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

From the blog

IBM Lotusphere 2009 Highlights – Social Softwre in the Enterprise by Chris Reckling & Sandra Kogan

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganAfter a short hiatus, still trying to digest some of what happened yesterday throughout the day, I thought I would continue sharing with you folks the link to another presentation, which, to date, has become one of my favourites from all times around the subject of social software within the corporate environment. Do you remember Meet Charlie? That superb presentation that Scott Gavin has shared a little while ago and which certainly set up a standard on what Enterprise 2.0 is all about?

Well, my good friends and fellow IBM colleagues, Sandra Kogan and Chris Reckling, have finally shared the slide deck they put together for their presentation at this year’s IBM Lotusphere 2009 and when you eventually go through it you will be able to see the various similarities with that one from Scott, except that this time around, both Chris and Sandra have put together a good listing of the various social software tools for the Enterprise that IBM is offering to customers under three different scenarios: "a project manager, a sales person and a Web 2.0 marketing guy".

Chris posted the presentation into Slideshare, but he has also shared a short blog post on the topic over at his own blog and I thought I would link to it from here as well to share with you folks what it would be like getting exposed to some of the tools I myself get exposed to on a daily basis on my quest to live "A World Without Email". Over time, and as more and more exciting news get released on the super nifty upgrade of Lotus Connections v2.5, amongst many other interesting and relevant news, I shall be sharing some further insights on each and everyone of those social tools / components.

But, for now, here is a taster of what it is like going to work and not having to use corporate email to stay as productive as ever, if not more!

Not bad, eh? Not bad at all, indeed!

(Although this week has been radically different than usual, although that would be the subject for another upcoming blog post!)

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 7 (Open Enterprise 2009 with Oliver Marks)

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganI am not sure what’s going on, but this week promises to be one of the most hectic at work I may have experienced to date!, to the point where I am starting to feel withdrawal symptoms from my various social networks, both internal and external, that I usually hang out with and that’s something that I am not starting to enjoy much, since it brings me back memories of how I used to work in my lovely (NOT!) silo a long while ago! I have got to do something about it! And soon!

And that’s why I thought I would drop by again and put together the next blog post on the weekly progress report of my "A World Without Email" series, just before I would freak out from the whole thing! Talking about an unbalanced busyness versus burstiness, eh?

Anyway, let’s get down to the business. Here is the weekly progress report with the snapshot on what happened last week with my giving up on email at work. Good news, I can tell you!; if not , have a look into:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 7

Yes, indeed, as you may have been able to see, I am back on track with my follow up challenge on reducing my incoming email count on to the 20 emails, or less!, a week mark. For week 7, right on target: 20 emails received, with a couple of peaks on Tuesday and Friday, but doing pretty good overall with the other days.

I was hopeful that things would settle back into the usual swing of things, yet, I can tell you, from watching what’s been happening this week so far, how I am back into the yo-yo effect I described last year in a couple of blog posts, because between yesterday and today I have already passed the total amount of emails from last week! And it’s only Tuesday!! (Ouch! Going to be a long week!).

Oh, well, let’s move on to sharing with you one interesting link that I hope you would enjoy, just as much as I did, as it touches on a recent videoconference I did with my good friend Oliver Marks on the topic of Enterprise 2.0.

Oliver is actually co-leading (along with the always inspiring Stowe Boyd) one of those really cool initiatives you know are not only very insightful, but also very much needed. Yes, certainly, I am talking about Open Enterprise 2.0. An initiative where both Stowe and Oliver are trying to "discover what enterprises are learning about Web 2.0 technologies and the practices to apply them productively" and whose results they would be presenting at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston in June. Believe me, a very much worth while initiative to follow up on if you would want to figure out where the corporate world is with their adoption of social software in the enterprise (Enterprise 2.0).

So far they have been doing a good bunch of different brilliant video interviews (Watch this one with Andy McAfee or this other one with JP Rangaswami to get a taster of the quality of the conversations), along with a whole bunch of other stuff (Go through this one video, for instance, where they are both giving an update on how things are going so far …), with a bunch of really smart, thought-provoking, inspiring and rather wise thought leaders in the social computing space and last week I had the great pleasure and honour of doing a Skype videoconference with Oliver where we discussed a number of different topics:

  • Social Software adoption at IBM (Where I basically describe a little bit what my day to day job is like as a social computing evangelist)
  • Knowledge is power vs. Knowledge shared is power (and the state of social software adoption in Europe, as well as KM & Collaboration)
  • Biggest challenge for social software … mobile (workforce) 2.0.
  • Benefits of social software within the corporate firewall and beyond
  • And, of course, the initiative I have been involved for the last 14 months: A World Without Email.

