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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s hard to miss the buzz around mobile. Smartphones equipped with near field communications to instantly share video and voice control to allow for a handsfree web experience.New tablets like the Microsoft Surface, iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD are tearing up the advertising airwaves. But mobile is not just another chapter in the smaller, faster, cheaper device story. And it’s not tiny web or shrunken PC applications. Instead, mobile is the flash point for a holistic, far-reaching change for your business. Your app is in your customer’s pocket. What will you do with that privilege? The answer is that you will deliver mobile engagement experiences that empower people with smart apps and products to take the next most likely action in their immediate context and moments of need. Mobile engagement experiences focus on people and their needs, not companies and their processes.
Over the last year, Ted Schadler and I have interviewed literally hundreds of CIOs, technology vendors, integrators and mobile design firms to capture and codify the state of the art in mobile engagement. And we’ve seen some great examples along the way as:
Customers hive around smartphone apps that deliver service at their convenience. Consumers download and use apps from Walgreens, American Airlines, Bank of America, and Wal-Mart, and 700,000 other app builders. Walgreens has a best-in-class app for reordering prescription drugs. Refill from your account, scan your prescription bar code, or type in the prescription number. Then automatically refill at a nearby store.
Boring as it may appear, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which just took place in Dubai under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), matters to all Internet users globally. To us, the three most important questions that were discussed are:
Should national governments have greater influence over the global regulation of the Internet?
Should over-the-top providers (OTTs) like Google and business networks be governed by international telecom regulations?
Should the underlying business model of the Internet change from a free and neutral exchange of data to a “sender pays” model?
We're just about to the end of 2012 (and according to the Mayan calendar, the end of time) so I figured it was about the right time to put together some thoughts on the year.
Let's start with Enterprise Social, which continues to mature. It was the first thing I was assigned to cover when I came to Forrester six years ago and it's been a great ride so far. Enterprise Social is at that stage of development where we remain hopeful, but in the cool gray of the morning we must admit to having concerns. It's a bit like a teenager that has always been a good, albeit quirky kid, that is now getting into a bit of trouble. Just a stage? A lot of licenses have been sold but adoption remains a challenge for many. Certainly, the promises of E2.0 we were envisioning six years ago have been elusive for most. That said, the patterns are emerging that indicate success can be found. Funny thing, success is aligned with good old business value. Who'd have guessed? As is often the case, the closer you get to revenue the greater the chance for success. Mobile sales people lead in terms of demand for social solutions because better access to content, expertise and collective action drives sales which drive better performance reviews and compensation. Will the rest of the enterprise follow? Well, that's the $64 question.
In a previous post I highlighted that disruptive technologies don't even need to be implemented to be disruptive. The mere fact that vendors and other organisations are either creating or being swept up in the hype can be a major disruption to any organisation.
In our soon to be released research on Asia Pacific Trends for 2013 we highlight a number of disruptive trends that are affecting organisations all all types and sizes - whether commercial, government or not-for-profit. None is more profound than the impact that big data will have on Asia Pacific organisations in 2013. The Asia Pacific region has a very broad spectrum of capabilities, maturity and variations in its outlook and optimism. Big data and deep analytics are two areas where we see significant disruption occurring. The Asia Pacific 2013 trends report highlights some of these differences in Asia Pacific and calls out specific implications for specific markets. There's also more detailed information in our Big Data in Asia Pacific report, also due out shortly.
Look over a list of CIO requirements and you come up with Superman. Great skill in communication, strategy, business knowledge, IT knowledge, consistency with culture, operational knowledge, and ability to MacGyver a storage array with left over parts from an outdoor grill assembly. In short, these descriptions provide little guidance when selecting candidates – they demand everything.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to help companies choose their leaders of IT; specifically the CIO, leaders of the PMO and infrastructure. As someone who has redesigned hundreds of IT shops, I’v often been asked to identify attributes of successful IT leaders. I’ve found you need two pieces of information to determine the type of skills you need for your IT leader:
What are the problems and opportunities the organization will likely face over the next couple years?
How capable is the current staff at handling these?