Had the experience of meeting a relatively new employee at EMC the other day -- she had been here for less than a year.
I mentioned that I was sorta involved in our internal and external proficiency efforts, including the EMC|ONE platform, and I came away with some new insights that were a bit surprising.
Just Part Of The Landscape?
This person shared with me that it was great working at a company where these sorts of internal communities were an ingrained part of the culture, had been here for a long time, etc.
I stopped her, and explained that our internal platform was relatively new -- it had only been up for a few months when she joined the company. And there was a time not too long ago when there was serious doubt that we'd ever do anything like this.
She was surprised in return -- she thought that the maturity of the environment and the level of engagement pointed to something that had been around for a very long time indeed.
I look at the internal platform, and I see a brand new capability that's just getting out of its childhood. She looks at it as a "senior citizen" with the wisdom of the ages.
Somewhere here there's an important insight that I'm probably missing -- this stuff is most effective when it's "just there", so to speak. There's nothing special or unqiue about it -- it's just another business tool at everyone's disposal, and you're expected to use it effectively and efficiently.
That got me to thinking.
I reflected that in the last few months I hadn't had a single "what's this new platform?" conversation. People now just seem to know what the platform does, what it doesn't do, how to use it, how not to use it, and so forth.
Did it all really happen in about a year?
I spent about an hour today digging through all the various conversations on the platform, just to get a sense of what's going on.
Lots of organizations are now writing regular blog posts on what they're doing, where they need help, soliciting opinions on various matters, and so on. It's all out there if you want to see it.
Now that I think of it, I haven't read a boring status report in quite a while. So that behavior has definitely changed.
Dozens and dozens of threads on cross-functional planning and organizing. People sharing views of the problem and the challenges, debating where to start, who should be engaged, offering up helpful suggestions, floating strawmen proposals, and so on.
Now that I think of it, I haven't been to one of those train-wreck let's-get-organized meetings in quite some time. So that behavior is changing as well.
All sorts of dialogue about conversations with customers, competitors, partners, analysts, etc. Lots of people hear something interesting that applies to our business in some way, and they're sharing what they think and have heard.
I don't think the CIA operates as effectively as we do now in this regard. Or, maybe they do? Anyway, if you want some ground-level intelligence on most any topic, it's there for the reading. That's cool.
More importantly, a few major new products are going through their lifecycle using the internal community model. We're talking 100% openness on product features, limitations, bugs and their fixes, go-to-market plans, pricing proposals, launch specifics, positioning, etc. etc. etc.
Now, if you've ever worked at a technology company, you know that all of that stuff is usually locked away and kept away from your sales force until it's "ready".
But, interestingly enough, demand for these specific products is already relatively strong, even though they haven't been formally launched, simply because the sales force could follow the evolution, and be confident that there was a real team behind the new offering.
Openness not only speeds getting the product to market, but also speeds initial engagement by your field organization!
Something I didn't expect, but it's extremely cool when you think about the economic impact of that one. Because, with new products, it's all about time-to-revenue, isn't it?
I'm always mindful of key milestones and achievements on this journey we're taking. Call them signposts that show you how far you've come, and how far you have yet to go.
I think I can identify another milestone we've reached -- our internal social platform is becoming as ubiquitous and useful as, say, email. It seems like it's always been there. You're just expected to be able to use it effectively. We can't imagine a time when it wasn't there.
How quickly we as human beings adapt to the new "normal"!
And we're no longer surprised by all the clever things people are doing with it.