Friday, September 28, 2007

Employee blogging

Lilia Efimova has been doing some interesting research on blogging practices. She's working on her PhD on this topic at the moment. She recently posted on a workshop she gave at the ECSW conference on "Employee blogging - personal or work-related?". Find her interesting slides here.

I liked the citation (sheet 2) of Joshua Allen:
As long as your company views your blogging as "you chatting with your neighbors on your personal time", you pose little risk. But the more that co-workers, CEOs, and so on are on-record as being cool with blogs, the more that blogs take on the timbre of being "official". The more "official" that blogs are, the more perceived risk the company takes on by allowing you to blog. And neither you nor your CEO is really keen to make things more complicated than they need to be. And this is why, IMO, you see most companies and employees today still dancing around the issue of employee blogs and seemingly settling on a "don't ask, don't tell, and please ... don't do anything stupid" policy.
The issues of personal vs. business blogs (sheet 3, 5-7) is intriguing. "The extremes are not that interesting", indeed, as Lilia states. The interesting part is how we can mix personal and business blogs. I, for instance, blog about my work. But I make sure I don't post about confidential stuff.
However, I would like to have a blog (one blog) with which I could choose to publish a post internally (only to my colleagues) and/or externally (to the rest of the world). For every post you can set this setting: 'publish internal' or 'publish external'. I haven't seen blog software offer this feature yet. Wouldn't this solve much of the problems around employee blogging?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Using Timebridge with Outlook

I was wrong... Some time ago I posted about Timebridge. I love the application, but I was disappointed about the Outlook integration.

John from Timebridge wrote a comment on my post and said that what I was looking for can already be done using Timebridge. And indeed, after some emailing with John we got it to work. The Outlook data is not imported in Timebridge (and I thinks that's wonderful). But when you organize a meeting using the Timbridge Outlook plugin you can see what's already filled in in your Outlook Calendar. Really cool. I'm definitely going to use Timebridge more now.
Thanks for the help John!

Dilbert on Web 2.0

Hmm, should try this in a meeting at my company...

Storytelling in organisations

For some time I've been following the interesting Anecdote blog. Storytelling is an intriguing topic. I posted about it on my blog before. It is very clear to me that stories are a really important way of getting things across. Even in companies, it seems that corporate culture and the way people work is based on stories. Stories that get told over and over again, changing slowly in time.
I've heard of companies that use it to capture stories of employees leaving the company. Nasa seems to do this.

The Anecdote blog posts about storytelling and their consulting work in this area. Today they posted about Storytelling in organisations (and organizations). This triggered me to ask them to write about how companies actually use storytelling. What do they use to capture the stories? How do they store the stories and distribute/share them? How can employees search through those stories? Please give us some practical example, beside the - just as interesting! - posts and articles about narrative, stories, why stories are important, etc. Or can I already find some answers to my questions on your blog?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Google Shared Stuff

Cool, Google is also making bookmarks social! Google Operating System has the post.
It tried it right away and was wondering what this adds to my del.icio.us bookmarks. Not much, although I do find that Google Operating System missed an important feature. Because after you've shared a bookmark, you can also share that bookmark in del.icio.us, Facebook, etc. in a couple of extra clicks. Refer to the picture. This is my Google Shared Stuff.

UPDATE 9-21-07: Multiple social bookmarking can also be done in this way. And ReadWriteWeb has an interesting post on Google Shared Stuff.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Creating context

Two new webtools are being launched. The concepts are exciting.

The first is Lunarr. A document-centric collaboration tool. ReadWriteWeb has a post on this tool and explains what it does. They do have some problems with the concept too.
What I like about the concept is that it that Lunarr seems to do is to keep communication about the document (could also be a wiki-page) close together. And that's wonderful. The conversations about the document gives
context to the document and gives information about the history of the document and the choices that were made. And this is done in one place. When using wiki's the versions are saved but the communication about the page is saved in the email client. You have to flip back and forth between the wiki and the emails to retrieve the context of the wiki-page.

Another "email-context-giver" is xobni. Xobni tries to do smart stuff with your email right in Outlook. It gives all kinds of views on your email, contacts, etc. It reminded me of SNARF.
Xobni creates context in a different way, by analysing your emails, extracting your social network, the previous conversation you had with a person of group of people and the attachments you share with them. It presents all this information in a sidebar in Outlook.

Attaching notes to an email (2)

In my previous post on this topic I asked: When is this going to be integrated in Outlook and Gmail?
A good friend of mine (thanks Ruud!) emailed (no he's not blogging yet... ;-)) me an answer. In some way you can add notes to Outlook emails. This is the way. He wrote:
A tip. Did you know you can edit emails, even emails that you've already sent or received? This is how it works:
  • Open the email in a separate window (else it doesn't work) by dubble clicking it
  • Select "Edit" in the menu bar, then "Edit Message"
  • Now you can change the text of the email using all the email editing features, such as colors and fonts
  • You can even remove attachment (right click, then select "remove")
  • The subject line can be changed
  • Select, in the menu bar "File", then "Save" to keep the changes
And with respect to my comment on 'compliance' to GTD. Attaching notes to email does fit with GTD in the sense that I turn the email into an action by adding a note. But is doesn't comply when I don't delete or move the email from inbox...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Attaching notes to an email

