Category Archives: enterprise2.0

How to be a CIO in a 2.0 world


This morning I had the pleasure to be the guest pundit at the breakfast meeting of the Toronto CIO organization. The question of the day was to embrace social media tools within the IT structure of traditional large enterprise and how to attract and retain talent amongst the younger and net-savvy generation. In their words:

“‘“Why We Won’t Work for You:’ Many bright, young minds elude large corporate employers. We will seek to gain an understanding from these individuals why the traditional corporate workplace, policies and social network lacks appeal. Discussions will focus on managing policies surrounding social networking in the workplace and how to effectively engage the commitment and maximize the contributions of this valuable corporate resource.”

Here’s some of my notes of that conversation:

  • Try to spend most of your day enabling rather than denying the use of technology
    Security and privacy and compliance are all important but if you don’t spend at least as much time balancing those needs against productivity, agility and user frustration it won’t be that long before you have no users left.
  • The future of IT is about being coaches not nannies
    There are two types people in your organization those that know they deserve better IT and those poor souls so conditioned by years of using the same 4 MSOffice apps on the same crappy hardware that they have no idea. Get out there and give them both the coaching and access to tools to be effective, not just the long list of policies of what you are not allowed to do with your computer.
  • The future of IT is about seeing tech support as an opportunity driver not a cost center
    Too often I see organizations chasing false economies in technologies. Minimizing support costs, is not the same thing as maximizing productivity. The lowest “total cost of ownership” for IT assets is to just deny your employees access to the functions of their computers. Incidentally, this is pretty much the mindset of how Windows Vista was designed. We need to give our IT managers the right incentives and recognition for driving increases in firm productivity and employee work/life satisfaction.
  • GoogleApps have raised our expectations.
    One might wonder why Google can, for free, give me GBs upon GBs of instantly searchable and magically archived email while meanwhile my fortune 500 enterprise gives me draconian inbox limits and painful searching and archiving.

  • Blocking webmail or Facebook is futile.
    You lost this battle the day the iPhone was launched. Increasingly employees will be bringing their own pocket computers (phones) and connections with them no matter what you think about that.
  • There is no clean separation between working and social life.
    Work contacts are also social contacts, twitter/Facebook/IM et all are versatile and multipurpose tools. By using them at work you might tap your twitter network to help answer a pressing work-related question, you might be using FB or IM to more efficiently balance work and life stay in touch socially with friends/family and thereby be able, willing to spend more time in the office.
  • Take a tour of a startup
    Want to know what’s possible and what of the latest tool work in the real world. Leave the office for a day and take a tour of a startup, one of your small vendors or digital agencies and see what tricks, what cloud apps, what Google Apps the small companies are using.

  • Trust
    It’s also about trust, if you can’t trust your people to get their job done and use the tools and internet access responsibly, then why did you hire them? If you can’t trust your employees, your clients or the public with open forums to communicate with each other and give you honest and authentic feedback then what kind of operation are you running?
  • Enterprise2.0 as transformational
    Finally, there was a lot of talk about the end-game in social media in the enterprise. Better tools as an enabler of a flatter and more empowering organization to be able to identify and nourish leaders, especially younger or more junior leaders that otherwise might be buried in your org structure.

What other advice would you add?

Asking CIOs the wrong questions about Enterprise 2.0

Why aren’t corporate CIO’s flocking to blogs, wikis and other social tools as fast as you’d think? Nearly two thirds of CIO’s in a recent survey responded that they have no plans to introduce “blogs” or “wikis”. And (cough) “virtual worlds” scored even lower. ITWorld Canada interviewed me the other day on this subject. Here’s an excerpt of what I had to say:

But according to tech blogger and Firestoker co-founder Thomas Purves, the problem might be finding the right tools to use. Virility doesn’t work in the enterprise space as easily as it does on the open Web, said Purves. “If you have firewalls in the way, what one business is using internally, the business right next door to them has no idea…what’s going on there or what value they might be getting out of it. So it’s really hard for ideas, when they do work, to spread,” he said. “I think also some of the best tools are coming out of companies who aren’t the established IT providers…smaller startups who don’t have the distribution and the marketing reach necessary to get their story out there.”

