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

From the blog

Is the iPhone Enterprise Ready?

Gran Canaria - Degollada de las YeguasFor a good number of weeks that’s one of the many questions I have been wondering about, on whether the iPhone is ready for the corporate world or not. I have been using mine from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I must say that I’m thoroughly delighted with the overall experience. There are so many things that I could talk about on how I make use of it as a consumer that I could probably write several blog posts about it! Just like that! From the usability perspective, to the couple of dozen applications I use on a rather regular basis, to the Web browsing user experience (Par to none from any other mobile device out there at the moment!), to the overall smart and elegance of using a gadget that makes the mobile world a treat!

However, the problem comes when you decide to take things into the next level and see if the iPhone would be able to make within the enterprise environment. Well, that’s a completely different story. In my case, and sorry to sound so blunt about it, and perhaps a bit harsh, too, I don’t think so. In fact, I know so! It is *not* ready for the enterprise! At least, in my own case.

There have been a number of various different blog posts and articles sharing further details on how popular the iPhone has become within the business world and how more and more companies are starting to pay attention to such mobile experience. Including IBM. And while I do enjoy the numerous positive prospects of using such device at work, I can come up with two main reasons as to why I think such device still has got a long long way to go, before it grabs the attention from the mobile knowledge worker. Specially power users. Why? Here is why …

Like I said, I have been using my iPhone from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I am quite happy with it. A really enjoyable experience. For sure. However, a couple of weeks back I was able to go through the final test for me which was when I managed to connect to the IBM network, through a secure VPN connection, and spend some time navigating through the corporate Intranet.

Ok, you folks know that for over a year ago I have stopped using corporate email (Yes, that well known “A World With Email” mantra), which means I rely plenty more on being constantly connected to the network, whether internal or external. Whether from my home office or while on the road. Offline work for me has been very minimal as of late. Thus, what happened that morning when I took the iPhone for a spin, you may be wondering, right?

Well, it took me a bit over one hour to completely drain the battery of the device to the point where I needed to re-charge it again. Yes, you are reading it right… A bit more than an hour and I had to charge it again! *Unbelievable*, if you ask me, to put it mildly! You know, I wish I would have to work every day just that one hour that the iPhone would allow me to before I would need to find a place to plug it back in again!

The reality is though that when I am away from the office, travelling, talking to customers, on the road, at workshops, or even at conference events, the last thing I would want to do is look for a plug to charge my iPhone. It’s just not going to happen! In most cases, because I may not be even have the opportunity to find one! So you are stuck! Trouble! Big trouble! No, thank you!

The iPhone needs to understand and come to terms with the fact that mobile knowledge workers do even spend more hours working while on the road than at the typical office location and as such relying on a device that will have its battery drained in a single hour of heavy browsing is just a no go. At least, for me!

So, that’s one of the main reasons why the iPhone will never become my mobile computer, as plenty of people have been claiming lately all over the place. Quite the contrary. It’ll just become my casual consumer mobile device for all other trivial stuff where I don’t need to depend much on battery life. So if it goes, it goes. That’s fine.

But you may be wondering what’s the second reason as to why I feel that this device is not ready for the enterprise just yet, right? Well, here is the scenario. I work full time remotely; I have got a Nokia N95 that I use for work (Battery lasts much much longer, by the way, in case you are wondering!); I have got the iPhone. Both with the same phone company.

Yet, while the N95 provides me an incredibly good coverage throughout, both at home and while I am travelling, the iPhone barely makes it. In fact, most of the times the coverage for this device is incredibly poor, which means when people call me they can’t reach me. So they have to leave a voicemail. Which I can only get to when I myself have got that coverage back. If at all! Frustrating… And that behaviour seems to be happening constantly throughout the day and very consistently, too! So can you imagine depending on that critical phone call, for whatever the reason, and you find out that the iPhone has let you down, once again, because of the poor coverage? No, thank you!

