Friday, December 12, 2014

Tools from #SocialNow 2014

Now that plans are being made for the next edition of SocialNow, it’s a good time to post some of my notes from the previous edition. I’m really looking forward to the next conference and hope to meet you there!

Special conference
As you my know SocialNow is special conference. The structure is very different from other conference. The whole idea is to help you (the audience) listen to and select the right internal social platform for your needs. This is done by asking vendors to present to a fictitious company with real-life needs and convince them that your platform is fit for their needs. The company is supported by ‘consultants’ with expertise in IT, design and business. And of course the audience may ask questions as well. Here we go:

Talks and tools
The vendor presentations are mixed with several keynotes by Tim Walters, Louise McGregor, Luis Suarez and Euan Semple. I’m not going to summarize those talks. I do want to share my notes about the vendor presentations and round up with some closing thoughts.

Hoozin: Does auto-translation of content, runs on top of Sharepoint, wants people to work with Hoozin in the context of their day-to-day business, employees are invited to join communities instead of forcing them to work in one.

Exo: Microblogging, integrated call feature, users can also assign tasks to content, document sharing and collaboration (extensive DMS features). It looked like they also summarizes interactions, but they don’t. It’s open source software and has a multi-lingual interface. They have a plugin for real-time translation of updates. The mood widget gives insight in the sentiment of the feed, page or platform as a whole (to HR). Exo also has an app.

Jive: Very extensive social platform. They provide rich social profiles (with skills, endorsements), inscreen document viewer, recommends people and documents to users, etc. A share widget that can be installed in your browser helps share external stuff you find in Jive. Jive also has an app.

Knowledge Plaza: They have rich profiles, apply facetted search everywhere, wiki functionality, syncs with Dropbox, Skydrive and the like, versioning on all content, light-weight workflow, also responsive design.

TeamGum: Launched at SocialNow. They want to integrate all external platforms so stuff can be shared internally. Searching in Google gives results from TeamGum. They are focused on information and knowledge sharing and discovery. They too provide a widget to share stuff to your network from the browser.

Jamespot: Focused on social action. They provide: approval of updates (workflow), structured collaboration, keeps an overview of your business goals and reports to you on them, can push information to newsletter and narrow casting platform (to connect to people without screens).

Xwiki: They’ve been to all SocialNow conferences. They had a good presentation on use cases like finding experts, peer assist for new employees and sharing news online instead of via email. I love the comment and track changes features on content, they have. Xwiki is responsive, workflow can relate to roles/rights and change based on the phase of the workflow.

BlueKiwi (owned by Atos): Atos is the no email company. They wondered how they could unclog the personal feed. They apply the GTD-methodology to social solutions by using labels. Bluekiwi events is connected to Outlook Calendar. You can also forward an email to Bluekiwi. Updates from other systems can be posted to the application using the api. They are also thinking about moving email to this platform.

HIGHQ: The core is a microblogging stream. You can add/track milestones and Todo’s. There’s support for meetings and projects. A neat feature is that they offers encryption on files so that an employee can’t share files outside of the project space. They can create newsletters automatically (summary of interactions). You can easily invite externals to rooms. HighQ has an app.

SAP Jam: In the presentation they focused on the process of social onboarding, New employees are supported to follow the right people and join the right groups. Their vision is not have social for the sake of social. Core of Jam is the microblogging stream. They also have polls, ranking, broadcasting via video functionality. Jam has an app. Profiles are filled with endorsements. Externals can be added to groups if needed. Unique is the fact they integrate with ERP, CRM and the masterdata of the organization.

Twoodo: The whole application is built around tags. Even priorities of tasks are (managed with) tags. They provide a Zen mode to focus solely on work and tasks. When you marks an update with the tag #question the application categorizes the update as a question and asks people to answer it. You can also send emails from Twoodo,. Every change/edit is logged.

IBM Connections: IBM is working on the integration of email with their internal social and collaboration platform Connections. Connections has an extensive features set. Core is the rich profile and microblogging functionality. Profiles are greyed out if someone doesn’t work for IBM anymore. In this way you still know he contributed and where that person can be found now. Connections integrates with unified communications and SharePoint. The files are managed by Sharepoint but are shown in Connections.

There are some things that really strike me when listening to and thinking about these vendor presentations. First of all, not very many vendors are good at presenting based on a concrete company case. Most of the presentations start with a short summary of what the company needs and then goes right into talking about all the features the vendor has. The one’s that do really relate to the needs of the company are loved by the audience, the one’s that don’t relate to the company are almost thrown out of the room… I think there’s a huge opportunity for vendors here.