Another obstacle may be the tools themselves, added Purves. “It’s been really slow for businesses to discover some of the values of social technology, but at the same time, a lot of social technology providers have had a tough time marketing to business or even necessarily adopting their products ideally for business as opposed to a consumer environment.”

“On the consumer side, blogs have definitely been here for a while and have been used a lot, but on the business side, not a lot of companies are doing it. I see a lot more companies using blogs internally, for maybe their collaboration tools or for their projects, but not necessarily externally communicating to their customers or their clients,” said Abramovitch.

“Blogs and wikis were version 1.0 of Web 2.0,” said Purves. “They were like direct, ‘Let’s take a few tools that have worked for Wikipedia with the blogosphere and let’s just bring them straight into the enterprise.’ I think you have to do a little bit more work than that to make tools that really work in a business environment.”

…According to Purves, online collaboration tools should be a top consideration. “Tools that empower employees and let the leadership emerge within organizations is going to be important.”…

“Inevitably, in organizations, you’re working on a project that someone was working on three years ago and you just had no idea. There’s so much reinventing the wheel and so many resources are trapped within people’s heads. Unless you have some of these social tools to expose knowledge that’s out there and get it exchanged, you don’t necessarily have those rich interactions,” said Purves.

More and the full article here: Canadian CIOs shun blogs, wikis and virtual worlds

There is whole other subtext going on here too that I should get around to doing a separate post about “Why asking CIOs about Enterprise 2.0 can be like asking dinosaurs about meteorites”.

Enterprise 2.0, two years in

About 2 years ago I started to think and work on an idea called Enterprise2.0. It felt to me at the time that changes that were just beginning to change the consumer internet at the time were really only the cusp of something bigger. That the more human, coperative and cloud based tools of “social” media would and could see there most transformative effects on the way we work and the way organizations from small to big and even at the enterprise scale are destined to evolve (seemlingly to me, the bigger the bureaucracy the more dire the need). A lot of this thinking (and pretty lofty goals) are what went into the firestoker project which Jevon Macdonald and I were working on.

Here’s a presentation I gave to introde an EnterpriseCamp and the idea of Enterprise 2.0 back in November of 2006. Looking back on it, the deck still feels surprisingly precient (and I’m noticing continues to get a fair bit of attention over at

It’s been 18 months now and the world has evolved rapidly. And yet I still feel there is a long way to go. Back in 2006, I asked ended with a series of questions, do you think we are closer answering them yet?

    But we’re only at the Beginning

  1. What will these new tools look like?
  2. What new problems will they create?
  3. How do we teach new work behavior?
  4. What about resistance to change?
  5. Which industries will be the first to embrace change?
  6. Which will fall behind?

Trouble at the Video Store Part 2

My last post [Trouble at the video store] seemed to have caused a bit of an “OMG I Know” stir in the comments.

Here is the other shoe.

Clearly the video rental model, like that of the CD store is well known, even by it’s owners, as obsolesced industry coasting through it’s sunset years. Despite a diminishing base, they can probably make money a while yet provided they don’t have to invest heavily to change anything. Sure it’s increasingly anachronistic, but if the system still works for now, what the heck right.

What’s bigger though is the much broader parable to retail in general.

There’s a lot of the connected and information-rich experience we now take for granted in online shopping world which is still conspicuously and almost entirely absent not just at Blockbuster but also at your favourite clothing retailer, home/office despots, grocery store or nifty boutique for that matter.

So much thought, tech and innovation poured into eccommerce shopping. Yet the grand prize, the retail retailing market is still out there and nearly 10 times as big. A few innovations like credit cards and elevator music aside, in 2008 we’re still shopping at retail with pretty much the same experience we had in 1908.

what gives?

There’s a general category to file this thought under: Easy Web2 stuff + thinking outside the screen + ubiquitous rich connectivity = the next big thing

It’s time to take “social” for granted

I would like to declare the social web officially invented already. Hoozah! It was a good, it was fun, like any tech boom, it made it’s share of wiz kids very successful and created a lot of value for the rest of us along the way too. Disastrous timesinks like Icanhascheezburger and Scrabulous not withstanding. Now lets move on.

