Posts Tagged ‘communications’

Those of you who have to listen to me every day or several times a week know that my conviction is that your culture is your brand. It’s one of the cornerstones of the world’s most celebrated online companies, Zappos, it’s the foundation of Chip Conley‘s boutique hotel chain, Joie de Vivre, and it permeates all the great business minds that I know of.

Yet, for so many years it’s largely been a forgotten virtue. Companies, organizations and cities have talked about rebranding themselves as if your brand is a coat you can buy, wear and discard at your convenience. Many companies have tried and failed.

I recently wrote a post about a local ferry company, Mols-Linien, who, in their 2009 annual report, announced the biggest advertising spending ever to “rebrand” the company in order to become more profitable. The advertising campaign had nothing to do with their culture (and actually ended up insulting a large population group – which is another good story). At the peak of the national television campaign a famous TV chef decided to test the restaurant on board one of the ferries and gave it one of the most appalling reviews I have ever come across (and 95% of all online readers agreed). The food was ridiculously expensive and the quality abysmal. When I investigated further into the company, I found that the ferry company just happened to be hiring chefs for their restaurants at sea – and alarmingly I realized that chefs, among very few requirements, had to have experience with just basic cooking and have a high stress threshold. Imagine that: Unskilled chefs cooking, under stress, with sub-standard ingredients at Michelin star prices. No wonder why the restaurants weren’t doing too well – and it also gave me a pretty good impression of the type of company culture (or lack thereof) you’d find on board one of those ferries.

The case of Copenhagen
Now, this is really just leading up to the real purpose of this post: The case of Copenhagen (you know, the venue of last year’s failed climate summit, the home of The Little Mermaid, at least when she’s not abroad visiting China, and Tivoli Gardens – you get the picture).

Last year, The Danish tourist council, VisitDenmark, decided to launch a covert branding campaign (you know where this is going, right?). They hired a young Danish actress and shot a 3-minute amateur video, in which the actress pretended to be Karen, a young single mother. The video was put on YouTube and in it Karen explained that this was her last resort trying to find the father of her baby son (featuring on her lap), who was conceived with a stranger (a foreigner) on a hot summer’s night in Copenhagen. Not surprisingly, within a very short space of time the video had generated several million hits and at first people were debating the authenticity of the video and soon after who was behind the stunt. Well, within days it was revealed that VisitDenmark was the culprit and that’s when the criticism started – both in Denmark and in several other countries.

The idea was to generate traffic and attract visitors by portraying Denmark as a country with liberal, open-minded, blond people, but instead Denmark came across naive and silly (at best). Shortly after VisitDenmark removed the video from YouTube, they closed all related websites and made an official apology. The video shown above is therefore a pirate version with much fewer hits than the original.

Wearing my your-culture-is-your-brand hat I would have to conclude that the campaign had to fail (if not instantly from the criticism, then at least longer term from the fact that it was a fairly lame fake that didn’t represent what you’ll find in Copenhagen).

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes
The contrasting video (below) by Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson, Jr. was filmed during the Velo-City 2010 conference in Copenhagen in June 2010 and released in July 2010. It wasn’t sponsored by or paid for by anyone. It’s there because of Copenhagen’s unique cycling culture. No more, no less.

The contrast to VisitDenmark’s Karen video is striking and it begs the rhetorical question: Does it make sense to spend your money and efforts on a branding effort or on creating and developing a unique culture? You see, the same rules apply to companies, organizations, politicians – and cities.

Read the growing number of comments on Streetfilms.org.

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I’m a firm believer that Enterprise 2.0 is all about communications. It may be a bland statement, but it also emphasizes the fact that Enterprise 2.0 is first and foremost defined by an organizational culture in which communication in the form of dialogue flows freely and without constraints. That’s the very basic concept. It defines itself through organizations whose management understands that information is not power if kept to the chosen few, but if dispersed and enriched as a premise for collaboration. Another core premise for a true Enterprise 2.0 culture is that it’s actively endorsed, supported, sponsored (call it whatever you want) by top management (preferably the CEO).

