Innovative recruitment practice

(Cross posted on my Gartner blog).

Atlassian is an Australian software vendor, active in the social software and developer tools space. I’ll leave the product evaluations to folks like Nikos Drakos, Tom Austin and Jeff Mann but I would like to call them out for something else.

I have been watching the company from afar for a number of years. I’ve been consistently impressed with how they manage recruitment, and I think a lot of IT departments and larger software companies could learn from what they do.

1. consistent use of twitter, youtube, flickr and blogs to position Atlassian as a cool employer.

2. Posts and video from current employees about working there. No complicated HR speak.

3. Engaging and dynamic careers page. with a strong graduate offering, including international placement, coding festivals etc.

4. Vigorous referral program

6. Executive focus on recruitment as being vital to company strategy

7. Excellent alignment of marketing and employer brand.

8. Effective use of their own software to help manage the process.

I’ve done a bit of research over the last couple of years on employer branding, and I plan to step it up in 2011.  I’ll be on the look out for more examples like this.

Dan Pink picked up on Atlassian’s “Fed-ex” days in a recent TED talk. You should watch the whole talk. It raises some important challenges for HR and HR technology. What are you doing to attract and motivate your employees?


On Wikileaks, the Inkspots and a political philosophy ramble.

Thomas Paine, “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

George Washington, “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.”
Julian Assange,  “The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.”

Antonio Gramsci, “To tell the truth is revolutionary.”  

Herbert Marcuse, “The need for alternative media has never been more acute."

Rosa Luxemburg, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

Julian Assange,  “A man in chains knows he should have acted sooner for his ability to influence the actions of the state is near its end.”

Ronald Reagan, “Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.”

Long ago, I studied political philosophy, and this wikileaks thing has stirred some parts of my brain that have not stirred over a decades.  Incoherence may follow.

I’m posting this on my personal blog, rather than the work one. These are my personal views, and should not be construed as anything other than that. Wikileaks has significant implications for enterprise software, but I’ll largely leave that to my colleagues for now.  

My view

Wikileaks is one of the best things that has happened to state and corporate governance,  since, gosh, Juvenal posed the Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? question.  Wikileaks challenges Plato’s Nobile Lie, big time. I reckon Karl Popper would have applauded wikileaks.  Hannah Arendt too, but I’m on thinner ice there.

Julian Assange and his colleagues have firmly established the concept of a safe place for whistleblowers to dump information.  They deserve  lauding, not opprobrium. Some Americans think wikileaks is picking on the US, but if you look at the previous leaks, there were many that were dealing with other countries and issues.   Look at the cases of toxic dumping in Africa, Swiss Bank tax evasion, Oil pollution in South America.    Wikilinks didn’t hack the system, or steal a password. Someone, probably Manning, gave them the information.

Assange’s paper here is well worth reading, it would be good if he wrote more, as he writes well.  See also  Zunguzungu’s post, where I found the link.

Check out Ginandtacos too.

Nuclear codes are a matter of national security. This crap isn’t. The "secrets" betrayed by this diplomatic cable dump range from the gossipy ("Prime Minister so-and-so has too much plastic surgery and a drinking problem!") to the "Are you kidding? Everyone already knows that!" variety. The Russian mafia is intertwined with the government? My word! That is simply shocking. The effect of the most recent information dump is not, as Obama and Hillary have so idiotically warned, that "lives will be lost." This isn’t blowing the cover of any double agents in the Kremlin. This is just making the government look stupid. If you think "We don’t want to be embarrassed" is a sufficient reason for the government to withhold information about its activities from the public, you have a very curious understanding of how this country is supposed to work.

And so in an era in which people get their real news from a comedian and their comedy from the real news, a non-state actor like Wikileaks represents our best hope for a more democratic state.


A more diplomatic view

I rather liked this piece on the Harvard blog, from a former diplomat.

