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PodCamp 4 Boston Wrap Up

Reflections on Enterprise 2.0 2009 in Boston


I’ve been looking forward to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this past week in Boston for some time. I had the pleasure of being on the panel organized by Peter Kim (@PeterKim) - “Lessons Learned from Internal Communities” – with the likes of extraordinary women like Joan DiMicco (@JoanDiMicco) at IBM and Patricia Romeo (@PatricaRomeo) at Deloitte.


Photo courtesy of Alex Dunne.

Lessons Learned From Internal Communities

View more presentations from Peter Kim.


In addition to the panel session, which went very well, I enjoyed quite a few other sessions. Rather than recapping each session, I’d like to call out my overall observations from the conference.


Many companies, both big and small, are interested in social media as a business tool. The general feeling I got though, and still do, is that they’re not sure where to start. People are hungry for the knowledge of those that have gone before them on where to get started for both an internal and external social media presence – be it communities, how to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc – it’s all on their minds. I imagine that’s one of the many reasons our panel was jam packed.  Types of questions that were consistently circulating around (of which these will make an excellent future post):

  • What are some steps to get started?
  • How do I convince executives that we need to do this?
  • Who funds the initiative?
  • Who manages/staffs the initiative?
  • Who monitors/moderates?
  • Where do HR and Legal come into the picture?
  • How do we treat international participants? Is there translation?
  • How do we deal with international laws, regulations, etc.?


Analytics are a hot topic.

Everyone’s trying to figure out how to measure success of these initiatives. Nearly all of the vendors offering community solutions, also offer some sort of analytics package to go along with it, and some (although few and far between) even offer independent analytics packages.


One huge miss I was feeling is that the push was on the numbers themselves, but there were no actionable recommendations coupled with the tools to suggest what could be done with the analytics. Numbers are only numbers without a keen understanding of what you want to gather, why you want to gather it, and what you want to do with the numbers to improve.  You need not only to know what you’re trying to measure, but what your goals are and why they are important, and then you need to take action and be willing to modify your plan if you’re not getting where you want to be. Key questions that need to be answered include:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are you trying to measure?
  • Why is the measurement important?
  • What will the measurement tell you?
  • What actions can you take as a result of the measurement?
  • What changes will you make if you’re not meeting your goals?


There was a keen interest in understanding the complete social media/social strategy package.

Many folks seemed to be interested not only in what the tools are that are available for use, but how they are being used currently. There definitely seems to be a tendency to want to be “everywhere” (have a presence on all of the tools) NOW vs. slowly moving into using each of the tools as one is mastered. I’d personally recommend the second option – get involved in a few and see how that goes rather than joining all that are out there and attempting to master them all simultaneously.  Key questions on a social strategy include:

  • What are your goals for using social media?
  • What are the tools available to you and what can they be used for?
  • Who is your key audience? Or who are you trying to communicate/converse with?
  • Where are they already conversing?
  • Is there anyone that has experience/expertise in these tools at your company already? Find them – you’re going to need them!


Twitter is still huge, but…

There was hardly a person in each of the sessions, myself included, that was not busy on their laptop or cell phone tweeting their way through the sessions.


…How do we use Twitter as an enterprise tool?

Clearly at the forefront of everyone’s mind was how can people use Twitter to achieve business goals. The first step to that is, of course, defining your business goals. My strong recommendation is that you do not need a Twitter account just because “everyone else is doing it.” You need to instead, answer the following questions about Twitter and then create an account:

  • What are your goals for using Twitter? How do you want to use it?
  • Who is your target audience? Are they on Twitter already?
  • Are others (companies) doing it and can we learn from their example?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring and engaging?


It's about the people and the technology!

It’s not practical or even possible to just focus on only the people or only the technology. For the longest time, many have said it's about just the people, and the technology doesn't matter...but a consistent theme at the conference this year was that if you're not also paying attention to the technology, you're missing out.


My favorite quote on this topic was by Peter Kim "If its just relationships and technology doesn't matter, we should all go home."


A good social media strategy will take into account both the people and the technology. The people you expect to use the tools on behalf of the company, the people you expect to communicate with, the people that will be impacted by your strategy. The technology you wish to use to support your strategy, the technology people are already using, or will need to learn to meet the organization’s goals. It must be about both the people and the technology.


Enterprise 2.0 tools are an extension of other tools, not a replacement for them.

There has been buzz off and on that these tools will replace other tools we use to work and live, such as email, phone calls, traditional media, etc. However, the consistent theme at the conference – which I wholeheartedly agree with – is that these tools will not be replacements, but that they will and should work in harmony with other, existing tools as supplements to them. Amen.


Social interaction in-person is just as important as online interaction.

Might seem like a no-brainer for those of us that use these tools and talk to people, but we’re all aware of the perception that is out there than people would rather interact online using social tools instead of chatting with folks face-to-face. The response to that theory - and also self-evident by the participation at the Tweetups during the event – is an overwhelming I don’t think so.


This is particularly important to make note of companies who may be relying heavily on community or Enterprise 2.0 tools in and of themselves to help with employee satisfaction and employee retention. Keep in mind that they are only a part of the bigger picture. Sure, they’ll help, but they’re not a replacement for face-to-face interactions and discussions.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and conference in general. Although the sessions were great, my favorite part of the entire conference was finally meeting, in-person, folks that I've chatted with for weeks, months, even years online or via phone, but never had the opportunity to meet until this wonderful event!