The video lasts for a little bit under 30 minutes and you would be able to play it from Oliver’s blog post at the Enterprise 2.0 Blog or directly from the embedded version below:

Thanks much, Oliver, for the opportunity and for the great conversation! I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed it! Look forward to seeing you at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston!

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 6 (EventoBlog – Servicios y Tecnologia 2.0 en la Empresa by Luis Suarez)

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganAfter an incredibly hectic (And frenetic!) week at work where I had to do a quick trip to Madrid to present at a Proof of Technology (a.k.a. PoT) on Social Software and Lotus Connections with a bunch of business partners (I am thinking about putting together a follow up blog post on this experience, since I found it rather interesting and exciting, specially since the focus of the majority of the discussion was on everything else, but the tools. Plenty of conversations around change management, cultural issues, adoption, etc. Yes, I know, post will be coming up shortly!), I thought I would put together another blog post catching up with the weekly progress report on my new challenge of "A World Without Email". This time around for week 6, 2nd year, which, as you would be able to see below, has produced an interesting set of results. Thus without much further ado here you have got the weekly snapshot:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 6

Ouchie! As you may have noticed, for the first time in 6 weeks, I have gone over 25 emails on the weekly incoming count and maxed at 31, which I know for most folks that would be nothing, but since I put myself a follow up challenge for this second year to stay on 20 or below, I guess it’s something to watch out for.

You may be wondering what may have caused such sudden increase and I must confess that, once again, most of the email traffic I had from last week was due to the lovely (NOT!!!) Reply to All button. Yes, that button that presumes you would need to know about stuff, when in reality you don’t, nor you wouldn’t. But still it keeps reminding you that you need to know about something. Well, I don’t. And if I would, not to worry, I shall certainly be letting you know about it. Give me an opportunity to decide whether I want to be involved in subsequent replies or not, please, but spear me from a bunch of emails I wouldn’t need on the first place. Oh well…

Moving on forward, I thought as well I would share with you folks, what I think, would be an interesting link, specially for those folks who understand Spanish, and may want to learn further on why I started this my new reality on "A World Without Email".

Late last year, November, to be more precise, you would remember how I presented at what, to date, remains one of my favourite conference events I have attended so far: EventoBlog, in Seville, Spain. Yes, I did the well known "Thinking Outside the Inbox" and just a few days ago I found out that the session was recorded with both video and audio and is now ready for replay at Vimeo.

The fine folks over at EventoBlog blog have also put together an entry referencing the video, including as well, what I think was one of the best blog post coverage links I have seen in what I was trying to convey throughout the roughly over one hour show: "El hombre que mató al correo electrónico" ("The man who killed email") by Gonzalo Martín.

I guess I could say plenty of things about EventoBlog and everything (Just wish Twitter wouldn’t have such a bad memory, since most, if not all!, of the live tweeting from that session is gone now!), but I think I am just going to leave it for a follow up blog post, since I want to share further details on what other conference events can learn from such an amazing experience we had in Seville.

For now I will leave you with the embedded video of EventoBlog‘s Servicios y Technología 2.0 en la empresa (a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0) by yours truly (Which lasts for a little bit over 55 minutes), where you can watch the recorded session. In Spanish; which I would think is perfect timing for those folks who have been asking me where I could blog about the topic of giving up email at work in Spanish. Well, this video would be as good as it gets. Nearly one hour talking about the subject! Hope you enjoy it, just as much as I did not only during the session, but also during the entire event!

EBE 08 – Conferencia de Luis Suárez from Evento Blog España on Vimeo.

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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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A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 2 to 5 (Social Networking More Popular than Email)

Barcelona - By the HarbourI guess it’s about time that I get back on track with things and share with everyone out there the weekly progress reports I have been collecting since last time I blogged about this subject, where I presented, amongst several other things, what my new challenge would be like for 2009 and an initial report status on how things were going on my progress living A World Without Email. So I guess this is the catchup since that last blog post!

Ok, instead of sharing with you every single snapshot of each of the previous different weeks, since you can find them all at my Flickr account, I thought I would go ahead and just share the last one from last week, where you can see that incoming count of emails from all previous weeks. Much easier to keep track of, I am sure. Thus here it is latest report available so far:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 5

I am going to keep this blog post rather on the short side, but you from the statistics shared above you can see that I’m substantially on target for my new challenge, which was, if you would remember, decrease my incoming email count to 20 or less emails a week! And in this case in 3 out of 5 weeks I have been able to manage it! Yes, you can tell how excited I am about this. But it gets better…

If you check the weekly progress report from last year you will be able to see why I am thrilled about the whole thing on giving up email at work. In the first five weeks since I started this new reality of mine, I received 198 emails, which I guess is not too bad. However, in those very same weeks on this second year that total amount is 106 emails! That’s 92 less emails over the same period, which I am not sure what you would think, but I think that’s some terrific news! Say take 2 minutes per email for handling further and that’s the amount of time I have saved not processing that specific difference of emails from one year to the other! Do the math and you will see! Fantastic stuff! And really enjoying the various benefits from week one! Yes! Just the beginning!

