Archive for Cim

September 2011 releases for Cim Pros

We’ve just released a small wave of items that are able to be leveraged by Cim Pros using CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint 2010.  This wave consists of the following: 1) the v2.1.1 Hotfix release of Cim, 2) a new Community module flavor called “Quick Facts”, and 3) the New Project Initiation application.

These three items are all released to the Cim Pro community of the Cim Learning Center.  They are only available to Cim Pros that have access to the Cim Learning Center and are using these items in licensed environments of CorasWorks Cim.  Here are details for each.


Cim v2.1.1 Hotfix

This is a pure hotfix release containing fixes to issues in v2.1.  The majority of the issues are somewhat cosmetic UI issues.  They are documented in the release notes.  The release consists of updates to 11 of the 14 Cim modules.  It does not require the installation of any new DLL’s.  In addition, this release adds some new support for Cim Snaplets.  You’ll start to see the advantage of this over the next few months as we release some cool new Snaplets, particularly around the Activity Stream.


Quick Facts “Flavor” of Community Module

Technically, this is our first formal release of a separate “flavor” of a Cim v2.1 module.  A flavor is simply a customized version of a module that is enhanced with new features, styling, or look and feel. In general, flavors lend themselves to be used for certain scenarios.  Accordingly, you now have a fourth flavor of Community (this one in addition to the communities for Collaboration, Process, and Innovation).

The Quick Facts flavor of the Community Module allows you to easily expose fields of information from the Articles list of the Community in the web 2.0 listing and detail displays of the community.  It adds a box, the Quick Facts box, to do the job.  The release documents how to modify the Quick Facts box and some supporting features such as Pinpoint Search.

PS-We use this new flavor in the New Project Initiation application.


New Project Initiation application

The New Project Initiation (“NPI”) application is proving to be quite popular with customers.  We’ve gone ahead and psuedo-productized this for our Cim Pros.  The application gives you a comprehensive front-end process for managing the onramp of new projects.  For the business value of NPI see my post Driving Business Value with the New Project Initiation social business process  This release is designed for enterprise-wide implementations, but, it may also be implemented at more local levels (say for just IT Project Onramp).

The release contains three customized Cim modules (Portal, Community, and Management Hub).  These are complemented by other out-of-the-box Cim modules to deliver the complete solution.  The release contains an Implementation Guide that provides an overview of the application scenario, the deltas of the modules from the OOTB modules, the implementation tasks, customization options, and, appendixes covering technical items and extended deployment scenarios.

BTW, for those of you with both Cim and PPM, this application is a no-brainer bolt on to the front end of PPM.  The documentation covers the core integration scenarios for pushing approved projects into PPM.




Use Challenges to Drive Results with Enterprise Innovation

There are a lot of organizations that are new to Idea & Innovation Management solutions such as CorasWorks Cim for SharePoint 2010.  One of the most significant best practices we emphasize for those new to innovation is the use of event-based Challenges to drive innovation vs. general idea communities.  In this article, I’ll drill down into Challenges as a key ingredient in the standard enterprise recipe for innovation.


Specific Challenges vs. General Idea Management

First off most organizations use both approaches, general idea management and specific challenges. A mix is the best recipe. Let’s look at each.

Most organizations initially come to the idea and innovation game with the thought of having a general idea community to capture ideas and sort through them and find the great ones. It is typically implemented as an open, ongoing community with a team or teams for evaluation.  What they are looking for is breakthrough ideas?  This does work.  People will randomly come up with novel ideas and you are providing a channel and a mechanism to work them when they pop up.

A Challenge-based approach to drive innovation is different.  A Challenge is a targeted, time-limited, request to your community for ideas that address a specific objective.  With this approach, we first decide what business objective we are after.  And, ideally, upfront we allocate resources to invest in ideas we approve.  We then set up the challenge community (like questions asked, information to be submitted) and evaluation process (how, who, when, etc.) in a way that specifically relates to the challenge.  Then, we launch the Challenge, gather the ideas, collaborate, review, evaluate, make decisions, invest, and drive results.


Specific Benefits of a Challenge Approach

A Challenge approach delivers specific benefits as follows:

It Focuses Management on Defining the Challenge – Management must get clear on the challenge and how to present it to the organization.  This insures that the challenge is a real one.

It Focuses Your Innovators and Collaborators Thoughts on the Challenge – Imagine saying to your employees “When you get around to it, submit ideas to make us better” vs. saying “You have 2 weeks to submit your idea for how we can grow the SMB market by 50% in 2012. We have $2m to invest.”  It is simply easier for most people to focus their thinking on something specific.  And, you therefore get specific ideas that are relevant to the challenge.

You Have the Resources to Act – If you get general ideas, they can come from anywhere.  Thus, you can’t know in advance if you have the will and resources to act.  But with a challenge you know what you are asking for.  Thus, you have the will.  You also can align the resources in advance to insure that you can and will act. You are telling your community that you intend to drive change that drives results.

You Uncover Options to Narrow Challenges – We typically address challenges and opportunities with a small group of people.  When you take a narrowed challenge to your organization you will almost always be surprised by three things: a) how many options you really have, b) how much information and experience you have already, and c) who are the people that have something to contribute.

You Drive A Result – With a Challenge, you are taping into the broad potential of your organization and channeling their thought and experience towards your objective.  With the breadth of ideas and the resources to back them up, you have your best shot at innovating around that targeted business objective.


CorasWorks Cim for Challenge Management

I’ll touch on five key features of Cim that make it particularly effective for managing challenges as part of a SharePoint 2010 work environment.