Meanwhile, we are now blessed with software and services, which can actually make the Enterprise 2.0 dream come true. Now, I have worked with knowledge management software since 1999 (when one of my customers accidentally fell in love with a very rudimentary learning system from SAP and wanted to use it for sharing of general company knowledge) and things have changed very dramatically since then. Back then we all had rather wet dreams about collaboration, but the whole culture of sharing, voting, rating, commenting, blogging and microblogging was still not around. A lot of the services which are now possible, wouldn’t have been possible, simply because people (employees) weren’t culturally and mentally ready for the leap. Web 2.0 helped change all that. A friend of mine recently said that we used to be inspired by software used at work and would introduce it onto our private computers, but now the trend has reversed and we are increasingly far more innovative privately and push to get the same software and services at work.

Jive’s product video below illustrates this point quite well. It addresses itself to the average guy who wants the social aspect back into his work life…

We really have a lot to thank the likes of Facebook, MySpace, Friends Reunited and LinkedIn for. Without them paving the way we wouldn’t be anywhere near the push and adoption rates we’re looking at right now. I recently took part in a conference about corporate social media and a speaker representing a company having introduced some elements of Enterprise 2.0 said the major push had come from the employees. Amazing – imagine if that had happened back in the old ERP days. That was when the mere mention of an ERP implementation was enough to make people quit and flee the company :-)

Anyway, I’m drifting and my intention in this blog post was to talk about the “app side of Enterprise 2.0”. Now that we have established that Enterprise 2.0 isn’t *just* a software suite you can roll out and, Bob’s your uncle, you have a communicative and collaborative company, we can move on to talk about those types of applications which can help fulfill the dream.

I generally categorize Enterprise 2.0 apps into these categories (but that’s just my slant on it – I’d love to hear your views):

  • Microblogs
  • Blogs (written and video)
  • Wikis
  • Chat/instant messaging
  • Collaborative tagging (folksonomy) of all internal and external content
  • Rating and commenting capabilities (for blogs, links, documents, images, people)
  • Profile pages (personal and skills content)
  • Merit awards/levels
  • Collaborative development of content
  • Groups
  • Network sharing (internal follow and view external contacts)

There are some really good narrow services like Yammer for microblogging, which are very widely adopted. And then there are whole suites incorporating more areas. At this stage I generally find that the narrow services are more cutting edge, but the downside is that you have to start looking at several point solutions.

Citatet er fra AIIM’s undersøgelse Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 fra slutningen af 2009 og det er et citat, som jeg, siden jeg læste undersøgelsen, vender tilbage til igen og igen.

For det første er det hovedrystende sandt. Kender vi efterhånden ikke alle den situation, at vi i vores arbejdsvirke må nøjes med inferiøre værktøjer i forhold til dem, vi er blevet vant til på internettet? Vi er blevet vant til Web 2.0-universet, hvad enten vi kender begrebet eller ej, og muligheden for at kunne søge og finde alt på et splitsekund, at kommentere på venners Facebook-status, på deres Twitter-update, på LinkedIn. Vi ved efterhånden mere detaljeret, hvad vores venner i udlandet laver LIGE NU end vores kollega 10 meter længere henne.

Jeg har haft dette oppe i mine diskussioner med adskillige store og små danske virksomheder i løbet af de sidste 2 måneder og reaktionen er, næsten over en bred kam, at det er så sandt, så sandt og at de fleste faktisk meget gerne vil gøre noget ved det. Ikke kun fordi der efterhånden er ved at opstå et medarbejderpres, men også fordi det giver forretningsmæssigt voldsomt god mening.

Hvis nogen af jer kender Gmail, så ved I, at man nu modtager kontekstrelaterede Google Adwords, mens man læser emails. Hvis jeg fx læser en email fra min kone, hvor hun foreslår en lille sviptur til Paris (gid hun gjorde), så handler reklamerne i højre side om feriehuse i Frankrig, billige flybilletter til Paris osv. Dvs. jeg får ”pushed” relevant information lige ind i mit synsfelt.

Jeg forestiller mig, at virksomheder på samme måde skaber platforme, der ”pusher” helt konkret kontekstrelevant information til sine medarbejdere på tværs af applikationer både inden for firewallen og fra skyen. Så slipper man for, at det samme projekt uafhængigt af hinanden igangsættes 3 gange i samme organisation inden for blot 18 måneder og forventningerne er øget produktivitet, øget arbejdsglæde, øget videndeling – og øget Return On Information.