Governments are no doubt rushing to secure their data and hold it more tightly than ever, but the horse has bolted. If a government as professional, technically sophisticated, and well-protected as the U.S. can suffer a breach of this magnitude, no government is safe. Politicians can roar their demands for the prosecution of Julian Assange or — absurdly — that Wikileaks be designated as a terrorist organization, but the rage is in truth a tacit admission that government’s monopoly on its own information is now a thing of the past.

The call by some of the American right to treat wikileaks as a terrorist organization smacks of paranoia.  Palin’s call to treat Assange like the Taliban is beyond despicable. Rule of law, please. 

My position mirrors that of the ACLU

We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting WikiLeaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA’s secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans. Prosecuting publishers of classified information threatens investigative journalism that is necessary to an informed public debate about government conduct, and that is an unthinkable outcome.

The broader lesson of the WikiLeaks phenomenon is that President Obama should recommit to the ideals of transparency he invoked at the beginning of his presidency. The American public should not have to depend on leaks to the news media and on whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.

This morning’s report that Amazon has ditched hosting wikileaks raises questions about censorship and coercion. This is definitely not cloud computing’s finest hour. It reeks of hypocrisy.  We expect Google and Yahoo to stand up to China, but Amazon seems to fold at the first mumble from a senator.  Which T&C did Wikileaks not follow?   I will not be shopping at Amazon this Christmas.

Think for a moment of the alternative scenario, the disgruntled operative handing it over to a foreign power, as per  Gordievsky, Blunt or Ames.  Instead, it is exposed to us all, we can make up our own minds.  Rather than lashing out at wikileaks  consider where the data would have gone in its absence. 

Shout out to the Guardian, Spiegel and the NYT.

Many have predicted the end of journalism.  This week the Guardian in particular has done much to dispel that in my mind. Its coverage of the wikileaks story has been thorough, careful, and brave.   Also the NYT nailed it here.

News organizations are in the business of publishing news. They can exercise their judgment with regard to whether, in exceptional circumstances — usually those regarding potential loss of life — news might be redacted, delayed or, on extremely rare occasions, permanently withheld. But the likely embarrassment to individuals, or inconvenience to U.S. diplomats, does not even begin to approach this bar.

When 250,000 documents can be placed on a zip drive smaller than a popsicle stick, and thousands of citizen journalists are working to make it available to the public, then the guarantee of secrecy for any powerful institution is only a comforting fiction.


Process and a bit about the software angle

There will be a lot of organizations rethinking security policies, systems and practices,  in the wake of this incident, and rightly so.  A junior level staffer should not have been able to download what he did without some sort of alarm bell ringing.

Software vendors are going to view this as the next Sarbanes-Oxley. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of marketing.  Do make sure you have a good supply of anti-hype pills.

I hope though, that it also makes organizations, whether government or otherwise, realise that they are being watched by broader society. Behave ethically, conspire less  and you have little to fear from wikileaks. 

Perhaps wikileaks  will continue to thrive with Assange at its head, but if not, an alternative leader or offering will emerge, as with Napster.  Targeting Assange will not make this go away.  I believe Assange should answer to the Swedish charges that he faces, but only through due process in a court of law. 

A Musical coda

I’ll end this with one of my favourite songs. Whispering Grass. From the Ink Spots. This was a hit in 1940.  listen here if you like.  Perhaps it should be the theme tune for wikileaks the movie. 

Why do you whisper, green grass
Why tell the tress what ain’t so
Whispering grass
The trees don’t have to know, no-no
Why tell them all your secrets
Who kissed there long ago

Whispering grass
The trees don’t need to know
Don’t you tell it to the breeze
For she will tell the birds and bees
And everyone will know
Because you told the blabbering trees
Yes, you told them once before
It’s no secret anymore-ore
Why tell them all the old things
They’re buried under the snow

Whispering grass, don’t tell the trees
‘Cause the trees don’t need to know-ow

For the Brits reading this there is the Ain’t half Mum cover too.

A review of Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 book and a bit of related Gartner research.

Cross posted from my Gartner blog.

I received a review copy of Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 just before Christmas, so I added it to my book pile as an extra Christmas present. Thank you Andrew and the publisher, HBS.

