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

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IBM’s Lotusphere 2011 Highlights – Get Social, Do Business!

IBM Lotusphere 2011 EventAnother week on the road has just gone by without me hardly ever noticing it, as I was doing some more business travelling to both Madrid and Barcelona, meeting up with customers to talk further on around the subject of Social Computing and Social Software Adoption. Then a day or two to catch up with the usual swing of things at work, a stunning weekend relaxing and chilling out on the beach and I am back on to another week at work. Phew! What an amazing couple of months so far!! Buzzing around all over the place non-stop! However, I am back again! Time to resume my usual blogging activities, once more! And continuing with the series of blog posts on the IBM Lotusphere 2011 Highlights (#ls11), I thought I would share with you folks the next entry coming up on what we all know was the main theme of the entire conference and which still is lingering around (And will be for a while, too!) … nearly a month later: Get Social. Do Business!

That’s right! In previous blog entries I mentioned how this year’s Lotusphere has been *more* social than ever before! And by far! A quick peek through the Lotusphere Social Media Aggregator would probably give you folks a good glimpse of how socialised the conference event was altogether throughout the entire week and still going strong a few weeks afterwards! However, what I thought I would share with you today over here is to detail how social it was for me while being there, compared to other years, as it would also give you a pretty good perception of how the game has changed… for good! And how there is no turning back!

If I were to summarise the entire week I was there in Orlando at Lotusphere in a single sentence I could probably do a pretty good job by just sharing these few words: never before was I busier than during that week talking about social computing, enterprise 2.0, social software tools and their adoption; and, eventually, the new buzzword: Social Business. Usually, during these events things have a tendency to be relatively quiet for me, since, after all, it’s a rather technical conference event, giving me plenty of time to hang out at some of my favourite places, like the Innovation and User Experience Labs or the Exhibition Hall or, my all time favourite, the hotels bar(s), where you can spend some proper time catching up with folks you interact with online during the course of the whole year or new people you eventually end up meeting for the first time and whom you know you are going to follow up with after you come back. IBM Lotusphere 2011 Event

Ha! None of that had happened this year! Things were so incredibly hectic, and massive, that I didn’t get a chance to check the Labs, the Exhibition Hall, or just simply stop by the hotels bars to enjoy a drink or two, catch up with folks, and unwind for a little while. No, nothing like that this year. Quite the contrary!! Right from Sunday afternoon, till late Thursday evening my entire team, along with myself, were talking social to fellow IBMers, customers and business partners on the topic of Social Computing within the Enterprise and preparing the way to become a successful Social Business. Even during the lunch time we had overflowing tables with people coming from all over the place to join us wanting to share a bite or two, but also engaging on the hot conversation(s) of the moment: how do I become a social business? What’s the IBM story? How do you do it?

We basically spent dozens of hours talking to these folks about the IBM story; in our case, about the BlueIQ story; the nearly four year old Social Software Adoption Program from IBM we have been working on and from which folks just wanted to know what the real IBM story was like. So we spent plenty of time engaging in really good conversations with folks who were about to launch their own adoption program of social software or with folks who were already having theirs up and running and just wanted to exchange some further ideas and experiences. Sharing good stories is a very powerful means of engaging effectively in conversations. Specially, when you embark yourself on a rampant learning curve you know is going to make you better at what you do eventually. That’s how it felt for us throughout that entire week. We shared a lot, but we *also* learned a lot! Which, in my opinion, is a good thing; a very good thing! More than anything else because you can engage on meaningful dialogue always willing to learn some more and reuse some of the new stuff for your own initiative(s), just like they do when you share yours! That’s just priceless! True facilitated collaboration in the making … in real time! IBM Lotusphere 2011 Event

We kept referencing and sharing along the entire BlueIQ Methodology, which is still available as a free whitepaper over here, so that we could have an opportunity to brainstorm and throw ideas out there on what’s working for us, and what not, with the aim to help provide folks with additional collateral they, too, could use for their own social software adoption program(s) in order to become a successful social businesses. That shifting gears surely generated even more conversations that we could just hardly keep up with, which was über-awesome, by the way! Thoroughly enjoyed it from day one!

