E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Enterprise 2.0 Conference Highlights – IBM Blogger Q&A

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesOn my latest blog post on the Enterprise 2.0 Conference event highlights for Day One, I mentioned how I would be putting together a specific entry to detail plenty more one specific item on my agenda for the day that I was really looking forward to, since last year I missed it. Yes, I am talking about the IBM Blogger Q&A meeting that took place with both Irene Greif and Bob Picciano, amongst several other folks (Like Suzanne Minassian or Casey Dugan – and a few others).

The reason why I thought about sharing some further insights from this event is not necessarily to detail what went on all along throughout the whole time, but certainly share with you folks a few hints of what happened during that time that I am sure would be worth while sharing over here. And very shortly you will see why…

To start with, there were a few other very well respected Enterprise 2.0 bloggers in the room along with myself (Like Mike Krigsman and Sameer Patel, for instance); and it surely was interesting from an insider point of view to check out the flow of the conversations and the agenda that was set up. First, an informal conversation (The Q&A part) with both Irene and Bob, to then continue with some demo time of several IBM technologies from the Enterprise Social Software space (Like IBM Lotus Connections v2.5, Olympus, Sametime 3D and Beehive’s Honeybees).

As you can imagine, I am well familiar with each of the various different demos provided throughout that time, since I have been exposed quite a bit to each and everyone of them. Perhaps, at a later time I will detail some more about them. So to me the main key area of interest though was actually the conversations going on with both Irene and Bob around the topic of social software and how they themselves make use of it extensively on a daily basis to reach out to their immediate teams and communities they hang out with.

At this point in time, I am sure there is very very little I would probably need to add about Irene Greif and the amazing piece of work she has been doing with The IBM Center for Social Software in Cambridge, MA, amongst plenty of other various different activities in the area of Research and Social Computing. Always an inspiration to listen to some of the stuff she and the rest of her team are working on in this area that most of us can’t even think of it just yet as we speak. Some fascinating stuff going on in that area of researching the next wave of Social Computing interactions with a business purpose. I tell you.

And then we had Bob Picciano, General Manager from Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal, talking to a bunch of us on what his experiences have been like so far making use of social software tools for work. How he keeps using extensively LotusLive to reach out to customers and business partners; how he is using IBM Lotus Connections v2.5 (Mainly the Profiles micro-sharing component) inside IBM to reach out not only to his immediate teams, but also to help change the center of gravity so that it speeds up the process of reaching out to executives; how through using these social tools the traditional hierarchies and organisations become a lot more blurred and therefore much more dynamic getting the job done through networks and communities; and so on and so forth.

I could keep going on for a while detailing what we discussed during that Blogger Q&A session, but I think I will just summarise it with a comment from Bob himself to a question I asked while in there. Now, I know Bob for a while; we are connected through our various internal networks and share with one another plenty of stuff through that micro-sharing component from Lotus Connections v2.5. He keeps sharing nuggets to some of the stuff he is exposed to on a daily basis. But he keeps jumping into people’s Boards offering to help with his insights, his experience and further advice on how to tackle complex problems. He has managed to make it contagious as well for the rest of his executive team to dive into Enterprise Social Software. So I just couldn’t help but ask him "How does it feel making use of these social tools while at work, for an already pretty busy executive like yourself?"

Boy, his answer couldn’t have been much more revealing and provocative, as well as inspiring, as I could have expected it: liberating! Liberating to let command-and-control go! WOW! Who would have thought about that kind of answer, right? Indeed, that’s when it hit rather close home with my own efforts on social software evangelism; that the main clear benefits are not down just to the common knowledge workers, like you and me, but even high level executives, and whoever else in the management chain (That included middle management as well!) can benefit from it by letting some of that hierarchical structure become a bit more blurred and help facilitate and lead the work to be done through interactions amongst networks and communities that share a common affinity; whichever that may well be (A product, a customer, a business partner; in short, a common passion!); versus the traditional I command, you executive mentality.

Obviously, the results have been incredibly fascinating; even for myself, because more and more I am starting to notice how plenty of executives are already starting to make use of these social software tools. And that can only be a good thing. Yes, I know most companies advocate for a grassroots bottom up approach with regards to social software adoption; however, we should not ignore the power of sponsorship and leadership we can get from management, including executives!, to make use of these social tools with a business purpose! It’s all part of a balance that some times can be hard to strike. A balance between a healthy grassroots bottom up effort and the leadership, by example!, of executives who regardless of how busy their schedules may well be, they always make time to contribute back to their social networks and communities, because, after all, they are realising how much hidden potential and talent is out there inside each and every single business and there is probably nothing better than an executive leading the way unleashing that hidden power!

Yes, indeed, we need more Bob Piccianos in the corporate world! And the sooner, the better! For all of us.

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