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Created Clearspace-branded condoms

True. Amid a lot of controversy at Jive, I created thousands of Clearspace-branded condoms to distribute at San Francisco's Love Parade. In fact, we still have a box of them. I thought it would be a good way to promote a good cause and reach a very techy crowd when they didn't expect it. Although it did get the positive attention of a few customers and some Flickr love, in retrospect, I should have chosen a risk that could have paid off more directly. That said, it's been the joke that keeps on giving. Want one? Ping me: sam@jivesoftware.com.

 

 

Fought for a Frankensuite

I argued with Matt and Bill about building Clearspace from the ground up. I wanted to sew together best-of-breed products. They kept telling me that while if we cobbled something together we'd get to market faster, that we'd just end up with a bad product and more work long term. I thought no one would know the difference. Now I make fun of other Frankensuites.

 

 

Thought no one would use the blogs in Clearspace 

I argued with Aaron Johnson, the killer engineer behind the blogging part of Clearspace (among other things) that no one would blog inside a company. I even made fun of his " meaningful URLs". As you can see from this screenshot from Jive's internal deployment of Clearspace, I sorta ate my words. Turns out 35% of our company blogs and there's an average of 4 comments per blog. I imagine it could be even higher once all our new hires settle in.

 

 

Decided to relaunch an entire website in 2 weeks

That's right. A couple of weeks before we launched Clearspace, my small "mini-wesbite" project ended up taking over the entire website. Ten of us worked around the clock for 2 weeks straight and overhauled absolutely everything. It was burnout central. Ironically, we're in-process of overhauling everything again right now but this time we've taken 4 months to do it right.

 

 

Didn't hire fast enough

Once we released Clearspace and we were (surprisingly) flooded with interest, I couldn't seem to let go of all the work that needed to be done long enough to focus on hiring. Of course, it could have also been my post about the sort of Marketing people I would never hire.

Big 2.0 shakeouts

  • Whether or not a "S&L part deux" recession occurs, Web 2.0 startups will be forced to become responsible. That means they'll need to focus on profitability or close shop. More of them will address industry verticals to help gain traction. 

"Social Productivity" stampede begins: Utility and social applications converge

  • Google is the most visible company who could connect the dots to unify utility with social applications. Rumor is they'll do this under the umbrella of " Google Sites" which is meant to:

allow business to set up intranets, project management tracking, customer extranets, and any number of custom sites based on multi-user collaboration.

This will be fantastic for the 2.0 market overall by providing a clear, disruptive "sum of its parts" vision for companies. It will also clear space for other collaboration-centric companies focused on enterprise 2.0 to compete.

 

Look at what Google has staked so far:

 

Utility

Social

Docs, spreadsheets, presentations

OpenSocial (unifies information across social networks)

Calendaring

Orkut (Social Network)

Email

Sites (Intranet/Extranet Product)<--All Google's pieces organized by this

Instant messaging

VOIP and call management (Grand Central)

Mobile platform (Android)

Knol (wikipedia competitor)

Gears (offline mode)

 

Attention! (Next year's buzz.)

  • While this year buzz was Social Networking next year should be "Attention Streaming." Given how many social applications and connections we have, it will be important to easily keep track of activity, content, and people (signal vs noise). This will be particularly in demand for companies embracing Enterprise 2.0. There are a couple of approaches to this. "Groupthink," which is a top-down approach where attention focus is determined by activity of the masses. "User Activity" is a bottoms-up approach to taming the data firehose. Right now it seems these are addressed as one route or the other and no one has combined both. There's already some interesting standards and traction beginning.

 

IT big guys buy some 2.0 souvenirs

  • Though for the most part it will be more wait-and-see from the Big Guys, my bet is there will be at least one minor acquisition, potentially one of the many me-too Office-style applications or maybe an enterprise wiki.

 

Content management will specialize

  • Content continues to change and so does the role of Content Management Systems. As more content lives outside those systems and inside social productivity applications, I imagine that the way we'll need to control content will change, too. CMS will hone in on the types of content that makes sense in this paradigm, some will zero-in on heavy file-centric, structured industries. It will be interesting to see how this part of the market evolves.

 

Media properties will begin to focus on Enterprise 2.0 software

  • Given the above predictions, media folks will take advantage of all the interest around Enterprise 2.0 and begin to dedicate some brand new media properties to it. For now, Web 2.0 (consumer) and Enterprise 2.0 (business) have been mashed together and covered in the same industry rags like Techcrunch, Read/Write Web and GigaOM. My sense is that there's now enough independent gravity between Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 to justify targeted readership, editorial and (yes) advertising dollars.

 

Clearspace 1.x: A Look Back

Posted by greg2 Dec 27, 2007

With 2007 coming to a close, I'm in a reflective mood and wanted to share some of my favorite changes to Clearspace and Clearspace X from the past year.

 

The change to the way discussion threads are presented is at the top of my list. Check out the difference between the way threads look in Clearspace 1.1.1 versus 1.10. In this screen shot you see the older style on the left and the newer style on the right. The newer style is threaded, and the treatment of the individual messages makes it easier to quickly understand the structure of the conversation.

