Friday 29 April 2005

Industry Update No. 1: Pivot Software

This is the first of a new intiative on the ChiefTech blog where I'll give you an update on a particular vendor or product in the information and knowledge management space. I'll be primarily looking at different content, messaging and collaboration tools but from time to time I reserve the right to look at anything else that looks interesting (this is my blog after all!).

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with Colin Tan, NSW Regional Manager, from Pivot Software to learn more about their “integrated Knowledge-Based Business Application”, which goes by the same name. Pivot Software is based in Queensland, Australia, and was established in 2000. The focus of the company is on a suite of applications all based on the same Pivot architecture, for example Knowledge-Pivot, Project-Pivot and Sales-Pivot.

Since I had already spoken to Colin earlier in the year about Pivot Software, this time it was a chance to take a closer look at Project-Pivot in action (client and server were running on Colin's laptop). There were a couple of particular features that caught my attention:
  • It manages 'knowledge objects', consisting of unstructured data within a form template, in a loose content architecture that allows users to navigate either by a folder-like interface or by following links between knowledge objects.
  • It provides a graphical navigator that lets you browse knowledge objects as a network of connected objects or as steps in a process.
One of the other nice things I liked about Pivot was that it doesn't try to 'capture' everything – the Pivot approach has a strong emphasis on capture and reuse of knowledge objects but in quite a flexible way. For example, project steps can be templated and linked to related 'knowledge objects' such as people, resources and other unstructured information. Users can then collaborate on individual projects – reusing or adapting these templates plus adding new knowledge objects - all from within Pivot.

There is obviously more to Project-Pivot (and the other flavours of Pivot in suite) than just the features I've highlighted, however these alone make it worth taking a look at. I can see immediate application for this tool in the SME space and the fact that it has its own client interface, rather than being browser based, is probably a point in its favour. I plan to keep in touch with Colin and will keep you posted on any interesting developments.

Meanwhile look out for updates in the next couple of weeks on Objectify, Crux Cybernetics (one of my previously unpublished articles recently appeared on their TeamFrame portal) and Grouputer...

Disclaimer: Information on this site is of a general nature. Please seek advice for specific circumstances. Unless otherwise stated, please assume that I have no commercial relationship with the vendors or products discussed.


Thursday 28 April 2005

Will Microsoft take on Adobe's PDF with Metro?

Earlier in the year I blogged about PDF software but now I hear (various media reports including this one on that Microsoft will include a new XML-based document file format called Metro in its next operating system (currently code named Longhorn), which is due for release next year.

Most people have pointed out that Metro does a lot of what PDF is designed to do, but Microsoft claim that it won't compete with PDF. Read the reports and judge for yourself...

21st Century Tools for Business

Next Tuesday (3rd May), as part of the Australian Innovation Festival that runs from the 28 April to 15 May, I'll be one of three technology "gurus" (their words, not mine) speaking to small business owners in the Illawarra on 21st Century Tools for Business.

My presentation is based around the idea of looking at information technology tools that are right here, right now. But as well as looking at the information technologies that I think every small business should be using, I'll also take a look at the real and present disruptive information technologies that are on the immediate horizon.

Yes, that means I'll get to talk about empowering customers with self-service technologies like self-service checkouts - they are a great way of demonstrating how technology can impact any business in any industry. However, I'll also be introducing them to other ideas such as business blogs, RSS and social software. The presentation itself will then be wrapped around some ideas such as the IT Feasibility Triangle and SMART goal planning for IT.

BTW One of the other presenters is Geoff McQueen from Internetrix, who has previously shared his thoughts on enterprise wikis on the ChiefTech blog. Geoff will be talking about how small business owners can use the tools on their desktop to better manage customer relationships.

Tuesday 26 April 2005

Drive IT from the boardroom, not the backroom

Call me cynical, but its not often that I find myself agreeing with a politician ;-) However a press release from the Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, telling us about new research that confirms "the level of benefit achieved from an ICT investment is largely a function of effective management" is music to my ears.

The key lessons appear to be that:

  • You need clear, strategic reasons for the investment.
  • You need to be knowledgeable about how ICT can best serve your organisation.
  • You need clear, formal arrangements in place with ICT suppliers.
  • You need to be patient and persistent in realising ICT benefits.
  • You need to expect, and be positive about, organisational change.
The timing is great considering the current debate between cardigans and suits in IT while Standards Australia and SAI Global are promoting the publication of the new IT governance standard. BTW I've already made use of the new IT governance standard in a report to a board to help set the context for their IT decision making. I do actually think the principles and model it provides are quite good, even if you're not a director on the board.

