Friday 31 October 2008

The Video Effect

Some new research suggests that videoconferencing is less effective because it distorts decision making but I’m not really sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Perhaps this is really the effect of using videoconferencing with people who are only used to a one-way interaction with television? You know, the type of people who actually believe what television news tells them about the world.

On the other hand, will people who are now used to consuming user-generated content be more likely to avoid being mesmerised by people presenting on videoconference?

And, if we know about this problem, can we help to train and educate users to overcome it?

Thursday 30 October 2008

McKinsey & Company, MISAustralia & Ross Dawson on balancing the reality of Web 2.0

Not sure how I missed this from McKinsey & Company research report on Web 2.0 in business from back in July, however none the less it makes interesting reading. They report:

that after an initial period of promise and trial, companies are coming to understand the difficulty of realizing some of Web 2.0’s benefits. Only 21 percent of the respondents say they are satisfied overall with Web 2.0 tools, while 22 percent voice clear dissatisfaction. Further, some disappointed companies have stopped using certain technologies altogether.

However, they also conclude from the data that those companies that do feel they are getting benefits from Web 2.0 technologies, it has nothing do with size or region – there are other factors (I suspect that are organisational) at play. I was also pleased to see that RSS use is still growing, although wonder if this is sophisticated use as Enterprise RSS or simply publishing a few feeds.

Putting that into the local Australian context is this article in MISAustralia. Hat tip to Ross, who is also interviewed as part of the article, who correctly comments on his own blog that:

The reality is that these tools are being used, primarily because they are allowing people to work more effectively. However there are real constraints for organizations in how they can be used, including security, confidentiality, and integration with existing systems.

Many organizations still need to recognize that these tools are a reality. That done, they can establish effective governance guidelines, and allow the use of these tools to develop within clear parameters, but without the rigid structure that stifles innovation. The balance is challenging to achieve, but the rewards are high.

Naturally,I think the Intranet 2.0 strategic framework I’ve described is part of that reflection process that the people in organisations who acting as the champions for enterprise social computing and Web 2.0 need to make – they need honestly evaluate what they are really doing and make a proactive choice about where they want to go. As a word of caution, and reflecting both the McKinsey & Company report and Ross’ comments, I recently came across an organisation where they had installed but then almost switched off all their internal social computing tools. A few champions only just managed to save the day.

Larry Cannell on the influence of Web 2.0 on intranets

I think Larry Cannell from the Burton Group starts off with a strong thesis in this presentation about the influence of Web 2.0 on intranets, which makes it worth looking at even if I’m a little unsure about the rest.

I like the way he describes at the impact of Web 2.0 as “spoiling” users by focusing on them, while intranets are focused on transactions. In a way you can even conceive that the communication role of intranets is transactional – e.g. come here, read this and now go away.

He also makes some good points about the tendency to over secure information in organisations. However, that particular discussion actually has value regardless of the technology – e.g. there are operational benefits even in some document management systems for opening up access to information and keeping the security model simple.

I’ve also always said that successful portals combine the information and resources that the organisation needs employees to see, with the stuff employees want to see – and its the employee wants that will act as a anchor to keep them coming back to use it. This really is where the Web 2.0 experience of usability and functionality can teach the enterprise a thing or two.

As we well know, for knowledge workers at least, work isn’t just about completing transactions. No wonder there is a fundamental mismatch between intranets and what their users need. Perhaps the simple rule for Intranet 2.0 is to treat its users as customers?

Wednesday 29 October 2008

A practical Intranet 2.0 strategic framework

You might have a detected a change in mood here on this blog in recent posts, particularly in relation to that thing we call Enterprise 2.0/enterprise social computing?

Really there isn’t a change in mood as such, but I do feel we are reaching a point where the hype around this stuff is beginning to disappear and it is time to look seriously at how we go about really putting it into productive practice (for example, Luis’ focus on freeing us from a dependency on the inbox). As Samuel Driessen comments on another recent post on this topic:

the current tools support the old KM theory in a better way by: be more usable, easier to adopt, more social, offer more communication channels.

