Archive for November, 2009

JIVE SBS – Business is now SOCIAL

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Along comes the term Social Business Software (SBS).

Whilst the concept of applying technology to improve organisational productivity is nothing new, Jive SBS is specifically focused on changing traditional management hierarchies and providing employees with the capability to uncover corporate knowledge without the constraints of emails and intranets. According to Jive, “The Social Business allows and rewards open conversation between colleagues, partners and customers. It relies on the power of social connections to shape new products and services, and to propel new revenue and earnings growth. It embraces Web 2.0 technology in the form of Social Business Software to enable this critical change.”

“Employees average 20 hours a week managing 350 emails. This costs an average business of 50,000 an estimated US $1 billion every year.”
Harvard 2008 Study

Forrester Research predicts that Enterprise 2.0 will become a $4.6 billion industry by 2013 and social networking software will garner the bulk of the money. Enterprise 2.0 applications provide the organisational wide benefits of increased collaboration, innovation, productivity and “community” engagement.

Built on the paradigm that employees are aware and adapt at the use of social media such as FaceBook and Twitter, Jive software provides the vehicle for corporate level networking amongst colleagues, clients and vendors to uncover knowledge and ultimately make improved Business decisions. By engaging with this business network in a more collaborative fashion, individuals can transform seemingly disparate information into valuable social capital. Jive states that “forward-leaning businesses are embracing a new way to distinguish themselves, an approach that amplifies and leverages the value of their best people, relationships and intellectual capital.”

This enterprise level solution brings together the popular features of other social media applications in a manner that supports employee collaboration, and captures the value of conversations both internal and external to the organisation. Leveraging off the Web 2.0 concepts of social collaboration, Jive offers the ability for organisations to harness the collective intelligence of their employees and transform the way businesses do business. Jive SBS brings to the table the usual Web 2.0 tools of blogs, forums, keyword tagging and RSS feeds in a format that is scalable and secure. “Social Business Software builds on the best principles and applications of Web 2.0. It combines the power of social networks, where individuals share ideas, criticisms and information that benefit the collective, and makes the most of emerging forms of communication, including wikis, video dispatches and blogs.”

Jive SBS Architecture
Spaces – helpful when organising the content of your employee marketplace to suit the organisations functional hierarchy. The ability to assign differing user permissions to lower level sub-spaces provides the flexibility to open the application to others outside of the organisation. Social Groups – Regardless of the Space permissions, Groups allow people with similar interests to collaborate without the confines of a user hierarchy.

The third of the Container Components is the concept of Projects. These components can be used as coordination tools by assigning tasks and setting milestones and creating discussions to track project issues. Within each of these three containers, you can include Blogs for communicating internally/externally, Discussions for forum type conversations and Collaborative Documents similar to Wikipedia.

Further functionality offered by Jive SBS includes:
* Workflow options – allows the setting of Author, Reviewer and Approver profiles to support the management of files when used by multiple people.
* Document Feedback – allows collaborators to explain & discuss changes
* Versioning – supports the tracking of document changes and rollback to earlier versions.
* Keyword Tagging – creates associations and improves document retrieval times.
* Document Rating system – allows users to rate a document’s value
* Space Announcements – provides the ability for broadcast messages to the user group.

Now for the real Social bits…
Jive delivers familiar social media components to the Enterprise so everybody can make the connections necessary to improve productivity and the sharing of knowledge. The identification of subject matter experts via user profiles, the value ranking of documents, and the use of “connections” all help to build the level of team trust and collaboration. These connections (think Twitter followers) can be established by simply choosing to “follow” people based on their user profile or associations.
A great feature within Jive SBS is the ability to associate every piece of content with the user who created it as well as other user profiles that are related to the content thereby supporting the “degrees of separation” concept.

The clever application of Tagging content, user profiles and groups by keywords or terms facilitates an improved Search function within Jive. This collection of popular labels is presented in a “tag cloud” used to dynamically group similar content. Further to this, Jive offers the usual options of Search and Bookmarks to both internal and external content.

This feature allows the users to mash up a collection of widgets in a customised application start page, including both internal and external information. The Jive SBS widgets are “drag and drop” and include functions such as
• Recent activity
• Connections status updates
• Bookmarking
• To-do lists
• RSS feeds
• Embedded 3rd party widgets providing access to Google/Wikipedia/Flickr etc

Integration with existing authentication systems – Jive SBS supports the single system sign on concept through the integration with existing LDAP Directories streamlining user access.

Jive’s market position according to Gartner, Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workforce report

Beyond the brief introduction to the features discussed above, Jive continues to develop and evolve into a leading social software provider delivering products that align with the web 2.0 concept. Stay tuned, I’m sure there is a lot more innovation to come!