Monday 25 April 2005

Rojo - hosted RSS reader with unique features

Rojo is another hosted RSS reader service, however they apparently offers some unique features:

  • Sharing of content between friends and colleagues;
  • Tagging and commenting on stories for yourself and others; and
  • Recommended feeds based your current subscription.
Also - have a look at their Introductory Tour site. It uses Jotspot, a hosted enterprise wiki that also includes some advanced functionality. For more on this look out for my article on enterprise wikis in the May/June edition of Image and Data Manager magazine.

Australian Telework Advisory committee

The recently established Australian Telework Advisory Committee (ATAC) has made a call for public submissions. Past and present teleworkers as well as people who employ teleworkers are invited to provide comment on their experiences of telework. The ATAC define telework as:

"Telework generally relies on the use of ICT to facilitate communications between remote workers and central work locations. A significant focus of this review includes the consideration of flexible working practices that are supported by broadband connectivity, including the use of high-speed Internet, multi-party videoconferencing, virtual collaboration and 3G hand-help [I think they mean hand-held?] access technologies."

While its great that they are talking to employers and teleworkers, I would have liked to have seen them also talk to people who work with teleworkers but are not managers or employers. The support and training of rank and file staff in the central work locations (to use ATAC's terminology) is also a critical factor to success.

Saturday 23 April 2005

Info-mania is bad for your IQ

Research commissioned by Hewlett Packard (HP) in the United Kingdom (UK) by Dr Glenn D Wilson has found that "The abuse of 'always-on' technology" can cause IQ to drop by 10 points! This is apparently equivalent to losing a night of sleep and has obvious implications for productivity. HP recommends that people use always on technology appropriately and learn to switch off occasionally.

That's good advice that reminds me of the idea of a techno-Sabbath (literally a day off from using technology) that has been floating around for a while. Last year I actually presented at a conference where I spoke about the issues that being always on, always connected might be creating for the workplace. It was based on a short article I wrote titled, The Future of Work: Always On, Always Connected:

"If you believe what they say, then mobile phones and wireless computing devices give people the opportunity to live the most wonderful, 'unwired life'. For business this is a world where we are constantly connected to the information systems that are increasingly critical to getting work done. No doubt we expect the industry to talk up the benefits of a wireless world but the trouble with disruptive technologies like this is that we can never be quite sure of the end result. What is clear from looking at the past is that disruptive technologies throughout the ages have changed society in surprising ways."

If you would like a copy, drop me line - contact details are on my Website.

Friday 22 April 2005

Wines maker makes good with open source

For some reason Australian wine maker De Bortoli Wines has been getting good media coverage for the last few months on its use of open source software. Maybe they have a good PR firm behind them or perhaps its just a good open source story, which it is.

The Australian Financial Review covered them this week ( 19 Apr 2005, p.36) but you can read about them in ComputerWorld (7 Dec 2004) and also the Australian (22 Mar 2005). Going against the Citrix thin-client trend, De Bortoli are using bootable linux DVD's and USB drives so that PC's can keep working despite communication and networking problems. They are also using Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice on Windows machines. Its not all smooth sailing of course and they haven't completely dumped Windows, however its still a good example of how an SME can take advantage of open source software.

Update on Mastering E-mail Overload

A few weeks ago I pointed out the continuing interest in dealing with the big problem of e-mail overload in the workplace. I ran my first short inhouse seminar yesterday and I'm currently talking to a few more organisations who have also expressed an interest in running a briefing session on this topic.

Very briefly, the Mastering E-mail Overload briefing focuses on a three step process that can move your organisation toward dealing with this growing problem:

  1. Eliminating the root cause of the problem;
  2. Individuals taking control of their own inbox; and
  3. Communicating better with e-mail.

As a bit of background on this approach - which I think is a bit different from the usual generic "six tips for effective e-mail" we hear about - I've also now written a brand new short article, titled For better, or worse: Living with e-mail in the workplace. Please let me know via the contact details on my Website if you are interested in this article, or perhaps even a briefing session in your workplace.