Enterprise solutions vs startups
Secondly, there’s a big difference between presentations from enterprise solutions and start-ups. The start-ups have more visionary presentations and come up with new features, the enterprise vendors have what all the other enterprise vendors have. Most enterprises will go with the latter anyway. For that reason I’m surprised they don’t relate more to the issues (large) companies have, like security, outside-in collaboration, etc. Related to this: enterprise vendors are very vague about pricing, even though that question is asked to them every time. Why not provide a clear pricing outline? At least this leads to the fact that the audience will trust you a bit more.

Innovation on the edges
Finally, it is clear that innovation happens on the edges. All new ideas, concepts and features are presented by the new vendors. The enterprise vendors is all about completeness of the feature set and ‘me too’. With all the development power large vendors have, you would think it would be the other way around…

Asking the right questions
And final finally, SocialNow clearly helps the people who are looking for a new internal social platform or are looking for ways to solve real problems in their company to ask the right questions to vendors. It helps you drill through the marketing talk and really understand what they are about.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Is intranet personalization of no value?

Personalization of intranet homepages has been a big topic for years now. Recently some results from a survey were shared and analyzed by Andy Jankowski, I was most surprised by the data about personalization (and left a comment there). According to the research from the Worldwide Intranet Challenge personalization has a negative impact on the way employees value their intranet.

My intranet
I know there is research that says only 20% of the employees personalize their intranet when they can. But the above-mentioned conclusion is contrary to all my experiences. When we do intranet strategy and design work for companies, almost all ask for some form of personalization. This doesn't have to mean they will use it, I think. I think employees says this when they ask for personalization: the intranet is fundamentally mine, so I want to be able to tweak it in such a way that it fits my daily needs, not Communication's or IT's needs.

Levels of personalization
What kind of personalization are we talking about here? It’s nog clear from the survey results. Is the personalization we're talking about here comparable with iGoogle-type personalization?

In my experience there are 3 levels of personalization:

1. the system does it for you based on your profile, location, etc.
This is also called personification. In most organizations this has failed horribly. Employees hate when the systems decides for them. But there seems to be a subtle balance here: some automatic personalization is good, but too much is irritating. In any case: users want to understand why they automatically get to see certain content and functionality (to be able to correct the system if necessary). Currently work is being done on learning intranets. I think this is interesting, but employees will still want to understand how the learning algorithm (artificial intelligence) learns, concludes, infers, etc.

2. the homepage design is fixed but you can personalize the content of some of the widgets/boxes
So the elements on a homepage are predefined, but employees can select 4 out of 10 news categories, they can decide who to follow, they decide which updates from projects they want to see, etc.

3. the homepage is not fixed, every user can 'design' his/her own homepage, no two homepages look alike
This is usually a combination of 1 and 2 plus an iGoogle kind of interface. We have several customers with this type of intranet. About 80% personalize in the iGoogle way.

Personalization and design
Another thought: there are also design considerations here. The fact that some users don't value personalization can also have to do with the way they've experienced it. I've seen many horribly complex implementations of personalization with ditto design... In those cases I would want to personalize my intranet either.

Personalization and the web
And finally: why do we personalized so heavily on the Internet? The Internet and intranet are different things. But how we use the web teaches us that we love ‘pull’ and ‘personalization’. Just look at the way many build personalized feeds based on RSS, following, hashtags, etc. And also think about all the different apps we use. A quick peek at someone’s smartphone homescreen teaches us we personalize heavily. I’m sure this goes for internal as well if we give it to employees in the right way.

Share your experiences
I’m really curious what your experiences are with personalization. Whether you work with your company’s intranet or you develop intranet platforms for customers. Please leave a comment and will continue the discussion.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More succes. Less content. Real results @TPLDrew #congrescm

Last up at the Content Marketing and Webediting conference is Andrew Davis. His keynote was about less content with more success. I really enjoyed listening to this talk. Lots of examples that I can hardly share in a blogpost. I'll link to the presentation as soon as it's published somewhere.