 

 

A more profound change is the customizable Space Overview tab in Clearspace 1.6. By rebuilding the Overview tab with drag-and-drop widgets it became much easier to provide just the right information to visitors in a space. A long list of widgets is available, including some for pulling content in from other systems. Widgets have also been used in several customizations to add new functionality or integrate with other systems.

 

 

The "What's New" feed on the home page evolved as well. It started out as a feed of all the activity in the system, but this can be overwhelming in large, active communities. Now "What's New" can be personalized to create our own view of the activity in Clearspace. This change makes it easier to focus on your areas of interest. By clicking on "Your View" you can select only the Spaces from which you want to see new and updated content. This change can decrease the noise in "What's New" so that you can focus on what is most important to you.

 

 

Do you have a favorite change to Clearspace from the past year?

Jive Dog and Pony

Posted by sam_lawrence Dec 24, 2007

In case you haven't checked out BNETa business-centric CNET brand focused on helping managers succeedit's worth taking a look. One of their video programs is called " Dog and Pony," which is a daily interview with folks who share compelling ideas.

 

They invited Jive to participate a few months ago and have just published the interview. They don't provide embed code so you'll have to go directly to the video if you want to watch it.

 

Last week in part 2 of the Extended Enterprise series, I blogged about the value that external communities offer to the internal business community. Now, I'd like to share some strategy for how to grow the kind of community that delivers on that value. In our sister market, CRM, the post  on SearchCIO.com had this to say: "Last June Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. reported that less than 50% of the 94 business and IT executives it surveyed were fully satisfied with their CRM deployments. When Forrester asked those executives to list their best practices for improving their CRM implementation, 66% said promoting user adoption was a top priority." The user adoption challenge for CRM is similar to the user adoption challenge when implementing social productivity software in the enterprise. If you want a community (internal or external) where social productivity can be optimized, you need to put quite a bit of thought into how the community will be structured. In addition to productivity concerns, this initial structure can also impact the adoption of your new community. The challenges include how much or how little structure should be provided and then what kind of promotion/coaching/training should follow the initial implementation. The amount of structure falls into three main categories: emergent, highly structured, and adaptive.

 

Emergent

An emergent approach presents the community members with a blank slate with no defined sub-communities, topics, or other structure. As the topics of conversation evolve into common threads, gradually a structure is put in place.  For example, if there are many discussions about best practices, then maybe it makes sense to add a best practices area within the community.

 

Using an emergent structure when building a community has a number of advantages. It is easy to implement, since less up-front planning is required to define the structure. You get great user buy-in when the users are helping to define the structure.  The end result may include a fantastic structure that you never would have thought of as way to organize your community.

 

There are also a few disadvantages associated with the emergent approach. The biggest disadvantage is that many users will be faced with writers block. It can be much easier to contribute to a community when faced with some general topics, instead of a blank slate.  Another issue is that contributors can get sidetracked more easily. If the first few posts are way off topic, the rest may continue in that thread making it difficult to achieve the objectives that the enterprise is trying to accomplish. It can also be difficult to establish structure after people have started contributing, since many discussion threads, documents or other content will need to be moved into the new structure.

 

I think that the emergent approach would work best in environments where the subjects are not clear or are still emerging. It also works well for non-enterprise (purely social) communities where the community is self-led.

 

Highly Structured

In the highly structured approach, the community manager lays out a very formal and possibly rigid structure before rolling out the community. Community contributions will need to fit within this defined structure.

 

The highly structured approach has some advantages. The enterprise has much more control over the topics allowed within the community. The expectations for community members are also clear.  When community members arrive at the community, they see the topical areas where they can contribute.

 

The disadvantages of this approach are that it can be restrictive and possibly inflexible as the market changes and evolves. You may miss valuable contributions in areas that you never thought to include, but that would have great benefit for the community. The structure may be defined in a way that just doesn't work in the real world.  Some community members may also resist the structure if it doesn't fit with the topics that are important to the community or if the structure makes it difficult to figure out where to post content.

 

This approach works best when a company wants to have very tight control over their community; however, this control usually comes at the expense of community buy-in and participation.

 

Adaptive

An adaptive approach requires that you define some structure before the community launches, but allows for additional changes as the community evolves. A few top level topics may be defined while sub-topics and additional top level topics are encouraged to emerge.

 

Advantages of an adaptive structure include stronger user buy-in as they see the structure evolve in response to community input. The company still has some control over the topics and the initial direction of the community.  The community can evolve in directions not anticipated during the initial design.

 

The disadvantages of this approach are minor.  The company gives up a little control to the community. User traction is required to make progress toward the defining the rest of the structure.

 

Tips and Recommendations

I recommend using the adaptive approach when starting your community. This has worked well for me in the past, particularly with the Ignite Realtime community. We started with a loose structure in place, but over the past six months, I have made quite a few changes in response to community requests and the evolution of the community. With Jivespace, I took a much more structured approach, not out of a desire to control it, but because I got a little carried away with defining things up front.  As a result, I have some sub-communities that are rarely used. I find the adaptive approach more appealing.  I can define a few sub-communities until I see where people are contributing.  In general, it is easier to add new communities over time as needed.

