Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Being a Blogmother

About 20 people came out last Thursday for my spur-of-the-moment social media 101 workshop. Thrilled with attendance given snowy blowy conditions across the Waterloo region. Even had a New Yorker fly up specifically for the networking opportunity and to enjoy a social evening with a group of tremendous people in the local tech/ECM community. So grateful to Kristina of the Laudi Group, a recruiter here in the area for stopping by on short notice - hoping some good connections were made.

About half of the group were newly unemployed - looking for tips on how to start or at least spiff up their online professional profiles.

The other half still employed know that they need to take control of their voice, their web presence and ultimate career path. Because no one can rely on a boss or a company to do that for you.

(yes I used this cartoon - thanks again to the brilliant Hugh MacLeod)

Within 6 hours, one new blog was launched. Welcome Brigid Greenway's The KISS Principle of Lead Generation. Brigid is goddess of the numbers and metrics of all things lead and demand generating and her perspectives are that of a pro. If you are looking for marketing insights earned in the trenches with real blood, sweat and tears, please check her out.

Within 24 hours, I've seen about a dozen LinkedIn profiles updated and refreshed. I've had a couple of newbie Twitter followers. Glad that the workshop inspired action.

I could have talked about this stuff all night, but wanted to make sure there was ample time for networking, hugs and sharing of other success (and #fail) stories.

What we heard:
  • Squeals of joy when someone first searched for the hashtag #jobs on Twitter
  • Amazement of someone who changed his LinkedIn status to 'no longer employed' and immediately got 6 messages promising to pass along leads
  • A great lady who confessed she got her last job because she put up a Facebook status saying she was in the mood for something new
  • Confession of an "ah-ha" moment when a tech manager got followed by a major analyst firm after retweeting an article link
Job Hunting 2.0 is a bit of an obsession with me right now. My own recent career change experience solidified a lot of the Enterprise 2.0 evangelism I've done over last 2 years, but with some new perspectives that I really wanted to share with those who need it.
  • LinkedIn *is* your resume now. And your Google juice is your reference check. To this day I've never sent Eric a resume or a reference - and never will. But I fear that increasingly in tech marketing having no presence means not being qualified.
  • Quit worrying about how you're going to accommodate the Gen Y'ers in the workplace - and worry more about why they will want to hire you. There is a new generation of entrepreneurial talent that is skipping the usual management bureaucracy path and just building their own company.
  • If you bitch and moan about not having time to build an online professional profile - stop doing something in your life that is useless. For most it means turning off the fucking TV. Get off the couch. Stop consuming passive media: Read. Write. Engage. No one knows how brilliant you are unless you prove it. Show your work.
Being connected professionally means you have people who know and trust you watching your back. Can't think of anything more important in times of instability and uncertainty. Don't ignore the people around you who walk the talk.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Social Media 101 - Building a Better Professional Profile Online

Been a tough week hearing about more layoffs in the Waterloo / Toronto tech community. Some fantastic and talented people out there right now.

So... If you are newly unemployed, and worried that you need a better online professional presence, I'm inviting you to come out on Thursday December 10.

Or... if you are still gainfully employed, but concerned that your lack of web presence is holding you back from new opportunities... I'm inviting you to come out on Thursday December 10.

Bring enthusiasm, a couple of concrete goals, be prepared to chat about what has/has not worked for you so far.

And if there's any local recruiters listening in... please pop in to meet some top notch talent.

Location: Huether Hotel - Third Floor Boardroom
Time: 7-8pm workshop - informal networking after 8pm
No charge - but please RSVP directly to me at

See you there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dropping Your Pants on the Second Date

I heard the expression "you sell like you buy" from my first ECM mentor back in the mid/late 1990s. Glad to see it still has relevance with the cool kids more than a decade later.

As I enter week #7 as Chief Marketing officer for Nuxeo (Open Source Enterprise Content Management), I am pleased to report tremendous progress on plan approvals, prioritization of marketing activities, even a budget that got all the right heads nodding on version 2. Yay team.

In the last 72 hours I made 4 important decisions on 2010 marketing spend.

2 were YES decisions
2 were NO decisions

Actually - that's not quite right. All 4 proposals were requested by me. Because I know what I want and need. The NOs were not meant to be "NO", more "can you go back to the drawing board".

The 2 yes decisions were made because the vendors listened to exactly what I had to say, wrote down what I asked for, repeated it back to me on the phone or in email, and when the contract was shipped over, I reviewed it, and yelled down the hallway for a PO number.

The 2 no decisions were for vendors who sent proposals that were ever so slightly off - but ultimately very salvageable. I asked them to go back and revise because in one case, the geographical focus was wrong. Right thing, right time, wrong place. In the other case the timing was wrong. Right thing, right place, wrong time.

But in both cases, when the first "No, but ..." came out of my mouth, the guy on the phone immediately dropped the price. As though a discount was going to change something important. I actually thought in both cases that the original price was entirely fair. What I wanted was a re-focus and alternative time-line, not a blue plate special.

Making the service cheaper doesn't make it more attractive. It makes it cheaper. And now I question whether it's worth anything at all.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Disclaimer: I rant because I care

This week I attended quite possibly the meatiest, most useful marketing conference of my career. Massive and unequivocal kudos to the event organizers, presenters, sponsors and volunteers. I will tell everyone I know to go next year.

Every session was delivered by a kick ass, energetic expert with real street cred behind him/her. I walked out with pages of typed notes of things I can actually apply to my business – today. Chatted with some cool and utterly charming new acquaintances many of whom I've gotten to know via online social networks. Such fun to put real live faces and smiles to the twitter Ids.

But. As PeeWee Herman said, “there's always a big but”.

Leaving the venue after a Molson 67 (thanks guys for being great supporters) and moseyed towards the train station, I started getting a little annoyed. And then a bit more annoyed, and I could not figure out why my day of awesomeness had actually kind of pissed me off.

And then it hit me on the train. I didn't get one of my major needs met.

I went to the event with my newbie CMO hat on. Not as one of the wannabe cool kids, but as a willing prospect.

And I wanted to be marketed to.

And only 1 person actually did.

The session themes were all consistent – this is the era of word of mouth, word of click, permission-based marketing, using social networks to know your prospects, being clueful about who's around you. We all sat there in the same room, nodding in unison, tweeting the highlights together. We were all on the same page, weren't we?

Ugh. Painful to realize that no, we weren't.

In July I worked on a pretty cool project helping build out persona research for technology buyers and influencers. I even wrote a sales training storyboard with a CMO character who talked about pain points and priorities and what haunts at night. And wow, now I get to live that character.

So if you were an up and coming PR or creative agency, or a software company building cool shit to optimize web business, or had a new brilliant angle on web marketing, wouldn't you kill to talk to a CMO who is 30 days into a new gig, is doing a thorough review of the entire company go-to-market strategy and has tweeted about working on her 2010 marketing plans? Someone heads down figuring out how take the North American market by storm? Who's working with a team of brilliant developers and business managers focused on growth? Who wants to use digital marketing techniques because they want to be lean, mean and innovative? Someone who came out and spent a full day of her time specifically to find you?

By attending the conference I gave permission to be pitched. By attending the sessions I did I gave permission to hear how you can help me next year. If during the break I asked who your company was and who your audience is, I did because I'm planning a budget, not because you were cute. And in a few cases I did actually say “your company” because what was written on the badge was unpronounceable. Might wanna rethink that part.

I'm a walk the talk kind of person. That's why I loved Barry Quinn's quote during the agency panel discussion. Thanks guys @Mondoville for also finding it entertaining. And to the one person who gave me a card and offered to show me something I've never seen before, I'll ping you next week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Labels Matter? Some Thoughts from a Shiny New Marketing Exec

Yesterday more industry buzz about some of the shifts and disruption in the ranks of the ECM/CMS world - including a couple of comments about my new role as CMO at Nuxeo.

