Sunday, March 13, 2011

We Can Only Make an Old Car Ride So Much Faster

Every time I talk about the end of e-mail there is a great commotion.  But now that I have The New York Times on my side with facts see chart below it’s going to become a little easier.
It’s not that I don’t like e-mail.  I do believe it’ll still have its place, together with the typewriter, vinyl record and the Walkman.  Ok, that may sound a little too extreme for some.  Maybe a more realistic assessment is to compare the future of e-mail with our home address or our telephone land line.  Directions we give to people we most likely don’t want to really talk to.  For those with nostalgic feelings, just place it by the gramophone.
One thing is absolutely certain.  E-mail will not be the primary way of communicating and collaborating in the very near future as you can see in the chart posted by The New York Times in December 2010 (click to enlarge).

But this traditional way of communicating definitely has a heroic history and must be respected:
       200 BC to 100 BC - Human messengers on foot or horseback common in Egypt and China with messenger relay stations built.  Sometimes fire messages used from relay station to station instead of humans.
       14 DC - Romans establish postal services.
       1714 - Englishmen, Henry Mill receives the first patent for a typewriter.
       1971 - Computer engineer, Ray Tomlinson invented internet based email.
       1980 - Sony Walkman invented (nothing to do with email but yet an interesting fact).

It’s been 2,200 years this type of communication is around.  With the exponential development of technology for communication and collaboration started by the internet, and the globalization becoming the norm of business relations, it’s understandable that this electronic version of a 2,000 years-old concept is not enough to keep up with the world transformation.  The old wheels of e-mail are falling apart trying to match the pace of modern society.
Let alone the fact that poor usage practices made it one of the greatest productivity drags of our times.  According to several studies, an individual will:
       Produce an average of 25,200 e-mails per year
       Spend as much as 16.1 hours a week working through e-mail
       Or approximately 96 business days a year

While a good portion of this is real work, the numbers show the great opportunity there is.  However, changing technology will not change these inneficient practices completely.  Its mostly about people!
On March 24 2pm US ET, I’ll be talking more about these opportunities during a free Webinar titled Social Business – It is not just about technology!  Click here to register and join me in this conversation.
Visit me at and connect on Twitter @VMRdaCosta

4 Reasons Why You Must Start Social Business Transformation through People (and how)

For more than 2,000 years we’ve been communicating through some variation of messaging system, e.g. smoke signals, messengers, postal services and e-mail.  Collaboration in the same period of time was done either through gatherings (today called meetings), then conference calls and because of lack of anything better, e-mail.
With historical changes caused globalization, creation of internet and the progression of its capabilities like blogs, wikis and social networking, today people across the world are capable of sharing knowledge in previously unimaginable ways.  However, corporations are still struggling with the change that is already almost consolidated in the consumer space.
To help addressing this situation, I listed here 4 key issues and opportunities which make me believe it’s fundamental to start corporate social business transformation through people.  You will also find some recommended actions for each of them, based on research, studies and experience.
·         I want to target the audience in communications (CORRECT)…
·         …and I can’t do that with enterprise social tools (MYTH)
·         I want to target the audience for collaboration (NOT NECESSARILY)
·         Legal and confidentiality concerns (REAL)
·         I want to ensure security of proprietary information (CORRECT)…
·         …and enterprise social tools are too open (MYTH)
Action: Educate people about some of the myths around security and how to use different social business settings depending on the confidentiality of information.  In some cases, a personal message will remain the best option.  However, people in general tend to withhold information as a matter of personal power rather than security concerns, as you will see next.
2. VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE: from individual to collective
·         What would you choose (in a scale of 1 to 100)?
o   Know 60 if everyone else knows 30
o   Know 80 if everyone else also knows 80
o   Most will choose the former because that’s how they were able to grow in the past
·         PAST PARADIGM: What only I know makes me more relevant than others
·         If you manage knowledge within a limited space, i.e. your direct reports, your peers, your function, your business units (BU), you will be capped by that much space
·         TODAY’S REALITY: I’ll learn more if I share more
·         Collaboration will enable you and your team to transcend the very limits silos create
Action: Work with the leadership of your organization to recognize collaborative (team, multi-function, multi-BU) outcomes as much as individual (one person, one function, one BU) contributions.  Some of those collaborative outcomes can create unprecedented breakthroughs and business results.  It may be time for a change in the reward and recognition system to put more weight in team results rather than individual evaluation.  Create a pilot for global collaboration to demonstrate its power.  Showing is always better than telling.
·         Internet has seriously cracked the dams holding knowledge
·         Social collaboration destroyed those dams for good
Action: Focus in securing proprietary and confidential information and then let knowledge sharing flow.  If you try to stop it people will find potentially dangerous alternatives, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
·         In a strong hierarchical culture it is a lot more difficult for social business to fly
·         Social business will break into “secret brotherhoods” and will allow people to voice their opinion
Action: Understand the culture of your organization.  If you work for an extremely hierarchical organization it will take a long time to get to a social business environment.  Hopefully not long enough to compromise the future of the company.  In that case you have to understand if there is any intention of leadership to give it a try.  If so, start with a small and clear business case that can demonstrate the potential of the change.  You may have only one chance, so study the alternatives thoroughly and choose wisely.  In less rigid cultures, you still have to make sure leadership engage in fair and open discussions, encouraging participation at all levels.
On March 24 2pm US ET, I’ll be talking more about these opportunities during a free Webinar titled Social Business – It is not just about technology!  Click here to register and join me in this conversation.

Visit me at and connect on Twitter @VMRdaCosta

Don’t transform Social Network into the next inbox nightmare

Whether you are leading Social Business transformation in your company or joining the bandwagon of Social Networking in your personal life, there are some few tips I wanted to share to make sure you create real value from the experience. Approaching it recklessly will just create a new information overload nightmare to your clients or to yourself.  Read

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Social Media increases employee life span by 25%

Check this blog I wrote for AIIM Enterprise 2.0 Community:
It’s been said that people who are actively engaged in social networking will live in average 25% longer lives.  The main reasons identified in this study are: click here to continue reading...
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If all you have is a Social Hammer...

“When will you stop giving us more tools and start making our lives simpler”? That was the question I was asked during a casual meeting last week with some classmates from the University of Chicago. The inquiry came when we were talking about Social Media for the enterprise environment. Read

Also visit me at and connect on Twitter @VMRdaCosta