Key messages from his talk were:
  • We should create content brands, not branded content. It must relate to a subscription. Build a relationship with your audience before they need you.
  • Content brands build relationships, relationships build trust and trust drives revenue.
  • How do you do that? Think like a tv executive.
He had 5 secrets to achieve this (of which I missed one... sorry, it's been a long day):
  1. get rich, focus on a niche
  2. think in fractals, explore your niches
  3. exploit content holes
  4. … missed this one (will look it up and update this later…)
  5. create a hook
That wraps up a great conference, although I'm biased because we organize this conference. Happy to say I spoke to many smart and interesting people that felt the same about today as I do.

Wat maakt content overtuigend en viraal? @mcoster #congrescm

Micha Coster is de derde keynote tijdens het congres contentmarketing en webredactie. Zijn verhaal gaat over overtuigende en virale content. Hierbij wat 'notes' van zijn verhaal.

We nemen ongeveer 600 beslissingen per dag.

Wat zijn de mechanismen onder de keuzes die mensen maken?
  • Witte jas (autoriteit): als iemand in een witte jas wat zegt, dan nemen we dat serieuzer
  • Meer=belangrijker: als meer mensen het doen, dan doen we het sneller
  • Sympathie: mensen zeggen ‘ja’ tegen personen die ze kennen en aardig of sympathiek vinden
Deze punten kun je ook toepassen op content. Denk aan: review sites, sites om vakanties te boeken (met review en doelgroepencategorie├źn), wat experts over producten zeggen en ‘x anderen kochten ook’.

Tenslotte gaat hij nog in op de vraag wat content viraal maakt? Daar is onderzoek naar gedaan. Virale content ont
  • Maakt gebruik van 'word-of-mouth' (want het is overtuigender en gerichter)
  • Vertelt een verhaal
  • Speelt in op emotie
  • Heeft een trigger

Give your cross-media approach wings @nozurbina #congrescm

Second keynote at the Content Marketing and Webediting conference is by Noz Urbina about going omnichannel. Here are my notes of his talk.

Do you know the difference between multi- and omni-channel? Noz will answer this question during his talk.
Overt selling has given way to problem solving. Sweeping statements have given way to conversation-like message. (Rose)
Good example of omni-content: cards Google is showing based on searches. E.g. showing the opening times of a supermarket when you Google for it, instead of showing you a link to the site of the supermarket.
There are more and more channels and there's more and more need for personalization of content.
We’re realizing content is the strategic business asset, not the deliverable that wrap it. Content is vital across channels.

We must:
  1. fix the content (make it media-agnostic; make is reusable, well-modelled; apply semantic metadata; apply audience, applicability and context metadata to decide where and when to route it)
  2. assemble and serve more intelligently (manage systems that understand the content; etc)
Ad 1. Distinguish between Content, Models, Users, Scenario's and Outputs This links the world of UX to the world of content. The content model is the backbone of adaptive, cross-media, omnichannel content strategies.
Ad 2. It's not about the cms anymore. We need to think in layers: Create (authoring tool(s)), Manage (CCMS), Serve and transform (processors/api's), Publish and measure (WCMS). Then you can serve to everyone, channels, specific people. Also can relate to CRM's and translation management systems.

Omnichannel is when you take your content/assets and maps them to the phases of your relationships. This is not the same as multi-channel. Google understand this and tracks it with Google Universal Analytics.

In summary:
  • Who are you really talking to?
  • What content, format, model?
  • When should you personalize?
  • Where: device, channel, layout?
  • Why, updated valued-prop?
  • How will you create, govern, publish and measure?

Content strategy with slow content @mbloomstein #congrescm

I’m sharing some of my notes from the Content Marketing and Webediting conference I’m attending today. First up is Margot Bloomstein about content strategy using slow content for long-term change.
How to give people the right content in the right context?

Margot’s definition of content strategy is: planning of the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, brand-appropriate content.

Margot’s talk is structured around the following ways to slow down your users with content:

1. Editorial style and structure
Points to tracking personal data. Lots of uptick around phone and apps to share and capture personal data (Fitbit and the like), but they don’t happen to good at long-term change. On the other hand 10Q is a good example of using content for long-term change.
Content affects experience… and the user’s perception it.
Frustrating activities feel slow, but if the activity make happy it does not feel slow.
2. Discover and comparison-style content type
Think the pathway through IKEA. Why do they do this? For instance to drive exploration.
And think about how Disneyland attractions create experience before, during and after you visit it. Content affects experience… and the user’s perception it.
Frustrating activities feel slow, but if the activity make happy it does not feel slow.
3. Long form content
Margot gives several examples from brands like Patagonia about how to use long and short content, fast and slow content.

Respect users when the pay attention to your brand. Be here now.

