Apple Entering the Enterprise 2.0 Market?

Last week I was browsing the apple website for software and came across some very interesting features in the new OS X Snow Leopard Server software. It appears apple have have made quite a large contribution to incorporating many collaborative tools into their enterprise product. I then attempted to do some research about how the company have recognised the importance of enterprise 2.0 however the information was very scarce. I couldn’t even find a blogger who has also noted this. So I decided to put it out there as an apple mac user myself to spread the word.

The main collaborative application included in OS X server is titled Wiki server, although contrary to the name suggests it does a lot more then just wiki’s. Apple advertise this simply as “Easy Group Collaboration”. From a collaborative business perspective, they offer the whole shebang. They primarily cater for enterprise level wiki and blog creation. All with fully customizable comments, tags and many other 2.0 goodies. Also they have pushed the idea of sharing information and building your brand by including ‘Podcast Producer’. Which makes recording, editing and publishing podcasts and vodcasts so quick and easy that anyone can do it! Many enterprises can benefit from this software and it is interesting to know the some of the big players are realising the importance of colaboration and including these tools in their enterprise software.

Apple OS X Wiki Server

Google – taking over your browser one side at a time!

Website annotation has been around for sometime now with services such as shadows, TrailFire, and Dingo but haven’t really taken off…Enter Google with their edition of website annotation titled SideWiki!

So what is it all about?  Sidewiki allows any Google user to place comments on an entire page or even selected sections of a web page. These comments are listed in a retractable toolbar down the side of your browser. They have also included the option to embed images and videos into the comment however in my brief search I haven’t seen it done yet.

So how do they control things like spammers and flamers? The have used a ranking system where users can vote up or down on comments. Comments with more votes up directly affect that users ‘ranking’. Users with high ranking or reputation will be placed towards the top of the sidewiki hierarchy and low rating users will be stomped down to the bottom where no one will read them. In my opinion this sounds like an effective measure. Chris Doble talked about this concept in his recent post disscussing Kevin Rose’s suggestions for taking your site from one to one million users. Kevin suggested that giving users an “ego” to work on gives them an incentive to post good material and to get involved positively. Sidewiki has done that well because not only does one ‘flame’ take down that comments rating, it affects that users overall positioning on all other pages. This is a huge incentive to help other users and collaborate. Very Web 2.0 like.

So I took the liberty of giving SideWiki a go and had some pretty pleasing results. It’s not everywhere yet but found it in heavy use at TechCrunch and also at sites such as reddit. It seems to be currently used as a reviewing type system where users are saying, I use this website for this, it is good for this etc. I can see this being very useful if it is taken on by the wider public as a very, very helpful tool in research. Having short summaries and recommendations before you read an entire journal would be very beneficial to students and researchers in particular.

Overall it seems like a good thing, but like all web 2.0 tools you need people to come on board to get the ball rolling. The only strongly disappointing feature of Google SideWiki is…. it is bundled with Google toolbar (yes, the screen hogging, colourful pictures and auto-filling nightmare). Hence the reason why I am about to uninstall the add on and end my google SideWiki experience for now. Fingers are crossed that they will release a standalone add-on in the near future!

~Jamie

Google SideWiki being used with reddit

Ensuring Successful Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

I have been doing a lot of reding lately about how companies have introduced web 2.0 into their business and the issues that they have come accross. Most seem to have the same types of adoption hurdles that are needed to be overcome. From what I have read I have formed my own opinons about what seems to be the three major issues with enterprise 2.0 adoption:

1. Fear of change

Many people fear change and this becomes especially revelant within the enterprise. incorporating new technologies into existing business processes can be met with resistance from employees and accommodates. Some even regard the switch to Enterprise 2.0 and a culture change within a business.

2. Losing ownership

The concept of creating a collaborative community can sometimes prove to be challenging to some. Personality types that desire to be the ‘head honcho’ especially can be resistant to passing on the ownership of roles to colleagues and others. shifting the responsibility to the whole rather than having the single opinion of a manager of IT department, this does prove to be confronting and can can tie in with the fear of change issue.

3. Privacy Issues

One of the concepts of web 2.0 especially is sharing information in ‘The Cloud’. Many people used to traditional communication tools such as email find this concept intimidating as they are putting themselves out there for everybody to see. Wiki’s, blogs and social networking all focus on sharing your opinions and creating networks between people by sharing information. Especially security conscious companies with confidential information can find it a challenge to maintain their privacy. In my opinion this is the biggest hurdle to overcome when adoption these technologies within the enterprise.

