Category Archives: Management

Social Business for 2012…Stand & Deliver

I apologize for not blogging for a while, I have been going through some professional challenges, and I am happy to say those challenges have passed, and I am ready to resume my ramblings and writings about things social….

In 2011, there was a lot of news coverage on the impact Social Media had regarding world events (Arab spring) and assorted other events in finance, media, etc.  With regard to Enterprise Social Networks, the big stories were the Social IPOs of LinkedIn, Jive Software, and many others.   While the market performance of these companies is still unfolding, and the feasibility of the long term sustainability is unknown, what is clear is the need for the vendors and partners of these Social Software companies…. that 2012 will be the year where the narrative moves from promises to executions regarding the business advantages Enterprise Social Software can provide. 

The public acceptance of Social Media is undeniable, yet within the enterprise there are still significant barriers to acceptance and proper adoption for the business benefits to be quantified.  Political and financial obstacles provide the greatest challenges, and without the proper change management program, employees can feel Enterprise Social Software is simply another tool; another layer of complexity delivered by an out-of-touch IT department. 

@Greg2dot0 published his 5 predictions for Social, and there are 2 that caught my attention:

(1) ROI of Social tied directly to process metrics.

Within my own enterprise social journey, I created the change management program around linking the usage of Social Software to hard numbers such as cost savings from on-boarding, reduction in attrition of employees, revenue from sales cycle velocity, etc. 

(2) Stop focusing on adoption and focus on solutions

As @Greg2dot0 points out, adoption is a phase, not a method, and I agree.  Executives investing in Enterprise Social Software want to know there are benefits for this investment.  They hear about the cultural changes, this new way of working, and the other benefits of Enterprise Social Software, but now the time must be to demonstrate real value, business value which can be measured and validated.

As IT departments are dealing with reducing budgets, consumerization of IT, and the loss of key talents to other companies, and they are struggling more than ever to deliver business value.  So it makes sense for IT to be more metrics and business focused when partnering to install Enterprise Social Software solutions. 

Cloud computing can offer the agile computing model necessary for IT to keep pace with business, but there is typically so much legacy IT within companies, the Cloud hybrid model is usually discussed for moving forward.  It is this legacy IT that also brings the opportunity regarding Enterprise Social Software.   Of course the cloud does not provide low-cost models, but the subscription model does provide opportunity for the beginnings of the change management programs needed to bring a socialized work enviornment to the company. 

While the employee has their day-in-the-life processes, which may be inefficient, challenging, or downright painful, a good Enterprise Social Software, architected along the transformation of business processes, can alleviate some of the employee’s pain , while churning some cultural transformation activities.  The decision can be made to cut ties with some of the legacy systems and leap forward using the newer Social applications.  It is key here to storyboard for employees, a clear, easy-to-understand model of how their work processes will improve, and how that translates into business value; either top or bottom lines.

So while 2012 brings new hope that Enterprise Social Software will become an integral part of the IT portfolio, and act as the basis for changing how we work, how the corporate DNA is shaped, and how business can be transformed, it is time for Enterprise Social Software, and those who champion its cause to STAND AND DELIVER….

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Thank You Steve Jobs

I have never purchased an Apple product, not for any reason other than I liked Microsoft computers, and by the time I wanted a MP3 player, smartphones had evolved with that capacity.  My parents bought my brother an Apple II back in the day, and he continues to use Apple products with great regard, so perhaps I need to reexamine my next computer purchase?

For me I see Steve Jobs and Apple in two distinct timelines.  Before Apple and to some extent Steve Jobs, held this esteem of a cool, hip, groundbreaking, culturally changing company, they both had demons to exercise.  Lets recall, Apple was in such a bad shape, it had to accept funding from the “evil empire”, Microsoft.  In 1985 Steve was forced from the company he founded, with many analysts writing him off, yet Apple did prosper without him, growing from $850 million to over $8 Billion in revenue.

When Steve’s company NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1996, this provided Steve a way back into Apple to work on his vision, with new respect from his Pixar dealings.  The first and in my opinion the most pivotal product release for Apple, and Steve was the iPod and subsequent iTunes music store, which was really the first “Application” store created.  The iPod introduced the general public\consumers to technology that was cool and easy to use.  Steve designed the iPod to be “human-focused” while many MP3 players before were “technology-focused”, and soon white headphones were appearing everywhere.

Of course the next release was the one that changed our world….the iPhone.  I recall seeing this in 2007, and thought immediately that this just changed everything.  In fact, I told representatives from RIM in the early 2008, if RIM did not have embrace this new touchscreen technology completely, they would be marginalized.  When the RIM guys in the room laughed and told me the phone was cool, but would never be accepted by business, I knew then and there RIM would be replaced in the enterprise in 5 years.