BTW One interesting question that came up during yesterday's briefing session was the issue of how quickly should people reply to e-mail. The answer is that it depends. Last year I ran a workshop for small business on e-mail customer service – in some instances a business needs to reply as quickly as possible and there are strategies you can use to make this easier. Some of the responsibility also falls on the sender of the message – if you need an immediate reply make it clear in your message that this is your expectation. Or use an alternative communication channel like the telephone, instant messaging or if its an option, good old face-to-face.

Wednesday 20 April 2005

Service or self-service?

I must admit to having a slight fascination with the human-computer interaction perspective of how technology is used to serve customers in supermarkets. A visit to the United Kingdom in the middle of last year gave me a chance to see how supermarkets there were experimenting with different variations of self-service checkouts. During that time a number of large chains were piloting different systems and I saw first hand how a couple of different approaches were being used by Waitrose and Sainsburys.

I asked the assistant at Sainsburys about who was using them and she commented that she had been surprised as people of all different ages were choosing to use them. This Gartner article gives some insights into why:

"Retailers generally assume self-service checkouts will be used by shoppers with few purchases, to get through the checkout quickly. In fact, this option was most popular with older people and adults with children, no matter how much they were buying. Parents thought it would be easier and faster, and some even remarked that their children could do the scanning, speeding up the checkout even further. Conversely, many older people actually want the process of shopping and checkout to be slower. They like the idea scanning goods and packing them at their own pace, rather than having to keep up with a checkout assistant."

More recently Megan Santosus has written a couple of challenging articles (Life In The Not-So-Fast Lane and The Price of Nice) in CIO magazine where she questions the value of self-service to customers. A worthwhile discussion as it highlights what I think is an important distinction between automation and empowering customers – have a look at my own short article, Empower customers with self-service, not automation (PDF, 77KB) where I suggest the following points to consider when introducing a self-service system:

  • Look for bottle necks in the way you currently serve customers and aim to automate a task or process that already needs to be done;
  • Keep in mind that empowering customers with a self-service system is quite different from automating a standardised process to reduce costs; and
  • Try to identify how a customer will really benefit from this approach – can you answer the “what’s in it for me" question from their perspective?
BTW The myth of self-service applies equally within organisations, for example access to information can empower but form filling by knowledge workers can end up just being an unproductive distraction.

Sunday 17 April 2005

Book Review: Remote Control

Later in the year I expect to have a paper published in the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM) journal, which discusses the link between the success of strategic HR management and the loss of social capital in what I call virtualised organisations. Through a common interest in virtual teams I was pleased to have the opportunity to review a new book that will soon to be released by the IHRIM called:

Remote Control: A Practitioner’s Guide to Managing Virtual Teams
by Gerald Falkowski and Stephen Troutman

Falkowski and Troutman, who share a background in IBM Consulting, offer Remote Control as a comprehensive and actionable “how-to” for real-life virtual teaming. They see a strong distinction between what they call remote teams (working in one or more dispersed locations) from virtual teams (remote and lacking a single chain of command). But don't let this distinction deter you from reading further – much, if not all, of the book is applicable to that grey management area between routine remote teams and true virtual teams that many of us experience.

The authors are good on their word at making this a practitioner's guide and quickly position the key conceptual theme of the book, the Virtual Team Capital Model, and then get on with the business of describing how to put it into practice. The first half of the book focuses on three key activities that Falkowski and Troutman believe are essential for a successful virtual team: Rudimentary Project Management, Elementary Team Building and Facilitation, and Some Change Management. The introduction to these concepts is then integrated with a detailed case study.

The second half of the book looks at specific issues related to virtual teams, including a chapter devoted to virtual teaming technologies. However, the primary focus is on management issues and three other co-contributors provide additional input into the book by sharing advice on trust in virtual teams, managing cultural differences and how to support virtual teams with a program management office.

I found the chapter on managing cultural differences, which is clearly written from a North American perspective, quite excellent. The sensible tips in this chapter give the rest of the book a strong level of credibility. However, the final chapter that covers the establishment of a virtual program management office is what I feel really positions this book as something quite different. Few people talk about the supporting infrastructure required to make virtual teams successful and sustainable, so a chapter on forming a virtual program management office is a welcome addition to the virtual teaming body of knowledge.

Overall I found Remote Control an unpretentious and practical guide for managing virtual teams. It includes a generous selection of checklists and as a sign that the authors really intended this to be a practitioner's guide, they are also collected together at the end of the book for easy reference.

Remote control can be ordered online from the IHRIM. Pre-order before the 1st May and get a discount! Reference: Falkowski, Gerald and Troutman, Stephen, 2005, Remote Control: A Practitioner’s Guide to Managing Virtual Teams, IHRIM Press, Austin, Texas.