Like I said, I am starting to have very high expectations for the upcoming 3.0 release of the iPhone in the next couple of months; see if it would address these two main issues I have at the moment with it. And convince me that once again I can enjoy that working mobile computing experience without taking with me my MacBook Pro. Because otherwise, this device will just be that. A fancy (And expensive!) gadget that I can’t use longer than 1 hour a day, before it dies off again … That may be the time, perhaps, for a change … a change to other smarter mobile devices that understand what a mobile knowledge worker faces every day while getting to work. Because right now the iPhone just doesn’t cut it. And by far!

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 10 (Is Email Really Dead?)

Gran Canaria - Risco BlancoYou may remember my last blog post on the topic of the weekly progress reports of living “A World Without Email“, where I mentioned how I was in the process of putting together an article where I would be able to share with folks how they could kill over 85% of the incoming emails they get on a daily basis. Well, it is proving to be a little bit of a challenge to eventually share it out there, because there is just so much that I want to include in that current draft (#3 at the moment) that I doubt it would fit in within a single entry. So I keep re-editing it, hoping it would see the light one of these days… Hang in there though, I am sure it will eventually be available for everyone to read very soon!

So, what happened last week then, you may be wondering, with regards to my weekly progress report on giving up email at work, right? Well, it looks like things are becoming steadier by the week and may have settled down around the barrier of the 25 emails received per week thus far. From my follow up challenge for this year of 20 or less a week. Getting there, I suppose; slowly, but steadily. Here is the snapshot from Week 10:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 10

As you would be able to see, it looks like there wasn’t a single day last week where there was a substantial increase, for whatever the reason, like it happened in previous weeks, which I guess is a good sign of things going back to normal. Like I mentioned, my new mission is to eventually get under 20 emails a week and so far seeing how close I am from that target already is, for sure, some really good news!

Talking about good news … Over the last few hours I have been getting lots of offline interactions from various folks who took the time to listen to Episode 11 from The Sweettt Podcast and make some interesting comments, specially around the subject of my conversation with Matt Simpson on re-purposing the way I interact with email and how for the first time a couple of folks hinted what I have been trying to achieve all along: that is, how I am not very much in favour of killing email per se altogether, but more on fragmenting the number of interactions, or, even better, diversifying the conversations I have coming through my Inbox and make a much more appropriate use of other collaborative, knowledge sharing and social software tools that could fit in a better purpose than an email.

Yes, indeed! That’s all I am trying to do with this living “A World Without Email“. I have never said that email is dead nor that it will disappear any time soon. In fact, I still see plenty of benefits for email, specifically for 1:1 interactions. However, email is perhaps not the best of knowledge sharing and collaborative tools. Quite the opposite!

And that’s just what that upcoming article I mentioned above will be about. Not how to kill email, nor how to make it disappear from your daily routine, but certainly how to reduce over the 85% to 90% of noise that is currently coming through it. What I am trying to show everyone is how we need to think before we send that next email, because there is a great chance there may be a better tool to share that information / knowledge than through an email. In most cases there usually is!

So there you have it. The prelude of the upcoming article I hope to be sharing with you all pretty soon that will probably help you change or adapt some of your daily habits in how to get in touch and connect with your peers to share what you know. And in most cases avoiding the tool we all know doesn’t always fit the right purpose all the time. Email.

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Open Enterprise 2009 – Lee Bryant Interviewed by Stowe Boyd

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganAt the risk of starting to sound repetitive, I am going to be sharing with you folks another video interview I have been watching lately from the increasingly-by-the-day more interesting Open Enterprise 2.0 initiative that both Oliver Marks and Stowe Boyd have been working on for a few months now.

This time around I would like to point you to what, to date, has been one of my favourite interviews from the superb pool of great talent and thought leadership that has been shared throughout each and everyone of those interviews. Thus, without much further ado, head over to the Enterprise 2.0 Blog and check out Open Enterprise 2009: Lee Bryant Interview.

In that particular interview, the always insightful and thought-provoking Stowe Boyd gets to spend some time with Lee Bryant (Co-founder of Headshift, and perhaps one of the smartest folks I know in the area of Enterprise 2.0), while they discuss the current state of things of Social Computing within the corporate world; covering topics like the current econolypse, the history and background from the Social Web that has brought us to where we are (Brilliant piece, by the way, to get some perspectives on where we are with things and a massive wakeup call for everyone out there who may still think this whole movement on social networking is all new and shiny. <beep> wrong assumption).