Forrester research produced some very interesting results lately regarding the adoption of E 2.0 within businesses. “90% of surveyed IT professionals and security decision makers reported that they are at the least “very concerned” about related threats and may have made the leap into these technologies without thinking about the security consequences.”

So what are some strategies to overcome these issues with adoption? Yuri Alkin has made some suggestions that I agree with. Knowing which enteprise 2.0 technologies are appropriate for your business is very important. Flooding a company with many new technologies that all do similar things or are unnecessary will be one the the easiest ways for employees to lose interest. He also suggested runing a pilot process to get initial feedback however I believe this should be expanded on by making the pilot an optional task for employees. Initially allowing the people who really want to help contribute, therefore creating a positive and productive community. This will then show the others the benefits and will encourage them to jump on the E2.0 wagon. Finally it is just as important to follow through with projects once they begin. Maintaining and adjusting to the needs of business as time progresses is very important because every business is different and the perfect enterprise solutions for a business can only be achieved over time after many cases of trial and error.

So what do you think are the main issues with Enterprise 2.0 adoption? what strategies can you suggest to help introduce new companies to the concept?

Social Networks Within The Enterprise

I’m quite sure we all know what social networking is… don’t we? You would be hard pressed to find someone who does not have a profile on myspace or facebook. I went out to ask what my friends thought of social networking and to discover what they primarily use it for. This is what they thought;

  • To Keep in touch with friends
  • View and share photos and experiences
  • Discover new music (myspace Music)
  • Show others what you’re interested in (facebook fan pages)
  • Organising events

So this is what the average Joe thinks of social networking, but when you look at these points you can see the huge potential from the enterprise side. As an artist using social networking to get your new music out there would have to be the fastest, easiest and cheapest venture as opposed to standard advertising. The potential of reaching an audience that is already connected is massive, it provides the ability to hand pick the target audience and draw them in. That is the marketing side of using social networks in the enterprise. I will cover more on this in a later post. What I would like to focus on today is using social networking internally within an enterprise.

BT is a global company that provides communications solutions to more than 170 countries around the world. They have introduced a social network to its company title ‘My BT’, It possesses all the typical aspects of a social network that you would need. A contacts section(or ‘friends’) to link with your colleges. A profile message board to post comments and a ‘my personal FAQ’ section that allows colleagues to post questions about projects and other work related issues. It has integrated social bookmarking to share the employees tagged links as well as a newsfeed that displays activity on the profile. What struck me as something that is different from your standard social network was the integration of a ‘Skills and interests’ section on the page. Here you list your skill or interest, then a search is undertaken for all other employees with that same interest/skill and a group page is created where they can collaborate.

I was fascinated with this new concept on social networking. When I thought about it, it relates very much to the Extensions attributes of the SLATES paradigm by suggesting relevant content, but it takes a step further by connecting likeminded people and allowing them to share. One of the members behind the team responsible for creating the social network at BT, Richard Dennison, explains that it gives the employees incentives by allowing them to seek help from likeminded professionals and also to build your online brand. I think this is a fantastic way for web 2.0 tools such as social networking to be used within the enterprise and BT have definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. I think it has been executed very well and from what I can tell on Richard Dennison’s blog it has been adopted very well.

Update on Enterprise 2.0 in my workplace

Back in my post titled So who is using it? I mentioned how I was starting to use a wiki in my workplace at Forest. Over the past few weeks I have trialed the wiki and some other Enterprise 2.0 tools, here are my first impressions on their adoption.

Wiki

I introduced a wiki as a reference where everyone in the workplace can contribute and get information when needed. This has been a success so far especially since the office is only small (usually 3 people at a time). The wiki has developed into more than what I originally intended. When I started the wiki I made some pages for ‘Repair Guides’, ‘Procedures’ and ‘Product information’. These three pages have been utilised well, having staff members contribute and use the wiki as the first place to look when seeking information. What I didn’t expect and what really shows the power of collaborative tools in the workplace was the creation of new pages, such as a Clients page and a Things to Do page. After only a few weeks it looks like the wiki is growing well and will prove to be an invaluable tool within Forest.

Micro-Blogging

I suggested to my colleagues that we should try to use twitter as a quick and easy communication tools within our workplace, 50% of us already had a twitter account and were familiar with the idea and all of us had iPhones so the potential was definitely there. We tried to use it as a reminder and notification system, for example; ‘@Jamiecturner you have an appointment at 12:00 with xxx at yyy street’. The problem with this was that it was often followed up by a call to get more information. Also when sending message within the office it seems pointless to send a tweet when we could walk 20m and the person face to face. My final thoughts on micro blogging in our small business : not suited.