BTW If this book interests you, also have a look at Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques.

Friday 15 April 2005

Suits versus cardigans? Try the MBT

This month Computerworld magazine has picked up on the trend of IT people (the "cardigans") needing business skills, and business people (the "suits") needing IT skills. If you are a suit or a cardigan who wants to get ahead you might be interested in attending an information evening to learn about what the Master of Business and Technology (MBT) program at UNSW has to offer.

What's the MBT? "The Master of Business & Technology ( MBT ) Program is tailor-made for busy managers and professionals in technology driven environments who want to elevate their careers. MBT courses focus on business, on technology, and on the point at which they intersect. The MBT Program is designed to be undertaken part-time, in combination with full-time employment. Customise your study through MBT's flexible program structure and work with experienced class facilitators and co-participants in online or Sydney-based face-to face classes."

They have been holding information evening in recent weeks around the country and the last two are coming in Parramatta (NSW) on 20th April and Wollongong (NSW) on the 21st April. As I'm just about to complete my MBT I've been invited to speak at the Wollongong information evening on my experiences of the MBT and what it takes to complete it.

You need to RSVP if you want to attend go along to either of these remaining information evenings or you can request an information pack.

Watch Out! Cyber-criminals like to blog

Image and Data Magazine reports on a press release from Web filtering company, Websense, that warns toxic blogs are responsible for distributing Malcode and Keylogging software to unsuspecting users. I suppose it was only a question of time, and in my mind doesn't detract from the core value of blogs, but it does hightlight the immaturity of the software presently used by hosted blogging sites with this comment:

"Cyber-criminals are now taking advantage of blog sites that allow users to easily publish their own web pages at no cost. Blogs can be attractive vehicles for hackers for several reasons - blogs offer large amounts of free storage, they do not require any identity authentication to post information, and most blog hosting facilities do not provide antivirus protection for posted files."

Thursday 14 April 2005

Soft phones on steroids: Digital Dashboards

Melanie Turek, from US-based technology research firm Nemertes, has written some interesting articles and papers on range of technology issues including collaboration. One of her articles that talks about the power of "presence" in what she calls digital dashboards has been syndicated to a few publications, such as Network Fusion World and also Computerword. (The article also has some screenshots of a "digital dashboard").

I'm not so sure about calling a presence-enabled messaging application a digital dashboard, but her analysis of the importance of presence is fair:

"Presence has the potential to change the way people work - and how they communicate and collaborate with one another. Change will come slowly; the technology isn't as mature as it needs to be. The productivity gains are difficult to measure, and the cultural adjustments won't come easily from end users, but companies that adopt the new tools will be well positioned to support a dispersed workforce and leverage the benefits such an environment brings."

BTW In 2003 I wrote a short whitepaper about next generation voice over IP (VoIP). I noted then, when most people were talking up the costing savings of VoIP, that:

"It is quite interesting to compare next generation VoIP services with enhanced services that can be provided through Instant Messaging (IM) systems. IM has both the same synchronous qualities of voice combined with presence information that could also be utilised by VoIP applications. Presence is the awareness functionality in IM applications that tells you when another user is on-line and available. This provides the potential to build intelligent workflow systems that, for example, would know when a manager is on-line and available to approve an urgent request – rather than e-mailing the user, an IM agent can interact with the user to ask for the workflow approval. Simple Web services have also been built that utilise the IM interface as a way to interactively query other databases, such as a corporate address book. So it is possible that an IP Phone could dynamically interact with such a database to provide different information to the user."

Wednesday 13 April 2005

Draft Corporate Blogging Guidelines

Angus McDonald in his Falkyn's Blog links to Michael Hyatt's (President and Chief Operating Officer of Thomas Nelson Publishers in the US) blog where he has published the 1st and 2nd draft of their Thomas Nelson Blogging Guidelines.

Angus comments that "What is nice about this is that Michael was smart enough to elicit comment from the readers of his Working Smart blog to ensure that the guidelines were appropriate. Thanks to their feedback what they ended up with was much more user-friendly than their first effort which was a dismal set of legalistic rules."

Ah, change management for new technology. Good idea :-)

After you read the guidelines also check out this advice from an E.M.T who works for the London Ambulance Service (linked from a comment on the Thomas Nelson guidelines).