 

Over a longer period of time, most communities will need to be adaptive. Businesses and products change and evolve as markets and technologies change. Communities need to have some flexibility to adapt and grow to include new areas of collaboration.

 

Spend some time in the early days of the community identifying and getting to know the heavy users and tap them for spreading interest within the community.  These community members can give you an early indication of where the community is headed and how you might need to adapt the structure. They can also be your biggest allies when you need help with problem users, disagreements within the community, and even just answering routine questions.  Jim McGee summarizes this well in The Problem of Emergence post on FASTForward the blog:

"In particular, the plan needs to identify those potential users who are most likely to benefit from the new capabilities and whose successful use of the technology will be interpreted as an endorsement to be emulated."

 

Why all the recent intrigue about the notion of something like a Facebook in the Enterprise? Simple, Facebook is people-driven. It's easy to to tell what people are doing on Facebook and nearly impossible inside a company. Check out this quick interview with CIO-of-the-year, JP Rangaswami, who makes some interesting quick points on the potential values of social networking inside the enterprise:

 

  • You can look at the flows that matter rather than the flows of politics.

  • Allows you to form groups of interest--no different than arranging a meeting

  • Allows you to communicate in an efficient way vs blasting email

  • Opportunity for employees to subscribe to what they're interested in

  • Easy to tell what colleagues and subordinates are doing

  • Capture the coffee shop/water cooler as persistent, teachable, shareable, learnable content--a huge win since those are the most valuable, amorphous, softer communications that help get past the assembly line mindset and hierarchies

  • Now we can understand these relationships, how people really work and what they do as part of that work

 

That said, social-networking is still outside-of-work focused and it's only an ingredient of a larger enterprise social productivity system. But it does map to a painful promise that we never received as part of the intranet efforts 10 years ago: Intranets were supposed to be the common space for companies to find information, each other and then somehow collaborate.

 

 

Instead, Intranets are junk drawers. They are bolted together tools that people generally work around, not in. Most represent something like a city that experienced a hyper-economic growth spurt and couldn't keep up with the urban planning, then ended up having the bottom pulled out ten years ago. That's about when companies had teams doing anything other than maintain intranets. Those teams went out and found lots of ingredients like knowledge bases, directories, training modules, document repositories, project management software, forums, etc and then spent years trying to sew them together. Problem was, no one knew how to do that in a way that created something useful for everyone. There was no vision. The Navy Marine Corps spent $8B and seven years trying to figure out their Intranet.

 

 

 

The main problem is also that back then, people took a communication vs collaboration-centric approach. Intranets were places to get get stuff. They were a broadcasting system. Need the latest HR form? The approved price-per-gallon to put on expense reports? The Intranet would tell you. Check out the advantages that Wikipedia lists, among them that Intranets can:

Promote common corporate culture: Every user is viewing the same information within the Intranet.

 

Ultimately, there should be no better reflection of a company than their "intranet" (or whatever new name is the result of all this convergence). This starts with having a solid strategy and vision, then working to achieve it. It will require more than the software. It will require a whole new collaboration-centric approach with an eye towards thinking deeply about the type of  environment companies want to build. The debate about which executive sponsor will drive enterprise collaboration is still in flux.

 

We're at a crossroads again. Collaboration tools, content management and office productivity is converging and either companies will approach things strategically or they'll end up with "junk drawer 2.0." We see this everyday. Either we're talking to business-focused leaders looking for a comprehensive, strategic solutions or to companies who have appointed a technician to go buy parts and then sew something together. Our industry has to help companies peer ahead by painting a clear vision of what a collaboration-centric, Social Productivity system looks like, otherwise: no vision, no decision.

Blogging is an important aspect of Clearspace and we regularly get questions about the value it can provide when used inside an organization. The first exposure many people have to blogging is in a more public context on the Internet that delivers the blogger's thoughts and opinions to the rest of the world. As a first impression this doesn't give many hints as to the value of blogging inside the enterprise. Last week CIO published an article on How to Use Enterprise Blogs to Streamline Project Management which did a great job of covering one use of blogs in the enterprise: project management. CIO also provided some great tips on adoption and how blogs can play nicely with email.

 

While blogs are typically most useful when many users participate, analysts and practitioners say you're better off to start small. Blogs work well when they catch on virally, and you need to introduce the idea to the right test group, who will then evangelize the idea to the rest of the enterprise.The CIO article reminded me of a Clearspace customer who is using blogs for project management. The 150-person consulting group (inside a larger company) is using Clearspace to manage the documentation and conversations associated with specific projects as well as provide better visibility into the projects for their managers and executives. To drive this visibility they are using a blog for each project that communicates updates and status so that project members have a focused place to post their information. The project blogs then roll up into aggregate views across multiple projects. During the project anyone can see what's been going on by reading the blog, and after the project there is a nice self-contained bundle of information about what happened in the project along with the documentation and other deliverables. Clearspace hasn't replaced the project planning side of projects, but it has consolidated and improved the source for information about the project for the rest of the company.

