Workshop on Enterprise Social Software

Just came back from a nice workshop on Enterprise Social Software. It was organized by the Telematica Institute and held at IBM in Amsterdam. The Telematica Instituut organized this workshop in the context of one of their project, the Future Workspaces (FWS) project.
The group of participants was really nice. It always wonderful to be together with people from the knowledge management (or, in this case, more specifically, the Enterprise2.0 community) and openly talk to and share with each other. These people love to tell all!

About FWS project
We started with a short presentation about the FWS project by Robert Slagter. More information can be found here.

Showcase Enterprise Social software IBM
Then Erik Krischan of IBM gave an overview of what IBM is doing internally with social media. If you follow Luis Suarez, e.g., you already know they’re doing A LOT in this area. It was nice to get an overview of this from Erik. Here’s my notes:
He wanted to give a brief introduction and flavor of what we are doing in E2.0 at IBM.
Erik starts by showing their intranet (- he opened it in Firefox by the way!).
Primarily they are using e2.0 for corporate integration. They use it primarily to become a globally integrated company. Their intranet is focused on this goal. It’s intended as the extension of your workoffice, your electronic workplace. The intranet landing page shows your communications on the left hand side. If their Sales reps would go to the intranet it would show a portlet to the CRM system.
They integrated ‘2.0’ as much as possible in their daily work.
IBM Bluepages is their Facebook. Whoiswho plus ‘recommended social path’, tabs with additional information about experience, etc., search on profile (not only people you already know). It allows you to connect to people you never knew via personal contacts.
News items are published with video and links to experts on the topic. Also a relation to communities (of practice) is given, if they exist.
Articles can be rated. They RSS-ify the content and provide a feedreader (called 'Spectacular!').
Erik goes on to show IBM Whisper: it is an automatically generated list of people you know and/or subjects you are interested in. It comes up with suggestions for documents etc that you might find interesting.
He shows tagging in their intranet. Search gives regular search results and, separately shows tagged pages. Also provides separate list of blogs, wiki’s and communities. It also gives a list of experts on the topic and shows the social network to connect to them (this network is used to build trust, Erik says). Also searches in (internal and external) webpages that IBM people bookmarked with their internal ‘delicious’, Dogear. You can look up the people that also tagged the page. It also generates a folksonomy. Tagging is also linked to communities.
Erik shows Social Network Analysis tool they have. They track email communication. Employees can choose to opt in or not. Type in a word you want to see the network for. The tools comes up with a diagram and/or map with connections between people on it.

E2.0 has changed their way of working and their culture. Changed the way people look for information. From ‘ask Manager and direct colleagues’ to ‘ask Manager and search the intranet’.
E2.0 was adopted via their Technology Adoption Program. Connect, Innovate, Discover. This program facilitates innovation. There’s a program/workflow behind it to get funding etc. Via this program they experiment with web 2.0.
They also just started Twittering internally.
A very important reason why all this works at IBM has to do with the buy in of their previous CEO, who used these kind of initiatives to turn IBM into an integrated company.

Another company also presented their E2.0 initiatives, but I’m not allowed to blog on it.

Introduction Knowledge Café
Mireille Jansma of ING introduced those that were new to ‘Knowledge Café’ (KC) to the concept.

In a KC a group of people talk together about a subject of mutual interest. The goal is to talk, not to define an action plan, etc.
Based on the input of ‘things to discuss’, she clustered the topics into 3 categories:
  1. governance and security
  2. organization
  3. selection and integration/architecture
One of these can be used for the actual KC.

Knowledge Café
The possible topics to talk about have been mentioned above. In our group we mostly talked about topic 1, Governance and Security. I’ll share with you what was said about this topic.
You cannot conduct enterprise social media initiatives only from bottom-up. You need top-down, corporate support. Make sure you get support at departmental level at least.
Employees (people in general) love to share knowledge. They do that ‘at will’. But you need management to the knowledge sharing contribute to corporate goals.
One participant tells how they introduced wiki’s in their organization. First, there was huge resistance, because a wiki was not standard IT technology and due to IP issues. Slowly is was accepted. The explicitness of the information on the wiki as acknowledged and not it is accepted by management. The contribution to the wiki is mostly done by some agents from one location though.
One company shared the idea to give departmental presentations about enterprise 2.0 to raise awareness.
When applying social media tools it should have a mix of features (needed functionality), organizational relevance and fun.
How to start using a social media tool?
  1. start with an agent/moderator that has a concern and understands the potential of the tool. He will give it a spin.
  2. When things are up and running, look for improvement of and integration in processes (e.g. publish minutes on wiki’s)
  3. Grow participation.
How do you grow participation? Some experiences on this topic were shared.
  1. besides functional need, also address other things, such as fun
  2. recognition by employees, management
  3. find people with a shared concern
  4. offer interesting, unique content
A related, but different list was also mentioned. What are reasons for users to participate in wiki’s, blog, etc?
  1. because they are practice-related
  2. because they are social-related
  3. because of involvement in formal organization.
Should the manager be in the community? It depends on the manager…
The adoption of these kind of tools should be compared to the adoption of email. (Anyone have nice article on the adoption of email, by the way?)

