Years ago, while working at IBM, I began to see the convergence of a number of disciplines. I had spent quite some time learning about, product managing and implementing an Internet-based community publishing system and could see that the publishing model was being turned on its head. And while this phenomenal, integrated, web-based system built by a company called Koz.com appeared to me, to be the future of newspapers for the digital age, it was clearly well ahead of its time. More than 10 years ahead of its time.
What I learned about this community-oriented technology business, however, seemed more easily digested and activated within a closed community. In particular, it seemed to apply more readily to business.
As my career progressed, I moved into roles which focused on change, knowledge and innovation management. Each time I applied what I had learned about communities, about activating them online and the power that comes from allowing connections between people to thrive. I remember procuring machines and application servers, stashing them under desks and cobbling together interfaces that linked instant messaging, wiki-style collaboration and whiteboarding applications. Hooking into address books and intranet search engines meant that secure, trackable access became available to the worldwide workforce, and put our small projects onto the global (if internal) stage. My focus, however, was on the people who used (and needed) these systems … and by ensuring the systems were user friendly AND helped people deliver over and above their KPIs, we saw system adoption accelerate faster than word of mouth. Back then, e-mail was our friend. These days we would call this "web 2.0", or "social media" — perhaps even, "enterprise 2.0" — but back them, I was just trying to find a new way of achieving an outcome.
Ever since that time, I have kept one eye on the world of knowledge management. I have also been fascinated by the concept of business innovation management — how the process of strategy can, in fact, deliver competitive advantage. And in many ways, the opportunities offered by Enterprise 2.0 occupy a similar space for large scale businesses that social media offers for business-to-consumer brands. My interest lies in how these all overlap — understanding how, where and why our various business, professional, consumer and producer "roles" merge, and what that means for the brands and businesses that we engage with.
Recently, Bill Ives has pulled together a great list of 40 bloggers who write on the Web 2.0 and/or Enterprise 2.0 space. Many of these bloggers cover this murky area. There are no great surprises in the first 20, where the blogging heavyweights converge, including TechCrunch, Mashable, Om Malik, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel. However, the second 20 (of which I am counted) reveals quite a few blogs which are new to me as well as some old favourites. These include:
- Nick Carr — Rough Type — well-known author of Does IT Matter
- Lee Lefever — CommonCraft — the team who work to bridge the business and tech worlds through quirkiness, storytelling and experience design that is based on … experience.
- Valeria Maltoni — Conversation Agent — well known for her marketing insight and focus on conversation and storytelling
Be sure to check out all 40 of these blogs. Try thinking about them from a B2C and a B2B point of view. This dual vision will multiply your insight into the challenges we are facing in our personal and professional lives. And while the technology makes our lives easier in many ways … it now also exposes the complexity with which we live.