Separate, Customized Challenge Communities – With Cim, each challenge is a discrete entity.  You can customize the contribute form, the questions, the experience and even look and feel, the categorization within each challenge, the user options, the visibility, etc.  Further, the data is separated as with any Cim community it is technically a separate SharePoint site.

Multiple Challenges into Central Process – In a Challenge Management initiative you will have many challenges.  They are easy to set up. They can all feed into a central management process, your Challenge Management hub, where they are evaluated and processed.

Separate Challenge Workstreams – At the same time, you can also have challenges where the front-end community and the evaluation process are part of a separately managed workstream.  This provides you with the ability to have separate workstreams for say different types of challenges (Corporate vs. Technical vs. Market Development) or challenges driven by different business groups.

A Single, Easy and Convenient User Experience – With Cim, users have a single, consistent, easy and convenient user experience across multiple challenges, separate challenge workstreams, mixed with general innovation communities, and, with their other collaborative communities.  When you launch a Challenge it just lights up at the fingertips of the user in their Cim Business Activity Stream. Thus, they can see new challenges, contribute and collaborate from wherever they normally work vs. having to go somewhere.  In addition, all of the collaboration activity and process activity flows to them across all of the challenges and other communities. This drives visibility, engagement, and collaboration.

Drive Downstream Results – With Cim, after you have evaluated and approved the ideas in the Challenge you can push them into downstream activities to make them come alive.  You can push them into Team sites for teams to implement.  You can push them into a PMO to kick off and drive projects.  You can push them into Program sites to implement an idea as part of their program.  You can even push them into external systems, such as separate Project Management systems.


Wrap Up

In sum, challenges are designed to let you tap into the broad potential of your people across the organization to address targeted business objectives. They are a key ingredient of the standard enterprise recipe to drive innovation. Armed with Cim running within your SharePoint environment, you have the means to just light up your organization and channel their thoughts and experience to help you drive results when and where you need it.


Enabling Enterprise-Wide Social Business Processes

With the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve been engaging with a very different set of business groups amongst our customers.  These are groups that have really never gotten into leveraging SharePoint – even though their organization has it deployed enterprise wide.  They are now looking to leverage Cim on SharePoint 2010 to scale out and up enterprise-wide business processes that have been operating in limited, cumbersome environments.  This scenario that we call enterprise-wide social business processes (EW-SBP) is a targeted scenario for Cim and leverages the entire CorasWorks value proposition.  In this article, I’ll provide the overview of this scenario.  In future blogs, I’ll drill into specific business processes.


The Situation

These enterprise customers have existing business processes that require contributions from a large groups of users.  You might say that they have a big, front-end funnel.  The organizations have already determined what their process is and that it works for the business. They’ve been doing it, but, it has been painful. As they exist today, they are too limited in visibility and touch, they are cumbersome and not scalable (usually built or managed using spreadsheets and/or legacy systems such as SAP and Siebel), and, they are expensive and a hassle to maintain and move forward.

As Cim v2.1 has gotten out there, these business groups are bringing us their processes.  Here is what they want:

- Broad User Scale – They want to scale the front-end of the process to be able to engage a very broad set of users – the whole enterprise, a division, or their business group.  They want this to occur with very little upfront or ongoing effort.  They want to be able to launch new initiatives with just a bit of effort and not having to reinvent a new process/system.

- Robust Process Management – They want their core process, the way they manage it now (but better and easier), to be part of the solution.  They want it to be rich, configurable, and flexible without requiring a computer science degree.

- Enterprise Integration – They want this front-end engagement/process to be able to connect to their external back-end systems (like their project management systems) to a) push approved items into these systems or b) expose the enterprise data within the system to assist the users of the process.  NOTE: Some of these business groups are now considering the option of also leveraging SharePoint to do this also.


Some Examples

In many cases, the processes that these business groups are looking for are already part of the CorasWorks stable.  Some examples of them are as follows.

New Project Initiation – they usually have multiple project management systems, off SharePoint.  What they want is the front-end where people can submit new project ideas, get visibility and collaboration, and then, put them through a review, evaluation, and approval process.  The approved one then get pushed into their PMO or into Project Portfolios in their enterprise project management system.  Their objective is to reduce project duplication and make sure that the projects that even get considered are thought out and vetted amongst a broad, visible audience.

Change Request Management – We are seeing two main “flavors” of this.  One is driven by product groups, the other by IT.  In sum, they want to open up the front end to a broad set of users to be able to easily submit and collaborate on change requests.  Then, they want to run them through a review and approval process.  The approved ones will get pushed into their external system or into project sites or team sites within SharePoint for implementation.  The value is a broader funnel that allows for better collaboration before the change requests move into consideration.

New Product Innovation – We are getting multiple variations for this scenario.   But at the core, the business owners want to engage the full enterprise to capture ideas for new products and markets.  They want to put them through a review and approval process, and then, push them to external systems or SharePoint sites for people to incorporate into their next product cycle.  With this process they are looking to drive revenue growth and competitive strength through a bigger funnel for innovative ideas, the ability to get more varied collaborative input, and the means to target the “thinking” of the organization towards specific challenges/opportunities.

Continuous Improvement Programs – At the enterprise or division level, organizations are looking to capture ideas, projects, plans to feed into a program they are using to manage their Continuous Improvement.  Usually, these are operations oriented groups.  They are looking for ideas for cutting costs, decreasing cycle time, and overall efficiencies.  They want broad participation (sometimes mandatory), and then, they review and approve the ideas, and move them into implementation.