I'm not a Mozilla Thunderbird user, but I'd like to attach notes to emails without having to print the email.
This can be done by using the Thunderbird Add-on XNote. Lifehacker pointed me too it. It's probably not in line with the 'Getting things done' principles, but it does give you a way to add an action to an email right away. When is this going to be integrated in Outlook and Gmail?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

PikiWiki: Drag and drop wiki

There are lots of wiki tools our there. At work we use Mediawiki. Mediawiki works fine, although it takes a while to get used to it. One thing Mediawiki doesn't have is a good WYSIWYG editor. And it would be nice to be able to drag and drop your text, files, pictures, etc. onto the wiki, without having to think about how you would do that.
Just like, just released, PikiWiki can do. I signed up and played around with it for some time. It's great. What PikiWiki can do is, as of today, the standard.

The IT Flower continued

Cool, Rod responded to my post on the IT Flower. Thanks for your comment on my blog post and for this post, Rod!

I gave the IT Flower some more thought.
I was wondering if Rod was going to elaborate on "structured process + knowledge work" (page 26 of the IT Flower whitepaper)? Are there tools that fit this cluster? Or is there a combination of tools that fit it? The closest that comes to my mind would be something like
MOSS 2007 (with workflow tooling). But that's not a too exciting answer, is it?

And I was wondering if "IT" Flower is the correct name for Rod's framework. Isn't it more a work(place) framework on which you can map IT tools/markets?

In this sense, this framework really reminds me of work colleagues of mine did in the past on how knowledge workers handle documents. It was written by Ruud Janssen and Olha Bondarenko and is titled "Documents at Hand: Learning from paper to improve digital technologies". Rod, I think this paper is interesting for you, because it looks deaply into document handling and what this implies for document handling tooling, such as document management systems, collaboration tooling, etc.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The IT Flower

When people talk about work places, this is mostly done in a simplistic way. Very structured workplaces are described, such as factories or administration offices. Or we talk about knowledge worker offices, highly unstructured workplaces. With "unstructured" and "structured", I'm talking about the work processes. Are they rigid, well-defined, and repetitive? That's what I call "structured". Are they flexible, ad hoc, differing from day-to-day? "Unstructured" work processes is what you see there.
What I find interesting that there is hardly a worker that doesn't have to switch between structured
and unstructured work processes daily. However, most tool vendors focus on one or the other, but talk like you can do both with their tools. There is hardly any tool that I know that truly supports structured and unstructured work processes in a seamless way. Furthermore, most models on work don't describe these mixed work processes and environments.

This is what I was looking for when I read the posts on the "IT flower" by Innovation Creators. (And there's a video on "the flower" here.) Does this framework also acknowledge these mixed work processes and environments? Yes, if I'm not mistaken. These mixed environments would be in the "leaves" "ad hoc apps" and, especially, "process tools to add knowledge work". Examples of the "ad hoc apps" are mentioned. But, what about the other "leaf"? The whitepaper says that Teqlo also fits in this area. But they aren't the only one, right?
The IT flower not only talks about structured to unstructured work, but there's also a "how work gets done" axis. Does this imply that I'm in the wrong area of the framework when I'm looking at "process tools" (because that's not where the work gets done)?

Anyway, this framework is interesting and helpful. And gives food for thought. It really tries to give a framework on how people work and the complexity of work processes and environments. The key for the tools vendors will be to allow users to switch easily between tools that support the different types of work. This will truly help workers "get work done"!

Scrybe beta testing

Cool, I was asked to beta test Scrybe. You don’t know what Scrybe is? Take a look at their video. When I saw their video I signed up for the beta test right away. What I was most enthusiastic about was the Papersync. This tool tries to integrate the digital and paper world! Don’t see that too much…

Scrybe is basically an alternative for Outlook. It has Calendaring, Task lists, Sharing options, and a Notepad.

I had some time to play with Scrybe. Not all features are there yet. But this first version is pretty complete.


My first impressions are:

- the user experience is wonderful. The Scrybe people have look deeply into how people organize their personal work and can productively do that.

- Scrybe offers all the standard (Outlook) functionality, but it integrates Calendars, Notes and Tasks more tightly. What I liked was the international approach to ‘meeting requests’. With Scrybe you can easily, without thinking, request for a meeting with people in different time zones. Scrybe takes care of the calculation of the time. I also like the feature which allows you to type in a meeting in your Calendar and, at the same time, type in the time.

- When you type in tasks and add a deadline (date/time) Scrybe detects the time/date and puts it in your Calendar. I wondered if time detection also worked in the Calendar, but it didn’t.

- Then Papersync. This is the part I really like. Scrybe lets you easily print your Calendar, Notes and Tasks in one handy format. There also one that you can fold so that it fits in your pocket. You could question what the use of this feature is when you have a PDA/UMPC/etc. That’s a good question. Maybe you don’t need this feature. But what I don’t like about my pda and about Outlook is the fact that you don’t have a good overview of you meetings, tasks, notes, etc. Papersync can give you this overview. And, furthermore, many managers have there calendar and corresponding documents printed out for them. Papersync is handy for them too.

- Scrybe also has a ThoughtPad. Something like Google Notes. It actually works a lot like Notes. What I liked about ThoughtPad was the fact that you can easily flip though your notes

- Online/Offline. The first version of Scrybe supports online and offline support (using Google Gears like Zoho?).


