FOWA: Enterprise Adoption of Social Software (Suw Charman) [en]

[fr] Notes prises à l'occasion de la conférence Future of Web Apps (FOWA) à Londres.

*Here are my live notes of this [Future of Web Apps (FOWA)]( session. They are probably incomplete and may contain mistakes, though I do my best to be accurate. [Suw has written a blog post about her presentation.](*

FOWA 2007 105

Suw is a freelance consultant, has done a lot of work with businesses and vendors. Guide on getting your stuff used by businesses, based on her experience.

A couple of areas to think about:

– tech readiness? does our tool work?
– support readiness? are we ready to provide support to our customers, and how they will adopt our tool and convince people in their business to adopt the tool?

Two sides of the same tool.

Important: make sure your tool is really ready. If it’s still buggy, if the interface or language is confusing, don’t try to sell it into enterprise. Get more funding first. You only get one chance in enterprise. They won’t come back to see where you’re at.

FOWA 2007 106

Incremental improvements based on user feedback won’t work in businesses. They want something that works now, and regular but not-too-frequent updates. Stability.

Have a process for feature requests. Difference between big vendors (MS, Oracle) “this is what we’re giving you, deal with it” and small vendors.

Pilots aren’t an opportunity to do user testing. They’ll shy away if they feel they’re being used as guiney-pigs.

Don’t assume simple tools will automatically get adopted. People very resistant to use software. They don’t use software because it’s cool. They just want to get the job done, and will find ways to work around the tools they’re given.

Where do you start? Try to figure out what businesses want from you as a vendor, and your tool.

– integration with their existing systems, single sign-on, active directory, LDAP
– very concerned about security: “can our employees use this and put data in it and have that data be safe from accidental stupidness or prying eyes?” Technical security and user stupidness security (delete everything by mistake). Big plus for wikis, which have history. Disaster recovery: offices burn down, how will you help them retrieve their data

Understanding time scales. It can take months for things to happen. Lots of things can get in the way of adoption, even with vocal evangelists inside. Contracts, lawyers, packaging…

– be aware of internal political rankings (stakeholder management)
– be flexible about how you intend to sell into business. You might end up having to host your service (very different from selling a chunk of software). Trojan mouse solutions.
– be prepared for runaway success. Can you scale? Really? Quickly? Administration can turn around from “against it” to “we want this everywhere, now!” in the space of weeks
– be prepared for failure — understand what happened, and have processes in place so that you can learn from failure, but possibly not the same way. Try and fail in new and innovative ways.

Businesses are quite happy to spend money on hardware, software, but not really on operational (people) stuff. Bundle in your support costs into your selling price. If you do an unsupported package, they’ll take that, and you’ll still get the calls. You need to make sure you can afford to help your client get the best out of your tool. How will you be responsive? How will you deal with your contacts in the business, and all the (possibly tens of thousands) of people in the business using your tool?

Sales! One case where a business tried to get through to the sales people to buy, and didn’t get a response. Had to call the CEO! Have someone available to talk to a client.

How are you going to explain your tool to the people who are going to use it? You *need* an adoption strategy. No use in just giving people your tool. *steph-note: as I say, [throwing blogs at people doesn’t make them bloggers](* What kind of materials are you going to provide them with?

A good place to start: **pilots**. Groups of like people. Who are groups of people who might benefit from this? Case with wiki: PAs and secretaries, for example. People like very specific use cases. Not good at generalising. Who are you talking to and what do they need from your tool?

**Adoption isn’t a business goal.** Running the business is the business goal. You need to meet both the wider business goals and the individual people’s goals.

**People don’t use documentation.** They don’t click help. They ask human beings instead. There is a lot of informal and semi-formal learning going on in businesses. 80% is informal, it seems. Formal learning, training courses aren’t effective. How can you provide ad hoc support? IRC channel? Social collaborative learning tools? (blogs, wikis)

**Centralised support** is important for the people using the tool. If the company is going to take over that role, they’ll need the materials for it. Make your material user task oriented, not software task oriented. “This is how you do a meeting agenda in the wiki.” Not “this is how you make a page”. Present it to them on a plate.