From there onwards both Lee and Stowe get to talk about one of my favourite topics all along: Return on Investment for Social Software with some rather interesting and provocative conclusions I will suggest you take a look at and have a listen. It won’t disappoint you, to say the least; then they end up talking about perhaps the biggest force behind Enterprise 2.0 at the moment: Change Management and Culture. With a twist!

I know I could talk quite a bit on this very same topic to introduce the last piece of the interview, but I am not going to spoil it. I am just going to stop over here and suggest you have a good listen to a superb interview. You will find far too many precious gems shared in the last part of the interview to mention and cover them over here. For sure.

I bet you may be wondering though what I liked the most from the overall conversation, right? Well, as a teaser, I would go ahead and share with your folks how Lee’s thoughts on the big challenges for Enterprise 2.0 are just exactly what I am trying to do myself with living “A World Without Email“. That’s how far I will go into that area for now 😉 heh …

Who would have thought about that, eh? Like I said, here is the embedded version of another priceless interview by Stowe, with Lee as the special guest:

Oh, and in case you may not know, the wonderful folks of Headshift are one of the fine sponsors, and active participants, from the great SOMESSO event that will kick off next month, May 15th. Will you be there? If so, let us know how it goes. Share your two cents through live tweeting, or live con-blogging, so that we can all benefit from it and learn plenty more from the outstanding lineup of speakers who will be there. Don’t miss it! 🙂

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 9 (How to Kill E-mail, Before It Kills You)

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganLast week I mentioned in Twitter how during the course of the week I’d be putting together a rather compelling and thought-provoking entry where I would detail how folks could kill over 85% of the incoming e-mails they get on a daily basis. Yet, in the end, I didn’t manage to publish it, more than anything else, because, at a certain point, I got carried away and added some additional materials into the mix. And thus the draft needs further editing. This week though, that post will go up and I am surely hoping it would help folks find their way to, finally, move away from corporate email.

But today I am going to go back and share with you folks further insights on the weekly progress reports from my daily living “A World Without Email“, plus a couple of interesting links I have bumped into over the last few days. You would remember how last week I was a bit concerned at the prospect of seeing the highest number of incoming emails per week since the beginning of the year and I was surely hoping that things would tame themselves a bit. And they surely have. I am not certain whether it was down to the progress report related post I put together or to the upcoming long holiday break. The end result is that the numbers got substantially lower for Week 9, as can be seen from the following snapshot:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 9

Yes, I know, not close enough to that follow up target of 20 emails a week or less, but with 26, coming from a whopping 47!, I guess we are back in track again with things, don’t you think? Specially noteworthy is how Monday last week seemed to have been a rather hectic day and I supposed that was mainly due to folks preparing for a long holiday break taking place on Thursday and Friday, where the incoming count went really low. Thus I would suspect things will be different for week 10… And they are, but that’d would be the subject for another blog post at a later time.

Let’s move on now into the interesting couple of links I bumped into in the last few days, which I am sure folks out there are going to find interesting and somewhat humourous, at least, one of them.

Head over to PCWorld‘s “What Your Webmail Choice Reveals About You” where you will be able to see for yourself how, depending on which Web mail system you may be using at the moment, you would be flagged one way or another. Rather amusing read, to be honest, specially the end of it with this precious gem shared across under No E-mail Account:

Typical user: You are in your late teens or early 20s and you equate sending e-mails with using a fax machine, watching broadcast TV or buying CDs — lame. You text and/or IM, and that’s it. TTYL

Well, not quite just yet, but getting there … 😀

Check though this other much more provocative and mind-boggling article published by Mike Elgan over at Computerworld under the title “How to kill e-mail (before it kills you)” where he gets to describe some of the most comprehensive and compelling reasons I have read in a long while on why e-mail is perhaps not the best of communication / collaboration tools we have at the moment. And why now is probably the perfect time to re-think how we make extensive use of it. Or not. Here are a couple of interesting and relevant quotes towards living “A World Without Email“:

E-mail has become a pandemic social disease. The more you get, the more you send. And the more you send, the more you get.

