How IT Can Change For the Digital Era and What Leaders Can Do About It

I’ve recently come to believe that we’re at a watershed moment in technology as it’s applied to business. The aging, creaky model of centralized IT departments has been increasingly challenged by waves of internal and external competition that it’s never had to face. It started with the outsourcing wave but picked up irresistible momentum with the arrival of SaaS, the cloud, app stores, shadow IT, and BYOD/BYOA/BYOT.

The reality is that IT is struggling mightily in most organizations to keep even basic technology up-to-date, dealing with critical cybersecurity issues, closing fundamental gaps between IT services and the business, and generally not guiding their business as a whole into the digital future. It’s time to call it like it is: The legacy model of IT is largely insufficient when it comes to modern digital enablement and transformation.

As I’ve said, the CIO has a new mandate today, and that is broad digital empowerment in scale.

But I’ve come to praise IT, not to bury it, as the saying goes. I explored yesterday on ZDNet the yawning funding gap between traditional companies and digital firms, the latter who spend just over two times what the rest of us do on IT. I’ve also explored how M&A has become a compelling model for companies to acquire digital innovation, instead of doing the hard work and taking the risks in updating their core businesses with the latest technology advances and new digital business models.

Can IT get where it needs to be today? Yes, but not in its present form.

How Digital Enablement and Transformation Is Changing IT and What the CIO, CMO, CDO, and CEO can do about it

Moving Well Beyond Legacy Technology Enablement

This has all been said before, however. We need to take a hard look at where we are today, and where we can go. They say that the first thing you do when you need to fix a major problem is to admit that you have one. This then is the problem statement for traditional IT:

  • The rate and scale of external technology change now far outpaces IT investment in most companies
  • IT departments tend to be overly centralized, insular, and disconnected from the business
  • The traditional model of IT is to internally assume all the effort for digital enablement and transformation, instead of tapping into anyone who is able to help
  • Previous management solutions to “fix” slow change or innovation, such as strategic initiatives, tech incubators, “bolt-on” transformation, and Centers of Excellence, tend to recreate the problem they’re trying to solve
  • Those closest to the business often have the least role in applying technology to it
  • There is a one-size-fits-all mentality to most IT, making all parts of the business accept limited solutions
  • Once a technology solution is found, it’s rarely revisited until the imperative for change is unavoidable (and therefore late)

Whatever comes after existing IT, is going to offer a clean and consistent way to address all of these challenges, likely inherently though it’s very nature. The good news, is that I think we’re beginning to see the outlines of what that is begin to emerging from collective industry attempts at solving these challenges, going well beyond existing models of digital enablement.

Over the last few years, I’ve been involved in a number of attempts to solve these problems at an organizational level. What’s struck me, and this has been an absolutely fascinating pattern that I’ve now seen or encountered a number of times, is that the efforts that actually succeeded did something quite different: They enabled change at the edge of the organization, proactively seeking it out, and giving change agents and their champions toolkits, playbooks, and real support to drive local transformation. My explorations of the case studies at Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT in Paris this year with social business realization programs at some of the largest in the world has only underscored this for me.

It’s time we realized that like so much with emerging technology, everyone is in the IT department. That’s not to say that everyone should have full responsibilities of traditional IT, but that digital needs are so pervasive and so extensive that we need to reverse the direction of solution develop. We must move, as John Hagel famously said, from push models of technology enablement, to pull. That’s the only scalable and sustainable way of accelerating change, deal better with uncertainly, maintain high levels of flexibility, provide a much more authentic and compelling connection between what we do as businesses and our technology, and almost completely eliminating the misalignment between business and technology.

Moving to Pull Models and Networks of Decentralized Change

As I collect case studies and permission from clients to talk about these things, you can expect me to paint a clearer picture of how digital realization in the enterprise is changing, but for now, the new model of IT that organically seems to be emerging is one of a distributed network of enablement, something that for complete lack of a better term I’ve previously called a “Network of Excellence.” I find the evidence for this model is increasingly compelling and I ask that you join me in exploring this approach, because as of right now, it’s virtually the only new model — other than bi-modal/tri-modal, which I think is important but insufficient — that seems clearly evident to me in the dozens of major IT projects or initiatives that I take a look at every year.

In other words, how leaders will create and use networks of digital enablement is the agenda for the rest of this decade. I’ve explored what leaders can do to start enabling this model this year, but we need a longer term plan based on evidence across multiple industries.

The good news: I still very much believe IT can lead this transition to a new service delivery model. But our organizations are no longer waiting. They have alternatives and choice, and they will use them.

An Urgent Industry Discussion On the Future of IT: Please Join In

I would very invite your commentary, local stories, and discussion on this topic as we look at how the role and purpose of IT is changing fundamentally as we fully enter the digital era.

Additional Reading:

Imagining the Future of the Enterprise

Businesses Have Digitized But Not Transformed

The Role of the CIO in Digital and Social Business Transformation

What Are the Required Skills for Today’s Digital Workforce?

As I spend a great deal of time every year looking at the latest technological advances for the enterprise, I’ve noticed a trend in recent years that’s long been true but is clearly markedly accelerating. That trend is that technology has officially pulled well ahead of the workplace skills of even the most proactive manager or line worker. It’s not that the digital possibilities are getting ahead of our businesses, it’s that high technology itself is proliferating so rapidly in terms of potent and truly transformative new products and services (social software, collaborative economy, wearables, 3D printing, and the whole hype cycle) that it is now very difficult today even for experts working on the subject full time to keep up.

I posited today on Twitter that we need to figure out a way to catch up or, as Andrew McAfee seriously suggests, perhaps the robots will just end up doing everything for us as they might be the only ones that can manage.

Or is there a way forward for our organizations? Are there new ways to think about our digital workplace skills that allows us to take our thinking up to a new plane, the next meta-level of thinking and working where we have much higher leverage, can manage change that is an order of magnitude or greater in volume than today, work in fundamentally better and smarter new ways — and perhaps even work a bit less — yet produce much more value?

Internal and External Digital Chang Factors Impacting the Enterprise Today

We generally recognize that have to do something to improve our digital metabolism, as I see organizations struggle mightily these days with digital change and transformation, and often not getting very far.

Thus it’s become pretty clear that one of two things is going to happen: The world will continue to pull ahead of the average workplace, as our internal rates of change are greatly exceeded by the marketplace. We will steadily become irrelevant and ineffective, eventually replaced by digital startups and better-adjusted competitors. Or we’ll find entirely new ways of improving our capabilities in a way that allows us to maintain some kind of parity with progress in the world. (Whether technology change always represents progress is a discussion for another post.)

This means we have to find a way to change our selves and our workplaces, or the market will do it for us the hard way. Disruption is what happens when something new comes along that changes the underlying rules of the game. If we are doing the disrupting, it can actually be very good for us. When it’s imposed on us, then the results usually tend to be unfortunate. So we must be doing the disrupting to ourselves, and that begins and ends with shifting our mindset and perspective, especially in deeply understanding the nature of the truly pervasive digital operating environment we now find ourselves in.

