Dachis Group Technology Alliances

Today we are announcing a set of global Social Business Technology Alliances which are part of a broader push to develop implementation services in the new field of Social Business software.

For a great summary, read Pete’s post, David’s or Kate’s.

You can also read my full post on dachisgroup.com, or take a look at the press release.

If you are interested in finding out more about to work with these vendors, with Open Source software or custom developed solutions, please get in touch.

Posted earlier today on Leveraging Ideas…

Posted earlier today on Leveraging Ideas:

I think there is a disconnect here.

What has made App Stores successful is that they do control the transactional part of the relationship, so they can get the kind of margins you need to make them viable. Force.com generates subscription revenue, takes a cut of app sales, and ties customers deeper in to their own platform with each app install (resulting in higher long-term lock in).

If you don’t have those advantages, you are not an “app store” as people are discussing them, you are a directory.

Oneforty is not an app store, it is a directory of Twitter apps. It is simply positioning itself as an app store. Oneforty cannot offer developers the value-add they need, nor can they offer end-users the unified and integrated experience that they love in real app stores. It is a tough spot to be in.

Building a directory of twitter apps is a much different proposition than Salesforce building force.com and I am surprised people are confusing the two so easily.

A new website and some new ideas

The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity. Just a few days ago Oliver Marks announced that he was joining us, and before that we announced our acquisition of Headshift.

Today Dachis Group is launching a new website, and I am excited about it for a few reasons. The primary one is that there is now a place where Dachis Group can share Social Business Design thinking. There is a lot of material on there that people will be able to explore and I hope that it helps get some new conversations going about Social Business Design.

The other thing that I am excited about is that the new site has the beginnings of some new ideas for how Dachis Group will grow as a Social Business. If you go to the front page of the site you will see a stream of information about what we are doing. Some people won’t believe that this is a live and unmoderated view of what we are doing. It is unlike anything else out there and represents a glimpse at the Dynamic Signal of our organization.

As this part of the website grows and becomes part Collaboration space and part Laboratory, it will offer our customers new ways to interact and engage with us and other Social Business Design thinkers.

So, please take a minute to check out the new site and post feedback here if you have any questions for me. You can also download our Social Business Design whitepaper if you would like a more in-depth view of what Social Business Design is and can mean to your business.

Google Wave and Jevons' Paradox

A few days ago I wrote about Jevons’ Paradox and “The Attention Question”: The idea that we do not need to create tools that take up more of our time and attention, but instead we need to start building social tools in business that focus first on productivity and results, and on being social as a secondary goal.

Robert Scoble really nails the same point in his post about Google Wave and its email pedigree. When I first had a chance to use Google Wave a few weeks ago I said that I thought it felt a bit regressive.

Is Google Wave falling victim to Jevons’ Paradox?
The search for a better general collaboration tool continues and a lot of vendors are feeling the pressure to build better and better tools to allow people to connect, share and collaborate. Google Wave does this well. Take an existing set of tools such as IM and Email, layer some social networking thought on top of them and open up some collaboration spaces for people to create content.

My experience with Google Wave has been that it is an attention black hole. Part of this is a result of the fact that Email and IM are the primary paradigms on which the user experience is based. The other is that Google Wave is another example of directionless connectedness. Interaction without intent.

You can argue that this is the power of Google Wave and email. The idea that the user is given the tools and it is up to them to figure out what to do with them. I would argue that Jevons’ Paradox still stands, and that these tools will create efficiency in interacting, but not in actual business process or value creation.

Dennis Howlett says that “effectiveness not efficiency has to be the goal. We’re already moderately efficient in our processes” and he is right.

Breakthroughs in effectiveness are not going to be mass-purpose tools, they will be specific tools which allow the user to be more effective than before by using social concepts to make use of the efficiencies that are already in existence.

Stowe Boyd is getting behind Social Busi…

Stowe Boyd is getting behind Social Business as a way of looking at more than just IT and cool technologies to solve business problems.

Enterprise 2.0, on the other hand, does not have the same coherence. Perhaps this is because so many of the principles of Web 2.0 are blunted by the command-and-control needs of the enterprise. You cannot state that Enterprise 2.0 is Web 2.0 for the enterprise because much of what defines Web 2.0 does not easily translate to the enterprise context.

In particular, Web 2.0 as a phenomenon is strongly tied to social tools — social networking, social media, and so on — in which the individual is primary, and asymmetric networks of relationships with other individuals form the principal mechanism for connection and information flow. However, this does not gibe with the enterprise obsession with groups: where the rights and responsibilities of individuals are derived from group membership, and these rights are granted by the enterprise.

an my friend Euan is also putting his shoulder behind it

Why do I believe this? Because I believe there is a fundamental change in how we do business heading our way. Driven by the networked communication tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, not only how we communicate with those who benefit from our services but also how we organise ourselves to produce them will be changed forever.