In reviewing books, I have a simple test. Would I spend my own money on a copy? This book passes that test.

There are a goodly number of reviews on the web already, so I’ll keep this review relatively short. I found Jon Ingram’s review to be particularly useful.

The book is clearly written, well structured and it is refreshingly devoid of hype (other than the slightly jarring tagline). McAfee writes well, aiming at a management rather than a geeky audience. It is an easy but nutritious read, there is little technical jargon yet it doesn’t over-simplify or seem condescending when explaining technology. More importantly It isn’t just preaching to the enterprise 2.0 choir, nor it is the Iskra for the Enterprise 2.0 revolutionaries, whomever they may be.

In the same way that technologies and new business practices have changed businesses in the past, so to are new technologies and business practices changing things today. McAfee shows through 4 case studies how collaborative technologies are changing the way we work, and will work.

The term emergence is important to Enterprise 2.0, and McAfee explains this thoroughly. I particularly liked this sentence, Emergence is the appearance of global structure as a result of local interactions.

The section on ROI is also very useful, and not just for Enterprise 2.0 projects. He goes through the limitations of ROI models in some depth, even though he uses baseball examples, it makes sense.

It was also good to see that Argyis and Schön’s Model 1 and Model 2 theory of behaviour, Granovetter’s The Strength of Weak ties, and Burt’s Structural holes were referenced in the book. I’m of the view that we need to be applying more organization design and sociology to business and IT thinking. There are many models in the sociology that we could use to better understand organizations and how they change.

McAfee also references von Hippel and John Allen Paulos. Both are essential reading.

I would have liked to have seen a further reading section. The HBR book site  wasn’t available when I looked today. This book would be well served by a supporting web site, emergent or otherwise.

The final 2-3 pages of the book are key. They link the Enterprise 2.0 proposition back to his broader research (with Brynjolfson, Zhu and Sorell) into IT and competitive difference. He briefly makes the case for how Enterprise 2.0 can improve ERP, and I wish he had made more of this argument in the book.

With regards to the relevance and the extent of emergent technologies and social software in an enterprise context, let me take the liberty of pointing to the blogs and / or research of several Gartner colleagues, for instance Anthony Bradley, Jeff Mann  Andrea DiMaio  Carol Rozwell, Nikos Drakos and Adam Sarner.  For Gartner clients have a look at The Business Impact of Socialization: Real-World Measurable Results. This collection of research highlights 16 examples of social computing that were not open-ended, undefined experiments, but rather were purposeful engagements resulting in actual measurable business benefits. (client access needed)

Somewhat selfishly, I would have liked to see more on the HR implications of enterprise 2.0 in the book. I’m doing a lot of work in this area at the moment. I have recently published a collection of short case studies on social software’s impact in HR as part of 2009 Business Impact series and I field a lot of calls from HR and IT who are looking at the HR implications of social software, both behind and beyond the firewall. In 2008 I published a note, The Business Impact of Social Computing on HR Data. (client access needed) but here is an excerpt.

 Social computing’s impact: With social computing, we’re seeing a new set of HR-relevant data: volunteered data. Employees, managers, executives, applicants and customers share HR-relevant data, but only in ways that suit them, rather than in the structured format that is required by traditional HR processes. People are sharing data to get things done and to socialize. Examples include employees maintaining internal blogs, in which they discuss their skills and interests; workgroups and document sharing via wikis; and social networks. In addition, networks such as Facebook and Xing often offer richer, deeper insights into career history, skills, qualifications and business interests than traditional HR skills and career history databases do. Organizational changes often are reflected in LinkedIn before they appear in the transactional HR management system.

I made this strategic planning assumption then.

By 2012, volunteered, HR-related data will exceed mandatory HR data in volume and value. Leading HR organizations will invest more time and effort in managing and exploiting voluntary data than they spend on mandatory data.

This is similar to the points McAfee makes about imposed, emergent and competitive advantage.

