Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Brother is Monitoring your Cell Phone

Depending on your device, your cellular carrier (or others) may be monitoring all of your activity on your cell phone. In a story that was broken by Trevor Eckhart and reported by Wired and others, it appears that a Mountain View, California based firm, Carrier IQ has an app that is installed on millions of phones. It tracks everything, the numbers you dial and the text messages you get. Watch the video below and see for yourself.

It appears that Carrier IQ's tool is used by Carriers to test their network etc. The big problem is that it is an app that cannot be turned off or opted out of by users. This is Big Brother at its worst. We don't know who else has access to this data.

Wireless Carriers like Verizon are distancing themselves from this and there has been no mention yet from phone manufacturers. This story is going to get bigger. Stay tuned....

Friday, November 18, 2011

A New Cisco

I've covered Cisco for years and this week attended their Collaboration Analyst and Partner Summit in Miami. While Aragon Research will be publishing a First Cut with our Analysis of their new product announcements, this blog post is about the changes I see occurring at Cisco.

Cisco really only started to make the true shift to Collaboration Software after it bought WebEx and it took a while to get the integration done. Cisco pioneered HD Video with its Telepresence offering and now it is poised to take that to the masses. Cisco has also innovated too. It's Enterprise Social Networking offering, Cisco Quad, was developed internally and is now deployed globally at Cisco.

CEO John Chambers has been the lead evangelist for Collaboration at Cisco, but that is changing. This week, Cisco SVP Barry O'Sullivan's General Managers were focused and on-message. The messages were integrated and so were the products.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to motivate a workforce and today I see a very motivated Cisco team that is ready to deliver their Collaboration vision to their customers. Since there were customers at the event this week, it was nice to see them start to tell the execution story.

What I see emerging is a new Cisco, leaner and more focused. In fact, I spent time with one of Cisco's  Account Managers, Matt Coleman, who brought one of Cisco's flagship customers to the event. Matt has the passion for Cisco Collaboration and it is clear that his customer does too.

Finally, what should have been the opening video at Cisco's event was shown at the end. It takes a lot of guts to show Executives doing a Rap Video (see below). You need to watch it several times, but the messages are as compelling as the video is entertaining.

What I see is an inkling of a new Cisco that is beginning to emerge. It isn't all about hardware anymore.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Social is the new KM

People are getting Social Media, Social Networking, Learning and Knowledge Management (KM) mixed up thanks to a few misleading blog posts by two of my former colleagues at Gartner. Or are they? If you read the responses at HBR, you will see that people are calling them on it. To be fair, Jeff Mann does get it and his blog is also counter what was being said (see his blog).

First, on taxonomy, here is how I explain social terminology to clients. 

Social Media is generally viewed as the public consumer grade sites, microblogs, forums etc. where discussions or chats take place (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Youtube, Second Life). Using Social Media to market your products and support your customers is a good use of these mediums. 

Using Social Media to talk about your work is a bad idea, mainly because so many people are listening, including bad people that want to steal the intellectual property of the firm you work for. In fact, one of the research notes my firm recently published is titled, "Facebook is not a friend of your Enterprise". 

Social Networks, particularly Enterprise Social Networks are private communities, which when implemented properly with identity and access control, are safe places for people to share information, connect with people and accelerate the pace of knowledge dissemination at a company. Many enterprises are still formulating their social networking plans. They have deployed customer communities to build brand loyalty but often the internal social network is still a few steps behind.

On Knowledge Management, when Social Networking (an internal or external community) is done right, with certified profiles of people (what they are trained or certified on), and with the ability to collaborate with others informally, lots of great things start to happen. First, people in remote geographies connect with others, they solve problems and influence each other by the content and comments they share. Often there is an acceleration factor that kicks in, because the pace of interaction is faster and wider.

From a learning perspective, tying formal learning to informal activities, related content and discussions, is now referred to as Social Learning. It is real and it does work. There usually is an ecosystem manager that facilitates the correlation of formal training with some of the informal content, but at the end of the day, the Social Network, as it gets used more and more, becomes the Knowledge Network. People can search it and find what they need.

Since I've actually overseen the development of Social Networking platforms and also deployed Social Networks, I recently conducted a short poll of some Sales Execs who had been using one of the Communities for over a year. My simple question to them was this: "what do you use to find the information you need to do your job now?" Their answer was "we just search the network (community) and we find what we need". 

So, in reality, as an Enterprise Social Network gets used more, it will evolve into a Knowledge Network. People find what they need to do their jobs or they can ask someone in the community who can point them in the right direction. It is self-curated and self-sustaining, with a little help from the community manager and IT.

Hopefully, this has helped to clarify things. Social Networking and Social Learning are the new KM. We are covering Knowledge as one of our key topics in our Workplace Service at Aragon Research.

(Note: Jim Lundy is the Founder and CEO of Aragon Research.  He founded and led the Social Software and Collaboration team at Gartner and oversaw the Corporate Learning coverage for ten years).