Looking at the state of the digital workplace today, which I’ve been mapping for years now, and we can see from sources of hard data about what’s happening such as Jane McConnell’s terrific surveys, that “most organizations are just starting their journey to an effective digital workplace.” That’s Jane’s quote, but my emphasis: 30 years into the personal computer and networking revolution, and most organizations are still very early in their journey and often losing ground.

What Skills will Self-Sustain Digital Workers?

To be fair to IT and HR departments around the world, the digital workplace target does move incredibly fast and is picking up speed. And there never was a finish line. Fortunately, I believe there are novel, effective and increasingly well-understood new ways for most organizations to address their current digital workplace gaps, and it’s not (just) by “giving up non-essential control”, deploying liberal BYOD/BYOT programs to cultivate employee-led change, figuring out how to do things like learn or change behavior faster, or any of the ten strategies I’ve previously recommended.

No, instead it is by giving our workers genuinely transformative new digital skills that gives them the ability to adapt, provides them with the most relevant digital tools and platforms, conveys new motivations, and fosters the know-how to re-imagine their knowledge work in brand new ways that are much more adaptable, rich, scalable, and resilient — even embracing of — the inevitable march of digital progress.

While no one can yet represent that we have a full understanding of what the key next-generation digital skills of successful organizations are — as they are largely still being discovered — there is a broad realization of the important skills we know of already. All of the skills listed below are ones I’ve either seen being used successfully by large organizations or actively piloted with some promise. These should be on your shortlist as you plan your updates to the digital workplace, as I believe each is essential for working in a much more sustainable and meaningful way in our digital age. The enlightened leaders of today will enable these skills to tap directly into the “New Power” that digital networks are conferring on organizations that are willing and able to adapt.

Related: Today’s Digital Priorities for the C-Suite

Today's Digital Workforce Skills

The Essential Next-Generation Digital Workplace Skills

Working Out Loud

Also known as Open Work or Observable Work, this is the act of lightly narrating your workstream, usually on an enterprise social network, but it can be done using any participative medium. Working out loud allows one to let the network do the work (see below) and breaks down the silos that have rebuilt up with virtual workplaces and today’s far-flung multinational teams. Perhaps most importantly however is that is the key to unleashing agility using digital networks as it automatically collects institutional knowledge and critical methods, makes onboarding new employees much easier, and frees up your knowledge to work for the organization continuously while still ensuring your contribution is recognized. Credit goes to Deutsche Bank’s John Stepper who has done much to make this key digital workplace skill so well known recently.

Digital Sense Making + Personal Knowledge Management

These skills are something we’ve seen CHROs and HR departments consider how to provide in recent years as cognitive overload has become a common workplace malady. We now have many tools, channels, apps, and devices we must use in the workplace, and they will only grow in number, probably extensively. The attention they demand is squeezing out the time to do the quality thinking and analysis that we so badly need knowledge workers to spend time on. Harold Jarche has done excellent work over the years in mapping how activities like Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is a discipline and practice that digital workers must acquire to navigate today’s knowledge-dense workplaces. PKM provides the tools, techniques, and time for consistent yet meaningful sense making. Next-generation organizations will actively work to reduce needless activities like excessive meetings by creating required time for the strategic activities of acquisition, management, and sense-making of digital knowledge. These skills are foundational to adapting more swiftly and organically to rapidly changing operating environments.

Open Digital Collaboration

As I’ve recently explored, collaboration is becoming the most important strategic activity in organizations, even becoming a vital top-level corporate strategy and major fast-growth new business model as well. Workers today must be experts in digital collaboration techniques, know all the relevant platforms, and maintain an understanding of the current collaborative “channel catalog” at all strategic levels. This includes the team and project levels, all the way up to the very business itself and its relationship with suppliers, partners, and customers. Becoming a connected, sharing knowledge organization using digital tools in global networks has, for example, become a top priority of large organizations like Bosch, BASF, Bayer, Michelen, and many others, some of whom even use techniques to ensure knowledge and observable work are kept out in the open. Open collaboration is a core capability of digital native organizations because it is how network effects and other power laws of networks are triggered, providing the scale and (literally) exponential ability to drive rapid change.

Related: How to Deliver On A Modern Enterprise Collaboration Strategy

Network Leadership

Today’s digital leaders — whether they are senior executives, managers, team leads, or line workers — must be able to wield influence and guide others over digital channels. Digital networks provide uniquely powerful platforms for self-expression that leaders can use to enlist others in common objectives, gain inputs from colleagues and especially weak ties, change minds, and drive collective action towards outcomes. In the industrial age, leadership was wielded through physical presence and (largely) one-way communication through traditional media. Today’s leaders must deal with networks that can and will engage back, and they must be effective at leadership through two-way dialogue, consensus building, and thought leadership. Showing the importance of this subject in leadership circles, the highly respected Executive Board has an excellent white paper on the Rise of Network Leadership that explores skills that must be developed in our workforce today.

Radical Transparency

In today’s digital world, rightly or wrongly, privacy is rapidly eroding and is now sometimes gone altogether. Forward-thinking organizations are going to take advantage of the change to build more scalable and sustaining trust, stronger relationships with their workforces, communities, and customers, and get the right information from where it is to where it needs to be. We’ve learned that any entity where people believe secrets that affect them are being kept is rightly regarded with considerable skepticism and growing cynicism. Edelman’s yearly Trust Barometer, whose results have been tracking the plummeting levels of trust worldwide in the last few years shows that the rules have changed. It’s often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the proof in new ways of working has been the consistent positive results that more open and better networked organizations receive. Achieving this level of openness, however, will be one of the most challenging yet vital changes for most organizations to make: Creating a culture of sharing and near total transparency that drives much better decision making, faster feedback loops, stronger relationships, less searching for information, less customer and workforce frustration, and yes, especially more employee engagement.

Digital DIY Know-How

Maker culture, which can be quickly sampled in its current state by a quick browse through the thousands of active projects on Kickstarter, is an offshoot of the Do-It-Yourself movement, a trend towards finding ‘hacks’ that improve something by wielding simple but often unexpected solutions. While I believe this skill is not necessarily natural and amenable to every worker, hacking our workplace has become a common concept, often used to get around workplace barriers or antiquated ways of working without violating rules or policy. More recently, deliberately creating a hacker culture or business has been seen in the rise of hackathons and employee product startups/incubators, and other employee-led change processes. Encouraging digital DIY skills means tapping into a widespread but latent capability for change, improvement, and entrepreneurial spirit. Note: I’ll be exploring this topic more at my Ignite talk at IBM InterConnect next month in Las Vegas, on my session on digital leadership techniques. I’ll post the link to the slides here afterwards.

Letting the Network Do the Work

Perhaps the most truly disruptive of all the skills I’ve listed here, this refers to the technique for using the scale and asymmetric resources on the network (local, enterprise-wide, or preferably, global) to accomplish often otherwise impossible tasks. I’ve explored this strategic technique at length before as well as captured some amazing case studies in efforts like Fold.It. While some of the above techniques will naturally trigger this outcome (Working Out Loud most notably), the best results in my examinations of dozens of case studies comes when it is designed as an architecture of participation.