I look forward to reading his next book, and continuing to follow his academic research. As a final aside,  McAfee cites JP Rangaswami in the book. I’d suggest reading his blog. JP is high up on my list of people who I’d like to have write a book.

Thanks again, Andrew, for the copy.

Jeffrey Walker. Rockstrong. Cancer dude.


This my favourite t-shirt. I wear it a lot. I got it from Jeffrey Walker.  He is a member of the band “The Occasionals”, President of Atlassian, and all round good egg.  He is now also fighting cancer for the 4th time.

His positive attitude is  simply awe inspiring. Read his post, and you will be moved.  It makes other problems seem trivial.  I tried to find a bit to quote, but I think it is better if you head over there and read it all.

 Zoli’s post is well worth a read. His advice.

So let’s do our part: please comment on his blog, write your own post, Twitter, Friendfeed, you name it – just link to his post, and use the tag cancerdude.  Let’s give Jeffrey all the inspiration we can.

Jeffrey. You rockstrong.

Dusting off the Weber

Most of the time when I think about Weber, I mean one of these.


photo thanks to massdistraction.

Not this fellow, Max Weber.

Max Weber 1894.jpg

photo from Wikipedia.

While browsing through my feedreader  (actually I think it was on Techmeme) this morning I read this article, the Wisdom of the Chaperones.

Social-media sites like Wikipedia and Digg are celebrated as shining examples of Web democracy, places built by millions of Web users who all act as writers, editors, and voters. In reality, a small number of people are running the show. According to researchers in Palo Alto, 1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits. The site also deploys bots—supervised by a special caste of devoted users—that help standardize format, prevent vandalism, and root out folks who flood the site with obscenities. This is not the wisdom of the crowd. This is the wisdom of the chaperones.

Nick Carr, who often writes about wikipedia, said something similar a while ago.

The myth begins with the idea of radical openness, the idea that Wikipedia is a creation of the great mass of humanity in all its hairy glory. It’s a myth encapsulated in Wikipedia’s description of itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” As we now know, that’s never been precisely true. According to cofounder Jimmy Wales, there have always been filtering mechanisms to restrict certain people’s ability to edit certain articles. Those mechanisms have been expanded and tightened over time. In Wikipedia’s early days, the encyclopedia asked contributors to maintain a “neutral point of view,” but, as the official history of Wikipedia notes, “There were otherwise few rules initially.” Since then, rules have proliferated, as the encyclopedia has adopted a de facto bureaucratic structure.

And Andrew McAfee at Harvard includes a wikipedia case study in his MBA course, and his picks on Wikipedia’s  bureaucratic nature.

Thinking about wikipedia, elites and bureaucracy took me back almost 20 years, to a sunny afternoon in Pietermaritzburg with Prof Irvine. We were discussing a paper I’d written about J.S.Mill and Max Weber on bureaucracy and democracy. Much of Mills’ thinking has since slipped into a dusty corner of my brain, but Max Weber has stayed with me ever since.

Although he was writing about 100 years ago, I don’t reckon he would have been surprised by how Wikipedia, or indeed most of the web 2.0 world is organised.

II. The principles of office hierarchy and of levels of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super- and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a system offers the governed the possibility of appealing the decision of a lower office to its higher authority, in a definitely regulated manner. With the full development of the bureaucratic type, the office hierarchy is monocratically organized. The principle of hierarchical office authority is found in all bureaucratic structures: in state and ecclesiastical structures as well as in large party organizations and private enterprises. It does not matter for the character of bureaucracy whether its authority is called ‘private’ or ‘public

From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78. (more at this site).

Some learned commentary here.