First some good questions posed by Ron Miller, in an editorial for FierceContentManagement: "Does the Open Source Label Still Matter?"

...and then some thought-provoking comments from Tony Byrne in his Trendwatch blog for CMSWatch, "Software Empires Striking Back".

After thinking to myself, "Whoa, like, no pressure, eh?" and crawling out from under the covers, I sat down and really thought about what kind of shift is going on out there.

  • Ron is right - the product is the product is the product. Peel back the layer of 'brand' and 'voice' and 'label' and ultimately the issue is that business people are choking on content overload and want things to get better. Good product has to find the audience who needs it. Good product should not have any hidden surprises or catches when someone wants to use it. Good product deserves to be used without the hoops and loops and nightmarish license negotiation and oh-so-predictable quarterly discounting charades that is pervasive across most segments of the enterprise software business. If you like what Nuxeo produces, you just go get it. Here, in fact: . Tell them I sent you..because like Ron says, this is how I'll be judged ;-)
  • Tony is right - Better story-telling doth not make for better software. But good software that doesn't have a good story is a tree falling in the forest. Nuxeo has invested in an ECM foundation that was built for this century - not the last one. Yeah, yeah, we scale big for lots of content and lots of users... but guess what? we scale really lean and small and skinny too. We've entered the world of mobile, social, decentralized enterprises. And their needs are new. This is the part that made me go "hmm" when I started learning about the Nuxeo offering. And beyond story-telling, I'm heads down figuring out the priorities for lead gen, analyst relations, product branding, launch checklists, learning a new WCM application and helping expand the North American team.
So do does the label "open source" matter? Well, yes, but not for the usual reasons. Ultimately feature for feature Nuxeo needs to compete on how good it is, not because it has open source as its development and licensing model. Companies in the information economy have specific ECM needs - we have to meet those requirements to do our job.

Where it *does* matter, however, is the inherent flexibility the open source model gives, because Nuxeo is committed to innovation. Our own core development is augmented by partners and customers - it is the living breathing example of the social marketplace in action. The barriers to customer engagement and evolving requirements disappear. Cost and time to market become an advantage as we keep up with the shift in how content is created and consumed across enterprise.

I really recommend you read some of our CEO's thoughts on why this business model works - here's Eric's blog: or follow him on twitter @ebarroca.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Comfort Zone is Just a Rut with Padding

Wished a friend good luck with her new job earlier this morning and that phrase just popped out of no-where. Now I've been thinking about it all day. She works for the government, and wants to be a writer. She should be: she's clever, insightful, and she wants to be read. So she puts effort into finding an audience. After a few years of mid level clerical jobs, she's finally found a position where she can use her analytical and research skills. We wondered (through our primary communication method - discussion forum private messages) why it took so long.

It's easy to recognize when one is in a rut - crabbiness, impatience, frustration, sensing something is wrong but not sure how to fix it. And then there's the comfort zone - it's the safe, warm place that's a little dull and routine but ultimately good enough.

So when does the comfort zone become the rut?

It's when the fluffy cozy bits start to wear thin and the stubbly edges of the previously unseen rut start to scratch and scuff. It's when a favourite project ends and there's nothing interesting ahead, or a colleague throws you under the bus, or a manager ignores your contribution. Figuring out that you've failed to progress because you've been protected or lied to about what's going on outside. It's when you realize that the form-fitted mattress was filled with air and not substance. It's when you are shocked to realize the cushy title and corner office was just a padded cell.

Update - lent my copy of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers to another friend last night. Handing it over, realized I had dog-eared a page. Looked at what I had flagged. It was the section on the Korean Airline pilots and how cultural norms needed to be recognized and addressed before behaviours could be changed in the interest of air safety.

Now I remember. I read that chapter nibbling on some lovely charcuterie and sipping a rosé, sitting by myself one night in Paris. Just like the chief engineer quoted in the anecdote, many of us get squeamish when it comes to calling out corporate culture as a root cause of fear and failure.

The attitudes, assumptions and ingrained behaviour adopted by the pilots had now become a contributing factor to serial disaster. Even though this very behaviour was expected by peers to fit in and get along in the workplace.

"We took them out of their culture and re-normed them".

Taking individuals out of the comfort zone of a world-view shaped by bullying...exposing them to new ideas and methodologies...breaking stereotypes and dispensing with de-humanizing hierarchy...building an environment where it is safe to speak truth to power.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Implications for the Next Generation Office - A Day with InfoTrends

On Wednesday, I delivered a session at the Office Document Strategy & Solutions Summit - hosted by InfoTrends, a leading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry.

A big thanks to InfoTrends Omri Duek and Anne Valaitis who invited me to participate and served as impeccable hosts, introducing me to a great group of like-minded digital content professionals.

Titled "Generation Gap: Implications for the Next Generation Office", (abbreviated version of the slide deck here on SlideShare), I was asked to design a session to spur some debate and discussion, to get the attendees to think about their own changing business models and the disruptive forces that are compelling their customers to think differently.

The Disruptive Forces on my radar...
  • Economic uncertainty and how businesses are questioning traditional assumptions in an effort to stay lean and competitive
  • Loss of Corporate Memory - the ultimate irony of the information age... poor record-keeping and content sharing practices means we risk losing decades of intellectual property and mentorship potential as experienced workers leave the organization
  • Businesses - even small ones - become global. Use of the web means bigger audience to reach, companies need to create content to be consumed by all the senses in order to get around language barriers
  • Greening of the Enterprise - where can costs be cut - both $$ and reduction of carbon footprint
  • Gen Y Enters the Management Ranks and brings with them differently wired work habits
  • We enter the Era of Peak E-Mail - no longer a productivity enabler but has evolved into a productivity inhibitor
  • The Mobile Era Emerges - content is created and consumed on a whole new category of communication devices
  • Rise of Open Source, Cloud Computing, SaaS - erosion of traditional IT practices and business models of software companies
  • Web 2.0 - Adoption of new collaborative content creation tools becomes mainstream, increasingly recognized as electronically stored information by regulatory and legal authorities
Expect to hear more from me on many of these topics over the next few months... new approaches to Enterprise Content Management demands a recognition of the changed business environment affecting customers and prospects.

My session was followed by a fantastic presentation from Sun's Gary Lombardo. His content provided a natural continuation and deeper dive into the themes I introduced. Particularly valuable was his practical and proven methodology for how to start, maintain and grow a community initiative for business (internal or external audience).

What did I learn at the event? The most intriguing discussion I had was over lunch, with a couple of very sharp and funny ladies from Taylor Business Equipment (a certified Women's Business Enterprise) in Chicago. They educated me on the environmental and preservation issues as the printer industry evolves into adoption of solid ink devices. What does that mean for our next generation of physical content artifacts? My nerdy historian spider-sense starting tingling at this one.

Maybe that will be a topic for next year's event...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Next Adventure in ECM Begins...

The press release makes it official, I've joined Nuxeo – the Open Source ECM company as their first ever Chief Marketing Officer. I am absolutely thrilled to take this next step and explore a new angle on content management. Nuxeo is a small company but they are racking up some pretty impressive customer names, showing solid growth, and investing in some strategic hires over the coming months to expand their development, sales and marketing organization.

My path to Nuxeo was fun. Call it Recruiting 2.0 if you must, but it all happened through the online social marketplace of ideas. A few months ago, Nuxeo CEO Eric Barroca set out to find an ECM marketing professional who could help take them to the next level as a company and brand. Eric himself is an active blogger and twitter user, so he looked around the ECM community networks and well, he found me. He looked at the companies and individuals who were doing the things that he liked and took the effort to personally reach out and extend an invitation to chat.

