Use Social Media To Drive More Learning

My colleagues and I talk often about social collaboration and its tepid adoption. The fact is that it’s hard to get employees to use a tool unless they see a real use for it. This is certainly true in learning. Most of the learning management vendors have some kind of social offering. The uptake depends on the efforts made by the learning department staff to integrate social, and how appropriate social is to the specific learning content. Another stumbling block for learning and social is that using social tools is a change from a typical online learning experience, and it demands some change management. Most people don’t embrace change; they need help in learning to use the tool and they need to see that social has positive effects on their learning.

The purpose of social learning is to provide an environment in which learners share experiences and resources and work together. A social learning environment supports conversations, discussions, and learning from each other. I see a number of ways that organizations are beginning to use social learning.

  • Wrapping a discussion group or instructor blog around an eLearning course. An instructor poses a question related to lesson content; learners react to questions and to comments from their classmates. They may agree, disagree, or provide an alternative viewpoint.
  • Using social learning in project work. Instructors involve online students in project work. They collaborate with their fellow students in planning, developing, and presenting the project results.
  • Tapping the experts. Often called expertise location, employees use a keyword search of employee profiles to identify other employees who have expertise in a certain area. They contact the expert(s) via social media, phone, or email for an asynchronous discussion.
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Make A Resolution: Kill Your P@55W0rD Policies

It has finally become hip not just to predict the demise of passwords, but to call for their elimination. The recent Wired article makes an eloquent case about the vulnerabilities that even "strong" passwords are subject to, such as social engineering and outright theft. And strength is, of course, relative and subject to degradation: The latest computer hardware can make short work of cracking more-complex secrets.

It's true: Static shared secrets are sitting ducks. But passwords are too useful to go away entirely, both because it's handy to be able to synchronize authenticator data between cooperating systems (and people), and because people find using passwords to be less invasive, fiddly, or personally identifying than a lot of other options. So I don't buy the whole "the era of passwords is over" thing. They will be at least one important element of authentication strategies for the foreseeable future -- it's a rare multi-factor authentication strategy that doesn't include a password or PIN somewhere along the line as one of the "things you know."

So, if that's our reality, let's think outside the box in using them. In talking with Mike Gualtieri recently as part of his TechnoPolitics podcast series, I mentioned a few ideas. I had thought of these as pet password peeves, but on the cusp of 2013, why not be positive and think of them as resolutions?

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2013: The Year Of Digital Business

While Social Business continued to evolve in 2012, 2013 will see the emergence of digital business as a new strategic theme for many firms. What's driving this shift and what does it mean for CIOs, CEOs, and chief digital officers?
 
The Communications Evolution
 
Communications continue to evolve. Consider how humans have transformed communications over the centuries: signal fires; semaphore; Morse code; the telegraph; the telephone; telex; fax; email; SMS; Facebook; and Twitter. I have no doubt that this evolution will continue in 2013 and beyond. Perhaps beyond 2013 we will eventually achieve the ability to communicate our thoughts directly — whether we’ll want to is a different question. As people the world over learn to use new social networking tools, they drop older tools that are no longer useful to them. Regardless of where you are in your personal communications evolution, the undeniable truth is that over the past decade we have significantly changed how people communicate; we are no longer dependent upon email. But social tools and 24/7 mobile access have not removed the complexity or decreased the volume of information we must process. Time remains our most precious resource and we’ll always seek ways to use it more effectively — but social tools are not necessarily the silver bullet we might think. In 2013 we need to rethink business processes to take this new communications paradigm into account.
 
The Social Business Evolution
 
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Lessons From A Photo Book

For Christmas, my daughter Sarah gave me a book of photos of last summer’s family trip to Cape Cod. Each page was beautifully designed with descriptions of the events captured in the photos: the great lobster feast . . . the trip to Martha’s Vineyard . . . the day at Old Silver Beach playing in the water. Each page was a different color and had graphics appropriate for the theme conveyed by the pictures. How did she do this? It was a photo book with backgrounds, layouts, and embellishments that she had customized just the way she wanted them. It was template-based and Sarah rearranged pictures, added captions, and chose preset layouts. Tools allowed her to easily organize the page. There’s even spell check and autofill to instantly arrange pictures on a page.

As I read through the book for about the 10th time today, I thought, “This is what we need in online learning simulations!” Subject-matter experts need to be able to create interactive and adaptive game-like simulation activities through easy-to-use tools that use templates with many design options. We know that when learners engage in a simulation, the retention of learning is much longer because they have been involved in learning by doing. Examples include nurses learning how to use a defibrillator to save lives, machine operators recertifying their skills by operating the machine in simulated activities, or bank management training through a suite of simulated psychological activities.

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Why Do So Many Change Management Initiatives Fail?

The data shows that 70% of corporate change efforts either totally fail, have lukewarm results, or the change never becomes an integral part of the company culture. As I talk to clients about their change efforts, what’s worked and what hasn’t, some clear patterns emerge.

