Wednesday 29 June 2005

19th July: Reserve your place for the Intranet Imperative live

You've read the blog, now attend the seminar ;-)

Chief Technology Solutions in association with Institute for Information Management is pleased to present the inaugural live industry update seminar:

The Intranet Imperative - Getting alignment with business needs

The nature of intranets is changing. In fact the term intranet itself is rapidly losing meaning. The traditional view of intranets, one that concentrates on static information built around an impregnable information architecture, creates a risk for organisations that may be oblivious to the rise of collaborative and dynamic “application-nets” that connect users to people, places and things.

In this half-day seminar:

  • Hear about the latest technology and workplace trends driving the evolution of intranets;
  • Learn how to apply the intranet imperative management framework to align your intranet with business needs;
  • Understand alignment in practice from two local vendor case studies; and
  • Discuss implementation issues with an expert panel.

Presenters and panelists include James Dellow (Chief Technology Solutions and author of the ChiefTech blog), Brian Bailey (freelance provider of information, knowledge, change and project management services), Linda Shave (President, Institute for Information Management, NSW) plus Steven Layer (Weblogics) and Matthew Lipscombe (DocBanq).

But wait there is more: The good news is that thanks to the help of our supporters, the Institute for Information Management, DocBanq, and Weblogics, we can bring you this half-day seminar at a great price of $99 (incl. GST) including a light breakfast.

You can download the brochure and reserve your place at the seminar on the event Website at:

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Tuesday 28 June 2005

Coming soon... Live Industry Update Premiere

For those of you following my industry update series (most recent) I'm pleased to let you know that I'll be running my first "live" industry update half-day seminar in the middle of July in Sydney, Australia. Stay tuned for more details or drop me a line to register your interest.

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Killer niche apps for location-based services

I've blogged in the last few months about location-based and geographic information system (GIS) related social software tools. If you are still trying to work out what you might do with location-based services (LBS) and GIS, GPSWorld has some suggestions - the following ideas all won cash prizes at the Cellular Telephone Industry Association Wireless show held in March this year:

  • asset tracking/field services;
  • monitoring and measuring physical activity in fitness programs;
  • child/teen tracking service for parents;
  • peer-to-peer/find me;
  • navigation systems giving real-time traffic, weather and fuel-price information, and nearby points of interest;
  • sale prices for houses and recently sold in the vicinity; and
  • location-based imaging and tagging.
However, I think Rob Roveta, from Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), makes the right observation when he says about location-based services that "more targeted niche apps will get the market going."

I'd also suggest that we are seeing a similar thing evolving in the social software space as people connect different social software and GIS tools into niche applications. For example, Foundcity combines mobile camera phones/PDA, Google Maps and tagging:

"What's Foundcity? With Foundcity you send photos and text messages from the street to your personal map and tag it, share it, blog it and more..."

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Wednesday 22 June 2005

7th July - Social Software: Knowledge Management Panacea... or Technology Fad?

A date for your diary - I'll be presenting in a few weeks time at the NSW KM Forum, which meets in Sydney, Australia at Standards Australia:

7th July 2005 - Social Software: Knowledge Management Panacea... or Technology Fad?

WHY: So you've heard people talking about them but are blogs, wikis and other social software tools just another technology fad? Social software lets people rendezvous, connect or collaborate using a computer network. Learn about social software on Internet, what this means for enterprise knowledge management systems, and discuss how this will affect knowledge management within organizations.

WHO: James Dellow is the Principal Consultant of Chief Technology Solutions and member of the NSW KM Forum's committee. James has a decade of experience in the knowledge and information system space, including time spent within Ernst & Young's award winning Center for Business Knowledge. He recently completed a Master of Business & Technology at UNSW and is expected to graduate in October 2005. James also writes his very own blog.

WHEN: 5.30pm for 6pm, Thursday 7th July 2005.

WHERE: Standards Australia, 286 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Call James Digges on 0414 191 009 for after hours entry to the building


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Monday 20 June 2005

Wiki - The New Facilitator?

My most recent Image & Data Manager (IDM) article, published in the May/June 2005 edition, is now available for download from the archive on my Website:

Looking at the use of wikis within organisations, I ask "Is the wiki about to revolutionise team work, communication and how we collaborate in organisations? A wiki is a server program that allows users to collaborate in forming the content of a Website. Wikis are quick, simple and effective whenever people need to share information, but what exactly makes the wiki such a good collaborative tool and should mature IT applications, platforms and architectures be thrown out in favor of the new kid on the block?"

