Category Archives: Web 2.0 Expo

Vignette brings Social Media to Enterprise Content

vignette2At the Web 2.0 Expo recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see the increased focus on social media offerings for the enterprise space.

So when I heard about Vignette’s introduction of Community Applications 7.1, as part of its Social Media Solution, I sat down with Gerardo Dada and Lee Shepstone from Vignette to learn more about their Social Media Suite for the Enterprise. 


My first question to them was How can Vignette’s new solution help large enterprises?

Gerardo Dada referred back to the beginning of the web, when companies wanted to capitalize the web content and Vignette started by helping folks manage their work flow and make the experience be more personal. He sees the same trend today in media and video. Vignette is leveraging its expertise in content management systems to help companies better manage social interactions in an efficient and user-friendly manner.

The advantage Vignette enjoys is its existing relationship with key brands and expertise in content management for large enterprises. In addition to enabling the creation and support of Web 2.0 capabilities such as blogs, wikis, forums, ratings and reviews, the solution allows companies to quickly and easily create unique social micro sites.

It also allows aggregation of content on global sites which allows global companies to leverage information across countries. However, the ability to translate and search multiple language sites is still limited but their in-country offering is quite robust.

 So my next question to them was, What makes Vignette’s solution better than thousands of other enterprise social media offerings out there? 



According to Dada, the Vignette offering is much more comprehensive and eliminates the need to cobble together offerings by different vendors.  The company has incorporated advanced search and analytics feature into its social media offering that makes the solution very robust when it comes to finding relevant content.

Shepstone described how the Vignette solution allows companies to create an unified social microsite for their web audience that includes social features and tools like wikis, blogs, forums, and video-sharing capabilities. 

He went on to say that these flexible sites combines microsite features with social-centric benefits such as idea management, calendars and events and the sharing of multimedia-rich assets including videos and podcasts.

What impressed me about Vignette is that it’s still a fairly small and nimble company with about 700 employees it operates with the efficiency of a small company, yet it has the depth and breadth of experience working with larger enterprise companies.

What are the key challenges that an enterprise faces today in this social media age?

Dada was blunt in his assessment that many companies still lack a cohesive social media strategy, which is a great challenge and he went on to say, “ media can not be done in isolation and you can not have community on the side. Community and social media content has to be a central part of an integrated strategy.”

At the end of the 90s, businesses needed enterprise grade vendors who understood web as a space. Today’s there’s a similar need for experienced vendors who can manage, govern, and publish end-to-end solution for enterprise social media. Here is Dada’s presentation – 20 Social Media Trilogy Vital Components for an Enterprise Strategy  on creating a social media strategy and building a community.

For anyone working for a large enterprise, one question always comes to mind, so How about those legacy systems?

Shepstone said that the advantage of the Vignette solution is that it can work with any legacy system. Even companies without a content management system can use it because it can be deployed as a standalone sytem. Existing website integration very flexible, modular. The goal is to bring the customers back to the site. There is content out there, where all commuity can host content, doesn’t need to be one place. Widgets and gadgets are used to share content in a single place for connecting around product. Integration of  content happens around community, be it external or internal community.

What does deployment , cost, & support look like?

The solution includes Portal license so it’s included at no additional cost for that. The solution costs approximately $50K (perpetual license)  and support is available at 20% annual cost. The solution comes with web API and advanced API, making it easier to integrate with other vendors. Vignette, says Dada, “..Drinks its own Champagne” and uses social media tools that it advocates for training and support.” They use wikis for training documentation on the product, making it easier to update and provide training to their customers.


Ford Case Study: Control is an illusion in the social media age

freeI recently attended a brilliant presentation on “Setting Content Free at Ford” by Scott Monty, Digital Communications Manager at Ford and Maggie Fox, CEO of Social Media Group. The presenters led a packed house at the Web 2.0 Expo through an insightful case study on how Ford and Social Media Group partnered to turn traditional PR on its head to create a highly impactful social media content strategy.

Like many other large global firms in traditional industries, Ford retained tight control on its digital and other marketing/ communication assets including images and videos, by allowing access to only a select few accredited automotive journalists and typically distributed those assets by request only, both out of habit or fear of unflattering mashups. Monty said, “Ford recognized that “control” of digital assets was an illusion. So they stopped pretending.”