  • Change is not an event — it’s a process. You make plans for the executive to announce the change to employees. The executive talks about why it’s important for the company to make the change, what the change will look like, and the assistance the company will provide employees during this transformation process. The executive responds to employee questions and recommends that employees discuss any additional questions with their managers. A thoughtful speech, well delivered with empathy around challenges of change . . . it’s good, but it’s not enough. The executives have been thinking about and planning this transformation for weeks or months and know it well. The employees are hearing about the change for the first time, in this hour-long, all-hands company presentation. Anxiety, shock, and fear are typical reactions. Rather than this one-time announcement, make sure executives explain that today’s meeting is the first of many that will be held periodically using different media (web, in-person, email, social network, etc.) to provide updates and answer questions. Remember, half the audience may have heard nothing beyond the statement that major change is going to happen. Fear set in and they began to think about how this change will affect them.
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Build, Buy, Or Outsource Customer Service Solutions? Here's An Approach To Help You Decide

How do you choose the right customer service solution for your needs? It’s always best to take a systematic approach: (1) benchmark your current operations using our Assessment Framework to pinpoint areas for opportunity and (2) pragmatically investigate options to source your missing capabilities. Options range from repurposing technologies used elsewhere in your company, to outsourcing, to purchasing suites or vendor point solutions. I recommend using the following process to step through the choices: 

  • Step 1: See if your company is using similar technologies that you can leverage. Web self-service, mobile, social, email, and chat solutions, for example, are often deployed by sales and marketing. If you choose to leverage existing technologies, make sure that they can scale and operate at the level of performance and reliability to support customer service operations. Also make sure that the experience that the customer receives when interacting with these technologies is consistent across functional organizations.
  • Step 2: Consider outsourcing. If there are no existing technologies that you can leverage, consider outsourcing this entire capability, or perhaps a portion or all of your customer service operations, to a third-party organization. In a recent Forrester survey, we found that 10% have already outsourced some or all of their operations or are very interested in doing so. Outsourcing can help reduce cost of operations, but can also improve the quality of services delivered and allow you to focus on core business activities that are mission-critical to your company.
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Security Vendors You Should Know

One of the really cool things about this analyst gig is that we get to field client inquiry calls – 30 minutes where we hop onto the phone to speak with our clients and answer their questions about the topics that we cover. As of the week before Christmas, analysts on the security and risk team have jumped onto over 300 inquiries so far this quarter when not on a plane or on site with a client (and this is a slow quarter given all the holidays!). Vendors are one topic that we discuss quite a bit with S&R pros because, let’s face it, there’s are vendors that are really good at marketing and there are also vendors that just haven’t shown up on your radar.

Research report ideas are often born from inquiries as we notice trends in the types of questions that are asked. As we continue to hammer out research agendas for 2013, we’re thinking of adding a new stream of research for our security playbooks: Vendors You Should Know. It would not be the same as a Forrester Wave which compares established vendors, but rather a report which highlights smaller, emerging vendors that are disrupting the existing market with a unique, innovative technology or service to solve a client’s painful challenge or perhaps alter current approaches to information security. It’s a report to recognize emerging vendors who raise the bar, but may not necessarily raise the most buzz. These would be living research documents that are updated periodically as market events and technological developments warrant changes.

S&R pros, does this type of research appeal to you? Which areas would you like for us to identify vendors you should know? What business and security challenges are you grappling with where you would like to see us profile emerging vendors that could help?

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How Amazon Ruined My Christmas: A Lesson In Downtime

Here's how Amazon ruined* my Christmas: after devouring a lovely rib roast with a porcini-spinach stuffing (recipe here in case your stomach is now growling), we all curled up on the couch with hot cocoa, turned on Netflix streaming to watch classic Christmas movies (and past Doctor Who Christmas Specials)... only to get an error message. That's right, in case you missed it, Netflix was down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in North America for many users due to issues with Amazon's Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) service in the US East region. It's interesting to note, that this is at least the third time issues with the ELB service has caused problems for Netflix, with each time, the company making improvements to prevent this from happening again.

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TechnoPolitics Podcast: Six Mobile App Development Predictions For 2013

Six Mobile Predictions!

Top Forrester mobile app-dev analysts Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire prognosticate about the top trends for mobile application development in 2013. In this episode of Forrester TechnoPolitics, your host, Mike Gualtieri, asks Jeffrey and Michael to each make three predictions about mobile application development in 2013. Listen to this lively discussion and let us know if you agree or disagree with these predictions or have a few of your own to contribute.

Podcast: Mobile App Development Predictions For 2013 (14 minutes)

Click here to download the MP3 file of this episode.

About Forrester TechnoPolitics

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Strong CIO Wanted — Organizations Will Need More Business Technology Leaders In 2013

 

It is end of the year and time for predictions. Mine are rather intuitive, with a few obvious implications for CIOs:

First, the industry will continue to push innovation to businesses faster than businesses can absorb. In addition to customer obsessions — BOYD and tablets, social business processes, cloud computing, machine-to-machine applications, and many others — CIOs will continue to struggle with the usual suspects: huge expectations of technology from business stakeholders, cost reductions, people’s longer-than-expected learning curves, skills shortages, immature management practices, and a few more:  

  • Increasingly complex technology stacks. Rather than replacing legacy capabilities, most of the new products and services increase the complexity of existing technology stacks. For example, mobile devices and social apps come on top of enterprise systems of record in which organizations have invested for decades and are not ready to dispose of so quickly. 
  • Increasingly dynamic business models. The more technology products and services become embedded in business processes and services, the more non-IT organizations, products, and business models start resembling IT ones. Cars are becoming complex tech devices, and industries that preserved their stable structures for decades are transitioning to a continuous state of dynamic change. Take, for example, the utility sector.
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