 

Dennis McDonald has recently released a spurt of posts on blogging in a project management capacity. He conducted an informal survey for exploratory purposes, which he has made available via a shared slide deck like the one embedded at the end of this post.

 

He makes a great point about the types of organizations and their projects make an impact on the role a blog could play in project managament stating:

 

it is clear that, just as organizations differ widely in terms of their willingness and ability to change processes and procedures to more collaborative models, the same can be said about project management. There are certain types of projects where the size, complexity, and time dependency call for heavy-duty task- and resource-management tools that are well integrated with corporate management, HR, and time reporting systems. In such cases the communication and publishing functions of the blog would take precedence by making the availability of reports and data from the more structured tools more accessible.

 

In other types of projects that are more development or innovation oriented, the collaborative and information sharing features of blogs and wikis might be much more important while the formal chart and task dependency management features of more traditional project management tools might take more of a back seat. In such processes where innovation, collaboration, learning, and mentoring take precedence over a set timelines and task dependencies, the core features of the blog might provide major benefits, especially if use of the blog can be tied to a reduction in inefficient email attachments and meetings.Blogging is a valuable communication tool that improves productivity inside companies and project management is a great example of how this value can be realized. I should add the same caveat that Dennis pointed out, it's really about leveraging blog-like functions; such as file management, discussion, tagging, and RSS feed management; rather than a strict blog. Even better, when "blogging" is well integrated into a suite of other collaboration tools, as is the case with Clearspace, you get a tremendous boost in value by focusing on the topic (in this case a particular project) rather than the tool being used.

 

 

  Jive's Community Involvement group used our very own internal instance of Clearspace to poll (pictured at right) all Jivers on which community activity there were interested in sponsoring for Q4. The winner was Portland Impact's Adopt a Virtual Family program. We received a family profile and shopped for them. Then, rather than giving these items directly to a family, items are brought to a holiday store where low income families can do free holiday shopping. Thanks to all the Jive employees for their generosity and thanks to Jive for helping with the larger gift items! Check out our stack of gifts below:

In the first part of this series, Chris elaborated on a number of categories that represent the kind of framework we're using to connect Clearspace and CSX. This helps us visualize how the whole company can become better integrated with not just customers and partners, but also other industry thought leaders. In the short term these connections may be light, but we can see it maturing into something really powerful that speaks to the true value of Social Productivity.

In the second part of this series, I will elaborate on how these six areas can map to several scenarios for connecting people inside and outside of an organization allowing businesses to become more productive. Let me point out that the mapping is not an easy 1:1 between each internal company function and your external community.  Would you want to participate in a sales or marketing community for a company so that they could sell you stuff or market to you? Probably not. However, as a satisfied customer, you might talk about a company's products to other community members (sounds like something sales and marketing types might want to see)!

 

Products and Services

Product management has always been listening to customers and engaging with them to determine product requirements and get feedback that drives product development, but we shouldn't stop with product management.  Wouldn't it be great if your engineering or development team could see the feedback directly and ask questions to get clarification to make sure they are satisfying the customer with the technical solution? Social productivity tools, like Clearspace, just make it easier to gather input from your customers in an interactive, collaborative environment. In a community setting, your customers can have an open exchange with your employees about new feature requests, ideas, issues with existing functionality and more.  By having this discussion in an open, social setting, we can have honest and ongoing discussions with our customers and use it to more productively set product development roadmaps and drive product decisions. These types of feature discussions have helped Jive engineers and product managers engage productively with our external community.

 

This is also a perfect place to step in with solutions and services to allow customers to embrace the solution and help them solve the issues that come up when talking about product requirements and feature requests. Some individual customers will always need a particular feature that cannot be provided in the product. By having development, product management, and services all involved in the community, your company can make better decisions about which requests should be in the product and which ones can be more quickly provided by the services group.

 

According to Jeremiah Owyang:

The opportunity to build better products and services through this real-time live focus group are ripe, in many cases, customer communities have been waiting for a chance to give feedback.

 

Robert Scoble also touched on the value an external community has to product marketing, development, and services in an interview he did with Search CIO, stating:

 

>We used blog-search engines to find anyone who wrote the word "Microsoft" on their blog. Even if they had no readers and were just ranting, "I hate Microsoft," I could see that and link to it, or I could participate in their comments, or send them an e-mail saying, "What's going on?" And that told those people that someone was listening to their rants, that this is a different world than the one in which no one listens. It was an invaluable focus group that Microsoft didn't have to pay for.

 

In the future business landscape, connecting customer feedback within the organization may not be a competitive advantage, it may be a requirement. Claudio Marcus and Kimberly Collins of Gartner quantified the advantage in the B2C market in an interview for Influence 2.0 as such:

 

>...by 2007, marketers that devote at least 50% of their time to advanced customer-centric marketing processes and capabilities will achieve marketing return on investment that is at least 30 percent greater than that of their peers, who lack such emphasis

 

Support

Support organizations can also benefit from social productivity software while supporting customers. When customers and support staff can collaborate in an online environment, both groups get value out of the exchange. Not only can customers search the site to get answers before engaging support, but they can also help troubleshoot issues and provide advice to other customers. Since you are also in the community along with the customers you can quickly correct any misinformation while reinforcing accurate information. In some cases, your customers will come up with solutions, workarounds, and ideas that your internal team would never have considered without this external source of collaboration.