Tuesday 12 April 2005

Internet 2.0: The Information Sushi Belt

Chris Hyder, Director of Knowledge Management at the Department of the Environment and Heritage, gets a thank you for spotting this excellent BBC News article that includes an interview with Dave Winer (a co-inventor of the RSS format). Surfing RSS channels gets vividly described by the BBC reporter, Jo Twist, as:

"Like sushi restaurant conveyor belts, it delivers content to people so they can easily pick what they want to read."

An important point is also made about the average Internet user in terms of "how to explain what RSS can do to change a person's web surfing experience, and also how to avoid bamboozling people with strange-looking code and acronyms." Remember if you're reading this you may be an early adopter who gets it! It might not be as easy for everyone else.

BTW There is also a link to my two earlier posts about RSS as Content Glue and Controlling RSS. Incidentally I also discovered what RSS Reader technology the Guardian Newspaper is using (the smarts behind it is a company called Consenda - apparently using their technology, "newspapers are able to place themselves at the convergence point of traditional news publishing and blogs, while increasing average revenue per user through NewsPoint’s innovations in RSS-related targeted text, display, and classified advertising").

Agilent's Virtual Experiences

Its not often that we see an Australian business talking up the benefits of "virtual teams", but Grant Marshall, General Manager at Agilent Australia, shares his experiences in an interview in CEO Forum magazine. While Agilent have created a virtual shared service that is spread across Asia, the challenges and successes are the same for any kind of organisation that has staff working in remote teams or workgroups in Australia or overseas. Some key lessons from Agilent are:

  • You need motivation to change from a traditional to virtual organisation structure;
  • You need to invest in change management and training; and
  • Remote managers can deliver higher levels of employee satisfaction (bet you didn't see that one coming!).
If you enjoyed this interview, also have a look at a related article that I wrote for Image and Data Manager magazine, titled Meeting of Minds.

Monday 11 April 2005

MIT's Technology Review Looks at Sun's Blogs

Sun Microsystems is well known for the way it has embraced blogging and the April edition of MIT's Technology Review takes a look at Sun's reasons for encouraging its staff to blog in the open. According to Sun, they believe the benefits of their open approach to staff blogging are:

  • The feedback they get results in better products; and
  • It shows their customers they are listening.
Technology Review concludes that "consumer-oriented companies that abjure the blogosphere are missing out on opportunities to generate buzz, monitor customer concerns, and—perhaps most importantly—show their human side."

RSS as Corporate Content Glue

Following on from yesterday's post about RSS in the enterprise, Andrew Mitchell, Knowledge Manager at UrbisJHD, pointed out this list of ten ideas for corporate RSS feeds.

Its worth noting that their ideas are not necessarily about blogging - in fact what they are really suggesting is RSS as an alternative to other forms of push notification (e.g. e-mail or even SMS) that may help the audience to deal better with information overload or spam. The key thing to remember with RSS is that it is just another way for serving up information over the Web or an intranet - what you choose to package as RSS is really up to you.

For example, say you had a staff directory stored in a database. If you developed it the right way you might choose to deliver this information via various channels, such as part of the intranet or even via an interactive instant messenger bot. You could also create RSS channels, such as:

  • New staff;
  • Staff transfers;
  • Staff assignments;
  • Etc, etc.
The beauty of RSS in this instance is that you have a light weight syndication method - individual staff with a particular interest in staff movements might subscribe via their own personal RSS readers, however departmental or project sites could also filter out and display relevant changes on their own home pages.

BTW I wouldn't blame you if you are thinking this all sounds a bit like what a "portal" might do. The answer is yes, because ultimately RSS is just a very simple type of content "glue".

Nice to meet you

Today's Column 8* in the Sydney Morning Herald had a cute story from a reader about their brief laptop-to-laptop liaison on a commuter train:

"Travelling home after work by train last week, I was seated next to a fellow commuter using a laptop and headphones. Not to be outdone, I started work on my own laptop and as it booted up, a message appeared on the screen - 'another computer has been detected. Do you want to send a file?' Naturally I declined as we had barely met, but as he left the train, my companion confirmed that he was aware of our brief laptop liaison."

Column 8 then made the comparison with two dogs meeting in the park (you get the picture). A more interesting (and perhaps more tasteful) application can be found in the conference industry, where smart name badges (for example nTag and others) seek out people with similar or target profiles. Of course, this idea exists in the domain of Personal Area Networks (PANs) – also see my earlier post on RedTacton.