Bureaucracy is in fact the division of labour applied to administration, and bureaucracy occupies the same place in Weber’s account of the development of modern civilization as division of labour in general occupies in Adam Smith’s account. For Weber this species of division of labour is more fundamental than the others because it initiates and orders other divisions of labour. Instructions come to the factory floor from the office. Just as Adam Smith saw division of labour in general as the cause of progress toward modern, generically commercial, society, so Weber sees bureaucracy as one of the most important causes of the development of capitalism specifically. He points to many cooperating causes (see Collins), and in The Spirit of Capitalism puts some emphasis on the moral causes – on the factors that made people strive for ever increasing profit, and to use their profits not for consumption but for further investment. But among the causal factors he often mentions the adoption of rational accounting methods: no amount of will to make a profit, or willingness to invest, would have had the desired result if investment and management had not been guided by systematic accounting, carried on of course increasingly by a bureaucracy. Once some began to be systematic others had to follow suit or go under. Labourers were ‘separated’ from the old-fashioned means of production by the superior effectiveness of production guided by systematic accounting – they could get a better living as employees. Capitalists adopted machinery and other innovations when their bureaucracy analyzing the possibilities of investment found that such innovation would be profitable. In fact a bureaucracy finds its own capitalists. As modern Weberians have pointed out, modern firms are run, not by owners, but by their managers, who often initiate the issuing of shares to raise capital, or seek loans or investments.

As I sit in the sunshine today, slightly more than a stone’s throw away from where Max Weber did much of his teaching and writing, I wonder what he would have made of today’s online world? What would have impressed him? What would disappoint? Would he find his Iron Cage and the polar night of icy Darkness, or would  he be pleasantly surprised?

The great social theory thinkers of the past 150 odd years;  Tonnies, Parsons, Durkheim, Comte, Spencer,  Mill, Bentham, Weber, and even Marx can teach us  a whole lot more about today’s online cultures, institutions and behaviours than we realise. 

I’m hoping that somewhere in a political science or sociology department there lurks a Weber 2.0, someone that will apply the same levels of rigour, research, insight and original thought to today’s world as Weber did at the turn of the last century.  I also hope that he/she has  a blog.

from wikipedia.

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What HR can learn from Socialtext: weak ties.

Socialtext is a wiki-maker. Ross, the founder, realised he needed a new CEO to drive the business up a notch. The company now has a new CEO and more funding. (more here)

Firstly, respect. Stepping aside isn’t a thing most founders can do easily.

Secondly, HR folks out there. Look how he found the CEO.

One thing that is of interest is how we met Eugene through the strength of weak ties.  I blogged it and he saw the post via TechCrunch.  I also posted it on LinkedIn and sent it to my contacts.  One of them was a mutual acquaintance and when they happened to have breakfast the next week.  We had 250 applicants that we narrowed down collaboratively through a wiki, of course.  Finding the right guy in two months this way is in stark contrast to paying an executive recruiter $100k to act as a PI for six months

On the point of the power of weak ties, read these two Andrew McAfee posts.

I’ll quote a bit.

I also think that employees who blog behind the firewall are establishing something like weak ties with all of their colleagues. If decent search exists, any employee can find out if their blogging peers have sought-after knowledge or expertise. The ties in this instance are potential rather than actual, but they’re still still valuable in the way that all options are.

In fact, the concept of an option is a useful one for understanding the overall power of weak ties. An employee’s strong ties give her colleagues. Her weak ones open up options. Technologies that help weak ties proliferate therefore also provide options. Given how cheap they are, and how many options they bring, they seem like one of the best investments out there.

This weak ties stuff isn’t a new buzzword. It has some serious grounding in rigourous sociology. (That ought be another post, reviving rigourous sociology theories with 2.0)

We read a fair bit written by Mark Granovetter, a sociologist now at Stanford who must be one of the most frequently referenced of all organizational scholars. In 1973 Granovetter wrote “The Strength of Weak Ties” (SWT), a seminal article that’s been cited a jaw-dropping 5111 times according to Google Scholar.

The time for HR departments to get stuck into enterprise 2.0 is now. Not in some vague policy kind of way, but in terms of action. Why aren’t more HR professionals blogging internally and externally?  On a practical note Wiki is an ideal mechanism for policy management. Try it. Most companies have a tired employee referral scheme, but what if you actually redesigned that to take social networking into account?  Do you have a strategy to leverage Facebook and Linkedin? What about prediction markets? RSS for policy and contract change announcements?  Microsurveys? Social Bookmarking?