The Cim Enterprise-Wide Social Business Process (EW-SBP) Solution

The basic design of our solution is the same across all of the four examples above.  It is a distributed process that lays on top of and cuts across the SharePoint environment and beyond.  Below is a screenshot depicting a generic process.

Generic EW-SBP

The process breaks down into three distinct sets of activities as follows:

Collaboration: Users will have access to one or more communities to contribute and collaborate with others on the items.  They will do this from wherever they work across SharePoint using the Cim Activity Stream.  The items are all collected in one or more “communities”.

Process: The process owners then go about reviewing, evaluating, and approving the items.  It may be a simple process with a few core decision makers.  Or, they may use collaborative reviews that pull in subject matter experts and other managers.  Further, they can configure multiple stage-gates, with specific activities within each stage that need to be completed before the item is promoted.  Here they will make the decision.  And, they will manage the overall portfolio leveraging various reporting features.

Execution: They then push approved items into downstream project sites, processes, programs, or team sites.  These downstream activities may be in external enterprise systems or may exist within the SharePoint environment.  For instance, CorasWorks provides our Project Portfolio Management solution that runs on SharePoint and is integrated with Cim to make this phase a natural next step.

The core selling points of the CorasWorks Cim v2.1 solution are:

- it runs natively on SharePoint and thus they can leverage this existing enterprise infrastructure

- the CorasWorks Cim solution is largely off the shelf in terms of the core things they want for their process

- Cim is easy to use and feature rich, providing contributor users and process users with a good experience

- Cim is easily adaptable and they can see how they can tweak it where they need it

- Cim is based upon the CorasWorks Solution Platform, which is a mature platform (now in v11) and gives them the flexibility to extend the solution in the places where they require some deep enterprise integration

- the price is very competitive and they are able to launch additional processes using the same framework



In sum, we are seeing Cim v2.1 running on SharePoint 2010 being adopted for enterprise-wide social business processes.  Effectively, these customers are leveraging our solution to scale their existing processes.  They are targeting broad numbers of users (5,000 to 50,000).  The target is usually enterprise-wide or at the division level.  They want the front-end collaboration, a clean, robust process to get to the decision on items, and, the flexibility to then use different means for execution (building, implementing) and or extend the solution as needed.

In future articles, I’ll drill down into specific processes and talk about specific features and benefits.


Engage the User with the Cim Activity Stream

In my last post, I explained how Cim enables you to create many different social business applications for your SharePoint 2010 environment.  I ended with a scenario of how we bring it all together to provide end-users with a single user experience across all of these applications.  The key enabler is the new Cim Activity Stream.  In this article, I’ll drill deeper into it to explore why and how it works to drive user engagement.


The Need for User Engagement – Power to Drive Business Value

Cim is social business software (SBS).  You use it to create applications.  However, the types of applications are a new breed.  They are targeted at a much broader group of users, they are more collaborative, and they are usually distributed across the entire landscape of your SharePoint environment and beyond.   The objective with SBS is to have apps that are the mechanism of business value, yet, to engage a much broader set of users that are the power that drives the business value.  At the end of the day, you don’t get far without engaging the user.  This is particularly true with this breed of enterprise app.

So, how well are most of us doing that today…


Engage the User: Meet Kim White

Whenever I speak with customers the conversation is focused on the application, the process, the use that will drive value.  This is understandable; it is how we’ve been trained to think.  As an industry we tend to think about the user interface of the app.  Usually, we do not think about the user experience across all of the apps.

Meet Kim White.  She is a Product Manager that I talk about in my presentations.  The organization needs her engaged in many different activities.  She also wants to engage in other activities to contribute her best.  Below we show a schematic of some of the activities she would like to engage in.


In a typical organization, how does it work for her?  Maybe she has access to a bunch of SharePoint portal sites, team sites, and project sites.  She has to remember URLs and go everywhere to get work done.  To find out what is up, she has to remember to check.  She has to check multiple “data typed” lists and libraries – and that is just one site.  Or, maybe she can use email and look for the needles of value amongst the “noise”.  Further, the organization has gotten smart and now has an array of SAAS apps that she has to also log into separately and check out.  Then, there are the other really fun enterprise apps she gets to use.

This is typical.  From an end-user perspective, it is not pleasant.  In truth, as organizations we just don’t make it easy and convenient for users to effectively and efficiently engage.  We have few established, structured “channels” for this engagement.  Users usually don’t even know what channel to use to engage.  Where do I contribute an idea to improve a process?  Do I email it to “All Employees”? How would I get help to solve a technical challenge?  How do I log this change request from a customer before I forget?  Where can I get some great stories from customers to use in my marketing decks?  We lack channels for engagement, and, we lack a simple, convenient user experience to use engage through these channels.

With Cim v2.1 on SharePoint 2010, the user experience of your workplace is different – and much better.  The key new feature is the Cim Activity Stream and how we have tied it into all of the Cim social business applications that you can deploy across your environment.


Cim Activity Stream

Let’s just change our perspective.  Imagine that your organization will have lots of social business apps that serve as the channels for your users to drive and derive business value.  They will have collaborative information resources, communities of practice and purpose, idea communities and challenges, business processes, and services.  But, let’s set a new rule – we are only allowed a single user interface for users to use to contribute, collaborate, and engage in activity across all of the apps.

The Cim My Activity Stream is a feature that you can deploy in any SharePoint site.  When a user goes there, they see all of the activity that is relevant to them.  They can contribute, comment, and collaborate, right from there.  They can see the history of what they have done across all of the communities/apps.  They can see what others have done on items that they created or that they “watched”.    They can see a listing of communities and watch them.  When new communities/apps are deployed across your environment, they just light up for the user to choose whether to watch them.