I don’t actually want to get into the Knowledge Management vs Enterprise 2.0 debate again, but speaking more generally and about intranets specifically, I have to agree that we’ve simply never had it so good before. For example, just look at what Nathan has achieved here in Australia. I’m still not sure if I agree its an example of Enterprise 2.0, but that really doesn’t matter if there is a positive business outcome, which there clearly is in this case.

And here is the problem – the reality is that many organisations aren’t going to reach the idealistic goals of Enterprise 2.0, at least not yet - but you know, that is probably ok. If we are ready to shift our focus and assumptions about intranets away from static content publishing, then what we do have is some cool and exciting new (and not so new) technologies on hand that can improve the way people work with information and how they connect with each other. But in doing that, we need to avoid the risk of setting expectations too high. So how do we do that?

Well, for those of you who haven’t yet read it please take a look at my Intranet 2.0 article, which is now available for download (PDF, 185KB) – this is the unedited version and is a little longer than the one published in Image & Data Manager (IDM) magazine. It reflects my thinking on this space that has been developing over the last year or so with the objective of developing a practical Intranet 2.0 strategic framework.

As always I would love to hear your comments.

In the meantime, maybe I can find something else to blog about ;-)

Building a community of customers on-line

I was digging through some old electronic files this morning and came across an article I wrote that was aimed at small business owners, however I’m not actually sure if it was ever published online anywhere. The file is date stamped from September 2003… which will explain why it doesn’t mention any of the current buzz words. Some of the ideas might be considered common knowledge now, but then again after the recent NAB experience with My Future Bank, you have to wonder! Read through and you’ll find a simple three step model for building trust (Encouraging, Demonstrating and Contributing). Enjoy!


Building a community of customers on-line

What to do once your Web site has been built has been the perennial challenge for e-commerce. Selling on the Web might work for some, but on-line stores aren’t for everyone. In most cases you still need to deliver your product or service in the real world. Meanwhile Web hosting, domain names and graphic design all cost money. Should you just keep your fingers crossed and write your World Wide Web presence off as an advertising expense?

An alternative is to stop thinking about trying to sell on-line and instead to start treating your customers as an on-line community. The potential for Internet communities exists wherever Web users share something in common. What could your customers have in common? Perhaps it’s an everyday business problem, a social issue or a shared leisure activity. For example there is an accounting firm that has created a community around a free on-line footy tipping competition – it has nothing do with the services they sell but it builds goodwill with their clients.

Whatever it is, if the success of your business depends on building trust and recognition with your customers, then tapping into this social capital might help you in terms of the following:

  • Becoming your customer’s preferred supplier or service provider;
  • Getting additional referrals;
  • Building stronger working relationships with your customers; and
  • Providing a way of obtaining feedback that can generate new product ideas or sales opportunities.

Don’t use e-mail like a sledgehammer

Unfortunately some businesses that try to build a Web-based customer community take a sledgehammer approach. They gather a subscriber list and then bombard it with e-mails that don’t provide anything of value or interest. Opt-in e-mail marketing is fine if your objective is to advertise, but it is unlikely to build trust or loyalty with your customers.

In an on-line community people will volunteer themselves to be a part of it – there is no need to coerce. The members get something from participation – not the offer of a 10% discount on something they don’t want.

Building trust with an on-line community

It is important to avoid the temptation to rush the process of building trust with an on-line community. These relationships need to be nurtured over time by demonstrating a genuine interest in the community and what the participants hold in common.

Typically this process takes place over three stages:

  1. Encouraging - Inviting new members to join;
  2. Demonstrating - Showing commitment to the community’s interests by providing information and resources relevant to them; and
  3. Contributing – With time your customers begin to reciprocate and will give information and resources back to you and their virtual community.

Do you really want a customer community?

If this sounds like a lot of work, well it is; no one said building an on-line customer community would be easy! However, if you think this idea would benefit your business, make sure you are willing to invest the time and effort required, and make use of the professionals who can help you to build your site, write content and plan the development of your on-line community.

A bad Web site might just waste your money, but a poor attempt at creating an on-line customer community will definitely do your business more harm than good.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

LOL. Wikis are *old* technology

I had just posted this and then a funny thought came to me:

LOL. Wikis are *old* technology.