Don't forget to look out for my next IDM article, which will discuss Mobile Knowledge Management. PS In the meantime, if you are still looking for more reading materials have a look at my three part Intranet Imperative article right here on the ChiefTech blog (part 1, part 2 and part 3).

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Industry Update No. 5: GrouputerNet from Grouputer Solutions

Mea Culpa! I have to admit to being a little behind with the industry updates at the moment, however my excuse is that I'm currently in the process of planning an industry update live event to take place in Sydney during July. Further details coming soon...

But back to this industry update: A few weeks ago I spoke to Anne Hudson, CEO of Grouputer Solutions and co-inventor of the GrouputerNet technology. Grouputer was founded in 1996 and is based in Sydney, Australia but has over 300 users in USA, Australia, Mexico, Europe and New Zealand. Prior to starting Grouputer, Anne worked as a management consultant and in senior positions for multinational organisations. The late Tony Benson (one of only seven people to have received the highly prestigious Pearcey Medal in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the IT industry) was also a member of the Grouputer board until his death earlier this year.

GrouputerNet is a Web-based collaborative group decision support and meeting application. This application is designed to be used by organisations to aid decision making, planning, problem solving and learning. This makes GrouputerNet quite different from the other products I've covered so far in the industry updates (see below) and in this respect it is complementary to other content or project management tools you might already have in place.

For me its the structured discussion and decision support functionality in GrouputerNet that make it stand out from other Webconferencing products because it ensures:

  • Every participant has an opportunity to be heard; and
  • Meetings are more productive because they are outcome driven.

Grouputer can also supply a process builder for GrouputerNet that allows meetings and learning processes to be packaged up into stand alone applications.

According to Grouputer, end-users require no training however they support facilitators with both product training and skills transfer through co-facilitation. You can visit the Grouputer Solutions Website to see live demos of GrouputerNet.

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.

Previous Industry Updates:
Update No.1: Pivot Software
Update No.2: Objectify
Update No.3: GMB Research
Update No.4: TeamFrame from Crux Cybernetics

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Thursday 16 June 2005

New Associate: Conclusive Consulting Group

The Conclusive Consulting Group, based here in my adopted home town of Wollongong, NSW, Australia, has joined my list of associates.

Stephen Cuff is the Managing Director of Conclusive Consulting Group and he has consulted to a wide range of business types, from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies.

Conclusive Consulting Group deliver custom designed solutions to help improve businesses and corporations. As the name suggests, a specific need is determined and the exact end result of a collaborative project defined. The process includes a clear determination of Objectives, Measures of Success and Value to be gained by the Client. This provides an accurate determination as to the return on investment that will be possible. Our goal is to improve management skills and processes for our clients.

Check out the Conclusive Website for free articles and you can also fill out an on-line Business Analysis survey to find what is and isn't working well in your business.

Wednesday 15 June 2005

Dark Blogs: A case study of an enterprise blog... or perhaps not

I'm beginning to really like Nancy White's Full Circle Online Blog, as she picks up on some interesting stuff. This time she's blogged about Suw Charman's case study on a "Dark Blog" (PDF file) at a European Pharmaceutical Group used for sharing competitive intelligence.

However the more I read this case study the more troubled I became. For example, the case study is introduced with the following:

"This case study examines how a European pharmaceutical group used Traction Software's TeamPage ( enterprise weblog software to create a competitive intelligence (CI) knowledge base to replace previous platforms such as Lotus Notes databases and static websites."

Ok. Fair enough so far, but then it sounds like they then duplicated the core functionality of Lotus Notes with the new solution such as things like user permissions and flexibility in managing unstructured information, ease of deployment etc. The other interesting point is that when you read the details you'll find they began planning in late 2002 and but then the development of the application didn't start until 2004. Not exactly what I would call quick.

If anything - from a technical perspective - all we have here is a case of someone building a better mouse trap. That's a fair enough outcome but (at the risk of repeating myself) we need to focus on understanding the difference between the benefits of blogging as a style of hyper-communication versus blogs as an information technology platform. It also raises a question for me as to what exactly is a blog?

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Tuesday 14 June 2005

StoryCast from HP: storytelling with photos and narration

Jean Burgess, PhD student in cultural studies & new media, Queensland University of Technology, Australia has a great blog covering creativity, culture and technology. By chance I found this link to HP Labs' StoryCast - an experimental digital storytelling service.

"StoryCast... lets people use their camera phones and other mobile devices to easily create and instantly share stories with friends and family. Each story consists of a sort of narrated slide show of photos accompanied by the storyteller's voice."

It reminds me a little of Nokia's Lifeblog. Now wouldn't it be interesting if we could then share stories peer-to-peer through Nokia's Sensor application.

