This man says, “No.” So what? He may look a little nerdy but he is a Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank and using agile development techniques, he has dramatically reduced the time to develop new products for Wells Fargo’s online business.
What’s the big deal? Eskander Matta is not a software developer, and he is not in the IT department. Eskander is a banking executive, with a Harvard MBA, who thinks traditional development methodologies are impediments to building new online products faster and better. Eskander believes, “There is so much innovation in Financial Services that speed to market is critical. A lengthy linear process inhibits one’s ability to compete.”
Eighteen months ago, Eskander got a group of bank employees together to take a meat cleaver to a development cycle that had 26 artifacts (think: pieces of documentation). His goal was to remove all artifacts that had no downstream consumer. “If no one is going to read it, then get rid of it”, he asked the team. The team whacked the process down to 5 artifacts. Then equally important, all this was enabled with a wiki.
As is most often the case, Eskander, the business guy, asked the IT dept what wiki to use. The IT guys told him to use Confluence.
By underpinning everything with the wiki, communication and interaction between people was enabled. “If the wiki was a static word document, it wouldn’t have worked”, Eskander points out. The wiki enabled collaboration in a more formal sense.
What’s so interesting is…
- A business executive took the leadership to streamline development using Agile Development concepts.
- The outcome was fantastic: 26 development artifacts reduced to 5.
- The result ended up on one collaborative work space on a wiki.
- All this was in service of a major bank producing new online products faster.
Granted, Financial Services is largely an information business, this sector is the biggest spender on IT, and in this instance, the product was the Internet. Yet, this story is compelling evidence that there are other executives out there who understand what technology can do, who seek best practices like Agile Development, and who seek out the newest collaborative technologies.
Posted in Atlassian, Enterprise 2.0, Management, Social software, Web 2.0, Wikis
Tagged agile development, Atlassian, banking, collaboration, Confluence, development methodology, Enterprise 2.0, financial services, online banking, Web 2.0, wells fargo bank, wiki
This Thursday I’ll be at Atlassian’s Boston User Group, and speaking at Enterprise 2.0. Why User groups? Lessons and tips youu can learn. Here’s one, almost fantastic, example of what I learned from our German customers in Frankfurt a week ago. Vodafone’s CEO using our enterprise wiki, Confluence was cool, but well… you decide.
This is the knowledge management team at Deutsche Bahn (DB), the 240,000 employee German railway.
Pretty intense looking bunch. They focus on spreading collaboration across Deutsche Bahn. Although they look a little intimidating — “I’m gonna kick your collaboration ass” flashes through my brain — they do it with a lot of humor, internal marketing, and — is there such a thing? — wacky German good fun.
Marvin the robot from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is their mascot. Why? Because he has a brain the size of a planet, and he rarely get to use it. They made him as real as possible. He has an email address, a phone number, a blog, and yes, a C.V.
To motivate employees to contribute, every year the team has the 42nd Marvin Awards for great contributions to knowledge. Why 42? You really shouldn’t ask; it’s the answer to everything in the Hitchhiker’s Guide.
And they give out Golden Marvins. Of course.
The team also has a clear metric and goal: of the 240,000 employees, 80,000 are online, and they figure getting 40,000 using the wiki, Confluence, is success. Currently the count is 15,000. Particularly interesting, the users include many non-IT people, including engineering and maintenance. Given the reputation of the German railway, this was my favorite bit.
Hope to see you at the next user group.
Posted in Atlassian, Enterprise 2.0, Social software, Web 2.0, Wikis
Tagged adoption, Atlassian, Confluence, Deutsche Bahn, enterprise wiki, knowledge management, user group. atlassian, wiki
I have decided to go into magazine publishing, I am excited to announce the inaugural issue of Wiki People. I am also excited to announce this is a joint venture with the popular People magazine. Here’s a pre-release copy of the fantastic first issue cover, destined to become a collector’s edition.
We’ve integrated Confluence with Microsoft SharePoint. We found Microsoft incredibly like-minded in solving a huge customer problem.
Last June when meeting with customers and analysts, SharePoint came up in every meeting. “We have growing groups who love the wiki, and long standing users of Microsoft and now SharePoint. Help!”, customers asked, including Geoff Corb, IT Director at Johns Hopkins University.
When Microsoft approached us to ask us to integrate, it made perfect sense. Then the hard part started: we had to put some engineering muscle behind it. We found Microsoft wanting to solve the same problem: remove friction between our technologies. And we found Microsoft easy to work with. Their product managers and engineers and ours even got Accenture on the phone to test out the requirements. Accenture is a partner of both our companies, and a large user of Confluence, so their feedback was important.
Why did we do choose to do this? Foremost, to bridge groups of workers who prefer to work in different ways with different technology. Customers have multiple domains of work: wikis, office document/email, document management, blogs, IM, and more, yet want to use the best technologies.
As a software company, Atlassian also did this because Microsoft was motivated, and we expect other partnerships like this in the future, so Confluence is more open. Although Confluence has an open architecture and now rather large plugin library, we have not focused, until now on larger partnerships.
Today, we release the SharePoint Connector for Confluence which is by far the deepest integration of any wiki with SharePoint, and is a testament to the connectivity of the .Net and Java platforms. The Connector is available today with:
- Search: Users can search SharePoint and Confluence content together from one place.
- Content sharing: From within SharePoint, users can embed Confluence page contents allowing users to blend content.