Lotus Notes first appeared in 1989, but has much old roots of course. Meanwhile the WWW was invented in 1990, although it also origin backs in the 1980s. And of course the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was developed in 1994 and released into the wild in 1995.

So really, Wikis are an old technology, just as much as the old man of groupware, Lotus Notes. Except they’ve only been recently discovered by the business world. And as such, many  of the patterns of Enterprise 2.0 attributed to Wikis really aren’t that revolutionary. Actually, thinking about it further, the UI of most Wikis, particularly Mediawiki, aren’t that great. And I have heard stories of users struggling with the Wiki interface just like any other kind of information technology. For its part, when its comes to collaboration, SharePoint isn’t revolutionary either – just very popular!

If you have read or listened to any of my ideas on Intranet 2.0 you’ll know that I’ve divided that world into three main strategies:

  1. Tactical (some social media in place, such as the odd Wiki or blog here and there);
  2. Web-Orientated Intranets; and
  3. (True) Enterprise 2.0.

So, how a about this: Stop claiming that Wikis = Enterprise 2.0, and I’ll stop going on about Lotus Notes. The only time that a Wiki is part of Enterprise 2.0 is when it is part of a greater Enterprise 2.0 ecosystem (i.e. there is evidence of SLATES) and a parallel organisational evolution taking place is observed.

Deal? ;-)

Monday 27 October 2008

Yes, I am a broken record at times: Is this really revolutionary?

OK. I'm curious - is using a wiki this way, *really* any different from the virtual teaming and collaboration leading practices we were promoting nearly a decade ago with Lotus Notes? (see my case study from 2004)

At Ernst & Young Australia we even supported account teams with a structured process to deploy project databases (called Engagement Team Databases and Pursuit Team Databases, they could be deployed on demand using an automated process) where users could edit each others pages or simply add comments. We encouraged users to store information in these project databases and email links to each other, rather than using attachments etc. The databases also sent digest emails to each team member with links to the documents that had changed and we also showed people how to scan new and edited documents across all the databases on their workspace.

We even experienced the same sort of end user behaviour described in the wiki example, which later informed our whole end-user training and communication approaches to encourage greater participation. Lately I’ve been recommending the same approach in the document management system deployments I’ve been involved with too.

So, is this E2.0 or KM? What do you think?

BTW I want to make a few points about the current generation of Web-based social apps:

  • Yes, the usability of the current generation of Web-based applications is better than the old Lotus Notes client interface, although for that was often a reflection of the effort put into the UI more than anything else; and
  • Open Source and the availability of other cheap Web-based solutions (hosted or otherwise) have also made these tools more widely available – so some of these examples might appear to be revolutionary because some people simply haven’t had access to this kind of technology capability before!

Please note, I’m not trying to pick on anyone here. But I am getting tired of enterprise social computing and other collaboration examples that simply don’t surprise me.

So, come on Enterprise 2.0, I knows it there but show me something really revolutionary!

How do I decide what to blog about?

Kate asked, how do I decide what to blog about? Hmm. Perhaps the question should be how do I decide what not to blog about!

Ok. Being serious now. This is definitely what I would call a professional blog, so you won’t find much about my personal life (if anything) here. So, how do I decide what to blog about – well really its a balance between:

  • Ideas or reactions to other feeds I’ve reading;
  • Things I’ve seen and want to bookmark for future reference (this in itself is a great reason to blog – I’m always searching my own blog for stuff I know I’ve recorded here;
  • Events I’m attending (or even hosting);
  • Updates and links to things I’ve published else where; and
  • Occasionally other ideas I might have.

I would love to make my blog all about the last point, but to be honest that’s not a real proposition so I try to maintain a healthy balance between all of the above.

The harder question to answer is what do I blog about. The specific focus has changed over time, generally its about things related to the information workplace – everything from social media to the impact of physical workspace design. Some people have described this as a Knowledge Management blog, while others think I’m a technologist. But I don’t think it really matters.

Of course when I blog is easy – these days its quite often while I’m sitting on the train going to or back from Sydney. Otherwise I like blogging early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, ideally while drinking a coffee before everyone else wakes up!

That’s enough about me… how do these guys decide how/what/when to blog?

