Blog post

It’s Nice When Old Clothes Still Fit

By Mike Gotta | January 28, 2013 | 1 Comment

It’s been three months since I re-joined Gartner and I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce myself via the Gartner Blog Network. For those not familiar with my background, a brief history of my analyst experience:

  • Meta Group 1996-2005
  • Burton Group 2005-2010
  • Gartner Jan 2010-July 2010

Over those years, I’ve covered a range of topics but they all intersected with collaboration and social software – with a particular deep research focus on topics related to social networking. I enjoyed my experience on the vendor-side of the world while at Cisco. It was interesting to see how technologies are brought to market and some of the opportunities and challenges vendors face when moving into new markets. But research is my passion and I’m happy to be back doing something that is so deeply ingrained in the way I look at the world. There are some differences in the way I approach this role now then before that I’d like to share:

  • Theory: I’m in the middle of a Master’s program in Media Studies at The New School. The experience has reinforced my intent to anchor my research to scholarly sources whenever possible and relevant.
  • Culture: While media and technology plays an important role in the life of an analyst, knowing more about the cultural context of how people go about their routines through the eyes of its participants can reveal tremendous insight – it’s changed the way I think about and approach research.
  • Practice: Which leads me to better understanding the things people do, their patterns in everyday life (how people participate and contribute), the social processes that influence how people take action (or not), and how all of these dynamics are applied in a work environment to get something done.

In a way, I’m more exploratory and observant in areas that might appear to be far removed from technology yet those experiences influence how people go through everyday life as a consumer, customer, employee, teammate, community member, management leader, etc. Everyone has multiple identities. All human interaction occurs in a network context. While I find these topics important from a research perspective, don’t worry – I express my views in the language of our business and IT clients. I do pass along articles related to these topics (e.g., anthropology, ethnography, design, social networking, identity, social capital, etc), I find interesting via Twitter (@MikeGotta) if you’re interested.

Shifting away from my academic side, I’ll be focusing on a variety of challenges and opportunities faced by IT leaders involved in collaboration and social software strategies. I look forward to hearing from you and sharing my views on:

  • How to put together an internal collaboration or social strategy
  • How to approach the cultural aspects of teaming, community-building, and social networking
  • What impact can new approaches towards research and design have on adoption of collaboration and social applications? To get an idea of where I’m heading with this, see this report recently published: Leverage Design Ethnography to Boost Enterprise Social Networking Success  (Note: you need to have the appropriate client access rights.
  • How to approach the business case. What can be done to express the value of collaboration and social solutions in terms that show business value (e.g., key performance indicators, ROI, etc.
  • Can integration of collaboration and social technologies into applications and process improve their use and create better business outcomes? How can we design environments that enable people to better mobilize their professional networks to improve the effectiveness of informal work processes

General questions such as:

  • The impact of social on the employee life-cycle
  • Why is social networking important from a management and employee perspective
  • Applying design ethnography to improve use of social application
  • Re-thinking cultural change through the eyes of its participants
  • Mobility aspects of social and collaboration strategies. This is an area I’ll be ramping up on. I’m especially interested in how we can improve the research and design aspects of social and collaborative apps.

Specific technology questions related to:

  • Social networking applications and platforms, including profiles, social graphs, activity streams, social objects, and social analytics
  • Expertise location and Q&A applications within the enterprise
  • Various vendor collaboration and social platforms
  • Mobile social and collaboration apps (Note: ramping up)

In terms of some long-range questions I have for myself – here’s what I’m thinking about – somewhat academic but my findings would be expressed in business and IT terms:

  • How do social structures emerge (e.g., teams, communities, networks) and the influence of management, culture, and media on those relationships?
  • How do people cultivate and mobilize their social networks?
  • How do we encourage a more participatory employee culture? What impact do media literacies have on people’s ability to contribute effectively?
  • How does mobile (as a more intimate form of computing) affect how people communicate, share, and build relationships?

As I investigate these open-ended research inquiries, I recast my findings into an enterprise context, taking advantage of quantitative and qualitative studies and all of the various resources and interactions I have here at Gartner.

That’s it. I hope this helps outline areas where I can help. Sorry if it’s a bit long.

BTW, if you are an organization applying various qualitative research approaches (like ethnography), I’d very much like to hear about your experience – whether it’s externally or internally focused.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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1 Comment

  • Thanks for this post Mike – very inspiring. I can’t access the link unfortunately but very interested in how you’re using ethnography here.