Are there other skills that should be here? Almost certainly. But as with all change today, so many parallel tracks often form that there simply must be a hierarchy, what’s most important, what’s next, and so on. I will collect and publish our updated view of all major digital workplace skills later this year, but I believe the ones above are at or near the top of the hierarchy and will genuinely enable rapid, transformative change in organizations. Visionary organizations that intend to survive and thrive in the near future will work on developing these skills and creating a workplace where they can be used to their fullest.

I would also like this to be the launching point for a more meaningful collective discussion of what we really need to do to modernize our workplaces for today’s operating environment. Please leave your comments below or better yet, write something that adds to this. Let’s work out loud and let the network do the work.

Additional Reading:

What is the Future of Work

Rethinking Work in the Collaborative Era

The Strategic Value of Social Business: What We’ve Learned

Recently, I had the need to gather our latest research from research, clients, and case studies on the established performance of social business for the Future of Work master class I delivered in Paris at Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2015 this week.

The intent was to answer this question: What specifically is the business value in social-based ways of working today and tomorrow?

By this, I largely mean the design and deployment of enterprise social networks to create better business outcomes. The typical range of benefits can be ascribed to the effective use of newer types of situated collaboration tools that have a social layer, especially digital workplace environments that:

a) make the information that’s shared public by default and;

b) leave a permanent record of collaboration that is open to everyone for learning, analysis, and reuse.

These two attributes remain the critical difference between older generations of collaboration and communication tools in terms of providing differentiating results. While point-to-point collaboration methods have utility, they simply don’t have the strategic, long-term benefits of social-based approaches.

From this survey, I determined we can put the results into three primary classes of benefits:

Tactical improvements to existing ways of working

It’s clear from looking at the meta-studies of all recent measures of performance benefits to improving existing business processes by working through social network that significant results are to be had. Last year I assembled our latest such synthesis of results. It confirmed the consistent low double-digit business-wide returns that are likely if you employ the capabilities in the way that employees broadly work. These fall into a variety of categories that are both qualitative and quantitative: Finding needed information faster, lowering operational expenditures, higher customer satisfaction/retention, increased productivity, more successful innovation, and reduced travel/communications costs.

Strategic Benefits of Strategic Workforce Collaboration

It should be noted that while these improvements are typically in the lower double-digits — and can often form the core business case of an social business initiatives on its own — they are incremental and don’t describe the fundamental digital transformation of the enterprise. Though I noted here at Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT this week that they can provide the entry point for such large-scale changes, these are the in-place improvements of existing processes that you get initially from getting the workforce connected better and sharing information more frequently and with less friction.

Supporting tacit interactions: Complex, highly variable problem solving

The next major areas where social tools provide strategic value is by aiming them at the last significant area where existing aids have left little mark. This is the area of knowledge work where the work is far from routine, consists of highly creative and/or analytic problem solving, is highly variable, may change its fundamental nature frequently, and is what today’s highest leverage workers adapt to and engage in to get their jobs done.

Tacit Interactions: Last Bastion of Productivity Improvements for Social Business

Historically, important economic activities such as farming (which was largely replaced by machines), and mental labor like accounting (again replaced by computers and spreadsheets) were supplanted by tools that had more capacity and far lessor cost. While today is increasingly the concern that everything humans will do might be replaced by robots, for this category of social business improvements, we’re largely referring to aids to humans for complex collaborative team work, and have long-resisted attempts at automation.

With today’s workplace AI tools, increasingly good access to a rich tapestry of contextual business data from employees working out loud, and situated solutions like decision aids or IBM’s Watson, today’s most valuable group of workers actually has a chance to significant improve the most strategic and high-impact 40% of work currently taking place.

Re-imagining institutional practices: Fundamentally rethinking business

The last category of benefits comes when companies have largely succeeded in networking their workers, often 3-5 years after their initial social networking efforts. Once an organization has a strong social foundation and workers generally are using the new platforms — in particularly understanding and using the powerful capabilities inherent in their design — then organizations are ready to begin the real work of digital transformation, at least internally (though it of course, has many external implications as well.)

Rethinking Institutional Practices with Social Buiness

This can mean everything from opening up forecasting and budgeting to be more participative and transparent to building collaborative communities for customer care between customers and the workforce, or even (or perhaps especially) just between customers. Whatever it means, it means taking a brand new look at the possibilities in terms of what networked ways of working makes possible, especially letting the network do the work, for example. The key here is that this third class of benefits is a highly strategic activity that doesn’t merely improve existing processes but rethinks them for the possibilities of the network era. Engaging in this activity at some point is critical for pushing the organization into the future, making it sustainable, and should be structured as a capability that is more or less continuous within the organization as digital change continues to unfold.

The business case for digital progress

I am asked frequently about being able to paint a clear picture of why there is an imperative for organizations to essentially disrupt what they’re already doing today, even though more or less successfully, and invest in new ways of working. I believe this framework is a good start in articulating this.

Using this lens, these three categories offer an increasingly strategic planes of improvement that companies can understand as they proceed through the journey of becoming a true digital/social business. This should provide a useful map that understand how to map value to the maturity of the journey that your organization has undergone thus far.

Additional Reading

Digital Priorities for the C-Suite in 2015

The Role of the CIO in Digital and Social Business Transformation

How Leaders Can Address the Challenges of Digital Transformation

How Leaders Can Address the Challenges of Digital Transformation

2015 marks ten years in which I’ve been working in the trenches with organizations at a leadership level to drive some form of major change that intertwines technology, networks, and people. Back in the early days it consisted mostly of the novel and heady topics of the Web 2.0 revolution. As things matured and the ideas were adapted to the corporate world, the discussion moved on to Enterprise 2.0 and finally became the social business movement.

These days it’s about the whole package: Pervasive digital transformation of everything that deeply involves our organizations’ products, services, engagement approach with employees, partners, and customers, entirely new business models, profoundly powerful new ways of managing, working, and even how to think about the purpose and methods of business itself.

It’s a very exciting time in business, almost certainly the most exciting as the proverbial curse goes. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say there is more potential and opportunity in business than there has been in history. But over those ten years I’ve also seen far too many organizations struggle deeply as they grapple with how best to adapt today’s incredible advances to the way they work and do business.

In this view I am not alone: The Harvard Business Review recently noted that transformation success rates still hover around 30% today.

Related: Designing the New Enterprise: Issues and Strategies

Collaboration Between CEO, CIO, CMO, COO, CDO, CHRO Essential for Digital and Social Business Transformation

For years, it’s been difficult to discern why organizations are having so much trouble doing something different. We used to say it’s about aging corporate DNA, and how hard it is to make it digital. Or there’s simply too much change, and we have to design for constant change. Or our bureaucracies and hierarchies are too inflexible and we should augment, or even replace them outright, with self-organizing networks on top of networks. Often we’ve said that our culture is wrong for the digital age, and we have to change it. There have been many other diagnoses.

