MAD Perspectives Blog

Adjusting your Organization Structure with Digital Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, February 01, 2010

So you’re thinking about jumping on the Enterprise 2.0 bandwagon.  You’re not only thinking about incorporating social networking into your marketing plan, you are thinking about how Web 2.0 and social networking platforms can facilitate the way you do business.  You may be thinking about enhancing your customer support capabilities through customer support forums.   Or, you may be considering how you can create an internal social network to simplify the ways employees connect, collaborate and communicate with each other.  Or, you may be considering a plethora of other ways that you can enhance the way your business works.

If you believe that Web 2.0 tools and platforms can help your business, you are right!  However, be prepared to invest the necessary time to build a strategy and consider the organizational impact.  OK, now you’re thinking, am I biting off more than I can chew?  No!  It’s only that in many ways implementing these solutions can change the way your current business processes work.  In fact, it can streamline many of them.  This is why it is important to think about how these solutions may change existing formal or informal organizational structures and processes.

The organizations that we work within have evolved based on number of norms.  These norms are institutional, social, community and individual.  They informally define how we process information and interact with others.  They are the underlying factors that drive the structure of an organization   Look at the differences between how Baby Boomers and Gen Y work, learn and motivate:

 

Baby Boomer (born:  1946- 1964)

Gen Y (born: 1978-1994)

Work Style

Time management

Multi-tasking

Learning Style

Instruction

Experience

Collaboration

Collaborative

Independent (resists collaboration)

Motivations

Independence

Competition

View on Authority

Respect for others is earned

Respect for Authority

Structure

De-centralized, non-hierarchical

Centralized, hierarchical

Information Access

Access for all

Access to those in power

   Source:  http://ekarine.org/wp-admin/pub/IAMOT_DN_2008.pdf

Today, much of corporate America reflects organizational structure and business processes that reflect the influence of the Baby Boomer mindset.  However, with the increasing adoption of digital media solutions which inherently broaden communication, increase collaboration and expand employee connectivity, traditional structures will need to adapt.  There has been much talk within the Fortune 100-500 in the past decade about the Adaptive Enterprise.  This term was coined by Stephan H. Haeckel in his 1999 book the Adaptive Enterprise.  Much of Haeckel’s theory resonates today when speaking of sense and respond organization.  However, have organizations really adopted employee empowerment,  de-centralized hierarchy and open communication, only to retrench to what is familiar and comfortable.

Digital Media, through its use of video, instant messaging or chat and blogging, increases the capacity for any company to quickly understand shifting market trends, customer concerns, product adoption, technology innovation and more.  When moving forward with digital media solutions think about the impact on your information systems, organization culture, communication practices, employee abilities and reward structures. 

The knowledge you can gain as a business and as an employee is increases dramatically when using social networks.  As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”.  Think about how to engage to gain beneficial insights and how this will shift the conversations in your business.  How will it impact your organizational structure?  How will it provide process improvement?  How will it improve employee productivity?

What’s your perspective?



Cisco: taking networking to the human level

Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 12, 2009


Once upon a time, Cisco provided network products such as switches and routers.  They still do.  These are not necessarily exciting products, but they were (and still are) critical to facilitating the flow of content and information across private and public networks.  However, Cisco has long had a reputation for growing through acquisition.  In the past 10 years, these acquisitions have become very intriguing as Cisco perceived the impact that media could have at both the corporate and consumer levels.

Cisco has a stated commitment to collaboration that incorporates video and social networking.  It is pervasive across the company through Cisco's focus on interoperability of its platforms, its R&D investments, standards leadership, acquisition strategy and partnerships.  Cisco has been building it's video management capabilities over the past 5+ years with a focus on capture, create, manage, edit and share video assets.  There capabilities run the gamut from the very high end (e.g., HD content encoding for broadcast) to the low end (e.g. consumer video capture) and the all the complex challenges that happen in between. 

