E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

Gran Canaria

A Special Day

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesOver the course of the last couple of days my social periscope, both inside and outside of the firewall, has been down for most of the time, as I have been fully immersed on the IBM Simplify Jam, jamming away, with still nearly 7 hours to go!, on trying to figure out ways to help untangle IBM’s complexity. So far it’s been quite an amazing experience that I am hoping to have an opportunity to blog more about it in its due course. However, for now, I thought I would go ahead and drop by over here and share this blog entry, seeing how the Social Web out there had other plans for me for today: “Happy Birthday, on St. Patrick’s Day!, they have all been, rather kindly and warmly, wishing yours truly over the course of the last few hours. Well, yes! it’s St. Patrick’s Day, although it is *not* my birthday. I lied!

I lied, because Facebook taught me how to and why I needed to; I lied on my date of birth, because apparently it’s one of the two pieces of data that folks out there would need to know in order to be capable of stealing my identity and pretend to be who they are not. And Facebook has done a wonderful job in reminding me time and time again why I need to lie about my birthday date. Even though I no longer have got an active account in FB. So that’s why, out there on the Web, today is a special day for me. It’s not my birthday, but it still is a very special day!

That’s right! March 17th, 2004, was a rather cherished day for me. Still is today, 7 years later! On that date I decided to be re-born and come back to life once again. It was very much needed and I still haven’t figured it out why it took me so long to realise about it. Over the last couple of months, during that year, yours truly went through one of those lifetime changing experiences, while he was still working and living in The Netherlands, that surely makes you think about things in general. You know, that kind of experience you all know you need to go through once in your lifetime. That kind of experience that helps you switch your priorities to what really matters. I am sure most of you folks can relate to that, as I bet that most of you may have gone through something similar in the recent past. Or it will come up eventually.

Well, to me, it was March 17th, 2004, when I decided to come back home and live in Gran Canaria, Spain. Actually, it’s not really my hometown. That’s up in the northern part of Spain (León), but for a good number of years it’s felt like it was, as I kept coming back, year after year, on vacation, for a good number of reasons. And 7 years later, I still feel like the first day. That’s why to me, today is a rather special day, one where I plan to celebrate it big time, not only because it’s St. Patrick’s Day itself, but also because thanks to that decision back in 2004 I managed to get things straightened up a bit, helping me land in my dream job, amongst several other things, including in my own personal life, that most of you out there who know me in real life already know about to some extent; specially, if you have come along to pay me a visit and see various of those reasons that helped me, back in the day, land in such a place as this tiny, precious, mini-continent, island.

That’s why today, in such a special day, I wanted to recover back a blog post I shared over here as well over a year ago and which clearly comes to detail some of the various different reasons why I decided to come and move to Gran Canaria, and why, after 7 years of living over here, I am still enjoying it, just as much as I was from day one! And here is why:

Nearly 7 minutes of pure gold! Nearly 7 minutes that can pretty well translate to what my life experiences have been like over here in those last 7 years. It’s funny, isn’t it? They keep saying that 7 is a magical number, or so they tell me, so I guess today will even mark for a much more special celebration. Yes, the video clip is in Spanish, with Spanish subtitles, but there are plenty of versions of it in other languages. Here is the one in English “Choose a grand destination, Gran Canaria“, in case you would want to watch it in that language.

And if you would ever want to come along and pay a visit, know that I will be more than happy to host you and show you around what plenty of folks know as the wonder mini-continent: Gran Canaria. I bet you will be enjoying just as much as I do myself, every day. Yes, indeed, happy belated birthday to yours truly!

Thanks ever so much, everyone, for those wonderful birthday wishes! They mean a lot to me, specially, when this one is the last one of those “3s” I have been enjoying, over the last decade, quite a bit! Thanks everyone as well for being part of it!

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Imagine an Island and Then … Come Along! Welcome Back!

