Email Evolution or Revolution – From Goethe to IBM Verse

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Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software „IBM Verse“. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.

On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. „The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation“, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. „In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.“ The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.

It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.

IBM_Verse_People

For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their „Outside the Inbox“ evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.

With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.

„Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.“ Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.

Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.

When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.

IBM_Verse_Analytics
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their „People“ and „Analytics“ functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse „People“ learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.

Spot On!
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.

Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: „Rome was not build in one day!“ summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.

Study: Millennials value workplace friendships but sacrifice them for their benefit

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

A friendship is not a friendship, when it comes to moving on with your career – at least for millennials. A recent study published by LinkedIn this week shows that millennials believe in friendships at work boosting happiness, motivation, and productivity. However, friendship has an end and makes millennials competitive when it comes to career promotions.

The report states that 27% of the respondents think that workplace friendships boost their job performance. The negative part is that it also makes them more ambitious. Those millennials (68%) would even sacrifice a workplace friendship to get a promotion. The majority of millennials (3 in 5) believe that socializing with coworkers improves their workplace, and every third millennials thinks it will advance their career. Interestingly enough, almost every second millennial states that they would even discuss their salary with coworkers.

The results show quite a big difference to the Baby Boomers where almost the same percentage would never dare to have such a thought. From those workers at the age of 55-65, almost half of them even think a friendship with their coworkers had no effect on their professional performance in any way. Talking about salaries? Only 23% of baby boomers would think about it (and probably not do it).

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

Don’t limit conversations to only email or formal meetings. Take a walking meeting! Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn’s culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for a more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second, allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to, and ultimately more connected.

Take an interest in the personal. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should have an interest in your teammates as people. Take a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level. If your colleague always jets out with their yoga mat, ask them about it! Work is only a part of who we are; if you get to know people’s other passions, it may give you a glimpse into what motivates them.

Congratulate, share and like! A simple gesture on LinkedIn can do wonders for employee morale. Think how great it feels to get “a job well-done” email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network. It feels great to get acknowledged for your hard work, and by sharing it publicly, you also help to build your professional brand.

The study shows that millennials are more open to talk about their very personal business situations like compensation and benefits with their millennial counterparts. Millennials are even heading for those informations instead of showing understatement and not disclosing any information about their personal salary conditions like the baby boomers do. Management should be coaching millennials here, and making sure that they give them insights in why it would be better not being too open with their coworkers.

How do you manage the millennial workforce in your company? Are they also as open as described in this study?

Relationships @ Work from LinkedIn

Screens & the future: Samsung sees a display centric world

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Every screen manufacturer seems to have their own vision on how the world will have some format of flat screens following us, pushing us and making our lives „better“. We have seen the screens of the future with 3D and Augmented Reality merging, the car rear screens by Toyota, Microsoft’s productivity vision of the future, or Corning’s Day Made of Glass.

Now, Samsung shows us a world where even cutting boards get their display. What is your view? Are they going too far? Or is this a future you can envision?

Mobile is maturing. The only question is „In which way…?“

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Are we not all awaiting the „Year of Mobile“? Obviously, tablets and smartphones have made it become more sophisticated. However, most marketers still do not know how to approach this evolution from a strategic perspective. Understanding the bigger picture seems to become a leadership task. Who is using mobile tools on a daily basis? What are mobile business goals? Why do our employees need mobile and BYOD? Why is there an opportunity in using mobile to speed up business processes?

A new study by Compete describes for example who „Primary mobile users“ on Twitter are. 57% are less likely to log into Twitter from their desktop than the average Twitter user. They check their updates and tweets more frequently than most other users. With 86% they are more likely to be active on Twitter several times a day than the average user. Smartphone apps are their entry point. However, 15% of the Primary mobile users“ work on Twitter via their tablets predominantly.

Twitter Competer 2012

Furthermore, Mutual Mobile have created an interesting infographic which might offer some more insights, why enterprise mobility is essential for business development, where processes might get more impact through mobile, and how a company’s ROI might get the right boost with mobile.

Looking at the stats, it becomes obvious that the mobile priority increases with Chief Technology Officers (CTO), apart from dedicating greater resources to the mobile evolution when 94% of CTOs believe enterprise mobility will be important. Furthermore, 67% see mobile having more impact than the Internet did in the 1990s. Most important from an employees outlook is the fact that 65% understand more mobile support for employees as a critical priority.

Each and every business decision maker should see that mobile business leverages employees‘ productivity (2X), quadruples margins and decreases customer churn by 20%. Private and business users are getting more and more engaged in mobile Internet activities. Mobile is maturing, the infographic states. Would you agree? And if so, do you have some more arguments why…?

Infographic_MutualMobile_Maturity_2013

Interview: „Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges“

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One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business „social“?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible „hot desks“ in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a „social business“?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Reasons why businesses move to the cloud

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Small companies see the trend, bigger companies are following. Evernote, Wuala, Dropbox, or SafeSync were kind of the first movers and shakers of the cloud wave. Today, more and more businesses are moving their tasks and workplaces to the cloud.

The reasons are manyfold. Sometime it is their competitors that are a step ahead, sometimes it is the smarter working trend which allows employees to work anytime, anywhere at any project. Sometimes it is an IT setup, maintenance and support factor.

More and more companies see the advantages and collected some evidence that it offers mow productivity and flexibility. The cloud solves HR flexibility problems and offers new IT opportunities and destroys IT maintenance issues concerning service and support which the infographic by Yorkshire Cloud illustrates. The main benefits that the Cloud Computing Survey Outlook under 521 IT pros saw were…

– 61% appreciate the instant scalability
– 54% found cost savings as an argument
– 53% prefer the easier management of IT

Forecasts indicate that by 2014 the use of cloud services will increase 27% from 2010. The cloud computing industry is expected to grow to 240 Billion USD by 2020.