In sum, the Cim Activity Stream is their gateway to your collaborative workplace.

Below is a screenshot of the Activity Stream deployed in a Department Portal.  If this is where the user tends to work, viola, there is there Activity Stream, at their fingertips. This is our default configuration and shows the Community Listing on the left.  On the right is the My Activity Stream snaplet.  It has three sections: My Stream (what others have done), My Activity (what I have done), and My Watch List (what communities and items I am watching).

Activity Stream

So, working from here Kim White has all of your resources and activities at her fingertips.  She can choose what to watch and what to engage in.  She can throttle the level of activity.  She can contribute as she chooses.  As people do work, she sees the activity and responds.  From this one place, she has a single way of engaging in all of the activities that she needs to engage in or that she wants to engage in.

kim white engage

For Kim White, and, each of your many, valuable employees itching to contribute and engage – life is good.


Cim v2.1: Our approach to adding value with Social Business Apps

Since the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve had a lot of meetings with customers.  The conversation quickly turns to a discussion of what are the most valuable applications of this social business software across their SharePoint 2010 environment.  With Cim v2.1, we make it easy to frame this conversation because we ship with 3 core solutions that are ready to implement out-of-the box.  Each of these is really a framework for a category of applications.  Armed with this, customers get focused on the business value much more quickly.  In this article, I’ll go over our solution oriented approach and how it delivers business value to you.


The 3 Core Solution “Buckets”

Cim v2.1 is a flexible, integrated system, with many applications.  Yet, to accelerate business value, we have framed the product within the following three core solution “buckets”:

- Cim Collaboration – for Social Collaboration

- Cim Process – for Social Business Processes

- Cim Innovation – for Idea & Innovation Management

Below is a standard slide I use to introduce the three core solution “buckets”.  Each represents a category of applications.  In most situations, the business groups initially come to us looking for an application within just one of these buckets.  So, we’ve made it easy for them to succeed in that one area first and then expand their application scope.

3 solutions

To make it really straight forward to get to the initial business value, the product ships with three pre-configured “base reference implementations” (BRI’s) – one for each solution.  These documented implementations deliver an application within the solution bucket and set a standard for learning and training.  They are as follows:

Cim Collaboration – a Department Portal for collaboration across multiple communities and integration with a native SharePoint team site to show how users can have a great collaborative experience when working anywhere across SharePoint.

Cim Process – a process for capturing and managing Process Improvement Ideas.  This leverages the collaborative community to capture ideas and collaborate on them.  It then introduces how you can set up and configure the process side where you review, evaluate, and decide on the improvement ideas.

Cim Innovation – this solution uses a Product Innovation scenario.  It shows how you can have many different idea communities and challenges that feed into a central management hub where you do your processing of the ideas to transform them into approved innovations.

Having the three separate BRI applications allows IT and the business groups to focus their efforts and deliver that first piece of business value.  It also serves to train them up on how to implement Cim. The key is that we are not just selling and installing a set of capabilities, but, starting with ready-to-go solutions.  This approach makes it far more effective for customers to then envision the next application and the next. 


Sample Applications within the Solution Buckets

The 3 solution buckets and the BRI apps are the beginning.  For each bucket, we have standard applications that are commonly desired by customers.  For many of these, we have a stable of designs, best practices and “flavorized” modules to be applied.  Below is a slide showing examples within each solution bucket.

solution apps

How is this range possible?  In essence, Cim is unusually flexible.  In fact, I’d say that it delivers three qualities that allow users to meet varied application needs.  They are flexibility, adaptability, and extensibility.  This translates to the ability for you to implement applications that fully meet your needs.  Let’s look at each of the three qualities and what it means to you.

Flexibility – Cim is a modular system.  It is designed so that modules can be dropped into a SharePoint environment and “loosely” connected, but, work as a system.  This allows for great variation, particularly as the applications become bigger and broader, such as multi-phase processes that span a SharePoint environment.  Imagine you have an Innovation Process.  As you spin up new challenge communities, they light up at the fingertips of end-users wherever they work, and, they automatically start feeding into the existing management process site.  It just works, even though users are working in very distributed places across SharePoint and working in different contexts.

Adaptability – CorasWorks is known for its adaptable software.  This means that organizations can easily modify the software using Wizards and configuration instead of having to crack compiled code.  Four key areas of adaptability of Cim are 1) a flexible web 2.0 style interface supporting CSS/XSLT branding and UI changes, 2) configurable community options to make them fit for purpose, 3) very adaptable business processes to modify the process and the individual activities within it, and 4) the ability to create custom user actions to automate work, connect to external SharePoint sites for supporting and downstream activities and to feed the Cim Activity Stream.  This adaptability is absolutely critical to empower business groups to continuously modify and refine their communities and their processes as they learn and their needs change.

Extensibility – Cim is powered by the CorasWorks Solution Platform running on SharePoint.  This industry leading platform is 8 years old, very mature and now in v11.    The platform enables you to extend Cim in many key ways.  You can tie into SharePoint and external systems in read-write modes, create highly unique presentation widgets (charts, mashups, etc.), add custom mobile extensions, and even, open Cim up to be consumed by external systems.  All of this is done purely through configuration – no need to crack code, deploy code, and support custom code.


Bringing It All Together – One Experience for the End-User

With Cim you can address a number of different solution areas and have a wide variety of applications.  It could appear that you would end up with separate siloed applications, with separate UI’s, training, maintenance, etc. – like the old days.  With Cim v2.1, this is not the case.  The breakthrough in Cim v2.1 is the Cim Activity Stream.  It provides end-users with a single place to go that enables them to collaborate across all of the information resources, communities, challenges, services, and, processes that you’ve deployed with Cim.  This makes it remarkably easy and convenient for the user, and thus, engages the user to participate in driving your business value. 