Now, to give you a sense of the level of dialogue that happened this year on Social while at Lotusphere, I can tell you how last year, all in all, I probably got to talk to about 5 customers on the topic of social computing within the firewall. This year, I talked to 5 customers on the same topic, just on Sunday afternoon, when the event was not even started yet! Goodness! Yes, all in all, last week I was annotating the amount of customers I spent time with talking about our social software tools adoption program while in Orlando nearly a month ago, and eventually came up with a list of 30+ customers during the whole week! Not to mention business partners and / or fellow IBM colleagues! I tell you, very little time left for breathing! Social Business *is* a hot topic! And while we all know it’s been there for a long while already, it’s actually quite nice to see, and witness in first person, how excited people are about it altogether! We may as well get it right this time around!

There are lots of things I would be sharing about IBM’s Lotusphere main theme for this year on Get Social. Do Business, like some of the various keynote sessions that covered the topic, plus a whole bunch of breakout sessions as well, but I think it would be much better if I actually start sharing some short snippets that helped permeate throughout the entire event and resonate further along in following weeks; like, for instance, the main three characteristics that differentiate a social business from the rest: engaged, transparent and nimble. Take a look into this recent three minute video clip where Sandy Carter, IBM’s VP for Social Business, Collaboration, and Lotus Sales and Evangelism, gets to talk about “What is a Social Business?to see what I mean with those three keywords:

Or you could also have a look into this other video where Sandy explains further “How do you become a Social Business” as she touches base on the Social Business A.G.E.N.D.A.

  • “Align Organisational Goals & Culture
  • Gain “Friends” Through Social Trust
  • Engage Through Experiences
  • Network Your Business Processes
  • Design for PR Recovery
  • Analyse Your Data”

Don’t miss out either how she gets to describe each and everyone of the various different elements of the Social Business Agenda, paying, perhaps, particular attention to the item on Design for PR Recovery, which, could help folks build up their own business case for social computing on its own altogether in a matter of minutes!

But there is plenty more still! Another good example I wanted to mention over here of how much conversation there was around the subject of Social (Business) was the two hour presentation / workshop delivered by both Bruce Elgort and Chris Martin, who did a fabulous piece of work!, under the heading “How I Went Beyond the Hype, Narcissism and Trendiness to Become a Social Software Super Hero” (Slideshare link is located over here), where they basically shared plenty of great insights over the course of two hours with a rather suggestive title (Not going to spoil the contents of the slides, by the way, you will have to watch through them below … hehe) and a whole bunch of interesting, and rather short!, YouTube videos from a group of smart folks who were kindly asked to share some further insights around the whole concept of Social Computing within the Enterprise and beyond: Suzanne Livingston, Luis BenitezAlan Lepofsky, Stu McIntyre, Chris MillerCheryl Bledsoe, Dale Chumbley, Aaron Hockley and yours truly as well. Worth while having a look if you would want to find out what other folks are thinking about getting social...

Here is the embedded presentation that both Bruce and Chris put together and which surely is worth while going through:


And, finally, I thought I would let you know about a video interview I did with the good folks from IBM Germany (Stefan Pfeiffer et al) on the topic of “Social Business @ IBM” where over the course of nearly 9 minutes we talked about a whole bunch of various different topics, starting off the conversation on what it is like living “A World Without Email” (Of course, you know, one of my favourite topics as of late…) and then move into the topic of how IBM is becoming a social business as a result of its wider adoption of social software tools, both inside and outside of the firewall by educating knowledge workers on how they can work smarter, not necessarily harder, i.e. focusing on the tasks, activities and processes at hand and injecting some 2.0 flavours according to a specific context and interaction in place. Also, towards the end of the interview itself, I shared a couple of success stories on how other businesses out there have already started that transition into becoming successful social businesses:

Thus, as you can see, lots and lots of conversations and further interactions on the topic of social computing, and how can businesses benefit from it all right as we speak, in 2011; there is still plenty more to come in this series of blog entries on the Lotusphere 2011 Event Highlights, which I will be blogging about shortly as well, but, to wrap up this blog post, and interestingly enough, I thought I would let you all know how, by the end of that short video interview, I dropped a prediction, a hunch, of what I feel will be happening in 2012:

“My suspicion is that by 2012 we will stop talking about all this social stuff and will just call it work”

What do you think? Will it happen? Will we be able to see how the Enterprise 2.0 market consolidates itself, how vendors will level up in their solutions and provide us with the social capabilities we have always been looking forward to, and how we will move into the next frontier… Stop focusing on the technology and just talk business?

Exciting times we live in, indeed, don’t you think?

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