Hvad er jeres tanker om dette og har I taget initiativer i denne retning?

An incredible amount has been and is being said about the two terms Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 – and recently discussions in leading blogs about the two topics have moved to the mutual dependency of those two concepts.

If you listen to Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT (video below), you’ll learn that, crudely defined, Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 inside the firewall. And according to Stowe Boyd,

“Enterprise 2.0 has been a simple and useful metaphor that assumes that Web 2.0 technologies (like contemporary social media, social networking, social tools, and the underlying set of technologies that make up the Web 2.0 model: open source stack (LAMP), web as a platform, open APIs, and so on) can be beneficially applied in the enterprise context. This means the eventual displacement of various enterprise technologies and business practices by new ones, strongly influenced by what is happening and working in the open (not enterprise) web.”

Nothing weird or controversial there. I can fully subscribe to those definitions.

What I want to examine in this post is:

  1. To what extent successful deployment of Web 2.0 requires Enterprise 2.0
  2. Generation Y as an Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right

To what extent does successful deployment of Web 2.0 require Enterprise 2.0?

This is definitely a very good question and one that can’t be justly answered without making some assumptions. I would like to think of Web 2.0 as creating a strong dialogue with your customers (or “users”, which is becoming the Web 2.0 term of choice). It’s the culture of interaction and users expect authenticity, openness and responsiveness. They expect a good look under the bonnet, but they don’t necessarily expect perfection. In fact if they see and experience too much perfection, they immediately suspect “fake”. Imperfection is a fully accepted circumstance in Web 2.0 and tells users that this enterprise is human – after all. This is what some (most) managers still don’t fully understand. Letting go and exposing some of your imperfections is okay as long as you’re honest about it and tell people you’re going to do something about it.

Of course being honest and authentic requires you (the employee) “to know”. You need to know what the company strategy is, what your company’s position is on certain issues, how to respond to criticism, how to route questions you can’t answer, what tone to use , what media to get involved in (Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Twitter) and a lot more.

That’s where practice comes in. In his blog, “Practice inside to express yourself outside”, Gil Yehuda, guru and former software developer, compares living by Enterprise 2.0 to the very critical testing of software prior to release. He says, “one of the early lessons I learned as a technologist was the importance of testing before “going live”. As a developer and project manager I learned how carefully software must be tested — tested for functional correctness, usability, security breaches, performance issues, and failure conditions. Testing was a time consuming part of developing code, but the cost was outweighed by the value of getting it right. Moreover the cost of rolling out bad software was too high to risk. No one wants to test their software in production — with all eyes on you, and the cost of failure so high!”

The point is you don’t expose a 2.0 immature organization to Web 2.0. At best it will have absolutely no impact (which is actually what happens most of the time, when organizations decide they “have to be on Facebook”). At worst it can result in disillusioned users and the viral aspects of Web 2.0 spinning out of control.

From this perspective it would definitely be wise for organizations to introduce an Enterprise 2.0 culture prior to Web 2.0.

Generation Y as an Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right

In previous blog posts I have talked about the labour market revolution taking place before our eyes; the growth in workforce numbers of Generation Y, the digital natives – soon to become the biggest labour market generation. This generation has totally different expectations to work and to enterprise software. They tend not to think in hierarchies, they think in networks and they expect enterprises to accommodate them.

I just read an interview with SunGard’s CEO CristĂłbal Conde talking about flatter and better organizations. He says: “Collaboration is one of the most difficult challenges in management. I think top-down organizations got started because the bosses either knew more or they had access to more information. None of that applies now. Everybody has access to identical amounts of information.”

This is a brilliant point and Conde goes on to state that the management challenge is to establish a meritocracy in a highly dispersed environment (assuming that most organizations these days are virtual and/or geographically dispersed). He suggests the “answer is to allow employees to develop a name for themselves that is irrespective of their organizational ranking or where they sit in the org chart. And it actually is not a question about monetary incentives. They do it because recognition from their peers is an extremely strong motivating factor, and something that is broadly unused in modern management.”

SunGard uses very simply tools, like Yammer (which my organization, Akselera, also introduced a few months ago) and focuses on Enterprise 2.0 as a cultural exercise fully embraced and supported by top management.

