The principle of the practical challenge - SocialNow! as an invitation

By Sebastian Thielke Apr 14, 2016
The principle of the practical challenge - SocialNow! as an invitation

Translation of the Original Article by Sebastian Thielke 


It finally happened. It took three years to come to an event format that was wonderful, valuable and highly innovative from the beginning - SocialNow! What makes this event so special compared to larger and wider events, fairs or BarCamps? It is the format, which excludes Marketing, shows practicality, and enables critical analyzing of features, products and services. It is two days in Lisbon where a wide audience of suppliers, implementers and companions have the possibility to experience and question the basic solutions for everyday challenges with digital collaboration on a fictitious company.

The field of participants is wonderfully diverse. The major suppliers and consultants are represented as well as solution seekers and practical implementers. The small closed environment of the event helps all in establishing a benevolent atmosphere of trust and honesty , which may not be present in large marketing events, in-house exhibitions or global mega fairs. The organizer Ana Neves deliberately used the closed intimacy of exchange, discussion and even open criticism.

The Challenge

All providers in the segment of digital collaboration should confront this format, because what they can learn there, they will not find in their own Silo Think tanks within their own four walls: critical questioning and embedding in a typical organization situation. The organizer has created a symbolic company Cablinc, which fits perfectly into the classic middleclass. In this case, the challenges of large corporations as well as smaller companies are not disregarded. The providers are faced not only with this imaginary company, but also with the different people and their roles and functions.

The key points in the presentation of the supplier are not the features, functions and the marketing promises. Rather, in the foreground, how the and provider representatives tackle the different challenges of the company Cablinc. Here are the scenarios, which the providers had to face:

·        There is a broken machine in production, and the only person that knows how to fix it has left Cablinc two years ago.

·        An employee returns back to work after a long illness, and needs to organize both the existing email flood as well as the different urgencies during her absense. She is a bottleneck in decisions and projects.

·        A new factory is being set up in Turkey, but nobody really knows what is going on there.

·        The legal department has to clarify the matters that are caused by a fire in their own factories. They face the challenge that they simply do not have access to most documents and files.

·        The big conference room in the office is always chaotic and nobody cares about the organizing the meetings, the agendas and the content. It always is a frustrating affair to hold a meeting there.

Since the concept is open-ended in the approach, the suppliers could choose between one or more scenarios. They present their approach to the participants and a declared group consisting of the CIO, the CEO and corporate communications.

The Challenged

Who will now face this unusual concept? In the end, it is just about good appearance and perfectly coordinated demos. Rather, the focus was how much the vendor had actually approached the challenge and especially what story they tell.

It is interesting to see that a very heterogeneous field of applications and solutions were presented. The good thing is that the size of the provider and its marketing power were completely negated. Of course, the big ones could count on their brand, but that doesn’t really help in the problem-solving situation.

IBM naturally was one of the leaders in the presentation field. Nevertheless, the large company saw itself face to face with other suppliers:

·        MangoApps

·        NooQ

·        TOPDOX

·        Brikit

·        Sitrion

·        Knowledge Plaza

We can already see here that the market offers an incredible amount of diversity. But how do you deal with this diversity? Does one really choose a leader and then try to align everything to it? Exactly in this context is a further content-aspect of SocialNow! The presentations of the providers were framed by different topics ranging from implementation, acceptance, procedure model to the new paths and ways of working within the applications. Both the audience and the representatives of Cabling thus have the opportunity not only to look at the functions and the application as such, but to build the perspective and the connections on the topics mentioned and to also take it into account. The result is a holistic picture of the possible digital collaboration.

Challenge accepted

The first serve comes from IBM. The team presents the entirety of the IBM world and the ecosystem. The themes Meeting, Associates and their projects as well as the fundamental cooperation can be observed in the presentation. Here, the IBM team accesses the full spectrum of applications. IBM Connections stands in the foreground as the base. In addition, it is shown how the application IBM Docs works seamlessly with the platform. The mobile application finds its use just as the new version of IBM Sametime. Relatively easily, the team jumps back and forth from the Instance Connections and the email alternative Verse. IBM could not help but to include one Marketing Stunt, and show the beta integration of its intelligent assistant and cognitive system Watson. That caused quite a stir.