Let’s see who is listening ;-)

(BTW these are all blogs I’ve been reading recently and have starred a few times in Google Reader)

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Saturday 25 October 2008

Xenos – a different kind of Enterprise RSS tool

Thanks to a little bit of serendipity while researching Enterprise RSS for my next Image & Data Manager (IDM) magazine article, I had the opportunity to talk to Scott Lewis from Metanews about his Enterprise RSS software, Xenos.

Xenos is a different class of Enterprise RSS tool from systems such as Attensa and Newsgator. It is designed for information professionals and other communicators who want to create tailored newsletters and feeds from existing feeds. A Xenos user can setup a series of profiles pointing at different RSS feeds that they can then review, filter and augment with internal metadata before forwarding on the feeds they selected to be the most valuable or relevant to other people.

Scott commented to me that he believes,

There is no feeling of delight when consuming RSS.

He went on to explain that the whole aim of Xenos is not to scrap content, but to provide a tool for “human aggregators” who can link other people to useful content that appears through the RSS back channel.

This is particularly beneficial for people who have not yet started reading feeds themselves and prefer email – in some cases, Xenos can help to expose them to information that they would not previously been aware of, such as blogs and other user-generated content sources.

All of my clients in house like newsletters – newsletters provide a sense of context.

(An interesting comment in the light of this analysis.)

Scott also believes that there is a great opportunity for Xenos to help information professionals to effectively tap into that sea of premium RSS content and save real dollars on subscriptions to other commercial content aggregators. Now, that in itself is a good reason to check it out for yourself.

Two-Dot Oh Fatigue – but only for the inexperienced

I’m picking up some weak signals of 2.0 fatigue out there. Just watch as people attempt to abandon ship and hang their hat on some other buzzword – some from the past, like innovation and collaboration, while others will simply invent something new (remember, comperation?).

And in the quest for management attention-share (or wallet-share if you like) I see that even the social media snake oil salesmen are turning on their fellow travellers, the knowledge managers. Clearly a fight to the death is expected (blogs at fifty paces maybe?).

Of course, this was to be expected.

We all should have known that the hype curve is a work here. Or did some of us really think we could predict exactly how a new technology would impact society and work?

Which reminds me - while preparing a presentation about Web 2.0 and linking it back into the history of technology I came across an interesting statistic in Wikipedia about the dot com crash:

Recent research suggests, however, that as many as 50% of the dot-coms survived through 2004, reflecting two facts: the destruction of public market wealth did not necessarily correspond to firm closings, and second, that most of the dot-coms were small players who were able to weather the financial markets storm.

No doubt those with limited experience or foresight are feeling tired, but its worth holding on as the world will still end up being a little bit better and a little more interesting at the end of it.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Information security: Throwing stones in the Web 2.0 greenhouse

I completely understand the bias here as Symantec Australia are trying to engage in a bit of marketing about their information security products in this article from the Australian IT section:

ALMOST 80 per cent of local organisations have experienced a data breach in the past five years, with a further 40 per cent reporting between six and 20 known breaches during the period, according to Symantec's first Australian data loss survey…

…The main cause of data breaches was lost laptops (45 per cent of all breaches), human error (42 per cent) and lost mobile phones or devices (30 per cent).

However, it does help to add weight to my arguments about information security and Web 2.0 – lets get information security around current information systems right first before we start throwing stones at Web 2.0…

The personal value of blogging

Considering past discussions about blogging, here is another take on the value of blogging by Dirk Singer and why it isn't dead just yet or being replaced by Twitter. He lists some reasons why he finds it valuable, which I’ll summarise as follows:

  • To create a dialogue with like minded people;
  • To gather and collect information;
  • To practice and fine tune writing skills; and
  • Build personal brand.

I actually see a strong element of Personal Knowledge Management in these benefits, but lets not get caught up with definitions.

Overall, these are all good reasons to blog if you ask me!

Are we really ready for Intranet 2.0?

