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Nosco: Prediction Market Software for Companies

At the Enterprise 2.0 breakfast I held for Hill & Knowlton clients in Toronto last week, someone ask me about tools for capturing ideas from sales people with voting and commenting capabilities. Nothing sprang to mind, but I promised I would do some research.

Seems like a bit of an untapped market to be honest*, but one that hits all the buttons is Nosco (www.nosco.dk) from a Danish firm.

Not only does it allow voting and commenting, but it also allows participants to buy and sell shares in the best ideas and run competitions. For sales teams, I think these kinds of features could be ideal. The software can be hosted securely externally (so up and running quickly) or installed on a customer’s own servers.

* Since posting this, Noam Danon left a comment pointing me to QMarkets, another potential candidate. Any more out there I’m missing?

** Add Consensus Point to your list as well. President David Perry informs me that they “actually started developing prediction markets 15 years ago but things *really* started heating up with The Wisdom of Crowds came out.”

Destination: Canada

In the words of my hosts, I’ve “finally realized where the action is” and will be taking the Enterprise 2.0 roadshow to Canada next week.

In what promises to be a whirlwind tour I’ll be speaking to Hill & Knowlton clients and staff in Toronto on Tuesday 7th, followed by beers at Third Tuesday that same evening. On Wednesday I fly to Ottawa and do the same thing all over again, with Third Tuesday in Ottawa on a Wednesday (these Canucks are crazy guys, aren’t they).

It’s a while since I was last in Canada, but seeing that both the literature review and foreword authors for Enterprise 2.0 are both based there, it seems like a fitting place to begin the tour.

The rest of the year currently sees the roadshow moving on to Paris and Finland in November, and Sweden in December.

Promises to be a busy end to 2008.

What are you working on? Twitter-like tools for the enterprise

In Enterprise 2.0, and indeed as early as June last year, I talk about the benefits of internal micro-blogging using enterprise versions of tools like Twitter.

If this is an area of interest to you (and it probably should be), then I strongly recommend you read two posts from Jeremiah Owyang and Neville Hobson.

In List of enterprise microblogging tools: Twitter for the intranet, Jeremiah has started a list of vendor offerings in the area (currently standing at eight). Well worth watching I think.

Neville takes one of the offerings, Yammer, for a test drive in Twitter for the enterprise from Yammer.

Like blogs, wikis and other social software that has gone before, I advise caution. Make sure you know what you want from such tools (and also what you need in terms of security and control) before diving straight in.

Enterprise 2.0 review: A fresh book

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There’s a new review of Enterprise 2.0 in town – this time from Pleon’s Daniel Penton, writing for Simply Communicate who also interviewed me last month.

Daniel’s review is practical and down to earth, a point made clear from the title “Web 2.0 made simple”. He highlights both the Oracle and Janssen-Cilag case studies that feature in the book as examples that “make a very compelling argument for Enterprise 2.0.”

He also singles out the 4Cs Approach that runs through the book, labeling it as “a practical action-led guide to employing social software within organisations.”

I was particularly interested to see Daniel picking up on the increasing friction between business and IT departments that will result as companies try to introduce these tools:

As a result, an initiative often falls over when it gets to the IT department, who are more concerned with maintaining current infrastructure than experimenting with new unproven technologies. This is one of the major challenges of widespread adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise.

He concludes that the book is “a great way to educate people new to the subject while enabling those who are already experienced in the area” and “shows how easy it can (and should) be to start experimenting with Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace.”

Who am I to argue with that?

Enterprise 2.0 Review: Truly inspirational

With the first reviews of Enterprise 2.0 coming in thick and fast, I thought it would be worth highlighting and commenting on them here. I promise I won’t limit it to just positive reviews – I’m more than happy to respond to any criticism as well (although I obviously hope that will be few and far between).

First up is a review from Roy Johnson

, who maintains the excellent Mantex website which is full of excellent resources.

He summarises the book well, explaining that its purpose is to show how the techniques and concepts behind Web 2.0 application can be used to encourage collaboration efforts in secretive, competitive businesses. He comments that to succeed in modern business, managers and directors “must learn to listen and talk to their customers and staff”, be “more agile in their thinking”, “less monolithic in their practices”, and “catch up to new Internet-based activities which can sweep away unwary traditionalists overnight”.

There is one criticism though:

In fact he misses the opportunity to point out that one of the biggest incentives for companies to embrace Web 2.0 software is that much of it is completely free. Almost all major programs are now available in Open Source versions – including such fundamentals as operating systems (Linux) content management systems (Joomla) and virtual learning environments (Moodle).

In the UK, government institutions have invested and wasted billions of pounds after being bamboozled by software vendors. In the education sector alone, VLEs such as Blackboard and WebCT have proved costly mistakes for many colleges and universities. They are now locked in to proprietory systems, whilst OSS programs such as Moodle run rings round them – and are free.

It’s a good point well made. I certainly wasn’t explicit about this. I tend to find that the fact that software is open source or free (which aren’t the same thing) doesn’t make it good. It’s certainly not one of the criteria for success. Sure, it can be an incentive, but my guess is that most businesses would prefer well supported, paid for software that will meet their needs than open source, free software that might not.

Summing up, Roy says:

This is a truly inspirational book which should be required reading for managers, IT leaders, systems analysts, developers, and business strategists in any enterprise, small, medium, and especially large.

I encourage you to read his full review to draw your own conclusions.

How did I get here?

I avoid bouts of ego-stroking wherever I can, as it’s one of the things that annoys me about this most social of media.

So on this occasion, I hope you’ll forgive me (Marc Wright would probably appreciate the traffic). His internal communications magazine, simply-communicate.com recently profiled me as part of its “How Did I Get Here?” series, joining such luminaries as Euan Semple, Steve Rubel, John Smythe, Mark Ragan, Shel Holtz, Steve Crescenzo, Neville Hobson and my soon to be ex-colleague David Ferrabee.

You can read the piece here Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit film .

Will social software change the future of work?

My core thesis in Enterprise 2.0 is that social software will change the future of work.

So in an otherwise underwhelming update of McKinsey’s global survey on the state of web 2.0 in companies, I was therefore intrigued by the finding that companies satisfied with their use of web 2.0 “are not only using more technologies but also leveraging them to change management practices and organizational structures.”

Here are some of the data points that appear to back that up:

  • 38% of respondents said that their company’s use of web 2.0 technologies and tools has changed the way they communicate with customers and suppliers;
  • 16% said it has changed the way they hire and retain talent;
  • The same number said it has created major new roles or functions in their organization;
  • 14% said it has changed the way their organization is structured.

Before we get too carried away, it’s worth noting that 36% of respondents said that it hadn’t changed the way the company is managed and organized at all, although when you break that down only 8% of those who report the highest satisfaction levels with their use of web 2.0 believe that to be the case.

For me, the report is still too lightweight for a heavyweight organization like McKinsey. Maybe there’s a lot more data or analysis that they’re not making public. If so, that’s a shame because businesses need as much as they can get at the moment. If not, then they need to look at some of their more pedestrian survey questions for next year and go much, much deeper.

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