A recent survey by the AIIM stated that 71% agree that it’s easier to locate knowledge on the web than on internal systems. This was across all employees and my guess is that among Generation Y it was close to 100%. The same survey found that 75% of all employees said that “better use of shared knowledge” was one of 3 top driver for Enterprise 2.0 initiatives in their organization.

Interestingly the survey didn’t ask the respondents if Web 2.0 was a business driver for Enterprise 2.0. It would have definitely been interesting to see “shared knowledge” and “Web 2.0” measured against each other.

Regardless, I think it is reasonable to conclude that:

  • Enterprise 2.0 does not need Web 2.0 as a driver.
  • Web 2.0 will have a much better chance of succeeding in Enterprise 2.0 ready organizations
  • And with the rapidly growing numbers of digital natives in the workforce, Generation Y and sound leadership should be viewed as a strong Enterprise 2.0 driver in its own right.

I often get the question: “How do you involve your users in product development? Isn’t it cumbersome and costly?”

Not if you truly live 2.0. Check the Occipital blog about their Redlaser iPhone app. It’s all about creating the right universe, being consistent, being present – and being a good listener.

This post from yesterday is the perfect example. I would be surprised if the Redlaser guys don’t pick this one up. A blog can be a goldmine.

I just discovered a great little iPhone app called Redlaser. It scans barcodes and in a split second it returns a long list of online price comparisons, a bit like Pricerunner, only this brings online price comparisons into the offline world.

I spotted Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the bookstore at Dublin Airport at the ”special price of €13.99” and decided to give it a quick try. A Redlaser scan of the barcode revealed that Douglas Adams’ classic could be purchased online at biblio.com for $9.98 (€6.70). Now – that’s less than half price. Would I buy that book from Hughes & Hughes at Dublin Airport given that information at hand? Definitely not.

The app is very simple, but obviously leverages a powerful search engine (TheFind), which hooks up with a rapidly growing number of online shops and its ramifications are astounding. It will put far more pressure on retailers to coordinate online and offline offerings minutely and realtime to ensure that customers don’t abandon their shop purchase in favour of buying it online (which I would have done in my example).

I’ll be following this little red devil closely to see how and to what extent it might change customer retail behaviour in 2010 – and, oh, I’ll be sure to develop some cool strategies for retailers to not only cope with this new “thing”, but also take seriously advantage of it.

Reading a great little book over the Christmas holidays, Listen to the Elephants (Lyt til elefanterne), by Anna Ebbesen and Astrid Haug. It’s about practical digital communications and how it all changed when it moved from analogue to digital. It’s full of fantastic examples (still only in Danish, but hopefully these two sharps girls will be translated soon).

Listen to the Elephants obviously refers to listening to your customers, or rather users, because users are someone who knows all about your products (sometimes perhaps more than you do); someone you’d like to chat with if you are truly interested in understanding your market situation and what you should be doing to make more happy users – and, well, yeah, make more money.

To the point: Here’s a voice of some of your hardcore users, Lundby (legendary Swedish dolls houses)! My two eldest daughters, both Generation Z, aged 9 and almost 11, got accessories from Lundby for Christmas to supplement their elaborate and ever-growing mini mansions at home. One of them also got a cool little Polly Pocket set and since we’re spending Christmas with my in-laws in Ireland, the two entrepreneurial girls quickly mixed and matched the two collections, because Polly Pocket happens to be roughly the size of a Lundby doll, about 10 cm tall.

When I pointed out the mix and match they simply said, “That’s what we do at home too“, and as their father I need to apologise for the language, “the Lundby dolls are really crap, especially the hair”.

Now that’s a fact I’d like to know about if I was the Lundby boss, but www.lundby.com is not exactly the kind of website that encourages dialogue or new ideas or feedback. As a first-hand student of Generation Z (and Generation Y) I know that they love to comment, to be heard, to be involved. So why doesn’t Lundby have a way to involve their users? I’d say girls between 6 and 13.

So, on behalf of my daughters: Lundby, listen to your users and do something about those dolls. Oh, and check out some of the cool web 2.0 ways of involving your users. They’d love it – and so would you.