I’d note here that most of these points of view are actually correct and must be addressed, but they aren’t the largest obstacle, even when dealt with. Instead, these days I’m increasingly sure the root issue is actually the way organizations apportion leadership and responsibility for digital change.

In recent years, as the imperative became obvious to even the casual observer (see Constellation Research’s latest CXO priorities survey), I’ve seen digital change land squarely into the lap of the top leaders in the C-Suite. Now, I thought, we’re going to see some changes, even though anecdotally, most of the major successes I’ve seen — and there are quite a few we can point to now — have often been unceasing struggles against entrenched powers, against nay-sayers, the skeptical, the beholden to the status quo, and holders of turf and fiefdoms who all feel impacted negatively (they believe) by the major changes that now simply must happen in most organizations.

Related: Going Beyond ‘Bolt-On’ Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation Fragmented by Top-Level Responsibilities

So what’s the real obstacle? As digital/social transformation has arrived at the C-Suite and the board level in 2015, we see the following dysfunction, as change — and who is responsible for it — has remained fragmented all the way up to the C-level. The issue in a nutshell is in fact lies within those very CXO purviews, which in most organizations — though yes, not all — usually badly distort the process of digital change. This goes well beyond the much-discussed CIO/CMO tug-of-war being debated today:

  • Today’s CIO is in charge of developing the connected infrastructure for things like social business, digital workplace, digital business, etc., but not the human component.
  • The CMO is in charge of connecting with customers via all available channels, but through vast digital infrastructure they largely do not create or own.
  • The CHRO is in charge of employee engagement as well as approaches for recruiting, hiring, and performance management, but not the technology or non-employees.
  • And the COO is in charge of getting results (efficiency, performance) from employees for the business.

This provincial focus on a certain domain or audience, even though they are now all connected, is making it very difficult to say who is in charge of digital transition in the enterprise. Even in the C-suite, no one has responsibility for the whole process, namely the technology and its connected constituents. And so digital change happens in fragments and pieces that don’t fit, which are primarily inward-only, outward-only, employee-only, tech-only, or business-only. That, as we’ve now seen for years, does not really work. Digital and social, and I keep them separate as concepts for a reason as social has always been possible without the digital, are part of a single continuum and so they must be addressed that way as an organization.

Examples of this abound: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come into an organization and found two separate social business initiatives (one inward facing and one outward), or HR trying to deal with employee engagement in isolation from the technology, when we now know they’re deeply intertwined, or the COO focusing too much on the business activities at hand instead of the digital context and technology advancement of the company, which will dramatically improve said activities.

So, what’s the solution here? There are a number of them actually, pushing out well-beyond approaches like bi-modal IT, and we’re beginning to see evidence of what they are. But at the root of every major success story seems to be the effective working together of the C-Suite to holistically drive change in a more coordinated and integrated fashion. Rates of change across an organization will always vary, and simply must in order to manage dependencies, risk, and resource availability, so I’m not suggesting holistic change is necessarily big bang. No, it seems more agile than that and I mean that in the formal way of pods of teams coming together and using iterative approaches with fast feedback loops. Meaningful digital change in scale occurs as leadership defines the transformations that need to happen, supports them across C-suite boundaries, and empowers the organization more broadly, in an emergent architecture-style fashion which has been seen to work.

New Models Emerging to Drive Strategic Digital Change

Again, I’m not talking about management science astronautics here, I am suggesting this is what we are actually seeing happen. I believe the case studies and success stories we’re encountering now bear this view out: Digital change is a board level process that succeeds most effectively when the C-suite works together closely, pools resources, mutually reinforces each other, and drives change consistently through a well-defined (yet agile) process that also — and this is key — drives widespread empowerment on the ground across the organization.

Recently I’ve suggested the increasingly popular center of excellence (CoE) model is evolving in response to this into something we are now calling the network of excellence. I have sought to capture examples of this and I will explore it in much more detail soon, but it makes sense that organizations are finally hitting upon new network-enabled models to drive digital change and transformation.

So, while I frequently point out that the hard data says the technology change is relentless destroying companies today, I am at the same time heartened by the fact that organizations are at long last adjusting their digital priorities this year to deal with these obstacles. (For specific examples, see Schneider Electric and Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt as partial evidence of this.)

In coming weeks I’ll post our case studies and frame-up of the new models companies are adopting to drive effective transformation in the emerging digital enterprise. Please contact me if you’d like to have yours included in this work.

Additional Reading:

Defining the Next-Generation Enterprise

The Digital Diaspora in the Enterprise: The Arrival of the Chief Digital Officer

Rethinking How We Transform Our Organizations for the Future

Unified Collaboration: How Social Business and Other Forms of Digital Engagement are Intertwining

The rich history of digital collaboration in the last 30 years has been a long and winding one. Fortunately, it’s also been a highly rewarding story that has led to literally historic advances in workforce productivity and efficiency for most organizations. Along the way, many of these advances have led to and made possible entirely new and powerful types of work scenarios.

However, I find that many organizations still treat digital collaboration as 1) a largely tactical activity that doesn’t require much deliberate enablement, structure, or process 2) mostly separate from digital engagement in general and 3) a needed capability to be solved primarily through deployment of technology, rather than from the point of view of enabling activities between people. These three tendencies alone lead to much of the shortfalls I’ve seen when new collaboration efforts sometimes underperform.

The Intertwining of Unified Communications, Lightweight Collaboration, and Social Business into Unified Collaboration

The three new categories of digital collaboration

As collaboration has evolving during the rise of the social and mobile era, I’ve found that the last decade in particular has lead to some of the most significant and increasingly disruptive refinements in the practice:

  • Social Business (internal). This is the high concept rethinking of how we work together to be more community-centric, open, and participative. It consists of a varied set of practices — depending on whose model you are following — that typically consists of business processes redesigned around new social tools such as enterprise social networks, content/document management platforms, online communities, or even enterprise microblogging services. Needless to say for those of us who have been involved, a tremendous amount of energy and thought across the collaboration industry has gone into how organizations can achieve numerous benefits if they can reorganize the way teams and even entire companies can better work together using the potent model of social media. Techniques typically include Working Out Loud, the redesign of business processes to be more participative, and all the other activities involved in large-scale social business transformation.

    Organizations have seen results across the spectrum with their social business efforts, though there have been common pitfalls, especially when the notion of ‘Facebook for the Enterprise’ has been the goal, instead of solving urgent business problems (like trying to resolve poor collaboration between specific internal groups, or making certain key processes more transparent and efficient) The general consensus however is that there is a 25% enterprise-wide benefit in terms of productivity. Lately, the drum beat on social business has taken a bit more of a back seat to full-spectrum focus on digital business transformation in many organizations. Social business has continued to evolve however, and we’ve just now reached the end of the beginning in my opinion.

