Friday, March 21, 2008

E2.o NewsBytes

Several weeks ago, I made a post in our E2.o theme titled: Mass Collaboration meets the Experts.

On Wednesday, Knowledge@Wharton published a great article on the topic (brought to my attention by Experientia) titled: The Experts vs. the Amateurs: A Tug of War over the Future of Media. Though the article is more Web2.o oriented than E2.o oriented, it does a nice job of laying out the juxtaposition of expert and amateur content as complementary means to an end. It concludes:

Despite hand wringing over professional and amateur content, the reality is that consumers will use and appreciate both.

Another item that I would like to suggest reading was a press release (the actual story would be better but I don’t have access to it), about The Conference Board Review's March/April 2008 cover story, which showed online on Forbes. The title was The Future of Advice. I ran across this story when reading a post on the topic in Ross Mayfield’s weblog. Mayfield concludes his post, titled Advice is a Conversation, with the comment:

I'm not sure how we lost our way with BI and decision support tools and forgot that advice is a conversation.

These themes are exactly what TalkDIG and the DIG2008 conference in May aim to address. We are trying to spark the dialog that rightly positions INFORMATON, in all of its manifestations, as a core enabler of successful business strategy and execution.

Join the dialog. What do you think?

R. Todd Stephens, Bo Cowgill and Euan Semple to Speak on Enterprise 2.0 at DIG 2008

I am pleased to announce that R. Todd Stephens, Bo Cowgill and Euan Semple will all be speaking on the topic of Enterprise 2.0 at DIG 2008. Each will be presenting case studies from organizations where they have adopted E2.0 for competitive advantage.

R. Todd Stephens, who is a Senior Technical Architect at AT&T, will discuss AT&T's success with adopting collaborative and social technology. R. Todd's case example will present a 3-tiered program to adopt social platforms and how AT&T has shown business value as adoption grows within the organization. R. Todd has also been actively participating on the Talk DIG blog, which we like to see!

Bo Cowgill, an Economist at Google, will be speaking about Google's use of internal prediction markets. Google has the largest corporate implementation of prediction markets, which they utilize to capture the "wisdom of crowds". If you aren't familiar with the topic of mass collaboration, James Surowiecki wrote the book Wisdom of Crowds, which makes the case that in the proper setting, large groups of people can make better decisions than individual experts. Google is using markets internally to identify winning project ideas based on how employees trade options on the success or failure of a project.

In our final case study Euan Semple, a social computing advisor, will discuss how the BBC has established in an internal social network to improve efficiency and increase innovation. Euan will discuss what tools the BBC leverages to improve collaboration and communication that impacts the corporate culture, individual behaviors and provide the ability to get things done! The BBC has leveraged this platform to even extend the conversation beyond the four walls of the organization and make everyone a marketer for the BBC. Euan also blogs on the topic of social networks and technology at the aptly named "The Obvious?".

We are excited to have R. Todd, Bo and Euan speak about their experiences in knowledge in the area of E2.0.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Big Dance Update

The NCAA Tournamant prediction algorithm - Dance Card - referenced last week correctly predicted 30 of the 34 at-large selections; an accuracy rate of 88%. According to Dance Card's rankings Illinois State, Dayton, Ohio State, and UMass should've been invited. The Selection Committee felt differently, and invited Villanova, Oregon, St. Joseph's, and Kansas State instead.

The creators of Dance Card have a second formula called Score Card which is designed to predict the results of NCAA tournament games. This might be a handy tool to use prior to submitting your brackets on Thursday morning!

Score Card predicts two first-round upsets: #9 Kent State over #8 Nevada Las Vegas, and #11 Baylor over #6 Purdue.

I'll add my predictions, completely devoid of analytics: a 12-seed always seems to beat a 5-seed, so I'll pick Villanova over Clemson (the Tigers come out flat after their ACC title-game loss to UNC; Villanova validates the Committee's theory that the Big East is the tougher conference) and the Pitt Panthers make it to the Final Four.

We'll see who's right...let the Madness begin!

On the road in Miami

I am on the road this week down in Miami attending a Palladium conference on "Developing a Dynamic Strategy". I felt compelled to do a quick post on one of the speakers this morning since there were some interesting points that he made during his presentation. The image to the left is the Biltmore Hotel where the conference is being held. It is a very historic hotel with a great golf track where Bobby Jones would frequent back when golf clubs were actually made of materials like wood!

Ralph LaRossa from PSE&G gave an entertaining overview of how his organization links their strategy to the operations of the business. As a utility company, PSE&G has a focus and strategy built around areas like safety, customer focus and environment. They seem like pretty basic concepts, but what was interesting was how they actually tied these strategies to operational metrics. For example in the area of safety, they track number of incidents and duration of leave for an employee associated with accidents. PSE&G then takes it one step further and measures themselves against industry benchmarks in the utility industry. They use their measurement system across the entire organization to drive visibility and accountability. PSE&G shared positive quantifiable results across their measurement system and have become leaders against their peers.

From a compensation perspective, Ralph provided insight into how employee contribution and compensation ties back to the performance of the organization. They have a well defined compensation system that makes ultimate company performance a function of how individuals will be compensated. This allows everyone from the field to understand how their role and how measures associated with safety and customer satisfaction impact the strategy and ultimately the performance results.

Like I said, Ralph was very entertaining. He had some funny anecdotal stories about being a company based in New Jersey and made many references to The Sopranos. During the Q&A at the end, I wanted to get his thoughts on the final episode, but I thought better of it.

Real-time Data Usage

This past weekend was a major weekend for me, one that would determine my core happiness for the rest of the year!