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas DunesI am sure that at this point in time regular readers of this blog may have been wondering where I have been all of this time, or whether I may have abandoned my blog altogether, since the last time I created a blog post over here was over a month and a half ago and by this time plenty of people may be thinking it’s just too late to come to the blog back again, right? Well, you know, after all, blogs are dying, aren’t they? So it may have looked like this one was heading in that very same direction after such a long time without an entry being published. Well, nothing further than the truth. Yes, I have just gone through, perhaps, one of the longest blogging hiatus I can remember in my whole 7 years of blogging. But the reality is that I am now, finally, back to my usual regular blogging activities after such extended break. Thus I guess I could also say to all of you as well … Welcome back! Thanks for sticking around and for dropping by once again! I surely have missed you all, too!

I bet by now you may be wondering where have I been all of this time then, right? What has kept me away from the blog throughout all of these weeks and why I am coming back to it, once again. I am sure you may be pondering what has happened to Luis Suarez, yours truly, over the last few weeks. Or, maybe not. Maybe, you didn’t even notice I have been away all along and you just saw this blog post for the first time. Either way, I think I could summarise it all with a rather short sentence: things have been incredibly hectic as of late!

And like I have been mentioning in my twitterings over at @elsua, it looks like things are not going to change and become a bit quieter anymore, so I might as well take this opportunity to pick up my usual regular blogging and start writing again. Why? Gosh, I am sure there are plenty of various different reasons, but I will just start with the one that has helped me come back: lots of really good stuff out there to share along! I’m sorry, but I just can’t keep them all for myself any longer! That would be too selfish from my side, don’t you think? 😉

Over the last few weeks, I haven’t been blogging much, although I have been microblogging / microsharing quite extensively throughout all of that time. But at the same time I have been working on a good number of blogging drafts and at this point in time I think I may have gotten about 100 blog posts (Yes, you are reading it right! 100 blog entries!!) piled up just waiting to be finalised and published! Like I said, so many things going on that I just couldn’t help it anymore staying away from the blog for that long. So I am officially back after that long break, wanting to keep up with my usual regular blogging, hoping that we may be able to continue the conversations right where we left them and add a few more!

Thus what are some of the things that I plan to talk about over the course of the next few blog entries in the next couple of months? Well, a whole bunch of stuff for sure! To give you folks a little bit of an idea on what kind of topics I will be covering, here are some of the items I will be sharing my ¢2 about in no particular order, combining them all with some of the rather interesting and relevant stuff I keep bumping into on a regular basis. So, without much further ado, here is what’s coming up in elsua any time soon!:

  • Reports on my recent business trips: Yes, that’s right! Over the last few weeks I have been on the road for a few times, talking to customers about Social Computing within the Enterprise, Social Software Adoption, KM, Collaboration and a bunch of other subjects. So I will be talking about what I learned from those meetings as well as share a bunch of the slides that I have been using all along, now that IBM has got a new wonderful Slideshare channel waiting to be populated with some really cool stuff! hehe
  • Highlights from different conference events I have participated in: Yes, that’s right! I have been doing a bit of travelling as well presenting and attending various different conference events; so, as usual, I am planning on sharing some insights about each and everyone of those events I have participated in, hoping to share some of the major key learnings I have gone through so far. Thus I will be blogging about the recent IBM Software 2010 Congress, about the absolutely wonderful Enterprise 2.0 Summit that took place in Frankfurt in October as well; the IBM World Usability Day Webcast on the topic of The Social Workplace and the amazing Evento Blog 2010 that took place this past weekend in Seville. Lots of highlights to share from each and everyone of them altogether!
  • Highlights from different conference events I didn’t make eventually, but still rather interested in: Another round of blog posts will surely be dedicated to a good number of conference events that although I didn’t make it to any of them, because of other commitments, I was still rather interested in following up with them through the live tweets and extensive blogging coming along. So I will be sharing some further thoughts around the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara (Where some major news and announcements were shared altogether!); also about Defrag, the one event that I keep missing time and time again and that I shouldn’t! I know for sure I’ll eventually be making it! But it looked like not this time around …; as well as another event that I keep missing and probably shouldn’t either, specially this year with such an amazingly talented pool of rather insightful and thought-provoking speakers. Just as much as Defrag’s. Of course, I am talking about KMWorld 2010. Can you imagine Enterprise 2.0 and KM coming closer together and become one again?!?! Yes, that’s what I will be talking about, amongst several other interesting happenings in all of those events …

