Note: Originally published June 23 on IBM internal blog

A couple weeks ago, I traveled to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to deliver a Lotus Connections adoption/user training workshop.  The customer currently has their PoC environment up and running, so the account team asked me to come in to teach their early adopters how to get the most out of Lotus Connections.  The customer selected 7 people to attend from various lines of business.  The plan is for these attendees to sow the seeds of social software adoption within their groups.

Penny eats sushi

I used the “Getting Started with Lotus Connections” presentation as a guide to take them through hints and tips for using each of the 5 services.  During the session, they used their PoC system to populate their profiles, create their own blogs, use an Activity, set up Communities, and import bookmarks from their browsers into Dogear.  Along the way, I shared with them my personal experiences using Lotus Connections and IBM’s history and success stories with Web 2.0.

I told them how well populated Profiles, with both professional and personal information, can help you advertise your expertise, and build connections with others in their organization.  Here are some things I learned about them from the information posted that day.

  • Josue – has children ages 2 and 5 (just like me)
  • Rocio – says people (outside of Mexico) sometimes assume she’s a man because her name ends in an “o”.  Having a profile with a picture will remove this awkwardness
  • Marimar – enjoys Lost and Hugh Grant movies (just like me), and is an Office expert
  • Alex and Wendy – both tagged themselves with “starbucks” (not like me, I never drink coffee)

A couple of the use cases the customer came up with during brainstorming:

  • Wendy currently sends out a high visibility monthly newsletter.  People respond to her with questions and comments via email, which she keeps track of, responds to, and incorporates into future issues.  This is a very static way of exchanging the information and they wanted something more interactive.  I explained to them how this could be accomplished more effectively with a blog.
  • The team in Monterrey frequently has visitors from around the world who need recommendations on where to stay, restaurants, directions to the offices, etc.  Of course, most of this information already exists on the Web and inside the company.  I recommended a Community to collect these links.  They can also use forums to ask questions and get personal responses from the Monterrey based staff.

So, how is social software like sushi?  For lunch, we ordered in from a local sushi restaurant.  One of the rolls had the following description:  Chicken, avocado, cream, jalapeno, breaded and fried.  I joked with the customers, “That sounds more like a taco than sushi.”  They went on to tell me that the sushi in Mexico is very, well… Mexican.  The sushi was served with jalapeno salsa, salsa de chile verde.  The soy sauce came in 2 types:  regular, and with lime juice.  Mexicans eat most everything (tacos, fruit, drinks) with lime and chile, so I shouldn’t be surprised that sushi has been Mexican-ized.

Ok, getting back to social software adoption – the same way that sushi has been transformed, made unique, taken its own form and identity depending on the culture of the people serving and eating it, so too with social software adoption.  I don’t think any two companies, or even people within those companies will use social software in exactly the same way.  Each individual can use it according to their own needs, requirements, and comfort level.  People add their own unique perspectives and talents (flavors) to the business use cases or applications in order to make it more easily adopted by the larger population.

Next steps for this customer is to continue moving forward with Connections, Quickr, and a Notes 8 upgrade.  (And consuming more sushi and Starbucks too!)