In the Search for the Social Business Excellence

Last week Thomas and I have been to Paris to start our pre-“E20 SUMMIT” events with a first round-up of meetings with partners and the E20 community in Paris. Everybody is quite excited about the event to come to Paris – also with high expectations in regards to the insights that it may offer.  Regarding the latter I can only say that we are working on providing a “good course” but the “course” is not making “eating” experience – it is the gathering of people and the exchange of ideas that drives the value of the conference.

This was also true for the evening at Harry’s New York Bar on Wednesday night last week where we met some very bright heads for our first E20 meetup. While exchanging ideas about the state of the E20 adoption I was able to gather some valuable insights that I am happy to share.

Defining the master plan for the E20 maturity cycle is the key to success!

Especially at the meetup the discussions circulated around the challenges of the maturity cycle of Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. While starting a 2.0 initiative is nearly at no barrier of entries (in terms of technology, setting up & starting off, gaining momentum etc), the enterprise-wide usage of social tools as core parts of the business processes  is still challenging. Especially the driving forces for the project along the maturity cylce are still to be explored and explained more clearly.

Here are some non-literal quotes of this evening:

Sebastian Blanc from Yoolink stated that corporate leaders accept social software in parts for their organization, but they are not willing to change the organization – especially when it works in terms of sales and profits. Sebastian sees the need of a certain level of “pain” to be existent in order to have social concepts integrated into “in-the-flow” processes.

Jon Husband (who happend to be in town and joint us) stressed out the rethinking of the regulatory framework of HR in order to succeed in the long run with 2.0 initiatives. He summarized his point neatly in a post yesterday on the needed redesign of work requirements.

Anthony Poncier added to this that the long-term success of E20 projects implies new salary systems that reflect motivational incentives to enfoster engagement, collaboration and social work. Both – Anthony’s as well as Jon’s – assertions lead to the point that the organizational development and a framework for the new organizational constitution has to be strongly discussed at the conference.

Last but not least – Thierry de Baillon added on the last point that especially for France HR is in most parts still far away from these topics in order to make a real shift. He also pointed out the need for a new skill set for the staff to benefit from social concepts.

Defining the business values to support the business development

As Sebastian stated already at meetup a key question for corporate leaders to fully acknowledge social initiatives is to perceive the business value in terms of sales and profits. Any project focussed on only streamlining and advancing the productivity of the company will be faced with restraint adoption. This is also the point our partners emphasized in our meetings on Thursday – in regards to framing and focussing the conference schedule.

In our morning meeting on Thursday Richard Collin from NextModernity mentioned that in order to secure the success of the initiative the problem needs to be tackled head on – meaning the corporate leaders have to be convinced. And the management is easier to be convinced by a discussion about “new forms of value creation” than a discussion of a “collaborative workplace”. The former is the objective, the latter is the mission to be completed on its way.

Later on Arnaud Rayrole from USEO also accentuated the importance of the added value of sharing – in regards to the effects of the transparency to the business activity. Meaning – sales people can perform better when they know the best selling propositions and clues about convincing the customer. This goes also along with the demand for the new skill set mentioned earlier and the reflections on Dion Hinchcliffe‘s discussions of the “open work framework“.

Again last but not least – we have met Yves Darnige from IBM (Disclaimer: IBM is sponsoring the E20 SUMMIT!). He is in charge for the Lotus brand in Southern and Western Europe and therefore is heading the “Social Business” meme of IBM for this area. While he sees his company always being right when jumping on a trending topic he also acknoledges that “Social Business” is still at an early stage. Most of the projects within this field still fail to deliver the “Social Business” vision in its full notion with real business values. But as this is an evolutionary process with major changes nobody can expect a jumpstart. Yves clearly approved our conference approach of discussing practices from the specific angle of use cases – this supports a more differenciated discussion of the different business values social software adds to the enterprise. He suggested to focus on the definition of the social added value proposition of the term “Social Business” for the conference. If the E20 community cannot bring the discussion down to the practical insights, he sees a clear danger of “over-clocking” the term.

In the search for the Social Business Excellence

As already said at the beginning the discussions have been very helpful and helped me sharpen the focus of the conference setup. And as posted before with the February conference we are trying to evaluate the drivers for improving the business excellence by using social concepts within the company. In regards to the structure of the conference we are trying to deliver our own value proposition by differenciating the following topics:

  1. Entry plenary session: Discussion of the key factors for the Social Business Maturity (with keynotes from Rawn Shah/IBM and a senior level corporate speaker (tbd))
  2. Track 1: Discussion of the “project excellence” with sessions about the key challenges that drive the adoption and the transformation management of E20 initiatives
  3. Track 2: Discussion of the “practice excellence” with sessions on different use case scenarios and corporate speakers giving insights to their project and the created business value
  4. Track 3: Discussion of the “organizational excellence” with sessions on how to define the “Enterprise 2.0” (meaning the concepts and constitutions) for the future enterprise model
  5. Closing plenary session: Discussion of the key factors for defining the future work definitions (with keynotes from Dion Hinchcliffe and Richard Collin) as well as a discussion on the future roadmap of the social technology.

We think this provides a good state-of-the-art overview of where everybody stands in the projects at the moment and what open questions are existing to be answered.

I am looking very much forward to any comments and feedback on the conference focus.