Kai Riemer writers here about Microsoft’s axing of the Yammer Customer Success team. There’s two points worth discussing here.

The Death of the Utopian Vision of Enterprise Social

Kai writes about Yammer as less a software project than a mission to revolutionise corporate organisational hierarchies. In some respects, this flashes back to the debate between Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee in 2007. For those of you that don’t remember, there was a lot of discussion about the impact of collaborative technologies on organisational structures. One wing said that these technologies would radically reconfigure workplace environments into flatter, less hierarchical structures. The counter-revolutionary response said they, well, wouldn’t. I’ve been a fan of social software since the late 90s but I found myself caught in the middle. I love this stuff (and still do) but I see it driving change at the margins. I read some drafts of manifestos by Adam Pisoni and my response was: “Yes, this is all lovely. I agree with much of it. And it will only have a slight impact on the business world”. Power structures are as much a function of human psychology as they are of technology capabilities. Or as Jeffrey Pfeffer writes: You’re Still The Same.

And the world has changed. The utopian vision of business in 2007 was all of us on social software talking like equals and forging a new egalitarian world together. The current vision of business in 2016 is somewhat different. Lets go back to Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee. Both are now writing about automation (and also analytics for Davenport). The business vision of the organisation is one where we’ve removed everyone. We don’t need to give employees enterprise social platforms because there will be no one to talk to on them. Whether this is a utopian or dystopian future depends on whether you own the machines or are replaced by them.

Of course, we haven’t fired everyone just yet. The hot new kids of the block of enterprise collaboration are Slack and HipChat (I’m keeping a watching eye on Facebook @ Work). Neither of these are pitched in terms of organisational revolution. Slack is very much focused on team communication. Which actually takes us back to the CSCW work of the 80s. Their tagline is “be less busy”. Improvement at the margins.

The Rising Importance of Customer Success Programs for Enterprise SAAS

Customer success management (CSM) as “a thing” was apparently invented by Salesforce – combining account management, technical support and organisational change consulting around software implementation. It’s particularly critical for:

  • Software that’s sold on a monthly licensing basis that is typical of SAAS rather than in one big hit with a little dash maintenance & support to keep things going, as was typical of on-premise software. The software vendor cannot just take the money and run.
  • Software whose value requires significant investment to realise over time. This is typical of content and collaboration systems as until conversations start or the content is loaded up, all you have is a pretty interface and some workflows.
  • Software with a large potential user base (often with pricing focused on per seat). Keeping one or two people satisfied (e.g. a data mart used by one or two analysts) is very different to ensuring the success of thousands of users that you might see in end-user enterprise applications.

CSM now has its own supporting ecosystem of consultants and software firms (with Totango and Gainsight being two of the most prominent). It remains to be seen how this will play out over the longer term (I’m still getting my head around it at the moment).

The axing of Yammer CSM staff by Microsoft pretty much says that Yammer does not have a future as a standalone product. It doesn’t seem like the beginning of wider CSM backlash tho.

And Finally

The 60s vibe of social software in now well and truly gone. This track lurched out of my id this evening…

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Innovation in Knowledge Organisation: A Conference Report

Innovation in Knowledge organisation was conference put on by Straits Knowledge (a Singapore-based knowledge management consultancy), PebbleRoad (a Singapore-based user experience design consultancy) and Synaptica (a global taxonomy software company). 

The format of the conference was high energy – although 26 presentations were given, most of these were short form and much of the conference was given over to discussion and interaction. This was not a conference to sit back and fall asleep in.
In this article, we provide an overview of the material presented and the discussions we had with participants. We will begin with plenary presentations and the case studies. We will continue with an overview of discussions within the clinics. We will end with some broader reflections on the conference topics and what they mean for information professionals in Australia.

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Cybersecurity for information professionals: The organisational dimension

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Our previous article on cybersecurity approached the issue from the perspective of the individual internet user and showed the breadth of issues that we face and the simple things we can do to make our online interactions safer. This article has a different focus: How are organisations managing the cybersecurity risks that they face?