Are you seeing your company move to the cloud?

Bring your own device (BYOD) in the 21st Century (Video)

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It is no surprise anymore that Millenials prefer to use their own computers and mobiles at work. And they are also open to manage their service or support topics for themselves as long as they get the freedom to do so. It is their devices, so they will want them to work. Don’t we all hate to wait for IT to get the latest update of some kind of software. Shame we do not have the administration rights to do so.

Although BYOD might cause a headache to CIO’s and their IT managers, this next generation of managers might be right from a company efficiency and productivity point of view. What BYOD means in the future, the benefits it offer to businesses and how schools might be working with this trend, gets nicely explained in this little video by Marc-Andre Lalande. It explains in an 8-minute „Pedagogical Quickie“ the many advantages and limitations of this concept for education.

Active or passive? Don’t forget the „Social“ in Social Media!

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The last two weeks I have been on the road in Germany, Austria and Italy, and it was great being in the offline world. Speaking engagements and panel moderations with real people, virtuals aside most of the time. Sometimes I went online in the breaks but did not know what to post or what value I could share with my social graph. Sometimes as there just was nothing exciting. Sometimes as time did not allow it. And to be honest, I did not even have the creative spirit between webinars and seminars for my quality standards. Productivity had to come to a rest.

I just preferred being quiet. And guess what: It does not hurt! Probably nobody missed me. My messages. My input. My sharing.

Often I just reacted. Saying „Happy One!“ to my friends or business partners. Giving quick feedback on questions I was not even personally addressed. People liked it though. And I realized how great it is to work with teams that appreciate the ideas and thoughts you give just them without sharing every joke or funny story straight away. I found that approach of doing conversation and being productive quite „social“ last week.

Stimulation instead of penetration.

At some stage I wanted to participate and be more active in the conversations with my social graph again. So I checked Twitter what’s up. In the first five tweets I found the video below which was a perfect kick-off for the training I had the pleasure to do. A big insurance company had offered me the chance to train their coaches and internal personal (executive) consultants on Social Media strategy.

I started off with the video below and I can assure you: We came back to the message of the video, the tactical ingredients and the strategy topics at least 25 times in two days. And I told them again and again… „Don’t forget the „Social“ in Social Media! Let’s be honest: How often do we forget it?

Productivity squared? Future productivity vision 2011 (video)

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Many of us web techies have seen the 2009 version of Microsoft’s productivity vision. In their video, Microsoft offered an outlook on how technology could „transform the way we get things done at school, at work, and in the home over the next 5 to 10 years“. Some things have become real in their vision…

Many companies fear that productivity might get lost with the advent of Millenials working in companies in the future. And one things is for sure, screens will change our productivity and our daily working habits in the future.

Also, in their latest version 2011 we can find visions that seem to be not too far away from us, not even visions any more. The video gives still some interesting aspects to think about on how future technology could make our time more efficient to focus our attention on productivity. Now, whether this really strenghtens our relationships when we do different things at the same time, needs to be seen.

Watch it and tell us if this is how you would like to see your productivity squared, and if this is to become real in your future…?!

Study: Social Business is critical to future success

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Jive Software recently published a study that unveils how social software is increasingly perceived as a strategic executive imperative in the enterprise. Surprise? No. Jive is a provider of social business technology and commissioned the study, which was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland and asked 902 U.S.-based knowledge workers.

The three key finding can be summarized as…
– Social strategy will be critical to the future success of businesses.
– App Stores are gaining traction in the enterprise
– Email usage is growing but is not solving communication challenges in the enterprise

So, what are essential facts from the study…?

Enthusiasm for social software in enterprise is high according to the study. 96% stated that social software adds value to at least one key performance indicator with 67% claiming it would improve customer engagement. 57% even believing it would increase sales or revenue. Two-thirds (66%) of executives responded social software represents a fundamental shift in how companies work and engage with customers.
However, only 17% of the same executives reported being ahead of the curve in this area. So, obviously web business strategy is not where executives think corporate culture should be. And that is although 83% of executives leverage at least one social network for work use.

Reference marketing is becoming essential and social software will play a big role in the future of purchase decisions. 54% of millennials said that they are more likely to rely on and make purchase decisions from information shared via personal contacts in online communities versus 33% more likely to use information from „official“ company sources.

Obviously the study also finds that mobile is growing. App stores are gaining tracion in the enterprise and 74% of executives are indicating interest. The reason i salso mentioned in the study. 92% of executives and 82% of millennials believe that work-related web-based apps greatly or somewhat increased their productivity.

As a final finding, the study states the growing use of email which the bloggosphere is evaluating as a weak collaboration tool for a while. The study agrees here. 89% of executives, 88% of millennials and 76% of general knowledge workers believe that they and their teams would be more productive if they could dramatically reduce the time spent writing and reading emails. Seventy-three percent of executives, 73 percent of millennials and 64% of general knowledge workers agree that social platforms will fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work and with companies.

Spot On!
The study obviously favors the benefits of social software (it is a Jive USP). Some weeks ago, an IBM study took a step ahead and looked at the way executives have to challenge SocialCRM in the future and what their main fields of activity are at the moment.

So, if knowledge management in companies via social software is seen to have client engagement potential to improve business objectives, executives should have a close look at the following numbers and think about how (and how long to wait) to implement social software in their business processes: 73% of execs and millennials and 64% of general knowledge workers agree that social platforms will fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work and with companies.