Below we show a screenshot of the Cim My Activity Stream deployed within a Department Portal.  Note that from here they are engaging in activities across the environment.

Activity Stream

Imagine that you want to deploy an application across your entire enterprise that will capture Cost Reduction Ideas, allow broad user collaboration on them, and, put them through a process for evaluation, approval, and, implementation.  You’d drop in your new community, configure your process to evaluate ideas, and click to Go Live – instantly, all users across the enterprise will now have your app at their fingertips and can start contributing and collaborating.  There is no need for users to go any where, no need to deploy new things in sites for users, no need for them to learn a new app UI or be trained, and, no need for you to built-out a branded portal for end-users.  Yet, you now have an enterprise app, in production, with mass scale, delivering value. 

So, in sum Cim delivers business value by delivering on both sides of the coin.  On one side you have support for a broad range of applications that are fit to purpose and serve as the mechanisms for business value.  On the other, you have a single, consistent user experience across all of the apps that engages users to actually drive the value home. 


Social vs. Social Business on SharePoint 2010

Over the last few weeks, as we’ve taken Cim v2.1 to market, we are increasingly compared with pure social technology players in the market.  Certainly, Cim v2.1 has gotten more social and this question is reasonable.  There is some overlap; we are both starting in the same place.  In this article, I’ll provide a simple approach I use to draw the key distinction and how this difference drives us as vendors in different investment directions and value propositions.

The really short answer is that in most pure Social offerings, the focus is on the conversation and the network.  Whereas in Social Business offerings like Cim, the focus is on the application and the business result supported by the collaborative conversation.

Let’s look at these graphically…



Here is a graphic that shows the essence of a social approach.  It is about the conversation between people and the people network.  Social is really providing a communication mechanism. It is an alternative to email or phone.  Vendors of social typically talk in terms of the medium, eg., the type of capability such as wikis, blogs, and micro-blogging.  The real value comes through the forming of the social networks and linkages and using this new medium for conversation.  These conversations usually have context, but, the context is secondary.





Social Businessimage

Here is a graphic that shows the key distinction of Social Business Software from pure Social.  In essence, there is a structured context in the middle – basically it is your “social app”.  People engage in the context of that app (the stronger blue lines).  In Cim, we generically call it a “community”.  However, it serves the business purpose, has structure, maybe even a time limit, and often, involves process.  It might be an information resource, an idea community, a channel between sales and marketing, a department community, a corporate challenge, a business process, or a project.  But, the “app” in the middle has a purpose that gives the collaboration a context and channels the collaboration towards this purpose. 


With Cim we also enable the direct people-to-people conversations to occur through our integration and extension of SharePoint 2010 social networking capabilities.  We are even talking to many of the other social players about also integrating with their social network.  However, at the core is the “app”.  With Cim we have invested considerably to make sure that these “apps” can range from simple collaborative communities to deep business processes.  Thus, the app, ie., the business purpose is primary with us.


Experience the Difference

The above distinction can be experienced when you work with the various vendors.  When you engage with most social vendors they will usually talk in terms of capabilities and often make reference to why their offering is not Facebook or Twitter for the enterprise.  Whereas when you engage with CorasWorks, we will always be talking about the applications you want and the business objective.  We will talk about Product Change Requests, Sales Collateral that gets better, Innovation Management, managing Technical Solution challenges, Enterprise Best Practices, Customer Feature Requests feeding into Product Development, your New Project Initiation process and how it ties into your Project Management system.  In fact, in all of our Cim business, there are always very specific applications that are the initial drivers for adoption and which are usually driven by business groups.


My Perspective

In sum, with Cim as a Social Business offering, we see social technology as a very important new capability to be leveraged in business applications.  When we evangelize it is usually to explain, for instance, how you can make a Change Request process much more effective and powerful by re-designing it to be front-ended with a collaborative community and incorporating collaborative review processes to drive decision making.  But, in the end it is a process with a business objective.  We are held accountable to deliver the business solution; not just a capability.

I believe that over the next couple of years organizations will have solid platforms on both fronts – core Social Business platforms such as Cim on SharePoint with lots of “apps” along with one or more Social/Social Networking systems.  Both will get stronger within their own areas as the competition continues to heat up.  In addition, you will be seeing more classic business applications with their own embedded social capabilities.  The hope (and my hope) is that these vendors will each support the federation of these systems to make sure that customers end up with a truly better collaborative user experience instead of it becoming just one more wave of siloed systems. 



User Centric Focus Empowers Social Collaboration on SharePoint 2010

Service Pack 1 of SharePoint 2010 was recently released.  The “mainstream” of SharePoint users are now on their way to migrating to SP2010.  Where are the new quick wins and big wins for organizations on their new platform?  We believe that social collaboration on SP2010 offers great potential.  Can collaboration really be enhanced in a significant way?  The answer is yes.

With Cim v2.1, we have added a new solution, Cim Collaboration, for social business collaboration on SharePoint 2010, that enhances SharePoint to provide organizations a much more powerful way to drive business value.  In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the core elements of the solution.  As you’ll see, the key “big change” is a shift to a user centric focus that is the new driver for effective social business collaboration.