Or this other one:

What’s wrong with e-mail? In a nutshell, the medium is perfectly designed for information overload. Both message size and quantity are essentially unlimited. Unfortunately, electronic communication is like a gas: It expands to fill its container.

Or this other one, incredibly insightful and very much along the lines of what I have been saying myself all along on the power of the spoken vs. the written word:

E-mail has always suffered from another flaw: It facilitates miscommunication. When you’re typing out words, you’re thinking one thing, but the receiver can perceive your intent as something else. You’re being funny. They perceive hostile. The reason is that humans are designed to communicate with words, facial expressions, body language and hand gestures all together. When you send only cold, black-and-white words, the other person can easily read into your message inaccurate intent or emotional content.

You can go and read further on the article by going over here. I can surely state it would be worth while your time. Not only because Mike keeps addressing some of the main issues e-mail is suffering from for a while now, but also from the perspective that he ventures into providing some sound advice on how to diversify your Inbox and bring into the mix an alternative set of tools to help you manage your time, and your email interruptions, in a much more productive manner:

  1. Set up a Twitter account
  2. Set up a “public” e-mail account as a data repository
  3. Set up a “secret” e-mail account for content
  4. Set up a Facebook account
  5. Set up a Skype account and get a webcam

I know most of us have made extensive use of these tools, but throughout the commentary from that article you would be able to see how most people are skeptical that such a system could work, more than anything else because of a number of issues people have identified with applications like Facebook or Twitter. But, to me the important and relevant question would be, what happens when you implement such a system behind the firewall with real Enterprise Social Software?

That is, when you have applications like Facebook, Twitter or Skype directly available behind the firewall, with whatever other name and with the same kind of quality and service as other traditional tools you are used to. Is the skepticism still realistic? Are people’s comments on Mike’s article consistent enough? Does it sound like a chimera as much as initially thought? Or is it something that could be put to the test and see if it would meet your needs and, eventually, help you make your final move away from corporate email?

Well, stay tuned, because that is exactly what I am going to cover in that upcoming blog post I started this entry with; you will see how it’s a lot easier than whatever you may have thought thus far …

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LotusLive Engage – Collaboration with Customers Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganAs you may have noticed, the last couple of days I have been a little bit quiet on the blogging front, trying to catch up my breath after having gone through some of the busiest couple of weeks I have experienced in a little while. And mostly due to a good number of exciting news that have been going on in the area of Enterprise 2.0, specially related to IBM. A couple of them I may not be able to comment on just yet (Once I get the clearance to go ahead I shall do, not to worry), but I can certainly share a couple of insights on all the others.

And now that I am enjoying a couple of days off at work (Happy Easter to everyone out there who may be celebrating it!!), I thought I would get back into the full swing of things and share with you a couple of blog posts I have been working on in the last few hours.

If last week I shared a whole bunch of links to some rather educational and enlightening presentation materials around the subject of social computing within the enterprise, this week I shall be sharing a few links to some very interesting video clips, but around the very same subject. They come from various different contexts, but they are all very relevant to the topics I get to talk on this blog, so let’s get things going. Without much further ado, here is the first one…

Remember that blog post I put together a little while ago around the subject of "How to Collaborate with Customers without Using e-mail", where I was talked about the super fine Lotus Greenhouse? Well, it looks like collaboration with customers just got a little bit easier! Earlier on this week you may have seen some of the various announcements on how IBM’s LotusLive Engage is now out of beta and available to everyone out there.

I am pretty excited about this announcement and about LotusLive Engage itself (Formerly known, while in beta, as Bluehouse) for multiple various reasons, which I will be talking about over time, but for now just want to follow up on that blog post I mentioned above where now that it is live, up and running and out of beta, it’s probably going to become one of the collaboration and knowledge sharing tools I’m going to consistently keep using, specially when reaching out and getting in touch with customers, helping me continue living "A World Without Email" (Pretty funny that it has got a sheer amount of great features and email is not one of them, eh?!).

