Social Collaboration in Berlin


That title could be misleading. Let me hurry and add, almost a month ago I was in Berlin. At this Social Business Conference  . While we got to share our story, it was interesting to get a perspective of how organisations in Europe and America seemed to be faring on Social Media. It appears that most of us are on the same boat! 🙂  More on that later.

I have had numerous conversations on Enterprise Collaboration with hordes of people over the last few years on this topic. Every conversation has left me thirsty for more. This conference was no different. It gave a key-hole into whats happening in different organisations in different continents but more importantly triggered a few thoughts on what we perhaps could do. I have always held conferences that did precisely in great stead. All the sharing that takes place is extremely contextual but to craft an action plan to suit my context is a fun-filled challenge.

John Stepper’s  blog post gives a super snapshot capture here of the conference. .

As I sit with all my notes from the conference and think here are some ‘thoughts’ (random ones) that stand out.
1. Most organisations that are in the same sea, as far as Social Collaboration is concerned. Some are ahead, some behind. The seas are rough and there is no sight of land. Yet, everybody is in this passionate mode of search and discovery! Ok. So much for metaphors.

2. A majority of people who came in for the conference were either from Internal communication, IT or Social Media / collaboration. Folks from HR / change management seemed a pronounced minority. Introduction of such technology is about change management and OD as well. The absence of ‘Change’ people by itself tells a story! ( I was reading this , ‘change management’ or rather a lack of it, stood out as a hypotheses)

3. One of the answers that I have been searching for, out of my own curiosity, is this: Who is asking for these social tools in an enterprise? In this conference, the answers were mixed but there also was a preponderance towards “our IT team has found an interest in this”. (The more I think of social tools, in particular, the more I realise the need for stoking this conversation and seeding the idea in different groups outside of IT as well. Collaboration starts before the cradle!

4. Conversations around Social and Social Tools have a tendency to meander around the features, the plausible benefits the tool could bring and the good that would arise out of using that tool / technology. The other conversation that occasionally pops up, but usually a very intense conversation, is one that focuses on the culture and context. Organisations like MAN, Ikea, Novozymes and others had me go wide eyed when they shared stories of culture and community being the central themes on which Social Collaboration rides on.

5. If there is one fundamental shift that I have learnt to embrace in my mind at the end of this conference it is this : Images score over letters. Video score over paragraphs! The importance of video and the dominance that it has ( and consequently, the hold it would have on the future ) was something that I have read about and heard different people speak. But after this conference, I am a convert.

6. Players in the Social arena including Jive, Tibbr, Zyncro, Yammer and others were all there. Each has a niche and features that can dazzle a keen eye. Some are better than the others and am not going any further on that. For now. AND, the struggle to build adoption and make this a way of life seems to be universal. Ultimately, it is not the tool. It is in how and what we want to use it in.

7. At the core of making it work in various organisations, seemed to be weaving it into mainstream ways of work ( and not as an ‘optional extra’). Easier said than done but all it takes is some imagination. And that is something that was a common thread across all the ‘success’ stories. The use of ‘badges’ to incentivise the use of such systems were also showcased by a few other peers. I have had misgivings of that approach, but it seems to have worked for a few organisations.

8. The other learning that sits pretty in my head now is that Enterprise Collaboration System have a long gestation period before pay offs. Assuming that people will take to it because of the pervasiveness of ‘Facebook’ and ‘twitter’ etc outside the firewall is disproportionately erroneous. There needs to be several concerted coordinated ways of weaving this into work and helping people embrace a new way of working. Yes, it’s a new way of working. Not another initiative. And no, there is no such thing as ‘over communication’!

9. It was super fun to anchor a session as well. And oh yes, I loved the conference format. I have attended several conferences, but the opportunities to learn through and from interactions with each other was woven into the format seamlessly here! It was good fun. Many congratulations to the WE-Connect team!


10. Meeting all the wonderful people including Philipp Rosenthal (pictured in action above) , Frank Hatzack Nathan Bricklin, John Stepper, Bonnie CheukPaivi Raity, Wolfgang Jastrowski, Edward Krebs, Cecilia Scolaro, Bryan Barringer and all others were all superlative in sharing their thoughts either from the stage or at their world café break out areas or at the breaks for tea! I am making a grave mistake here by mentioning a few here and not mentioning many. Its been a month and I am not getting any younger. My ageing memory plays effortless truant. There were several others and most of them are here in this Twitter List! I cant thank them enough for the sharing.

Now there remains a horde of things to be done! Armed with the new friendships and ideas, there is adjusting of the sails and more work to be done. As always, am in the market for conversation and ideas! 🙂

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