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October 2009

Innovation, Passion and Social Media come together at EMC's Third Annual Innovation Conference

EMC Innovation Conference Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of attending EMC’s Third Annual Innovation Conference at one of our facilities in Franklin, Mass organized by friend, fellow blogger and social media enthusiast, Stuart Miniman(who did an amazing job pulling everything together!!! Kudos Stu!). This was my first Innovation Conference and I have to say that I cannot wait for next year’s!


From the moment I arrived, people were abuzz with the excitement of being in the midst of so many talented individuals, as well as anxiously awaiting the news as to whose idea had won the both the Innovation Showcase awards, as well as the naming of this  year’s prestigious Distinguished Engineers and EMC Fellow. A big congrats to all of the folks who achieved these honors and won awards yesterday!!


EMC Innovation Conference Worldwide Locations It was truly a worldwide event with people from all over the world participating in idea submission (there were over 1,400 ideas submitted!) and the conference itself both on local levels and globally. It was also very neat to see how diverse the teams of submitters were – folks from all over the company were coming together to collaborate on innovative ideas to improve EMC products and services for our customers, as well as introduce new ideas into the mix for what could become new products one day. One of the neatest moments of the conference was when folks all over the world connected live to EMC Sr. VP and CTO Jeff Nick to hear the award winners announced. Another highlight of the conference was that I loved meeting so many folks that I've talked to over the years on EMC|ONE, Twitter, or any other online tool in person for a change! It felt like getting together with a bunch of old friends. How great!


I also had the pleasure of participating on a panel moderated by Rob Masson along with Distinguished Engineer Steve Todd, NAS Advanced Development Manager John Cardente, and Ionix Technologist in the CTO’s office Ronen Artzi around “How we innovate at our local centers across EMC.” We discussed such compelling questions as “Are there areas within EMC or technology in general, that you feel have the greatest potential for innovation, and why?” and “Why is innovation important?” We all agreed that innovation is a key element of any successful company looking to stay in the game. We also discussed ways in which innovation can be enabled by social media tools and how they can connect you to people that you would not have otherwise met, but share similar passions, interests, and can help you propel your innovative ideas forward. Social media is a good way to both meet new folks, as well as carry on the conversation after an event such as the EMC Innovation Conference. In fact, our internal community EMC|ONE is very much abuzz today with folks talking about the conference yesterday.


The passion, creativity and drive of all of the folks that submitted the over 1,400 ideas to be considered is so humbling and awe-inspiring for me. It’s hard to put into words what a feeling of pride there was in the room as we sat there together talking about what an innovative company EMC is, as well as how we continue to propel the notion of innovation forward and make it a 365 day event instead of a once a year gathering! More on that soon, I’m sure, but what an exciting opportunity we have before us! Overall a great time had by all! As I said, I can’t wait til next year!!


Posts by Fellow Bloggers (will be updated as more posts are published):

Len Devanna

Steve Todd

Polly Pearson

Dave Spencer

Irsan Widarto

Stuart Miniman

Kathrin Winkler


Multi-media from the conference:

A few photos from me @ the Franklin Event

Len Devanna @ the Santa Clara Event

Irsan Widarto @ the Rotterdam Event

Executives on Innovation at EMC

Sandra Ferraro & Vijay Bharadwaj

Dealing with the Enterprise 2.0 and social media critics and naysayers

Skeptic This past August, I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion at PodCamp Boston 4 – “How do you get your company to see the value of social media?” This session could have very well been entitled “How do you get your company to see the value of Enterprise 2.0?” and my advice would have been the same.

Recently, a similar discussion came up among members of the 2.0 Adoption Council, and I shared my response with folks in the discussion, and decided to blog on it finally, as I’ve been meaning to for a really long time! 

When we started our community endeavor over two years ago, our success measure was never to have 100% adoption, but rather to build a community of value for employees passionate about collaboration. Once we had several hundred passionate folks engaged and getting value, we continued to work and evolve the community so that it not only continued to provide value to the existing community members, but the hope was also that as the value grows, it would also persuade others to check out the community, join, and contribute. We also actively seek to gather and share success stories, use cases, etc. and post those within the community, as well as include them in our presentations and informational sessions on the community. 

In my opinion, the most important thing that we've really tried to do, which has made a world of difference, is that we've tailored our message to each individual group in terms of use cases and how they can get value from the community. We go into every single meeting with the WIFA (What's in it for the audience?) question at the forefront of our presentation for the stakeholders of that meeting. We learned very quickly that if you tailor the message to their very specific needs, and pinpoint their worst pain points and address how the community can help with some of those issues, it goes a long way towards persuading them to at least give it a try. 

The second most important thing we've done is be honest about the level of commitment required to get a community up and running, as well as sustain it long-term. It's not easy. It doesn't happen overnight. And just because you build it, doesn't mean they'll come! Being honest with each group about the level of commitment required to build and sustain a community and emphasizing the fact that it's a long-term effort to build a successful community has worked wonders for setting expectations. 

Some additional advice I shared at my PodCamp session has helped me a lot in meetings and conversations with folks who are skeptical about the value of an Enterprise 2.0 initiative: 

  • Anticipate possible objections: It helps to try to anticipate some possible objections ahead of time and think of how you'll respond to them. If you can prepare for the objections and think of a response, it will help keep the conversation on point and help you to illustrate/reinforce the benefits for that group. 
  • Acknowledge concerns: You always want to acknowledge concerns - never tell people they're being stupid or unreasonable (even if you think they are!) Concerns are legitimate to the people raising them. You will not convince anyone to join the initiative by ignoring or dismissing their concerns. You also need to acknowledge that not everyone sees Enterprise 2.0 or social media as you do - some folks will need more time to see the value.
  • Engage in friendly dialogue: Engage in friendly and inviting dialogue with the person(s) who are objecting or arguing against the value of the Enterprise 2.0 initiative. Whatever you do, don't get into a heated debate with someone who does not see the value of the initiative. It doesn't do anyone any good and it puts a bad vibe in the way of future conversations. 
  • Respect critical feedback: Everyone's entitled to their own opinions. You don't have to agree with them, but don't dismiss them either. See if the feedback presents opportunities for improvements, further exploration, or even education on misinformation or lack of knowledge or understanding. 
  • Educate where ever possible: Sometimes the critics feel the way they do simply because they don't have the full picture of the features/functions, use cases, etc. Sometimes they just don't know where to start and so they are critical for that reason. Use the conversation or information from the critic as an opportunity for education and see if you can illustrate your value proposition with meaningful examples and case studies. 
  • Accept that social media is not for everyone: Enterprise 2.0 and/or social media is not for everyone and that's ok. If you go into it thinking that success = 100% adoption, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Your job is to provide value, illustrate use cases, benefits, etc. and accept that not everyone will want to use the tool or community. And you know what - that's perfectly fine.