  • Holidays!:  Yay!! Of course, it’s that time of the year for me that I treasure quite a bit as it marks the beginning of my holiday season. So in October I took a couple of days off to visit mainland Spain and do a bit of a tour around to some amazing places like Toledo, Segovia or Aranjuez and in November I took a few days off to enjoy one of those breaks where one tries to unwind and disconnect from everything, which, I think, I succeeded big time! So for all of those various different blog posts that I will be sharing along I will be adding some of the pictures I took, I am still processing most of them, and which will become available shortly in my Flickr stream. Stay tuned for them, because some of them are breath-taking, really making me wish I was a better photographer to do all of those gorgeous places enough justice!

  • #elsuapps: Now that I am back to normal again I will be picking up this hash tag I have been using in Twitter, as well as in this blog, to share my favourite iPad apps that I have been using extensively all along and which I couldn’t live without, specially, now that iOS 4.2 is out! And at the same time I will be sharing a couple of blog posts on how the iPad itself and those apps have changed completely the way I use and interact with the Social Web, while I am on the road! I know a couple of you folks have been asking about it, so I am planning to share some more on that topic, so that you can see where I am coming from …

    At the same time, though, I will be picking up a new theme in this regard; as you may well know, just recently, I acquired an iPhone v4 and have consistently re-introduced myself to the wonderful world of the iPhone Apps that I used to have and which have tremendously improved the way I interact with my iPhone, making it all a whole new experience! So instead of just having iPad Apps, I will also be sharing iPhone Apps; all of them under the same hash tag: #elsuapps. So I am hoping other folks may be able to benefit from that activity as well as perhaps share their favourite picks for both of them! It should be quite good fun!

  • Podcasts: Indeed! Over the last few weeks I have been invited to participate in a good number of podcasting episodes, all of them to talk about Enterprise 2.0, Social Computing, Social Software Adoption, KM, Communities and Learning, so over the next few blog posts I will also be pointing folks to those various different episodes in case you may find them interesting / relevant. 
  • A World Without Email: Of course, I couldn’t forget about this one! How could I? Over the last couple of months I have been having plenty of folks asking me whether I have given up altogether on the whole experiment of living “A World Without Email” coming back from giving up on corporate email for good! The short answer is that I haven’t! I won’t! Ever. It’s here to stay with me for a long while. So I guess we are due, very much, one of those updates where I can share with you folks how things have been going so far and where I am heading with it, since we are approaching, fast and furious, my third year anniversary of having ditched work related email! Quick teasing note for those who may be wondering though … Yes, still going strong with a total reduction to 17 emails received per week, which is great news, specially, when coming back from vacation!

Plus a whole bunch of other stuff, too …! Yes, that’s right! All what I have shared above is just a small fraction of all of the subjects I would want to share in upcoming blog posts. I do realise it is going to keep me busy for a while now, but I think it would be worth it. I need it. I need to get out of my head all of the really cool and insightful stuff I have been exposed to all along and which I think is worth while sharing out there! However, I am going to try something new. You may remember how a while ago I opened up an account at Posterous (You can find it over here); well, I haven’t been doing a really good job at keeping up with it, mainly, because I started to grew the idea that I probably didn’t need it to share lots of other different things eventually… Well, a couple of months later, I think I’m ready to take it for a spin, for the third time, and see if it would work this time around!

Like I said, there are lots of stuff that I would want to share and get out of my text files in my local hard drive, as well as my brain, so that others may potentially benefit from it, so I am planning to make use of Posterous once again to share shorter blog posts, more on target, sharing the odd thought / idea on whatever the topic I am covering within the main themes that are also present in this blog. And at the same time that would also trigger me to write shorter, much more straight to the point blog entries over here, so that I can keep up with the pace of perhaps having multiple articles per day. Some of them will be short, some of them will be slightly longer and, not to worry, there would also be the odd rather lengthy one, like this one, for instance! 😀

Either way, the whole purpose is to try to catch up with that one month and a half of not seeing any posts coming through on to this blog. Yes, indeed, blogs are not dead! For certain! Not yet. At least, not this one! I am very much back and in full force, so it’s time to ramp up some more activity and get back on track catching up with all sorts of happenings! Which brings me on to the next topic … Why have I given the title “Imagine an Island and Then … Come Along! Welcome Back!“? to this article then, right?