Nonetheless, there is also something that I am very excited about and which has been all over the place lately. One of the many things I enjoy of living "A World Without Email" is that plenty of my various social networks keep sharing some very interesting links related to what I’m trying to do that help me add some further context and insights for you folks to enjoy. And the one I am about to share is probably one of those that has kept me smiling for a little while now.

Yes, indeed, a whole bunch of different online resources, Web sites, blog posts, articles have been talking about it extensively and I am sure that, by now, you may have bumped into the main theme of those links: the Nielsen report "Global Faces and Networked Places" which claims how social networking has become much more popular than email nowadays. Go and have a read at Social Networking’s New Global Footprint. It’s a good read, I can tell you.

As you may have seen already, there are plenty of things I could comment on with regards to the report itself, but since I am already going on the long side of this blog post, I guess I will just comment on something that I have found rather amusing to say the least. Most folks I have been discussing this topic with over the last few days have been saying that the report itself may not be very specific since most of the data just captures activity from the consumer social software space, what we already know as Web 2.0. So from a business perspective it may not be *that* relevant.

Well, quite the opposite, in my opinion, as I have been sharing all along. It all starts with the consumer market (i.e. Web 2.0) before we get to dive into the enterprise! For instance, who would have thought, back in 2004 or thereabouts, that a couple of years later we would be seeing plenty of Enterprise Social Software offerings from most major vendors as well as some other niche Enterprise 2.0 specific ones? Who would have thought in 2004 how most of the corporate world is seriously being impacted by the knowledge workers’ adoption of social software, not just outside, but also inside of the firewall, in 2009? Probably not many people. Yet, the reality is that’s happening right as we speak and there is no indication that it will be stopping any time soon!

Thus, I realise I may well have been a bit ahead of the times in relying, almost completely, on my social networks, versus other communication tools like email, in order to get the day to day job done, but judging from Nielsen’s report, I suspect it won’t be too long before social networking tools will be much more popular than email within the enterprise, too! I mean, if it all happened within the consumer market itself, what’s out there stopping such massive adoption in a business context. I tell you what. Nothing!

It will eventually be happening and I am surely glad, as well as excited, that whenever that occurs, I will be more than ready for it, as these weekly progress reports seem to indicate. But how about you? Do you see yourself using social software tools more often than email for your daily workload in the short term? Will you be ready to make that shift? Will you be ready to shift gears and adopt new models of connecting, reaching out, collaborating and sharing your knowledge? …

Welcome to Enterprise 2.0!

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 1 (Off to the Next Challenge!)

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' SunsetAnd so we move forward into the next challenge on my quest of eventually giving up on e-mail at work. Yesterday, February 15th, it marked the first anniversary of that original entry where I was mentioning how it was time for me to take things in the next level with regards to my own adoption of social software, both inside and outside of the corporate firewall. And from there onwards, it surely has been quite a ride! Over the last few months most of you folks have been following the weekly progress reports I have been sharing and although I am not very much in favour here are a couple of statistics you may be interested from the final yearly report:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 52

1647 the total number of incoming emails over at 52 week period, averaging 31,6 emails a week, 4,5 emails a day during those 52 weeks! With a highest number of 60 emails in a single week, and 3, the lowest number in a single week as well. I suppose if you take 3 minutes per email I guess I spent around 13,5 minutes a day working through my corporate email; or if you take, say, 10 minutes per complex email, I suppose I have spent 45 minutes per day maximum, although I can certainly confirm with you most of the days it’s been on the 13,5 minutes than in the 45 minute range!

Amazing stats, eh? Yes, indeed! I could surely agree with you on that one! That’s why half way through the mid-year, when I started working on this, I truly realised about the huge amount of time I was saving to then dedicate it to engaging with my various social networks & communities nurturing the various different relationships to get the job done much faster, much more efficient and with a lot less effort. Yes, motto I have been using for a long while now: work smarter, not necessarily harder!

It is not that I have freed up time to then be lazing around doing nothing. Quite the contrary, I have been interacting with my networks more than ever before and that, to me, has meant I have got a stronger sense of belonging, of ownership, of commitment, of involvement, of responsibility on getting the job done in a collaborative effort. And, boy, has that been a wonderful trip over the last few months!!