The big deal in the late 90s was to have a business idea like “it’s a like giant petfood store but… wait for it… on the web

The big deal of this decade was “omg, it’s like [insert whatever here] but we’ll web 2.0 the hell out of it”

Here’s the news. This later idea is no longer interesting. It’s time is done. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still vast areas of everyday business, enterprise and government that still need to be beaten severely with the Web2.0 stick (even the Web1.0 stick would still help in some places). Rather, it’s now time to think of socialness and 2.0ness as “business as usual” in the IT industry. The substantive battle is over, this is a mopping up operation. And there’s a ton of rolling up the sleeves and value to unlock left to do in almost any vertical industry. [yes you can contact tom[at] to learn more about my agreeable professional services rates and lets get started]

Over time, the tools, tricks and interfaces for making social apps will continue to evolve. In much the same way that basic web interface design, SEO and architecting for scalability continues to evolve – as a specialist field, off of the main stage.

However, if you are the next young wiz kid innovator or trying to disrupt everything, forget about social. Oh sure, your app will certainly be social. But that’s just a basic prerequisite now, like an app being webaccessible in the first place is something we can take for granted. Social is no longer the goal onto itself, it’s the baseline from which to build on.

Rather than meta-obsessing over Social and talking about talking about social, it’s time that we all just got on to the next wave of using these great tools available to solve real human, consumer and business problems.

Next week: Building Web3.0, why it’s time to start taking Mobile for granted too…

LIFT08 Notes: Genevieve Bell, Intel, do our digital worlds require secrets and (white) lies?

Genevieve is an ethnographer looking at digital culture and the necessity of “lying”

45%5 of mobile users have lied about wherabouts in sms
100% of online daters lie about height or weight

James Katz says entering arms race of digital deception she locked herself out of flickr because she lied about her age and forgot which lie she told what might an ethnographic intervention yield here?

telling lies is always bad, most religions and legal systems are against lying but keeping and telling secrets is more ambiguous, and white lies are okay in some cases

hindu proverb “any number of lies is okay as long as the wedding still happens” we tell somewhere btw 6-200 lies a day some theorists argue that lying is necessary part of surviving daily life notion that all info should be equal and avail to all is a new concept are icts succeeding in part bc they facilitate our lying ways or because lies are needed to keep us safe.

Israeli researchers find that online deception appears to be an enjoyable activity. guild, fear, shame largly absent newer technology arriving that can’t help but tell the truth.

Do secrets and lies offer new ways to think about privacy and security. do our digital worlds require secrets and lies?

My reaction: Fascinating question for social media. We often argue that transparency and accountability are naturally beneficial to efficiency and effectiveness of organizations.

Sure, organizations tell lies or at lest partial truths all the time. (Sometimes it’s called marketing)

But are there other little white lies (not to mention secrets) that are essential keeping a company going?

Most social networking is also about self marketing as well.

Perhaps enabling benevolent/harmless “lies” is a key and subtle but important factor in the success of any social media?

Aiim Enterprise 2.0 Survey

Dan writes:

Thomas – twitter led me here a few days ago, and occurred to me that you (and your readers) might lend a hand in our Enterprise 2.0 survey, freshly launched earlier today!

Nearly 100 responses so far, but we can always use more data. Survey closes Friday January 18th, 2008. 67 questions, roughly 30 minutes, it examines the state of understanding and adoption in technology, topics such as agile development, lean thinking and knowledge management, and more.

It’s a good survey, I’m as curious as they are to see the results


Google, changing of EnterpriseIT and I over at ITWorld

Had an interesting chat with Kathleen Lau at ItWorld Canada on Googles recent moves into the enterprise and the changing roll of IT in general. Here’s what I had to say:

There is an overall trend where employees are starting to either create or bring their own IT into the enterprise, said Tom Purves, co-founder of Toronto, Ont.-based provider of enterprise social media Firestoker. “They might make the decision to say ‘I don’t feel a need to do a business case to buy this software because it isn’t a $100,000-piece of software.”

Purves said with the commoditization of collaboration and communication tools, IT’s role will change, becoming less about everyday support, backups and passwords, and more about coaching users as to the best tools to choose to enhance their performance on the job. “There is an opportunity for IT departments to add a higher level of value because as much as Google is coming out with these tools, everybody else is coming out with great tools too.


Those IT departments that fail to realize their changing role either risk becoming redundant or having end users work around IT policies, said Purves. Besides, the business as a whole, will become less competitive and less nimble versus those who allow their employees to dabble in the myriad tools out there.