Honestly, I had no plans to leave my last job. 10 years with an ECM powerhouse and I was pretty happy and busy. But the personal outreach by Eric compelled me to return the call, even after years of ignoring head hunters and recruiters. I called because HE reached out personally – a respected veteran of ECM in a very senior role in a small but growing company. I've been in this biz long enough to know that relationships matter. During our first meeting I mentioned this to him. Had a third party recruiter contacted me instead, I never would have returned the call. He said “I know”.

So why Nuxeo, why now? The Open Source angle fascinated me. Could something really be Free? And Good? And have a nice UI? Maybe I really have drunk the Kool-Aid on the concepts of transparency, openness, flatness, simplification. Over the last 18 months I've been living and breathing the world of Enterprise 2.0 and what it means to be 'Social' inside business and strive for collaboration with customers and partners. It just all makes more sense now.

I started to imagine a world where companies could just get on with it. Get ECM tools that meet their needs. Implement on their terms. Stop playing sales-cycle theatre. Ignore the middle men. No more shameful ROI spreadsheet gymnastics pleading for permission to do the right thing.

Nuxeo has created a gift to the community of people and companies who care about our digital legacy. It is a gift that they've offered freely and openly to companies who are ready to just get on with it. My job – the way I see it – is to be Chief Educator. Tell as many people as we can about possibilities, potential and new ways of working. Companies who survive the uncertainties of today's business environment will do so because they've been creative, they've innovated and they've paid attention to the bottom line.

Still have lots to learn, and weeks ahead will be busy. Check out the Nuxeo site, follow us on Twitter... more to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Defense of the Whitepaper

Some interesting debate on twitter yesterday, provoked by @GeorgeDearing who challenged:

when's the last time you read a whitepaper? That's my #dinosauroftheday

Now I fully admit to being a 'digital immigrant', but not only do I *read* white papers, I like to write them too.

Why not just blog the key points? Does anybody really want to download, print and read a 10-20 page sales pitch? Isn't there a better way to articulate non-sucky vendor messaging? The criticism is fair - but let's try to get to the root of the problem: most technology white papers are now salesy schlock. It's not the container, it's the content.

Here's where I see the value of a good white paper...

  • Complex ideas require more than 500 words. Product strategy, new approaches, shifts in market conditions that compel a rethink or addition to a vendor roadmap deserve full articulation.
  • A white paper is the vendor equivalent of showing their work - it can be the public explanation and rationale behind specific product capabilities, target markets, platform/architectural decisions.
  • Somebody needs to be able to tell a cohesive end to end story - if the big picture story (the "why") can be clearly articulated, odds are the vendor really gets what they're doing. Piecemeal topics scattered across a few blogs that have no apparent common theme, clarity of cohesion don't give me the confidence that there is a common shared purpose behind the roadmap.
  • Good white papers feed the content machine for weeks / months to come. Specific sections CAN be chopped up and tailored for a variety of other consumptions channels - blogs, tweets, short articles for online or print, bullet points for an in person or web-based seminar. So when an analyst, customer, or prospect thinks to themselves, wow, these guys really get it because the message all makes sense, you can thank the white paper that spawned the little content artifacts.
Showing mastery of some concepts *is* in fact an essay question. While readership may be lower for the 15 pg PDF compared to the 500 word blog post, let's not forget the value that compounds from having a rich extended understanding of a key theme.

If white papers are dinosaurs, it's because they've been hijacked by lame marketing hacks, not because our audience is too stupid to read past page 3. Blame the content, not the container.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Skipping the Middle Man

Spent a lot of time over the last two weeks saying good bye & best wishes to many long time colleagues as I get ready for the next adventure in ECM. One common pattern that's emerged from these chats? Inevitably I ended up telling my favourite people: "Skip the Middle Men. They Don't Get It. Talk Directly to Your Audience Because They Do".

Product marketing, product management and consulting professionals in the enterprise software business write a lot. So why do so few of the really good ones blog? Technology companies inevitably spend precious marketing dollars on PR agencies, media and analyst relations, and rightfully celebrate each hard-earned opportunity to submit an article, get interviewed, talk about their product.

But why wait? Why not just write? Umm...for free?

This fear is not limited to software marketers. Was a bit shocked to spend time this week with some friends in the arts - writers, journalists, broadcast specialists. They don't do it either. They rely on agencies, publishers, middle men to find them work. Of course they need to be paid for their work - it's their profession, but how is anyone going to find them? The middle men have all the evidence of their skills but the buying audience can't find it. Talent hidden is talent useless. Tree falls in the forest....etc etc etc.

But who are these middle men in the enterprise software world? It's anyone who is not a potential buyer or user. It's sales, corporate marketing, brand police, R&D who think they know best because they supervise that guy who wrote the code.

It took me a while to put my finger on it, and after talking to people in several other companies, realize it's not a situation unique to any particular part of the technology world. But I see the pattern consistently now - the subject matter experts don't write for their customer audience, they feel obligated to write for the middle men.

Training materials for people who don't want to be trained. Inane verbal gymnastics to satisfy the chieftains wanting to protect their turf brand. High paid executives and flown-in consultants who hide away in conferences rooms squeezing the lifeblood out of any original thought leadership.

So if I didn't get a chance to say it in person, I'm saying it now. Skip the middle men. They don't get it. Write for the audience who wants to hear you. Start a blog, engage in expert communities, go to local association meetings, take off the gag of fear, take pride in your work, feel proud to put your name on something meaningful, put some skin in the game, live in the market, not in a spreadsheet, channel energy externally not internally, share your knowledge, target people who will read you, don't waste time on those who won't.

Related posts: Make Your Content a Social Object / ROI in Age of Narcissism

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inspired by @Piewords

Was great fun to see Laurence Hart of Word of Pie blog fame recounting our thoroughly enjoyable evening of doc-man nostalgia. Always such a treat to find another closet ERD nerd. Pretty shocking to think that we worked for the same Director at PC DOCS/Fulcrum for a few months in 1999-2000 -- yet we never met in person until this year, despite an incredibly tangled and overlapping professional social graph.

So in response to his query to the ECM community, "What made you commit to the content space", here's mine:

Spring 1990 and I had just finished my first year of History MA classes at Carleton U in Ottawa. The previous fall I had purchased a one-way Greyhound bus ticket, packed up my worldly possessions and left my hometown, despite not knowing a soul in Ottawa or having more than a month's rent in my pocket.

Scraped through that first year working as a Teaching Assistant and evening/weekend coffee pourer (the term 'barista' did not exist in those days). As spring neared, I blitzed the temp staffing agencies with a resume that had pretty solid secretarial & bookkeeping experience, since I'd worked all the way through my undergrad degree.

Lucked into a short-term gig being Girl Friday for a small software/hardware integrator - answered phones, helped coordinate training courses, filed, stapled, licked envelopes. Fast forward 6 months: the office manager had quit, I took the full time job, finished my classes at night.

But along the way, started to hang around the technicians, trainers, consultants. I built a PC with my own hands, mastered DOS 3.3 and WordPerfect 5.1 and learned enough AutoCAD to draw smiley faces with digitizer boards.

But what rocked my world? First exposure to text retrieval technology. The integrator was an Inmagic dealer working with a few Federal departments. I was hooked. The historian in me saw the potential of categorizing, querying, sorting and indexing all of the stacks of paper records, books, manuals, even my own copious research notes. I volunteered to learn the system to help with a time-sensitive project and made extra money working long evenings & weekends cataloging, designing reports, sorting & searching.