 

The tech industry has known about the value of a support community for some time. Forums have long been the tool of choice for facilitating such a community. However, as Chris pointed out in the first post of this series, "...traditional Communities (like forums) fall short because they are basically dependent on people in the enterprise getting onto the external community to participate." A common platform that extends on both sides of the firewall, such as Clearspace, bridges the chasm between the external and internal, which is what it takes to deliver on the support community value proposition.

 

Evangelism and Reputation Management

These helpful customers mentioned above who proactively help other customers, can also become evangelists for your products. I've seen these enthusiastic community members step up and speak out on behalf of a company when other community members are being unfairly critical. In fact, John points out an example of a Dell customer that has posted and helped 20,452 times since 1999.  A response to criticism that might seem defensive when coming from an employee may be seen as more genuine when coming from a customer. Marketing groups should be courting and talking to these community members and do what it takes to keep them happy. Engaging in this social and open collaboration between internal employees and external users also gives sales and marketing a place to provide information about products and best practices / thought leadership for your industry to keep the customers energized. Managing your reputation also becomes much easier when you can provide information and collaborate in a socially productive environment.

 

I wanted to start here to lay the foundation for how external communities bring value into the organization. Next week I'll share some strategies for how to grow and shape your external community so that it accomplishes the value I described in this post.

 

I'll leave you with a quote from Anne Zelenka at GigaOM:

 

If the promises of social productivity tools prove out, companies deploying them should see improved customer responsiveness, more successful products, more enthusiastic user communities, and better financial results.

 

There was an interesting blogosphere battle this weekend over whether enterprise software should be "sexy". One camp says there's much to learn from the consumer space about focusing on the UI and ease of use. The other camp says there are more important fish to fry in the enterprise and that powering business processes is "sexy enough". One of my favorite links in the whole debate was to a jwz rant about how bad groupware is. Some snippets in his description of what went wrong in Netscape's evolution from a simple email client to an "enterprise" solution:

We had built this really nice entry-level mail reader in Netscape 2.0, and it was a smashing success. Our punishment for that success was that management saw this general-purpose mail reader and said, "since this mail reader is popular with normal people, we must now pimp it out to `The Enterprise', call it Groupware, and try to compete with Lotus Notes!" ...

 

Now the problem here is that the product's direction changed utterly. Our focus in the client group had always been to build products and features that people wanted to use. That we wanted to use. That our moms wanted to use.

 

"Groupware" is all about things like "workflow", which means, "the chairman of the committee has emailed me this checklist, and I'm done with item 3, so I want to check off item 3, so this document must be sent back to my supervisor to approve the fact that item 3 is changing from `unchecked' to `checked', and once he does that, it can be directed back to committee for review."

 

Nobody cares about that ****. Nobody you'd want to talk to, anyway. ...

 

If you want to do something that's going to change the world, build software that people want to use instead of software that managers want to buy.

 

When words like "groupware" and "enterprise" start getting tossed around, you're doing the latter. You start adding features to satisfy line-items on some checklist that was constructed by interminable committee meetings among bureaucrats, and you're coding toward an externally-dictated product specification that maybe some company will want to buy a hundred "seats" of, but that nobody will ever love. With that kind of motivation, nobody will ever find it sexy. It won't make anyone happy.There were probably lots of reasons that the Netscape releases failed, but losing focus on building software that people love had to be a major factor. Fast forward to  an example from today -- have you ever met someone that actually likes using Sharepoint?

 

Another one of my favorite takes on this issue was Eddie Herrmann's discussion of the Enterprise Tyranny of the OR:

 

The enterprise question is not whether to choose between either process over people OR people over process. The answer is to be the genius that realizes that it can be both people AND process. Without this realization, you will see a change of heart in SAP's users of tomorrow that Dan talks about. If you leave people out of your priorities and omit them from your equation, they will find better tools to get their jobs done, even at the cost of your money saving, business process integration.Enterprise collaboration software has ignored the people part of collaboration for too long (which is pretty stupid isn't it?). In fact, it was an AND proposition that has made Clearspace 1.x so successful:

 

  • Its software that users love to use with features like wiki documents, blogs, and discussions, AND

  • It's software that works for the enterprise by combining all the next-gen tools in one product, providing integration with back-end systems, and by being available as on-premise software

 

Going forward, we're going to keep building out aggressively in both areas. But, it's people that have been most neglected by collaboration products in the past and we're out to prove there's a better way, which we illustrate with our positioning graph below. Look for an update from Bill next week with some hints about how Clearspace 2.0 will bring sexy back to enterprise software.

 

  I just got done checking out Microsoft Office Live beta release over lunch and my mind has been spinning on it all afternoon.  Not for any of the reasons you might guess.  The release is actually quite predictable. It has been hailed with an equally predictable host of reviews criticizing its lack of true innovation in the midst of a Web 2.0 catalyzed collaboration renaissance as well as more courteous reviews from those established enough to know it is good business to be polite to Microsoft.

