I'm now in a plane back to the Puerto Rico after spending 36 hours in Rio de Janeiro evangelizing social software and discussing adoption best practices. Below is a summary of the activities I was involved in:
Meet with a customer's Online University Team
In the first 12 hours, I got to meet with the business owners of the company's Online University and the ones in charge of promoting educational offerings to the rest of the employees. I'm noticing, by the way, that this is a trend. A lot of people who have a background in eLearning are now moving on to social software.
Anyway, I discussed the IBM-recommended adoption program and went through all 12 steps in detail. I emphasized most of the ten principles of social software. The customer agreed wholeheartedly and even asked if IBM provides services to help them through the process. The answer, of course, is yes .
The customer LOVED Lotus Connections, but asked me to help convince their IT department that this was the right tool to use AND that IT needs to work together with them on their adoption strategies. Currently, the IT department is looking at using various open source tools (more on this later).
I, unfortunately, realized later that not everyone knew what Lotus Connections was so I did a demo after talking about the 12 step plan . We, however, had some great discussions.
- Cultural Shift - they stated that they need to go through a cultural shift to encourage people to share. I told them about IBM's deployments worldwide and how we have the experience to guide them through the process. Also, about 30% of the employees are set to retire in the next 5 years! What motivation do they have to share ? I encouraged them to set mentor relationships with the younger generation and get the latter to Blog!
- Diversity of workforce - Additionally, about 40% of the workforce has been hired in the last 3 years! (what a gap, huh?) and their turnover is pretty high too (only about 10% of the employees last more than 10 years). I told them they need to capitalize on this and get them all connected. Using Social Network Analysis (SNA) they can quickly visualize these gaps and work towards closing them.
- Pilot audience - They said they didn't feel comfortable choosing the right audience for their pilot and they also didn't know how long a pilot should be. I told them how important it was to choose trusted employees who are always willing to try new things. They must also be willing to add content to the system (nobody likes an empty site, right? Imagine going to Facebook and none of your friends are there. Would you come back ? Probably not, or probably in a year or so...
- Getting started - The customer said that Lotus Connections may be "too much". And I agreed. In fact, I told them that IBM recommends starting small - usually Profiles and one more service. It's easy to start with Profiles because as soon as you import data, you can get value out of it. Then I encouraged them to figure out what's the biggest pain point. Is it intranet search? If so, use Dogear. Is it having an easy way to share ideas and collaborate? If so, use Blogs. Is it finding communities of practice and leveraging their knowledge? If so, use Communities.
What was supposed to be a 1 hr meeting, became a 3 hr meeting. And the best part? The customer was the one that did most of the talking! They can't wait to get started.