That’s all for now. All in all, a really nice tool. I’m looking forward to the “upcoming features”, such as Outlook syncing. Syncing with Outlook is essential, I find. (‘Syncing with Outlook’ can now be done by ‘exporting the Scrybe Calendar to ical format.) Most business people use Outlook and won’t switch (fully) to something like Scrybe.

First Experience in live blogging at PCC Summit 2007

I promised to get back to you on my first ‘live blogging’ experience. As readers know I live blogged Gartner’s Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2007.

I was very curious if I was going to get it done. Would I be able to post a summary of each talk just after the talk ended? Would I be able to write a readable summary of each talk, not just for myself but also for others? What’s the best way to do it? Type directly in Blogger or in Word and copy it to Blogger? Will there be more bloggers at the Summit? How do you blog about figures, diagrams, flowcharts, etc.?


Let’s answer these questions.

For one, I’m pretty satisfied with my live blogging experience. It worked out really well. I could listen to the talks and type along with them. Even though I was typing I was able to ask questions (which you have to right down at this Summit… - wouldn’t it be an better idea to email them to a central panel visible for everybody?). Based on the comments I conclude my summaries were pretty understandable.

I started out typing the summary in Word. I would copy-paste it to Blogger after the talk finished. This was a terrible thing to do. Word slips in all kinds of markup, that is not understood (or wrongly understood) by Blogger. This resulted in a lot of work getting the post in the right and publishable format… This is why I wasn’t able to publish every post right after the talk ended.

So after a couple of sessions I started blogging in Blogger directly. This worked wonderfully. In this way I was able to publish the post at the end of the talk.

However, not every session room had enough electricity plugs - some didn’t have any - (so my battery would run out every now and then) and Internet access was only good enough in one of the three rooms… I really don’t understand how Gartner could organize such a Summit and not have facilities set up correctly for modern day workers. Note that the Summit was about these workers…

Apparently not many modern day workers were there. I saw lots of Blackberrys, some laptops and lots of paper and pens. I was the only one blogging the Summit (as far as I know). How do I know? Well just type in the Summit title in Google and see what you get. My blog comes/came up very high in the result list. (The results were the same for day 1 and 2.) And my blog was number 1(!!!) if you searched for blogs on the Summit. (Refer to the pictures for proof.) That’s cool for me, of course. Another thing I saw was the sudden increase in subscribers to my blog. I’m not sure it has to do with my live blogging though.

Then there’s the diagrams, figures, etc. How do you get them in a post?! I don’t know. Sometimes I tried to describe them in words. Taking pictures of slides is a way to do it. But it’s a lot of work, getting the picture on your pc, uploading it to Blogger, etc. (The pictures that were taken will be on flickr soon, someone promised.) Does anyone have tips on this?
Will I live blog my next conference? Definitely. It was a nice experience. And, comparing to writing along with pen and paper, I really have the idea I got the content of the Summit in my head in a more structured way.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 16)

“Keynote High Volumes, High Pressure, High Stakes: Managing the Documentation for the Milosovic Trial” (by Catherine Gerth, Head Archives and Information Management at NATO HQ) at PCC 2007 Summit.
The information exceeded the organization’s ability to manage it with existing processes and technologies. The accused decision to defend himself further complicated things - the boxes just did not fit in his cell. This presentation describes the creation of an eDisclosure portal and how the ICTY worked with vendors to transform its technology and business processes to support eDisclosure.
Another problem is translation problems.

How to disclose load of documents? In boxes? Doesn't fit in the court room and in the prison cell... On CD? How do you handle 53 CD's if you're looking for something? Put every single CD in your computer, search, etc? No. Ok, then DVD's. Doesn't help much either.

Their vendors came up with a solution: a portal. They rescanned 2.5 million documents and OCR-ed it. They had to do it themselves due to security reasons and therefore did it at night, because they were running trials during the trial...
This gave them a way to disclose all the information using access levels. It worked.
However, they ran into problems with lawyers.
Many lawyers had a hard time leaving the paper processes. And, the defense attorney’s wanted to load their documents on the portal too.

And that ends my first live blogging experience. I’ll write about this experience soon.

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 15)

Vendors at the PCC 2007 Summit:
- Microsoft
- Interwoven
- Vivisimo
- EMC
- Quasar
- Vignette
- ZyLab
- BEA systems
- IBM

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 14)

“Knowledge Management in a Connected World” (by Regina Casonato from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

- how is the role of KM in workplace initiatives evolving?
- what are the best practices for KM success?
- how can you incorporate new PCC technologies in KM projects?


Regina stresses that she will not talk about technologies with respect to KM. KM is about people.

Knowledge Management is not in their Hype Cycle anymore because it has reached the “plateau of productivity”.