Well, very easy, as you may have noticed, over the last few weeks I have been travelling quite a bit, both for work, as well as for some of my holidays, and all along when coming back home, I couldn’t think of anything better than a recent YouTube video clip of a rather popular TV programme, here in Spain, that kind of depicts quite nicely, the kind of place where I live: the Island of Gran Canaria. My home. And, in a way, my coming back to blogging, to this blog, is like coming back to the island, to my island, time and time again. So to give you folks an idea of what it feels like I thought I would close this Welcome Back! entry with the link to the video clip itself, so you can see what I mean. When I first watched through it, I got goose bumps. Big time! The second time that happens to me, actually, after the post I put together back in January this year on a rather similar clip… I am fortunatey, very fortunate…

Watch through the video and you will see what I mean:

Like I said, it’s good to be back! Thanks ever so much for sticking around and let’s do it! Let’s keep up with the conversations! Welcome! 🙂

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Reflections on Blogging and Real Life Distractions

Gran Canaria - El RincónA good number of people have been asking me offline over the last 3 and a half weeks whether I have finally abandoned this blog for good and moved into something else, since I have gone rather quiet as of late and no new blog posts have been making it thus far for a little while now. Well, my answer: no further than the truth. There is no way I’m going to give up on blogging any time soon! Thus, from here onwards, my usual regular blogging will continue for many moons to come … What happened then?

Well, in the last few weeks things have been incredibly hectic at work for me working on multiple initiatives trying to help accelerate the adoption rate of social software inside IBM (I’m hoping to be able to share some of those insights pretty soon, too!), at the same time that I have been doing a fair bit of travelling (3 trips in a week!) presenting at various events, including the cancellation of another business trip to Madrid to conduct a workshop on Social Software Adoption, which I will be going for next Sunday for a couple of days…

That business travelling involved putting together a good bunch of presentation materials, which, in between meetings galore for most times, as well as presenting at those events, have taken most of the time, specially the time I’d normally dedicate to blogging. Of course, I will shortly be sharing with you folks what all of that travelling was about, since there is a lot to share on each and everyone of them, but, as a teaser, they all had to do with Día del Emprendedor (Day of the Entrepreneur), a face to face event that took place over the course of one week in all of the Canary Islands and which, overall, was a rather unique experience that left a mark on me I never expected to have… And very soon you will know why.

With all of that frenzy happening at work, you can imagine how there was very little energy left to, on top of that, continue blogging away, right? So I needed to take a break, unwind from everything, recharge my batteries again, get back into the full swing of things… and I did that on the weekends, which I guess that’s what they are meant for, right?, specially when you live where I live 😉

So for the last three weekends I have been out of the house enjoying some stunning spring weather over here in Gran Canaria, taking with me my camera trying to grab some breath-taking snapshots of very special moments: those that help you understand and treasure how powerful it can well be being disconnected from everything and focus on the little things that matter…

And, boy, was it worth it? Every minute of it! I have been sharing a good number of those snapshots on my Flickr account already, but I thought I would share a few of those pictures over here so you could have a look into the kind of wonders and diversity I have been exposed to in the last couple of weeks, and why, time and time again, enjoying real life seems to have won over my usual regular blogging over here. With the good fine effect that I’m now back in full force wanting to share a whole bunch of really cool stuff I have bumped into during the last few days and which will keep me buzzing away for a long while still.

