A Barcamp Experience: The KnowledgeCamp in Karlsruhe

On October 12 and 13, 2012, the KnowledgeCamp took place in Karlsruhe, Germany. It was the first barcamp, or unconference, I attended. For those of you who are not familiar with this type of event, here is the the corresponding Wikipedia article. On one hand, I went because I was curious to see how such a barcamp works. On the other, I wanted to offer a session in order to present and discuss a paper a colleague and myself have been working on recently.

My general impression of the barcamp was very positive. One of the greatest features is the selection of the sessions by the participants themselves. This procedure guarantees that the content offerered is relevant to the people attending the barcamp. While I was worried that my own session may not be suitable for the crowd present, I was pleased to see a number of hands go up once I introduced the topic. Hosts are further free to choose how they conduct their sessions. Continue reading A Barcamp Experience: The KnowledgeCamp in Karlsruhe

Position Paper: Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management

Over the past couple of months, I’ve worked on a position paper with a team of people from the German Knowledge Management Association, also called GfWM. The team consisted of practitioners, consultants, and a researcher, with each of us bringing slightly different perspectives to the table. This is not a research paper and our intention was not to write one either. Continue reading Position Paper: Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management

Web 2.0 finds its payday by @McKQuarterly

I’ve commented on the McKinsey Web 2.0 surveys in an earlier blog post. McKinsey just published the outcome of this year’s research, comparing internally networked, externally networked and fully networked organizations. The result: Fully networked organizations perform better in terms of market share and profit margins. Study participants named faster access to knowledge, increased marketing effectiveness and reduced communication costs as some of the main advantages of technology adoption. The authors, Bughin and Chui, also report that more employees within the same organization are now making use of more Web 2.0 technologies compared to previous years. Positive feedback loops seem to facilitate organizational learning. McKinsey predicts that investments in these technologies are bound increase. This is in line with Gartner’s expectations.

There was one finding that I thought was particularly noteworthy: Self-reported market leadership correlated negatively with externally networked organizations. Market leaders tend to focus on internal collaboration, but shield themselves from external ties. The authors of the study suggest that this is to do with maintaining their leadership position. Market challengers, on the contrary, are more focused on external uses of Web 2.0 technologies to win clients over. Would you agree?

How to Hit the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye by @amcafee

I mentioned Andrew McAfee and his book ‘Enterprise 2.0’ in an earlier blog post and would like to come back to him now. In Chapter 4 of his book, Andy introduces the notion of the Enterprise 2.0 Bullseye (see below graph). The logic of the bullseye builds on Granovetter’s (1973) and Burt’s (1992) work on the strength of weak ties and structural holes. Andy argues that the bullseye helps to focus Enterprise 2.0 efforts by distinguishing the different types of ties between people, or employees, and how these ties may be maintained or altered by the use of social software (which he calls ESSPs). Cooperation between close colleagues, or strong ties, may be facilitated by wikis, whereas social network sites are more suitable to maintain a large network of acquaintances, or loose ties. Blogs, in turn, are seen to be enablers for converting potential into actual contacts. Last but not least, there are forms of cooperation, for example in the case of prediction markets, when no tie between actors is present and yet the individuals involved can productively interact. There are a number of other studies that investigate the impact of ICT on social capital, yet Andy manages to match ties and technologies. This is an interesting step forward.

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Burt, R. S. (1992). Structural holes: the social structure of competition. Harvard University Press.

Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American journal of sociology, 78(6), 1360.

McAfee, A. (2009). Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges. Harvard Business School Press. 

Social Media & Organizational Learning: A Lesson

Recently, I co-lectured a number of sessions on Organizational Learning at the University of Nottingham and talked to students on various programs about how organizations leverage exisiting networks and use social media to foster knowledge creation and collaboration. I introduced some of the concepts described in earlier posts, such as Ross Dawson’s Social Media Strategy Framework and Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism.

Furthermore, I tried to embed the aforementioned practitioner models in a more theoretical context. For this purpose, I used the papers by Inkpen & Tsang (2005) as well as Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998). We explored the concept and dimensions of social capital and looked at how the latter may affect knowledge processes within networks.