After the integrator shut down, I incorporated, picked up that government contract myself, and it funded me as I finished my MA research.

There was no turning back. My academic ambitions went on back-burner, and I let myself get wholly and completely sucked into the world of information management.

It dawned on me one night, waking up in a cold sweat, that if I retired at the age of 60, and decided to go back into the archives and write a history book on the 1980s or 1990s, there would probably be nothing to work with. Those dusty archive boxes would be empty. PCs were showing up every government worker's desk, all the admin clerks were being fired, and no one remembered record-keeping basic principles.

So I knew what I needed to do.

Thanks Laurence, fun to remember where it started.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Do Law Firms Need to Know About Web 2.0?

It's ILTA week!

Have had some interesting conversations with my colleagues in the Legal Solutions group over the last few months, as we explore the unique requirements of law firms in this new world of 2.0 and Social Media.

In July, we co-hosted a webinar with our ILTA peer group and explored some of these issues and use cases. We'll be building on that session this week at the conference...

Some of the key themes we'll discuss:

  • Next Generation Content Explosion Will Come from Web 2.0 & Social Media: the content forms emerging from the "Web 2.0" world will increasingly supplement (or supplant) more traditional electronic document forms... how will this impact your firm's document management strategy?
  • Social Workplace and Social Marketplace: the core Use Cases for "2.0" fall into 2 high level categories - a firm adopts new technologies to build out a more Social Workplace or a more Social Marketplace. Is the conversation and collaboration requirements focused on better connecting and communicating with colleagues (internal/workplace)? or with contractors, clients or prospects (external/marketplace)?
  • Risk vs. Reward: all new forms of online communication and collaboration have inherent risk AND reward - figuring out the right balance for your firm is the real challenge - so look at a refresh to your overall information governance and appropriate use policies to make sure a useful set of boundaries are set and clearly communicated to users.

If you can't make it to ILTA in person, here are links to the content we'll be discussing:

Slideshare PowerPoint link:

Open Text calendar highlights for ILTA event here: ILTA - Events Page (Come see me present the "What Do Law Firms Need to Know About Web 2.0" session at 10:30am on Wednesday August 26!)

Sign up for the Open Text Legal Community of Practice - get the full recorded webinar from July 15, along with a host of other rich resources in our online customer forum here: Open Text Online (Request an account if you're not already a member)

Whitepapers from Open Text - Enterprise 2.0, Building the Social Workplace, Building the Social Marketplace

See you at the Gaylord!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Twitter in Government? Strategy from Across the Pond

Previously posted at GTEC.CA Blog:

Last week a fascinating and very useful guide to Twitter for Government was published by Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The blog post and full 20 page report linked here: Digital Engagement Blog

While specific to ‘official’ department use of Twitter, even seasoned Twitter users can learn something new about using this increasingly popular micro-blogging communication service.

Four key topics are covered:

1. Objectives and Metrics – why to use it and how to assess value

2. Risks and Mitigation – how contain potential risks to reputation

3. Channel proposition and management – how to populate and use it

4. Promotional plan – how to promote the presence and increase its reach

The document also includes a very useful glossary, providing a great overview of social media and Twitter terms.

What struck me as interesting?

  • Twitter is being incorporated as part of a larger strategy of the UK government to better engage citizens. It provides a low-barrier to entry allowing people to interact with their public institutions and let them experience live coverage of events when they cannot attend in person.
  • The policy offers clear communication on what constitutes inappropriate content, the importance of ‘light’ but effective procedural controls and guidelines for Twitter users, and how to proactively avoid potential ‘hacks’, misrepresentation or vandalism of content.
  • “Tone of Voice” must be considered and articulated to ensure consistency especially when the account is managed by a team (great tip for any public or private sector corporate social media outreach)
  • Content should be varied, have a human touch, be timely, credible and inclusive. The report’s tips on frequency, ‘re-tweeting’, use of hashtags (ie, metadata for Twitter updates), hyperlink shortening tools, how to balance humour and fun – these pointers demonstrate thoughtfulness and a good understanding of how to build and maintain a solid list of followers.
  • UK is thinking longer term – including how Twitter may evolve one day into a new source of intake for Ministerial Correspondence systems – and whether these departmental professionals should begin monitoring and responding to Twitter enquiries.
The fundamental missing piece to this otherwise excellent guideline is articulated very well by Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio in an earlier blog post. What’s not covered is: “whether and how individual government employees should use it to better fulfill their tasks”. In other words, while it is a good guideline to create an institutional presence, it is thin on how and why the people working for that institution can or should use social media channels as part of their job. Perhaps there will be a part 2?

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's 2.0'Clock... Do You Know Where Your Content Is?

(originally published @ GTEC blog:

The hot topic this week in the social media world is all about content management. Yes, enterprise content management.

If you haven’t been following the latest news, popular social network/communication company Twitter was the target of some malicious activity this week, with some sensitive corporate documents stolen and circulated to several bloggers. ( Click here for a real-time news round-up) Individual Twitter employees were targeted and the early explanation is that some passwords were compromised. Some bloggers chose to publish the stolen/leaked information, others did not. The sources of the documents were apparently varied: online ‘cloud’ document authoring and storage platforms, mobile accounts, email addresses, and others.

This post isn’t directed at Twitter specifically, nor the individual online/mobile applications that were compromised. But I do question how an organization – whether public or private sector – could risk their sensitive corporate information on any platform not equipped with at least the basics of what we call ECM – document management, records management, retention rules, access controls and audit trails.

What Were They Thinking?

Financial projections, business plans, human resource information and resumes, customer communication: these are the content types now surfacing for public and competitor scrutiny. Organizations who view such information as competitive advantage, as strategic to growth, as evidence of trust with their staff or customers need to walk the talk and make the efforts to protect it appropriately. Access control lists to restrict sensitive data to only certain employees or groups; disposal schedules to safely destroy content that is no longer serving a specific business or regulatory purpose but could only embarrass; audit trails and activity history to know when/where/how content was accessed and by whom: this is content management “101”.

The day we get too caught up in the hip and cool world of web 2.0 and cloud applications that neglect and ignore the basics, is the day the utterly preventable backlash begins, and the progress we’ve made over the last few years towards a more open knowledge sharing culture evaporates.

My advice? Use Twitter, but don’t be like Twitter. Use social media and collaborative tools to share information that is appropriate to share and where sharing benefits your organization, your team and you.

But content that needs protection? That is only your business? That is subject to privacy laws or regulatory scrutiny? That can only harm your organization, your team and you if wrongly shared? Invest in the extra effort to put on the security blanket. The culture of sharing, of knowledge exchange, of openness has its place, but it needs to be balanced with an overall information governance strategy; one that protects organizational interests , intellectual property, and the privacy of its staff, customers, shareholders and partners.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making Enterprise 2.0 Real. My Story of the "No E-Mail Beta Program" **

A whirlwind week in Boston as we launched Open Text Social Media to the premier gathering of Enterprise 2.0 thinkers, vendors and practitioners. The downside? I didn't attend nearly as many of the sessions as I had circled in the guide. The upside? Fantastic one-on-one meetings all week with customers, prospects, partners, press, analysts, bloggers. We chatted in meeting rooms, at the Starbucks, in the pub and of course, those comfy couches in the Open Text Lounge.

Still a lot of angst in the E2.0 world about making it real. How do we measure, how do we justify. SHOULD we measure? SHOULD we justify? How to get management buy-in, how to get community engagement.

Well, this week my colleagues & I tried to make it real. Most of the people who stopped by our lounge for a discussion about our new product saw something a little different. No virtual images. No dummy demo servers. No "what you COULD do.."