Thus, like I said at the beginning … no, I haven’t given up on blogging; not even a remote chance of that happening any time soon! Quite the opposite! Why would I want to mute myself? Why would I want to quiet down my voice, when there is just so much to share and learn from? Why would I want to kill the very same reason why I got involved with social computing in the first place a few years back? Just doesn’t sound right, does it? Yes, there may have been a few days where I have gone dormant but for a good reason. A chance for me to step back, relax, unwind, refocus and get ready for some more! And try to continue providing some good quality blogging that other folks out there may be able to enjoy reading, just as much as I do putting those articles together in the first place … And certainly visiting some of the places like the ones you are going to see on the pictures shared below helps… And a lot!

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes in the Sping ...

Gran Canaria - Charca de Maspalomas

Gran Canaria - Puerto de las Nieves

Gran Canaria - Municipio de Mogán

Yes, I agree, it’s good to be back! 🙂

Oh, of course, another year has gone by and, as you can imagine, I couldn’t miss it and let it go by just like that … Yummy!! What do you think? Fancy joining me again next year for one of these? Around mid-May? Get in touch!

Gran Canaria - El Tablero de Maspalomas en Fiestas - La Paellada

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Little Venice in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the SpringNow that I have finally managed to get my hands on a decent piece of equipment, which I had the great pleasure of taking it for a spin not long ago (And was really impressed with the results, I must admit!), I thought it would be a good time again to reintroduce a new series of blog posts to make justice to the beautiful island I have been living in for the last six years: Gran Canaria, Spain. It’s about time, I think.

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you would remember how some time ago, every so often, I used to put together a series of posts about places of interest (And worth while checking further, or exploring further, if you are that kind of adventurer…), things to do, landmarks to check out from an island that I can never get tired of, nor does it cease to amaze me time and time again. So I’m going back! I’m going to start sharing, ever so often, the odd blog post where I will try to share some further insights from what it is like living in such a paradisiacal island I discovered over a decade ago and from which I just can’t get enough!

Actually, there is also a specific reason why I would want to take up sharing these blog posts once again. It all begins with combining two other passions of mine: photography and Gran Canaria itself. It’s funny, because I never thought I would be saying this, but it was this island that one that made me appreciate the wonderful world of photography. Yes, I still consider myself a newbie with lots and lots of things to learn in order to master this fine art of taking snapshots, specially when you tend to discover plenty of tricks as you go along. But the way I see it is that I have got plenty of time as well as some of the most breathtaking landscapes, and a few other things, too!, that continue to help me improve my skills.

And, like I said, with that new piece of equipment I got my hands on a few months back, I just couldn’t help avoid the urge of coming back to this blog and start sharing that new series of blog posts detailing why I fell in love with this island over ten years ago, when I landed over here on my first holiday. I know that most people would think that Gran Canaria is a holiday island on its own and, in a way, they are rather accurate. However, that’s just a small fraction of all of the stuff you can do, watch, learn about, experience, enjoy and treasure. A small fraction, indeed!

That’s why with each and everyone of these blog posts I’m hoping to share with you some of those hidden treasures that this island has got to offer to everyone who may want to spend some time visiting and wanting to have a good time. So, from here onwards, every now and then, there is going to be a new set of articles I’ll be putting together where I am hoping to share with you some of the golden gems that this island has got to offer to anyone who may be interested.

At the same time, I am going to do things a little bit different than the initial round of blog entries, since I’m also planning to share further details on interesting places to check from a culinary perspective. Yes, that’s right! I will also be sharing some further insights on restaurants to check out throughout the island, so if you ever come and visit you would probably have a handful of good options to check out. I already got a couple of lists (Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20 restaurants I just can’t wait to share across!) that I’m sure you would be interested in … So hang in there!

Finally, there is also another motif for me to get things going with this series of posts. And that’s to show to plenty of my worldwide friends out there, those who I have met over the course of the years with all of that travelling (I knew it would pay off at some point!), the kind of place where I have been living for the last few years, so that they, too, can see that it’s not just all about sunshine and gorgeous beaches, nor fish & chips, or steak with fries! So it would be interesting as well to share with you other tidbits I may bump into out there on the Web that I would think would be worth while sharing across as well, so that you folks (You know who you are!) could have a better overview of what it is like living in Gran Canaria.

