Thursday 28 July 2005

Special report on KM in the AFR

Did you see that today's Australian Financial Review (AFR) has a special report on Knowledge Management? The particular reason I mention it is that I was interviewed for this report and there is short quote from me in the article, titled Firms alert as bloggers get a helping hand:

"As social software tools merge and become wireless- and proximity-enabled, business applications will abound, according to James Dellow, principal consultant with Chief Technology Solutions.

For instance, by merging a professional networking site like LinkedIn with photo-sharing capabilities such as those provided by the Flickr photo-sharing site and an interactive mapping application like Google Maps, Dellow says, your professional profile could include snapshots by location of projects you have worked on."

Fellow New South Wales KM Forum committee member, James Digges from SAI Global, also gets a mention in the same article and another friend in the industry, Sue Halbwirth from UTS, is quoted in another article in the report talking about the problem of knowledge lost through staff retrenchment and retirement.

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Companies don’t blog, people blog

Care of the Full Circle Online Interaction Blog and worker bees blog an informative whitepaper by Jeaneane Sessum that discusses some key issues about business blogs. It includes Ten Rules for Starting Your Corporate Blogging Off Right:

1. Read Before You Write
2. Links Are Key
3. Don’t Use Your Own Blog to Sing the Praises of Your Company
4. Don’t Spam in Comments or Email
5. Monitor What Bloggers Are Saying About You
6. Don’t Do Denial
7. Comments—Tread Carefully
8. Set Your Employees Free (Because They Already Are)
9. Don’t Forget Traditional Marketing and PR
10. Aggregators Are Great—But Start Small

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New KM book by Dr Kimiz Dalkir

The world of knowledge management (KM), which I take an interest through the New South Wales KM Forum, goes through cycles and at times even comes across as a bit faddish. At the moment the use of narrative, the application of complexity concepts and social network analysis (SNA) are the hot topics and require special skills. So it was surprising to see the publication of a new generalist book on KM, called Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice.

Dr Kimiz Dalkir's (no, I hadn't heard of her either...) new book promises to provide "a comprehensive overview of the field on knowledge management with an emphasis on translating theory into practice." It apparently contains a whole bunch of case studies, but to be honest it doesn't look like they tread any new ground. However, have a look at the table of contents and judge for yourself.

I was also a bit worried by this comment in one review of the book that said, "One reason we like this book for executives is that Dalkir gives effective summaries of key points that provide for an intelligent scan of the work if one doesn't have time to read the whole thing." And they think that's a good thing??? IMHO KM fails when stakeholders don't engage fully with the concept.

PS If you can hold on long enough a new KM Standard will soon be released in Australia...


Tuesday 26 July 2005

Longhorn no more: Windows Vista

Microsoft have announced their official name for the next version of Windows that until now was code named Longhorn, but will now be known as "Vista".

Hmm. Well, what else can I say?

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Saturday 23 July 2005

Using a conversation cafe to kick start an ICT industry network

Yesterday I spent the morning helping the Illawarra Regional Development Board (IRDB) to facilitate a half-day workshop to kick-start an information and communications technology (ICT) industry cluster/network in the Illawarra (we have in mind something like the successful clusters in the Hunter and Central Coast regions of New South Wales, Australia). This has been on the local and state political agenda for a while, but yesterday was about moving from talking to action. About 35 people attended the workshop held at Wollongong Council, half representing the local ICT industry and the remainder from various local and state organisations.

I used a conversation cafe for the first half of the workshop that asked them to discuss three key questions about the cluster or network that they wanted to see created. With an emergent technique like this you can never be sure of exactly what the outcome will be, but the benefit is that it is difficult for one view or person to dominate the discussion. However feedback about the process was positive and it helped the group focus on the immediate goals of the network and next steps. In the meantime I'll be continuing to work with the IRDB to put together funding applications that will be used to resource the development of the network.

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Thursday 21 July 2005

Self-Service Checkouts at Big W

Sad, but true. Considering my geeky interest in retail self-service technology, I'm disappointed that I didn't hear earlier about the Retail Business Technology exhibition taking place in Sydney this week.