We spoke about our own personal day-in-the-life: as active production users of our own dogfood. (I know, I know...some colleagues hate that term. Champagne.. coffee... whatever). And we showed sample people, process and content scenarios based on the reality of how we do things.

Sometimes it is the simple story that delivers the lightbulb moment to people who don't quite see the value yet.

For me, it's my story of "The No E-mail Beta". **

In November we announced our 2.0 plans at Open Text Content World, and started recruiting customers interested in beta program participation. From November '08 to early '09, we talked with customers, learned about their potential use cases, their requirements, and narrowed down the list of participants who were keen and committed. The beta participants have been an incredibly rich source of feedback, ideas, and generous with honest and open comments on likes and dislikes.

In December, we kicked off a weekly status call for all of our internal people: development, services, product management and marketing, customer relationship managers, spanning at least 4 countries and likely 8+ cities.

Over the 7 months, about 40 people have been in and out of the weekly calls, depending on their roles and phase of the project. Once a week, a core set of this team got on the phone. And as people join the call, I open up our beta community workspace, go to the wiki for weekly status calls, click 'edit' and go.

While on the phone, the roll call is done, the old business reviewed, action items knocked off, new items added, we recap the status of all the customer beta communities, wrap up with a open discussion on issues or interesting topics. And when we're done, I click "save", and whammo. Instant meeting notes, organized consistently from week to week, categorized by the date and call number, immediately ready for anyone who missed the call, and optionally pushed out as a notification to those who chose to subscribe to updates.

Simple, fast, efficient.

7 months = 28 weekly calls so far, 2.5 action item updates per week x (40 people x 25% on core team) = ~700 emails not sent

Cool, but not the light bulb moment. That moment came a month ago when we got an intern from the university for a summer work term. How to get him up to speed rapidly and accurately to get him productive on Day 1? Easy. Sent 1 URL to the status call wiki, he read from bottom to top and knew what was going on and who the key people were. I actually cannot even imagine how long that would have taken if we would have relied on e-mail communication.

But it was not just the technology that made this work. It was the people - the people who committed to working this way. The core team who led by example. Who posted action items in the community (never underestimate the power of peer pressure to get things done). By delegating the call chair duties by posting a shout-out to the community when travel or vacation made it impossible for me to dial-in. By wanting to all be able to walk the talk in front of our colleagues, partners and customers.

2.0 technology made this easy, it but didn't 'cause' the success. The community workspace and wiki was a tool that made sense for the task - bridging a diverse, distributed global team focused on a shared objective. I haven't even personally met everyone on the team yet. But I know their smiling faces, what they can contribute, and what I've learned from them. My Social Workplace in action.

** OK, the 'almost' no-email beta program. Full disclosure: we used email with colleagues who had a specific role for a narrow portion of the program. Ie, getting the corporate legal OK on any agreements. And for customer communication before they went live. And my comment to my colleagues who subscribed to automated email notifications, well, that was your own choice.

Some good E2Conf recap blog posts so far - (watch the #e2conf twitter stream as more pop up over next few days):
Sameer Patel @ Pretzellogic

Ron Miller @ Fierce Content Management 1 of 2 (argh. I bad hair day, but was fun chat with Ron in the ultimate conference social workplace, the hotel lounge)

Ron Miller @ Fierce Content Management 2 of 2 "Neatest Technology at Enterprise 2.0" And yep... we're there ;-)

Doug Cornelius @ Compliance Building He called out some great reality checks as 2.0 comes into business and faces compliance and governance issues of the real world

What I Learned... @ Mashup Patterns

Social Amber - It's about the people...

E2Conf Blogger Janetti Chon "It's a Wrap"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Open Text Social Media says "Hello World" - June 23 2009

Today we launched the new Open Text Social Media offering... helping organizations bloom into a new world of productivity and connectedness. This has been one of the coolest projects I've worked in my ECM career.

We're at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston June 22-25. If you're around, come see us at Booth 615. If you're not, checkout the Twitter stream at #e2conf

Announcement here:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Putting Passive on the Not-Hot List for 2010

TV, radio, movies, and music created by the few for the mass audience: the rise of content consumption as a passive exercise is a 20th century phenomenon.

If we go back a century, the way that we received and consumed content for leisure and business was by definition social: through the lecture, the recital, the sermon, the town hall meeting. It was people communicating directly with people. The opportunity to interact, question, or offer feedback in the form of applause or catcalls permitted immediately brought a connection between content producer and content consumer.

Mass communication facilitated by radio, TV, commercial movie studios or multinational publishing empires introduced a disconnect in the so-called modern era. A disconnect between the content producer and its consumers.

The rise of the participatory web - an outcome of the 2.0 phenomenon over the last few years - is changing this.

At the recent Gartner Portals Content & Collaboration Conference, I was fortunate to pick up a copy of "CrowdSourcing" written by Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine. It was gratifying to hear some reinforcing opinions - that passive consumption of mass produced content is increasingly becoming passé; as Howe says, "the explosive growth in user-generated content is less a new phenomenon than a sign that the impulse to interact meaningfully with our own media - to participate in its creation - never went away".

When we think about the work that we produce as information workers, we need to consider engaging our intended audience. That we not fall into the trap of being one-way push machines of mediocre mass-produced content. As Web 2.0 technologies come into the workplace, we need to expect to have our content read, rated, re-used, linked, re-tweeted, tagged and commented upon. Our audience - whether internal colleagues or external consumers - will feel freer to offer feedback as the tools permit.

Are we creating content that is so valuable that it will be linked to? forwarded? aggregated? quoted from? Social media forms lend themselves very well to the metrics and measurements of engagement. Active engagement can be measured and creates additional value to the original work via edits, comments, recommendations and aggregation.

Passive push of a slide deck in an email to one person when everyone could benefit is "Not Hot". Posting the same content in an interactive, linkable web community site where interested eyeballs can engage with it is.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Do Records Managers Need to Know About Web 2.0?

This has become one of my pet research topics over the last 2 years. I've been invited to present this topic now in front of at least six ARMA chapters, a couple of AIIM events, four or five public sector conferences, the RMAA annual conference in Australia ...not to mention annoying my Records and Archiving "aspirin" colleagues with my endless fist-pounding cafeteria rants.

I keep promising @JesseWilkins that I'll put up a slideshare version of my ever-evolving deck, but in the meantime, here's where you can get to some of the key content:

June 2009: Discussion on US Federal News Radio "Daily Debrief Show":June 3, 2009 Federal News Radio MP3 Link

Slide Deck: From April 2009 Ontario Public Sector Information Management Conference: What do Records Managers Need to Know About Web 2.0

KM World Whitepaper from Fall 2008 (sign up required... free download): KM World Whitepaper Dec 2008

Legaltech NYC Keynote recap, January 2009 "Think Left" from ECM Briefs

RMAA Keynote Recap, September 2008, "What's Hot with Records Managers in Australia"? from ECM Briefs

2008 Podcast with Information Architected @Dan Keldsen, Records Management Product Marketing Goddess Liz Kofsky & me: ECM Briefs - link to podcast

I'll keep updating this resource list as content is published and updated.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Haunted by the Box of Rocks

Previously posted at GTEC Blog:

At GTEC 2008, I presented a seminar called “Managing Corporate Memory in Public Sector”. The well-attended session explored the pending shift in workforce demographics as the Boomer generation approaches retirement age. Sectors at most risk included government, utilities, engineering, transportation and manufacturing. I sought to explore how IT and IM professionals could play a strategic role as our workplace transforms and to minimize risk of information and knowledge loss.

Though this is no longer a new topic challenging public sector management, the situation continues to grow in urgency and awareness. Over the weekend, I noticed that Gartner Research VP, Jeffrey Mann, had twittered about a recent spike in his customer inquiries precisely on this topic. He “tweeted”: “three of this morning’s 4 calls are on knowledge management (two on capturing experience of retiring employees) who says KM is dead?”.