Tuesday, Cisco CEO and Chairman, John Chambers, spoke about Cisco's vision for collaboration.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart.  Having worked for a Fortune 50 technology company for many years, I was able to take advantage of various collaboration tools to connect, communicate and collaborate with my colleagues regardless of geographic distance.  I saw the evolution from proprietary corporate email to "standardized" email systems to the use of document management systems, virtual rooms, web conferencing and telepresence conferencing.  I personally saved many, many hours and dollars through the use of telepresence solutions.  However, the enterprise of tomorrow demands more than stand alone products, it requires integrated products to simplify collaboration and communication

Cisco is leveraging its vast array of assets for unified communication, IP communication, presence, web conferencing and media asset management to address the increasing relevance and use of video plus the growing demand for enterprise social networking.  It's Enterprise Collaboration Platform, which integrates new social networking products with existing communication and conferencing platforms, allows emloyees to navigate an employee directory designed in the manner of a LinkedIn or Plaxo.  The difference is its incorporation of tags for both data and video content, enabling users to find people, data and video content relevant to the topic searched.  Of high interest is the ability to view professional (studio created) or casual (import from Flip) video content at the specific frame that discusses the search topic.

It is clear that Cisco has a vision and is aligning its technology assets accordingly.  Cisco estimates the market opportunity to be $30B+ per year over the next 10 years.  Given Cisco's presence in the enterprise it will be interesting to see if they grab a significant share of the emerging enterprise investment in social media networking.  If nothing else, Cisco's announcements validate the investment and presence of the many small businesses that are emerging in this space. 

What's your perspective?



Finding the Needle in a Haystack

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Have you ever been in a situation where you're pursuing a large opportunity and you need to tap a resource, any resource, that has won a similar deal or delivered a similar project?  How have you gone about finding those resources?  I know that in my former life at HP, I frequently saw sales and consulting leads trying to tap the collective knowledge at the company in order to succeed at an account.  It was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack!




I was in a global role that allowed me visibility across all geographic regions.  I had knowledge of the different types of deals that were in process and if a consultant in Asia was seeking advice from a colleague he/she would call or email me to see if I could connect them with someone with relevant experience
Notice, I said CALL or EMAIL.  Yep, they picked up the phone or wrote an email asking for assistance.  Sometimes they just needed references.  Other times they wanted to understand the technology solution that had been proposed to a similar customer.  Other times they wanted to learn about the capabilities of our myriad of software partners.  Finding a relevant resource could take them hours, days and even weeks.  They and many others like them did not have access to solutions that allow them "broadcast" their needs to a general audience.

The bottom line, was that there was no centralized system that allowed them to easily find colleagues with experiences they could tap into.  They had a database of customer wins, but many times these databases were regional in nature and not visible across geographic boundaries.  Additionally, these systems might have reflected outdated information.

Why am I sharing these challenges?  It is the experience of having been the linchpin tying these geographically dispersed indivduals together that gave me the insight to recognize the value that social netorking platforms can bring to the enterprise.  Most companies have an internal directory that captures your basic details such as job role, organization, location and contact information.  Imagine that you can add incremental information such as knowlege of software systems and hardware platforms, previous roles, industry expertise, account relationships, special interests, personal interests.   Now imagine it is as easy to use as social networking platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook. 

When we implement social media behind the firewall, we open the door to a new kind of collaborative communication.  Now, employees have the ability to broadcast their question.  For example, a solution architect in Poland is pursuing an opportunity with a small broadcast company.  He knows that his company has provided solutions to other broadcasters and he has searched the company intranet for information.  However, he just can't find the information he needs.  He knows he just needs some guidance - perhaps a 30 minute phone call.  Using an internal social networking platform he could post his questions and the collective community would be able to start providing answers.  The community, by its very nature, provides answers, links, contacts.  And, this information is available to the next person with the similar question.

Think about your organization and how knowledge is shared.  I bet you have some kind of knowledge management program, formal (if you are a mediaum-large company) or informal (if you are a small business).  Are there inefficiencies?  Do you have a plan to tap into the collective knowledge resident within your employees?  Think about how social networking platforms can help you can improve collaboration, actively find and tap into resident knowledge and facilitate employee efficiency.

What's your perspective?