Collaboration


…for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference! And you can use this handy promo code to save $100 on your registration or get a free pass to the Demo Pavilion!

Today’s successful recruiters (or, as I like to say… Talent Acquisition Innovators) are already aware of how Enterprise 2.0 technologies are changing the face of the talent landscape. In order to effectively manage the recruiting process, talent professionals have to understand the new world order. And the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, being held in Boston, MA on June 9-12 is just the kind of place savvy talent professionals will find the tools and information they need to build the Next Generation Workforce. Speaking of which, check out one of the E2.0 Conference offerings that deals specifically with the nGen Workforce:

Developing a Next Generation Workforce

The velocity and variability of today’s business environment has become more dynamic and unpredictable than ever before. The pace of change is so fast, that executives find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to keep their organizations performing and innovating at levels necessary to deliver optimal business results and competitive differentiation. What capabilities does an enterprise require to develop an agile workforce? How do organizations address the leadership gap? How do strategists address strategic talent initiatives? What analytics are necessary to link organizational capabilities with business strategy execution? What is the role of technology in developing a next generation workforce?
This is an incredible opportunity to get your feet wet with Enterprise 2.0. Focus areas include leadership, community, education, and solutions. The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is the largest gathering of its kind, and it will provide exposure to the newest tools and technologies you can use for talent acquisition and development. It will also provide excellent networking opportunities with the best and brightest minds in the Enterprise 2.0 world, which can translate to lots of great talent for your future openings.
Enterprise 2.0 is the future. The future is now. And you can get it all at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.

I am trying to find ways to be more creative. I like having ideas. I like having creative ideas even more. In my quest to become more creative, I find myself constantly hunting for tools to help me achieve “creativity nirvana.” One tool I’ve uncovered is a funky web site called GetFreshMinds.com. You know it must be cool since the author’s name is Katie, and, as we all know, Katie is the greatest name in the world. But, once again, I digress.

When I was reading one of Katie’s recent posts about innovation lessons she learned in 2007 I was led to IdeaList, a site where anyone can post an idea and get feedback from the community at large. There are a lot of really interesting ideas on IdeaList (not, however, this one), but one caught my eye because it is very much in line with what BSG Alliance calls Agile Talent.

The “idea” is actually a design contest sponsored by Samsonite. Samsonite wants to bring a new product to market, and they are looking outside their own design team for the right idea. They’re going worldwide, seeking a solution in the global marketplace, on-demand. The top prize is 5,000 Euros, and the total of all the prize money is 11,500 Euros (I had to look up the conversion on Google – it’s just under $17,000). $17,000 is a paltry sum for a company whose quarterly revenue is almost $300MM. I don’t have access to their budgets, but I think it’s safe to say that Samsonite’s product development group has a yearly budget well in excess of $17,000. For a fraction of what they could spend on a handful of internal ideas, Samsonite is getting potentially hundreds of ideas from an external talent pool – all for a total of $17,000 in prize money (and, yes, the overhead of coming up with the contest, marketing it, yaddayaddayadda).

By looking outside its walls for creative ideas, Samsonite is implementing Agile Talent. They are coming up with innovative ways to engage new thought leaders, without the burden of bringing them on as employees. They are getting the very best ideas that people have to offer, and they are not required to invest any capital up front. It’s like getting an employee to work for you for months, and only paying her if she actually produces something you like and can sell. It’s a very effective way to remain flexible, efficient, and profitable in the 21st Century.

In their book Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams discussed another company that uses this type of Agile Talent to decrease time-to-market and increase innovation – Procter & Gamble. From the Wikinomics web page, they have this to say:

Smart, multibillion dollar companies like Procter & Gamble that cultivate nimble, trust-based relationships with external collaborators to form vibrant business ecosystems that create value more effectively than hierarchically organized businesses.

Through this design competition, Samsonite is exploring a new landscape in human resources. They are building a community of “workers” to provide talent in an on-demand capacity – when Samsonite needs new ideas, they can call upon the community (the network, if you will), and can expect to get the right answers, right away. This is Agile Talent.