A qualitative leap needs to be made between old and new things, even if the new things aren’t so much more complicated. That leap can be difficult. But at some point, when enough people in the organisation are using the tool, they start helping each other. Provide the materials for that. Giving people the confidence that they know how it works.

Don’t try to make it up as you go along. **Plan in advance.** Bring people in. You don’t have to do it all alone (materials, etc).

[More about this!]( Important: both management and grassroots buy-in. Balancing top-down with bottom-up approaches.

Q: tips for demonstrating tool usefulness?
A: work on the use cases. ROI: investing time and money and getting something in return. Important to understand those metrics. Careful, metrics don’t tell you what an individual’s use of something is. One of the problems with social software is that it can sound a little fluffy. “It improves collaboration.” But people think like “I want it to improve productivity to the point I can fire someone.”

Q: is it different for open source tools?
A: enterprises can be very wary of it (how will we get support?) even though there is a huge amount of open source being used. The more technically savvy they are, the more likely they’ll go for it, and the more business-oriented, the less. No hard and fast rules.

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Videos, Videos! And Kittens! [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode vidéo de Fresh Lime Soda, le podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman. On y parle de ce qu'on fait dans la vie, et surtout, de comment on le définit (mal!)

Aussi, vidéos de la Gay Pride ici à San Francisco, et de chatons. Oui, des chatons. Tout mimis.

Although [there is just one week left for me here](, I’m still [in San Francisco]( When [Suw]( was here a few weeks ago, we seized the occasion to record another (video!) episode of [Fresh Lime Soda]( Our conversation takes [the episode I mention in my “What do you care about?” post]( and goes on from there, to examine how we define ourselves in our professional field, and a bunch of other things. Read [the shownotes on the original post]( and enjoy the video!

(If the feed/RSS reader doesn’t take care of it for you, you can [download the video from directly](!orgFile.action?movieToken=5bc3aa08).)

While we’re on the subject of videos, I’ve uploaded quite a few to [my Viddler account]( recently. (Oh, and yes, I still have a post in my drafts somewhere… a review of viddler, which I really like despite its bugs and greenness.) There are videos of [the Gay Pride]( (and photos of the [Dyke March]( and [Parade]( of course!), the [iPhone Launch here in SF](, but most importantly, [really cute kittens playing]( If you like kittens, you’ll enjoy the 5 minutes you’ll spend watching the videos. There are obviously [kitten photographs too](

Blu's Kittens 7

Blu's Kittens 29

Blu's Kittens 24

And for those who missed the update, [the post announcing my talk at Google (on languages and the internet)]( now contains a link to [the video of my talk](, the (, and my [handwritten presentation notes]( (not that they’ll help you much…). All that!

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Suw Charman at Google: Does Social Software Have Fangs? [en]

[fr] Mes notes de la conférence que mon amie Suw a donné chez Google aujourd'hui.

*Here are the notes I took of [Suw Charman](’s talk. They’re not necessarily well-constructed, and may even contain inaccuracies. I did my best, though!*

It’s trickier than it seems when using blogs in business.

Will talk about using blogs and wikis internally. What can you do when things go a bit wrong?

Software is easy to install, so companies install it, some people start using it, but they’re not getting everything they can out of it.

Wikis are for collaboration, blogs are for publishing. Clear how the technology works, but not clear why some people don’t adopt social software internally for their work.

Suw Talks at Google


Low-level fear of social humiliation. How are they going to come across to their peers and bosses? Fear of making mistake. People don’t realise they’re afraid, they just feel a bit uncomfortable talking /publicly/ to their collegues. E-mail is different because it feels private, it’s 1-1 communication. You’re not exposing yourself as much. People become “shy” when you give them a very public place to work.

Also, some people aren’t comfortable in writing. Some are better talkers than writers, and are not comfortable writing in a semi-formal environment. E-mail is more informal. Blogs and wikis are perceived as requiring a higher level of writing skill. Again, people don’t admit to this.

This doesn’t happen in very open organisations, but often if permission isn’t explicitly given to use such tools, that will really get in the way. “Blogs as diaries”, etc — psychological mismatch. What the boss /thinks/ blogs are, and what they are used for in business.

Trust in the tool. “So you mean anybody can change my stuff?” for wikis. “Can I stop them?” Not comfortable trusting the content placed in such tools, and the tools themselves. “What if the tool loses everything?”