In 2007, Ford Motor company recognized and accepted the changing dynamics of an environment where everyone was a publisher  and this model no longer made sense because the bloggers were not interested in traversing the walled garden to get to the restricted content and on the flip side, there were dozens of organic digital content projects were popping up within Ford – from “semi official”  YouTube channels to small-scale, one-off sharing of images and other content with enthusiast groups. Monty described it as, “A thousand points of light, not focused enough to truly illuminate or accomplish anything.”

Ford adopted an open and pragmatic approach to their content strategy where they started by helping online content producers to start conversations and tell richer, better informed stories by providing them with great content that even the “Citizen Journalists” could access easily and use to tell their own stories.

Here are the key learnings from Ford’s experience:

#1 Create rich content that’s ready to share: Ford established its first Social Media Press Release (SMPR) filled with rich content ready for sharing. Ford also aggregated its digital content and made Creative-Commons licensed assets available for use by anyone who was interested in talking about the company or their brands – good or bad. Moreover, all Ford content is hosted with third-party plaforms, like Flickr and YouTube, to leverage their native sharing properties and popularity.

#2 Eliminate the need to pitch: Ford provides individual and global RSS feeds for their SMPRs, meaning subscribers are automatically notified of updates – and only get what they’re interested in. They found many anticipated and unanticipated benefits, including an unsolicited placement in Wired magazine shortly after Chris Anderson’s infamous “Blacklist” post. Giving traditional media and bloggers access to what they’re most interested in, made pitching content irrelevant. Wired and other news media are subscribed to Ford’s SMPR feeds and they regularly pick up stories without having to be pitched.

#3 Reduce fear of the unknown: Monty rightly pointed out that social media is scary mostly because people don’t understand it. So  they helped people understand it, epecially legal people. By sitting down with the legal folks and demonstrating value to the folks who are most interested in controlling the content, they were able to change the way content was treated at Ford. Another big issue, they ran into was digital rights management (DRM). For images it was simple – in most cases digital rights were already being obtained for the online editions of print publications.

Video is another issue, and Monty pointed out, “We’re not the only ones wrestling with that challenge… if we put them online, it’s usually only for a set period of time until the rights expire.” Like many companies, however, Ford is working with its agencies are working together to get digital rights in place to manage their digital content.”

#4 Take a long-term approach to social media:  Ford’s approach was so successful because they didn’t use this as a trendy one-time campaign but rather as a  revolution in the way Ford, traditionally treated its digital assets and controlled access to them. Starting with Focus, Ford began making all of their content digitally available to everyone under a license that would permit publication under almost any circumstances.  All of the images, video and text on Ford’s first and subsequent SMPRs are licensed under Creative Commons non-commercial.

When asked what’s next for Ford, Monty said, “We are weaving digital influencers into every program we run for mainstream media. We’re also establishing digital-only events and programs for online influencers. Integrating with MSM programs – digital should not exist in a vacuum, it goes farther when amplified and paired with traditional efforts, which it can assist and compliment.”

So, how successful has this new strategy been for Ford?

When asked about the ROI on social media, Monty quipped, “What’s the ROI for putting on your pants every morning? But it’s still important to your business.” That was was probably the most profound quote of the event and highlights how doing social media is no longer optional for large companies, but rather a necessity for every business.

Overall, Ford has seen its content come back to them in thousands of unsolicited posts and stories. Here are the concrete  success metrics that Monty and Fox shared on their content:
 – Their content has been used in over 5,000 posts since Sept 2007.
– SMPRs are regularly used as a source of news and assets by (Technorati Top 50), Wired, NYTimes, ABC News & many others, both traditional & “new” media.
– Approximately 1.2 million video views on YouTube, 499 channel subscribers, 120,000 views on Flickr images.

Photo Credit:

You can access the presentation on the Web 2.0 Expo website.

Experts Discuss 4 Key Reasons Why Social Media Fails

webexsf2009_logo1Today at the Web 2.0 Expo, a panel of industry thought leaders – Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), and Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research) discussed “Why Social Media Marketing Fails  – and how to fix it.”

Keeping true to the spirit of social media, Peter Kim invited input for this session before the show, on his blog where folks responded with what they wanted to see at this session. Not surprising, it was standing room only for this brilliant panel of former and current Forrester analysts.

Here are the key highlights from this insightful discussion where panelists also provided concrete suggestions on overcoming major hurdles to social media success in companies.