Over on the AppGap blog, Shiv Singh thinks it time to shrug off our old assumptions about intranets and focusing on building next generation intranets (Intranet 2.0, perhaps?). He concludes:

Intranets have a long history in most organizations dating back to the mid 1990s. That’s what drives its current perception. The organizational silos within IT departments that separated intranet ownership from other business applications made sense at the time but don’t anymore. Today, employees demand more consolidated interfaces where all the information, collaboration, self service and business application access needs are met.  Its probably time for the departments to reorganize to more directly align with employee expectations and less by application ownership.

Maybe its time to dust off my next generation intranet manifesto, The Intranet Imperative, which was published here on this blog in June 2005. In the introduction I wrote:

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.

Hmm. Three years later, are we ready to shift those assumptions yet - what do you think?

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Intranet 2.0 – have presentation, will travel

Unfortunately it looks like the Intranet 2.0 conference planned for next week where I was making a presentation has been cancelled…

However, my presentation is drafted up and ready to go – so who wants to learn more about the benefits of implementing Intranet 2.0 and putting it into action?

Make me an offer!

Consumers still don't understand RSS – but is this a problem?

Steve Rubel reports on a new Forrester research report on the adoption of RSS that suggests RSS adoption by consumers may have peaked at 11%. He thinks that:

RSS is only one form of opt-in communications. The potential is bigger when you look more broadly to social networking. This larger promise still holds and as the technologies become more invisible the newsfeed could even one day subsume RSS.

Personally I think Rubel is a little short-sighted by focusing on RSS simply as a form of opt-in communication. I wonder what he thinks will actually drive integration between social networking tools and other information sources to create these news and activity feeds? However, I guess he is coming from a marketing perspective.

Slightly more on the money to my mind is Jeff Nolan from Newsgator who comments in response to Rubel’s post that:

Go to and you will see that we minimize RSS and focus on what people are doing and why it matters. RSS is plumbing, widgets, social computing and other applications are the things that people interact with… You may never use an RSS application but you will certainly be relying on RSS infrastructure in the future even if you are oblivious to it.

I agree that the majority of users are about as likely to be as interested in understanding RSS as they are other Web 2.0 technologies, like AJAX, Flash, etc. However, while it might be “invisible”, the trick with RSS is that the technologists who are responsible for using Web 2.0 technologies inside and outside the enterprise do still need to understand why this stuff is important, particularly in relation to Enterprise RSS.

Sunday 19 October 2008

Book Review: Enterprise 2.0 Implementation

The only reason I know Jeremy Thomas is through his blog, but I was always impressed by his thoughtful and pragmatic posts about Enterprise 2.0. So, when I heard he had co-authored a book on implementing Enterprise 2.0 (with Aaron Newman from Techrigy), I was really pleased to be sent a copy from him to review.

Just to set your expectations, this book is mostly focused on the implementation of the technology behind Enterprise 2.0. Jeremy has actually commented himself on the feedback he has received elsewhere that the book is “light when it comes to discussing the softer issues about managing organizational change with such an implementation.

However, I actually think this is a good thing and that there is just enough of a business context included in the first few chapters (including some practical tips for calculating ROI) and then around each of the topics covered that you can clearly see where and why each of the Enterprise 2.0 technologies they cover fits. In fact I suspect I would be slightly dubious if the authors had also tried to provide a guide to implementing organisational change for Enterprise 2.0. Really the benefit of this book is that regardless of your own personal theory on the why and how of Enterprise 2.0, this book is here to help you understand better how to implement the technology you need to achieve your goal.

In this respect, one of the great things about this book is that it covers all the topics associated with enterprise social computing that you would expect – e.g. blogs and wikis – but also a lot more. In fact the real litmus test for me is that they have devoted a whole chapter to Web Syndication that covers RSS and ATOM. Even better, they are able to explain their role in aggregating content for users along with positioning feeds as powerful application programming interfaces for computer-to-computer communication. Even a book focused on the technology of Enterprise 2.0 could have ended up being a superficial tour of blogs, wikis and using Facebook as an intranet but instead they demonstrate a deep understanding of the parts that really make it all work.

However, if I had one criticism then it is not about the book itself, but rather how we define Enterprise 2.0 and following on from that, how we define the technology we use to implement it. I suspect some people will be challenged by this book because it does cover more than simply downloading and installing Mediawiki – but unfortunately for some, Enterprise 2.0 begins and ends here!