Like, for instance, did you know that we have got a small place called Little Venice? That it is one of my favourite places from the entire island, because it combines, rather perfectly, both the flavour of a local fishermen’s village with that of a rather popular tourist destination? But that it keeps it all in good harmony and it’s quite a treat walking through the various streets, the harbour, the upper side of the village, etc. feeling that would be that perfect place where you can picture yourself enjoying your retirement for so many good reasons? Welcome to Puerto de Mogán!

Well, last weekend I spent there the entire Saturday afternoon over there, and, of course, I took my camera with me. Most of the pictures I took are already in my Flickr account, but I thought I would share with you over here a couple of them to give you a taster of what is awaiting for you on the southwest of the island of Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Not bad, eh? Well, I hope you do enjoy this new series of posts I’m about to re-launch over here in this blog, hoping that one of these days you may perhaps drop by my island, my home, so that I can then show you around and enjoy a drink or two, or some of the amazing food served by some of the most interesting and intriguing restaurants you can imagine. Get ready and prepare yourself! It’s going to be a fun ride! 😀

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Elige un Gran Destino, Gran Canaria

Earlier on today I was watching Bill Davenhall, in one of the TED Partner Series talks, give one of those incredibly inspiring, amazingly engaging and thought-provoking, too!, presentations where he actually tries to introduce the concept of "geo-medicine". I must confess I wasn’t very much aware of the whole thing, but I found it truly fascinating. The TED talk lasts for a little bit over nine minutes I can certainly recommend you take some time off to go through it. It will be worth it every minute of your time and will make you think about things twice!

You may be wondering by now why did I choose that specific title, in Spanish, for this particular blog post, right? And, more specifically, why am I making such connection between the title itself for this entry and Bill’s, rather revealing, speech, right? Well, for a good number of reasons, but I would just stick with one of them.

If you have been following this blog for a little while now you would remember how, about nearly 6 years ago, I made, probably, one of the most important decisions that I can remember in a long while. Indeed, I decided to take back control of a situation that was not helping me at all, to the point where I eventually started noticing some of its consequences on my own health. I know that this may sound a bit too personal, so I will spare you with the rest of the various different details. Perhaps we can catch up at some point in time whenever we would meet face-to-face and over a drink or two. For now though, the end result was that back in 2004 I decided to move back to my home country.

But instead of going to mainland Spain, which is where I come from originally, I decided to go to the place where I had spent the last five years of my holidays: Gran Canaria. I know that for most people that may sound a bit too weird. I mean, why would someone like me, who’s always been living in big cities for the last few years, all of a sudden would want to move to such a tiny island, right? Not the usual thing that you expect, I can imagine. Yet I went ahead with it; it’s been nearly 6 years now since I made that decision and I haven’t regretted it just yet one single bit!

And this is now where the title of this blog post kicks in, because, while most people think that Gran Canaria is that perfect holiday island, with plenty of sunshine and beaches, the truth is that there’s just so much more about it that I couldn’t let this opportunity go, just like that.

Earlier on this week, a good friend of mine shared with me a couple of YouTube videos that I just couldn’t help sharing them over here. Actually, it is the same video; a longer version (Nearly 7 minutes) and a shorter one (A bit over 2 minutes). The title of the video is something like "Choose a Great Destination, Gran Canaria" and it basically tells a story; the same story that I can relate to myself on why I fell in love with this island right from the start back then (And still going strong!). The same story that details very nicely how sometimes, it is good to sit back, rethink about your priorities, straighten things up and focus on those little precious moments that really matter.

I am sure that after you watch the video you will have a pretty clear picture of why I decided to come and live over here and, even more, you would understand as well the connection that I made to Bill’s TED presentation mentioned above on how important "geo-medicine" could well be for us all. So, next time you hear the words "Gran Canaria" don’t just think about the sun and the beaches. Think about choosing a great destination; one that can certainly help improve your perspective on things and life, in general … just like Gran Canaria itself has done for me throughout the years…

The shorter version

The longer version

(And it is probably a good time now for me to share with you folks a little bit of a disclaimer; that good friend I mentioned above who shared these videos across with me is actually the grandfather of the youngest kid that is featured in the story itself. Oh, those little precious moments that we need to remind ourselves and treasure every now and then … What would we do without each and everyone of them?)