To such extent that I am already getting started with year 2 of my giving up on e-mail at work, and thought I would share with you a few words on what lies ahead for me as my next challenge. You would have to bear with me for a little bit, since this looks like it may be an article on the longer side of things, but I think it would be worth it. Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas

To start with, I have already started it. I am already on Week 1 of what I have decided to now call "A World Without Email". Yes, indeed, I think it is possible to work on a corporate environment without email and this is the year I’m going to prove it once again! Notice though that, once more, I am not saying email is dead (For me anyway); what I am just saying is that I am going to continue progressing further on my move to stop using email and use social software instead as my primary means of connecting, sharing my knowledge and collaborating with others. I do realise though every now and then I may still use email for those 1:1 interactions of a sensitive / confidential nature that perhaps some social software tools may not be able to handle. But still my new challenge is to go well below the limit of 20 emails a week and perhaps just use email to process calendaring and scheduling events. Nothing else!

And I thought I would share with you folks the weekly progress report for Year 2, Week 1, from last week:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 1

Already on target for my next challenge, as you can see: 20 emails or less! In this case, 16 for the entire week, last week! With the highest peak happening last week Wednesday and the rest of the week keeping a very nice and low average compared to last year! Certainly, on the right track! Yay!

But that’s not where I am stopping. This is where you come in now folks. As part of my second year on this quest to eventually give up on corporate email, over the next few weeks I am surely planning on sharing with you all of the various details on the social software / productivity tools I am currently use to help me get rid of my Inbox. I have already gotten things started, but will continue to be like that throughout, so that you, too, can play with those tools I am using to see if they could work for you, just as well as they do with me.

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' SunsetAlso, I am planning on sharing with you folks different various techniques on the implications of moving away from email, so that you yourselves could take on this challenge as well. That way you would be able to see how you could go and venture into trying it out, i.e. say, giving up on email for a week and don’t feel the pain. Quite the opposite! You will see… Stay tuned for more information details to come through, because it surely promises to be plenty of good fun!

And, finally, something that I have been thinking about already for a little while, which is getting your direct input / feedback on what you would like to see on these weekly reports I keep sharing over here. And to get things going, I’d like to throw some ideas out there for you to comment on what you would like to see in these posts as well as the frequency. Yes, as I you may have seen, this year is going to be about getting you to move away from email and I am surely more than happy to help you out doing that! So here’s what I am asking you to think about on what you would like to see from here onwards:

  • Frequency of posts: Typically, I have been posting on a weekly basis on about the progress reports. Should I continue with that frequency? Perhaps switch it to bi-weekly or even monthly? What would be your expectations in this area?
  • Include additional links on the same topic: Usually, I would get to put together these blogs posts adding additional interesting and relevant links to what I am doing. Are you finding those useful? Shall I continue cross linking to them as part of the progress reports? (My initial preference is Yes, as it enriches the conversations, but would love to hear your thoughts on it)
  • Statistics you would like to see: You know I am typically sharing the numbers of total amount of incoming emails on a weekly basis. Is there anything else you would want to see? (I know a couple of folks have mentioned in the past they would want to know the number of social interactions I get involved on a daily basis, to contrast one against the other, but not sure how to include these, since capturing all of those as part of the reports would probably be much more time consuming than eventually getting the job done interacting!) So what would you like to see in those reports? Can we shape something else that could be meaningful for you?
  • Can you give up email for a week: Yes, this is the part where I am going to share my experiences on how you can give up email yourself, but I would need you to share with me what are your main pain points, challenges, issues with your day to day email interactions. What is it that you would want to be done with, but keeps dragging more and more. Share with me those items and I will show you how to walk away from them. If I have been able to move away from email myself, so can you! So let’s get you going! Let’s get rid of those issues for good!
  • Finally, challenge me!: This is probably where all of the good fun would start! You know I have been without email at work for over a year, but I am sure you may have questions about my approach and everything, right? Go ahead and share them. Test my experiment. Make it yours! Share why you think it wouldn’t work with you in the first place and see if between both of us we can get you out of that loop. There is a great chance the issues you are encountering are issues I have seen / experienced myself in the past. So let me help you address and fix them. Like I said, if I have been able to do it, why not you, right? Let’s do it!

As you would be able to see, a rather long blog post. Not to worry, next ones would be on the shorter side, for sure! Just wanted to set the stage on what my next challenge is going to be for this year: while I continue to stay away from email, help you start moving gradually as well from those endless (And sometime pointless) conversations happening through email that could probably have a better place elsewhere, i.e. social software!

Are you ready to enter this new challenge? Are you ready to finally liberate yourself from the tedious yoke email is? Let me help you then! 😉 Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas

Oh, and to finish up this rather lengthy blog post, here is an interesting reading I bumped into the other day, which I am sure is going to shed some light on that challenge you are about to embark yourself on … Through a tweet from David Sky, I discovered Her 30-day e-mail detox, where Oprah herself challenged her email system and decided to question it for a month. Read further on it and see what she got out of the experience. Rather thought-provoking and revealing, I can tell you. If she has been able to do it for a month, imagine what’s like not having to worry about it anymore for over a year and counting!

Yes, indeed! … Welcome to (my and, hopefully, yours, too!) "A World Without Email"!

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