I closed the sessions with a McKinsey survey which presents various tools that are currently used for internal knowledge management. Wikis, Blogs, RSS feeds and Video sharing were the killer applications in this category. I was very pleased with the questions raised during the sessions and the presentations that were produced as a result of my engagement. What a great feeling to inspire other minds. However, this doesn’t just work one way. One of the students, who used to be with Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, shared with us some of the tools and concepts they used at work. This is how we met Jessica a.k.a. Dr. Enterprise 2.0.

References:

Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E. W. K. 2005. Social Capital, Networks, and Knowledge Transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30(1): 146–165.

Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. 1998. Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2): 242–266.

A Special Report on Social Networking by The Economist

As a social scientist, I find it particularly thrilling to be working on a phenomenon that is very up-to-date. I am not looking at ancient data or analyzing people who have passed away a long time ago, but instead I focus on people’s behavior and attitudes in today’s world and their impact on how organizations conduct business. I was delighted to read this week’s special report on social networking by The Economist. Please find below my notes and a few thoughts on the report.

1. Networks facilitate creative endeavors

Social network sites allow people to connect to each other and swap relevant information. This is likely to enhance organizations’ creative potential and tap into the wisdom of the crowds. The days of specialist silos are long gone. Organizations can leverage their employees’ knowledge effectively by employing collaborative technologies.

2. The network effect & exponential utility growth

The network effect and resulting feedback loops have been observed with the introduction of a variety of techological inventions, such as the phone, the Internet, etc. It states that the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. The same is true of social network sites. The more people seem to use Facebook or Twitter, for example, the better and more nuanced the information we obtain on these networks.

3. Cluttering of social network sites

I have heard a number of people express worries about the plethora of sites that have recently sprouted. There are places for all kinds of interest groups. Staying on top of these developments is time consuming. What I expect to see more often in the future are portable identies, such as Facebook Connect, that allow their users to take their profile information from one site to another. This is a keynote presentation about Identity 2.0 by Dick Hardt, Founder and CEO of Sxip Identy. He makes this point very vividly.

4. Cultural change: openness & self-esteem

Another common concern regarding the use of social network sites is the loss of privacy. How much do people reveal about themselves on their online profiles. Do they give away too much personal information let alone proprietary company intelligence? In the interview, Martin Giles is being asked whether the use of social network sites even transforms personality. He speaks of a polarizing effect where celebreties, in particular, blow up their egos massively or become very humble through the use of social network sites. I have not come across any study that would confirm this hypothesis, however, the question of how the use of social network sites affects measures of self-esteem has been addressed before. The Journal of Cyberpsychology & Behavior is a good source for further references.

5. Is ‘Enterprise 2.0’ just a hype?

“In the business world there has also been much hype around something called ‘Enterprise 2.0’, a term coined to describe efforts to bring technologies such as social networks and blogs into the workplace.”

To my mind, this statement is a bit too playful. If you look at Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report, many of the quoted technologies have surpassed the point of inflated expectations. Blogging, Wikis and Social Network Analysis are now on their way to maturity. This argument can be backed by a couple of books that have recently been published, for example Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges and Niall Cook’s Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work.

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via gartner.com

6. Social networking = social notworking?

“The executives’ biggest concern was that social networking would lead to social notworking, with employees using the sites to chat with friends instead of doing their jobs.”

Again, this is a question of how collaborative technologies are employed and what incentives are being used to engage employees. I have written about this earlier. A paper on the ‘Effects of feedback and peer pressure on contributions to enterprise social media’ has been published in 2009 by the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and provides more references on the subject.

Enterprise 2.0 – The 4Cs by @niallcook

Just before the Christmas break, I got myself a few books from the library to so some reading over the break. This was one of the items I borrowed: Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work. The author, Niall Cook, is the Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology at communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton. I chose this book because I felt that Enterprise 2.0 is the overarching concept of applying social software or social media to organizational settings. It certainly was a good read and I would like to introduce some of Niall’s concepts to you. You can check out a lot of the original materials on his website: enterprise2dot0.com.

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via enterprise2dot0.com

Niall uses four primary functions of social software to distinguish between different tools/applications, namely connection, collaboration, cooperation and communication. This distinction is straight-forward and intuitive, although some overlap between the functions exists. As you can see, there are two scales on which each function can be placed, i.e. formality and interaction. A company with an informal structure and a culture of rewarding individual effort would find itself in the lower left quadrant and may, thus, be encouraged to invest in social software facilitating communication between employees. Instant messaging, blogs or discussion forums may be appropriate tools to do so.