Last year I had the honour of answering a call for sidebar contributions to Ed Brill’s book, “Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager”. I had no doubt it would be a well-written, informative book. Ed’s announcement today of his new role as Director of Market Management – IBM Mobile Enterprise has given the book an interesting angle as well. IT professionals are renowned for being great at doing, not so eager at documenting. At what point Ed’s change in role started to come into focus, he has certainly left excellent documentation for his team.
First, to review the book. As is not surprising for one who has considerable experience of blogging, the book is well-written and easy to read. It’s well-structured, with regular real-life anecdotes to support Ed’s points and “Lessons Learned” sections to summarise each chapter. Aimed at those who are very busy, I am sure it will be very successful. And for anyone in the IBM Notes community, most of the names mentioned will be familiar. I’m honoured to be among them.
The book identifies three central tenets of a social business – engagement, transparency and agility. Looking back over the time Ed has been involved with Notes and the ICS portfolio, IBM has developed it’s skills as a social business. And Ed has been a prominent individual at the heart of that. But a key point emphasised but often underestimated is that opting in to social is not just about speaking, but also listening. Ed may have been prominent in the former, but I am sure his team have been no less social on the latter. It’s also interesting to hear Ed say that in his first job he “was…looking to make myself indispensable”. With today’s announcement some may fear that Ed is indispensable in his current role, but the book highlights that there is no cause for such fears. The book highlights that being social is done also by listening, which reminds us that Ed is it the only social product manager in his team. And the book also draws on the lessons not only from Ed’s own experiences but those of others at IBM like Jeff Schick. Yes, we will be losing Ed’s unique voice on the topics we are used to, but those of us who have come to know him will still be following that voice on new topics. As many members of the community told Tom Duff recently, people may move away from the technology, but our community goes beyond that. That’s why so many of us have enjoyed seeing Mary Beth Raven in the time since she left IBM. It’s why we will continue to take an interest in Ed’s future roles and look forward to catching up when we can.
So while we will lose Ed’s unique voice and style, we will be gaining the new unique voice of Scott Souder. Many may be unfamiliar with his name, but I have been lucky enough to hear him speak on a few occasions now as well as chat to him. He is passionate about the products and speaks with a smile in his voice as well as on his face. He will be a powerful advocate for IBM Collaboration Solutions with an enthusiastic voice. He has a wealth of experience with Notes from which to draw, and a useful manual of tips and tricks where required, thanks to Ed. I look forward to getting to know Scott more, at IBM events, at LUGs and other opportunities.
So, thanks, Ed, for a great book and for all you have done, both with the Notes community and as Director, Product Management – IBM Social Business. Good luck for the future and enjoy whatever new challenges come your way.