#1 How do I get my culture to adopt? (Lack of buy-in from C-level executives)
This was quoted as the No.1 reason by the panelists for the failure of social media adoption and success in companies. Charlene Li bluntly stated that, most companies are not ready for change. “Big guns” need to get involved and for those executives to get onboard is show the connection to bottom-line/revenue. Li highly recommends “Go for the sweet spot”, which are corporate (financial) goals that the management is focused on and to demonstrate how social media can help drive those results.

Jeremiah’s experience was different in that executives are usually the last to adopt. Smaller groups at lower level management were more likely to drive social media adoption. However all three agreed on the need for a champion at the executive level to make social media successful in the long-term.

Peter Kim asked whether companies needed a “Chief Social Officer” to help social media adoption in companies?  Li disagreed and said that it was a fallacy. Social media shouldn’t be just one person and that it would be “dangerous” to have just one person responsible for social media. She believed that it’s everybody’s responsibility. She gave the example of Charles Schwab, which is focused on a customer engagement strategy and for them social media is just one of the many ways to achieve that strategy.  

Kim pointed out another dangerous fallacy and that was the perception  that social media ia young person’s game and many companies hire interns to do their social media strategy. Li thought a good practice she has seen is that many companies are pairing up marketing folks with younger people. Owyang suggested using the Hub and Spoke model, where various cross-functional groups drive the initiatives but coordination is done centrally. The other two models he discussed were: Tire – social media is initiated from the edges and grows organically without any coordination. Tower – social media is initiated from upper management levels and can be inauthentic.

#2 How do I make my campaigns work? (Using the “Campaign” model)
All three panelists pointed out that it was wrong and misguided for marketers to treat social media as just another “campaign”. Li said that attitude is the biggest problem, because social media is not a campaign. She went on to add that it’s about relationships and conversations,  not about technologies and she also said that very few brands do this right. 

Kim interjected with a question (and reality check) – How do we align the need for conversations in public companies with quarterly pressures, which necessitates focus on campaigns? To which, Owyang responded there should be a balance between business objectives and community objectives with equal counts of both. He cautions marketers against using campaigns, which are short-term and instead focus on long-term objectives of the company.

Kim pointed out there is need to change how public companies work and the way they think of their external and internal stakeholders including detractors. He also acknowledged that it’s a difficult road ahead. Li agreed and found that there’s much more collaboration going on. There are conversations already happening, folks are asking recommendations, and it’s all occuring very naturally for local brands and business.

He also acknowledged, the real fear for many traditional marketers, with this question – Should we get rid of the marketing dept? He was alluding to how social media is changing the role of marketers in the organization. To which Li responded that marketing is all about promotion and advertising. Social media helps get those other parts get elevated however, she also pointed out that advertising on social network advertising is a bad idea and it doesn’t work.

One interesting idea that came up was around some type of educational courses, credentials or “certification” for social media practitioners. Li was in favor of having some type of certification however, Owyang was against it, saying that he himself was a practitioner and believed that experience was more important.

#3 What should I measure? (Lack of measurement)
Kim pointed out that the biggest fail in social media and marketing in general is measurement.  Owyang said the traditional marketers measure using on dashboards that show them the page views, visits, and other metrics. However, he said that’s not very meaningful way to measure social media ROI. He advocates the use of a directional system, similar to GPS system rather than a dashboard. In order to measure social media success, he suggests using business metrics around what you trying to accomplish such as customer retention and satisfaction measures rather than web metrics.

Li brought a great point – start by asking yourself why are you measuring? Are you trying to decide the allocation of budget or do a comparison with other channels? She said that social media shouldn’t be measured in isolation but rather as part of the overall measurement of other efforts. She said, “How can you measure social media if you don’t measure in other areas?” She did an informal poll of the audience at the discussion and many hands went up when she asked how many were working on social media initiatives. It was very telling that very few raised their hand, when Li asked how many were able to measure their results.

#4 Does social media matter? (Real impact of social media)
This was yet another very interesting point that was brought up in the discussion. Owyang mentioned a recent informal poll by Adage, who asked mainstream folks about Motrin Twitter Moms controversy. Most hadn’t heard about the incident or didn’t know much about it, so that begged the question whether social media was even relevant to mainstream. One thing Owyang mentioned was that when social media buzz such as the Motrin Moms, starts getting picked up by the mainstream media, that’s when it starts becoming relevant. 