Knowledge Management can now really be about Managing Knowledge (not products)
- workplace products such as portals, content management and collaboration are good enough to get out of the way
- emerging technology will help people manage knowledge in new ways
- people, business and operational issues remain the most difficult

Key issues of this presentation:
  1. What must we consider when starting a KM initiative, and when improving KM projects in their second or third iteration?
  2. how can KM help specific vertical and horizontal processes?
  3. how can emerging technologies help organizations manage knowledge better?
KM 101: Gartner’s working definition of Knowledge Management:
formalizing (deliberate program) the management of an enterprise’s intellectual assets (information resources that improve the operation of the company)
2007 key issues:
- what are the best ways to justify and initiate a KM initiative?
- what are the best practices for improving KM projects in their second and third iteration?
- how can emerging technologies help organisations manage knowledge better?
- how can KM improve the execution of specific vertical and horizontal processes?

KM is:
- methodologies and frameworks
Not a market
- something one does
Not something one buys
- Collected best practices
Not a collection of technologies

Knowledge Management Organization: start with the initiative and application (bottom-up and top-down approach).
  1. initiative (high-level commitment to improve how the organization manages intellectual assets)
  2. programs (set of ongoing projects within a particular process or business area)
  3. projects (specific efforts focused on one aspect of knowledge)
  4. applications (systems used in daily work)
There's a shifting role of technology in KM. They are contributor.

How to get started?

- decide on scope: initiative or application?
Get sponsorship or at least high-level validation
- find a recognizable business issue to address
- minimize initial investments; use what is already available
- build credibility with initial small-scale successes before scaling up the effort.

KM professionalization
Some of the most frequent questions in the past:
- are there certification programs?
- what are the job descriptions and roles?
- what training is available?

Institutes offering KM training and certifications (partial list):
- Crainfield University
- Danube University
- George Mason University
- KMCI
- George Washington University
- KM Institute
- Lancaster University
- Tilburg University
(However, mostly IT focused...)

How to keep KM going and growing?
- encourage usage (find out why people aren't using 'it')
- look for multipliers
- promote business value first, KM tie-in second
- beware of direct $ incentives
- use it or lose it
- embed KM in (current) processes

Regina also discussed outsourcing from a knowledge management perspective. Many mistakes made, due to misunderstanding of what corporate knowledge really is/was.

Retaining knowledge from employees leaving due to retirement or restructuring.
- start early, don't wait until he/she leaves
- use different approaches: apprenticeship, retainers, continuing coaching, expert-as-coach
- determine technology support for capturing and storing

A natural place to start a KM initiative is in the IT organization, because they are used to technology. However, don't expect this project to replicate in another part of the organization.

Regina gives a nice overview of (known) technologies that you can use for KM initiatives, for "network collective intelligence/crowd sourcing". E.g. wiki's, blogs, etc.
Mentions the portal as important tool, personal portals based on mashups.

KM priorities in 2008:
- recognizing and encouraging adoption of best practices
- connecting different projects into a larger project
- applying specific KM initiatives to vertical and horizontal processes
- demonstrating value
- adopting and adapting emerging technologies to support KM goals

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 13)

"Transforming Business and Workplace Performance - Technology as Great Enabler” (by Tom Austin from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

The transformation in the workplace is all about externalization.
Tom gave a couple of examples (that can also be found (mostly) in the book Wikinomics):
1. Proctor and Gamble: "connect and develop" instead of internal research and develop, want 50% of innovations from outside the company, 200 times as many researchers outside than inside the company.
Lots of this doesn't require technology!
What they did was sign up to open networks, such as: NineSigma, InnoCentive, YourEncore and yet2.com. They posted questions on difficult issues they had here.
They set up internal idea changes, web-community-based market.
IT was the great enabler here.
2. US Patent and Trademark organisation wiki experiment. Started with posting the software patent requests.
3. Threadless: design T-shirts together. Post your design, people vote on them and based on voting the design is manufactured.
4. Goldcorp, refer to Wikinonmics book.

Contest etc are not new, but they took much longer. E.g. 'fly over the Atlantic Ocean contest' started in 1919 and ended in 1927.

Megatrends in role of IT in the workplace:
"welcome to the post-digital world"
- people and IT (the schism is here)
- nature of business (ecosystems, not enterprises)
- nature of work (automation returns declining)
- technology markets (buyer behaviour, vendor and business models, channels)


Within the next 5 years we will use technology (ICT networks) pure socially (social interaction).

IT has changed the nature of work - are we reversing the Industrial Revolution?
- mind-numbling routine >> terror-inducing novelty (ad hoc work)
- hierarchical command and control >> self-organisation and regulating systems
- etc.

There is a large increase in demand for people with non-routine skills. Process automation is asymptoting. It's about person-centered computing: content, context & services. We'll see cloud-based services in the years to come.

Tom presents a contextual framework which has two lines: technology investment areas and business goals (with increasing levels of abstraction).
This framework helps you think about how you spend your money. You'll find that it's mostly on the "Operations"-side.

Actions:
1. assess culture and engagement (are you a leader or director organisation?)
2. look for return beyond cost/ROI (help people be more effective and able to transform things)
3. check governance and management (get social, set up MySpace for your company, stress agility and diversity, use social controls)
4. risk: acceptable use and security
5. question assumptions.

Conclusions and recommendations:
- internalize the framework
- question your assumptions
- invest to rapidly raise agility
- incenting people to help others (tread carefully with pay off measurements)
- user-driven opportunistic choices (encourage them, local tools and SaaS)


Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 12)

“Web 2.0, Ajax-based High-End Publishing Tools Transforming the Enterprise Market” (by Eric Duchemin, General Manager of HAFIBA on behalf of Quasar Technologies) at PCC 2007 Summit.