Let’s start by taking a look at the typical collaborative experience of SharePoint 2010.  Most organizations are following the same approach they did before – team sites and department sites as part of their Intranet.  How do we collaborate?  We navigate to a site, assuming we have access.  We find data typed content in lists and libraries with little relationship.  We review, edit, or add new items.  In effect, we have collaboration by proximity.  It works, but, couldn’t we do a whole lot better…

With Cim v2.1, we’ve add our new Cim Collaboration solution.  It brings together three core elements that work to provide an easier, more robust, and more effective collaborative experience on SharePoint 2010.  I’ll go over the 3 elements and describe the mechanics of how it delivers the result.


Collaborative “Communities” with Purpose

At the core of Cim is the “community”.  It is a new kind of site designed for a better social collaboration experience.  We use communities for many purposes from department collaboration, to idea communities, challenges, professional communities, and collaborative business processes.

-  At a very simple level, you could spin up a community for Marketing Collateral.  Marketing would be the primary contributor.  They would post new collateral.  Sales and others would “watch” the community.  They would rate, comment, and offer up their take on better collateral or needs for new collateral.

- A little more advanced community would be a community for departmental collaboration.  Here members of the department collaborate with each other.  It would segment types of topics, use managed tagging, and perhaps allow for peer reviews.

- Going further, you may have communities that specifically drive processes like Change Request Management.  People contribute and collaborate, and then, change requests are put through a structured, yet collaborative, process to review, approve, and implement them.

A “community” has a purpose, context and engages people to work better together to advance that purpose. However, it is not necessarily “Yet Another Place To Go” (YAPTG).  With Cim, a community owner can spin up a community quickly which is then available broadly.  They don’t necessarily have a separate “destination” site for which they have to worry about branding, other features, etc., or, that users have to navigate to in order to engage.  For instance, a departmental portal may actually expose many different communities from across a SharePoint environment.  Or, an Innovation Portal may have many idea communities and challenges.  The community is the context for collaboration.


Cim Community – Fit to Purpose

Now, this doesn’t mean that Cim communities are therefore simple.  In fact, with Cim each community can be easily and extensively customized to fit its purpose.

The Marketing Collateral community mentioned above may have a simple contribute form and a couple collaborative features.  Whereas a process community like Change Request above may have a contribute form with special fields, grouping and managed tags, custom listings and filtering, peer reviews, private management reviews with scoring, and, structured downstream review, approval, and reporting processes.  Below is a screenshot of an item from the Change Request community.

Collaborative Activities

Cim provides the community owner with the options to control the experience and the purpose.  This differs from other social business offerings that see social collaboration as a relatively flat, pure conversation approach.  We see the need to have communities that are different, and, more robust as necessary to meet their purpose.  When fit to purpose, communities are much more effective at channeling collaborative activity towards the business purpose.

With that said, the trick is that while the Cim communities may be distinctly different, the user experience is simple, convenient, and consistent across communities.  We do this by shifting to a user centric focus for collaboration.


User Centric Focus of Collaboration

Okay, so with Cim, we can have many communities of different types.  The big change in Cim v2.1 comes with a shift to a user centric focus for collaboration.  This is done by providing users with a separate user interface that they control to enable them to collaborate across communities and across the entire SharePoint environment.  This UI is the Cim Activity Stream.

The Activity Stream is a feature that can be snapped into any site in SharePoint.  It is where people go to collaborate – all of the relevant activity comes to them.  They can see new communities that have been launched (Community Listings).  As they contribute or collaborate this activity shows up in their My Activity.  They can watch a community or individual contributions (Watchlist).  Any activity by others on items they’ve watched or contributed will appear in their My Stream.  Below is a screenshot of an Activity Stream UI snapped into a department portal showing the core features.

Activity Stream

The relevant community collaborative activity (contributions, rating, comments, uploads, peer reviews) flows to them.  In addition, the downstream process activity for process-centric communities also appears in their activity stream.  This can include activities such as Management Reviews and Votes, Stage changes, Decisions, Task assignments, completion of documents, etc.

From the My Activity Stream UI the user can see what is happening, click to contribute, click to collaborate on an item or within a community – all without going anywhere.  In addition, they can see the user profiles of their collaborators and click into their My Sites and engage directly with that individual and with their social network.  Thus, from their Activity Stream they can now collaborate within any communities across the entire SharePoint environment and directly with other users.

With the Cim Activity Stream, we’ve made collaboration user centric vs. content and location centric as most of us experience in native SharePoint.  This is a big shift.  They have a single place to go and control over their collaboration experience.  The visibility is greater, the work is easier, the activity is relevant, there is less navigation, and less email and UI distraction.  It is fast, easy, relevant and convenient.

Summing Up Cim Social Collaboration on SharePoint 2010

The user centric Activity Stream is the big change.  But, it is this change combined with the ability to support many types of communities for different purposes that can be fit to purpose that gives our approach the breadth and depth to make significant impact.

Most of us invested in SharePoint originally to share information and have a better collaborative experience.  We’ve made progress.  Now, with Cim v2.1, you can leverage your investment in SharePoint 2010 and unleash the potential of social business collaboration to drive your business forward.


Enabling the Collaborative Snowball Effect to Drive Results

I just returned from a wonderful vacation week on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  I was there for my wife’s reunion.  It was a reunion of people that had been part of Na Kani Pela.  This was a choir that sang liturgical music and Hawaiian songs at masses and then in public concerts around the world between 1974-1978.  It was a wonderful event, with more than 50 people coming together, after 30+ years – most of whom hadn’t spoken in 30 years.  The reunion was not the original catalyst.  It was a result of a snowball effect due to social collaboration over the last 2 years.  I think that it provides us with a good example of how social tools can be used in business to enable a collaborative snowball that drives results.  I’ll tell the story of the Na Kani Pela reunion and then give you a business scenario that is similar yet different.