  • Unified Communications. Rarely considered at the same time or in conjunction with social business initiatives, unified communications has been making steady inroads into the corporate world, despite some fairly rocky evolution over the years. The unified communications industry has attempted to sort out and make consistent the various digital communications channels within the enterprise, but has often missed major developments in the industry. The most inexplicable oversight was that unified communications vendors missed the social media revolution almost entirely, though that has now been partially addressed in some of the leading platforms now, though it took years to resolve. This meant unified communications was sometimes anything but. The issue continues to persist as new and emerging enterprise collaboration channels such as mobile apps, the explosion in enterprise file sync and sharing such as Dropbox, and even legacy content/document solutions are often still left out in the cold by unified communications solutions. Despite these additions — and I think the continuing rapid rise of new collaboration channels will remain the top problem for the approach — unified communications has become increasingly capable of delivering a core set of well integrated solutions for chat, voice, video, and presence, and now finally e-mail, social, and mobile.

    Notably, unified communications has taken nearly the opposite approach of social business. Instead of a fundamental rethinking of work in digital/social terms, it’s a much more workman like approach to providing handy new digital communication toolkits to the worker that can be used for collaboration. In the final analysis, however, the unified communications approach has been slow to deal with the important strategic issues that social business aims to address: The unfortunate “evaporation” of digital knowledge in older tools, poor visibility and participation (not enough eyeballs) in legacy collaboration methods, and the still pervasive inability to find knowledge or people in most organizations, to name just a few. Despite all this, the market for unified communications, particularly in the cloud, is now poised for a major wave of growth.

  • Collaboration suites, next-gen intranets, and lightweight collaboration apps. Recently, a number of new collaboration approaches or digital methods have emerged, some full collaborative toolkits, others just filling in still-unaddressed or just emerging point needs within organizations, or both, a strategy Google is increasingly following with their cloud offerings. These are not as comprehensive or one-stop-shop solutions for collaboration or re-imagining how workers interact with each other and produce value, but organizations are broadly considering them in general as white spaces emerge, often without considering their collaborative workplace strategy as a whole.

Given these three rough buckets of new collaborative focus within the enterprise, most of which happen in isolation from one another in the average organization, it’s been interesting to see how they’ve operated either as genuine silos or as so-called ‘frenemies’, working together a little but competing for each others user bases. But, gratifyingly in my view, some organizations are increasingly no longer so accepting of these fragmented efforts, and are proactively trying to do something about it.

The emergence of unified collaboration

I’ve been spending most of 2014 looking at what large organizations have been doing to evolve their collaborative environments and I’ve noticed several distinct trends:

  1. A strong drive for meaningful integration between collaborative silos. I’ve noticed there has been a sharp drop in tolerance for collaborative processes to be stuck in one place, platform, or audience, and not searchable or visible elsewhere. For example, I’m seeing that organizations are now seeking to connect intranets, enterprise social networks, and content/document management systems in much more meaningful ways. As Alan Lepofsky has observed recently, mail and social networks are starting to merge as well. Unified comms is also getting embedded everywhere and within many applications. I now believe we will witness considerable investment in the next couple of years in creating bridges between collaborative silos and meaningful presence for collaborative tools in business applications in general.
  2. Development of a true enterprise-wide view of digital collaboration strategy. Organizations are increasingly getting their act together and making sense of their collaborative efforts well above the level of the technologies themselves, putting together more purpose-driven plans that eliminate confusion, fragmentation, and inconsistency with collaboration technology while updating worker skills and shifting company culture to take better advantage of the possibilities. This includes, as Stowe Boyd has noted, the measurement and quantification of the collaborative environment in real-time, which I’ve found has been vital in producing feedback to guide a collaboration strategy in flight towards impactful results.
  3. An advanced notion of unified collaboration. As a direct results of the first true trends, I’m seeing the organic emergence of an important concept I’ll call unified collaboration. This is the strategic knitting together of plans, the full portfolio of collaborative technologies, and business objectives enterprise-wide into more cohesive whole. It stands out from mere unified communication by being much more overarching, contextual to the business, scenario-centric, and goal-oriented. It also reflects the understanding that there is more to collaboration than just the next big thing (aka social business), and that collaboration in all its many forms must be better and more comprehensively supported, reconciled, and enabled.

I think these trends — along with important ones like enterprise-wide knowledge streams — herald great things in the enterprise when it comes to collaboration and represents a sort of maturity proof point. I’ve begun collecting industry examples of these trends and will share them soon. Please send me your stories and case examples if you’d like me to add them.

Additional Reading:

How to Deliver on a Modern Enterprise Collaboration Strategy

Realizing Effective Digital Collaboration in the Enterprise

Rethinking Work in the Collaborative Era

Finally, I’ll be talking about this topic and others later this month at my afternoon keynote at the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT 2014 in London. It would be great to meet you there.
Dion Hinchcliffe will give the afternoon keynote at theEnterprise 2.0 SUMMIT in London

Dreamforce 14: Live Blogging the Benioff Keynote #df14

The Benioff Keynote at Dreamforce 14: The scene before it starts

The enormous crowd here is streaming into the main keynote with Marc Benioff here at Moscone Center on Tuesday. it’s nearly 1pm PT and the main hall is filing up quickly. I’ll live blog the event here as much as possible given that the Ethernet for industry analysts isn’t working, but the private Wifi is, so hopefully we’ll get most of what goes on here.

The biggest announcement so far, out of many, has been Salesforce’s entry into the analytics and big data space, with their new Wave product. You can get a overview of the details on Wave from Larry Dignan on ZDNet and I’m sure we’ll hear about it much more during the next few hours.

I’m also expecting the following during the keynote today: 1) A roundup and year-over-year update on Salesforce1 and its ecosystem, with lots of customer examples, 2) an overview of Wave (or its “Analytics Cloud“) and the many 3rd party relationships they’ve already established, and 3) an even clearer and bigger vision for the Salesforce cloud. And plenty of philanthropy, maybe some politics, and of course, perhaps some colorful Christian Louboutin shoes.

Additional Reading: My analysis of Salesforce’s announcements and strategic direction this week.

Wave: The new Salesforce analytics cloud #df14

1:11pm: The main hall doesn’t look full yet, but there’s definitely a lot of people vying for the desks in the analyst press area.

1:13pm: Now the always-excellent Peter Coffee is up doing a preamble on the keynote. Talking the usual bit about “amazing customers doing amazing things and bringing you in the next generation of technologies.” Introducing the CIO of Telstra, who is talking about “creating a brilliantly connected future for everyone.”

Peter Coffee onstage at Dreamforce 14

1:18pm: Just introduced the CIO of Eli Lilly talking with how Deloitte Digital is “helping them architect faster and faster.” Talking about helping in compliance, manufacturing, inventory, and HR processes and gets the ROI faster using the Force platform. Coffee now talking about health and life sciences, where customer experiences for pharma apps are going right to the doctors.

1:22pm: Now have the a Hawaiian band on stage conducting a musical interlude. Didn’t catch the band name.Hawaiian band and performers at Dreamforce 2014 #df14

1:26pm: Coffee: “One of the great things about Dreamforce is that you run into amazing people in the hallways.” He says he just ran into George Zimmer in the halls (the famous voice and founder formerly of the Men’s Wearhouse), who is now talking about his new business. The new business will be “high touch and high tech. Just like Salesforce with 1-1-1, and we’ll make sure we value our customers, shareholders, and communities just like Salesforce.” Coffee asks when we’re going to hear about it. Sometime in the next few months, he says watch his Twitter account.