Never heard of Quasar so I thought I’d visit this talk instead of the IBM one.

Quasar comes from the high-end publishing market. Enabling newspapers to publish by themselves. They supplied tools to produce printed documents.
They saw a gap between Document Management and Content Management. A lack of tools for high-end publishing support, such as workflows and process support.
They combined ECM with high-end commercial publishing tools (called ECP).

HAFIBA is a French pre-press company. HAFIBA thinks that traditional pre-pres will disappear. More will be done by users and done dispersed. So, they wanted to develop a service for their customers. They started to build some technology, but needed more. Then they found Quasar.

Security of data is important in the magazine world. They were also looking for a cheap solution. They needed a webbased application, easy-to-use, supporting workflow design (moving press material between client, printer, layout design, translation). Webbased because their customers (enterprises) don't want to install HAFIBA's software on their systems.
Quasar offered all this.

I missed the demo. How does it work in practice? And why Quasar and not Sharepoint e.g.? I'll have a look at their website...

UPDATE Sept. 7, 2007: I talked with the Quasar people at their booth. And there's more than was presented. Quasar basically offers a tool that supports multisite pre-press process using a webbrowser. All pre-press functionality is in the tool. Sharepoint can't do this, unless you would have a system integrator make it for you...

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 11)

“Clash of Titans (IBM vs. Microsoft vs. Google vs. Others)” (by Tom Austin and Nikos Drakos from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

Choosing your strategic suppliers is more improvement than ever. So, you need to know where these vendors are taking you.

Your workplace investments increasingly go to fewer enterprise vendors.

What disruptive trends will impact the workplace titans?
What are the workplace products and technologies that IBM and MS offer and how do they differ?
What inadequacies do the titans have?

5 major mutually reinforcing discontinuities
  1. open source
  2. software as a service
  3. global class (meaning: a new class of systems, more than the grid, exceeding performance at lower costs)
  4. web 2.0
  5. consumerization
Tom and Nikos will look into each of these to see if this is a threat or opportunity.

Microsoft and IBM are mentioned most by companies when they are asked which vendor they would like to get away from.

What are they doing well?
IBM
- portal: number one share
- content management: number one share and growing
- web conferencing
- instant messaging
- simple content-based workflow

Microsoft
- active directory
- Office virtually pervasive
- email and calendering
- Sharepoint
- strong SQL server penetration

Why users leave IBM email (Notes):
- cost, manageability, performance, other licensing agreements, functionality

Why users leave Microsoft email (Outlook/Exchange):
- cost, performance, usability, functionality, service

Ergo, practically the same reasons!

The key difference between IBM and Microsoft is their business model. IBM customizes (top-down, role-specific, custom business applications, broad implementation, platform diversity). Microsoft commoditize (bottom-up, democratization of technology, focused optimization, make Windows and Office the best).

Nikos tells about the IBM (new) product portfolio.

Top 6 IBM Collaboration Issues and Vulnerabilities
  1. IBM doesn’t sell to users
  2. Head start in social computing is no guarantee of market success
  3. overlapping product strategy (when to use Domino, Quickr, Connections, Portal?)
  4. Time to Market (competition from the Web model)
  5. Creeping IBM dependencies
  6. Lack of deep integration with Office
  7. IBM’s weakness in the low-end of the market (company size <10.000>
Microsoft gets it right after three tries. Sharepoint 2007 shows that.

Nine ways to make use of Sharepoint:
- teamware and collaboration (now with profiles, blogs and wikis)
- still a portal, even without a name
- content management (basic, just good-enough)
- process management
- business intelligence and performance management
- forms-driven business processes
- enterprise search engine
- spreadsheet and charting server
- integration with Exchange, Office Communication server and others
- Platform for new applications

Top issues and vulnerabilities with Microsoft:
  1. Creeping Microsoft dependencies (Windows, SQL Server, MOM, AD, tiered browser support)
  2. Time to market (competition from Web model - this is worst for Microsoft than for IBM)
  3. Offline support (Groove does not resolve)
  4. justifying migration to new versions (what’s the use of going from XP to Vista for instance?)
  5. Lack of Domino integration beyond email, calendar and simple application
Business models are shifting: SaaS and Web 2.0. But Microsoft and IBM aren’t really responding to this shift. This will lead to erosion for both vendors. IBM is more threatened, than Microsoft. Microsoft says it’s committed to move into this new world. IBM has made no statement of intent in this direction.

Where is the threat coming from? Google! Google is 9 years old today. They have consumer and enterprise focus. They will exploit the platform they have built besides their drive to democratize information.

Looking at Oracle: they’re all about fusion applications, middleware and databases. They say they want to address the workplace, but their hart doesn’t seem to be in it. Their Workplace tooling is simply not good enough.

None of the players mentioned are number one in everything. Everybody has work to do.

Some cool Web 2.0 vendors:
Connectbeam, riya, redfin, kickapps, youos, secondlife, scrybe, zoho, pageflakes, languageweaver and basecamp.

How about control and these new web 2.0 applications? Tom says:
Control some of your users all the time,
All your users some of the time
And you don’t want to control all users all of the time.
Adopt a split strategy: one titan and best of breed vendors. Delegate the last part to users.