Will the tool still be around in one or two years? If we pour our data into this wiki, am I going to just lose everything if management pulls it down?

Many people just don’t see the point. See social software as something they need to do /in addition/ to what they’re already doing. Parallel with KM disasters.

Biggest problem: how to get people involved. Two basic routes: top-down, and bottom-up.

Top-down can work all right if you have a hierarchical company and control what people are doing. Will work while managers go “you have to use this, or…” but people will abandon it when pressure disappears.

Bottom-up. Trojan mouse. People start using stuff because they think it’s useful, and it spreads through the organisation. Grassroots can be very powerful in getting people to use this kind of software. Risk: incompatible software, duplication of efforts, managers closing things down.

Go for the middle way: support from above (yes, you can use that, we encourage you to use this) but rely on the “bottom”, people using the software to have it spread.

Adoption strategy:

1. Figure out who your users are, not globally, but as small groups with shared needs. You need to understand what these people do every day. Good place to start: look at how they’re using e-mail. E-mail is a very abused tool. CCing just to let you know stuff — we get a huge amount of e-mail for things we don’t really need. Or things like conversation often happen badly in e-mail: somebody missing from the CC list, or somebody replying to one instead of all. And you can’t just access somebody’s inbox. People send out attachments to half a dozen people, and they all send back with comments, need to merge. There are places where these things can be done better/quicker. Identify who is influential within your area — supernodes — who can help you spread adoption, push a tool from something that is used locally to something that is used business-wide.

2. How is this going to make their lives easier? Some use cases can be very small, not very impressive, but very practical. E.g. coming up with a presentation in a short time by using a wiki. Doing that by e-mail wouldn’t work, not in four hours. Another thing is meeting agendas. Put it on the wiki instead of sending out agendas in Powerpoint, Excel, Word… The minutes can go on the wiki too. Looking for places where conversations are fragmented => wiki. Blogs: look for people publishing stuff on a regular basis. Start with those simple use cases, then these practices will spread to other uses. People are bad at generalising from a high level (ie, wikis are for collaboration — d’uh?)

3. Help material on the wiki won’t help people who aren’t comfortable with it. Print it out! Or people are so used to hierarchy, that they recreate it in the wiki, even though it might not seem necessary. If this is the behaviour they feel comfortable with, then we’ll enable this. Come up with naming schemes to make this possible. Be very open to letting the people use these tools the way they want to: coffee rotation, sports page, etc.

4. At one point, requests for help etc. dropped. Critical mass had been reached. People were self-organising.

Top-down stuff: Suw’s more in favour of bottom-up, but often needs to be married to top-down.

Important thing: having managers who accept the tools. Some people can really get in the way of this kind of adoption project. Work around them in a way.

Managers who are the most successful in getting their people to use these tools are those who are the most active, who blog, use the wiki, encourage their people to use it. E.g. manager who would put everything on the wiki and send one-liner replies to e-mails containing questions about this with pointer to the wiki.

Use the tools regularly if possible. Easy to slip back into the old ways, but go back to using the tools.

Beware: adoption and usage is not the goal. Getting your job done is.

Q: what about privacy and secrecy?
A: easy to create little walled gardens in a wiki. also, everything that happens on a wiki is logged.

Need for wiki-gardners. Most of the problems are not technological, but cultural. How people react to the environment. Social vs. hierarchical organisation.

Tool recommendation: depends a lot on who is going to use it. E.g. MediaWiki sets business users running screaming, because it doesn’t look like Word. Happier with SocialText, maybe. What is the users’ comfort zone regarding tools? What about the existing IT infrastructure? Businessy users tend to like shiny stuff, branded, Word-like. More technical users tend to be happy with bland-looking things that might even be broken.

Q: external use cases for blogging?
A: “blogs are diaries” => scary for businesses. Some very mundane use cases: Disney used blogs to announce events (threw away their customer crappy tool). Personal knowledge management — “what have I been doing, what stuff do I need to find again?” Person who has to report on what he’s doing: blog about it, and let boss read. Competitive intelligence. What’s happening out there/in here. Also, “oh this is interesting!” — people blogging about social things, not business-related things. Actually good, allows people to get to know each other. *steph-note: I think Google understands that.* We tend to underestimate the importance of social relationships in business.