So while I am not an Apple customer, clearly the impact of Steve Jobs has and hopefully will continue to impact technology, observed by the copy-cat products that have since emerged form the iPhone launch.  Apple, under Steve Jobs perceptionally invented the Smartphone market, and created an entire genre of Mobile Devices that have fundamentally transformed how we do business, how we live, and how we relate to each other.

Steve Jobs did something very magical.  His executed vision was far more than cool technology, it actually created a new cultural paradigm, and in my opinion, without Steve Jobs and Apple, all the benefits of Social Business, Social Enterprise, Social Networking would just relegated to be just another web site.

So thank you Steve for being brave, for being daring, and for being honest with yourself and most importantly with all of us.

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Filed under Information Technology, Management, Personal, Social Business

Why are some companies better to work for?

Recently there was an article about the top 100 places to work from CNN-Money.  I started wondering why is one company better to work at than another?  I do not think it is a matter of salary alone.  I think there are some other reasons maybe for example, being able to have flexible work hours, having a sense that the company relies on my knowledge, maybe provides day care or so other type of service.  I try to think what would I like to see in a company that could tag them as a great place to work?

Not every company is built perfectly as written in academic books and postings, but there should be some basic tenets of what makes a company attractive.  I think if a company is perceived as great to work for, you actually pay your employees less, due to the accompanying benefits than another company who has to overpay for employees.  When you overpay however, you are then attracting employees who are in it for only the financial compensation.  This may or may not be bad, but could lead to more turnover, especially in leadership levels, where stability is part of the attractiveness for employees.

I wonder what is the cost to a company to be in the top 100?  Is there additional costs to make the environment more attractive ?

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Information Technology Outsourcing

So here I am thinking, why do I need to blog?  How many bloggers there are with thousands of followers, what am I going to offer that would attract any sane person to read what I am typing?  So I thought about it, and I have concluded that I have opinions and thoughts that perhaps others think about, but for some reason are hesitant to make public.  So lets start with something I am very passionate about:

Information Technology OUTSOURCING

So we have in the past 10 years seen more and more companies making the “strategic” decision to outsource almost all the Information Technology department within the company.  I put the word Strategic in quotes because I think it is not a strategic decision, but more of a tactical one, predicated on some false belief that the processes your IT departments consume and create have no bearing to impacting top-line revenue.   So think about that.. NO BEARING on top-line revenue.  IT is just a cost center, consuming resources, only an input without actually producing outputs.

So what is wrong with wringing out the lowest cost model towards IT?  Nothing, if you have the expectation that your IT departments are NOT strategic in function, nor is it mean to drive top-line revenue.   This has been common again has I said over the past 10 years, as more and more companies declare IT is NOT a core-competency and will not deliver enhancements to the business.

I state that this is not what IT is meant to provide.  IT is not meant for only support function as a whole.  Now you can have segments of IT, such as Data Center, Call Centers, Application Support which could make sense to outsource.  The Data Center function is more akin to racking servers, installing operating systems of which is clearly a function of a “utility”.  Call Centers or Help Desk support can easily be outsourced due to the fact, that they route calls, or simply take a Level 1 ticket and route the call to the appropriate higher level support teams.

So what is NOT a candidate for IT Outsourcing today?  I think Level 2 and Level 3 technical support, Architects: both Application and Infrastructure Architects, including Network Architecture.  The network is the core, the backbone if you will of the business applications.  For far too long, networks were thought of as a “IT” tool or capability, and not as a core business enabler.  Today, the network is really a company asset, needing to deliver world-class services ,both for business applications and collaborative efforts.

Now lets look at IT management, in terms of compensation.  How are IT leaders compensated?  Salary+Bonus are the typical methods.  Are the bonuses predicated on cost-savings, or IT providing top-line enablement?  I venture to state most IT leadership are bonuses on cost savings, which drives behaviors to push IT to the lowest cost model.  Now wasting money is not endorsed by me or any reasonable person, but there is a concept called “Investment” that business need to make in terms of IT departments, so IT can really drive capabilities in terms of providing architectures and solutions to the business. 

So what happens today in this outsourcing model is that the lines of business hires its own technologists to further their own technology-agendas. This can be counter-productive to the overall company. This has led to the rogue IT teams being formed, leveraging their autonomy to install new platforms and applications, but at a localized levels. Then the business “dumps” those applications to the Enterprise IT teams to support, without involving Enterprise IT from the beginning. This lack of respect comes for the continued perceptions that Enterprise IT is only a support function. If the Enterprise IT has been diminished due to outsourcing, they cannot provide the guidance and strategy to the business, thus the cycle continues.

So perhaps the answer lies in splitting IT into multiple towers? One tower called infrastructure, that is the support function, Data Center, Call Centers, etc be outsourced. Then another tower of Enterprise Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture, Governance, Processes, etc.

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