Someone mentioned an interesting distinction: hedonic and utilitarian information systems. The first is about games. The second is your corporate collaboration tool. It seems these two distinct worlds are mixing.

‘Scale’ was an issue that was mentioned. Talking to a small group is easier than talking to a large, undefined one. Therefore it was advised to start with a small group, when rolling out these kind of tools.

There seems to be a fundamental mismatch between hierarchy and social media, someone mentioned. Another said, the real problem is when personal power differences are applied.

Measurement of the effectiveness of enterprise social media should not be done in the traditional way (ROI, etc). Measure number of search, the number of people using the tool, etc. And ask how the manager has fostered collaboration.

We might set up a community to help each other adopt e2.0 in the companies we work for.

I want to thank all the participants. I had an inspiring time and hope to meet you soon somewhere!

By the way, I'll add blog posts about this workshop when they pop up. Tom Verhoeve twittered about the workshop.

UPDATE 20-9-2008: As promised I would add other blog posts on this workshop as soon as they popped up. Here's Ton Zijlstra's take of the workshop.


  1. Hi Samuel,

    Wonderful to read your post about our knowledge cafe! And so soon after the event! You have captured it really well, I think. The ideas, the atmosphere... As to me, I tremendously enjoyed myself today. All these people with this mutual interest (passion, endeavour) talking and comparing notes and making new friends along the way. Asked for an evaluation, one of the attendants said that she thought the meeting had been too short. I felt this too, rather acutely, for I was the moron breaking up the interaction in order to stick at least a little bit to our vaguely defined timeschedule.

    So I've learmed a lot today. Don't just push the chairs aside (you know, those chairs which traditionally face the stage where ons person lectures), but push time aside and let things roll until someone else starts making noise!

    This was the first time I really moderated a real knowedge cafe. It was through the work of David Gurteen (whom I discovered by searching on 'knowledge management' by the way) that I got to know the concept. On our Future Workingspaces wiki ( I have linked to a presentation and some of his movies, but in case you didn't follow those links or if you want to see his site directly, go here:

    I only got into Twitter last week; this afternoon I started to 'follow' you; getting home I was alerted to your post about our knowledge cafe. Social media are like a high pressure cooker in a way, aren't they?

    Like you I want to thank everyone for being there and for the wonderful time we had together.

  2. And oops, I didn't mean that groups had to pick one theme out of three. I just clustered the ideas written in our public wiki into themes. I thought it would help. But I didn't want to limit the discussions.

  3. Thanks Mireille for your comments. To start with the last one: I thought is was a good idea to cluster the topics a bit. It worked fine for our group and it did not limit our discussion at all.
    Yes, it was short, but that also keeps things going. The result is we plan to meet again. That will be nice: more to tell and more to share!
    I've never been in a KC, but I did know the concept. It was nice to be in one!

  4. I agree with Samuel: it worked fine. Mireille organized it well and explained the concept very clearly, everybody was fired up to share their opinions and stories. Learned a lot and the next KC will certainly be different from this one. I liked it so much: very inspiring to hear people talk on what's going on, and not afraid to share opinions and experiences on subjects related to the use of Social Media.

  5. Anyone who manages a project should use project management software. It’s highly effective and customizable. Organization is the key and without it, your project is sunk from the beginning. Should you have a chance to use project management software, you will notice first and foremost how many tools there are that are geared toward your business.

  6. Hi PMS, Thanks for your comment. The question of course is: what is PMS? Is it MS Project or is Excel good enough? I know people successfully managing projects with a wiki.

  7. A project is a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end (usually constrained by date, but can be by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, usually to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent functional work to produce products or services.

  8. Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. It is sometimes conflated with program management, however technically a program is actually a higher level construct: a group of related and somehow interdependent projects.


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