Recommendations:
- don’t let vendors dictate your technology investments
- look beyond incumbent vendors to what new players can offer
- expect IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and other enterprise vendors to compete with Google in Web 2.0 and SaaS offerings
- relying on a single workplace vendor may reduce short-term costs, it may also limit flexibility
- encourage consumer technology experimentation (“suspended RIO”! don’t talk about RIO right away, let things evolve and choose after some time)
- remember: it’s not about what you buy, but how you use it. Design around outcomes, not products.

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 10)

"So not done: Search Technology’s Strategic Future will surprise you” (by Whit Andrews from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

- what is driving the pervasiveness of information access technology?
- how will enterprises deploy the power of information access technology in unexpected ways?

- how are vendors responding to increased popularity of information access technology?


The search box bridges users and data of all kinds is built up by users, relevancy and data indices/interfaces.


In YE12, search logic in more than 75% of new installations will contain some internal user identity.


Search comprises everything on the continuum, structured to unstructured data/information.


Users have no idea that something is not searchable.


Support for extending the searched: the spider and the ant
.
Spidered data is collected and the index remains iterated but static invoked addressed return current pages. (Pro: stable/known - Con: Can go stale, link rot, enormous storage need)

A query-driven ant knows the proper path to travel to collect a fresh version of what may likely be relevant data. (Pro: fresh - Con: extra application load)

Whit says the ‘spider model’ is not enough in this real-time environment.


In 2008 20% of the result data in new info access projects will be refreshed at the time of the search.


By 2008, query federation will play a key role in more than 50% of strategic new info access projects in the Global 2000.


More and more a single best way of defining relevancy is outdated. People ask for ways to tweak the relevancy based on their needs.


If you’re looking for search “pick a platform” with great breadth and establish tactical alternatives.


By 2012 no Global 2000 enterprise will standardize absolutely on a single search vendor. This gives enterprises flexibility.


The necessity remains to access structured and unstructured information from the same search platform. However, users don’t understand that this is difficult.


Query-corpus mismatches will be important too. This gives companies a way to define what impact not-finding information at a certain point for a sales deals, for instance.


Lessons from Web 2.0 sites/vendors:

- non-textual results (LivePlasma, Grokker)

- live query refinement (Clusty, Pandora, Acoona)

- user tagging (del.icio.us, NY Times!, flickr)

- Users links with each other and publish to each other (Jeteye, LinkedIn, Rollyo)

And of course there’s overlap between these.

Advice: investigate what social search could mean for your organization.


So, you have two main approaches: straight-forward search and social search. They’ll meet in the middle. But also pay attention to the niche players in search, such as business intelligence search.


Magic Quadrant for Information Access Technology, 2006

Autonomy, IBM, Fast Search & Transfer, Endeca and ZyLab are in the upper-righthand corner of the Quadrant.


5 most powerful vendors:

1. Google (ease of use)

2. Microsoft (good-enough, due to Sharepoint and Vista)

3. IBM (broad product line)

4. Adobe (will acquire Autonomy or FAST)

5. Oracle (due to their database technologies)


There is new vigor in unconventional delivery models: quality of service, agility and economics.


Recommendations:

Today:

- list what you think you’re searching

- inventory your search vendors

- learn what you can about relevancy

Next year:

- begin to make search more pervasive in your enterprise. Integrate, do not unify, search and business intelligence; search and CRM; search and multiple RDBMS and so forth

- add 50% of what you thought you were searching - but weren’t

- add 50% of what your workers wish they could search

- select your search platform

- inventory and value your relevancy strategies

The years after that:

- add the other 50% you thought you thought you were search

- add what the users wish they could search

Which feedreader is winning?

Read/WriteWeb has an interesting post on which feedreader has the most subscribers, Bloglines (“owned by owned by Ask) or Google Reader. And an update.

I’m a Google Reader user and am happy with Reader. I wouldn’t easily switch between reader unless there is some substantial added value.

However, integrating easy comment reading and posting seems to be a distinctive feature. As does feed search. Oh, Google just added search to Reader! Techcrunch and Google Operating System have the story.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 9)

“Say Goodbye to Enterprise Content Management” (by Karen Shegda from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

It’s clearly getting towards the end of the day…


This talk was titled “Goodbye to content management”… meaning “as we know it today”.


Karen gives a good overview of the trends in content management (web 2.0, service-oriented architecture, less focus on document itself, XML, consumer-driven technologies, etc). Lots of overlap with
this talk.

And that’s all for Wednesday! I’m having a drink! See you tomorrow.

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 8)

“End-user case study: Portals, Content and Colllaboration - Communication Comes in full circle at Dow Jones” (by Mary McCall, Director, Employee Communication Dow Jones) at PCC 2007 Summit.

Just a couple of notes on this talk.

Dow Jones owns Factiva
, which started in 1999.

Mary tells about how they step-by-step, year-by-year implemented collaboration tooling.

She stresses the three C’s:
- Collaboration
- Common Communications platform
- Global Corporate Culture

It all starts with the needs of the employee: all of the relevant content, only the relevant content, in the right form, at the right time, fastest. That is the Factiva marketing slogan!

But what do users need?
- conduct an information audit. Have users write done their information needs during their work. An employee is looking for information. Ask him/here: where did you find it, how did you find it, could you find it, etc. This give you items for your case.