The Na Kani Pela Reunion Snowball

  • About 2 years ago a few people found each other on Facebook – after 30+ years.  They then sought out others and found them on and other places.  This small group decided to connect principally via Facebook and just starting social conversations.


  • After some time, someone had the idea of having a Na Kani Pela reunion.  The idea of the reunion event was the catalyst for the snowball.  They started to organize the search to find others across the world and connect them into the group via Facebook.


  • It started to shape up and the planning began –primarily done via social collaboration.  A few stalwarts took it upon themselves to lead the effort and organized the details.  The word spread and more people came to join the group and sign up for the event.  With each new person, other lurkers started to come on board.


  • The collaboration continued with random activity, but, the event (the purpose) kept it snowballing.  As the event neared, the activity increased.  Excitement and anticipation was rampant.  


  • Then, last week, 50 people, many with families, spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to travel to Hawaii and participate.  During and after the event, the pictures and videos flowed.  It seems that this group of people, that shared an experience 35 years ago, now, have a new experience, and a tool to continue the conversations into the future.


In sum, for me it was an amazing experience.  First, because of the people and the purpose and how meaningful it was for them and even those of us that were new to Na Kani Pela.  Second, because I was able to watch this snowball happen over the past 2 years and witness the power of social collaboration tools on a personal level.


Enabling Your Snowballs to Occur that Drive Business Results 

So, how does this apply to social business software on SharePoint?  There are differences in purpose, tools, and activity, but, let’s look at how the collaborative snowball effect could work for you leveraging CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint.  I’ll walk through a scenario…

  • A couple of engineers have come up with some cool technology.  They really like it, but, don’t know what the application is and what markets it could serve.  They start posting about it and collaborating within their Engineering community, alongside all of the other activities.


  • This small group then comes up with a couple of application ideas.  They get excited and ask a couple product marketing folks to check it out and see if they like it.  Of course, the pm folks think they can do better and put their ideas and enhancements forward.  They also tap into some “ringers”, those clever/creative idea people they know, to also take a look.  A few pretty good applications ideas now emerge.  At this point the group decides to spin up their own community, lets call it the New Widget community, to take it further.


  • They invite others that are interested.  More and better practical/feasible ideas and applications emerge.  They can now see the possibility of a real new product.  They use the community to flesh out the ideas and keep track.  All of the participants “watch” the community and receive their updates in their Cim Activity Stream.  The snowball effect is happening.


  • They build a prototype and collaborate on which customers to test.  They do the tests and it looks very promising.  They then collaborate to formalize a proposal to get approval and funding.  This proposal is submitted to another New Project Review community.  it goes through the process, involving collaborative management reviews, and gets funding.  During the process it gets even broader visibility, touching the people focused on finance, sales, manufacturing and marketing.


  • The general group continues to collaborate in the Widget community.  They use the community to drive it through engineering, to manufacturing and launch, now including folks from marketing and sales. 


  • The product launches and the initial customers are tracked closely.  This activity is visible.  It drives some tweaks and finishing touches on marketing.  They decide to launch a Customer community for the new customers to contribute their ideas to drive the new product forward.  They take these ideas along with their own to now drive sustaining engineering.  All of the ideas are feed into their Product Change Request process.


Now, it is rolled out and doing just fine.  The activity in the Widget community now starts to tail off.  The other communities just keep doing their thing.  On to the next snowball…



In the business scenario above, five primary Cim communities are used to drive the process forward.  The Engineering Community is a localized departmental community where the conversation begins.  The New Widget Community is community of purpose where the idea was nurtured to create the snowball effect and refine it.  The New Project Review community and Product Change Request process community are social business processes that are continuing and play a role in getting decisions made. The Customer Community opens the conversation up to the outside and feeds ongoing internal work.

Just like Na Kani Pela, it didn’t start out as a planned outcome.  There was a spark.  This spark was flamed and nurtured and enabled to emerge and become a product that worked in the market.

The key here is the enabling environment.  There are different communities, like pockets, that play their role.  Over time, based upon events, the activity ebbs and flows amongst the different communities.  With Cim v2.1, all of the relevant activity would be feed into the users Activity Stream so that they effectively see all of the updates from the different communities across the environment as the idea moves through its phases.  People are able to “watch” what is relevant to them.

With Cim in the new world of social business, you are adding a layer of software that enables this kind of process to occur.  Parts are structured and other parts are meant to allow emergence and improvement.  The good part is that this natural emerging process is something that we as people are actually very used to.  But now, we have tools in our business lives and our personal lives that are much better enablers to support the way we work.




Cim v2.1 Overview: Social Business Software on SharePoint 2010

It’s that time again.  We’ve been heads down on CorasWorks Cim v2.1, the next release of our Social Business Software solution on SharePoint 2010.  In this article, I’ll cover some of the key aspects of this release…

Release Date: The target release is the week of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) – July 11-14. 

Social Business Software Layered on SharePoint: There is a growing group of social software players primarily with SAAS offerings on proprietary platforms transitioning into social business offeringsCim has taken a different path. We layer our social business solution on top of SharePoint, taking advantage of the broad adoption of this enterprise collaboration platform already owned by many organizations, while also, serving to bring it all together as an integrated system.  In addition, by leveraging the CorasWorks platform and native SharePoint capabilities, Cim is able to offer the flexibility and customization depth for organizations to create robust business processes and apps that leverage social business collaboration.  This combination of breadth and depth, provides organizations with a very compelling approach to driving business value through social business software while leveraging the platform, existing build outs, knowledge, skills, and adoption that they have already invested in.