**Update, July 3rd: the video**

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Multilingual Interviews [en]

[fr] Deux interviews que j'ai donnés récemment au sujet de la conférence que je donne à Copenhague sur le multilinguisme sur internet la semaine prochaine.

I was interviewed twice during the last week about the [multilingual stuff]( I’m going to be [talking about this week at reboot9](

– by [Suw Charman]( for [Conversation Hub]( [The Multilingual Web]( (video)
– by [Nicole Simon]( as part of her [reboot9 pre-conference series]( [Reboot 9: Stephanie Booth]( (audio)

Enjoy, and hope to see you at reboot!

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Fresh Lime Soda Episode 5: Multitasking and Dragon [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode du podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman, Fresh Lime Soda. En anglais.

Finally, Suw and I have got [episode 5 of Fresh Lime Soda]( ready for public consumption. We talk about a bunch of things, including (but not limited to): Dragon NaturallySpeaking, multitasking, writing and blogging, tinnitus, guilt, and shitty first drafts. As you’ll understand if you listen to it, everything is related. If you don’t want to [download the 12Mb MP3](, you can listen to it [on the Fresh Lime Soda site with the embedded player](

As I was in London, we shot another video episode (wayyy more informative than [the first, episode 4](, which should be up… shortly. 🙂

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Another Fresh Lime Soda? [en]

[fr] Le dernier épisode de Fresh Lime Soda (vidéo!) est en ligne.

Guess what! As I’ve been here in London, staying at Suw’s, we jumped on the occasion to record another episode of [Fresh Lime Soda]( We first had a good hard think about how to manage that. We usually do it through Skype, and each of us records her own side with CallRecorder. Suw in the bedroom, me in the kitchen? The other way around? It sounded a bit silly.

Then came the bright idea: we’re both here in meatspace, why not jump on the occasion to shoot a video? And [that’s exactly what we did](

You’ll probably find the style slightly different from our usual audio podcasts. More silliness, amongst other things. Oh, and it’s a bit shorter, too: just twenty minutes or so.


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Introducing Fresh Lime Soda with Episode 3 of the Suw+Steph Podcast [en]

[fr] Notre podcast anglophone (à Suw Charman et moi-même) a maintenant son propre nom de domaine (histoire de fêter son baptême et l'épisode 3): Fresh Lime Soda.

As [twittered yesterday](, [Suw]( and I are very proud to announce the christening of our previously unnamed podcast: [Fresh Lime Soda]( As you can see, it has a domain and blog of its own (hosted by [](, on which you can read the shownotes and of course listen to (or download) the podcast itself:

– [episode 1: Cities, geeks, security and risk](
– [episode 2: Conferences, note taking, Wedding 2.0 and new tools](
– and — yay! — the new [episode 3: Fresh lime soda, Twitter, bad marketing, you can’t beat being there](

You’ll certainly want to [subscribe using the RSS/atom (FeedBurner) feed](, possibly [subscribe in iTunes directly](itpc:// so that you never miss an episode!

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The Podcast With No Name (Steph+Suw), Episode 2 [en]

[fr] Nouvel épisode du podcast conversationnel que je fais avec mon amie Suw Charman.

Long, long overdue, here is Steph and [Suw](’s Podcast With No Name, episode 2, February 15th, 2007. Some rough shownotes, with some links. Hope you enjoy it, and let us know what you think. We’re down to 35 minutes! *Show notes might suffer updates…*

