What’s in for Me: Why Should I Bother?

I’m part of a Collaboration 2.0 group which started on linkedin, and was moved over to yammer. One of the rules of the group is that you need to work at a big company and do this stuff for a living. This is a great premise! The owner/moderator is thoughtful and engaged, but the group doesn’t see a lot of traffic.

Why is this?
I believe there are a few reasons. (I’ll of course relate this back to OneStop.)

  1. The feedback loop is not well defined.
  2. The value proposition is not crystal clear.
  3. There isn’t enough in it for me.
  4. Metrics

Feedback Loop:
I’ve posted twice to the group. I thought the posts were insightful and would get a discussion going. No responses. I need feedback! Apparently the “what’s in it for me, let’s use the acronynm WIIFM” quotient wasn’t high enough for people to respond.

Value Prop (WIIFM)
I’m part of a half dozen linkedin groups. The vast majority of the posts are from consultants. The value prop for them (WIIFM) is that they are trying to raise their visibility level, (their web based stock price so to speak) and indirectly line up some work.

I started to get active on linkedin when I thought there was a chance my job would disappear. Would I have reached out otherwise? Probably, but not as aggressively. Would I have joined Collaboration 2.0? Not sure. I would probably have monitored (or lurked) to pull out good ideas.

I initiated my blog when I was up for a promotion to Principal Engineer. I didn’t do it out of the goodness of my heart or that I was inately keen on community contribution.

Organizational Credit
One of the reasons people bother to author OneStop pages is that it’s cool. (WIIFM++) They get their pictures at the top right of the pages they author, and become much more visibile in their area(s) of expertise. Most of their managers are supportive as it’s obvious that this sort of information sharing is of high value add to the company. However, this value add need to be demonstrated through…

When you see a couple of hundred hits on your page every month it becomes much easier to make the time. It also become much easier for your manager to support your efforts.

At the upper right of the header for this blog it mentions that “carefully crafted processes to make this work in the enterprise.”. Part of the process is rules of engagement. For most communities there really isn’t enough WIIFM, at least from the start. In many cases participants need to get “organizational credit”, or maybe just a direct push from their managers, to participate.

Salesforce Chatter, the “magic of Facebook and Twitter brought to the enterprise.”

Sub theme: Connecting My Professional and Personal Lives?

Wow, Salesforce.com really has it together! I recently finished Behind the Cloud, by Marc Benioff and was blown away. These people really understand community and collaboration, and how to leverage it effectively. Marc’s very readable book is organized as a series of 111 plays (as in a football playbook). He catalogs how to build the entire business, but the playbooks on Sales, Marketing,and Technology are especially rich with collaboration examples.

As I was trolling through my morning news I was drawn to the TechCrunch Ten Technologies That Will Rock 2010. Number ten is:

Social CRM: We’ve seen the rise of Twitter and Facebook as social communication tools.  This year, those modes of realtime communication will find their way deeper into the enterprise.  Salesforce.com is set to launch Chatter, it’s realtime stream of enterprise data which interfaces with Twitter and Facebook and turn them into business tools. Startups like Yammer and Bantam Live are also making business more social.

If you are reader of this blog you noticed I started getting excited about  Twitter and Facebook in April of 2007. My enthusiasm quickly waned as most of the social networking tools did not seem very relevant to the enterprise. I got a little tired of reading the “I’m taking my daughter to the dentist” tweets. We’ve been experimenting with a twitter clone, internally, but it hasn’t gotten much traction. (We’ve been able to search it in real time for the last 18 months. :))

One of the more popular features on OneStop (read about OneStop in prior postings) is the Worth a Look section on the homepage. I try to post 3-5 items day, mostly current news items that are related to Sun. Part of my role is the “synergizer” and “consolidator” of interesting stuff. I spend a couple hours a day aborbing news. This ranges from the sources listed in Daily News in my prior post (Reading Recommendations From People You Trust), to Google alerts, to dozens of internal aliases at Sun. This also enables me to ensure that OneStop has the appropriate breadth, and the right products and technologies are covered. My thought is the users (Sun employees, mostly SEs) are busy, don’t have an hour to spend, and find the highlights useful.

Maybe too much background, but yesterday I was posting a Worth a Look item and thought “this is silly, why am I not posting this item to Facebook or Twitter?” so it will get picked up automatically by interested consumers. (Including my wordpress blog at http://mikebriggs.com). The answer of course is that some of the items are not appropriate for outside the Sun firewall.

Will the Semantic Web solve this problem? Will content be consistently tagged with group and access control information, perhaps utilizing SecurID? Some sort of AI needs to be built in, as tagging everything manually is incredibly burdensome.

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring, but it still seems necessary to have distinct contexts on both sides of the enterprise firewall. Will Sales Force Chatter help fix this problem?