They are (also) moving to Sharepoint 2007 (MOSS 2007).
They use Coveo search instead of Microsoft Search.

Tip: Apply the external internally (Factiva for your employees).

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 7)

"Sharepoint: making collaboration happen!” (by David Bennett, ISS Global Development Director, Linklaters on behalf of Microsoft) at PCC 2007 Summit.

Linklaters uses Sharepoint. Linklater is a law firm that focuses on mergers and acquisitions. It’s a global firm, 6000 people world wide, most offices around London.


2 prevailing business drivers that have enabled them to develop:
- deregulation
- technology

Basically they are a document house. 1.6 million new documents in 2006. In 2007 there will be more. 165 million emails stored in their KVS (email archiving tool).

They have centralized systems and a centralized architecture based on:
- Citrix
- SAP
- Documentum
- Office
- Sharepoint

They used to use Nextstep. Now moved fully towards Microsoft.

Why collaborative work?

- one of the main reason was that now 75% of their work involves more than one office


They decided to set up a ‘Legal Desktop’ and set this up in Sharepoint (which is also their Intranet), so everybody has all the information at their fingertips.


Chose Sharepoint because of the integration with Office. They also looked at a Sun and SAP portals.


Their Sharepoint portal has basic integration into Documentum.


They have three different sites: client sites, matter sites and team sites.


They file emails with context in Documentum. Emails are dragged and dropped into Documentum. Documents are also archived there.


They also publish the Sharepoint portal in Outlook.


All financial and billing information is put in SAP. SAP is integrated into Sharepoint as well. It works both ways. You can pull up information from and put information into SAP from Sharepoint.


In 2001 they deployed instant messaging for ‘presence’ more than anything else. Everybody can see who is available, also via Sharepoint.


They also set up reporting in Sharepoint for progress monitoring etc. using the data from the underlying systems, such as SAP.


They are moving towards Sharepoint 2007, because publishing and editing in Sharepoint (from Office) is even easier. Even though SP 2007 has records management they will keep on using Documentum. They plan to archive the documents that are marked as records automatically into Documentum. Retention is also done in Documentum.

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 6)

“Wikis and social software: why your Intranet should be more like the Internet” (by Nikos Drakos from Gartner) at PCC 2007 Summit.

The workplace needs to work like a machine but also adapt like the marketplace.

Where what needs to be done cannot be predescribed, modeled, or even understood… make room for the old to adapt and the new to emerge. Email is the biggest evidence for this. It supports informal interactions and fills in the gaps the collaboration tools don’t fill.

Key issues:
  1. what can we learn from the use of social software on the public internet?
  2. how are blogs, wikis, social tagging, expertise location, and other social software being used to create business value?
  3. What products and vendors are most suitable for enterprise social software deployments?
  4. What are the best practices in avoiding risks and extracting value from enterprise social networks?
Web 101: from computer networks to social networks. Started with the Internet, then went to the Web, Content publishing and People (readwrite web). Broadcasting to connected peers to group formation. The network value increased.

There is value in social interactions:
- social bookmarks combine individual bookmarks making it possible to identify common interests that drives recommendations or relevancy
- social tagging (folksonomies) let users add metadata or labels to create more useful and natural classification schemes
- content rating and reputation management let participants rate other participants or content- likes/dislikes (taste sharing) aggregate opinions that can also drive recommendations, relevancy, quality
- prediction markets reward individuals who bet correctly on future outcomes, which helps to predict them. E.g. consensuspoint, longbets (Didn’t know these sites before…)
- conversational interactions using blogs and wikis, encourage contribution, unplanned contact, feedback and continuous refinement

A glimpse into the architecture of open collaboration (using Wikipedia, last.fm and del.icio.us as example):
  1. unique address
  2. change in context
  3. discuss in context
  4. memory and reputation
  5. shared categories
  6. emergent structure
  7. attention-based relevancy
  8. quality feedback
  9. group formation
  10. monitoring
Enterprise social software: human-centric information processing:
- co-creation
- co-filtering
Creating chaotic production and self-organisation and group formation.

Enterprise
social software provide an open and freeform environ where group formation and information production is the result of the cumulative effects of informal interactions between networked participants.

Social software fills the gap between the inflexible and the chaotic. Shows an interesting sheets comparing different environments from different levels (create, organize, find and interact):
  1. engineered: inflexible structure
  2. open and freeform: adaptive structure
  3. personal: chaotic structure

The technologies of social software can be split into the following categories:
- create
- organize
- find
- interact

The interesting thing is that Drakos shows that even these categories do not have clear boundaries. Creation tools, such as documents, morph to blog posts and wikipages. Wikipages shift to interaction technologies. Etc.

A Gartner 2006 Survey on level of technology adoption says: there is a gap between user demand and IT support. In social software there is a much larger part of ‘unofficial use’ in these technologies than in ‘older’ technologies, such as your email client.

Drakos gives an overview of small and large social software vendors. (At the end of September 2007 Gartner will publish its magic quadrant on social software). This overview was kind of disappointing. I was hoping for a couple of social software suite examples that companies already use. The examples Drakos gave were not surprising. In any sense, the social market is clearly exploding.