1:29pm: Now the Group CIO of Caterpillar is up, along with his Accenture sponsor. “Have been using Salesforce for many years, but has been fragmented across many operating groups.” Accenture is providing the frameworks and processes to sort out a more consistent CRM implementation. Coffee: “New ways of things for a company doing what’s it been doing for a long time.” Says, “people want new ways to re-engineer what they’re doing”. Paul Daugherty, CTO, Group Chief Executive of Technology at Accenture is now talking “taking things to the next level, and industry solutions they bake onto the Salesforce platform. Connected products and connected dealers that they’re helping Caterpillar ‘bringing to life’ using the Force.com platform. A good management consulting quote from Coffee: “Turning from a products focus to an outcome focus.”

1:36pm: Now the chief strategist (I think) of Salesforce is talking with Coffee about how the Salesforce platform is evolving into many new disciplines, including supply chain. Coffee asking about what areas to focus on and follow up on later, including a Mystery X product that keeps being referenced. Says to be sure to watch what’s going on with the marketing cloud, Internet of Connected Customers, analytics products (Wave I assume). Now welcoming the Ambassadors of Aloha from the island of Hawaii.

The Benioff Keynote at Dreamforce 14: The scene before it starts  The enormous crowd here is streaming into the main keynote with Marc Benioff here at Moscone Center on Tuesday. it's nearly 1pm PT and the main hall is filing up quickly. I'll live blog the event here as much as possible given that the Ethernet for industry analysts isn't working, but the private Wifi is, so hopefully we'll get most of what goes on here.  The biggest announcement so far, out of many, has been Salesforce's entry into the analytics and big data space, with their new Wave product. You can get a overview of the details on Wave from Larry Dignan on ZDNet and I'm sure we'll hear about it much more during the next few hours.  I'm also expecting the following during the keynote today: 1) A roundup and year-over-year update on Salesforce1 and its ecosystem, with lots of customer examples, 2) an overview of Wave (or its "Analytics Cloud") and the many 3rd party relationships they've already established, and 3) an even clearer and bigger vision for the Salesforce cloud. And plenty of philanthropy, maybe some politics, and of course, colorful Christian Louboutin shoes.  Wave: The new Salesforce analytics cloud #df14  1:11pm: The main hall doesn't look full yet, but there's definitely a lot of people vying for the desks in the analyst press area.  1:13pm: Now the always-excellent Peter Coffee is up doing a pre-amble on the keynote. Talking the usual bit about "amazing customers doing amazing things and bringing you in the next generation of technologies." Introducing the CIO of Telstra, who is talking about "creating a brilliantly connected future for everyone."  Peter Coffee onstage at Dreamforce 14  1:18pm: Just introduced the CIO of Ely Lilly talking with how Deloitte Digital is "helping them architect faster and faster." Talking about helping in compliance, manufacturing, inventory, and HR processes and gets the ROI faster using the Force platform. Coffee now talking about health and life sciences, where customer experiences for pharma apps are going right to the doctors.  1:22pm: Now have the a Hawaiian band on stage conducting a musical interlude. Didn't catch the band name.Hawaiian band and performers at Dreamforce 2014 #df14  1:26pm: Coffee: "One of the great things about Dreamforce is that you run into amazing people in the hallways." He says he just ran into George Zimmer in the halls (the famous voice and founder formerly of the Men's Wearhouse), who is now talking about his new business. The new business will be "high touch and high tech. Just like Salesforce with 1-1-1, and we'll make sure we value our customers, shareholders, and communities just like Salesforce." Coffee asks when we're going to hear about it. Sometime in the next few months, he says watch his Twitter account.  1:29pm: Now the Group CIO of Caterpillar is up, along with his Accenture sponsor. "Have been using Salesforce for many years, but has been fragmented across many operating groups." Accenture is providing the frameworks and processes to sort out a more consistent CRM implementation. Coffee: "New ways of things for a company doing what's it been doing for a long time." Says, "people want new ways to re-engineer what they're doing". Paul Daugherty, CTO, Group Chief Executive of Technology at Accenture is now talking "taking things to the next level, and industry solutions they bake onto the Salesforce platform. Connected products and connected dealers that they're helping Caterpillar 'bringing to life' using the Force.com platform. A good management consulting quote from Coffee: "Turning from a products focus to an outcome focus."  1:36pm: Now the chief strategist (I think) of Salesforce is talking with Coffee about how the Salesforce platform is evolving into many new disciplines, including supply chain. Coffee asking about what areas to focus on and follow up on later, including a Mystery X product that keeps being references. Says to be sure to watch what's going on with the marketing cloud, Internet of Connected Customers, analytics products (Wave I assume). Now welcoming the Ambassadors of Aloha from the island of Hawaii.

1:44pm: Now welcoming the (for real) Beach Boys, who are playing live, on the musical stage.

1:47pm: The band is a wrap, and they’re getting a big hand from the crowd. And the whole center goes dark, ominous music playing.

1:48pm:  Voice in the dark with lasers coming out: “In the beginning it was simple. Few things were connected. Individual voices were silenced. And you could buy yourself to a leadership position with traditional ads. Then it all changed. Every industry is being disrupted, and everyone and everything is being connected. It’s the single most powerful, innovative time in the history of technology. Worlds of opportunity are begin created daily. billions of products and devices are being created. Everyone has a super computer in their pocket.”

The dark intro to Dreamforce 14

1:49pm: “Introducing the customer success platform.” Clearly some optimistic new product branding. Talking about creating custom scaled 1-to-1 customer experiences, team empowerment, build mobile apps for every aspect of your business, and deploy “instantly” across “every single” device. Talking about watches, kiosks, and other new devices. Sales, service, marketing, community, analytics, and apps. “The New Salesforce”, again mentioning it as the customer success platform.

Marc Benioff comes onto the main stage at Dreamforce 14. #df14

1:52pm: Marc Benioff just walked onstage and said “Aloha” to the whole crowd. “We’re here to excite you, educate you, entertain you, inspire you.” Thanking everyone at the conference, especially customers. Walking around the crowd, saying 1,450 sessions and 145,000 people registered. 400+ companies, and 5 million people joining the event online. Mentioning that Tony Robbins and Hillary Clinton having spoken yesterday. Notes that Grammy winning music star, Wil.i.am, will launch his company here tomorrow.

2:05pm: Just did an extensive video  about Salesforce’s philanthropic activities. Now has the Superintendent of San Francisco Schools, and the Mayor Lee of San Francisco. Lee is thanking Marc for starting Salesforce in San Francisco, and setting the gold standard for philanthropy, and setting the bar for business and government working together. A pretty good inspirational overview of how the public schools, city government, and the Salesforce Foundation.

