective.

[By looking at the organization, content, and publishing of your intranet, will indicate how your company is managed, prioritized, and focused]

You can learn a lot from your enterprise intranet, it’s a telling mirror of the culture and ethos of your company. Now to hear from you: So how was/is your intranet organized? Does it reflect the corporate DNA of your company culture?

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Dec 26, 2007

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I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly summary, read the summary, then quickly scan headlines, read the bullet, then click to learn even more.

I’ve created a category called Digest where you can start to track and access these going forward. Quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read summary for analysis, and click link to dive in for more. You can subscribe to this digest tag only, which filters only these posts tagged digest.

Need to make decisions about your web strategy? I’m here to help: subscribe to my blog, sign up for emails (right nav), follow me on Twitter, I’ll add you back.

Web Strategy Summary
A very, very quiet week, there’s just a few pieces of analysis from bloggers and media after the flurry of anouncements two weeks ago (everyone was trying to push out features before the Holiday). Most interestingly, Bebo has widget growth from opening up it’s container for other applications to publish on it’s social network.


Container: Bebo’s Applications proliferate
Just a few weeks ago, on Dec 12th, Bebo announced that it would open it’s social network up to third party developers, starting with a push form existing Facebook applications. Development partners include: NBC Universal, CBS, NBA, Yahoo!, The Gap, Flixster, Gaia Online, RockYou, Slide, BeFunky, iLike, WidgetBox, Wallo Bebo has informed me last week that there are currently 4,250,409 installs of applications. Two weeks growth at 4 million is pretty successful, considering there are over 12,000 apps total in FB. We’ll compare direct numbers (installs to instances) later.

Widgets: Worklight provides business Applications
This February, we’ll see a growth in productivity applications from Worklight, a widget that sits on Facebook (and then likely other social networks) that will provide secured communication for employees. See? The intranet has already left the firewall.

Profiles: Many new social networks emerge and grow
BBC summarizes the various social networks of interest, including: Habbo, Perfspot Freecycle, Webjam, Capazoo, Wayn, Realbuzz.

Social Graph: IBM to launch mapping tool in Lotus Notes
IBM is launching a tool that will map and track the mavens within the usage of a community, this one, in Lotus Notes. This tool, called Atlas, will help large organizations map out important topics, networks, and people.

Ubiquity: Social Networks a Commodity
I’m surprised to hear Marc Canter say this, just a few months ago he violently opposed others saying that it was a feature, and now he suggest that these social features are a commodity. Either way, the scope of this very digest grows every week, it’s difficult for me to keep up.

Money: Kyte gets $15 million, to grow mobile social network
Raising a considerable amount from a Spanish telephone carrier, Kyte will continue to provide a platform for mobile web users to publish, share, and connect with each other. One challenge is going to be able to create a common platform or utility that will work with all carriers and phones.

Usage: Majority of teens interact on the web
Pew releases some helpful technographics data of teen web usage: “Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004.” I’ve compared this to some of the data from work and it’s very close.

Features: Add Digg like features
Build your own Digg=like feature for your online community or social network. Pligg suggests that it’s 5 minute installs can move a static site to member interactive in a few easy strokes.

Ownership: Corporate program management of community programs
Respected community expert Bill Johnston asks the important question of who owns the community? For the many companies that are struggling internally to understand the social media sphere, the question of program ownership comes up, Bill gives a few scenarios.

Privacy: Social Ads invasive
David Berkowitz, of popular blog Marketer’s Studio was surprised to find out that he was an brand advocate for Blockbuster, after I sent him a screenshot. He suggests that social ads need an opt out and was frustrated to find out there was little he could do, read the extensive comments.

What else should be on this list? Leave a comment, feedback, or suggestions, I’m listening. The next digest will be in the near year, kind of exciting!

Video of Marcia Kadanoff “The Future of the Web is Distributed” (2:42)

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As I travel around, I do quick interviews with interesting folks, some of them are speakers, thought leaders, or people I interview for my reports. Marcia immediately impressed me as she was asking very key questions during my keynote, and we furthered the conversation over lunch.

Marcia Kadanoff, who I met at the Web Community Forum up in Seattle, gives her insight on the future of the web. Search will be the common interface, yet the future is distributed, and people will be communicating in many different locations. She suggests that we stop focus on interruption marketing, focus on engagement marketing, and look at widgets.

So what do you think? Is her predictions for 2008 right? I’m in complete agreement, the distributed web is a concept I’ve been discussing for some time.

I heard you, and thank you

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A few days ago, I asked in public how could I better improve myself. I received over 20 comments of recommendations, (10 emails, or private message) and all of them were genuine and helpful. This was a healhy (yet humble) process, and I think that every bloggers should consider doing this.

Although I won’t be incorporating every suggestion, as I need to have self-focus to make myself happy, but many I will. In either case, I’m acknowledging I heard you, thank you, twas a wonderful holiday gift. Message Received.

Facebook: Innovative yet Conceited

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Ellen Lee did a great wrap-up article over at SFGate on Facebook in 2007, she called me up for my opinion on the company over the last year. I suggested that Facebook is very innovative (the first to lead an application platform, and to do social based ads) yet remains very arrogant. (twice not including customers to make decisions over their very own privacy of the newspage and beacon).

Having betrayed the trust of it’s users twice, a third time is going to result in mutiny, and users will start leaving, it wont be hard for some users to organize and move.

What could Facebook do better? Involve it’s customers members (Update: See Doc Searls comment) in testing and decision making. I would advise them to bring customers members closer and involve them in the testing and decision making process. Create a small private group of members that really understand the program and involve them in the decision maker process. This group would be empowered to talk to the product team, test out new features, and provide honest and thoughtful research. You can reward them with insider knowledge (they won’t need to be paid) and many of them will become advocates and help promote (and sometimes defend) the feature releases and the brand in general.

To Facebook’s defense, I’ll bet they didn’t know the full ramifications of their innovative actions (or didn’t think it all the way through), and as a result, were learning about it from reading blogs.

With Facebook being a community or “social utility” it will be nice to see them living some of these values we hold dear before they release their next feature.

Get closer to members, and be more successful, a social network is only as good as the collective of it’s members.

Please chime in with your suggestions for Facebook.

Video: Guy Kawasaki: Future of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Truemors, Twitter, and Hockey (4:42)

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One of Silicon Valley’s most elite Marketer, Evangelist, Blogger, and VC is Guy Kawasaki.

Many know him for his evangelism at Apple, speaking, companies he’s funded, the 8 books he’s been involved with, or the sharing he does from his blog (although he told me over lunch that he’s shared almost everything he can). I met Guy at the local ice rink, where he spends lunches playing hockey. He asked me where I wanted to shoot the video, and I said down by the ice, I had on a jacket, and turtleneck, but he braved the interview for me in just a t-shirt.

Guy shares with me some of his predictions for Marketers in 2008, companies he’s interested in investing with, answers “is entrepreneurship born or bred” (a question from David Wescott in Twitter), about Twitter and it’s impacts to Truemors (from Yama-sami). Oh and here’s the site Guy was raving about, PopURLs. Most recently he’s launched his passion Truemors, which as many of you are seeing in Twitter.

Thanks Guy for taking the time out.