Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 6)

“Wikis and social software: why your Intranet should be more like the Internet” (by Nikos Drakos from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

The workplace needs to work like a machine but also adapt like the marketplace.

Where what needs to be done cannot be predescribed, modeled, or even understood… make room for the old to adapt and the new to emerge. Email is the biggest evidence for this. It supports informal interactions and fills in the gaps the collaboration tools don’t fill.

Key issues:
  1. what can we learn from the use of social software on the public internet?
  2. how are blogs, wikis, social tagging, expertise location, and other social software being used to create business value?
  3. What products and vendors are most suitable for enterprise social software deployments?
  4. What are the best practices in avoiding risks and extracting value from enterprise social networks?
Web 101: from computer networks to social networks. Started with the Internet, then went to the Web, Content publishing and People (readwrite web). Broadcasting to connected peers to group formation. The network value increased.

There is value in social interactions:
- social bookmarks combine individual bookmarks making it possible to identify common interests that drives recommendations or relevancy
- social tagging (folksonomies) let users add metadata or labels to create more useful and natural classification schemes
- content rating and reputation management let participants rate other participants or content- likes/dislikes (taste sharing) aggregate opinions that can also drive recommendations, relevancy, quality
- prediction markets reward individuals who bet correctly on future outcomes, which helps to predict them. E.g. consensuspoint, longbets (Didn’t know these sites before…)
- conversational interactions using blogs and wikis, encourage contribution, unplanned contact, feedback and continuous refinement

A glimpse into the architecture of open collaboration (using Wikipedia, last.fm and del.icio.us as example):
  1. unique address
  2. change in context
  3. discuss in context
  4. memory and reputation
  5. shared categories
  6. emergent structure
  7. attention-based relevancy
  8. quality feedback
  9. group formation
  10. monitoring
Enterprise social software: human-centric information processing:
- co-creation
- co-filtering
Creating chaotic production and self-organisation and group formation.

Enterprise
social software provide an open and freeform environ where group formation and information production is the result of the cumulative effects of informal interactions between networked participants.

Social software fills the gap between the inflexible and the chaotic. Shows an interesting sheets comparing different environments from different levels (create, organize, find and interact):
  1. engineered: inflexible structure
  2. open and freeform: adaptive structure
  3. personal: chaotic structure

The technologies of social software can be split into the following categories:
- create
- organize
- find
- interact

The interesting thing is that Drakos shows that even these categories do not have clear boundaries. Creation tools, such as documents, morph to blog posts and wikipages. Wikipages shift to interaction technologies. Etc.

A Gartner 2006 Survey on level of technology adoption says: there is a gap between user demand and IT support. In social software there is a much larger part of ‘unofficial use’ in these technologies than in ‘older’ technologies, such as your email client.

Drakos gives an overview of small and large social software vendors. (At the end of September 2007 Gartner will publish its magic quadrant on social software). This overview was kind of disappointing. I was hoping for a couple of social software suite examples that companies already use. The examples Drakos gave were not surprising. In any sense, the social market is clearly exploding.

What are the social software best-practices?
- knowledge reuse
- visible work in progress
- employee engagement
- real profiles, reputation and trust
- unplanned collaboration

Basically it about "surfacing the informal" and “people are at the center”.

Besides the good things of social software there are risks:
- loss of control over people and information >> give guidelines and policies on acceptable use of resources; respect of confidentiality
- compromised quality, loudest voice wins, negativity, and personal attacks >>
discourage/disallow anonymity, use ‘social accounting’ for trust and reputation, intervention more necessary in early stages
- redundancy and inconsistencies >> accept some ‘messiness’ in organizing information that would not be organized in any other way.
- ‘employee monitoring’ fears >> education and user control over what information about them is available to others

Support for social interactions will release and amplify hidden creativity as well as pent up frustration.

Adopt incrementally and scale through viral growth:

  1. open and easy to use
  2. expose connections
  3. bridge to email (contribute and respond via email, RSS/Atom, incremental formalization)
  4. people first
  5. provide initial structure (provide purpose and objectives, but keep it flexible, avoid ‘big bang’ deployments)
  6. lead by example (do it, mandate judiciously, reward with attention)

Recommendations:

  1. experiment with social software
  2. rethink policies of ‘restricted access by default’ - especially for jobs that depend on exploration, innovation, creativity and discovery
  3. use good governance to stamp out problems from open information access, less editorial control, misuse
  4. expect more products from mainstream vendors but note that niche vendors will stay ahead.

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