Confluence, A New Flu Strand? NO It’s Corporate Wiki’s That Work While You Work!

For many of the weekly tasks I have found that finding specifically relevant information regarding the proposed topic difficult. For some reason Google doesn’t give me the answers I want, and Wikipedia is close but no cigar. SO for this weeks stimulus of examining corporate wiki’s, who’s using them and to what end, I tried a slightly different approach. I went to the old faithful Google and went looking for a corporate wiki product that is being sold and looked into some of their success stories. Quickly browsing the 10,400,000 results yielded in 0.10 seconds the one that stuck out to me was Atlassian’s baby, Confluence. From here I did what any prospective customer would do and checked out their current clients in excess of 8,100 happy customers.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited or simply “Deloitte” is an umbrella name used by thousands of individuals and hundreds of independent companies around the world providing consultation services in a variety of areas including financial advisory and taxation services. This multinational and truly globally established organisation has professionals working 24 hours a day on nearly every continent on earth and it’s because of this a common space needs to exist. Deloitte has employed the use of a wiki for a slightly different reason that of the norm.

Because Deloitte performs a lot of consulting services in developing and often conflict ridden countries the ability to track and ensure the safety of its employees is paramount. Having a centralised database of not only each team members personal details and current assignment but also information regarding the geographical location to which they are deployed. Deloitte uses wikis for each area of the world under the hat of “Engagement Security”.   Each of these zones have designated advisors which are the people on the ground. These advisors each have a profile that details their personal information and is viewable by mode of need-to-know permissions. This enables them to know who’s where doing what and what considerations or actions may need to be taken in the event of an incident.

Now the more collaborative side of Deloittes deployment of Confluence is the module they have dubbed “Global Intelligence”. This is a service where prior to an employee shipping off to a new country, they are able to go onto the wiki and have a look at all the relevant info regarding local security concerns, travel warnings and other more generalised information. The world map is colour coded according to the level of risk associated with each zone and viewing all of the relevant information is as simple as a click. These zones also provide a means for the employee to communicate with other staff already in country and better associate themselves with the environment before they arrive. Nate Nash from Deloitte does an excellent four-minute explanation of the service found HERE.

All of this obviously has huge benefits for the organisation as its putting the safety and comfort of its employees first as well as involving them in the process. Where as before this sort of information was not easily accessible and was often only attainable via lengthy back and forth email conversations, or the member undertaking their own research, it’s now in the one place. By offering a corporate wiki environment it enables an easier UI and provides a more comprehensive tool. I felt this was an interesting take on the wiki and certainly an application that I had never considered.

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Enterprise 2.0 on Massive Scale, Build it and They Will Come…

Wow week three already! How time fly’s when you’re having fun and there isn’t anything more fun then Ent 2.0! Except for maybe Twitter 😛 Some of you may have noticed my new Twitter widget to your right. I have added this as I think its going to be the easiest way for both my avid fans and esteemed teaching staff to keep a track of my new-found fondness of the micro blog.

On topic and addressing week threes task. Seeing as I have undertaken some prior learning in the realm of web 2.0 it was an obvious choice to tackle task two and investigate who has already embraced enterprise 2.0 and had good results. First of all I’d like to thank the various people who tweeted the lists of case studies relating to this topic as it made the whole task that much easier!

While looking into who had been not only using but providing these Ent.2.0 tools the name IBM kept popping up. For a company that has been around for over a century IBM still manages to stay ahead of the game with a lot of their technologies and Web2.0 is no exception. IBM currently has a couple of Enterprise 2.o tools available for consumption with the flagship for medium business, originally named BlueHouse, but being traded as LotusLive. This is a result of IBM realising sometime ago that by harnessing the collective intelligence and giving its employees the opportunity to connect the world over would yield some interesting and impressive results. A better explanation of this can be found HERE where Casey Hibbard the president of Compelling Cases Inc. has been researching IBM’s journey more thoroughly.

IBM to this day has no official centralised blogging service nor do they have an official corporate Twitter ID. Instead IBM thought it would be better to give the tools to their employees and let them loose! They didn’t lay down any ground rules rather they let their employees define them as they knew common sense would hopefully prevail. This then paved the way for people to share their experiences and ideas with other staff members where normally these would go unheard and undocumented. These social interactions were then enhanced by the development of IBM’s own internal Facebookesque SocialBlue.

SocialBlue allows IBM employees to create a profile with the service and upload information about themselves, photos and status updates. This means that they are able to reconnect with other people they have worked with in the past and not only see what they have and are working on but share what they are up to. This kind of social aspect in the professional workplace fosters strong working relationships and furthers the rapport staff have with one and another. This in turn means they will find it easier not only to share idea with each other and ask for help but when it comes time to work alongside each other they already have a relationship thus making it easier for them to collaborate.

 This style of inter-connectivity in the workplace and enabling social collaborative and knowledge sharing tools exploits what Don Tapscot and Anthony Williams hypothesised in their book Wikinomics where openess, peering, sharing and acting globally to really harness the collective intelligence is changing everything. Another subscriber to this theory which also came as a surprise to me was the defence contractor and all round ideas factory Lockheed Martin.

Better known for their ability to build stealth joint strike fighters such as the F35 Lightning that deliver death and destruction like no other aircraft flying today they realised late 2007 that Enterprise 2.0 was something that might just benefit them. Adopting Microsoft’s document sharing platform the then new Sharepoint 2007; Lockheed Martin set about customizing the package to better suit their needs. Some of these tools included the addition of things like blogs, wikis and discussion spaces that were not at that time included and dubbed their highly modified version UNITY.

Lockheed Martin employs in excess of 150,000 people globally and around 50% of those are reaching retirement age within the next 5-10 years. This is a huge problem for a company with so much knowledge and know how in a highly specialised industry as when these people leave the company they will be taking all of their knowledge with them. They then needed somewhere for these über smart individuals to compile their experiences, ideas, and know how for not only the current staff to use but also the future inventors of the company.

Stuff like the f-35 Lightning doesn’t just conceive, design and develop themselves and when your job is to come up with and build some of the most technologically sophisticated and advanced aircraft and devices on the planet sitting around and shooting the breeze just doesn’t cut it! By deploying a tool where all of their boffins could come together and share ideas has helped them stay ahead and continue to kill stuff better than anyone else. When your biggest customer is the US department of defence their motto of “We never forget who we are working for” always rings true.

One of the interesting things I found looking into Lockheed Martins use of Sharepoint was that Microsoft has not as yet included these tools as an off the shelf feature in their newly revised Sharepoint 2010 with the focus remaining on document collaboration. I can’t work out why they aren’t interested in supplying what i would consider to be a proper all in one package to a $45.2 billion USD company is beyond me. Especially when Gartner recently released their predictions for your workplace 2020 where they identify the ten key trends that will influence change in the way we do business over the next ten years.

When you look at how these two juggernauts of the technology world are singing the praise of this new way of thinking then you would hope that others will sit up and take notice. My employer is not exception! They employ some 35 odd thousand people many of which have been in their jobs for longer then I have been alive but do you think they ask them when they are trying to solve a problem or change a work process? Noooooooooo of course not! When super corporations like IBM and Lockheed Martin can realise that they have some of the brightest minds working for them constantly ticking away all they needed was a no pressure outlet to let their ideas flourish amazing things started to happen. IBM can new even sell this to others now that’s clever. I’m going to take Jason’s advice here and not name names but there are some clever people at my work and they know the industry inside out, so when is management going to stop listening to the fresh graduates who have never done the job a day in their lives and start listening to the real experts?

This is the total opposite of a micro blog but hopefully some of you found it interesting!