 

What has fascinated me about this release is that it illustrates how incredibly difficult it is to break away from an established paradigm of thinking.   It brings to mind a story I once read of a British colonial expedition in the northern subarctic regions of Canada.  They died from exposure to the elements and were found by some of the local Native Americans who were passing through the area on sleds.  This sounds like a typical tale of the hazards of 18th century exploration until you learn that the reason they became stuck was that they were trying to take a heavy horse drawn coach further weighted down with heavy trunks through the arctic wilderness.  One of the members of the party was of a certain status and they had brought his coach with them across the ocean on the ship.  It really makes you wonder if even one among the expedition noticed at some point that the landscape had radically changed from what they knew in England and raised his voice to question whether this de rigueur mode of transportation was still appropriate.

 

Microsoft Office Live Workspace basically extends the Office paradigm to include web services.  It wouldn't be terribly unfair to describe the core of its new functionality as allowing you to save your Word files on a hosted drive that multiple people can access (although admittedly only one at a time with notifications when it's your turn to edit) instead of on your local machine.  In their defense, Microsoft’s product managers even admit that this product is “optimized for people who use office everyday”, don't know how to upload a document, and don't want to send it via email.  The integration with Outlook is actually pretty slick, but it is held back somewhat from the fact that it only really works completely as designed if you are running a computer with a Microsoft's OS, Microsoft browser, and using the latest office suite.

 

As an expansion of Office's functionality I think Microsoft Office Live Workspace is a nice improvement and makes the products more flexible.  But, in a time when there is so much exciting innovation going on in the collaboration space it is almost painful to see the traditional document management paradigm of Sharepoint married with hosted file storage and called "collaboration".  I'm sure our intrepid explorers realized at some point after they stopped making progress that simply calling their coach a sled didn't get it unstuck.

We're knee-deep in a lot of "success" work these days -- that is, tying collaboration metrics to project/company success based on the client's goals. It may sound great that a company is seeing a 50% increase in question resolutions in a given week, or a 15% increase in blog posts, but what does that mean if your goal is brand awareness versus project completion time? Ultimately, this will lead to a lot of different outputs, such as whitepapers, deployment methodologies, benchmark studies and other blogs on the subject. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of interesting tidbits.

 

One of these metrics to track is the types of people participating in these communities.  Forrester has provided one way of looking at this for external communities called the the Ladders of Participation, which is based on  general public usage of social tools.

 

Forrester's take is an interesting slice into usage models and works well for most social networking sites, I'm sure. However, it breaks down a bit if you try to apply it to different scenarios since it doesn't take into account the different types of communities, of which there are many. And most of our customers aren't trying to set up social networking sites. Patrick Lambe provides a great breakdown of these types of communities in this interesting video (communities of interest, communities of circumstance, network of practice, community of practice, learning community, etc.).

 

For us to take advantage of a model like Forrester's, it needs to be considered in light of the business goals of each client. For instance, here's how one of our customers (a business community concerned mostly with knowledge-sharing/Q&A) looks when the model is applied. This is more of a "network of practice" according to Lambe's breakdown.

 

 

It's interesting, but weighted at the extremes, which means it's not going to be as telling, but it's still useful. Even more useful if you can set goals around it. For instance, since this particular site is interested in leads, we might want to track not only the breakdown of spectators, but set goals for conversion to collectors, where you now have more of a dialogue open with the user.

 

And as you would expect, this model breaks down when applied to internal communities. The types of users no longer make sense inside a company, which is typically more concerned with how fast people get answers, how much content is being created/reused, how much faster projects are completed and decisions made, etc. Out of curiosity, we decided to see how Jive's internal Clearspace instance would play out on the Ladder model:

 

 

Again, weighted at the extremes. I think the roles I would like to see for our own usage scenario would include things like:

 

experts

answer lots of questions, highly ranked

helpers

participate in lots of discussions in different categories

thought leaders

weighted on blogs, lots of users subscribe to them

content-creators

responsible for reusable content

processors

weighted on docs, use workflows

churchmice

lots of subscriptions, little voice/content

 

And I would remove the "fun" communities from the sample set -- needless to say, some folks are highly active in things that aren't mission critical :).

 

So, the main takeaway is that different communities have different circumstances that tie them together and therefore have unique Ladders of Participation. In order for businesses to determine if they are earning the promised value of increased productivity through social participation, we need to start defining these usage models more discreetly.

Last night we hosted our first Call of Duty 4 Tournament here at Jive headquarters.  Turn out was great and the Jivers really showed their gaming expertise.

 

We started with nine Jive teams at 6:00 PM and by 7:30 PM we were down to our winners:  Chase Caster, Software Support Engineer and David Smith, RTC Engineer. Congratulations to you both. You are truly scholars and frag masters.

 

Then, professional gamers, Kristin Reilly and Oscar "Technoboy" Rivera, stepped up to play our Jive champions.  To our own surprise, Chase and David showed us what they were made of and beat the professionals 2-1 in a best of three!

 

If you'd like to see the photos, check them out on Flickr.