All Australians have some kind of relationship with large organisations that hold their data, be they corporations, not-for-profits, or governments. While we can take efforts to personally safeguard our own data, we are also reliant on the efforts of others. As consumers and citizens, we often blithely assume that these organisations are protecting their (our) data from harm. Those assumptions may not be wholly justified. This article will begin with an overview of the types of hostile parties and threats that organisations face and how they are meeting those threats.

The situation becomes even more complex when we are employed in roles where we play a role in information security – which we often do as information professionals. “Security” may not be our main priority but it is nevertheless there. The second half of the article, through practitioner quotes and academic research, explores the challenges that managing security as one of a number of information priorities presents to us.

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Competence and Knowledge Organisation

I recently presented a keynote at the inaugural Innovations in Knowledge Organisation conference in Singapore. The whole event was a pleasure to be a part of and many thanks to the organisers for inviting me.

The presentation below attempts to answer the questions:

  • What do knowledge organisation professionals do?
  • What role do professional tribes play?
  • What are the organisational challenges beyond individual competence?
  • And what does it take to offend people these days? (I don’t really answer that one)

Keynote: Matt Moore – Competence and Knowledge Organisation from Patrick Lambe on Vimeo.

Article: http://www.greenchameleon.com/uploads/Matt_Moore_v1.pdf
Slides: http://www.greenchameleon.com/uploads/IKO_Keynote3_Moore_Competencies.pdf

More on IKO 2015 here.

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Cybersecurity for information professionals: The personal dimension

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One of the key themes of the articles we have written for this publication is that “software is eating the world”. To put it another way, many everyday activities and objections are being transformed by internet-based technologies. This is not necessarily a sinister plot. This is happening because most of us benefit in the process. If we want to buy, sell, rent, hire, talk, shout or share, this internet-enabled world helps us do that more easily. However this process is not all hugs, puppies and emojis. These technologies transform our relationships with each other in ways that are not wholly healthy and may expose us to shame and ridicule. They also may compromise our property and physical safety. How will we deal with this collectively and individually?

        “Cybersecurity” is a growing area of attention for government, companies and individuals. 2014 offered many examples including the hacking of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and the release of large quantities of sensitive information from the Sony Corporation by individuals who may be associated with North Korea.

This article will:

  • explore the personal implications of cybersecurity. What risks do we face as individuals?
  • look at the range of technical threats cybersecurity tries to protect against. How do these threats manifest themselves and what does that mean for prevention?
  • discuss cybersecurity initiatives that impact information professionals such as the eSmart libraries program.

An upcoming article will examine the organisational issues around cybersecurity.

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The Internet of Things: A Primer for Information Professionals

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What were you doing in 2008? Whatever you were doing, it is unlikely that you were celebrating the eclipse of the human race (although the global financial crisis may have given you some cause to do so). According to Cisco (2011), in 2008, the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth. These “things” are not just media devices directly controlled by human beings (computers, laptops, phones, tablets) but sensors – attached to plants, animals, cars, buildings and factories.

The Internet of Things is now “a thing”. It is topic of discussion, speculation and investment. Like many of the topics we discuss in these articles, it is almost certainly a source of hype. However the broad range of technologies under the IoT heading are real and will have a long term impact on our personal and professional lives.

This article will begin by outlining the technological developments that have driven the development of IoT. We will continue by outlining some of the emerging applications that we can see now and in the near future. We will then discuss privacy and security concerns. We will end with some observations on the impacts of these technologies on information professionals.

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Enterprise Social Networks – Case Studies

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In the previous article, we recounted a brief history of social media in both the public world of the internet, the private spaces of organisations and the blurred lines in between. This article is less theoretical and more practical in focus. We will begin by discussing the elements that make up Enterprise Social Network (ESN) platforms and how they differ from other collaboration tools that have been around for longer. We discuss how these tools can generate value for users and the case studies where they have had a positive impact on the performance of organisations. We will end with a summary of good implementation practices for these tools.

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