What I believe is happening, as more of our society becomes more connected and computing power and bandwidth become pervasive, is the equivalent of the advent of the printing press.

What is exciting here is that we are seeing a resurgence of optimism and idealism about the future, but it is coupled with a practical framework for achieving change.

Enterprise 2.0 is still a powerful concept, and it is a discipline that will grow and mature. Much like Social Media Marketing, Enterprise 2.0 is a much needed point solution in a larger problem. When applied properly and at the right time, it can play a significant role in organizational transformation.

Back in April I wrote a post that attempted to bring some clarity to the role of Enterprise 2.0 in a Social Business world, and I think that post is more relevant now than ever.

The Attention Question in Social Business

The story goes like this: In 1865 Coal was a big deal. A lot of R&D work was being done on how to make better use of coal. Make it burn hotter, make steam faster, make it burn more quickly, etc.

240px-SteamEngine_Boulton&Watt_1784This guy, James Watt, had a big breakthrough. He created a steam engine that was far more efficient than the old models. It was more powerful, smaller and used less coal. This was great news and it got a lot of attention, and the orders for his engines came flowing in. Before long Watt’s engine was being used all over the place. In fact, because it was so efficient coal was now being used in more places and for more things than ever before.

And so this guy named William Jevons started to study the use of Coal. Think of him as the fringe peak-oil alarmist of his time (who was, well, right…). He wrote a book called “The Coal Question” and in it he surmized that there is a paradoxical effect when you increase the efficiency with which a resource is used:

increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.

This was extremely counter-intuitive to people at the time, and I believe it remains so today. In fact, just yesterday Paul Kedrosky noticed it in terms of electricity consumption and the increasing energy efficiency of batteries. We strive for increased fuel efficiency, but it is possible that we would simply accelerate the consumption of Oil if we were to do so. It is likely in fact that driving is bound, by some degree, to economic affordability and that more people would drive further if it were more cost effective.

Attention as resource

I was proudly recounting Jevons’ Paradox to my colleague Pete the other day. I was actually surmising that if Kate had a more powerful computer, she would simply run more programs all at once and it would eat up any gain in processing power that she would get through buying a faster computer. I was feeling good about the genius of the whole thing and mentioned that I was curious how this paradox could be applied to Enterprise 2.0 when Pete quipped “well, attention is the resource.”

A lot of thinking has gone on around the idea of Attention as a resource that should not be abused or depleted and it is certainly a productive way to think about it, but on the other hand we are constantly looking for more and more efficient ways to utilize that attention. Twitter is a more efficient use of attention through its smaller and faster messages, instant messaging increases the efficiency of many interactions, wikis make more efficient use of the attention paid to long form content, etc.

We may be falling for the fallacy that enables Jevons’ Paradox, and by doing so we may be pushing people to the limit of their capability, even though we intend the opposite.

The implications for Social Business

Enterprise 2.0 (and Web 2.0 in general)  is a great example of technology increasing the efficiency of the consumption of a resource. By being social we are creating more efficient and useful filters and information sharing capabilities. Whether it is expertise location on an internal social network or the ease with which we can share family photos, we have more efficient ways than ever to interact with large groups of people.

And so there is a challenge for one of the fundamental assumptions of Enterprise 2.0: that increasing the efficiency with which people connect and collaborate will allow for emergent or unexpected outcomes.

Helping create emergent outcomes is core to what we do at Dachis Group, so we have been thinking about it a lot.

The challenge is this: by simply increasing the efficiency through which people connect and collaborate, we may paradoxically consume even more of their attention because it is now easier for them to connect with people. This can lead to a depletion of their ability to do useful things with their new connections because they will be too busy monitoring, maintaining and developing their networks.

Design with intent

To me this is a question of design and intent, and to some degree it brings up the question of whether much of what has been going on in Enterprise 2.0 is in fact a crock.

We need to stop designing tools and platforms which are simply meant to allow people to connect, share and collaborate more. In doing this we are being incredibly irresponsible with the resource we value most. Instead we need to design for business intent and utilize our efficiencies as tools to help solve real business problems.

It is only by creating more efficient ways for workers to do the job they are expected to do that we can create the space and time they need in order to create emergent outcomes. This applies not only to software, but strategy as well. As people become more efficient through the use of Social Business tools, the surplus attention that they create needs to be protected through policy.

It is only through the application of both technological and strategic efforts that you can do both, and that we can avoid falling victim to Jevons’ Paradox.