 

Social productivity is all about getting stuff done through visibility, influence and  engaging those people that you do not normally work with everyday. As work is introduced, stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and experiences can chime in to provide valuable insight and move the work efficiently along. These could be people you know within the company, people retained by your company, customers, or partners working outside of your company. Connecting people within your firewall has a host of challenges. Connecting people outside your firewall to those inside of it can be downright daunting. But, what if you could unlock the bottleneck and connect the external community activity in intelligent ways to the same activity inside of the enterprise? When I can reach out to engage with customers to make important product decisions I need relevant customer comments to find their way to me without me looking for them.  It would be great if "approved" thinking from the inside the company could be exposed to customers who might find it interesting or helpful.  When these things happen that's when I realize the benefits of social productivity.

 

The epiphany here is that traditional Communities (like forums) fall short because they are basically dependent on people in the enterprise getting onto the external community to participate. The sad reality is that in most companies' communities are "owned" by one person in one department--sometimes they even have a specified title like "Community Manager". In most companies that means one of two things: 1) There is a community manager trying to beg people in the company to get involved in the community, or 2) Enterprising employees who see the value have to get into the community just like a customer and then sift through everything to find out what is going on. It's a lot of overhead and a lot of work with only a little value if you're casually engaged.

 

With this on my mind I stumbled across a blog post that John Eckman of Open Parenthesis did about a month ago on Josh Bernoff's keynote from the Forrester Consumer Forum. John raises some interesting points about buzz & technology being short lived and the imperative to solve real problems, but the part that caught my eye were his objectives regarding

the Community aspect of the equation.

 

I "added some value" to (shamelessly modified) his thoughts by swapping some categories and adding some of my own. I saw the external community engagements relating to the internal functions like this:

 

 

The value proposition for connecting external community within the enterprise

John provided examples, which are:

Function

Engagement

Value Example

Marketing

Talking

Adidas drives 4 million impressions with their soccer page on MySpace and it cost them $100K.

Sales

Energizing

How eBags energized their sales with rating and reviews. Empowering customers and turning them into evangelists to recruit other customers and catalyze sales.

Support

Supporting

Dell has a user who has posted and helped 20,452 times since 1999. The only thing I think is cooler is connecting this straight into the official support org.

Services

Embracing

I thought his example here was better for "Satisfying". In my mind, Services plays a leadership role in enabling our customers to embrace the solution. They are solution leaders, and help fit square pegs into round holes.

Product Mgmt

Listening

Gives the example of Salesforce.com and the idea of working with customers to create and prioritize features/products. I use this example all the time in speaking with people.

Development

Satisfying

I think giving Development direct access to see what customers are talking about and the problems they are having is the best way to create a great product. Let's face it no one understands how the products really work better than development, and there are no better people to create something that truly satisfies customer's needs.

 

These categories aren't new or revolutionary, but I think they represent a the kind of framework we're using to connect Clearspaceand CSX. It starts painting a story of the whole company being integrated with its customers and partners, not just the "community manager". In the short term these connections may be light, but I can see it maturing into something really powerful that speaks to the true value of Social Productivity. Within each of these functions there are really 3 meaningful forms of interaction in the short term:

  • See content from the outside

  • Share content from the inside

  • Engage the right people in the community for feedback

 

If you believe like we do that when we succeed in connecting internal and external communities on a common information exchange platform then we can realize social productivity, then watch for the next two posts in this series:

  • Tactics for connecting outside communities with internal functions

  • Organizational strategies for growing communities that support your goals

 

 

 

Our friends at GigaOm, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and VentureBeat have banded together to create the the Crunchies an award that celebrates startup innovation.  

 

The award was described by Om like this:

They are like the Grammies and the Webbys with a People’s Choice flavor, only for start-ups! The idea is to get the respective communities of various blogs to collaborate and vote and help pick the top start-ups of the year.

 

We'd love to be nominated for "Most Likely to Succeed," so if you think we have what it takes to "meet future financial success (may be defined as revenue creation, a big exit, or other future accomplishment)," then take a second to nominate Jive today.

I've been digging into market sizing numbers again because it gives a great window into how people are understanding this market and the speed at which it is evolving. Having tracked some of this information, I'm inspired to comment on the parameters used for sizing our market. It is clear to me that our market is significantly larger than Gartner currently estimates. For example, Sam Lawrence recently posted about the threat our market poses to traditional office software.

Microsoft alone makes over $10B annually with their office suite focused on personal productivity. As the delineation between creating and sharing documents collapses, their market valuations between these two spaces should merge.  As Dave mentioned in his original post, analyst Michael Dortch probably summed up this perspective the best:

 

"Look, the long and the short of it is that everybody in every business collaborates, internally with colleagues and externally with customers, partners, and prospects, yes? So how big is the "collaboration market," however THAT's defined? I'd be brash enough to say that assuming that half of every business dollar is wasted or consumed by unspecified overhead, a conservative estimate of the extended collaboration market would be, say, half the worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) equivalent. Is THAT big enough??

 

If it's TOO big, let's come at it from the other, even more conservative end of the spectrum. Let's say that no more than five to 10 percent of the worldwide GDP equivalent represents a defensible stand-in for the collaboration market. That's still a LOT more than many IT-centric markets today, isn't it?"