*Please note that the contents of Column 8 changes daily, so this story won't be there tomorrow!

Sunday 10 April 2005

Controlling Enterprise RSS

Wired reports that some newspapers in the US and UK are developing their own branded RSS readers in an attempt to retain the readership that has "bleeding" for years, and perhaps even make some revenue from selling advertising.

Considering we've had push news media before (remember PointCast?), for this to work I suspect they will need to find some way of adding value to public RSS feeds and readers. Providing less technically savvy users with a branded set of pre-selected and categorised RSS channels could be one way of doing that, as one newspaper suggests. In fact, digital news content distributor Factiva already has a limited RSS service in beta and they are also limiting their enterprise users to the "Editor's Choice" of channels

Providing users with a pre-selected list of RSS channels could also be useful within an enterprise, particularly if there are RSS channels broadcasting corporate information that everyone must know. A couple of companies in the US are beginning to tackle the needs of the emerging enterprise market for RSS:

NewsGator offers an NewsGator Enterprise. In an earlier commentary in a blog about this product, they comment that:

"We do a LOT of enterprise business with our Outlook-based product. As we've been working with these customers, we've learned a lot about their needs and issues for information distribution...and what we've been finding is that a desktop-based product alone is not exactly what they need...Imagine NewsGator Online, picked up and installed on a server behind a corporate firewall. Imagine it also (optionally) connecting with Active Directory and Exchange server. No longer would a system administrator need to go install NewsGator Outlook edition on 3000 desktops; rather, with [NewsGator Enterprise], they could install a single server, make some configuration choices, and employees will just get "more stuff" somewhere in their Exchange mailbox without having to install anything on their own machines."

A whitepaper by KnowNow, also in the US, points out four limitations of RSS as far as enterprises are concerned:

  1. Lack of centralized control;
  2. Increased load on infrastructure;
  3. Timeliness, completeness and relevancy of information; and
  4. Duplicate content publication.
Actually, those four issues could be equally applied to e-mail. In that respect I hope RSS helps to reduce information overload rather than contributing to it!

Friday 8 April 2005

Techno-ethnography at Intel

Today's AFR BOSS magazine has a 2 page article on anthropologist Genevieve Bell who works for Intel and is helping them to understand better how people use technology. The article is particularly revealing in providing some examples of how national culture and lifestyle influences how we utilise technology, for example:

"What constitutes the home was one important finding from her recent fieldwork. People from Asia, Australia and Britain spend more time socialising outside the home than most Americans, who prefer to 'pull up the metaphoric drawbridge' once inside their climate-controlled houses. 'All of which has big implications for the way you use technology,' says Bell.

'Mobile phones make really good sense when a lot of your social life happens outside your home.' This could explain why 85 per cent of Australians have mobile phones compared with 60 per cent of Americans, and why they’re growing at the rate of 10 million a month in China. The Chinese send more text messages to each other in a month than Americans do in a year."

While Bell's primary interest appears to be in consumer use of technology, the same approaches can be applied to the use of technology in the workplace. If you are regular reader of my blog you'll know I have a long standing interest in this area so you might find this post about Melanie Kan's research work at UTS of interest. Earlier in the year the NSW KM Forum also heard from Dr Theresa Anderson (also from UTS) on the topic of using ethnography and storytelling in the workplace as she has an interest in how people interact and deal with electronic information.

Tuesday 5 April 2005

Workplace design events at the AGSM

In January I reported on my observations from a visit to the Ark workplace in Sydney. On that theme I spotted a couple of interesting events on the AGSM Website that are coming up later in the month:


Taking it to the People - Applying KM in Telstra

Just a reminder that the next NSW KM Forum meeting is taking place on Thursday (7th April), with Alister Webb from Telstra's Consumer & Marketing Division talking about applying KM at Telstra. Full details can be found on the NSW KM Forum wiki.

Monday 4 April 2005

The Sum is Greater than the Whole

Crux Cybernetics is an Australian-based software company who specialises in "collaborative business management and process knowledge tools to improve workforce performance and productivity and that significantly reduce administration overheads". They have recently launched a new portal for their TeamFrame solution where they are building a library of useful documents with particular emphasis on work and resource management, collaboration, etc.

