Wednesday 9 April 2008

The Technologist Perspective and the Business Perspective of Enterprise RSS

Scott Niesen at Attensa writes:

"Two posts caught my attention last week. Stu Downes' Enterprise RSS Day: Why Don't you use Enterprise RSS? and Craig Roth's Cornering the Corner Office about Information Overload.

What is striking about these two posts is how they address the same issue from two completely different perspectives: the Technologist Perspective and the Business Perspective."

Its a good point - business users understand email, but would lose interest if you tried to sell them SMTP and POP3. However, it would appear that to an extent even the technologist need to get up to speed with RSS - as Stu writes in his original post:

"I do regularly talk to IT folks from both within CSC and our customers and of those folks you find a huge dipole of opinion in terms of understanding what RSS is and its uses."

Then again, that's a fairly common experience when dealing with Web 2.0 related technologies inside the firewall.

Stu continues the discussion here and it worth also reading Craig Roth's post cited by Scott, who quotes Gary Masada, the CIO of Chevron, to highlight the business problem:

"Getting our arms around all the information we have.  We’re basically creating the Library of Congress every day or so, which makes finding a piece of information like finding a needle in a haystack.  Only that haystack is growing exponentially."

Then - similar to my own thoughts on managing email overload - Roth comments that:

"I’ve said many times before I think the media tends to focus too much on what individuals in a work environment can do about information overload (set aside time each day for emails, block out focused time, etc; see my personal attention management tips here) and doesn’t challenge the couple of folks in an organization that can really do something to make everyone else’s worklife easier and more productive.  These are the CEO, CIO, and IT owners of attentional technologies."

Following this path I actually uncovered an old post of mine, that reminded me of an another perspective that needs to be common to both IT and the business - a progressive attitude to managing information. Scott connects RSS back to Andrew McAfee's SLATES and suggests "Replacing the abbreviation RSS with words like signals, alerts, delivery". So:

  • The business wants tools to provide signals, alerts, delivery.
  • The technologists need to understand the role of Enterprise RSS in meeting that need.
  • And the organisation as a whole needs to start adopting, dare I say, a progressive Enterprise 2.0 inspired approach to managing information in a proactive, not a reactive way.

Enterprise RSS is a story about business value and benefits, but it is also a story about technology and part of a bigger adventure into the world of Enterprise 2.0.


  1. James, I think you and Scott are absolutely right - Enterprise RSS is where the rubber (business) meets the road (IT).

    Unfortunately, the adoption rate has been a bit hampered because the cost of productivity (the biggest benefit of a smart, managed enterprise RSS system) hasn't needed to be monitored and measured - because it keeps rising year after year.

    A fortunate side effect of our current economy might be that businesses will ask their IT departments to help create more value from workers - and RSS is a wonderful first step.

  2. Anonymous11:01 am

    Explaining the benefits does seem to be a thankless task with RSS, so in turn it's vitally important to ask the two questions:

    1. What's in it for me; and
    2. The recurring, "So what?"

    Getting people to communicate their problems and explaining how they think those problems could be solved and then taking the opportunity to present RSS, makes more sense.

    As you say, though, don't call it "RSS". It's nonsense to most and very difficult to see how it's relevant. People don't care how something works underneath, they just want it to work (and only then if they can see a use).

  3. James - Like your stuff - don't suppose it gets much traction in CSC? Interestingly enough, Gary Masada's comments in the WSJ interview seemed to come from his attendance at the CSC Executive Exchange event at Pebble Beach (Mar 9th-11th) where Don Tapscott made the exact point about how much more data is in the enterprise than in the whole public internet etc. Of course, we didn't get any credit ;-) I even wrote his wiki entry for him during an interactive session... Anyway, we are running a consumerized internal Web2.0 platform pilot over in the US that I would like to discuss with you. I'll reach out through internal channels.
    Cheers, Rob


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