Marc Benioff talks to Will.i.am about public education, philanthropy, and his new wearable device that will be announced at Dreamforce 14 tomorrow. #df14

2:14pm: Just welcomed Will.i.am onstage. Marc is asking him what his insights into public education. Will.i.am says how he was disadvantaged, says his schooling was critical to understand his situation in life. Says that after he “made” it, he realized there was a challenge with magnet schools in California and wanted to help. Talking about meeting the Waiting for Superman maker, and asking about robotics programs, students using ESRI, about kids going to China with the State Department and learning Mandarin, and other commendable outcomes. Now talking about paying in forward, and his new company, which apparently has an API and SDK. Appears to be an app on a new wearable device. Says it will be credible and will present it here tomorrow, though media predictions are mixed. He says he funded it, founded it, and surrounded himself with engineers. Says it’s critical that we aren’t hypocritical when we ask others to do something hard, that he is learning science, mathematics, and engineering for the product, and ‘I’m from the projects’, saying anyone can do it too.

The famous Beach Boys playing 'Good Vibrations' at Dreamforce 14. #df14

2:20pm: Beach Boys playing Good Vibrations.

2:25pm: Marc talking about his first mainframe terminal. How the work of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates turned into millions of PCs around the world. Now those millions are turning into billions of computers. 5 billion mobile devices already exist. Talking about cards connected, toothbrushes connected, wearables. “Everything is getting hooked up.” And that is turning into “trillions of customer interactions.” There is now an imperative of engagement, to connect. Our vision is to build that platform for our customers to connect. “If you connect deeply, build a 1-on-1 relationship with your customers” in scale, then that leads to success. Talking about bringing all of customer information together.

2:30pm: Talking about the Berluti store when Marc moved to Europe recently. Salesperson comes up to him with an iPhone. Salesperson figures out who he is by using an app, which was Salesforce1. Asks him “does he have a suit for Dreamforce?” Which Marc is currently wearing onstage. “It wasn’t just a suit he sold me, but it was a whole relationship.” Talking about going to visit Philips and their new ultrasound machine. Screen over the stage says there will be 75 billion connected products by 2015. Talking about how services and partners are so deeply integrated. Now saying how much he likes hit Fitbit, and his community rankings.  Talking about a community of users for Home Depot at community.homedepot.com that is “inspiring us on what we can all do to bring together our customers, partners, and employees.”

2:35pm: Now talking about Neil Young’s Pono high resolution music player and service. It will apparently be launched here at Dreamforce on Thursday. And Neil built community as an integrated part of the product. Now talking about going to Berlin and Coca-Cola, and talking about being out with the customers. Said to Marc “everything in my company is mobile, all my employees, customers, and consumers on mobile.” And did this with Salesforce1. And it struck Marc that Coca-Cola has become a software company, a cloud company. “Everyone is in our business now. Its great.” Saying the 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years. Saying there is a “data divide.” Data products of the past, mentioning companies like IBM, SAP, and Oracle, and it’s “no surprise they are turning over all their CEOs.” Says, “what we need is a ‘Wave.” (Marc is walking amongst the crowd as he says all this.)

Marc Benioff talks about the new Wave Analytics Cloud at Dreamforce 14. #df14

2:40pm: Talking about Wave, as an analytics service that is “for everyone.” Note: That big data services must be enabled for everyone is something I’ve emphasized for years. And it’s a mobile-first app. And for the developers they work with, “we want to build a platform where we have all these analytics apps.” Says its “analytics for the rest of us.” Going to profile a company that they’ve worked with for 10 years, who was a partner. The partner is General Electric. Now showing a video about what they did. Voiceover: “We don’t have a luxury of weeks to months to create a new products. To try new things in the marketplace. That’s where innovation comes from. Being a builder, not just a banker.” Taking about shortening cycle times from months to seconds using Analytics Cloud. “Analytics is not longer just the domain of experts, but is now in the hands of everyone.” Very simple, very fast. “This is the platform that lets the business start to use information that matters for them and their customers.” Made a very careful statement about how it’s all secure as well. “Mobile right out of the box.” Wherever you may be, you can pull up the analytics that you need. You can mark it up and comments, and everyone can see it immediately. Beyond banking, financial serfices, “should be key for every company in the world.” “Operating at the speed of thought.”

2:46pm: Marc is back on now that the video is over. Going over Service Cloud and business objects. The visionary behind Wave: “Please welcome Alex Dayon, President, Products.” About to unveil Wave, to “bring all your data together in one central place.” GE Capital is the case study they will examine. Starting the demo. Going over the features of Wave, saying “analytics has to be fun to use.” They built Wave on tops of Salesforce1. Lots of detailed demos of Wave, including building dashboards and sharing analytics.

2:45pm: The Wave demo continues. Now doing a scenario with Brunswick, and there is an actual powerboat with the CEO of Brunswick, and they are playing out a scenario, projecting Wave data using Airplay on a TV to make a mock case for why they need to make more boats. “Wave has been designed for everyone. Every sales person, every services person, every executive.” Has the whole Wave team stand up. Has been working for two years on this project.” Alex wraps up the Wave section by jumping on a surfboard. Now the Beach Boys are back up singing “Catch a Wave.”

3:01pm: Marc has returned. Says “everything is going mobile. Everyone knows that. I run my whole business on mobile. Everyone knows that too.” Says, however, it’s not enough. “We need to build mobile apps faster. Build more apps.” “The story of Coca-Cola inspired me that it could be done.” And now giving us a video tour of Coca-Cola Germany, and how they accelerated their mobile app creation process. Talking about connectivity, scalability, and collaboration. “Everyone has to know everything about the customer. This is only possible with a fully connected platform.” Says, “we can see everything at the same time, using Salesforce.com.” “If a shipment goes wrong, the customer will see it, the salesperson will see it, and I will see it.” Theme: We are only limited by our ideas now, not the technology.

3:07pm: Marc now talking about stats on Salesforce1: 10X APIs, 4M+ apps built, 84K companies using the Salesforce 1app. “But it’s crystal clear, from talking with many of you: We have to move faster.” New devices coming next year, like the Apple Watch, will further drive demand. “Wave was the first product we announced.” “The second major product we announced is Lightning.” “Please welcome, my co-founder, Parker Harris.” Parker is coming out in a Lightning super hero costume.

Parker Harris gets on stage to talk about the new Lightning platform from Salesforce. #df14

3:10pm: Parker Harris is now up and talking about Lightning. Platform services like Force.com, Heroku, and Wave are the bottom of the Lightning model. Lighting is three things: Tools to build mobile apps “lightning vast.” Includes visual builder. Don’t have to figure out iOS and Android. And includes an all new type of user interface, including the tablet in November, and the desktop next year. Will support watches, including Will.i.am’s new watch, which we’ll see here at Dreamforce tomorrow. Giving developers Lightning Components, Lightning Framework, and Lightning Builder. Using the creaky old “lego bricks” analogy for building applications. The new Lightning UI allows you to write and deploy applications once on any device, apparently with a responsive user interface that is suitable for the device’s form factor. Giving a product demo that shows situated business analytics using a fictional company called Westlane Cafe and managing its Coca-Cola supplies with a “red score” from the application. They are showing how fast you can develop apps, by editing it and add a virtual reality component to the application on the fly (for identifying where  the merchandise cooler should be physically placed in the store.) If it all works, it’s really pretty impressive.