What's worse is that heard about it on TV Channel Nine's A Current Affair (ACA) show (honestly, I wasn't really watching it). Unfortunately you won't find a transcript on the ACA site, but what I can tell you is that their report included a visit to a Big W store which showed shoppers using self-service checkouts. However, after a quick bit of googling I discovered much to my disappointment that they've been in place since at least 2003 and more recently in Cessnock. At least Australia isn't quite as far behind the US and UK as I had previously thought.

Fujitsu was a major sponsor of the exhibition and there are a couple of related articles available - Retail: Remember how it used to be... and Why shopping might never be the same again.

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Wednesday 20 July 2005

Key Trajectories of Social Software

Mark Daggett in his COLLCOLL blog gives his take on the key points of Social Software for the immediate to mid term future. He talks about interoperability, “Swarm Serving”, Liquid Democracy, the digital divide and wireless networks.

I particularly like his point about the digital divide where he says "The digital divide is not specifically the separation between those who have technology and those who don’t. Instead, it is the gap that exists between those who understand the emerging metaphors of information use and those who don’t."

PS In another post he also links to this bit of cool prototype tech, the Optimus keyboard. I want one too.


Tuesday 19 July 2005

David Weinberger: An equal and opposite reaction

I really want to stop blogging about blogging (and related subjects) so I can talk about some other information and knowledge management issues, but I just can't help myself... so I'm just going to give in to it...

A short article by David Weinberger (of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Cluetrain Manifesto and JOHO) has appeared in KMWorld Magazine where he comments on the efforts of corporations, the media and education systems to fight against the tide of the digital revolution (which includes the social software revolution). He writes "These are fear-based reactions to the change that has already happened. The retrenchment may feel good for a moment, but it's bad policy and it will not stand."

PS I also love this honest post by Weinberger in his JOHO blog where he admits, "No, I'm not keeping up with your blog".

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Sunday 17 July 2005

Euan Semple's blog

Euan Semple is an interesting guy who heads up KM at the BBC in the UK. I know him only through his presence on the ACT-KM online forum, but I've just discovered he has a blog. Semple is getting quite a reputation for using wikis and blogs at the BBC.

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AFR BOSS on communication in the workplace

The July edition of AFR BOSS magazine looks at different approaches to communication in the workplace, with PowerPoint getting special attention.

The discussion of communication approaches looks at the pros and cons of everything from blogs to management by walking about - however due to space the analysis is quite lightweight. For example we are warned that "Intranets are resource-hungry projects that need dedicated teams and they can turn into white elephants that nobody looks at or uses if they’re not managed properly" while "too many in-house publications are anodyne PR, designed to portray the boss in a favourable light instead of passing on real news and knowledge". Hmm, tell me something we didn't already know... Unfortunately viral marketing and story telling doesn't get a mention :-(

The PowerPoint article provides different perspectives on why we have to suffer some much PowerPointlessness or death by PowerPoint. Edward Tufte thinks that PowerPoint is "making us stupid, degrading the quality and credibility of our communication, turning us into bores, wasting our colleagues’ time". What I found more interesting was the observation that people in business are driving demand for PowerPoint because they insist on what one person describes as the "eight-and-a-half by eleven mentality" (or for us Aussies and Europeans, the "A4 mentality") - i.e. just give me as much information as will fit on an A4 page. So like most technologies its not just the tool that is to blame, but why people want it and how they choose to use it.

PS For some tips on more effective PowerPoint presentations, have a look at my previous post on this subject.

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Thursday 14 July 2005

Clay Shirky interview: Breaking news and Wikipedia

Following on my post earlier this morning, you might also like to take a look at this recent interview with Clay Shirky picked up by Jim Phelps on his blog.

When asked if Wikipedia could be the replacement for all traditional media on breaking news, Shirky comments that "Wikipedia solves that problem, while at the same having a symbiotic relationship with those news analysts because it points people to the written versions of stories at a certain point in time. So I don't think it replaces them, but I do think it lowers the need for those outlets to have to just continually repeat the basic story in the absence of facts because the Wikipedia is a better place to handle that period of the breaking news."

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Attack on London: Old and new media working together

The ChiefTech blog has been quiet this last week in part because the terrorist attack in London dampened my desire to blog but also because I have a number of projects on the go, one of which involved me going down a mine (and interesting experience for someone who normally works in an office).

However, it was interesting to observe the role of blogs and photo sharing tools like flickr. But on the whole I think it was the way the old media used social software that provided the best use. The Guardian coverage in particular was excellent in the way they integrated traditional and social software approaches.