Fresh Fruit

As the second contender, MangoApps faces the company Cablinc, after thematic excursions into Knowledge Management and ISO Standards. Here it is the human being that is at the heart of the story and it shows a day in the life of this person and employee. At various points he has contact with the aforementioned challenges. Mango apps shows here how well integrated the daily work may be within such a platform, also from the user point of view, easy and accessible. The integration of mobility goes without saying.


Building Bridges

With Brikit, the team shows what all can be done on the existing ecosystem to Confluence, Jiira and HipChat. On the optical basis a wonderful network is created, which further leverages the content and existing values of wikis very well, respectively offers the possibility to integrate team-oriented smart mobile application usefully in an overarching, common network.


Digital collaboration doable

Sitrion and the ability to transform SharePoint into a usable collaboration environment complete the day. The team here shows what is possible if the appropriate level of cooperation moves in the foreground as the surface of SharePoint. Gamification or the reward of actions on the platform is highlighted here.


Place of Knowledge

Knowledge Plaza opened the second day and shows how well knowledge, tagging and search can combine. The solid application is easy to understand and also comprehensibly shows the degree of different approaches to the challenges of daily work. Of particular interest here is dealing with the shared knowledge.


Mobile is in the foreground

It gets exciting with TOPDOX. The team shows impressively how a connecting module facilitates or converts the digital collaboration. TOPDOX creates connections and searchability to existing especially popular applications and integrates them effectively with each other. Special attention is paid to the mobility of the application, and the goal of a Search distributed across all enterprise applications. The TOPDOX team has a clear statement: Either you accept that the employees work with Dropbox and Co., or you ignore it further and miss the boat.


It can be so beautiful

NooQ closes as last of the challenged the round of presentations. Here the presentation and just the appearance cater for the big 'wow' factor with all attendees. That news streams and information can also be displayed very well and especially accessible in circles, breaks with the classic image of the list of information and messages. By own choice and the algorithms of the applications, the information circles and the knowledge adapt in size and individual perception. It's easy for the user to encircle his relevant topics. When stating that it also works on Connections, a little sympathy sigh went through the room.


The Scoring and assessment

Now one faces these presentations and evaluates and assesses them for themselves and also under the many aspects of expanded topics of SocialNow! In the end, an election is held quite classic to the democratic principle. It assesses the presentation according to their manner, according to the fit for the organization as well as notable features and just the coolest tool.

Mango Apps was liked best by all those present in the categories presentation and organizational. Nooq scored first place in both Cool-categories. So, at the end of the day there are two winners on the podium and a lot of participants who in my opinion, were able to have a meaningful view on a section of the market. Because the features and functions could not dazzle over the usefulness and the Why. Many a team had to face a critical discussion in one way or another.

Closer to reality

I need to remark on one more thing. Although this format is closer to the actual business and the challenges of companies, it is nevertheless still a certain and very specific reality of specialists, pre- and lateral thinkers who contribute their views and experiences here.

It would be desirable if the daily and especially real business could be faced more precisely. Cablinc produces cables.  What are the challenges of groups such as engineers? Why should they confront such a digital collaboration? How does the world of routine workers look regarding the possible cooperation? Is it really only the knowledge workers who take part in such a platform and how about people who simply have no time for learning, realignment and adjusting? I would also wish for this proximity in this very good format.

The Wish

One more thing:  You leaders and pioneers, dare to imagine the real conditions and attempt to solve them. This format is a win-win situation. Use the input and feedback about your products not just outside your own four walls, and not just in a fog of benevolence, but developed and advanced through various perspectives that you cannot have. Dare. Go to SocialNow. You can only win.

Although this is a long blog post, I would like to encourage also reading the following ones, because they will deal again in detail with the applications and give them the spotlight.

About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant für Digital Transformation
Social Business und Enterprise 2.0 - Strategieentwicklung, Enablement, Kommunikation sowie Wertschöpfung mit dem Hauptaugenmerk: Der Mensch macht das Unternehmen.