 

People, like Andrew McAfee, have been working to draw a line around our market and he has contributed immensely to the understanding of the space, but ultimately still falls short of the entire vision.  Jive sees this emerging market as " Social Productivity", which fuses social software and office features to create productivity apps that are socially driven. My questions to you are: Where do you draw the line when so many existing solutions have created such large markets and still fallen so short of the promise of Social Productivity? What do you suspect the size of the market to be?

Free office!

Posted by sam_lawrence Dec 3, 2007

Office software hasn't changed in over 20 years

What was your office like 20 years ago? You were probably sitting at your desk jamming to Madonna's "Into the Groove," wearing stone-washed denim and working away on your IBM PS/2 486 MHz computer. Since then, office software has rested atop its "good enough" mountain with no real challengers. Somehow good enough is good enough as long as the checks keep rolling in. Meanwhile, two generations of us have used the same personal inbox, calendar, word processor and spreadsheet to do our work. This has gone on for so long, many of us can't even imagine our workplace framed a different way.

Office software will be free, then included in the OS

Suddenly, companies have a gaggle of "Office" options from folks like Google, Zoho, Thinkfree, Zimbra/Yahoo, Adobe, OpenOffice and a slew of others. But these Microsoft competitors are merely duplicating the Office suite--Google and OpenOffice even give theirs away. The resulting navel-contemplation in the industry often focuses on whether office software's future is based on the web or on the premises, but that focus is misplaced and misses the bigger picture. The spate of knock-offs will devalue this old set of features. Soon, paying for "Office" software will seem as ridiculous as paying for a web browser. Microsoft is painfully aware of this. Rumor has it they are readying the release of a free, limited and ad-supported version of their Office suite.

 

The current revolution of office software is not a revision of the old one

The picture has quickly expanded past file creation and email sorting. Traditional office software features are being absorbed into browsers and OSes. The next level of digital office work is shifting from a disjointed file exchange work model to one that's much more connected, contextual and collaborative. In the old model, users create documents in isolation and exchange them with other isolated users--all insulated from and out of sync with the bigger picture of relevant interpersonal activity. In the new collaboration model, connected people understand when, what and why to engage and they do it in a unified environment. They use file-sharing only as a supplement, when and if it's necessary. We refer to this collaboration model as Social Productivity, which frames our daily work activity in the "we" vs. "me" context and then delivers new functionality to help with these connections. This more accurately mimics our work-with-others activity vs. the produce-alone-and-distribute part of our daily equation. Now we can get context at a glance, work doesn't disappear once we hit "send," and we stay connected to the efforts most important to us.

 

 

The irony of the "Office wars"

There's a lot of speculation about how things will change but the good news is that there will be change. Some of it reminds me of what happened to Netscape. When they broke onto the scene in 1994 with their Navigator web browser, they charged for it and people gladly paid because it was the best (and arguably the only) solution available. Then in the late nineties, Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer--for free. After a very short "browser war," Microsoft integrated their browser into their OS. Netscape lost, but users didn't care. They happily looked past the browser features because the real value wasn't the browser; it was the content within it. Ironically, it is now Microsoft that is set up to stumble on its own shrewd business practices, which could cost them almost 30% of their $40 billion revenue engine. There's always Outlook.

 

Our office future finally changes

A whole new industry focused on Social Productivity has emerged. The door is open for new market leaders to lead this next wave of innovation. Demand is through the roof for this bigger picture approacha more visible and productive enterprise. All of this is good news for employees and companies. Social Productivity is already producing better results and more quickly than we ever did wearing the blinders of individual contributors. A whole new marketplace is changing the game. Our kids will smile with nostalgia when they think of a digital “document” saved somewhere on a hard driveliterally modeled after a piece of paper--that only one person at a time could access or give to someone else to look over. It already sounds quaint and archaic.

About three months ago, John Miner (fellow Portlander; used to run Intel Capital) introduced me to Marty Kagan. We had been on the hunt for a good VP of Engineering for a long time, but given how naturally picky we are, and how important this role is to such an engineering-focused company, we weren't able to find anyone who fit the bill. Portland has a lot of great companies, but not many that are similar to Jive, so we were about to jump into the executive recrtuiting/relocation game. And then along came Marty.

 

Marty just got it. He understood what we're doing, where we're going and all of the pain points we're feeling.

 

Having had a very successful career at Cisco, Marty has spent the last eight years at Akamai, where he grew a large organization as the VP of Engineering. He also understood the sales perspective, having been the top SE for EMEA -- a ridiculously cool trait for any Engineering VP. And, thankfully, his family picked Portland as the next place for them to live. So he literally fell in our lap at the right time.

 

All of Marty's references were glowing, but the best part of the process was to read his LinkedIn profile. It's possibly the most effusive collection of references I've ever seen. Thankfully, not the standard BS references a lot people dutifully throw up to satisfy a partner, but thoughtful, genuine insights into how he works with people and what he's achieved.

 

So please welcome Marty to the team. We're thrilled to have him. (I expect I'll have to say that on LinkedIn as well.)

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