Altimeter’s latest report now on Enterprise (inside of companies) social networking is now out from Charlene Li, author of Groundswell, Open Leadership and my business partner. She conducted thorough analysis by surveying 185 users, surveyed 81 ESN decision makers and interviewed 12 technology vendors.
Key findings that attracted my eye include:
- Long term adoption often unsuccessful beyond one department. What’s interesting is there’s lots of initial enthusiasm but a slow decline after deployment. In many cases, primary adoption occurred in the marketing/product section, IT, followed by sales and corporate communication.
- Highest adoption of fremium tools. Interesting breakdown of vendors, with self-service Yammer in the lead, followed by Chatter and Tellingent and IBM connections. What’s interesting is these fremium tools enter the market, get their hooks in and grow adoption and switch to premium offerings.
- Companies are measuring in the wrong way. Lack of metrics (or measuring the wrong way) by focusing on measuring conversations or engagement –rather than measuring improvement in relationships
Who said social media will reduce emails?
What’s interesting is that enterprise social networks don’t actually reduce internal email. The report also includes an actionable plan to get started, while there’s lots of details in the bullet points (filled with real world examples from real research interviews), they include four ways ESNs drive business value, including: 1) Encourage Sharing, 2) Capture Knowledge, 3) Enable Action, and 4) Empower people.
Open Research: Use it, Share it, and We’ll Publish More
We’re continuing to publish reports, and have a growing archive on our site, and will be doing a variety of webinars in support of these research findings. If you found them helpful, we look forward to you engaging with us in the conversation, and appreciate you using, sharing, and applying the findings.
You’ll find the full report embedded below which you can download, print and share, also read Charlene’s post.
This post was collaboratively written on a wiki by Jeremiah Owyang, who maintains a focus on Customer Strategy and Ray Wang, who maintains a focus on Enterprise Strategy. Together, we’re covering the convergence of emerging technology, Ray has cross-posted on his blog.
Microsoft gets serious about collaboration using the web and it’s office products by offering Microsoft Office Web Apps. On the consumer side, it’s just catching up to Google Docs, Zoho, and whatever collaboration start-up emerges. On the enterprise side, this could give internal teams real-time collaboration tools –and close security gaps through an on-premise solution. Regardless, IT must develop a collaboration strategy or run the risk of being blind-sided by business units developing it without them.
Microsoft Office Now Web-Based
Enterprises seek unified solutions for web-based applications that complement their desktop productivity tools. Today’s tools often do not work seamlessly across on-premise, on-demand, mobile, and disconnected scenarios. The delivery of Microsoft Desktop Apps just under a year after the October 28th, 2008 PDC announcement in LA puts Microsoft back in contention among corporate user who have been actively piloting alternative solutions from Google, Zoho, and others. Microsoft Office Web apps includes web-based versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. In addition, Microsoft delivers an online document management system with permissions called SkyDrive, which is advertising supported. These set of features are available to both consumers who have Windows Live accounts as well as to enterprises who have purchased the Office Volume License, who can install an on-premise version on internal serves for intranet usage.
Jeremiah’s Take: For the CMO
CMOs should be aware of the broad ranging changes of consumer behavior, but should recognize this is just catch up to Google docs which has beginnings as far back as 2006. Despite this “me too” there’s a few distinguishing points that make this announcement stand out:
- Gives consumers the option over Google Docs. Consumers and certainly stakeholders in B2B prefer the no-nonsence experience of corporate issued Microsoft office. The upside for Microsoft is the spreadsheets appear to have more features than Google sheets, although some of the advanced functionality of web-based excel is not available. As a result, users will have to use the desktop client to perform advanced features like pivot tables.
- May have better performance –attracting consumers. Microsoft makes claims its service will be faster than the somewhat slow Google docs products, which we believe as we’ve noticed latency in real-time collaboration in Google Docs. (which we’re using for this blog post)
- Microsoft’s big footprint will accelerate adoption. A research survey conducted over a year ago suggests that Google Docs was used by just a 1% of the US consumer base, and Microsoft Word had over 51% adoption. Expect Microsoft’s large footprint in enterprise combined with over 375 million users of Hotmail and Live to push these web based apps to the mainstream –expect integration into other MS web products.