Whether we call it knowledge management, corporate memory preservation, succession planning… whether the project is led by IM/RM, Human Resources or IT… regardless of the tools we use to capture the intrinsic knowledge held in the brains of our most senior valued employees – we know it must be done. Public Sector is a knowledge-economy enterprise. Information, policies, and programs: services are delivered to the citizens, residents, businesses within our jurisdiction to provide a stable infrastructure for social, commercial and political activities. To not pay attention to prospect of losing mentorship, best practices, and institutional culture is to do a disservice to the investment we’ve made in cultivating depth and breadth of public sector experience.

We all have our “keep me up at night” moments. Mine is a story told to me at the annual ARMA Conference in 2006. I was conducting a workshop on this topic of “Managing Corporate Memory” and a woman from an academic institution came up to me, very pleased to see the research I had done on the topic. As part of her Records Management responsibility, she was tasked with capturing the legacy paper and physical records of the scientists and engineers who retired from her institution. She told me the story of a scientist who upon his departure handed to her a large box of ore samples. He said to her very intently, “make sure you hang on to these… they are very very important”. And so she took them. And put them on a shelf, documented with the date and location and name of the scientist who left them behind. She looked at me rather sadly, and admitted that she had no idea what those rocks meant, or WHY they were so important. There was no corporate memory preservation mandate to ensure the samples got to a new researcher who could continue the work. So to this day, they sit on a dark shelf.

Was the cure for cancer in that box of rocks? Did they tell us something about our world that could make our lives better? We may never know.

To learn more about this topic of Managing Corporate Memory, click here to listen to a recorded educational seminar we hosted earlier this year. Any comments or feedback welcomed.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Your Content Is A Social Object

Your Content Is a Social Object.

But hardly anyone treats it like one.

I use this slide when educating customers, partners, prospects and colleagues on the Open Text Enterprise 2.0 direction. How does our ECM Suite help individual knowledge workers and virtual teams bloom into a new world of the Social Workplace? or Social Marketplace? That's what keeps me busy these days.

So with all due apologies to the artist, cartoonist, blogger, marketer, wine huckster, genius, occasionally "not safe for work" Hugh MacLeod @, here it goes...

The watercooler. The coffeepot. The cafeteria. The sheltered overhang in the parking lot that's known as 'smokers corner'. This is what a Social Workplace looks like. That common location that we flock to for some shared purpose. To drink, to eat, to smoke. Not in solitude but with people we can bump into along the way. And subconsciously we know that there's more to that trip down the hallway than the obvious objective. We know that while we're pouring the sugar, or rinsing the glass or passing around the only working lighter in the rain... we'll talk.

We'll catch up on weekend activities, communally moan over the new cubicle layout, whisper overheard rumours and get the gossip from those guys upstairs. You know the ones - not sure what division they're in or who they report to, but always seem to have the goods on what's going on....

So what brings this diverse group of people together? What inspires conversation among people who normally wouldn't interact in the workplace? ...because they're in different branches, or sit too many levels of hierarchy apart to talk via regular business channels.

It is a Social Object. As is the water, the coffee, the dry wind-free shelter. My last blog post explored the concept of valuing information that is used - of directing effort and energy into what is meaningful to one's audience. That information - content - is what brings people into an application or repository. Content that does not lure eyeballs to it, content that is not findable, content that is too hard to retrieve or understand, content that is locked away from its audience: does it have value? If a tree falls in the forest....

So how do I make my content precious? How do I get people who need it to read it? It's up to us to think about how to get this information in front of the eyes that need it. Make it social, make it accessible, let it be found and consumed.

When companies fret that deployments of ECM systems or online collaboration workspaces are failing, it is often because usage rates are unexpectedly low. No buzz, no compelling reason to contribute, no sense of pressure to participate because none of the cool kids are there. Death by meh.

My challenge: make your content a social object. Make it interesting and compelling enough that people want it, can find it, and will appreciate it.

And to content authors I throw out a call to action: put some skin in the game to promote it to the colleagues you think should need it. Send out links to your slide decks. Publicize your research summaries. Evangelize your business plan, engage the people counting on you to draft the meeting agenda. And not by endless emails. But by taking an interest into what your peers are worried about, what they're tasked with, and finding the places where you can lend a hand with what you know.

If we're so bored or indifferent to our own work that we save it and ignore, why should others act differently?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ROI in the Age of Narcissism

But what's the business case? Nodding intently and listening to the question for the million trillionth time, suddenly it hits me. "Well, maybe your people can stop doing things that nobody cares about and reinvest that time in something useful".

D'oh. Inside Voice! Inside Voice! Inside Voice!

User engagement. Adoption rates. Participation. Content ingestion. To get a business case for an ECM deployment (never mind Enterprise 2.0....) companies need to kneel at the altar of the Pivot Table to get an ROI justification. Achieving said benefit means systems need to be used and stuff needs to be put into them.

People put the content into content management systems. When they don't do that, content management projects don't deliver that magical ROI. Luring typical information workers into a system perceived as onerous, complex, corporately mandated that ultimately seems not relevant to day to day tasks is tough.

But maybe there's an angle we've missed...

"Personal Productivity for ME... but the Community benefits"... this is how I've been describing emerging 2.0 tools as they enter mainstream business.

Social Bookmarks - are MY favorite items... but like-minded colleagues get the info and share their own... Blog - dead easy simple self publishing for ME, but my readers only need to find me in one place... Social Networks - let me tell you about MY expertise and experience and maybe we'll find some common interests and exchange information of mutual benefit.

When I started blogging personally a few years ago, like most bloggers, I became obsessed with my hit rates. Playing around with Sitemeter.. Google Analytics.. other cool tools du jour trying to understand: Who was reading me? How did they find me? Who linked to me? Does anybody bother coming back?

Seriously - name a blogger who isn't consumed with their traffic patterns and referrals. Yeah, thought so.

But... hang on. Where have I seen this before?

Haven't good old document management tools been providing metrics and tracking on content for umm... almost 2 decades? Who edited, who printed, who emailed, who viewed, who copied....kind of old skool, actually.

So here's my question: Why not apply the blogger self-absorption mentality to corporate ECM contributors? Bloggers who are motivated by traffic hits write content of interest to their audience. More hits = more on the topic. I often joke (not...) about Productivity Driven By Ego. In the enterprise space, why don't I pay attention to the content people read and well, quit producing the content they don't. Why do smart expensive educated knowledge workers invest time in things that no one bothers to look at?

Audit trails, activity lists, document history is the measurement of usefulness. One of my favourite analysts at Gartner - Debra Logan - uses the phrase "content valuation". But you can't know what's used and whether it's valued if you don't measure the consumption of specific content artifacts.

Why do I personally invest the time in tagging my Harlequin dive bar concert videos on YouTube? Because I want them to be found and be more popular than the ones my sister posted... Meaningful metadata lets them be found in the sea of millions upon millions of cheesy music clips. Why can't my colleagues find my whitepapers that easily....

Measure, track, compare, assess, weigh... Spend time on things that are useful to people, and stop doing things that aren't. Sounds like ROI to me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Real Live Car Chase on Twitter!

It all started with a follow:

A follow by a local auto dealership
. I distinctly remember a snarkier version of a reply going thru my head, but thought the better of it. It was actually kind of cool that a local business was following people they saw as local potential customers. I just wasn't one of those people...

But yet again, this strange world of social media surprised me pleasantly. A day later, the people over at Schleuter Chevrolet actually decided to understand my objections to car ownership and get into my head a little bit. As someone who also needs to understands markets and messaging and customer segmentation, I decided to be forthcoming with my logic, and open the door to a conversation with them.

