Thought Leadership

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After dissolving the business I had started (more on that here: Birth of Enterprise Social) I continued using the brand to create a platform for thought leadership. I originally had some thoughts around thought leadership (funny that :) in an enterprise environment but decided to put it into practice for myself – see diagram for some quick notes on my thinking.

Essentially a blogging platform which I made available to a group of contributors and thought leaders. Mostly they were friends or colleagues who I knew were good writers and extremely knowledgable on the subject of enterprise social which we were all in at the time, i.e. social networking, innovation and collaboration in the enterprise.

I’ve added this project to the technology solutions category but it was much more than just about technology. We wrote about change management, culture, methodologies, etc. All of the things that make for the real success behind social technology adoption and implementation within the enterprise.

The platform I created was based on WordPress using a multi-author magazine site theme. The video shows different elements of the site:

  • Home page with aggregated content including featured and recent content filtered by category
  • A page to show authors / contributors and a sign up page if you wanted to become one
  • A landing page promoting specific events and activities linked to from an ad in the side bar of the site
  • A page with aggregated videos integrated from YouTube with automated updates every time you added videos to a playlist
  • WordPress admin view with calendar plugin to manage post scheduling and author contributions

Collaborative Workplaces

I’ve worked on several software product development, implementation and support projects (owned many too from a company owner point of view – more on that here: Birth of Enterprise Social). A lot of them have centred around supporting collaborative workspaces. That is to say the use of social technology platforms to facilitate collaboration, content creation and sharing.

As covered in the link page above, these were often based on either Confluence, the third party tool my company resold, customised and supported, or the platform we built ourselves and did the same for.

The link above has a lot of screenshots of some of the work we did for various customers based on either platform. Below you can see some screencasts of work we did for three customers based on Crowdflo, our own platform. In all cases they were extranets, that is to say, externally accessible web based collaboration platforms. They were used by the customer to support their enterprise customers in turn and provide a space for them to create profiles and connect with co-customers.

In all cases my company not only provided the platforms but also the training and support for our customers to support their customers in adopting the platforms.

Crowdsourced Innovation

I’ve worked on several software product development, implementation and support projects (owned many too from a company owner point of view – more on that here: Birth of Enterprise Social). A lot of them have centred around supporting innovation. I’ve even helped with the selection of solutions in this space – more on that here: Technology Selection

I have always believed the invention of new products or services can be a solitary exercise but the diffusion of innovation must be collaborative.

Starting with ideas and moving those forward through multiple iterations, with lots of collaborative input using a technology platform, is one way of supporting that.

Below are the examples of products I have lead and owned the development, implementation and support of based on different platforms.

Confluence idea management solution

Confluence as mentioned, was an enterprise wiki platform and now content collaboration software for modern team work. It was being used by many of my customers as an intranet. It would quite spontaneously be used for logging and tracking ideas but this was not good enough for many organisations. It lacked any specific and intentional, structured way of driving ideas through to conclusion. In the company I ran we developed a custom solution on the back of Confluence that allowed our customers to do just that – see screencast below.

Crowdflo idea management solution

Once we developed our own software platform (covered here) that was also used for generic intranet and extranet work, we looked to replicate the idea management approach we had taken with Confluence. We decided to extend it a little further than just idea management but also provide the means to manage projects that were the result of ideas chosen for implementation. More in the screencast below.


Birth of Enterprise Social

I started my own business in 2006 called Netociety first and then eventually renamed it to Socialwrks. I ran it for about 6 years. Initially the business was based on the back of Confluence.

Confluence started out as an enterprise wiki. A platform developed by Atlassian at the beginning of the enterprise social movement that has gone on to become so much more. It is still billed as content collaboration software for modern team work.

As an individual I resold Confluence for a few years and helped large enterprise customers implement the platform into their own environments. I helped them with launching the platform, early stage adoption and then value creation. This was the beginning of my work in and on customer success.

I soon realised the need customers had for custom/bespoke solutions from a functionality as well as design point of view.

I went on to build and run a team of designers, developers and customer success managers. We would customise the platform and extend its functionality through plugins. We also did a lot custom design work. These were mostly around social intranets and idea management platforms.

The company grew to a team of around 12 at its height and the management team grew into a team of four that managed to secure some government grants and early stage investment with some of the angel investors becoming owners/advisors.

At some stage we decided to develop our own product called Crowdflo. This was equivalent to Confluence in many ways but leveraged newer Java technologies and approaches to make the building of custom forms and structures easier. This provided added flexibility in building enterprise social platforms we could create and run for customers. It also got us into the nascent SaaS space. We ran our platform and customer instances on Amazon’s AWS hosting environment.

The business dissolved in 2012 and not in a good way but I learned a great deal from that too. Like the importance of choosing the right partners and how to structure your business right from the beginning. I mean structure from a shareholding point of view. I went on to join another startup (Yammer, the Enterprise Social Network) to help grow its EMEA base from a customer success point of view. This was acquired by Microsoft where I stayed on for many years working on the Office 365 business, still in customer success.

Below are some screenshots of some the work we did (click on an image for a larger pop up and slide show) and you can check these two project pages that detail some specific areas of work with demo screencasts: