Yesterday I got the “lowdown” on how Thingamy, which Sigurd Rinde describes as a “Work Processor”, has just been connected to ESME, the microsharing and collaboration platform. I believe the combination is a big step forward for Sig’s solution, as well as representing one of several approaches that signpost the direction of enterprise 2.0, or enterprise collaboration for 2010. It’s all about linking collaboration to process.
First let me disclose that, although we don’t have a contractual relationship, we’re big fans of Thingamy, we’ve been playing around with the product for years, and we’re on the look out to help and support Sig to find potential clients here in the UK. Although the basic concept of Thingamy remains the same, the user interface and way you use and deploy the product have steadily improved over time making the product much easier to grasp than when we first met Sig back at the start of 2006.
So what is Thingamy? It’s a product that addresses all of the things that any organisation does which are NOT handled by their conventional business process based systems. Sig calls these Easily Repeatable Processes – the ERP, CRM, accounting, or HCM processes usually handled by a huge variety of standard SME or enterprise level software products we all know and love (either SaaS or on premise). Depending on the industry sector (making cars, book retailer, web design agency) those products will handle more or less of the value creation of the company, but there is a huge percentage that isn’t covered – Sig suggests 2/3 of World GDP. Well, we can argue the figures but these unstructured “Barely Repeatable Processes”, as he calls them, probably cover over half of what most companies do. Over the last 15 years some of these tasks have been handled with email exchange, passing round documents, and many of the data related ones have ended up with some form of messy Excel spreadsheet based “system”. To make it specific for one big company you’ll recognize, covering just the search and discovery part of what knowledge workers do, Laurie Buczek of Intel says:
“The average Intel employee dumps one day a week trying to find people with the experience & expertise plus the relevant information to do their job. We have calculated some of the $$ impact due to lost productivity & opportunity. Let me just say that it is motivating us to take action.”
Enterprise 2.0 is all about the use of emergent social media tools to address this problem. Things like blogs to support conversations around an idea, or wikis to collate, develop and share information, people profiles to help you find the expertise you need to do your job, or micro-blogging tools like Twitter and Yammer for more efficient team communication. These tools can definitely help and take a data centric approach to finding people and sharing knowledge and up to this point have worked disconnected, in parallel or asynchronously with the conventional business processes of the organization. But Sig’s product is all about process. In theory you could use some sort of standard workflow tool and create a 2 dimensional process flow with decision points to cover all of the myriad tasks and different decision paths you go down every day to do your job (or even get up and get to the office). In practice, that would probably be just too complex and time consuming to create. Thingamy uses some basic workflow “snippets” that you use and re-use to manage and trap how you handle a particular idea, issue or request. It helps you join up the dots of your daily workflow, and keeps track of the objects and people that you work with or delegate tasks to. You model your business processes as you go. The system makes you more efficient the next time through, retains the history of what happened, but allows you to adapt the process as things change (because they always do). It will all become more clear when you see the example below. However, between Christmas and the New Year Sig and his team connected Thingamy to ESME using their API and by adding an ESME style client within the Thingamy interface. ESME is a Twitter style internal micro-blogging application used for team communication and information sharing. It means that the conversations that you have around each task are now captured and linked to the relevant, object, person or specific process step inside Thingamy. It adds another level of usability to the tool for all sorts of knowledge work. Take a look at Sig’s demo, and you’ll begin to understand.
So whether it is ESME being linked to process inside Sig’s BRP tool, or Chatter linking to Salesforce‘s portfolio of standard and partner applications, or SAP looking to link 12sprints to their applications, this is where enterprise 2.0 is heading in 2010. Essentially I’m agreeing with Dennis’s two posts on “Enterprise 2.0: it’s not about people it’s about process“. It’s all about people and their unstructured knowledge and data properly linked to business processes that adds value. And Thingamy is well worth looking at as a generic “Work Processor” too.