For this I tremendously respect them, and having now followed them back, am happy to keep the dialogue open about car ownership choices. Automotive sector must be a very difficult place to be right now. But if tapping into the psyche of non-buyers helps them figure out services, packages, alternative products to generate new sources of opportunities, then I'll spill my guts.

I made a personal decision to stop owning a car 4 years ago, but understand this is not a choice most people find convenient. For those of you unable to make that choice, I recommend checking out Schlueter Chevrolet. Sounds like they'd actually treat you like a person.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Guest Blogging with GTEC 2009 - Canada's Government Technology Event

No, GTEC hasn't changed dates! Canada's top technology conference aimed at Government is still in October like it has been for years.... But a few things have changed.

As part of the GTEC 2008 ramp up, the very clever and forward thinking organizers decided to try something a little different. They decided (to use my favourite phrase) Live it, not Lip Synch it. I mean... the '08 theme was all about Government 2.0, and what that meant to Canada. So starting last summer, a team of us agreed to blog regularly (-ish) about the things we thought government information managers and technology gurus needed to think about.

A mixed crowd of vendors, consultants, publishers, editors and real life public sector professionals contributed to topics spanning Collaboration, 2.0, Enterprise Architecture, Security, Information Management... and others. It was a great learning experience - figuring out what got the comments flowing, where the hits came from, what topics were most read.

But most interesting was that it created a sense of buzz, of anticipation so when the Conference finally arrived, people who had begun to engage and connect online came in with the education and background ready to make maximum use of the precious face-to-face time they had with their peers, with experts, with vendors.

So... here we are in April '09 and we're ramping up now for October. I was really glad to be asked back, and will try my best to stick to a weekly post, primarily on topics relevant to collaboration and what government 2.0 can mean for Canadians and the public sector information professionals that help manage our social and political structures. And I suppose it's a way to keep my homesickness for my ex-home of Ottawa at bay... an amazing talented and close knit community of information management professionals there that I'm proud to call friends.

My first post went up today: "Collaboration and the Social Workplace: What Does it Mean to Public Sector, part 1" Check it out. Some of the posts will be syndicated to our Open Text ECM Briefs corporate blog site.

I've already become a fan of one of my co-bloggers, Marj Akerley from Natural Resources Canada. Check out her 2 posts to-date under the category Government 2.0. She writes beautifully, and I like the way she thinks.

Follow GTEC on Twitter here:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Candy and Aspirin - Why The Blog Name?

I think it was our Exec VP of Corporate Marketing - Bill Forquer - who first uttered the words that made me laugh. A dozen or so of us at Open Text were doing some wrap up brainstorming after a great day with a few industry analysts up in our Waterloo HQ.

We were talking about wicked product innovations we had in the lab and what we could do to better enhance our user experience. Everyone agreed we were the leaders when it came to records management, archiving, security, compliance solutions, but what about all of the cool usability stuff we had but maybe we just didn't talk about enough - Web Content Management, collaboration/communities, digital asset management...

How could we work better to balance the product portfolio, and our especially the marketing message around it?

"It's Candy and Aspirin", Bill said. "It's that balance of the attractive things that people want, with the necessary risk reducers that they need".

Back then I was leading the team responsible for our Livelink ECM collaboration product team, but working very closely with the VP looking after the RM and compliance solutions team.

Well, "I'm a candy girl", I exclaimed! And my colleague looked across the table and said, "so I guess that makes me aspirin...." We all laughed uproariously.

Maybe you had to be there...

But it stuck. Candy and Aspirin became a shorthand for an internal joke - but also a serious rallying point to remind us to seek balance - how did products and solutions meet top line efficiency and productivity "wants" of business users as well as the cost savings, regulatory compliance, risk mitigation pressures that legal and records officers "need"... And so over the last year the internal joke has been leaked (consciously and subversively) outside the meeting room walls too. Because it makes sense. Especially in the world of figuring out where 2.0 & social forms of collaboration fits in the business world.

Yin/Yang, Fun/Serious, Work/Play, Personal/Professional, Want/Need

Balance is difficult to find, but ultimately what we all seek. Not just in product marketing or technology portfolios, but in our lives.

My unabashed adoration for social networking tools, platforms and media types is because they help bring balance to my life. When work encroaches into evening and weekend hours.. I know I have the escape hatch to do the same - in the right balance - letting personal connections seep into the edges of my work hours. I live in a city away from most of my family and trusted social circle - and technology helps render geography null & void and bring balance to my world.

Candy & Aspirin KM World paper here

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Origins of Innovation

Half conscious/half dozing on this sunday morning... listening to CBC Radio Sunday Edition host Michael Enright interview author Anne Michaels on her new book. I hear a phrase over the airways and I'm suddenly wide awake.

"Primordial Soup", one of the radio voices said. A visual appeared before my half-opened eyes. Dark, liquid murk. Sludge chock full of little bits of amino acids and chemicals and molecules of the most fundamental building blocks. A gooey slime full of everything and yet nothing.

Teeming with potential. With fragments, with components. But these pieces meaningless in isolation.

Somewhere a spark, the light bulb moment, the epiphany, the thunderclap - and the swampy mess comes alive. The individual bits collide and fuse. And something new, and interesting and living is created.

The people-centric collaboration that 2.0 brings to business can be messy. We introduce personality and ego, loyalties and rivalries... process and hierarchy often get circumvented... seemingly meaningless bits of information, content, half baked ideas and opinions form the Enterprise Primordial Soup. Maybe it's tough to justify, to measure, to pay homage to the golden calf of RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

But then that lightening bolt of Crisis hits: employee departure or reorganization, of mergers, or acquisitions, when the competition gets the edge, or customers revolt. Organizations that have allowed this pool of collected intelligence sit and stew have the potential to spin off and act on new ideas and processes. Sometimes only that lightening strike forces the scattered pieces to come together. To prove that the sum is stronger than the parts. That innovation = life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

@CherylMcKinnon actually brought the daisy along ! #aiim09 #aiime2

Yes, yes I did.

Was honoured to be invited to represent Open Text on the annual AIIM Vendor Panel Showdown this week. Moderated by the energetic and thought-provoking Dan Elam, the audience had the opportunity to hear first hand from senior management from the big guys: Open Text, IBM and EMC.

Why the odd blog title today? On Tuesday I strolled through Reading Terminal Market on my lunch break from the show. Lo and behold just around the corner from the most excellent Hershel's East Side deli was a floral shop with buckets and buckets of lovely daisies and gerbera. Our Bloom team at Open Text has adopted the white daisy as our personal commitment to the Enterprise 2.0 program we launched last year. It's a symbol of spring, flourishing, unleashing potential, of hope and renewal. I twittered jokingly about whether I should stick one in my hair for the vendor panel.

So I bought some. And I stuck one in an empty water glass and brought it up to the panel podium with me. It was my personal reminder to speak the language of the customers in the room. To tone down the buzzword bingo jargon speak, to do my best to be authentic, honest and represent my company credibly.

It reminded me to talk about what's important in the ECM world. That compliance is a natural outcome of doing good business. That the human voice is important. That getting users engaged with the system and USING IT is the best metric of success. And I was really glad to read some of the backchannel tweetstream comment favorably on my approach.

And it reminded me to look at the positive. I didn't want to bait the competition by answering the very last question about why I would discount a competitor and not worry about them. The other two companies are forces to be reckoned with in the ECM world, and have successful customer deployments just as Open Text does. I have too much respect for my former colleagues who now work with those companies, and for many of my recent new colleagues who have come from those organizations.