BTW Brian Bailey has started a new blog and one of his first posts is a short summary of my social software presentation at the NSW KM Forum last week. If you would like a copy of my slides please let me know. UPDATE: Matt Moore, from IBM Consulting, has also blogged about my NSW KM Forum presentation. Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone!


Wednesday 6 July 2005

The Role of IT in Getting New Managers Up to Speed

A new leadership article in HBS Working Knowledge caught my eye this morning:

"The usual employee-orientation process needs to be retired. In this article from Harvard Management Update, savvy companies explain how to jump-start the success of new managers. Tip: Set up meetings, use technology, and coach newcomers."

Global and geographically diverse companies need to use technology to help with this process and they suggest:

  • Using e-mails to announce the new manager's expertise and interests to others;
  • Signing the new manager up for the online discussion groups and mailing lists they'll need as they ramp up; and
  • Showing the new manager how to use expertise locators.
One short coming of this article is that they don't explicitly make the link between technology and helping new managers understand social networks in their new organisation - so jump over to CIO magazine to complete the picture on the role of social network analysis.

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Tuesday 5 July 2005

In Twos: Effective Personal Workspaces

Steelcase publish some great research on workplace design issues, and Kirsten Lowe in her Chaos Generation blog picked up on something interesting in their 360 ezine:

"For decades, there have been two kinds of work spaces: a private office or workstation for one person, and conference rooms and team spaces for groups. Research indicates, however, that most work actually happens through the efforts of pairs of people working together. A significant body of evidence substantiates that working in pairs is the foundation of better learning, improved negotiation, problem-solving and – most importantly – innovation."

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Sunday 3 July 2005

Mobile social networking could be bigger than online networking sites

Mobile social networks are (predominately) consumer tools that help users find dates, keep in touch with friends, share photos, and update their personal blogs via their mobile phones. BusinessWeek makes a good observation that "mobile social networks could eventually snag more users and generate more revenue than online social-networking sites. After all, the installed base of cell-phone users is much larger: There are 2 billion cell phones in the world, vs. fewer than 700 million PCs."

A couple of examples of some US-based mobile social networks are and WhoAt.

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11,109 + 1

Watch the blogosphere in action and find out (care of Technorati) who is blogging about Live8... when I last checked there were 11,109 blog posts tagged Live 8. I guess I've just added one more!

As for me, I'm surprised to actually find myself watching the TV for a change. I guess the old media still has its uses ;-).


Saturday 2 July 2005

Yahoo Social Search Beta

I'm not going to comment on Yahoo's new beta social search until I've had a chance to play with it further, but in the meantime checkout Ross Mayfield's post on the Many-to-Many blog for an overview of where it has come from and where he thinks it is going.

He concludes "this is a very big thing. A clear watermark of social infrastructure being developed upon physical infrastructure. I'm not apologetic for calling it a new kind of web, and I think my friends will too. The great promise, of course, is for non-bloggers to annotate the web."

Stowe Boyd also provides good commentary and provides a link through to Yahoo's own blog post about their new search system(?).

And if you found this interesting, have a look at OutFoxed (also in beta) who provide their perspective on the next stage of internet search. OutFoxed is a way "to use your network of trusted friends to determine what's good, bad, and dangerous on the internet. Outfoxed does this by adding functionality to the Firefox web browser."


Friday 1 July 2005

The Skype challenge- networks that exists both inside and outside the firewall

strategy+business magazine provides a short but IMHO spot on analysis of how new social software related technologies such as Skype (the peer-to-peer VoIP application) will "force management and IT executives to consider how to structure a network that exists both inside and outside the corporate firewall."

The article draws on a story in
James Enck's EuroTelcoblog that project teams in Accenture used Skype to coordinate on work between Madrid and several locations in Pakistan because it was a better option than alternative communication technologies.

The s+b article concludes that: "
as the Accenture incident illustrated, that won'’t stop employees who are dissatisfied with the quality of other forms of communication from accessing Skype anyway. Which means that, before long, management will have to address the potential of Skype or Skype-like technologies— and determine the peer-to-peer applications whose benefits outweigh their risks— rather than simply outlaw the technology and hope it goes away."

This really relates a lot to what I've been going on about with the Intranet Imperative.

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