Like I said already, over time I will be sharing plenty more details on how LotusLive Engage works and everything, but to give you folks a taster of what to expect check out this video clip (From the IBMLotusLive YouTube channel, and a bit over 3 minutes long):

Oh, and if you want to watch another video that explains what it can do, but with a touch of humour, check out LotusLive.com – Collaborating just got a whole lot easier… (A bit over 3 minutes as well)

And now you have gone through those two videos, let me share with you a couple of follow up links, if you would want to find out more about LotusLive Engage. First, the very helpful wiki that has been put together around the offering itself and which can be found over here. Then, finally, the LotusLive Blog that the fine folks from Collaboration Matters (a.k.a. Stu McIntyre) have put together and where you will be able to find out more details on the overall launch and some of its most compelling features.

Yes, indeed, like I mentioned on the title of this blog post, Collaboration with customers just got a whole lot easier…

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 8 (A Moment of Weakness)

Back again into another week at work, on what promises to be a rather intense, but short, one (Seeing that Easter is just around the corner), here is that time again where I get to share with you folks over here some further details on the progress report from my new reality of "A World Without Email".

This time around from Year 2, Week 8, where there have been some really shocking updates, at least, from the perspective of the follow up challenge I established at the beginning of the year. I am not very happy with the whole situation, but, before I go further, here is a snap shot of what the report looks like for last week, so you can see where I am coming from with this discontent:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 8

Goodness!! Yes, that was, indeed, my first reaction after I finished adding up all of the different emails I have received last week at work: 47!! The highest number of emails since I got started with the follow up challenge on 20 emails, or less, a week from the beginning of the second year. So last week didn’t look good! Don’t you think? No, not good at all! I know! In fact, it’s been the week with the highest number of incoming emails since beginning of the year! I guess it’s not bad since that’s already over two months, but still not very happy with the whole situation.

Why? Because for both Monday and Tuesday the main reason why I got such a high number of incoming emails was just … myself! Yes, yours truly! And that’s why I am not very happy about it. It was me, and a moment of weakness, by which I allowed those emails to come through my way with some lovely (NOT!!) "Reply To All" ones, as well as offering my email address to receive information I knew I could have gotten from somewhere else in the first place, but decided to go ahead with it anyway. After all, it is just another email! *beep* No, it is not! It’s when you lose control of your Inbox. Once again!

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganIt was that moment of weakness, where I gave in just a tiny bit, that showed me again what it was like not having the control of my own productivity; of seeing emails flocking my way in an unstoppable way, because I told folks it was ok; of seeing how plenty of people thought they could get away with sending just that one more email (Which, in the end turned out to be quite a few!); of feeling that if I give in, people will not change their habits, even if they know there are better ways of sharing information and collaborating with other peers; of experiencing corporate spam first hand as well as that Diogenes Syndrome that Cristina Castro put together rather nicely under "Y el síndrome de Diógenes llegó al ordenador" (Article in Spanish) when stating that our Inboxes are those places where we collect the garbage and we don’t seem to be able to get out of the loop. Or even want to get out of it!

Yes, indeed, that’s how it felt throughout last week! Not pretty, I know! In fact, I realised that it is probably a good thing for me to have such weeks every so often, because they would be a constant reminder that there is plenty of work to get done still! And, most importantly, they will be an incentive for me to keep me going; to keep persevering; to show people there is a better way; to demonstrate you can be as productive as ever, if not more!, using social software tools vs. traditional ones like email while still respecting each other’s productivity; to finally shake the ground strong and hard enough that it will provoke a change of habits in how people connect, reach out and collaborate with others!

Thus last week will mark the beginning. The beginning of something really exciting that I am hoping to be able to share during the course of this week, because today it has started pretty similar to last week, and I surely wouldn’t want to make a habit out of it! So in an upcoming blog post I’m going to be sharing with everyone a new strategy I have thought about which I am going to implement and be as strict as I possibly can to make it work. It is not going to be pretty; it will probably get a few folks upset; it may be even getting me into trouble; but one thing I know is that if I don’t do something about it now, it will be too late! I will be going back to square one and that’s something I mentioned a long while ago I am not going to do again any time soon. The waters are lovely right where I am.

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