"The money goes to the cash cows, not the cash calf," explains one former Flickr team member. If Flickr couldn't make bucks, it wouldn't get bucks (or talent, or resources).Because Flickr wasn't as profitable as some of the other bigger properties, like Yahoo Mail or Yahoo Sports, it wasn't given the resources that were dedicated to other products. That meant it had to spend its resources on integration, rather than innovation. Which made it harder to attract new users, which meant it couldn't make as much money, which meant (full circle) it didn't get more resources. And so it goes.As a result of being resource-starved, Flickr quit planting the anchors it needed to climb ever higher. It missed the boat on local, on real time, on mobile, and even ultimately on social--the field it pioneered. And so, it never became the Flickr of video; YouTube snagged that ring. It never became the Flickr of people, which was of course Facebook. It remained the Flickr of photos. At least, until Instagram came along.
Recently in Enterprise 2.0 Category
Last week, David Armano of Edelman Digital published an interesting post looking at the qualities needed for a good change agent, someone who promotes change within an existing business. It's a term I identify with closely, as driving and promoting change are exactly what I've spent the last half decade doing. The most resonant phrase?
Change agents aren't sprinters, they run marathons
Preach it, brother. ;-)
It's a good read, and I thoroughly recommend that you take the time to work through its ideas.
However, I was actually struck harder by a remark in the comments, if only because it resonated so strongly with my own life:
Nothing in here tells me why this is the year of the change agent. In fact, at a lot of companies that guy got laid off.
I don't really hold with the first sentence, but I do with the second, and not just because that's how I perceive what happened to me. Since I went public with my news, I've been amazed by how many people in broadly similar roles to me have confided that their change of job, or move into consulting, was triggered by exactly the same set of circumstances: redundancy. Media businesses in particular seem to have been pushing their change agents out of the door for the last 18 months to two years.
So, there's a question here: what's the lifespan of a corporate change agent? How long can companies tolerate people whose natural focus is shaking up and changing the business from within? Do they grow tired of them? Or do they decide that change is "done" at some point, and thus that a change agent is no longer needed? Is, in the end, a change agent a role better suited to a consulting business, brought in for periods of time to other businesses, than a permanent employee?
I don't have the answers. I wish I did. But these are questions I am most certainly asking myself as I figure out what's next for me.
Social is not new, businesses have known about social for a long time. It's the greater access that we now have (potentially) to learn more about how to do stuff well through collaboration that we are excited about - or we should be. Imagine if you could connect with people who think like you throughout the organizationImagine indeed...
The discussion about use of social software in businesses seems to have risen up people's radar significantly in the last month or so, and there's some really interesting discussion starting to build around it. This post by Euan really caught my attention:
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.The post is about as good a summary of the changes in the air as any, but it's the discussion in the comments on the post that really make it fly.
What I really like about the consumer Web 2.0 world is the fact that it has given us an amazing experimental laboratory for new tools and communication techniques. It has produced a Cambrian explosion of start ups, tools, features and buzzwords, each of which has evolved very quickly through exposure to rapid feedback at scale. Conversely, in the enterprise tools space, users are of secondary importance and therefore there are few evolutionary pressures that can improve the generally poor quality tools and systems that IT departments force on the business. This is starting to change as more and more senior people ask why their children have access to more effective tools on their home PCs than they have access to in the office.
Time to be proactive in providing stuff, before the CEO comes asking some hard questions...
JP Rangaswami of BT Design went a little bit further in that direction, by outlining how social tools can usefully become part of our working practices - and even build on some of the existing ones.
Social tools enavble the communities within businesses to emerge. There are fewer figures of authority and it's more a peer space than the traditional heirarchial business.
And it's worth bearing in mind that communities are not mutually exclusive. You can be (and are part) of many communities, and (if you're lucky) many communities select you to be part of them.
Young people today are going to come into the workplace used to pervasive. mobile communications and they're not going to be impressed with the static, lock-down worsktations we have now.
"They're pre-trained not to think as stupidly as previous generations," said JP.
And you only get proper levels of productivity by loosening you grip on these tools. Instant messenging can be important because it's one of the few forms of communication where it's polite to be silent. "Are you still there?" has become part of the language of phones because mobiles drop connections. In IM it's not necessary, because there's a status, allowing you to see if people are online or not, or if they're busy, or away from their computers. In this context, e-mail has almost become snail mail - people become irritated if you don't reply.
So, public indications of what you're doing is useful. But in most companies, Outlook rules our lives, and it can tell you that the best time for this group of people to meet is this date. But it doesn't share or advertise that information beyond that group.
Compare that to Twitter where you can have a person to person conversation using the @username protocol, but it's in public. You can take it private if you want, through direct mesages, but the conversation is still captured in a useful form.
This isn't particualrly new - there have been forms of an activity stream or newsfeed since 2006 at least. But using these activity streams for aggregation of community activity is valuable. If you can share that data maongst working teams - or communities - you gain the benefits of the network effect.
There were no real surprises in his preamble. Big, traditional companies struggling to get to grips with the internet, but they need to because 99% of people you want to access are there. And so are their competitors, and they have equal access. Traditional advantages like location mean nothing here.
"We've had [the internet] for 16 years, and only now are we getting a sense of how to win," said Hinchcliffe. "The rules are so different that there's a kind of congnitive dissinance about how much your business needs to change."
And this is where the controversy happened. He started talking about how to get Enterprise 2.0 ideas into your business. "The easiest way to do it is to do nothing at all," he said. The ideas are viral and come in through the network."
However, whatever the level of importance he put on the idea, his suggestion was that these tools are so compelling that clued-up users will push them into work environment with or without IT's help.
This video captures some of the key reasons why Web 2.0 matters to businesses:
Web 2.0 & The Enterprise from Adam Tinworth on Vimeo.
Sorry for the typing noises. A large number of people attending the discussion were liveblogging furiously, myself included.