Ray’s Take: For the CIO
Enterprises will benefit from a familiar solution that delivers enterprise security and collaboration. For intranet deployments and mobile, there are three key use cases that standout:
- Secured experience behind the firewall. Microsoft delivers an on-premise install that does not expose corporate data to consumer products such as Google docs.
- Improved real-time collaboration. Consumer teams can now use these light weight web-based tools for near-real time collaboration. Apparently, this is Microsoft’s first real time collaboration tool, as we know Sharepoint often acts more like an asynchronous DMS and CMS.
- Lighter mobile footprint. Browser based docs give the mobile warrior less resource limitations on laptops or other mobile devices.
IT Must Develop A Collaboration Strategy –Or Business Units Will Do It Without You
Enterprise IT must develop a collaboration program, as the advent of consumer collaboration tools will quickly outpace ITs ability to play catch up. As employees continue to create collaborative workspace in the public web, data can become mishandled, not accounted for, or orphaned. To avoid these risks, we recommend that:
- Enterprises should take inventory of the vast teams using consumer based collaboration tools, evaluate their usage and decide if an enterprise solution should be available for internal collaboration features.
- IT leadership shouldn’t shut down the firewall and block third-party collaboration tools, as work is often being done at the edges of the company with business units working with partners, customers, and prospects. Instead, focus on providing secure tools within the enterprise for collaboration, then roll-out proper awareness campaigns, training, and ongoing support for company supported technologies.
- IT departments should be proactive resources to business units and provide them with the right tools, training, and resources. IT departments that are reactive or clamp down on business units needs for collaboration will find employees finding work-arounds on consumer collaboration tools.
- Enterprises will want to reevaluate how Microsoft Web Apps work within existing volume licensing agreements and enterprise agreements, especially as many have considered alternatives during contract negotiations.
Below are screenshots provided by Microsoft to us of the web-based applications: Word, Powerpoint, OneNote and Excel. It’s not clear if the infamous “Clippy 2.0” will re-emerge –we hope not.
Silicon valley based Altimeter Group is a strategy consulting firm focused on providing companies with a pragmatic approach to emerging technologies..
A reporter recently sent me two documents that were previously on the Oracle site, and are now deleted. I’ve reviewed them carefully, and they showed an architecture stack that provides community platform features for the internal enterprise, and sits on top of Oracle’s database, and ties with Oracle’s applications.
Information Week has the story, rumors, and links to the PDFs if you want to learn more, about this skunkworks project that was kicked off in Asia. There is some confusion if this product is intended to go to market, but it makes sense for Oracle.
ERP systems haven’t evolved in the last decade, and community is a nice overlay that can impact the whole enterprise –consulting teams can sell change management, and be entrenched in large brands for years, a great play for ERP vendors, and the big consulting shops.
Expect SAP to launch these types of systems, as Microsoft Sharepoint, IBM’s Lotus, already will battle for another software install in their current footprint. They won’t be alone as CMS vendors are already sniffing the sidelines. The lone community platform vendors like Jive, Awareness, Mzinga, Telligent, Blogtronix, all have internal deployments of note, these point systems must quickly integrate with the aforementioned players, or they will get kicked out when the CIO moves in this year.
The enterprise community space is about to get really crowded from community platform vendors, CMS vendors, ERP vendors, and entrenched vendors like Microsoft and IBM. Ill be here to chronicle it all.
Hopefully you’ve noticed my journey lately, to understand how social computing impacts not just one aspect of a company, but how it’s going to be an ‘overlay’ across the entire organization, in fact, nearly two years ago, I created this graphic in 2007 which demonstrates how social computing can be applied across an entire customer lifecycle. Maybe you noticed that in 2009 your CIO will start to sniff out the different business departments deploying social technologies, and may want to consolidate.
Spiksource and Intel have made it possible by working with Forrester to sponsor this webinar on Leveraging Social Media into your Business Strategy, Feb 5th 10am PST where we won’t just talk about how social media impacts marketing –but thinking bigger to the whole enterprise. I’ll be joined by Six Apart’s Michael Sippey, and Jive’s CMO, Sam Lawrence. See you there!
Update: Joseph has taken some notes from the webinar, thanks! also, the recording is now available.
Although I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I’m sure my kids won’t know what a firewall is when they reach the workplace.