If you really start thinking about aligning corporate goals and personal goals, then internal blogging and social networking is powerful medicine. Imagine I could click on an employee’s internal page and see what their KPI’s are, and what their boss’ KPI’s are, check what other projects they are involved in, even know a bit about what they do outside the office. Maybe a bit about their preferred work style? How much better are we likely to work together if we know what we want to do before we start? 

HR systems and processes are currently mainly about managing strong ties (manager-employee-immediate team). It is high time that they focused on the weaker ones too. Managing the informal….

Can social software fundamentally change organisation structures and work practices? Yes, I believe so. It already is. Now is the time for HR professionals to get stuck in. Don’t wait.

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Wikipedia case study

Harvard’s Andrew McAfee and colleagues have published a case study on wikipedia and enterprise 2.0  What a business that was.

But the last word on Wikipedia and blogging comes from the Chaucer blog. 

the bloviatrivium
I. angrye commentes that run for pages
II. lengthie monologue advocatinge my political posicioun
III. bringing nazis yn to an argument
the procrastidrivium
IV. memes
V. quizzes and surveys
VI. makynge avatars
VII. poosting pictures

Anothir Update: For thos consultinge the internet, Ich haue discoverid that wikipedia is soorely incorrecte concernynge oon of the answeres. Be war er ye be wo!

( check out Chaucer’s 5 things meme)


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A tale for all sceptics

Nicholas Carr adds yet another post to his growing collection of wikipedia commentary

I enjoy reading them, but I can think of many other things I’d like him to write about.

He notes…

It seems like we’re getting to the point where anyone who has gained deep enough knowledge of a subject to have developed a point of view on it will be unwelcome to edit Wikipedia

One section where I have found the Wikipedia entries to be extremely sound and well put together is the philosophy section.  I dabbled in Philosophy as an undergraduate 20 years ago and I find Wikipedia a useful source of info to make me seem more widely read than I am.  Sprinkle conversations with Popper and Pyrrho and soon you will have no-one to talk to.

I was going to comment on Nick’s site but his commenting feature was impersoning a French railway strike brilliantly. I’ll post it here instead.

I figured out why the philosophy bits are so good (this may be common knowledge but it only occured to me now) The other guy who helped start Wikipedia, Larry Sanger is a Philosophy PhD. 

I’m not sure if he  meant to be this  witty.

Pyrrho is said to have been so seriously bound to skepticism that it led to his own unfortunate and sudden death around 270 BC According to the legend, he was demonstrating skepticism while blindfolded when his disciples tried to warn him of a dangerous cliff he was headed toward. He refused to believe them, and thus his life ended abruptly. Others are skeptical of this claim.

My request to all sceptics, you know who you are. Write a happy post today.

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Wikis and SAP Developer Network. Reality not hype.

There has been a mixed bag of positive and negative blogger comment out of European Teched.   But SDN continues to receive lots of kudos, even from the modern day PyrrhoDennis.  David is also impressed.

 What’s unique is the scale of the thing, and the way that SAP is embracing the changes it will bring.  There are over  570,000 subscribers, it is completely open, and the core service is free – I’ve just joined this morning.  You can ask any question you like, and there is passionate community, 94% of which aren’t SAP employees, who are willing to answer questions.  As well as spreading their knowledge, and promoting their expert status, contributors are awarded with a points system, which gets them things like free entrance to TechEd (and badges!).  There is an complementary service called or Business Process Expert community.  This offers the same kind of facility, but aimed more at the business analyst and consultant community rather than developers, with around 50,000 members and only a little overlap with SDN

It struck me that one of the best ways to convert those that doubt the power of the wiki (and blogs for that matter)  as an enterprise tool, would be to suggest that they watch how the SAP Wiki on SDN develops.  Tesha Harvey and the gang from SAP have done a fine job in getting it up, I’m looking forward to seeing it fly..

Have a look at the BSP stuff and the Enterprise Services Packages as a start. This is the future of application and process documentation.  Put simply, it rocks.  No walled gardens here.