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Sunday 12 June 2005

The Power Of Us - Collaboration and Cooperation

US-based Consultant Nancy White picked up on an interesting Business Week article on "how mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business". White comments that "There is some cool stuff in this article, but also some troubling issues which get sparse attention" and I agree - it reads like an essay rather than providing any new insights, but its still interesting.

BTW This article is part of collection a few other articles looking at The Future of Technology including mobility in the workplace.


The Intranet Imperative - Part 3

This is the 3rd and final part of the Internet Imperative. Part 1 takes a critical look at our understanding of what is an intranet, while part 2 provided a framework for developing a strategic view of intranets that encompassed our new definition.


From imperative to action

The intranet imperative is driven by unstoppable technology advances that affect how people work with and use information technology in the workplace. These include:

  • Blurred lines between people, places and things - the distinction between intranets, extranets and Internet sites is changing;

  • Rich media and interactive content - the scope of content has expanded to includes more than static documents, text and images;

  • Always on, always connected - the working environment and intranets need to be delivered through new channels, such as mobile phone, wireless PDAs, voice and kiosks on the shop floor;

  • Next generation networks - awareness, presence and locality will be built in; and

  • User-driven software - users will take the path of least resistance and will pick less sophisticated tools if they get the job done.

Unfortunately for the average intranet manager or management team these changes will of course increase the complexity of dealing with already existing document-centric challenges such as information architecture, effective search and content quality. For example, expert designed information architectures will need to co-exist with those created by user communities. In practice what this means is that we will see organisations embrace different degrees of control, standardisation and integration in order to align their application-nets with the strategic goals of the organisation. For example, centralised authoring will live along side self-publishing systems such as wikis and blogs because it makes business sense rather that isolated decision to choose one over the other.

What may be worse still for some teams is that the technology of the intranet will no longer be isolated from other parts of the organisation. Under these circumstances the system architecture becomes even more critical as both a plan but also as a process for engaging with the rest of the organisation, both in terms of needs but also to create the right operational linkages. So, applying strategic thinking and designing a system architecture for your next generation intranet represents more that just a nice theoretical step but is instead a critical success factor.


We now understand that the nature of intranets is changing. Unless you use strategic thinking to broaden your concept of what constitutes an "“intranet"” into a next generation application-net, then you risk losing control as technology leaps ahead without you. You can prepare for this challenge by:

  • Understanding why the nature of intranets is changing;

  • Analysing the strategic context of your intranet today and what will be needed moving forward; and

  • Designing a new system architecture that will facilitate this change so it is progressive, evolutionary and beneficial rather than chaotic, revolutionary and disruptive.

That's the end of the Intranet Imperative - I welcome your comments, feedback and questions.

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Saturday 11 June 2005

Dull future for the home and office PC

Nicholas Carr recently blogged:

"The first 25 years in the history of the personal computer were an aberration. Here's why: The business and consumer markets for the product were essentially the same. When you went out to buy a computer for your home, you used more or less the same criteria that corporate purchasing agents used when buying fleets of PCs for employees. The drab, utilitarian PC on the desk in your study (or spare bedroom) looked the same and worked the same as the drab, utilitarian PC on the desk in your office...But it's not going to last much longer. I think we're finally at the point where we're going to see the home PC diverge, and diverge quite radically, from the business PC. The home PC is going to turn into a real consumer product - or fragment into a whole bunch of consumer products."

Carr's discussion around divergence understates the fragmentation that will actually take place in the PC market over the long term. However, I don't think it has anything to do with "snazzier models" - what happens to the PC has more to do with how we use technology in the workplace (including the design of the workplace) and at home. For example it was reported recently that laptop/notebooks outsold desktop PCs in the US. So the idea of a desktop PC at work may also become a thing of the past, when what people need from time to time is a big screen and big keyboard.

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News from the Chief

Just a little bit of personal news today - yesterday was (hopefully!) my very last exam for my Masters in Business & Technology at the University of New South Wales. Starting in 2002 I've completed a dozen subject units covering subjects ranging from the Management of Innovation and Technical Change to Advanced Information Technologies for Managers. Its been a lot fun and hard work, but I'm really pleased to have got this far and finished it :-)

I also have a couple of service anouncements for you about the ChiefTech blog:

  • You may notice that I 'm now running Google AdSense on the blog (currently 2 at the top and some more down the side if you scroll down). My reasons for doing are two fold - one as an experiment to see how this kind of advertising works and if its worth it. Secondly, if I can make a bit of revenue from the advertising it will help to make the time and effort I put into the ChiefTech blog just that bit more worthwhile. However, if you think they are distracting or distasteful let me know. BTW One of the nice things I've noticed is that ads today are all talking about "strategy". And you all thought I was some kind of IT nerd... obviously Google knows me better than I think!
  • Moving forward I'm going to be making an effort to tag my posts, so you can find them using services like Technorati. If you don't know about "tags" have a look at the Wikipedia entry on folksonomy - "the practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords".

