Enterprise 2.0 Camp: Sunir Shah

Sunir Shah, formerly of SocialText and now with FreshBooks, led a session on achieving adoption, debunking the “if you build it, they will come” method of customer acquisition and retention. There’s nothing in most of his session particular to Enterprise 2.0 — it’s pretty general marketing 101 for product vendors — although he does touch fleetingly on adoption of social software. His presentation focussed on how to get people and, eventually, companies, adopt (and therefore buy) your commercial software; I was expecting something more along the lines of how to encourage the adoption and usage of social networking software within an enterprise once that platform is already deployed.

An interesting discussion that came up was the difference between customer relations and customer community management, starting with when a group of customers becomes a community. Usually there will be some tools that vendors use to facilitate the formation of a community, but ultimately there needs to be customers who care enough about what they’re doing with the product to form the nucleus. Blogs and forums are good starting points for community, since both allow for content creation by both internal and external participants; blogs typically have the content authored inside the vendor’s company with comments added by customers and other external parties, whereas forums are typically more egalitarian.

I think that Shah really wanted to do an unconference-like session, but came with a full deck of slides. He stopped about 15 minutes in and asked if people wanted to have an open discussion or have him continue the presentation, which (of course) resulted in him continuing his presentation: most people are basically lazy (me too) and will take the default veg-out route rather than rousing themselves to a discussion. Although there’s nothing in the concept of an unconference that specifically bars formal presentations, I always get a lot more out of unconference sessions that have just enough presentation to provide structure, then some format for encouraging audience participation. The idea of BarCamp is that everyone is a participant, and I expected to see more of that in Enterprise 2.0 Camp, too. That could be the ultimate conflict in Enterprise 2.0 Camp: if you get real enterprise people to attend, as opposed to just those of us who live in Echo Chamber 2.0, they’re likely not used to the contributory nature of an unconference and just think of it as a day-long seminar where they’re passive listeners.

What’s really funny is that James Walker’s session on OpenID in the enterprise is going on at the same time in the other corner of the room, and I’ve heard both of the presenters mention Facebook applications within the last 5 minutes: this new developer platform is certainly the focus of a lot of discussion, although it will take a while to see if it really has legs.

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