Categories: Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0

Business Process Modelling in Second Life

November 17, 2009 4 comments

Social networking tools dominate communication over the web and this is not limited to sending simple messages between friends but can also include interaction and collaboration within virtual world environments such as Linden’s Second Life application. The targeted use of Web 2.0 social networking applications provides opportunities for communities of practice to collaborate and benefit from shared experience and common knowledge. These tools support geographically dispersed teams through the use of common software applications and data storage areas under the concept of cloud computing. Where distributed teams are commonplace in today’s workplace so is the need to develop supporting forms of communication and technology.

The team and I recently undertook an exercise where we explored the capability of Linden Second Life to support a trivial process modelling exercise. Our scope was to explore how Web 2.0 techniques, social networking tools and virtual world environments can be used to support the collaborative design of business process models. Now while I was excited by the possibility, I was also sceptical about the practicalities – what blockers would there be…

So, into SL we jumped and found a spare patch of ground to run our brief experiment.

Once underway the flexibility and value of this approach quickly became apparent, the medium provided a real time collaborative process modelling environment which is also extendable with other emerging features – I’m impressed!

Modeling in the virtual world allowed for real time synchronous representation of changes and immediate contextual discussions. Challenges encountered included the initial learning of the second life concepts and functionality, and knowledge of the availability and appropriate use of the collaboration tools. By example, we have shown that Second Life provides the platform for collaborative, role based, synchronous activity.

Web 2.0 applications facilitate group participation, contribution and interaction and via the network affect, become more useful as more people join and contribute. These applications such as wiki’s, social bookmarking sites, blogs and RSS feeds allow for the socialization of process modeling tasks and makes the modeling exercise more creative and participative. Through the functionality of these tools, a self governing, networked community of modelers can develop, review and modify process models in a real time collaborative environment.

In essence, process modeling team member individual contributions and opinions create value through combination and collaborative filtering, producing valuable outcomes and decisions that may not be initially apparent at the commencement of the exercise.

Due to their ease of use and the rapid deployment cycle of Web 2.0 applications, there is an added advantage of a minimal learning curve to adopt these ‘transparent technologies’ allowing the Modelers to focus on the task at hand not the supporting tools. Most Web 2.0 tools are built on the basis of meeting a direct user requirement so tend to be intuitive and integrate well with other existing web applications.

Through the adoption of Andrew McAfee’s SLATES paradigm, Web 2.0 applications can be assessed for their appropriateness for use in a collaboration context. Using McAfee’s table as a guide, we can assess this functionality against Lindens’ Second Life application.

Second Life does offer the ability to search for both people and locations (maps). In the context of our process modelling exercise, this allowed the project team to find other members and also create a site to conduct the exercise. In addition, other Second Life users with appropriate access rights can also discover the process models and may choose to offer input. This ability to locate and share knowledge and expertise is one of the key benefits to using a virtual world platform.

The sharing of links or URL’s to other Second Life locations can be easily accomplished either “in world” or via supporting technologies such as wiki’s or blogs. In the context of this modelling exercise, any knowledge or process models created can then be easily shared with other sites and Second Life users.

The level of Authorship allowed in Second Life is high due to the generally open access model in place. Each participant is able to function “in world” independently of others in the modeling team and contribute their knowledge, experience and insight to the project. By way of example, to support our process modeling exercise we established a team wiki site, used to collate and organize reference material and an overall project plan.

Second Life does not offer a tagging function which categorizes potential search variables and terms. Some sites such as Flickr for sharing photographs or the delicious social bookmarking site use tagging to group large amounts of similar data to improve the quality of search returns. Tagging would provide visibility to data searching trends and patterns within Second Life.

Further to Tagging is the concept of Extensions whereby similar information is offered to the User “if you are looking at that, then by extension you will want to look at this”. Second Life does not offer this level of functionality.

This final element relates to the ability to feed or signal when new content is added on sites of interest. An example of this would be RSS or “Really Simple Syndication”. Having an embedded RSS feed within Second Life would allow project team members to be alerted when new information was added or changes made to the collaboration project.

An initial period of learning the basic functionality was followed by exploration and research into the environment and it’s practical use by other corporations. Interestingly, we discovered that the world’s largest corporations such as IBM and Accenture are using Second Life in the same manner as our intended purpose.
The actual “in world” process modeling experience was highly valuable and much more collaborative than I had envisaged. The use of the provided tools supported by the chat function allowed the project team to easily discuss and alter the process model in real time. I believe the added functionality of voice would be a major benefit to this exercise.

Conceptually, the use of a private space for process modeling by a geographically dispersed team is highly possible in Second Life. This approach is a step beyond the traditional video-conference approach as mannerisms and other non verbal signals can also be used to convey intent