Why? firewalls, the enterprise security that maintains security between employees and the public on your intranet are going to be irrelevant –and LinkedIn and other SaaS products are making this happen –one URL at a time. I’ve expanded upon this a bit more in a recent discussion with the WSJ indicating the opportunity for LinkedIn and others.
I’ve been in close contact with LinkedIn over the past year, and recently had lunch with their CEO to discuss their strategy, so I’ve been fully briefed on this platform announcement. Given the downturn in economy, this is a great market for LinkedIn to grow with users, and to offer services and features that reduce developer cost within the enterprise.
A bit of history, LinkedIn, which is reported to have 29million users, was one of the OpenSocial partners that agreed to join the coalition and put their name by it in fall 2007, finally, a year later they’ve finally launched an application platform with 10 application partners. You’ve heard of MySpace, Bebo, and many others being OpenSocial compliant, and you should be aware of Facebook’s F8 platform that kicked this off in mid year 2007.
These 10 application (sometimes called widgets) are now accessible by LinkedIn users and have collaborative and social features that allow you and your LinkedIn friends to share presentations, favorite books, event calendars, documents and other work related themes (no super poke here). You can collaborate with your colleagues at a company and even beyond with your business contacts, imagine that, getting work done with people that aren’t even your colleagues.
I used to be the enterprise intranet manager at HDS before I started the social media program, and I know that from experience, most intranets are a horrible cobbled together experience, most lacking true social features. We continue to see more SaaS products being offered like SocialText, Zoho, ConnectBeam, and of course SalesForce to allow employees to work and share together, without even having to rely on IT developers to build a new products.
LinkedIn isn’t done with it’s growth, to truly be a major competitor in the intranet market, they need to make their system extensible with other platform players, allow more business applications to be shared on their platform (they hand select developers) and consider some acquisitions in the community platform space or collaboration space. Since they snagged funding before the investment money dried up, they recently have generated $22 million in funding (beyond their existing raised capital, which will enable them to : 1) stand the test of time, 2) get ready to go shopping.
Expect LinkedIn to:
Offer more collaboration between colleagues and connections to happen outside of the firewall where IT doesn’t have control
Provide resources for some IT departments to lean on SaaS environments to further their mission
Launch more business applications request to be developers on LinkedIn’s business platform
Export the top business applications will be then be ported to community platform players
Raised significant capital, thrive in an downturned economy, and get ready to go shopping
With the popularity to Twitter and other Microblogging tools, we should expect to see a flurry of simliar tools for project and program mangaement for the enterprises.
Stemming from commodity technology, I’m sure I’ll have a hard time keeping this list up to date over a few months –expect IM vendors, blogging vendors, community platforms, enterprise 2.0 vendors, and a flurry of startups to offer similiar features, first read up on the pros and cons as well as some potential use cases.
It’s interesting to see the need to justify enterprise needs of such tools that are already being adopted by consumers, typical of enterprise settings (I’m a former enterprise intranet manager). With that said, let’s start the definitive list.
List of Enterprise Microblogging Tools
I’ll be making lots of updates to this post as comments come in.
Prologue, by Automatic, makers of WordPress
Announced in Jan 08, Prologue allows users to, “…can post short messages about what they’re doing”, even in a secured environment GigaOm has adopted it for his news network, recently covered by Venturebeat.
Enterprise Social Messaging Experiment (ESME)
This pet project which was given birth by the “Demo Jam” at SAP labs (This is an SDN Community Project initiated by SAP Mentors, not part of SAP), was recently covered by Read Write Web.
Simply detailed as: “What’s happening at your company? Share status updates with your co-workers.” recently reviewed by webware. This in depth review answers many questions. Launched in Sept 08.
A friendfeed and twitter tools for the enterprise, this has been covered by Webware.
Laconica – The Open Microblogging Tool
This open source application can be installed on servers and potentially used within the firewall. Link via Nick Cowie via comments.
“Status is part of a new trend of LIGHTER communication tools. When you need to get up to date with your group, a single screen shows what everyone is doing and where they are. This means you can stay in touch on your own terms, without using heavy attention-stealing tools like email.” link via Frank. added Sept 9, 08.