Agile Talent is a key factor in successful Next Generation Enterprises. Once you combine an innovative resource pool with a distinctive customer experience, agile & collaborative technologies, education, and research, you have the makings of an organization that will thrive in today’s hypercompetitive global marketplace.

Thanks to Twitter, I ran across a post by Jevon MacDonald about an Enterprise 2.0 market. More specifically, the post was Jevon arguing that there is no Enterprise 2.0 market. His valid points include:

  1. There are very few companies with Enterprise 2.0 budget line items.
  2. Enterprise 2.0 is too loosely defined at this point to make it valuable as a solution (or set of solutions) for organization problems.
  3. There aren’t enough companies providing Enterprise 2.0 solutions (and providing them successfully) to roll up into a larger market.

What I gathered from Jevon’s article was something that we strongly believe at BSG Alliance: if what you’re selling doesn’t provide some bottom-line benefit (read: increase in profitability, productivity, and market share), then you’re not selling something that’s got a valid market value.

Here’s my take: A good Enterprise 2.0 startup doesn’t need an Enterprise 2.0 market. A good Enterprise 2.0 startup needs to address a real business problem, and do it well enough to make some money. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

Enterprise 2.0 startups need a market for what they’re selling – and they’d better be selling something that creates efficiencies, cost savings, and competitive advantages.

Take a look at Jeff Nolan’s “Dude, Where’s My Market?” post from last month to see a great example of a startup, Echosign, with a product that solves a real business problem, and does it well enough (using Enterprise 2.0 tools, technologies, and philosophies) to make money for themselves and their customers. Here is how Jeff explains Echosign’s success:

This company is growing not because they have a trendy set of buzzwords they use consistently, but because they solve a real problem that spans a significant number of prospect buyers, understand how to target and sell it at the price points they do, and manage their costs by taking advantage of efficiencies that technology enables and eliminating potential expenses by having discipline about the product management and development cycles.

At BSG Alliance, we’re focusing on our customers’ needs to increase efficiency and profits. Next Generation Enterprises are all about the bottom line: cost savings that come from increased collaboration, better systems that come from using agile methodologies, increased sales that come from a focus on the customer (rather than the competitor), and increased productivity that comes from engaging talent in unique, efficient ways. BSG Alliance is one of those Enterprise 2.0 startups that didn’t look for an Enterprise 2.0 market – instead, we saw that companies were struggling because of their inability to effectively manage talent, technology, and customer expectations in an wired world. Their lack of flexibility is their pain point, and becoming a Next Generation Enterprise is what solves it. Just like Echosign, we’re building our solutions to solve real business issues, and we’re continuing to be successful because of it.

While sitting in the family room, scanning LinkedIn Profiles and looking for a NYC-based recruiter, I was half-listening to the Funniest Commercials of 2007 special on TBS. One of the commercials that caught my ear (and, subsequently, eye) was from Hydro Energy in Norway, and involved a group of kids and a train. Take a look at the commercial here:

This ad is a classic example of how companies can use Social Media to drive publicity efforts. Hydro isn’t looking to recruit 10-year-olds. They’re looking to build interest in their products, services, and mission by developing a sense of curiosity about what do. Frankly, I was driven to www.hydro.com because I wanted to see what kind of company came up with such a creative ad campaign. I happened to see the original ad on television, but given that you can see it on veryfunnyads.com, YouTube, MSN Videos, and others, it has become a form of Social Media, easily shared, and open to collaboration. It’s funny to read some of the YouTube comments, where it appears that some people thought it was REAL. Yikes. Let’s not go there.

But, I digress… Because the Hydro train ad is so interesting, it’s all over the internet. If you search Google for “Hydro Train,” you will see over 462,000 results, most of which are sites like mine – blogs and aggregators.

Hydro struck gold with this ad (and a couple of others like it). They are harnessing the power of the internet to spread their message, and they are doing it exceptionally well.

