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The Adoption Conversation at Office 2.0

Posted by Mark Bennett on September 10, 2008

Office 2.0 2008 was last week and the reviews have been mixed. The upshot is that the parts that supported “The Conversation” (e.g. the “Unconference” and “hallway meetings”) and the “Real World” (use cases) were enthusiastically applauded, while those that did not (e.g. vendor pitches) were derided. Given the theme and attendance of Office 2.0, this isn’t surprising. For an excellent recap over the whole conference, see Susan Scrupski’s post. Susan was also a key reason for the good things that came from the conference. Sam Lawrence had some good observations about the challenges that conferences like Office 2.0 face now.


One of Sam’s points was that it’s no longer a “new” market and the tendency is for the same session topics to be played over again. While this is true, we also saw the natural shift of focus towards the next phase: i.e. now that you’ve heard about the promise of these new technologies, how the heck do you get your (or your client’s) organization to adopt them? As Susan pointed out:


“…the focus had shifted away from the shiny newness and more toward a traditional focus on proof-of-concept, success stories, and genuine demonstration of the application of these ideas in a business context.”


And here we had some terrific cases (of which three were quite good) and discussion (in the form of one Unconference session and one panel) around how to make that happen (with links to videos): 

  • GE Case: Dr. Sukh Grewal (a rocket scientist, no less!) from GE described extremely well not only how they successfully created a Community (Support Central), but connected it to the concepts of Knowledge and Processes.
  • Wachovia Case: Pete Fields, SVP and Director of Enterprise Web Services at Wachovia, described the huge effort undertaken to get 110,000 employees connected, including:
    • Behind the scenes look at the multiple stages it underwent.
    • The four business drivers of –
      • Working more effectively across distance and time.
      • Better connecting and engaging the workforce.
      • Capturing better the knowledge of workers leaving the workforce.
      • Rapid engagement of Gen Y entrants
  • Sun Case: Charles Beckham and Jan-Hendrik Mangold from Sun showed how to use Web 2.0 and video to greatly enhance knowledge sharing through both the capture as well as dissemination of informal but relevant learning. This included a wide range of employees in terms of tech knowledge as well as access.
  • Unconference “Barriers to Adoption” Session: A wide-open discussion covering culture, generations, security, as well as technology. Ross Mayfield of SocialText made the cogent observation that the intended purpose has to be understood in order to have a reasonable chance at adoption, and that a goal of using collaboration to solve a specific business problem in a measurable way has been shown to be the most effective approach, with the beneficial formation of communities being a consequence.
  • Changing Face of the Enterprise” Adoption Panel: Michael Pusateri from Disney, Greg Biggers from Chordiant, and Len Devanna from EMC were hosted by Jive Software’s Sam Lawrence, where they described:
    • What drove their adoptions efforts and who were their sponsors.
    • How they built business cases and handled obstacles.
    • How they executed their projects.
    • Lessons learned.

The overall takeaway was that adoption is not a “one size fits all” situation. Every company’s goals, culture, politics, competitive environment and level of technology guides how it can best utilize enterprise social media and in turn how it should be introduced so as to increase its effectiveness and chance for successful adoption. The adoption efforts described seemed to fall into smaller, more focused efforts around collaboration to solve specific, measurable business problems or big, enterprise-wide community efforts with lots of exec sponsorship (which are sometimes broken down into smaller, focused efforts). Whatever the approach, these efforts followed fairly closely with the “POST” framework outlined in “Groundswell”:


  • People – Asses your employees’ social activities.
  • Objectives – What do you want to accomplish?
  • Strategy – Plan for how the relationships will change in order to achieve the objectives.
  • Technology – Choose the social technologies to use.

In other words and confirmed listening to the sessions, People are key in that if they aren’t ready, it won’t work since Social Media is, by definition, about People. With Objectives, you must know what you are after or you won’t know if you’ve made it. Once your Objectives are identified, you must have a Strategy to get there. Finally, that Strategy, your Objectives, and your People will determine what Technology is best suited to your needs. In addition, there was some evidence of folks thinking about Objectives in ways similar to what Groundswell laid out: Listening, Talking, Energizing, Supporting, and Embracing.


All in all, Office 2.0 2008 offered huge value to all involved in transitioning 2.0 technologies from the “Wow, this is cool. I wonder how we could use it?” stage, to the “Here’s how we could use it/have used it” stage, and now to the “How can we get [more] people to use it?” stage. Thank you to all the participants, especially those willing to present their real world use cases. And a very special thanks to Ismael Ghalimi for making this and the previous conferences happen and for collaborating with everyone to make them truly valuable to our community.


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