“Trillr is a service for co-workers, partners and customers to communicate and thus stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What’s on your mind”. By CoreMedia. Link via Pistachio Consulting (focused on Micromedia), added Sept 9, 08.
I Did Work
This task based update tool provides teams with abiity to leave status messages. “The work log that shares Keep a history of your work, and share it with your team” Link via Ralf via comments.
Oracle’s launching a Microblogging tool internally, then for external clients: “…OraTweet is seeing companies, universities, and organizations running their own OraTweet instance, allowing them to keep their information private yet strengthening their own internal communities. It should be the same way we do email and instant messaging: We manage our own information, which allows us to broadcast messages safely in our own microcosm.” Added Sept 9, 08.
This collaboration suite has microblogging features, and hooks into titter: “…A better way to Twitter. As a small business owner you’ve added micro blogging to your list of daily marketing activities. In the past few months you’ve come to appreciate how easy and effective tools like Twitter can be to communicate project status and to inform followers of upcoming events. You currently manage your postings using a desktop Twitter client. It would be great if you could somehow link your “Tweets” with your project management system.” Added Sept 9, 08.
An internal only twitter client has been deployed for some time, and has been providing some colleagues with relief from email flare-ups. It was recently covered in BusinessWeek (link via pistachio) –BlueTwit has been around since 2007.
“Present.ly is a micro-update communications tool for your company. Give your employees the ability to instantly communicate their current status, ask questions, post media, and more.” Via comments of Pistachio, added Sept 11, 08.
Spanning both the internal and external worlds, Mixin: “… lets you share your daily activities and intentions
to get together more often with your friends”
“HeadMix has powerful messaging and social networking features that promote the capture, sharing and discovery of the knowledge trapped inside employees’ heads.”
I’ll stop managing this list after a few weeks, I know an onslaught of features will appear in just about every imaginable software package, you can leave comments below, as always, if someone creates and index, I’ll point to it.
See this list of opensource twitter vendors. Also, Laura “Pistachio” has now started a form to populate her database of vendors. She’s now published a spreadsheet on mashable.
Also, I should add that Forrester is watching this space, aside from our CEO and many employees using these tool, we’ve a report with data showing use of microblogging tools.
Have you deployed this at your company?
Rafe of Webware and I would love to know, please contact me if you have, my email is on my contact page.
I already know of a some community platforms that are experimenting with similar tools, expect this to be a bolt of feature that many will provide in the next few moons.
If you know of others, leave a comment below, oh and if you like this list, you’ll love these.
I’m currently doing an intensive 3 month research project on the topic of Community Platforms, and it’s become very clear that by talking to many of the 27 brands, 9 vendors, and leaning on forecast data where many decisions are currently being made to purchase these enterprise software solutions. To start with, many solutions (define as a set of software, services, support) are being purchased by marketers who want to bring a social aspect to their corporate website.
These marketing folks, who may have worked with IT in the past to load CMS programs are bound by corporate red tape, de-prioritized by IT project management, or want to evade the rigors of legal and security and free to purchase community platforms using Software as a Service model (SaaS). Why is this beneficial? As they’ve only to rely on IT for single sign on (SSO) they often can handle the rest within the web marketing team, or lean on the services of the community vendor.
Yet, they aren’t the only buyers, HR departments are starting to become sponsors for enterprise social network platforms to improve internal knowledge transfers, collaboration, and developing specific programs for alumni, new hires, interns, and even women using pre-packaged use case features provided by these vendors.
You can see where this is headed right? IT departments realize that fragmented communtiy software is going to lead to a disparate mess to clean up, and many are starting to make recommendations for enterprise platforms that will span the usage of the whole company. Why? To reduce overall resources, ensure security, centralize data, and ensure, well that they are responsible and safe when it comes to their information.
I’ve only heard of a few instances from the marketers that I’ve interviewed where IT has thought of community platforms as an enterprise solution rather than a one-off by marketing.
Talking with many of these folks in this research project, I could make the case that in 12-24 months we’ll start to see CIOs start to initiate projects to deliver enterprise social networking mandates, take ownership over these disparate projects, and wake up and realize the importance of these tools beyond marketing and HR.
This yields all kinds of questions regarding: security, what does enterprise-class entail, how will Microsoft/SAP/IBM respond, will Saas or on-premise software be required, governance, flexibility, allowance of third-party widgets, and costs. More to come on this as I dive further into this research project.
