We’ve got an intriguing Human Capital Management track lined up for the June Boston E2.0 Conference in a business area which is starting to see enormous change after years as a bureaucratic people processing departmental silo.
Like many other industry verticals the Human Resources world is being exposed to the connecting forces of enterprise 2.0 thinking and technologies: internal social networking enabling collaboration between everyone in a company, their suppliers and associates and even customers in some consumer industries. Agile Software as a Service updates iterations, the mobile revolution and of course a rapidly changing, increasingly digital sophisticated workforce. Continue Reading »
‘Human Resources’ is an early 1960′s term but now seems pretty archaic in our ‘always on’ era of broadband and mobile networked connectivity. The needs of the people and collective cultures within enterprises continue to evolve rapidly, with increasing emphasis placed on interactions through the firewall with prospects, customers and partners being seen of value in some industries, although by no means all.
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After I presented the Open Enterprise 2009 award to Booz Allen Hamilton ‘Hello’ team lead Walton Smith in Boston (also on behalf of Stowe Boyd and the conference), I had an opportunity to catch up with team members Megan Murray & Donna Lucas, who are in the trenches working with technology and change management respectively at Booz Allen.
If you were in Boston for the conference you’ll notice we’re actually outside and the sun is shining: this was recorded during the final hours of the conference when the rain finally stopped!
If you register (free!) on the Enterprise 2.0 conference site you can see my 15 minutes talking about the open enterprise 2009 research project and Walton Smith presenting the winning Booz Allen Hamilton (‘BAH’) case study, which gives added context to this video.
I’ll briefly summarize the above video but strongly recommend watching it – 8 minutes of very useful information.
Donna and Megan start with a a useful discussion about the teams’ success with rapid adoption, with 41% of employees using the system, which they attribute to a rapid amount of ‘press coverage’ within the organization.
Buy in from senior leadership – active and visible executive sponsorship has really helped with change management and in driving adoption. Donna finds that just getting new users to fill out their profile is enough of a catalyst to expose them to the utility of the system so they come back and get involved.
Silo busting is successful, albeit with some ‘kicking and screaming’. Requests for very narrowly focused communities for small parochial teams are met with an effort to open up topics to a much broader community, in order to more widely share information.
Connectivity between business units has greatly increased cross domain and cross solution through community management, as users realize other parts of the organization are focused on similar needs to their own.
Stimulating conversation across community really helps build adoption patterns, while email traffic and usage is gradually finding a viable alternative in the BAH environment.
Carefully listening to feedback from users has helped make the system better, faster and easier with continuous iteration of improvement.
Metrics are an important component to measure success and had just been gathered in a detailed audit by Donna at the time of this interview. This provides rich detail around what to do and where to go next in planning future strategy which is on point for user needs.
Middle management is ‘the toughest nut to crack’ but are seeing benefits in saving a few hours a week through greater efficiencies and cutting back on redundant email communication.
Change management includes dealing with 5,000 new employees a year in a 23,000 person company, which adds a layer of complexity to the rapidly evolving ecosphere served.
There is a culture of bringing users at al levels into the feedback loop and then using that information to make the resources better, faster and easier.
It is a continuous effort to drive momentum in most cases although there are pockets of users who are now self sustaining, these are people of all types and at all levels who see the environment as the best way to get their work done
Congratulations again to Booz Allen Hamilton on a well deserved victory!
See also my companion post on ZDNet
Thoughtfarmer are the creators of social intranet software which adds a social layer to the basic address book and read only web pages of 1.0 style intranets.
All users can now add and edit content so long as they have security restrictions permission. As well as updating their personal contact details and profile, Thoughtfarmer gives access to blogs, feeds, work stream views and Twitter style social connections.
Customers essentially come from two different places: people who’ve never had an intranet and are starting from the round up and those upgrading from an older intranet to Facebook and Wikipedia style functionality.
ThoughtFarmer runs on a fully Microsoft environment of Windows Server, SQL Server, Active Directory & Exchange and is often used as a replacement for SharePoint.
Chris says Sharepoint often winds up as a glorified shared drive and to make it good you have to embark on a full development project which can can take 18 months. while ThoughtFarmer is often integrated with SharePoint the fact that it can be installed and up and running within a very short period often leads to it becoming the de facto collaboration solution.
Sharepoint are strong in parallel for compliance, document discovery and other structured, tracked data.
While 80% of customers are using the product globally across their entire organization it is often used as a departmental solution at companies such as Electronic Arts.
As a Canadian company ThoughtFarmer are very familiar with the need for multilingual capabilities and have customers all over the world, multiple language packs and support the Google Translate API.
Chris says that launching from top down takes a big marketing effort and sites a core value of enterprise 2.0 as the difference between working above the flow and working in the flow – providing a better way to work makes a huge difference.
Chris cites great usage of customers such as resort developer WATG, and design company IDEO as groups of people who don’t allow software to get in the way of innovation and in person collaboration.
IDEO are an industrial design company who have evolved into an innovation and design company with eight international offices and 500 employees.
Starting out historically with small project teams using lots of post it notes, it was hard to collaborate across organizations that are spread out across the world. IDEO looked for ways to build tools to build communities around common interests, passions and expertise in order to become one interconnected organization. Allowing employees to reveal what they’re interested in and working on was seen as being of great value.
They started by building a design team to attempt to see internal processes as a client engagement to craft an appropriate environment for IDEO work practices.
The goals were to build a system that targets process friction points and addresses them without overwhelming people with new processes and tools.
The IDEO Intranet environment is contained in a custom Ruby wrapper, using ThoughtFarmer for wikis, Movable Type for blogging and some legacy asset and data applications.
This was IDEO’s fifth attempt at launching wikis before they got it right. Email is still alive and strong as a primary communication medium but wikis are getting stronger usage. Internally people now find health claim forms and other bureaucratic materials through wikis instead of email.
The system has had a very enthusiastic uptake internally, becoming very integral to the way people work. There is now a high level of internal blogging.
Although aware that every culture is different, IDEO offer consulting to other companies based on their experiences creating their internal collaboration environment.
Connectbeam started as an internal business social bookmarking tool like del.icio.us, then learnt going into large enterprises that a social aggregation service was more valuable, so they are working hard on enabling the joining of siloed content.
They see their products as an evolution of the corporate directory, a social context service across the set of applications behind the firewall to be served up where users live their lives.
Questions people are asking are ‘how to determine ROI’? ‘How can we see what is happening in all the organizations across our enterprise’?
Sanjeev believes momentum is building around Enterprise 2.0 but anything that involves organizational change, as is the case with Enterprise 2.0, and you are talking five to six year time frames.
Adoption cycles: Connectbeam deals typically start with a small pilot and expand out. As the adoption cycle kicks in, value is seen and usage expands.
Connectbeam are seeing uptake by middle management for pilot adoption as well as top level blessing and grass roots adoption.
People don’t really see the endpoints yet – Sanjeev thinks this will ultimately be a service which is woven into the entire organization and at some point it will be as fundamental as the company directory.
Rigidly organized companies are starting to adopt because they see the value, while the safety factor of feeling comfortable with acceptable security standards is a significant customer concern.
There is a confusion among the wider population about the broader ‘social media’ space and what is providing core value and what is superficial.
Measurement of metrics in business use will help significantly but there is no credible way to ‘put something in and measure the ROI in 90 days’. This is a serious enterprise evolution which will take 3-5 years to be truly unified and measurable.