A strong, educated diverse vendor community demonstrates health of the industry. I wasn't in the mood for a pot shot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Living it, Not Lip-Synching it - Becoming an Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner

AIIM Expo is in the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia - this year... and what better place to explore all of the collaborative, cooperative goodness that is Enterprise 2.0...

I registered for the Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner Workshop. The 2 day course was compressed into one as a pre-conference tutorial before Expo kicks off on Tuesday. Via the magic of Twitter over last few weeks, was glad to get to know the instructor, the smart and funny Hanns Kohler-Kruner (sorry but I think he'll always be HannsKK now...).

The jam-packed day was worth it. I would not hesitate to recommend it to colleagues, partners and customers. But of course, always room for fine-tuning...

But What About the Human Voice? We spent a useful chunk of time exploring the evolution of Web 2.0 vs. Enterprise 2.0 and discussing the relative merits of accepted definitions. But the workshop materials proposed an updated definition that quite frankly, I didn't buy. Is E2.0 really "a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise"? Too focused on the 'technologies' and no mention of the underlying cultural, change-agent or human elements that 2.0 has the ability to surface and nourish. I still prefer the original Andrew McAfee take: "use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers”. At least we have a sense of people, and building connections between and among key stakeholders inside and related to the business. But… bonus points to the AIIM definition for acknowledging the “extended enterprise”. Recognizing that trusted relationships are outside as well as inside the firewall is the underlying message of what Open Text calls the “Social Marketplace”.

Blogs! And Wikis! Oh My! Perhaps I have become overly sensitive to this particular issue (Hi Colleagues!) but using “blogs and wikis” as lazy shorthand for Enterprise 2.0 just doesn’t cut it anymore. Blogs and wikis are buckets of text. Err… that’s it. (Don’t worry – I have the same beef with people who say ‘compliance’ as lazy shorthand for records management…) Overemphasis on individual types of tools that sit under the label of 2.0, and not nearly enough about the value of contextual interactive communities. Successful adoption of 2.0 practices and technologies are heavily dependent on shared objectives, common purposes of a team of individuals. Community workspaces and transparent team discussion/debate (which may or may not be in blog and/or wiki format) is the glue that holds it all together. Value rises out of the aggregated harvested wisdom of experts and individuals (which is not the same thing as wisdom of ‘crowds’). It’s this community-centric approach to work that allows the withering away of needless email. Not blogs for the sake of blogs.

The Sore Thumb Moment: One section of the course that could easily be eliminated is the chapter on “Lowering the Barriers to Integration & Development”. The discussion of lean thinking, agile software methodology, FISDEV just didn’t seem to fit – perhaps the accelerated 1-day version of the curriculum didn’t do it justice. But I didn’t see how the topic fit under the chapter called “Business Drivers for Enterprise 2.0”. When I think of “Business Drivers”, I think about measurable improvements or objectives an organization would want to accomplish with an E2.0 strategy, like supporting a virtual organization, enabling their front line, better protecting corporate memory… not software development philosophies.

But I'm thankful that AIIM has stepped early and thoughtfully into Enterprise 2.0. It's the right community of dedicated information management professionals to highlight the importance of balance if this new social networking phenomenon is going to take hold in business - security, auditability, informed debate over where records management and digital preservation fit - hugely important topics for today.. not tomorrow.

I think all of the attendees walked away satisfied… thanks so much to the AIIM Expo team for choosing a venue with reliable FREE wireless. It meant that the twitter-addicted half of the class could share reading lists and exchange contact info via the “back channel” and even virtually loop the original course developers and Enterprise 2.0 Market IQ authors Dan Keldsen and Carl Frappaolo into the mix… check out the tweet-stream for yourself:

… more later this week…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Sun, the Cave, Enterprise 2.0 and the "A-HA" Moment

I'll confess. The content I read in the social media twitoblogomavensphere strikes me as both amusing and wretched. Do we "really" think we've uncovered something new? Or are we today just in the early stages of bringing an element of balance back into our professional sphere?

That people matter is kind of old news. Aristotle in "Politics" clued in that because humans had the gift of language, they were naturally suited to living in a community. And from that household grew the polis, the city, the state.

Business has always occurred in the context of community: guilds, apprenticeships, Chambers of Commerce, volunteer groups, country clubs, union halls, alumni associations... This social aspect of the workplace and the marketplace is not new, but perhaps forgotten? Automation, process engineering, the send, approve, reject buttons, auto-reply, auto-forward, press 1 for technical support and 2 for sales.... no wonder we've forgotten that we're people doing business with people.

Somewhere along the way, we've accepted that this sterile work world is OK. Last fall I was sitting with a group of colleagues at a conference. Two of us were excitedly chatting away about our personal and professional use of social networking tools. Twitter and Yammer and Facebook and Communities of Practice and Livelink Real Time and Second Life and Blip.. and.. and .. and...

One of the group finally put her hands up and said "I don't get it!" "Why on earth would anyone care that I've been working on the same PowerPoint for the last 3 days?" "If I don't have time for this how could anyone else"

So I said, "But... you work in a company full of ECM experts. You can't tell me that someone hasn't already created content on that topic by now... if search isn't turning up what you need, why don't you use your status line as a shout for help and see if someone sends you what you need?".

"Oh", she said. "Never thought of that".


And then she looked at the two of us and shook her head and wondered why we'd bothered trying to change her mind. I looked at her and said, "It's because we're Draggers. We get the value of building a social angle into our professional relationships. Because we know it makes a difference. And we want to drag you kicking and screaming into the light".


"Did you ever study Plato's Allegory of the Cave in school?...."

Behold! Human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets...
Walk through most office buildings today and look around. Cubicle or office walls - the veal-fattening pens we joked about in the '90s haven't changed all that much. Wires and cables and cords keeping our heads focused in one direction - the flickering, glowing monitor screen.

...and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?...And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them? And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow? ...To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
The in-box is the task master. The email, the workflows, the action items pushed by process and systems and scripts and triggers. Success means reducing the un-read list, clicking a button before the deadline, keeping things moving. Somewhere, anywhere, just not on my plate. The end goal, the objective, the customer or colleague waiting at the end of the line isn't real, but the blinking light or now-red follow up flag is.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply?
I'd like to just pick up the phone, or sit down over a coffee and come to an agreement, but I don't have time. I have too many emails to read to sit down and chat with my team. I need to finish filling out this spreadsheet by 2pm so no, I can't come to the new-guy welcome lunch. I'd love to join the customer user group meeting, but I need to update and circulate the forecast templates for to all my direct reports and cc: the regional management teams. It would be great to attend that conference on the key trends on my industry, but I need to finish formatting my roadmap Powerpoint for next week.

And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -- will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him? ..And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
What if I stood up and walked over to the guy waiting, and sat down to ask about what he needs? What if I picked up a phone, or directly messaged him, or asked to join him for lunch? What if we figured things out on the back of a scratch pad, or napkin in the cafeteria? What if we did it sitting with 10 other people, so they knew what was going on too?

...And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

...He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

...Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is. ...He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
What if I stuck my head outside the cubicle, and asked my colleagues and customers what they really thought? What if we listened to people about what was important? What if we pooled our best ideas? What if we skipped the inbox and just started working?

...And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

...And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

But what if I get fired for speaking up? What if I call B.S. on the process? What if people think I'm just wasting my time? If they can't count my read-items or completed workflow tasks, I might not get a good review...

... the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire,

...But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

What if we decide people are more important than processes? What if we decide that the brains we employ are more important than the buildings we put them in, or the computers we give them to stare at? What if indeed.

Full Text of Plato's Allegory of the Cave here

YouTube 7:17 min version of The Allegory of the Cave

Same thing, in 2 minutes...

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