It’s amazing it’s taken so many years for this to come around, I first started writing about this back in 2005 with Dennis McDonald.
I’m in the unique position that I get to speak to enterprise brands, white label vendors, and now CMS vendors on a regular basis, here’s what I’m seeing:
It’s now quarter 3, and I start research on the big report, the Forrester Wave (learn about the reports) on the Community Platforms (White Label Social Networks) the Vendor Catalog of this space will be published for clients in the coming days. The process, which has been completed for many other markets, is detailed, granular, and will take me over 10 weeks to complete. The results will yield a report that indicate the strength and weaknesses of those vendors for enterprise class interactive marketers.
[Trend watch: Enterprise CMS Vendors to enter the White Label Social Networking Space and offer Community Features and Platforms]
Social Features a Commodity
As I’ve mentioned time and time again, it’s a crowded space in the white label social network space due to low barriers to entry, and commodity features, in fact with 80+ vendors (could be 120+ if I counted insight vendors and collaboration vendors), there’s no shortage of those who will throw their hat into the ring.
Overview: Enterprise Content Management Systems
I’ve started to notice more of the ‘traditional’ CMS and Portal players that already have deep footprints into the corporate web teams that are inching into this space. First, let’s take a historical view, many of these vendors appeared in the late 90s, they offer easy ways to publish online for corporations, often including advanced review workflows, templates, and staging and dev sites. I’ve been on the teams (I’m a former corporate web guy) that have had to implement, manage, or train stakeholders to use these. Next, in the early 2000-2002 we started to see acquisitions into this space by large ERP players: Microsoft acquired CMS which eventually evolved into Sharepoint, EMC acquired Documentum, and other ERP players such as Interwoven, Vignette, Stellent, IBM’s Filenet and LotusNotes, edDot CMS, Xerox’s Docushare, and Saperion started to extend their KM products for public websites. There’s a great list of these vendors from CMS watch.
CMS Vendors sniffing the social space
Fast forward to 2008. With the demand and buzz for social network features, or community offerings, these established CMS/Portal vendors recognize the demand, and see opportunity dollars falling through the cracks. I’ve started conversations with several of the big players to gauge where they are headed. Of course, the conversations don’t end up on this blog (unless they give me permission, or publish first) but it’s quite obvious where things are headed. In fact, see my predictions referenced in a recent Techcrunch article. They won’t be the only ones, we’re starting to get glimmers of social platforms tying to CRM systems too –integration afoot.
Three Options for CMS Vendors
There are at least three ways these large CMS vendors can head:
1) Develop the features and roll out community suites. Acquire new staff to understand this new world (it’s a different skill set than CMS rollout and management). This will involve client side training, consulting, development/design, new metrics packages, and series of recurring support revenue streams.
2) Acquire the successful white social networking vendors that complement their existing offerings. Find a player that digs deep within Fortune 5000 that offers 100k revenues on first year from a solution sell, and 50k for ongoing support and services. Or either find and easy to use vendor that offers few but broad features, and attached advertising streams and develop a media network.
3) Do nothing. Some CMS vendors may be content with their current product offerings to client, and don’t want to jump into a crowded pool and may choose to avoid offering social features to clients. With third party developers offering widgets and embeddable applications, they actually may not have to.
Four Options for White Label Social Networks
Some of these enterprise class vendors (I’ll know more when wave report comes out), it’s likely they will do a few of these, it’s not exclusive, and will have a strong stance to do the following:
1) Stay independent. I could call this ‘do nothing’ but it’s not the case. Like the CMS/Portal space in late 90s, some of these vendors will continue to grow and be stand alone companies, who knows, some may actually become publicly traded companies.
2) Start partnerships. We’re already seeing some of these companies band together such as Mzinga/Prospero, and now Awareness ties data to Sharepoint, this nods to a direction of working with others, or at least having interoperability.
3) Design for acquisition. Some white label vendors have thought this through, and are building their software in the platform or language of another traditional CMS company and are making themselves ripe fruits for acquisitions.
4) Develop flexible architectures. The future of the web is amorphous, therefore some white label vendors will heavily depend on open APIs, Data, and develop or work with widget vendors to let social content be shared and ‘fly’ around the web. Eventually, some of these widget features could easily be embedded into CMS systems, even if they don’t offer these features.