Overall I think Enterprise 2.0 Implementation will make a great book for two types of people:

  • Non-technologist who have already been sold on the idea of Enterprise 2.0 but want to develop a better understanding of the technology behind it; and
  • IT managers who want to understand how the different technology elements of Enterprise 2.0 add value and fit together.

This book is definitely worth adding to your own bookshelf or buy it for someone you are trying to influence!

Thursday 16 October 2008

Make PowerPoint a Zoomable Canvas

I was reading about some different Web 2.0 presentation tools and plugins on ReadWriteWeb and  pptPlex from OfficeLabs caught my attention. Watch the video to see how it makes PowerPoint a “Zoomable Canvas”:

Is it just me, or is this just crying out for a wall mounted touch screen display?

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Free Enterprise Search Focus Group on Thursday 23rd October

Next Thursday, IPP Consulting will be hosting a free Enterprise Search Focus Group to look at the challenges of implementing Web-like search inside organisations.

That’s the requirement that comes up all the time – give me a “Google-like search capability”… but why is it so hard?

This focus group follows the success of our mini KM Bootcamp last month and was inspired by the response to this post the other week.

To explore this topic we will discuss:

  • What is enterprise search?
  • The mechanics of Enterprise Search vs Web search; and
  • Gathering requirements and planning for Enterprise Search.

We will also have a basic Enterprise Search engine up and running to demonstrate and explore some of the issues covered during the focus group.

This will be a great vendor-free forum to ask questions about implementing Enterprise Search.

Date: Thursday 23rd October 2008

Time: 8.45am for a 9am start. Finishing at 11.30am.

Where: IPP Consulting, L3, 50 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000

RSVPs: Places are limited - please give me a call on 02 9247 6811 (office) or 0414 2333711 (mobile) if you would like to attend.

PS Not interested in Enterprise Search? Feel free to suggest a topic you would like to see covered in the future!

Extending intranets to hard-to-reach staff: Controlled documents kiosk example

This Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF) post about meeting the needs of hard-to-reach staff reminded me of a kiosk system that was developed on top of an electronic document and records management system at Illawarra Coal (part of BHPB Billiton) – I was part of the team that helped to implement the system and came up with the conceptual design of the intranet publishing architecture from this system.

Quoting from an Illawarra Coal community newsletter (PDF) from last year, this is an overview:

Dendrobium first to trial new computer technology

Illawarra Coal has maximised its commitment to keeping its employees safe and informed with the launch of new computer technology which potentially offers all of its employees – even those who do not work at or have access to a regular computer terminal – 24 hour a day access to controlled documents.

Dendrobium mine is the first to trial the iPICK(Information Point, Illawarra Coal Kiosk) technology, with management, contractors and employees enjoying improved access to information and reduced complexity. Developed by Illawarra Coal in partnership with local software company iQmultimedia –iPICK provides the workforce uninhibited access to controlled documents such as emergency procedures, management plans, work instructions and so on.  The specially developed touch-screen kiosk in operation at Dendrobium means that while the information can now be accessed via the intranet of Illawarra Coal, employees don’t need to have access to a PC to get the information they need.

I understand that the system – which uses a standard Web browser is gradually being extended to provide access to other useful Web-based systems.

The IBF list the following examples of hard-to-reach staff:

  • factory workers
  • retail staff
  • field engineers
  • building inspectors
  • consultants
  • sales teams
  • flight and rail workers
  • catering staff
  • building inspectors
  • call centre representatives
  • insurance assessors.

Clearly in many industries, extending the intranet beyond the office environment can add tremendous value. And in some cases it can even protect people from injury and other physical risks – which is the kind of value you can’t put a price on.

BTW I would also add to this list external partner and suppliers – extending to the intranet as an extranet can also add value too.

The Comments Have It

You might recall there was a brief flurry of discussion about the value of commenting in blogs. I noticed that ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, kicked off a discussion on the same topic. Rowse himself doesn’t add a lot of value to the discussion, but the comments on this topic make interesting reading.

For the most part, the people reading Rowse’ blog maintain that comments are important, although no one likes comment spam. For example, someone responds:

I think turning comments off is snobbish and rarely read the blogs that don’t have comments. It seems selfish to me. It makes it seem like they don’t give a crap about what you think on what they wrote which, in my opinion, means that there would be no point in writing…….