So from the two Enterprise 2.0 mediums I have tried so far, one has proved a great success. I was thinking of using mash-ups next but am unsure of how it can specifically benefit us. Any suggestions are welcome, I have been looking at Yahoo Pipes so far and it looks like it has a lot of potential. What other Enterprise 2.0 methods can you suggest we try next?

~Jamie

Why You Should Use Producteev

Throughout my blogging I have found many web 2.0 tools being used used in the enterprise and even had a go at using some such a yammer, basecamp etc. Yesterday I stumbled across what i believe to be the best one so far, Producteev. It is an all in one collaborative project management tool with a very nice ‘web 2.0′ look and feel. It’s very user friendly with drag and drop features and very intuitive navigation.

So you create a task that appears as a rounded box in which to can add “To-do’s” inside the task. Within each of these you can set the description of the project or task, and also note the progress that has been made, status deadline and more. Also your colleagues can comment on the task to update progress or ask questions to other member of the team participating in the task.

Add tasks and view current projects in the dashboard

Add tasks and view current projects in the dashboard

All of these tasks are then linked in with the “Time line” widget which integrates with your tasks panel. It has three views, the calendar view(pictured below) which really helped me to organise due dates for my current projects, you can also which to daily or weekly view which can show specific dealines and time and teh progress you have made towards them. I used the daily view at work to schedule my appointments and make sure I had planned the repairs so I didnt run out of time, and it worked really well.

Schedule tasks and review dealines in the timeline screen

Schedule tasks and review dealines in the timeline screen

The third part of producteev I thought was great was the live feed section. This shows you all the status updates of colleagues on tasks that have been set and also incorporates a micro-blogging concept as well. On top of this the notion of collaboration is reinforced by the option to collaborate and share on all tasks, feeds, posts etc. Integration with twitter and facebook also encourage sharing out public tasks to members of the community to let them know how your progressing on projects.

View status updates and also update your status in with the twitter like micro-blogging feature

View status updates and also update your status in with the twitter like micro-blogging feature

Ontop of all the features I have covered there are still more, such as file upload and sharing, the ability to set public and private tasks, smart filter tasks and more. In my hour or so playing around with this I can only say it was a pleasant experience, it was a little buggy at times but this is only a very new product and can only improve with time. I’ve set up a student based account which allows up to 40 members in a team so if you would like to be invited let me know and we can test it out. There is only a certain amount of testing that can be done by myself. I can highly recommend Producteev as one of the better enterprise 2.0 tools i have experienced so far, with its multiple functions, integration with so many services and ease of use its definitely something to think about in your business or education group.

~Jamie

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Is micro-blogging in big business worth it?

There is a lot of talk going around about micro-blogging being used in the enterprise. I’m not just talking about the generic twitter that pop’s into everyone’s mind at the mention of ‘micro-blogging’. As mentioned in some of my previous posts alternatives exist, that are targeted specifically for use in large scale enterprise such as Yammer. These apps are designed to be used as an informal method for collaboration, eg status updates on projects, ideas or activities. I disscuss the uses in greater detail in my previous post Twitter for Business.  So you know the benefits, but are there any drawbcks? Dave Rosenberg recently decided to trial Yammer in his small business. In his opinion it yielded unsatisfying results. The main difficulty was squeezing what they were trying to communicate into the 140 character limit. It  “sounds like a good idea, until you are forced to spend more time trying to figure out what someone meant in 140 characters” Dave stated. This is a very valid point when attempting to replace previous methods of communication such as email but i do not believe that that is the purpose of micro-blogging.

So this raises the question, is it worth it?

In my opinion it is definitely worth it. However. It can not be expected to replace the current communication such as email and IM alone as Dave attempted to do. These tools needs to be combined with other web 2.0 technologies to reap the complete benefits, for example wikis or blogs can be used to share or collaborate on complex issues. Micro-blogging could compliment this by drawing attention to the key ideas within these blogs and to update on new information. In the very near future I will write a progress report on how the wiki has been adopted in my workplace as i introduced it in So who is using it, maybe there is some potential in my workplace for micro-blogging.

How do you think micro-blogging should be used within organisations and what do you think is the most effective strategy?

~Jamie

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