New Base Solution – Cim Collaboration: The purpose of our base solutions in the product is to make it faster and easier to get productive with robust social business scenarios with Cim.  We started out with Cim Innovation for Idea and Innovation Management with the v1.2 release in September 2010.  With the v2.0 release in February 2011, we added Cim Process for Social Business Processes.  Now, with v2.1 we are addressing the broad collaboration needs of users on SharePoint 2010 with Cim Collaboration.  This new core solution makes it a snap to enhance collaboration across your SharePoint 2010 environment. 

Cim Activity Stream: The key new sub-system of Cim v2.1 is the Cim Activity Stream.  It is the ultimate in collaborative convenience.  Users now have one place to go, to interact across all of the social business scenarios – general collaboration, collaborative business processes, and innovation scenarios.  The collaborative activity, the management activity, and the downstream process activities all feed into a single activity stream.  From there the user can see their personal activity across all of SharePoint, see the activity of others on the items they have created or watched, and manage their stream.  It is designed to reduce navigation, lower the “social noise” and the “email noise”, and, allow people to easily collaborate with others on relevant work.

SharePoint 2010 Social Network Integration: For the pure social side of activity, we’ve opened up Cim v2.1 to integrate with SharePoint 2010 social features.  This includes integration with user profiles to see who co-collaborators are, drill down into My Sites so that you can directly interact with people, and, social tagging (likes and notes) to push individual items into the SharePoint social network via users My Sites.  For those with SharePoint 2010 Standard or Enterprise, this gives you a convenient channel into your social network and activity without pulling the potential “social noise” directly into your business focused Cim Activity Stream.

Getting More Native with SharePoint 2010: With previous releases of Cim, we’ve often emphasized, custom branded portals.  We still support that and we make it easy.  However, most customers have lots of existing SharePoint sites.  With Cim v2.1 we have extended our architecture with “Snaplets” to allow you to drop a lot more functionality directly into existing SharePoint sites, be they Enterprise Portals, Department Portals, Team Sites, or My Sites.  We even allow you to deploy “micro-communities”, so that you can support multiple communities, challenges, campaigns, collaborative processes in a single existing SharePoint site.  Thus, there is no requirement to create “yet another place to go”.

Social Business Apps: We believe that purpose-driven, social business apps represent an important next generation of collaborative business applications on SharePoint.  They are simpler to understand, easier to use, more collaborative, and, with Cim v2.1 all natively integrate into a single user experience.  We have started to show off specific Cim-based social business apps in the new CorasWorks App Showcase.  We started with Knowledge Pool (collaboration) and Change Request Management (a nice example of a robust social business process).  Check them out.

Cim Open App Framework:  Cim v2.1 continues to build out the Open App framework.  For those familiar with CorasWorks v11 solution platform on SharePoint, Cim leverages this platform and delivers a whole new open development framework used to customize Cim for your application needs.  The Open App framework relies on “xDeveloper” skills (CSS, XSLT, XML, jXXX) – all non-complied code, but, definitely for developers.  You are able to customize the UI completely, the middle tier, and the back-end connectors.  With social business apps, we believe that the market needs this extensive flexibility.  It is an area of apps that is very rapidly evolving and innovating.  The Open App approach allows us to innovate and you to innovate.

I’ll be fleshing these topics out over the next month as we move to the release.  If you want a preview of Cim v2.1, just ping your CorasWorks account rep or send an email to


Social Business Collaboration Meets SharePoint 2010 Intranet

Many of our customers are in the midst of migrating to SharePoint 2010.  In most cases, the initial objective is to lay out an Intranet with multiple departments and business functions.  In this article, through a few videos, I’ll show you how your new Intranet on SP2010 can become a much more vibrant, engaging, inter-active, and productive place to work when it is enhanced with CorasWorks Cim Social Business Collaboration.

On SP2007, our Intranets tended to be quite passive and focused on collaboration defined by the location and type of content.  As you’ll see in these videos, Cim on SP2010 puts an entire new layer of activity on top of this environment.  Your environment provides a much richer collaborative experience, where information and activity is visible, that encourages greater participation, and gives the users a much easier and more convenient way to work.

I have three videos for you.  They all revolve around the portal of an IT Department.  This department has three core collaborative communities that are embedded into their department portal.  Users just get down to work, with very little navigation required.

NOTE: When you click to view the video, click the “full screen” option at the top – looks a whole lot better.


Cim – IT Department Portal, Communities, and Inter-Activity (runtime 4:53)

In this video we’ll show the inter-activity by just working via the home page of the IT Department portal.  You’ll learn about collaborative communities, Top 10 Listings, rich collaborative articles, and, the Cim Virtual Workspace.


Cim – Collaborative Community Experience – Drilldown (runtime 3:32)

Here we’ll drill down in the IT Post community.  This is the community for general collaboration across the IT Department.  You’ll see how easy it is to find what you need, contribute, share and collaborate.


Cim – Business Activity Stream (runtime 4:53)

In one place, you can now see all of your activity across many communities in your SP2010 environment (not just your department, but, the whole environment).  You can see what you’ve done and where you did it – new posts, comments, ratings, uploads, reviews, etc.  You can also see the activity of others on the items you’ve posted or that you’ve decided to watch.  In addition, you’ll see how this integrates into SP2010 User Profiles, My Sites, and the social activity of SP2010. 


I hope these videos have given you a taste of the new type of experience that you can look forward to for your Intranet with CorasWorks Cim on SharePoint 2010.  We hope that your expectations for your collaborative work environment have grown over the last 3 years.  Today’s Intranet can be a much more engaging and inter-active place to work, and, that’s good business.