Four Options for Brands
In our recent forecast report, we predicted that the largest growth spend at the enterprise level for social services and products will be social networks. Brands have a few options:
1) Develop their own social software features. I know a few brands (despite me suggesting they buy) are extending their home grown CMS systems to add on social features. For those with large web development teams it makes sense. For others wanting to be fast and flexible, it’s often not an efficient path.
2) Work with a White Label Vendor. Many are choosing to rope in these vendors to develop, train, design, and manage these communities, in most cases they sit ‘off to the side’ of the corporate website and are not integrated with product pages. Of course, this whole discussion excludes marketing efforts on organic social sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc.
3) Wait for CMS vendors. Many brands are just toe-dippin’ into the social space, they are not offering community features, don’t see the point, or have other objectives to fulfill. As a result, they may just wait a few quarters till CMS vendors offer this ability within their existing platforms. Of course, this comes with risk from deploying too late, or not offering features that meet the needs of community members
4) Do nothing. In the end, some brands will choose not to engage customers in community sites, for a variety of reasons such as products or services that are sold to resellers and rebranded, deep technology components that are mainly a b2b sell, or lack of vision to embrace customers.
Watch this emerging trend
Where are we now? We’re at the very beginnings of this journey, with most white labels being around for just a few years, and the established CMS vendors starting to sniff this sector and gather requirements (many are coming to me) we’re clearly at the R&D stage, with some banding development teams to enter this space.
Questions that will be need to be answered by this space:
Will CMS vendors be able to adapt to social features into their legacy systems?
Is the demand from client side strong enough for CMS vendors assert flexibility?
How will these commodity social features be monetized, with everyone having them, how will you differentiate?
Will CMS vendors build, buy, or ignore social features?
When will we see existing internal knowledge management systems integrate these features?
Will the small white label vendors start to get friendly with the CMS space and start to develop an exit strategy?
Are white label vendors building their products for easy integration into CMS vendors?
I’ve been thinking about developing a ‘show and tell’ event where both of these vendors can come together for a meet and greet, if I did, would you attend?
Chime in, love to hear you answer these questions I posed above.
Update: Larry Dignan from Zdnet throws in his hat and predicts, in his opinion, the most logical options.
A few days ago, I ran a contest for two winners to receive free tickets to the Internet Strategy Forum Summit in Portland. The winning responses, based on insight, ability to back up their predictions and being succinct were Christopher Smith and Kristie.
I’ve selected the two winners, here’s their submissions:
Kristie Connor, a Marketing Consultant, submits on the concept of ‘fluidity’. I like this concept as the corporate website won’t be the only container of brand and product content but also this content will spread to wherever the conversations flow on the web: Social networks, blogs, friendfeed and wherever else. She writes the following:
“Corporate websites of the future will be less about canned content and more about fluidity. Meaning, the consumer will demand websites that are connected to the ‘users’ and ‘consumers’ personal networks which will promote and instill word of mouth as a best practice for business development and ultimately sales. The infrastructure will be designed in a way that company developed case studies, webinars and such will be replaced by real consumers leaving messages and user created video’s. The back-end will be light and built to accommodate the interactivity of users and social networks. Customer generated content will be ranked higher in search engines and push the website owner to move in the direction to capture mind share.”
Additionally, this evolution will put the consumer in the driver’s seat which will drive accountability from outside in.
Christopher Smith, VP of Digital Media Marketing and the Creative Director at MediaTrust submits an excellent piece highlighting that people, real humans will be front and center, rather than the stock photo and corporate happy talk, I couldn’t hope and agree more. Perhaps the future holds a ‘customized’ social network where people you actually know that work at the company are front and center on the website, or customers that are connected to you on your social graph:
“Jeremiah, in response to your contest I submit the following:
I actually believe in 5 years the “corporate website” as we now it will no longer exist. Gone will be the days of the static brochure site, supported by a “dynamic” sub-branded social community. There will no longer be the “self-service” document download centers, or the video case study hiding the infomercial inside.