What are the social software best-practices?
- knowledge reuse
- visible work in progress
- employee engagement
- real profiles, reputation and trust
- unplanned collaboration

Basically it about "surfacing the informal" and “people are at the center”.

Besides the good things of social software there are risks:
- loss of control over people and information >> give guidelines and policies on acceptable use of resources; respect of confidentiality
- compromised quality, loudest voice wins, negativity, and personal attacks >>
discourage/disallow anonymity, use ‘social accounting’ for trust and reputation, intervention more necessary in early stages
- redundancy and inconsistencies >> accept some ‘messiness’ in organizing information that would not be organized in any other way.
- ‘employee monitoring’ fears >> education and user control over what information about them is available to others

Support for social interactions will release and amplify hidden creativity as well as pent up frustration.

Adopt incrementally and scale through viral growth:

  1. open and easy to use
  2. expose connections
  3. bridge to email (contribute and respond via email, RSS/Atom, incremental formalization)
  4. people first
  5. provide initial structure (provide purpose and objectives, but keep it flexible, avoid ‘big bang’ deployments)
  6. lead by example (do it, mandate judiciously, reward with attention)

Recommendations:

  1. experiment with social software
  2. rethink policies of ‘restricted access by default’ - especially for jobs that depend on exploration, innovation, creativity and discovery
  3. use good governance to stamp out problems from open information access, less editorial control, misuse
  4. expect more products from mainstream vendors but note that niche vendors will stay ahead.

Gartner PCC Summit 2007 (part 5)

“Collaboration and enterprise content and process management need each other” (by Tom Deutsch from IBM) at PCC 2007 Summit.

Learn from past IT shifts. IBM is learning too, there vision is being developed as we talk.

Tom puts up the Content Management Maturity Model. 5 levels. Most companies have a CM strategy and nobody is in Level 5. The tools for Level 5 aren’t there yet. What IBM sees is a “pull back towards the silos (level 1)” using collaboration technology.

Collaboration Solution history isn’t encouraging:
- what happened when Notes was first released?
- what happened when users got their hands on the “F” drive?
- how disciplined have users been using email?

What can we learn from structured information management?
- massively centralized - mainframe
Can be too restrictive and inflexible
- massively decentralized - databases
Can be too disconnected and too easy to loose control over
- “Intelligently rationalized”
OK to have decentralized deployments when the info is truly local
Most need to be centralized, but quickly provisioned deployment

And what can we learn from ERP and CRM experiences?
- You need to get classification right:
Garbage in = garbage out
- Taxonomy drives process
Getting this right is the key.
- Mastering metadata is critical
Reusability of metadata
- You need a system of record
You need a single version of truth

Why did ERP and CRM systems come in in the first place?
- lots of silo’s
- server support, maintenance, and storage became unsustainable
- silo’s prevented a 360-degree view of what was happening in the business and organisation
- the enterprises needed control
Silo’s are good in the sense that they’re nimble etc., but it comes at a great cost.

What we’re doing w.r.t. PCC is harder than an ERP/CRM system.

User interfaces and authoring environments are fracturing…
- rise of real time collaboration - Instant Messaging embedded everywhere
- web 2.0 mashups
- high “experience” portal environments
- all the authoring environments are adding some sort of basic check-in/check-out
- changing workforce demographic
- users will jump around between working environments

Unmanaged collaboration = compliance problems:
  1. depending on business users is risky, error-prone and expensive (e-discovery tools don’t solve your problem when you have the problem)
  2. uncontrolled content gets lost in silos and stored everywhere… (simply storing so you can retrieving is not enough. It’s about: what happened at that time. Litigation is shifting from ‘can you find it’ to ‘what were you doing and why’)
  3. as compliance burden shifts to content handling/process, silo’s are even more problematic

Lessons to apply to collaboration deployments:
- you need to control deployment:
If you set 100 people loose they will do 100 different things
The cost of storage will become extremely prohibitive (e.g. storage costs on a Exchange server is lots more expensive than on a file server, prohibiting storage in email will make users move to other storage locations. However most of the tools don’t support this easily.)
Ask yourself what the inevitable result will be if you roll out collaboration solutions.
- Avoid vendor lock-in:
Proprietary vendor formats or lack of ability to fit into the larger Enterprise can become extremely expensive.
- mastering metadata is critical
Search will not to ‘magically’ bail you out.
The ability to deploy new applications depends upon the reuse and integrity of the metadata and having it populated in the system.
- “Intelligently rationalized”
OK to have decentral deploy when the info is truly local.
Most need to be centralized but quickly provisional as needed.
Nimble deployment and fast access to new solutions is required.
- You need a system of record
You need a single version of truth

And the resulting technological implications:
- you must be able to support multiple enduser clients
- must be able to support multiple collaborative environments
- lifecycle management, process and compliance initiatives need to work seamlessly in the background
- where people work cannot dictate the information governace
- decouple where people work from the interface

Tom shows IBM’s information management strategy (I can’t fully describe slide, hope to publish it in the future). Basically it has 4 levels:

- tools - processes - people (top level)
- unified data and content - business context - insightful relationships
- information on demand
- SAP - external supplier/ - etc (bottom level)

And finally Tom shows IBM’s ECM product vision. I can’t describe slide here either. Hope to publish it in the future.