The Enterprise Services Packages Wiki, a section of the SDN/BPX Wiki, exists to explain what ES Packages are in general and to provide detailed documentation of the services offered for specific ES Packages. The goal of the ES Packages Wiki is to engage the community of developers inside SAP and those in the customer and partner organizations who are using services in ES Packages and to promote the sharing of information. That is why anyone who has an idea can add it to the wiki. We encourage you to learn and to share your knowledge. The ES Packages wiki is the place to do the following things:  

Learn about how to put the services in ES Packages to work building composite applications

Share tips and tricks related to the use of the services.

Share ideas for new composite applications that could be constructed using the services.

 if wikis can be used effectively for documenting software development and processes, surely they could be used to document any other multi-person process? Coupled up with workflow and the right security, I could imagine all sorts of document intensive processes on wikis, performance appraisals, audit reports, designs, contracts, compliance documentation.

 I will leave whether this is a revolution or not to Susan, but it seems to me that the content and document management space will never be quite the same again.

BTW. while over on the BPX site I saw a competition that may interest some of you.

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Enterprise 2.0 continues for now….

Mike Stopforth certainly started something with his wikipedia entry for Enterprise 2.0.

The debate about the validity of the entry makes for an interesting read, and it has given me a lot of insight into how wikipedia works. All that wisdom of the crowd business. For all the finger pointing at wikipedia, the process is transparent. My opinion of wikipedia is higher now than when it was first deleted.

If the entry is eventually removed, it will be after a through debate and discussion. Neologism is now something I have an opinion on. Dan Farber provides a good summary of the debate. Check out Crispy to follow how it develops.

Some of my “irregular” colleagues  have asked you all to go out and vote for the wikipedia entry on enterprise 2.0. The choice of the word “vote” was  inappropriate according the wikipedians, but their intent is a good one. 

The important lesson I’m learning from all this is that the term itself is not that important. I’m not a great fan of anything labelled 2.0, it has the whiff of prefixing with an e,  adding .com to a company name, or dropping vowels to seem trendy, but actually it is because someone else has the domain name you really would have liked.  I’d much rather we had a different term, but for now, it is the best one we have.  ( Peter Ripp has a funny take on 2.0)

For what? Well there is a shift happening in enterprise computing, and like any shift it is hard to define it when you are in the middle of it. 

Andrew McAfee’s original definition focused on the use of freeform, social computing in the enterprise. In his words,

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

Vinnie thinks this is too narrow, and we need to look at the changes beyond the impact of just “social computing.”

I’m not sure which definition I like. McAfee’s definition is more tangible, and allows for co-existence with other enterprise applications, Whereas Vinnie is talking about complete change of all enterprise applications – revolutionary stuff.

But here in starship enterprisey I think we are starting to get the message. There are new forms of computing emerging, and they are having an effect in the enterprise space. I’m looking forward to seeing HR applications do org charting based on social networks inside organisations, and the email torrent ebbing to a manageable flow as wikis and RSS take hold behind the firewall. But, like Vinnie, I see another change coming, bringing a new set of competitors, new technologies and new business models.

I’d like to see the Enterprise 2.0 term stay in wikipedia. It is in a way, a counterpoint to enterprisey, which does have an entry. The way for the term to stick around though, is for it to get more traction in the real world. Whether the term enterprise 2.0 has staying power is for the wikipedia gods and the neologism factories at the analyst firms to decide.

The forces that Vinnie and Andrew discuss though, are already tangible. Companies like Socialtext exist, and the tools that help build web 2.0 are being deployed behind the firewalls as we speak.

Jerry Bowles commented in the delete debate at Wikipedia.

Enterprise 2.0 is an important concept that is (not?) going to go away simply because it does or does not meet the Wikipedia gatekeepers’ criteria for inclusion at this time. It represents the most important and potentially disruptive business challenge since the advent of modern management

After all the SOA plumbing work of the last few years, I expect this big SAP elephant to start leading the charge.