90% People, 10% technology sesison.
* Moderator – Jessica Lipnack, NetAge, Inc., CEO and Co-Founder
* Speaker – Bill Ives, Web 2.0 Consultant and Writer
* Speaker – Dan Somers, Managing Director, VC-Net
* Speaker – Jeffrey Stamps, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, NetAge
* Speaker – Milton Chen, Founder and CTO, VSee Lab
* Speaker – Tom Witkin, VP Marketing, Sitescape
Milton’s attending virtually (webcam).
Why do we call it 90% people? For a very long time, everyone we talk to about collaboration tells us that it is 90% people not technology.
Jessica makes everyone introduce themselves (“I do the incredible irritating thing”) – name, organization.
Dan – VC-Net is a consultancy in London and New York.
Bill Ives – trained as a psychologist, work with people on collaboration – happy to see people first.
Tom – I do all the marketing for sitescape.
Milton – VSee software being used to show video and the ppt.
Milton will run the presentation.
Jessica – sometimes people tell me “the IT people” don’t get the culture side – but we met Milton through a group CIO at Shell – there are IT people who get the culture and we need to reinforce that.
[Editorial note: why are at least the first two presentations in this panel so very much about technology – that’s 40% at least which is fundamentally technical!]
Milton’s presentation – why is John Chambers wrong about telepresence?
VSee – free, low bandwith, video and audo conferencing. 10-40% of the bandwidth others use. P2P and Http tunneling.
In determining the resolution necessary – the question we asked ourselves is “when is a smile not a smile” and different resolutions.
What we see is that even with a cheap webcam, you can get the necessary resolution with a small, focused, field of view.
Problems in traditional videoconferencing – typcially you have go to a room in order to do telepresence, which takes you out of your context.
In summary, traditional video conferencing is too often a very expensive telephone booth – artificial, doesn’t respect how people work.
Q: from audience – what about the idea that the size of the image affects how compelling it is?
If you see people at “real size” (life size) it is more compelling – but the affect of that is overblown as compared to the benefits of real context and low bandwidth.
Tom from sitescape
Cool collaboration – ICE core. Things we are doing that we think will make it cool.
People are accustomed to certain set of tools – they are used to structuring information.
How do I as a user find the nuggets that other users have put in there?
We’re building tools that let people build their own blogs or wikis or what have you, but then invite their friends to come and see, through things like virtual folders – add people to the team and grow the pool of participatnts.
This is an on-ramp to team collaboration. Also working to get algorithmic approaches to really maximizing the team – what kinds of people do we need on the team not just from an expertise and location perspective but from a human perspective.
Human communication is not structured and formal but loose, messy, chaotic, and difficult to understand algorithmically.
It is much more important to think about the people and how they interact and how they get to the information they need.
Probabilistic latent semantic analysis.
Q from audience: but aren’t you saying the answer here is technology, rather than the answer being people?
Dan from VC-Net.
Where is your CCO? Chief Collaboration Officer.
There are many collaboration tools – a sound collaboration strategy incorporates them all.
Aysnchronous, real time, etc.
Workspaces, IM, Email, Audio conferencing, web conferencing, desktop videoconferencing, f2f – a pyramid, with workspaces at the bottom – at the top is more critical information, longer meetings – at the bottom is shorter interactions but longer memory (persistence).
If you have a CCO and a bunch of technologies, now what?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that collaborative technologies are like telephones – and if you just give them to people they will know how. I think they are more like a baseball / cricket bat – in poorly trained hands they are just a destructive weapon – to use them properly you need to know about and work with the team.
You need virtual teaming skills – don’t just assume that virtual teams work. For that matter, don’t assume that non-virtual teams will just work!
In collocated teams there are some natural pressures towards collaboration. in virtual teams there are inherent forces pushing people apart- even harder to keep people on the same page.
The empowered COO still has challenges – Communication (tools, protocols, skills), Work (planning, understanding), People (leadership, trust, team building), Time (resourcing, time management, rewards).
Progress in these areas can be measured and quantified – find KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), do audits, figure out what is working and what is not.
Make real measurable results – pay per KPI even if need be.
Insurance industry example – turned this problem on its head, and recognized that people were using the email technology and not the other technologies made available. In other words, they were collaborating, but the collaboration was funneled into the wrong directions.
Getting the users engaged in the system – asking people what they want and really listening to their input – made all the difference. Shared learning.
Story of working remotely with an engineer via basecamp, etc. Actually found it very liberating – the tools really are there, particularly if the team really work to help each other. If the team leaders recognize a diversity of cognitive styles, work to ensure the whole team is engaged, virtual collaboration is absolutely possible.
Comment from the audience:
Given the collaboration is 90% people, we should be sure that our “measurable results” are also tied into people – the kinds of metrics HR has traditionally measured – recruiting, retention, employee satisfaction and growth, etc.
Question from Seth Gottlieb – how do you address the conflict between mobility and social ownership, given that the workforce is more mobile? (If you do social boomarking on an external site like del.icio.us, do you take that with you when you go?)
Dan – set the appropriate culture. But some bad apples will occur and expose security information to the outside.
Bill – these tools can make bad behavior more clearly evident.
Seth tries to qualify – he’s talking about good behavior, but they need to move on.
[I get the question – I own OpenParenthesis as a blog, and if I ever leave Optaros (the odds are it will not be the last company for which I ever work before I die) the blog goes with me. Is that a problem for the modern enterprise?]
one more audience question:
Virtual teaming, natural gravitational pull is apart – do you think that will remain the case with the next generation workforce? Will gravity change directions?
Dan – it (the natural push apart) will lessen, but the downside is that other behaviors which were stronger in traditional experiences may need to be redeveloped or expanded.