You see I’m Rugby mad. I’ve played it, I’ve coached it, and now I watch it, incessantly.

This past weekend was the concluding weekend of the European 6 Nations Rugby Championship, an annual international tournament between the home nations of Europe (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy). A tournament that started in 1871 and every year since has been an excuse for all to bring out their nationalistic pride and cheer for their ancestral team! For me it’s Wales, the land of my forefathers, the land of daffodils and of course sheep. Wales had the opportunity to win the tournament in style, beat France at home and raise the championship trophy undefeated, Grand Slam winners. And did they do it? They sure did!

Rugby, just like most American sports is now a professional sport and with it many changes have come. Dragged out of the traditions of amateur pastimes where the local butcher was your star player, teams today are forced to continually explore all possible avenues in an attempt to better themselves and obtain competitive advantage over their rivals. No longer is it good enough to just employ the best players and coaching staff, teams are looking elsewhere.

One interesting field of innovation that we were given a brief insight into during one of the games was the usage of statistical information real-time by the Welsh coaches that allowed them to then make real-time adjustments to how their team and players were approaching the game. Using the interesting technology Sportstec the Welsh team was actively making adjustments that helped provide a competitive advantage over their opposing team.

Around the field “spotters” were employed to feed information into a database application on specific events happening. Number of times a player passed to his left vs. his right, how many carries an individual had with the ball, number of times the ball was kicked from a certain place vs. passed, number of missed tackles by each player, success rate of a particular move, etc... By providing such detailed information on actions performed by their team as well as the opposition, the coaches were then able to react and make tactical real-time changes, for example adjustments to the team’s strategy on the field, instruction to specifically focus and improve in certain aspects of the game, as well as instruction to target identified weaknesses in the opposing team.

Did having this level of information access have a direct result on the outcome of the game? Who knows, but one thing for sure Wales beat Italy in this game 47-8, when on average the other teams who beat Italy did so by only 6 points! The other thing, did I mention, Wales won the Championship, undefeated!

So where next? If teams are able to get hold of and make use of such real-time data I just wonder how much further they could go.

What if players began to wear RFIDs in their shirts so we know where they are at anyone time. The ability to understand in real-time how much time they have spent in one location, how much time it took them to reposition, the average distance they make while running with the ball, efficiency of path travelled by each player when covering a kick-off. What about collecting information from body skins that can sense applied pressure? Could we measure the level of impact endured in a tackle thus giving the ability to predict level of fatigue vs. amount where performance begins to degrade, an opportune time for a tactical substitution perhaps?

For more detailed commentary on how the Welsh team and others are finding innovative ways to capture and use information check out the videos @

Monday, March 17, 2008

Are you a Funky Business?

I just received a new book on the recommendation of a co-worker called "Funky Business Forever" by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom. It is actually a follow up to their first book "Funky Business", which I have not read. In "Funky Business Forever", Ridderstrale and Nordtrom discuss capitalism, the economy, politics, technology, the environment and talent. One topic they discuss that I enjoyed was "Technology: The Endless Riff" and 4 reasons why Information Technolgy creates digital dreams (I have paraphrased and shortened the descriptions):
  1. IT Decreases Time and Space: there is no longer a workplace. It has become a workspace and a lifespace, which are being blended together over time.

  2. IT Enables Total Transparency: people with access to information are beginning to challenge any type of authority. The periphery is becoming the center.

  3. IT Perfects Markets: markets are becoming more efficient thanks to information technology. These efficiencies are breaking down the traditional hierarchies that exist inside of an organization that were originally established to create efficiencies.

  4. IT Affects Us All and Affects Everything: Competitors are never more than a click away. All organizations are now information based, no matter the type of business.

Ridderstrale and Nordtrom conclude the idea behind digital dreams with the term "infostructure", the electronic nervous system of the company, which will be more important than infrastructure. Companies with lousy "infostructures" will look like 65-year-olds competing in the Olympic marathon wearing high heels and evening gowns.

Beyond the entertainment of the final visual, the points are well taken. I agree that information technology is changing the game for most organizations. What I find most interesting is that the concepts of "digital dreams" are still not a reality inside mosts business. In the way that information is at our finger tips when using tools like Google, Wikipedia and YouTube, the same cannot be said for understanding business performance. The internal systems, including data, information and knowledge, very much look like the marathoner that Ridderstrale and Nordstrom desribe! So how can we change the game? Can we apply the concepts of Web 2.0 inside the enterprise?

Simple and Fun E2.0 Videos - A Needed Oasis for the Day

This past Friday (March 14th, 2008), we saw the collapse of a 20th century financial institution Bear Stearns. The investment bank was purportedly overleveraged with hedge fund debt and mortgage-backed investments! This weekend, the Fed took action to bolster consumer sentiment by reducing interest rates a bit, probably as an off cycle token of their intention this week, and by approving and insuring (up to $30 billion in troubled mortgages, etc…) the buyout of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan for $2 per share (a fraction of their market capitalization just last week). Let’s be frank, we are entering a confusing and emotional week for many.

Therefore, in recognizing the volatility and complexity of the day, I would like to point folks to an oasis of easy and fun videos. These videos will keep your mind focused for just a minute or two, here and there throughout the day. For those more experienced practitioners, these videos are old hat but I suspect that they will be refreshing for most all of us!

Let's go to The Common Craft Show. This is an online website boasting a series of what I believe are simply fun yet truly explanatory videos of Web2.0 tools and more. The site is the creation of Sachi LeFever and Lee LeFever in Seattle, WA. See the following,


I would also suggest the following PDF titled
Enterprise 2.0: Fad or Future by Gary Matuszak at KPMG for some simple E2.o overview reading.