Thursday 9 June 2005

Location-enhanced applications

Mark White from Brisbane, Australia, based Locatrix Communications, comments in his new blog on a Business 2.0 article looking at different examples of how organisations are developing software and services that leverage location awarness. Mark says "My take is that it’s not so much about location-based services as it is about location-enhanced applications, whether they are games, corporate applications like Xora or contact management tools that know where your friends and colleagues are."

As I commented back on Mark's blog, while some people are only just begining to understand the importance of presence in next-generation networks, clearly "place" is going to be just as important.

BTW Mark's company Locatrix also sounds interesting - according to the Website blurb they provide "a suite of wireless application solutions and mobile device clients for use by wireless operators, enterprises, software developers and solution providers. The products integrate seamlessly over any cellular or WiFi networks and derive a single 'view' of a subscriber's availability, status and location. This is what we call a 'Locatrix', and unobtrusively sharing this information with colleagaues and friends creates opportunities for contact, collaboration, productivity and innovation."

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Wednesday 8 June 2005 Embrace collaboration tools or fall behind report on some comments from Gartner about the importance of embracing collaboration tools such as instant messaging, blogs, wikis. Gartner say that:

  • These collaborative tools are already prevalent because people have been very adaptable to these technologies, except in places where the organization does not understand their business value and impact.
  • Companies have to tread a fine line between managing new tools that improve work productivity, and limiting the number of new technologies the IT department needs to deploy and manage. Otherwise, they could face disruptions if their IT infrastructure is not flexible enough to adopt these new applications.
Hmm. Sounds a lot like what I've been saying... so why are you paying so much for Gartner to state the obvious? ;-)


Computerworld Emerging Trends: Blogs

Sorry in advance for linking to a bunch of old media stories on blogging, but if you're not a regular reader of Computerworld in Australia I thought you might be interested in the following from the June 8 edition:

IDG writer, Rodney Gedda, also announced the launch of his own blog but I'm afraid he has a little way to go in his transcendence to the new world...


Tuesday 7 June 2005

Enterprise blog, wiki and RSS Survey results

The Gilbane Report have been running an ongoing survey on the use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in the enterprise. When I last looked they only had 67 responses, so I'm not sure if the data holds much weight but some of the comments, such as, "My IT staff doesn't bother with new ideas", are quite revealing about who is driving the adoption of this technology.

In their blog entry they provide the following commentary:

  • Although most respondents are using one of the technologies, only half of them have official IT support.
  • Knowledge management, internal information dissemination (portals!?), and project collaboration are all closely grouped as the leading applications.
  • Shockingly, only a third use RSS!*
  • Almost a third are using one or more of these for content management.
*I'm not sure why they are shocked about the poor use of RSS. Perhaps people have nothing to syndicate into, but unfortunately the survey didn't ask about the pervassiveness of RSS readers.

Looking for the Intranet Imperative? Read Part 1 and Part 2 below.


Monday 6 June 2005

The Intranet Imperative - Part 2

This is the 2nd part of the Internet Imperative. Part 1 takes a critical look at our understanding of what is an intranet. This part provides a framework for developing a strategic view of intranets that encompasses our new definition.


The Strategic View of Intranets

Organisations need to control how their intranets will evolve into application-nets. The right approach for achieving this control is a management response that starts with developing a strategic view of their intranet. This strategic perspective does not prescribe the exact future form of the intranet as an application-net, but it provides the basis for creating a system architecture that will facilitate it. The critical point of difference between this new architecture and the old approach is that the intranet imperative forces us to broaden our horizons in order to understand more fully the fit between people, places and things.

This new strategic view should be built from understanding four key elements:

  1. People and Process - understand who the current and future users of system will be, where they are located and what work activities the system must support;

  2. Content - not just documents and information, but the collection of applications and other data in the system;

  3. Infrastructure - The basic technical structure or features of the system (e.g. servers, networks, content management software, etc) and also the human support functions (e.g. helpdesks, trainers, technicians, etc); and

  4. Governance -– the management controls (standards, committees, etc) that deal with the form of the infrastructure and the nature of the content in the system to ensure it meets the needs of the organisation and its users.

