I had planned to take an online look at Enterprise 2.0 Summit partly just to keep on topic regarding the latest thinking and partly to see if there was a difference in an all-European event versus an American event held in Europe. My initial reaction was confusion at the topics, blogs and discussions, in fact I wondered if it was adding any value at all to my personal thinking. It looked more like it should have been called Social 2.0 Summit, because it was so strongly people centric.
Initially topics such as ‘does the legitimacy of members of my social graph increase the importance and trustworthiness of my information’ didn’t seem too encouraging. This was based on a research paper called ‘Network forms of organisation’ written in 1998 around the changes and impacts wrought by the introduction of personal computing and the IT revolution. The theme of people experiencing new forms of ‘interactions’ (through technology) and the results in terms of changing their ability to use their network (of people) to improve their own position through knowledge was bang up to date in terms of today and the role that social networks play in enabling Enterprise 2.0.

Unlike American events on Enterprise 2.0 which are generally based on the technology, this European event was in fact based on the ‘people’ aspects. I guess in some respects that might be expected, but in fact as adoption by people of technology is in fact a key issue underlying Enterprise 2.0 it is important and as I went deeper into the proceedings I got some real insights.
Attendees picked up on the just posted Harvard Business Review article ‘who should be your Chief Collaboration Article?’ of October 11th which defines the need in an enterprise, and identifies some of the existing executive roles as candidates. It doesn’t include the role of Chief Technology Officer, yet I suspect that currently I am the Chief Collaboration Officer at Capgemini as in the first six months of our use of own internal social network based on Yammer I had more than half the members as followers. I am pleased to see as the member numbers have soared it’s now a much more healthy quarter, so why does this please me? Because it shows that we are creating new ‘networks’ that extend beyond those who know each other at the beginning, an important aspect in creating a genuine enterprise-wide ability to collaborate.
Now for my real moment of realisation what these two points mean! One of the noticeable shifts in behaviour we have seen is the move away from using our wiki-based (and pretty good) knowledge management system, known as KM2.0, as the starting point for finding out even well defined topics, and move towards using Yammer to ask about the topic as a question. I have asked a variety of people why they do this, and the answer is, as you might expect ‘context’, actually I now know, thanks to the posts at Enterprise 2.0 Summit that the answer is the ‘social graph’ effect.
Put simply that means in the context of the shift in the technology market then Ray Ozzie’s recent post ‘dawn of a new day’ has the highest contextual score, but internally to Capgemini the context is ‘what does this mean for us and our clients’ so I would score more highly for my reply because it is built round the value to Capgemini. However through my network of people that I ‘follow’ I can also add the link and additional value of knowing that Andrew McAfee, the business professor who first developed the concept of Enterprise 2.0, has also posted an excellent build on Ray’s views that develops the thinking into the business consequences for all industries. Now the same two items might be within Capgemini KM2.0, under the heading Enterprise 2.0, but the context and the links are not as apparent as when I make them and point a colleague to the documents in KM2.0.
The example I have used is personally defined just to make it easy to grasp the point, but the same example of behaviours is apparent right thoughout the Capgemini group. Linked to it is the shift in the 80/20 rule from content, ie 20% of the content of our KM2.0 repository is used 80% of the time, to seeing the same thing with people. It’s not as high, currently it’s little more than 5% of the members of the Capgemini Yammer social network that provide most of the business valuable answers. The success of the entire social network has depended, thus far, on their cooperation in building the collaborative model which has enabled us to achieve critical mass in usage and acceptance. The next stage is teaching colleagues to use Yammer better and we have started adding an introduction to Yammer in onboarding of new colleagues already, now we are planning to make it a part of all internal training.
Is that the role of the Chief Collaboration Officer? Have I unknowingly been playing this role in Capgemini? Perhaps, though I think it’s a small band of colleagues who coincidently seem also to be the regular bloggers on Capgemini Capping IT Off blogs that made it successful. My role really was to keep conventional management activities from crushing it, and them, at an early stage and to start to move it into the structure of the group’s activities and capabilities.
Fascinating to consider in the light of what I learned on social graphs and Chief Collaboration Officers, and maybe some thing to pass on for others trying to make sense and progress in this area.