You can find Margot's slides here:

Friday, November 14, 2014

The importance of Why for intranets #intranatverk

I’m on my way back from my visit to Stockholm. I was honored to speak at one of Kristian Norling’s Intranatverk conferences. I’ll share my insights from the conference in another post and start with sharing my slides and the story around the slides with you. Please find my slides here:

My talk was about the importance of Why for intranets and digital workplaces. The reason to talk about this topic is my surprise about how often organizations don’t answer the why question and just focus on the what, when and where of intranets. (Research on Swedish and Finnish intranets underlined this. I’ll share more about this in a following post.) I think this is problematic and leads to intranets and digital workplaces that don’t have (enough) value.

Endless debates
When we talk about ‘why’ we could easily get into endless philosophical, demographical or cultural discussions. About why we don’t ask why? Or why kids asks why more often than adults? And why some cultures ask why more often? I didn’t want to go there in my talk. Although I do find this an interesting topic...

Why is there fire?
But, to be true, my kids (I have three boys) do inspire me to talk about ‘why’. As you know kids ask ‘why’ all the time. Over time, when we grow up, we seem to lose that. I love how kids question everything. Sometimes the why question is easy to answer: why are you dressed that way? Or, as they asked me recently while building a fire: dad, why is there fire? In any case the why questions makes us step back and think. It helps us find what is essential and necessary.

Better intranets
This goes for intranets and digital workplaces as well. In my experience asking why more often leads to intranets that are more:
  • ambitious
  • realistic
  • valuable
  • useful
Two issues with Why
What I see around the why question for intranets is 2 things:
  1. it’s not asked at all, it’s all about how, where and when
  2. it’s answered by a too small group
In my presentation I wanted to look at these two observations and unpack them. First of all: What is a good why or intranet goal and what does a good why look like? Secondly, I’d like to discuss the question how do you get to a good why?

Bad examples
Let’s look at the first one first. I’ve seen organizations formulate the goal of the intranet in the following way: The intranet should have news, profiles, project spaces and blogs. Is this a good why? I’m hoping when you read and think about this, you ask: but why? Why news, why profiles? What is the underlying reason to work on this? To me this goal or this answer to the why question is not good. It’s focused on how not why. It’s focused on functionality or strategy instead of goals. (By the way: to me goal and strategy are different things. A strategy is a way to achieve a goal. Don’t mix them up!)
Sometimes why is answered in a better way. Organizations say: the intranet should improve or centralize communication. Or: it should improve knowledge sharing.

This is indeed better than the previous one. But again, the question should be ‘why?’. Why should communication or knowledge sharing be improved? What’s the problem? And how does this relate to employees’ daily work and the goal of the organization? How are we going to show the intranet helped improve communication or knowledge sharing?

A good intranet goal
To me a good answer to the why question or a good intranet goal consists of the following:
  • it’s specific, measurable
  • it’s inspirational
  • it’s about short- and long-term
  • it’s related to business goals and the employee’s daily work
So the goal helps you define the value of the intranet and you can communicate that to employees and decision makers. It’s helps you improve the intranet. It’s helps you distinguish between what the intranet should do now and later. And it’s help you do business in a better way. More products developed, more new product ideas, better service, more sales, etc.

How to get to Why?
So, first I wanted to address what a good why or goal is. Now let’s think about how to define a good intranet goal. How do you do that? I often see the why question answered in a small, isolated group. E.g. in the Communications department. They are working hard amongst themselves to define the reason why a new or updated intranet is needed. In the best case IT and HR join the discussion. This usually leads to too ambitious goals or goals that are not grounded in the daily business of the organization.

Broad participation
My experience is that the why question should be answered by a broad group of people in the organization. Most importantly by the people in the primary business departments. Get them together, talk with them one-on-one and in workshops, understand how they do their work, which tools they use, work with them and create the answer to the why question with them. It’s not easy, but in doing so you get an intranet goal that:
  • really answers the why question
  • has a broad acceptance in the organization
  • creates enthusiastic amongst employees about the (future) intranet
In short
So to wrap up this blogpost. I hope it inspires you to:
  • Ask Why more often in intranet projects
  • Distinguish between why and how, between goals and strategy
  • Define goals together
  • Make sure the goal is measurable, inspirational, focused on now and then and relevant to the business
So, give me an example of a good intranet goal, you ask? Good question! You tell me. I hope you're able to formulate one. Share it as a comment to this post. :-)