* conferences: [LIFT’07]( and [Freedom of Expression](
* not everybody has the internet (God, I need to stop laughing so loud when we’re recording)
* mobile phones in other cultures (e.g. Nigeria)
* “technology overload” at LIFT’07 [turned into “internet addiction”]( (interesting [Stefana Broadbent](
* note-taking on a computer: expected in some contexts, but feels really out-of-place in others (cultural issue)
* do we end up publishing our handwritten notes? trade-offs: handwritten and rewriting vs. direct blogging ([Steph’s crappy workshop notes](
* scanning vs. [photographing written material](, document management and shredding
* GTD status update ([inbox zero](…)
* [FOWA]( coming up and other fun London stuff
* Wedding 2.0 will be blogged on [CnV](, but will there be a webcast?
* technology as a way to stretch our [Dunbar number](’s_number), wedding 2.0 with IRC backchannel and crackberries galore
* the [Wedding Industrial Complex](, trying to find an affordable venue in Dorset
* IRC or SL would be cheaper, but is SL a registered venue?
* physical words for “virtual” places
* gap between us heavy users, and people who get a few e-mails a day, book holidays online and that’s it
* exploring how new tools could help us — most people aren’t curious about new stuff
* winning over new users: finding holes in people’s processes
* [Facebook]( is really cool, very usable, and for keeping in touch with people you know (has smart walls and smart feeds)
* who’s on Facebook? on the non-desire to join new social networks…
* [LinkedIn]( for business
* Facebook as a mashup to keep up with what your friends are upto — but isn’t that what blogs are for?
* outlet overload, tools need to talk to each other ([holes in buckets](, profile multiplication, Facebook share bookmarklet to “push” stuff
* clumsy wrap-up and episode three when we manage!

Did you miss [episode 1](

**Note:** PodPress seems to have collapsed, so here is a [direct link to the 14Mb mp3 file]( just in case.

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Steph+Suw Podcast: First! [en]

[fr] Suw et moi avons enfin enregistré le fameux podcast-conversation dont nous parlons depuis notre première rencontre, en mai 2004. C'est en anglais et c'est assez long, mais on s'en est pas trop mal sorties pour une première!

Each time [Suw]( and I meet, we talk about recording a podcast together. [We met for the first time in June 2004](, and if I believe the [Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts]( I wrote a little less than a year later, that was indeed when we first started talking about using audio to record conversations.

I’m definitely sure that we talked about it at [BlogTalk 2]( I don’t think Skype was in the air then, but we talked about hooking up our phones to some audio recording device, and left it at that. At that time, people were getting excited about “audioblogging” (did we already talk about “podcasting” back then? It seems a long, long time ago) and we agreed that were audio really became interesting was in rendering conversations. (See the [Podcasting and Beercasting Thoughts]( post for more about that.)

Anyway, now we have [Skype](, and [Call Recorder]( (which reminds me, I need to write up a post about the ethics of recording audio conversations), and we finally got round to doing it. It’s a bit long-ish (40 minutes — not surprising if you know us!) and has been slightly edited in that respect, but honestly, it’s not too bad for a start.

Here is roughly what we talked about.

– [San Francisco](, web geek paradise
– City sizes (see this [London-SF superimposition map](
– Segways
– The cat/geek Venn diagram ([Twitter error message](
– I really want a Wii
– IRC screen names
– The difficulties of pronouncing S-u-w
– When geeks name children: A unique identifier or anonymity?
– Stalkers and geoinformation
– Perceptions of security
– Giving out your phone number and address, and personal boundaries
– Airport security ([background…](
– Risk and expectations of risk
– Death, religion, and the medical industry
– Naming our podcast… something about blondes, apparently
– Clueless marketeering from the Fabric nightclub in London
– The repercussions of having a blog that people think is influential (even if
you don’t think it is)

Let us know what you liked and didn’t like! [View Suw’s post about this podcast.](

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Short Post-SHiFT Note [en]

[fr] SHiFT est terminé. Blogtalk commence.

SHiFT was really nice. Interesting things, writer’s overflow, but not writing. Check out [Suw](’s notes on [Strange Attractor]( talks by [Dannie Jost](, [Stowe Boyd](, [Martin Röll](, [Kevin Cheng](, [Euan Semple](

Suw’s talk was great, I’ve finally understood what [ORG]( is about — and a bit worried about the situation in Switzerland.

Kudos to the SHiFT team for being so proactive in asking us for feedback during the closing party. Conference organisers everywhere, geek girls would like girly-shaped T-shirts, please! (Reaction to men-shaped T-shirts, however cool: oh, good, another one to sleep in.)

Many things not mentioned. My apologies.

I’m in Vienna now, with a cold, for [Blogtalk reloaded]( Looking forward to talking with [John Breslin]( tomorrow, and hoping to get a chance to catch [danah]( and [Matt]( too.

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