Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Happy 1st birthday, CGX 2.0!

On February 16, 2009, we activated the Google Analytics tracking code on cgxchange.org… so today is CGX 2.0 first online birthday. We were just going into the beta phase, with a survey and consultation with users: the first official announcement went out on March 23…

To celebrate and reflect on the first year of life of CGXchange reborn, here’s a quick summary of last year’s highlights:

  • 96,254 pageviews across the whole cgxchange.org domain (which includes both the cgxchange.org site and every resource created on the Google Apps platform).
  • Single sign-on for CGIAR staff was implemented in November, which allows any current CGIAR staff member to access the system, while relieving us and the Administrators in the Centers from the burden of managing users one by one. Plus, this is allowing the use of the same credentials over Web, mobile apps and Google Talk. To make it a really distributed platform, we trained the Center-based CGX 2.0 administrators who are now enabled to work on the Google Apps administrative panel.
Visits on CGX 2.0 domain February 2009- February 2010
  • Traffic and use have constantly increased particularly since September, and with a steady increase after the implementation of single sign-on in November.
  • There has been a total of 550 active users (that we define as those who have logged in at least once over a given period). Not a huge number in comparison to the overall number of CG staff, but the good news is that more than 50% of active users logged in over the last month and a half.
  • Google Talk is officially supported in ILRI and WorldAgroforestry as one of the official VOIP systems.
  • Sites are a particularly popular application, an experience we have documented and shared in detail on this blog and with two video tutorials (How to Create and How to Edit a Google Site on CGX 2.0). The Alliance Web site is one of the few public sites on the platform, and has consequently driven most of the traffic together with the public face of cgxchange.org. However, Sites are used extensively for distributed team work, collaborative writing, event support (e.g. the CIMMYT Science Week team used it to inform and promote the event among the participants). The advantage of Sites if that any user with a CGX 2.0 account can create their own site, so if you want to get started with your own site on CGX 2.0, follow the Steps to create and share a site on CGX 2.0 guide.
Map of CGX 2.0 visitors: a truly global collaboration platform - click to enlarge

CGX 2.0 plans for 2010

This year we’ll devote most of our attention to what I described as the CGX 2.0 Coaching Strategy.

Encouraging the adoption of online collaboration and knowledge sharing tools depends very much on a collaborative mindset that we observe to be there in the CGIAR, but this is neither consistent nor institutionalised. What we consider success in our case, is the integration of collaboration and sharing tools in the way groups, teams and communities work. What we’re aiming at is innovating ways of working so that they are more open and efficient.

For this to happen, behaviours need to change. We’re working with and for groups that are ready or almost ready to change their way of working. We want to create first of all success stories, although we certainly learn from failures, as we did already, document these experiences, and use these primarily as indicators of performance. We are already seeing the early signs of successful adoption.

We are also aware that we need to work closely with the IT departments in the Centres: they are the frontline in receiving requests, advising on tools and supporting them.The way we see it is not only in terms of adoption and training, though these are important as well. We like to call it coaching.

We’ll keep working to promote and demonstrate the effective use of online collaboration tools and methods: we’ll be showcasing both online and at face-to-face events the basic how-to’s and the success stories of how the different collaboration tools available in the platform are helping staff improve the way they work and collaborate with colleagues and partners. The Google Apps play the main role, but there are more and we tend to propose the tools in close connection with methods and processes.

In parallel, we are organising online training sessions with the Helpdesk staff in selected Centers so as to enable them to guide and troubleshoot users locally.

On the technical side, we’re following very closely the development of Google Apps as they evolve towards a more mature enterprise platform. In particular, we’ll be looking into the design and implementation of backup tools for Google Docs and Sites.

If you or team want to start collaborating with Google Apps, and you need assistance, please contact us cgxchange@cgiar.org