Maarten Tentij, Managing Director of Crux Cybernetics, asked if I'd like to contribute something so I forwarded him a previously unpublished article titled, The Sum is Greater than the Whole:

"Research conducted by the University of Wollongong demonstrates that one of the primary reasons that SMEs have been slow to adopt ecommerce is a reluctance to form partnerships with other businesses. But in a global, information driven economy the ability to collaborate is a key competency that every business needs. Overseas outsourcing threatens all industries – white and blue collar alike – but local companies can still compete by embedding themselves in virtual supply chains that add value through effective business collaboration. So how do we do it?"

You can read the rest on the TeamFrame portal. If you have a topic suggestion or just want to learn more about TeamFrame I'm sure Maarten and the team at Crux would be pleased to hear from you.

Cracking the code of IT change

I follow the technology change management concepts of James Carlopio, who you may be familar with from the AFR's BOSS magazine (search on "Carlopio"), so it was great to see him quoted recently by Computerworld. He points out that:

  • Those working in IT, he said, need to broaden their minds when tackling projects admitting that implementations are complex;
  • Discussion, disagreement and experimentation can make a real difference and encourage end users to embrace technology changes; and
  • Resistance is often the result of past failures so IT executives need to accept a degree of end user cynicism.
All great advice - the challenge is in the execution of course! For an overview of his change management process - which has origins in Rogers innovation diffusion theory - see his Innovation Implementer site. He has also written a couple of books on change management and technology:
  • Implementation: Making Workplace Innovation and Technical Change Happen
  • Changing Gears: The Strategic Implementation of Technology

Workplace Innovation at the ATO

Colette Woodford, Secretary actKM and Director Adept KM, is promoting an interesting event tomorrow (Tuesday 5th April) in Canberra:

What? Understanding & Applying 'Workplace Innovation' Through Design In The ATO
Who? Grant Brodie
When? Tuesday 5 April 2005, 5:30-7pm
Where? National Library of Australia - Main Conference Room 4th floor.
How much? $4 donation for wine and cheese.

Australian public sector organisations like the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are complex, adaptive social systems that grow their capability to effectively respond to change through the knowledge they create, the processes for sharing information and knowledge, and the relationships that develop among those who work and learn in them.

The key knowledge elements of people, process, technology and content have a vital role to play in enabling organisations like the ATO to meet outcomes set by Government. This presentation draws on recent research that explores some of the factors that drive innovation in the workplace and that helps maximise the impact of information in organisations.

CollaborativeAID: Taking wikis to the next level

Last week while down in Melbourne for the day working on a client project I made time to catch up with Ashin Wimalajeewa from Self Technologies. Ash is a software methodologist and architect, and he is currently working as a contractor at a major Australian bank. (Actually "contractor" is perhaps the wrong word since he could easily fit Davenport and Prusak's definition of an idea practitioner.)

He has a created a really interesting knowledge management and project collaborative platform called CollaborativeAID. Based on the wiki paradigm, Ash has extended the idea to create a tool "that empowers all stakeholders to contribute, collaborate, learn from one another and innovate". As well a basic enterprise wiki features (e.g. access control, simple editing), CollaborativeAID also includes:

  • Forms to capture and display wiki content;
  • Cross referencing of content;
  • Graphic content maps (e.g. a methodology map that links to relevant content); and
  • Integrated project workspaces.
Having seen CollaborativeAID in action I was impressed by what I saw, but I have to admit wondering now what is or isn't a wiki? Perhaps someone can come up with a new name for these advanced wikis. If you have any suggestions please post them here!

Friday 1 April 2005

More on Enterprise Blogging

Karna O'Dea attend the Blogs and Wikis for Trainers presentation and suggested this preventing Newsletter article by Dr L. Anne Clyde as some recommended general reading on enterprise blogging. Thanks Karna.

As well as providing lots of links to other articles and blogs about enterprise blogging, Dr Clyde suggests the following purposes for enterprise blogs:

  • Project Management
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Marketing
  • Knowledge Management
  • Customer Service
  • Newsletters

Slides from Wednesday's AITD/ACT KM Forum presentation

If you attended my AITD/ACT KM Forum presentation on Wednesday in Canberra looking at Blogs and Wikis for Trainers and would like an electronic copy of the slides please let me know.

For everyone else: I won't be making them available for public download as I don't think the slides themselves are particularly meaningful outside the presentation and discussion we had (to understand why have a look at this). However, if you would like a copy and are willing to invest some time to talk through the slides with me then I'm more than happy to share what I know.

And don't forget that my invitation to come to your organisation to talk about just about any workplace technology issue still stands.