And on the individual level, IT department staff who recognize this inevitable job shift will ultimately advance their own careers, he added. ”

Read the whole piece here: Google enterprise exec predicts IT dept shakeup

The Case for Enterprise 2.0 Made Clear

A great catch by Bryce of a brilliantly deck on slide share hammering home the huge gap between the power of social media in the personal/consumer space vs in the enterprise/business world.

Of course it’s a lot easier to implement social media in the public/personal realm where confidentiality, key controls, petty office politics can be significant challenges. But it’s time we overcame them.

Are you in an office? Look your head over the cubicle and do you know what that guy two cubicles down actually does? how about the rest of the floor? how about the rest of the global enterprise, partners, suppliers distributors etc?

Guilds as a model for new (un)organizational behaviour

Michele Perras has a great article up on her blog about the emergent signal of tech-and-media-enabled communities and how they do and don’t echo a very old form of organization of professionals guilds.

looking at the innumerable communities that have emerged and exploded, in large part due to what people are doing with web/mobile technology, over the past 15 years or so, it’s apparent that their underlying social and economic structures are guild-like.”

” historically, guilds existed to create and share innovative developments and specific forms of knowledge – such as the practices of goldsmithing or stonemasonry or other recording of ideas into tangible form. guilds primarily relied on the manipulation and transformation of materials into social, cultural, economic, political or military capital, and were key in the emergence of money and credit as goods were produced and exchanged on larger and larger scales, across greater geographic territories and cultures. the ability to utilize a raw material’s transition into a cultural artifact with high economic value was highly prized and, in cases such as the medieval guilds, extremely protected within a particular guild.

access to those communities required commitment and authenticity – and i don’t think mastery was never truly acquired as your learning never really ended -… knowledge, and the skills to implement and innovate upon it, was the most powerful competitive advantage you could have…”

As Michele says “sounds familiar?”

Good stuff! read on… [ the re-emergence of the guild, pt one ]

Implications to Enterprise2.0: To me Michele’s analysis also ties to the memes of ‘Open Innovation‘ and Wikinomics. Critical knowledge (and IP) creation, once key basis for proprietary competitive advantage, is happening as much in the ‘digital guild’ the interstitial spaces in-between as opposed to within the walls of organizations and wholly owned R&D departments.

The Robotification of Usability Design

1998-2000 Human to web interaction, Web Usability, Human factors. The great bubble of Web-enabling networked databases and applications – like Online Banking,, lets sell pet food online etc. (eBay never heard of usability)

2001-2005 Website to robot interaction design, the golden age of Search Engine Optimization

2004-2006 Human to Human and social web interaction, funny how no one thought of this sooner. Web 2.0 and all that.

2007- Robot to Robot web interaction, Microformats, CAPCHA’s and RSS the carrots, sticks and duct tape of mashups. APIs and widget sandboxes of Facebook, Salesforce and google/yahoo/OSX desktops where our applets do our browsing for us and play -maybe- nice with each other. RSS made interacting with websites redundant, now robots will read our RSS for us too, sometimes with the aide of the ‘community’ acting as the proxy of intelligence.

In this scheme we’re somewhere between users and used. Human-mediated robot interaction etc. Which part of Artificial Artificial Inteligence (google it) becomes an oxymoron? It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Welcome to Web3.0.

The Tricks and Challenges of Social Computing in the Office

Great set of notes (thanks Stephanie!) on Suw Charman’s recent talk at google (been meaning to link to this for a while) on the tricky art of introducing social software to the office.

“Low-level fear of social humiliation. How are they going to come across to their peers and bosses? Fear of making mistake. People don’t realise they’re afraid, they just feel a bit uncomfortable talking /publicly/ to their collegues. E-mail is different because it feels private, it’s 1-1 communication…

ut often if permission isn’t explicitly given to use such tools, that will really get in the way. “Blogs as diaries”, etc — psychological mismatch. What the boss /thinks/ blogs are, and what they are used for in business.”

“Some very mundane use cases: Disney used blogs to announce events (threw away their customer crappy tool). Personal knowledge management — “what have I been doing, what stuff do I need to find again?” Person who has to report on what he’s doing: blog about it, and let boss read. Competitive intelligence. What’s happening out there/in here. Also, “oh this is interesting!” — people blogging about social things, not business-related things. Actually good, allows people to get to know each other. steph-note: I think Google understands that. We tend to underestimate the importance of social relationships in business.”

