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.