My boss and I were talking today, and she mentioned that, every so often, she runs across a candidate who is literally scared by the innovative way BSG Alliance delivers value. I agreed with her – I have seen a few of those candidates myself. You see, BSG Alliance is focused on transforming our customers into Next Generation Enterprises. Next Generation Enterprises are flexible, and will remain highly competitive and profitable because of their unique management of internal and external human resources, their delivery of unique and distinctive customer experiences, and their ability to develop and implement agile, collaborative technology solutions. In short, Next Generation Enterprises are INNOVATIVE.

In order for BSG Alliance to properly guide our customers on their journey to NGEness, we must lead by example – we must be NGE. And we are. We are so innovative and NGE, in fact, that Business Week recently gave us a plug in their Innovation Predictions 2008 article.

We understand how to provide our customers with exactly what they need to increase their profitability. We understand how to build flexible, agile software. We can provide the right solution, right now, on demand. That’s a very innovative way of doing business.

But, for some people, this is a scary proposition. Being innovative means that we’re in uncharted waters. People aren’t familiar with Agile Talent, or Distinctive Customer Experience, or Agile & Collaborative technology. They are afraid of the unknown, and unwilling to leave their comfort zone; unwilling to escape the hierarchical, traditional ways of doing things. Unwilling to acknowledge that the future of business is changing, and BSG Alliance is leading that change (back at BSG version 1.0, we used to say that BSG was Leading the Change, and Changing the Lead – we were then, and we are now).

So, we’ve had a few candidates hear about how we deliver this exceptional value proposition, and decide that they’re more comfortable in “SuperMegaLargeHierarchy Industries.” Which is fine, really – they aren’t the kind of people we need to make BSG Alliance successful. And, 10 years down the road, when BSG Alliance is a household name, they’ll realize that it may have been a good idea to be a part of the new way of doing business. We may be innovative, but our innovation is what make us unique. And our innovation is why people like me, Tom Steinthal, Brian Magierski, Susan Scrupski, and a host of others have been drawn to BSG Alliance. And, at the end of the day, our innovation is what makes us better able to truly address our customers’ pain points, and provide them with a path to enlightenment – a path to becoming NGE.

Interestingly enough, I ruffled some feathers over at Recruiting.com with my post about the lack of leaders in Generation Y. John Sumser’s post didn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I posted a reply. Replies on Recruiting.com are moderated, apparently. And, surprise! My reply has not been posted – 24 hours after it was submitted.

Normally, I would give the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’re really backed up, and haven’t gotten to their moderation dashboard. But, that’s not it, since there are several other comments that have been posted since I submitted mine. So, I have to wonder…

Was my reply not posted because it made sense? I’ll let you be the judge… Here’s my reply to Sumser’s argument:

Collaboration is essential to the success of organizations in the 21st Century. I’m not questioning that. It’s exciting to see the unique and innovative solutions that vibrant communities can achieve. But, at the end of the day, everyone on the team needs to know where they’re headed, and it takes a leader to point the team in the right direction. A team without direction doesn’t make a whole lot of progress.

If you read my entire post, you will realize that my point is that we are not actively encouraging the development of leadership qualities in our young people. Even natural leaders must be nurtured in order to achieve their full potential. We’re simply not doing that effectively.

John, you’re saying that new types of leaders are required. I am saying that we’re not building and encouraging leaders like we used to. These aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. We still need leaders, even if they lead in a different way.

Regardless of how your enterprise is organized or how flexible its workforce may be, someone still needs to provide leadership at various levels.

Have a great weekend!
-Katie

So, today was a big day for BSG Alliance. We announced that we have acquired New Paradigm, a Toronto-based thinktank led by Don Tapscott, the co-author of the best-selling Wikinomics. New Paradigm’s business and technology innovation has paved a path to success for companies since 1993. Their ability to define where business and technology are headed is unparalleled in the marketplace, and now they’re helping BSG Alliance deliver our On-Demand Business Platform.

Bringing New Paradigm into the BSG Alliance provides us with an even greater to potential to do what Don Tapscott believes we’re poised to do

This company is going to change the world.

Here’s the press release

Have a great weekend,  If you’re interested in knowing more about the merging of these two powerhouses, take a look at the live webcast, which will be at 1:30 PM Eastern today (11/29).

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