The office as occupied territory, and three rules for collaboration

Jevon today had an entertaining riff on positive vs pejorative connotations of “collaboration”.

However you look at it, whether it’s collaborating with the occupying regime or subversive collaboration among La Résistance (so to speak), I would argue that effective collaboration in an organization requires 3 things:

  1. Opportunities to collaborate.
  2. Are your people finding where they are most needed, when faced with a major challenge or just a simple question, how easy is it to even find someone who could help you out. Are some cube dwellers near the breaking point with stress while others bored silly?

  3. Willingness to collaborate.
  4. Just because your people could be collaborating, are they? As a rule, the best people are already too busy, and no doubt the monthly/quarterly/yearly targets are already made up and probably your request isn’t on there. Are the social bonds, and the social incentives in place to do the right thing when the opportunity arises vs guarding one’s fiefdom, playing politics or just catching the home on time?

  5. Efficiency of collaboration.
  6. Okay assuming people are actually working together, how quickly and efficiently can they get stuff done? How quickly/easily can you share knowledge, keep track of projects in order to delegate work?

Traditionally IT has focused on doing a really good job at #3 (not that there isn’t still room for improvement in this area alone). Meanwhile, the softer human elements of 1,2 has been left to the fuzzy world of HR.

In my mind Social Computing*, when it works, is about putting in place the tools and practices for accelerating all three of these conditions for collaboration.

Vive La Revolucion?


* a.k.a. “Enterprise2.0” though more an more I’m liking the term Social Computing better.

Walkah on ID and the Implications of the Facebook Tidal Wave

Facebook continues to steamrolelr it’s way to becoming the defacto OS of the social web. With their new launch of applications, facebook is finally opening the door to federate all of our social identities under their umbrella. And it lets us developers build all manner of new social applications – without having to bother with recreating the fundamental plumbing of buddy lists, commenting and messaging etc. – and – (most importantly) lets any 3rd party social app leverage Facebook’s massively growing install base.

But is this how we wanted it to happen?

Walkah has a great post up today [Facebook apps and the importance of Identity 2.0] looking at the issues this creates

The problem here is that we, the users, don’t own our identity on the internet. There are walled gardens and data silos of information about us. Twitter and Facebook both have directory entries – a username and a password – that they use to identify me but there is no correlation that the directory entries match. I can’t verify that they do without giving one system full access to the other to verify that the username on each system actually correspond to the same person. This is where we need user-centric identity. This is “why OpenID”.

James will be leading a workshop on OpenID during the ‘camp’ portion of our E20 event on Tuesday
. Looking forward to the discussion.

Voip (finally?) Getting Interesting

According to this piece at the inq Intel has a crack at computer telephony by way of the WSJ, Intel (of all people) is looking to finally deliver on the promise of voip.

Voip for a long time has followed the all too common path of disruptive path of not really disrupting anything at all. The voip story for a long time has been all about copying exactly what the old technology did with a new technology at a lower price – rather that trying to radically re-think what’s possible with the new media outside of the old constraints.

Out of the blue, here’s Intels remedy for reimagining voip:

Intel is working on ideas that will give broader access to online meetings with TiVo-style playback, instant captioning of conversations and translation into multiple languages.

It also wants to make improvements to the quality of calls and improve security and reliability. By 2008, Grobman expects to add an isolated layer of software called a “collaboration virtual appliance.” Once installed, the crash of a PC’s main operating system wouldn’t interrupt a VOIP call or conference.

Other tools could include identification of the the current speaker during a conference call, or to mute a participant who is generating background noise. Grobman said that he would like to see automatic transcription or translation of conferences. more

I just though this interesting in the context of my last post on Enterprise Search. Of anyone, you would think the MS Office/Sharepoint crew should be thinking hard about indexing audio and the future of voip… etc.

Intel is, of course, behind any new idea that means we all need faster chips (multiple streams of transcoded, transcribed, translated and voice conversations (all neatly tagged and auto-indexed) done realtime on every desktop sure would do the trick).

What do you think is the real killer app for digital voice in the workplace?

(and I know what your are going to say, that Nortel had this all figured out in 1993 and cisco and nortel probably even ran dueling tv commercials on the idea in the dotcon days, but what became of that right?)