September 16 2014
It has been a busy three months since my new position as Vice President, IBM Social Business Transformation was announced. Immediately after starting my new role, I left for Taiwan for a three-week assignment on an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge project team. The philanthropic experience was everything I expected and then some. I returned to the US at a new address - my family had moved to a new home across town, just before my flight to Taipei. The next few weeks were an adjustment - new home, new job, and making up for the loss of several weeks of summer cycling.
When Tim Clark contacted me a short time later, and asked if I would like to be part of the agenda at the 2014 ICON UK user group meeting, it took me about ten seconds to say "yes." Deadlines are often important forcing functions, and I felt that if I was committed to delivering an external presentation on IBM's social business transformation six weeks into the new job, it would align all sorts of activities during that time.
The last five days in London have definitely been worth that effort. Tim, along with Tony Holder and a supporting cast, ran a great user group event which drew about 125 people to sunny IBM Southbank in London. Everything went extremely smoothly. It was impressive to see the delegates from all over Europe, along with speakers and sponsors who had literally come from all over the world.
The ICON keynote was presented by my friend and colleague Scott Souder, who spent the entire hour discussing IBM's "Mail Next" project. Mail Next is an incredible evolution of the collaboration and social user experience. Finally we are moving away from the inbox and folders metaphor for mail, while bringing mail and social tools together in a way that will be extremely relevant to my new responsibility of driving adoption of social inside of IBM. It's incredible to see the focus on user experience and IBM Design Thinking. This is the kind of product where people say "I want that" at first exposure, and I can't wait to get there myself as part of our internal rollout.
My own session, "IBM's Social Business Transformation," focused on our social business journey at IBM. As much as we invented the market space of groupware/collaboration/social software, and have been leading the market in social since its inception, our internal use is an ongoing evolution. We are in a stage now of moving beyond holding hands and sharing files to an environment where being social is having a material impact on the company's bottom line - through innovation, speed, efficiency, employee satisfaction/talent management, and increased customer satisfaction. This is what I have been focused on in my initial 45 days in role - learning what has been working (and of course, what hasn't) in our internal adoption, and identifying the opportunities to accelerate.
The slideshare below is what I presented at ICON UK. I had hoped to get into some of the specific examples in backup or do some demos of IBM apps from my iPhone, but I simply ran out of time.
This presentation was my first opportunity to discuss what I do with a community of people I've known for a long time. My intent was to garner feedback that will go into making this presentation more useful and focused - not just for me, of course, but for anyone looking to share the IBM social business story. A couple of points that emerged from the audience discussion - 1) the cultural change to support working in the open is really hard and 2) metrics, while clearly important to garnering organizational support, can drive the wrong behaviors. I'm very conscious of both of these - the first is why my new team is comprised primarily of change management consultants who have been producing coaching programs, reference blueprints, example use cases, and more foundational business tools; the second is why I am proceeding methodically through the process of determining what metrics matter in terms of internal adoption. You'll see a few slides in the presentation with examples of ways to measure social business success. We have some great stories internally, but many are not quantified nor even as well-documented as I would like; in the coming weeks I am adding staff to help with this aspect of our journey.
I expect that this presentation will evolve rapidly; I'm still meeting key people relevant to my new job and establishing our team activities for the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. I'll be presenting regular updates externally, leading up to IBM ConnectED 2015, which is not named after me, but is an event I will indeed be participating at. It's different not to be "selling" a product or service anymore, though obviously my entire mission is about "drinking our own champagne." In case it isn't clear, I'm very excited to be back in the social arena, back among people I've worked with and respected for a long time, and focused on a transformative part of IBM. Looking forward to getting back into external blogging as well - thank you to those this week who have encouraged me to find my way back here.