- Linking: Within Confluence, users can access SharePoint document facilities. By including SharePoint lists and content within Confluence, users, in a single click, can edit Microsoft Office documents.
- Single Sign-On and Security: With one login, users can access both systems while seeing only what they have permission to view.
It didn’t escape us that Microsoft asked us with our Java product to integrate with SharePoint. I can only take that as a complement, and a recognition of our customer base.
Updates and Further Reading
- Robert Scoble visited to video Mike and me, and blogged it, ” Why do that? After all, Sharepoint has its own wiki service? Cause Atlassian’s is better and Microsoft’s customers were asking it to support Atlassian’s.”
- Richard McManus covered the partnerships with Atlassian and NewsGator.
- Dan Farber and Dennis Howlett gave it ZDnet coverage with Dennis having his often interesting edge.
- Mike wrote the most insightful post about the risks and tensions inherent in deciding to do this partnership.
- And the feature tour is here, and the sufficiently reviewed 🙂 press release.
I love it when someone does a useful, instructive job explaining terms we take for granted here in technology. Lee Lefever nailed “Wikis in Plain English” with his video. Scott Gavin explains the potentially trendy term Enterprise 2.0 simply. Although Andrew McAfee is without doubt the authoritative author on the subject of Enterprise 2.0, Scott hit the basics.
Scott even said it was “social software within the firewall” which was refreshing to see with all the blather that everything must be hosted. The fact is most enterprises want something as vital as the content on a wiki behind the firewall. Not all surely, but the lion’s share.
What still leaves me wanting about everyone’s definition of Enterprise 2.0 is that it misses an important point: Enterprise 2.0 is just another natural evolution towards lighter weight software. Doesn’t matter if it hosted, behind the firewall, social or not. Companies embraced the open source movement and software-as-a-service because they were fed up with traditional enterprise software. Lightweight software is just another movement serving this same frustration and need.
Lightweight software serves a gap in the enterprise which Jonathan Nolen articulated in an interview:
“We think there’s a huge middle ground between open source and enterprise software that hasn’t been addressed—lightweight software,” Nolen said.
This movement to lighter weight software is broader than the typical definitions of Enterprise 2.0 software. It’s about customers wanting easy to use, practical, easy to install (or hosted) software that is far less expensive and that does not entail an arduous, painful purchasing process. It’s should be simple, straightforward and easy to buy. In fact, it’s not about sales in our opinion at Atlassian.
This is why some of us believe that Enterprise 2.0 is not just about social software. It’s about a fundamental shift in the complexity and cost of software.
Enterprise 2.0 ROI? Wrong question. I am hearing ROI debated here at Enterprise 2.0, and it’s not particularly useful. Shouldn’t all software be subjected to this rigor? Well, no actually.
At dinner last night with the Enterprise Irregulars, Andrew McAfee said he asked fellow Harvard professor Robert Kaplan, an innovative researcher on linking cost and performance, and recently elected to the Accounting Hall of Fame [yes, there is one!], can we measure ROI with these new social tools. Kaplan said it cannot be done.
The productivity and improvements are micro-tasks. It’s akin to doing operations research studies with a stop watch on the benefits to using email. Did anyone get fired because Microsoft Office was released? I highly doubt it. Wikis shift work from email and documents to wiki pages and a more facile method of collaboration. Measure it? Spend your time in more fruitful endeavors.
Management consultants who are actually trained to do these types of studies generally avoid micro operations improvements because they walk in the Land of Serious Business Cases. They have to; their fees are so high. They know that if you cannot measure productivity with a yard stick, then forget it.
If you’re spending $4,000 on a wiki, how much time should you spend on an intense ROI analysis? You are much better served experimenting with these tools, finding out how others are making them work, giving them to the pioneers in your organization, and learning.
- When software companies give you ROI analyses, leave the room. As fast as you can. This is true for any type of software. The fixation on ROI during the economic downturn — which was because salesforces were shrinking and they desperately needed something to justify themselves — was largely patent BS. I have not seen an Enterprise 2.0 ROI study, but I will be as excited to see one as to stick needles in my eyes. Beware.
Of course we want to derive benefits and understand them. ROI studies are not the way.
If you want an excellent description of what is entailed in making Mediawiki into an enterprise wiki, David Strom reports useful, practical information for anyone evaluating enterprise wikis. Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee’s orignial blog on Avenue A/Razorfish’s wiki was an interesting case study, but it didn’t reveal these important points that Dave Strom surfaced:
- Razorfish has one full-time intern and two part-time developers that maintain their code.
- Razorfish put in place some code that pulls information from their Active Directory servers (that) enables single sign-on.
- Security matters a lot.
- Part of the custom code they wrote was to enable search across all wiki and blog content.
It strikes me that if Razorfish invested all this effort and money, then the question needs to be asked: Is Mediawiki an enterprise wiki? Certainly not out of the box.
One full-time intern and two part-time developers is at least $50-100K for one year! Probably the latter number. Mediawiki in this instance became an enterprise wiki but only after considerable work.
Although this case study exemplifies how companies can fulfill the promise of open source, this is not fulfilling the promise of Enterprise 2.0 software which should be: lightweight software suitable for enterprises for dramatically less money.
This case study points out about as well as I can imagine the difference between the open source option for wikis and the commercially sold enterprise wiki such as Socialtext, Brainkeeper, or our Atlassian Confluence.