But like any type of strategic planning, the application of this strategic view must take into account the overall context of the organisation. Steps for understanding the strategic context and incorporating it into the design of the new architecture include:

  • Business and Technology Analysis - Develop a strategic understanding of the intranet and how this technology, at its most fundamental level, relates to the overall strategy objectives of the organisation;

  • System Audit and Gap Analysis - Complete a review of the people, processes, technology and content that already exists within your organisation to identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be;

  • Manage expectations - Negotiate performance outcomes with your stakeholders to link the evolution of the intranet to the organisation's objectives; and

  • Innovation - Look outside the organisation to learn from leading practices, understand the different options that are available in the market, and emerging trends.

These steps take us beyond simply asking how users will contribute and access information in the intranet and instead make us focus on the bigger picture, resulting in an architecture that is better aligned to the needs of the organisation.

In the final part of the Intranet Imperative - pulling it all together: trends, strategy and where to with next generation intranets.

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Friday 3 June 2005

Instant Messaging Is Here to Stay: Deal With It!

I wish I had seen this article before, but I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks instant messaging (IM) deserves proper consideration as an enterprise collaboration tool - Alan R. Earls, writing in Application Development Trends, tells us that IM is here to stay so its time we just deal with it. I'm right with you Alan!

Earl's article offers the following talking points:

  • Most businesses have found that IM is too useful and pervasive to stop. Some see it as the entry point for implementing a new era of collaboration tools.
  • But you must manage IM, especially if your company must comply with a growing list of regulations and records-retention mandates.
  • Businesses are using consumer and enterprise IM offerings. But the industry needs to resolve the issue of Enter city or point of interest...interoperability among the various products.
In a sidebar we also discover that Austrade is using IM "to increase the 'match making' cycle between Australian suppliers and overseas distributors".


Thursday 2 June 2005

The Intranet Imperative - Part 1

This is the first part of new "thought piece" I've been working on, but rather than overload you in one go I'll post it in a few parts. It builds on many of the ideas I've been blogging and presenting on in the last few months. Feel free to give me some feedback along the way! (Of course, if you really can't wait just drop me an e-mail and I'll send the complete article in a PDF)


What exactly is an intranet?

The nature of intranets is changing. In fact the term intranet itself is rapidly losing meaning as the Internet interpenetrates organisations through a mixture of business-to-business marketing, extranets, hosted application services and of course personal use of the Web at work. The traditionalist view of intranets, one that concentrates on static information built around an impregnable information architecture, creates a risk for organisations that may be oblivious to the rise of collaborative and dynamic “application-nets” that connect users to people, places and things.

Consider for a moment - what exactly is an intranet? The most simple or basic definition defines it as a restricted, private computer network that uses TCP/IP (Internet) network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange within an organisation. But when we look at modern intranets (and extranets), this definition raises more questions than answers – for example:

  • Restricted or private to whom – does this include business partners or even customers?
  • What is the computer network - does it end at the PC on your desk, the mobile phone in your pocket or a kiosk on the shopfloor?
  • Does data include self-service systems, rich media, access to Web - and video conferencing and business intelligence tools that empower staff to get their work done?
Clearly the potiential demands placed on intranets are moving well beyond their original scope of simple access to information and documents. In fact paralleling other changes in our working environments, intranets now need to support always on, always connected access and provide flexibility and interactivity on demand. The technologies to do this already exist and the key challenge for many organistions is how to manage the evolution of an intranet into a multifaceted application-net in a controlled manner.

Of course while you can choose to ignore this imperative, be aware that technology has a habit of winning. You may find your users taking the path of least resistance (like returning to the dreaded network drive) or they will pick their own user-driven tools that will ensure they can get the job done.

In part 2 - How to take a strategic view and apply it to the evolution of intranets

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Wednesday 1 June 2005

Where in the world is that blog?

If you think Google Maps is good and you like blogs, then you'll like Blogmap:

"Using FeedMap you can geo-code your blog, browse already geo-coded blogs and search for blogs. Once geo-coded, you can get your own BlogMap location using a simple url that allows you to network with your local bloggers and much more!"

Even better than Google Maps at the moment, because its based on Microsoft MapPoint, Blogmap also covers Australia. The only challenge is that you need to register your blog and either embed your latitude or longitude coordinates, or register them manually. As soon as I work out where I am I'll add the ChiefTech blog...

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Consumer Generated Marketing

Well, here is a nice new term I learned today from HBS Working Knowledge: Consumer Generated Marketing. I think this means word of mouth, however I guess being called a CGM consultant would sound a whole lot better :-)