3:21pm: Now Parker is going to actually build a Lightning application right with the audience live. Using the Lightning Builder, which has a palette of Lightning components. Says they are going to continue developing many new components, and developers can create their own. Making mention of AppExchange, such as pulling in a DocuSign component, which you can drag to your application, and “add document signing without writing a single line of code.” No app store review. A soon as the app is saved, everyone with Salesforce1 automatically has access to the application. The app is now built. Have shipping options, an navigable map, and interfaces for phone and tablet. Now says they are going to confirm a drone delivery of Coca-Cola right in the convention center directly in the newly built app. Sure enough, an actual drone comes into the convention center and delivers the coke directly to Parker (pic now below.)

A drone delivers an order of Coca-Cola Parker Harris, triggered using a new Lightning app that was just built live on stage at Dreamforce 14. #df14

3:31pm: Marc is back onstage and introduces a video about Honeywell and their connected devices. Discussing home monitoring, appliance control, real-time monitoring, dashboards of data for contractors. “Not as much about as connecting the home, as connecting the person.” We’re able to provide a much higher level of accurate diagnostics and customer service. It changes the whole relationship.” Every connected device puts together a contractor and a customer.” “Now we’re on a journey, we can create new software and services that we sell as subscription to contractors. Now we don’t just get revenue from hardware, but also software.” All supported with Salesforce platforms and apps.

3:36pm: Introducing Linda Crawford, EP & GM, Sales Cloud. Going to talk about the “customer success platform.” Lines between sales and marketing are clearly blurring. Key for these applications to work together on the customer success platform.” About to show us the Journey Builder, where you can map out your end-to-end engagement process with your customers. Showing us an onboarding journey. “As a customer, what we want when we do business with a new company?” Showing the welcome message from Honeywell. Invites you to download a customer app. Showing upsells. Continuing to do a detailed tour of Sales Cloud.

3:47pm: The detailed demos are proceeding. Linda now introduces us to Service Cloud1. Has personalization, any device, any time, anywhere. Now also introducing the Community Cloud. Optimized for search engines, personalized community content 1-to-1 to every member of a community, moderated feeds in a new console, and has visual design tools to “spin up communities faster than ever before.”

3:54pm: Now Honeywell is up talking about their connected home products strategy, with thermostats. Marc says we’re at the keynote. Talks about Bruno Mars tonight and the Will.i.am keynote tomorrow. “Thanks everybody.” It’s a wrap.

Additional reading:

Is the Internet of Things strategic to the enterprise? | ZDNet

My Dreamforce 14 presentation on the strategic use of Internet of Connected Products | Slideshare

Salesforce.com realigns Sales, Service clouds for connected apps | ZDNet

My previous Dreamforce live blogs:

Dreamforce 12: Live Blogging the Benioff Keynote

Dreamforce 11: Live Blogging the Benioff Keynote

Let The Network Do The Work

One of the most striking things I see when watching organizations make the transition from legacy industrial models of working to new network-based models, is that we keep trying to employ the new tools and ideas in the same old ways. Certainly, it’s quite hard to unlearn the old methods, so deeply instilled are they by prior experience, history, and momentum. But as businesses, even today, we largely still try to create all the ideas, try to control everything, and focus on doing all the work to produce outcomes within the organization, team, or enterprise, with a little help of perhaps a few closely held suppliers and business partners.

In short, most organizations still have an out-dated and overly centralized model for working, and it’s turned out to be a very difficult habit to break. Unfortunately, these old models are also inefficient, highly resource intensive, low in innovation, short-sighted, and ultimately counterproductive, when we have such better — and increasingly proven — models that greatly outperform the old ones.

All too often I still encounter enterprise collaboration efforts, customer communities, and CRM projects that make the same essential mistake: They literally transplant how they do things today into emerging digital environments such as social networks, online forums, and collaboration suites, instead of tapping into the new ways of working that these new digital environments enable. This misses the whole point of adopting innovative new ideas and technologies that can unlock deeper opportunities that just weren’t possible before.

If I have a single key lesson that every organization seeking to digitally transform must learn it’s this: You must let the network do the work. It has the bulk of the ideas, it self-organizes at scale, it needs only a little control and guidance, and it has all the productive capacity, no matter how large your organization.

Let The Network Do the Work: Using Online Community and Social Business to Scale Cost Effectively

This was driven home yet again over the weekend when I came across the story of CrowdMed, a service that aims to diagnose some of the trickiest unsolved medical problems of patients with maladies that have resisted all previous attempts. Jared Hayman, founder of CrowdMed, which uses an external community of several thousands doctors and nurses, currently claims a 50% success rate at solving this difficult cases, just by letting the network do the work.

This is just one of thousands of similar stories of network-based peer produced solutions that work far better than their traditional, centralized counterparts from another era.

Of course, the challenge is to retain essential control. I find that the list of reasons companies give to why they can’t plug networks directly into the way they work, into their products and services, into their business models, even into the own personal workstreams is nearly endless: “We can’t trust it”, “We can’t rely on it”, “Our culture isn’t ready for it”, “That’s not how we’ve traditionally worked.” The list goes on.

In the end, unfortunately, these arguments don’t really matter, other than identifying and articulating one’s obstacles to change. That’s because the competitive implications are increasingly clear to anyone who does a cursory examination: Network models are far more cost-effective, richer, and higher scale than old models of working. So we simply must find ways to adapt in order to survive.

At the highest level, the future of the enterprise is inextricably entwined with social business, crowdsourcing, the collaborative economy, etc. These are the network models that are creating the next generation of fast-growing businesses, many, such as Airbnb and countless others.

The fundamental principle then, which we put as fundamental principle #1 about getting value from the network in Social Business By Design, to tap into the most value is really quite simple: Anyone can participate.

When you prevent this from happening, intentionally or otherwise, you sharply limit the value created and opportunity accessed. But most businesses today still let very few participate: They try to do it all themselves. For most types of work, this results in outcomes that are simply uncompetitive and unsustainable in terms of the cost, quality, and effort of the outcome.

So, why aren’t more companies doing making the transition then? I’d argue they are. Most companies are slowly moving towards network models. But far too slowly, given the growing digital competition.

Thus we are still in the midst of a global transition to network models that will likely take many us a decade longer. But the writing is clearly on the wall: Most industries are filling with new digital competitors who understand the fundamental rule of creating value using networks, and unless industrial age organizations can adapt, the upstart will win (and largely have been re: open source, social media, digital ecosystems like Amazon, Google.)

Fortunately, effective transformation is still accessible to most organizations if they are willing to change their mindset and think like digital natives.

Additional Reading:

Shifting the Meaning of Hierarchy to Community

The Role of the Leadership in Digital and Social Business Transformation

Designing the New Enterprise: Issues and Strategies

The emerging case for open business methods | ZDNet

What Is the Future of Work?

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