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The Business Value of Social Software by Luis Suarez

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas DunesWe all know that plenty of people nowadays are trying to figure out what is the main business value and various benefits of using social computing within the enterprise. Yes, the good old Return On Investment (a.k.a. ROI) conversations for Social Software that I like to talk about so much lately. Well, here is another blog post to share some further insights on the topic. This time around sharing a personal story on how I am benefiting from social computing myself and how, as a result of that, IBM itself benefits from it as well (I would hope).

January 2004, I experienced what some folks would know as a serious wake up call in my life. One of those times we all get to go through, once in a lifetime, where we need to pull back, think about things that *really* matter to us, make the right decisions, re-engage back and move forwards. Yes, I know, one of those wake up calls…

Back then I was heavily involved for a while already with social software, although mostly behind the firewall. Yet, I knew that it may have well been *my* moment to prove the business value of social networking within the corporate world. I decided to approach both my local resource management team, as well as my, at the time, project manager and ask them whether they would allow me to work remotely from another country, in this case, Spain, my home country.

And while I do realise that perhaps not many companies out there are ready for such somewhat difficult decision to make, specially from a business perspective, the answer I got back was a loud and clear "Yes, Luis, as long as your perform the way you have all along". To which I said, "Of course, no problem! I can do that!"

From there onwards, a couple of weeks later, I moved back to Spain, to Gran Canaria, to be more precise, where I have been living, and working remotely, ever since. And this is where social computing kicks in, because right then I realised that if I wanted to make it work in my new situation I needed to be out there: visible; easy to reach and connect with; always willing to help and share my knowledge with those who needed it (And with those who may need it at a later time, too!) in an open and public way; willing to share my expertise, experience and know-how across the board with those who I know, and those who I may not know yet; willing to feed those resources with knowledge and expertise that otherwise would have remained in my own head, or my computer, for that matter, and therefore with very little access for others to enjoy.

Thus, as you can imagine, I increased even more my already heavy presence in the social software spaces, both inside AND outside the firewall, and that only meant that more information and knowledge from myself became available to others and, hopefully, some of that knowledge was helpful to them as well. That good old "Knowledge is power" suddenly transformed itself into "Knowledge shared *is* power" and lo and behold five years later, still going strong.

Yes, that’s right, today, March 17th, 2009, San Patrick’s Day, marks the 5th year I have been relying on social software to keep me employed with what I consider still my dream job at such large corporate environment as IBM’s, where both of my managers are thousands of kilometers away from me, yet, through the daily usage of social networking tools I know they are just an interaction or two away from me (In most cases even just a single tweet!)

I can imagine plenty of folks out there would be questioning whether I would have been able to make the same move without social software and work in such extreme virtual environment without it and relying on more traditional collaboration and knowledge sharing tools. To which I could probably confirm that I wouldn’t have been able to. Five years afterwards, I am 100% sure of it!

So what is the ROI of this, my personal, story?, you may be wondering, right? Well, perhaps that engaging with social software, embracing a new model of collaborating and sharing my knowledge (Much more open, transparent and public than ever before, ever since I decided to live "A World Without Email") with other fellow knowledge workers has allowed me to prove the point that you can work wherever you want, whenever you need, and with whoever you would want to reach across, depending always on the context, by making extensive use of social software and forgetting about measuring people just by their sheer presence versus their overall performance and results obtained. That is what social software has done not only for me, but also for the company I work for…

5 years on and still going strong! That is, to me, the real ROI for Social Software, both inside and outside of the enterprise world. But how about you? What’s your personal ROI story?

I would love to hear your thoughts plenty more over here or elsewhere. But, for now, time to go and celebrate San Patrick’s Day at my favourite Lebanese restaurant downtown (Beirut), and then, of course, off to the pub! 😀

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