I see the corporate website as hub of individuals that become your first point of contact, and guide you through your search for products, service or support. Consider the example of the Apple Retail Store experience and extend that to the web. You are going to the corporate site for a reason. Even casual browsers to a corporate site have a passive agenda. Virtual corporate ambassadors will assist you in your interaction with the company, blurring the lines of sales, CRM, and support, with the use of chat, video feed, guided browsing, VoIP… the list goes on.
How will this happen in 5 years? I have already begun this work for my company’s new site, and have begun working with our customer experience team from the tech side to insure that we begin building the opportunity today and defining the process in design and test.
And yes, I already have the date in my calendar, and plan on attending as much of the conference as I can. The downside of winning your contest will be that I am required to visit my mother in law if I am Portland.”
Doh! Have fun with your mother in law Chris. For additional reference, do read my post on the Irrelevant Corporate Website, and how to evolve it. Although over a year old, we’re just starting to see websites evolve.
Been a busy week, I was in L.A. (twice) helped many clients, and now am off to NYC today on Sunday in preparation for tomorrow’s Forrester Finance Forum. Aside from the hectic schedule, there are two major changes in my life: 1) My kid sister enters the workpace, 2) My parents contemplate retirement. Me? I’m in the middle, “Jeremiah-in-the-middle” as a young Gen Xer, experiencing it all unfold.
Gen Y Enter Stage Left
Last weekend, my kid sister (yes, the one who said she only uses email to communicate with old people like me) has graduated from college. 10 years my junior, she starts her first full time job in San Francisco. Already armed with a network connected to her on Facebook, Instant Messaging tools (and probably MySpace too), she enters the workforce connected to her new employers: customers, partners, and even competitors.
What they are on their profiles echos to their networks, and if they indicate they are employed (many do) then they are now representatives of the brand.
Companies have three choices when it comes to understanding this opportunity: 1) Do nothing. Most companies are unaware of these changes, or even if they are, they are unsure of the possibilities. 2) Shut it down. Some companies have locked Facebook, YouTube and other ‘time-wasters’ away from employees, but now with today’s pervasive mobile devices (iPHone, Blackberry, Nokia, Sidekick), there is no blocking it. 3) Make use of the opportunity. Employees, whether they realize it or not are the front line of the company, they can be support, they can be sales, or they can just be brand ambassadors. Check out this interview with me about the future of the outsourced Intranet from ZDnet, and how Serena Software encourages it’s employees to have a Facebook Friday.
These questions remain:
Do the once finite lines of the corporate firewall between work and personal start to fade?
Who is really an official spokesperson? Is there an unofficial spokesperson?
As Generation Y moves into the workforce, how will their communication habits change? How about ours? (I work with several talented ones)
Will Generation Y, who is accustomed to Facebook Applications, Google Docs, Rich internet application interfaces, and advanced web technology (all public) be shocked to find out how bad your enterprise software is?
How will companies adapt and changes their corporate policies to meet this change?
Baby Boomers Exit Stage Right
Although still a few years away, my parents are considering retirement. They’ve accomplished a lot in their careers, both have been towards to the top of the food chains in their respective careers in Education and Medicine. These baby boomers (the largest generation America has ever seen) leave their companies and organizations, and often with the know-how, knowledge, and networks that we’ve relied on. In fact, many senior leadership at corporations are members of the large boomer generation.
For example, at a previous company where I managed the intranet, I received stats from HR, in order to complete my user experience research. I found that 40% of the company (more than a third) of the employees were going to retire in the next 5-10 years, many in leadership positions. That was 3 years ago.
These questions remain:
Are companies prepared for this mass exodus of experienced leaders?
How will they harvest the knowledge from these professionals? Once they leave, they are under no obligation to return it.
How will some companies have ‘soft-retirements’ allowing them to work part time or have access to their networks.
Will they leave a gaping hole in upper and mid management giving a gravity well to Gen X to quickly climb to leadership –some with questionable experience?
Solutions? Dennis McDonald left a link to an interesting social network created by Dow that ties retirees to the company.
Comparing both generations, I often have heard from my parents generation about climbing the corporate ladder, getting a pension, and being lifers at companies. When I talk to the younger generation, they are at the stage of wanting to climb vertically, and they know the fastest way up is out –in just a few years. Without a doubt, we’ve changes ahead, it’ll be interesting to see how companies cultures and workstyle change.