Li followed up with a fascinating perspective, that it’s failure in social media that really matters. She went on to say that it’s more important to understand whether your culture can adopt it. It’s also all about extending yourself and learning.  According to Li,  if you’re not failing, that means you are not doing anything and not learning anything in the process.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience on a variety of related topics. Some had questions around liability issues arising from social media activities especially, in sensitive industries like finance.  Li gave the example of Wells Fargo, who had recently launched a Twitter account. The panel agreed that it was all about experimenting and learning. Li cautioned against companies starting in social media with Twitter. Companies need to have some experience under their belt in social media, before they start on Twitter so they already have processes built to effectively engage their audience.  

Another question was around multi-national implementation. Owyang suggested using the hub and spoke where hub is corporate, while spoke represent the regions. Both Li and Kim suggested learning and aggregating learnings from other countries. Li also pointed out something interesting, which was that social networks might be global but folks limit their social media activity to specific geographic regions. Some exceptions might be industries like movies and media. Kim reiterated this by saying that rather than using global presence as a barrier, company should use it as learning opportunity.

Addressing the question around use of social media in gathering intelligence, Kim said that all the information in the world won’t help, if the companies are not willing to do anything with it.

Lastly, when someone asked about companies that gotten it right, the panelist mentioned Dell as an example of a huge social media failure but also as a success story as a company that also learned from those failures to get it right? Another example, Li gave was WalMart, who has been blogging since 2006. She commended how they keep trying and don’t give up. Overall, the panel was unanimous in that companies need to let go and that continues to be a challenge. 

You can follow the conversation around this panel discussion on Twitter #smfail.

Guide to Enterprise 2.0 Tools, Frameworks, & Platforms at Web 2.0 Expo

webexsf2009_logo1This is the first in series of posts covering the Web 2.0 Expo starting tomorrow at the Moscone Center, in San Francisco, California. I am very excited about the number of companies offering Enterprise 2.0  tools, platforms for developers and end-(business)-users at the event this year. Many of these companies  have plans to announce exciting new social-sharing features and tools at the show, stay tuned for more details. 

 Here’s a sneak peak at some of the more interesting Enterprise 2.0 collaborative platforms and developer tools at the show this year:


ooVoo provides a high-quality video chat and communication service for people to call and connect over the Internet. ooVoo’s technology enables people to experience a face-to-face conversation and share a full range of emotions as if they are in the same room together, whether they are across the street or across the globe. combines unified collaboration with social networking. The two year old company, based in London UK, provides asynchronous collaborative tools (document management, project management, discussions, team management) and live collaboration (web and telephone conferencing) via their online application and rich API. Huddle’s founder Alastair Mitchell will be talking at Web 2.0 Expo on April, 1st.

vertical_white_bg2MindTouch is an open source enterprise collaboration and community platform that enables users to connect and remix enterprise systems, social tools and web services. The MindTouch Deki i’s built with a Web Oriented Architecture (WOA), enables users to connect teams, enterprise systems, publishing systems, Web services and Web 2.0 applications to create unique content oriented experiences while maintaining IT governance.


ProtoShare is a collaborative website prototyping tool for teams to build, discuss, and refine clickable website wireframes and their creative design comps. Team members, management, clients, and marketing can all  participate in the discussion at an early stage of the interactive development process. ProtoShare is a web-based tool, it supports a wide range of interactive prototypes, from gray-box wireframing to rich Internet functionality.


DreamFace Interactive  develops and markets an Open Source Ajax Framework for creating Enterprise Web 2.0 Applications and Mashups. The new DreamFace version, called Outsider, allows tech-savvy business people to create, personalize and share their own web applications through a unique and innovative concept called Web Channels.Web Channels are mini dynamic applications designed for change. They incorporate DataWidgets; widgets which use diverse data sources coming from both corporate data and the internet, to display information and interact with other DataWidgets.


Last but not the least, CoreMedia CMS is a content management system powering corporate websites, Intranets, public and high traffic media portals. CoreMedia CMS provides a foundation for strategic content platforms for corporate websites, intranets and high-traffic media portals. Soeren Stamer, German entrepreneur, CEO of CoreMedia and Author of “Enterprise 2.0 – The Art of Letting Go” will speaking at Web 2.0 expo on Wednesday, April 1st.

I’ll be blogging on social media tools and platforms for the enterprise space throughout the show, if there’s an enterprise-focused company/product that you would like to see on here or if you want to tweet up, you can find me at

You can also follow the conversation on the Web 2.0 Expo website or on Twitter (#w2e).