But there are some exceptions and Seth Godin is cited as example – he explained back in 2006 why he switched off comments:

First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write.

However, a few people feel that Godin is blogging AT them, rather than talking with them. IMHO none of this detracts from Godin’s success and there is nothing wrong with using a blogging tool as a publishing platform. But as a social media tool, a blog needs to be, well, social…

Ok. Back to you. The comment button is below!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Tips for Twitter Newbies

There is a really smart list of newbie Twitter tips from @silkcharm.

The one thing I’d add is that I think some people make the mistake of just looking at the Twitter website and wondering what’s the point. The trick of course is to integrate one or more Twitter apps into your personal information workspace, which makes it so much easier to follow and participate in the flow.

Personally, I use twhirl and also have a Twitter app on my mobile phone, which I only use occasionally.

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If Enterprise 2.0 software gets cheaper, will they invest more in the people issues?

ReadWriteWeb provides a summary of a new report from Forrester that predicts changes in the pricing of Enteprise 2.0 software tools:

the market for collaboration and productivity web apps in the enterprise (a.k.a. enterprise 2.0) is set for a shake-up, with prices to fall in some cases by over half. Price drops will be especially sharp in blog, wikis, social networking and widgets. The only exception is mashups, which will increase in price over the next 5 years.

Forrester says the price drops will be due to "cutthroat competition, commoditization, bundling, and subsumption", with many startups and established big companies competing for the enterprise dollar.

There is still expected to be strong adoption by enterprises of web 2.0 apps, which will result in increased license revenue. However that will be offset by the large price drops.

However, I’m particularly pleased to see that Forrester (quoted by RWW) say that Enterprise RSS will play "a critical role as the Web 2.0 middleware, staving off major price declines." compared to other Enterprise 2.0 tools.

I do also hope that if companies are able to spend less on the software they install then they will be able to invest more in the implementation.

Friday 10 October 2008

This week – David Gurteen, 3eep and talking Web 2.0 with accountants

Aside from seeing my new Intranet 2.0 article in print, this week has been interesting for a couple of reasons.

I’ve spent most of today with David Gurteen, who started the day by presenting and then running one of his famous Knowledge Cafe sessions for the NSW KM Forum. I had the chance, along with a couple of others from the KM Forum, to talk more informally with him over lunch and then we finished the day with a one-on-one chat I managed to arrange between David and someone with a particular interest in the Knowledge Cafe process. I’ve used the cafe approach a few times myself and like it – but its always interesting to listen to someone like David who has using the technique all around the world. Its also a good reminder of how KM can work without technology and how an apparently simply KM process can have a powerful effect.

In between David, I also had the chance to chat with Nick Gonios about 3eep (pronounced “threep”) and their latest development, SportsPassion. Considering I normally spend my time talking to companies and organisations about knowledge and information issues inside the firewall, it was interesting to hear about a company that is focused on supporting the social networking needs of another fundamental human endeavour – sport! What impressed me about Nick was that he clearly has a good appreciation of both the technology and social aspects of what he is trying to achieve. Anyway, if you’re in a sports team of any kind, check it out.

Finally, back on Wednesday night I had the chance to present to a National Institute of Accountants professional development group in Burwood about Web 2.0. I had a very warm welcome and they were interested to learn, engage and even challenge some of the trends. However, bearing in mind the age of my audience, it was also a good reminder for me that many aspects of Web 2.0 still aren’t common knowledge across the whole of the community. For example, most people have heard of Facebook but have limited exposure to anything else. Also, one of the key concerns was people saying they don’t have time to engage with social media…. and I think there is a point that you shouldn’t be adding to your information workload with social computing, but replacing and improving existing work practices. However, I think that maybe the old 9X challenge is also at work here?

Looking for Intranet 2.0

If you are an Image & Data Manager magazine (IDM) subscriber, my latest article (PDF) that looks at the three alternative Intranet 2.0 strategies, titled Too cool for school, is now out in print in the September/October 2008 edition.

This article was based on many of the ideas I put forward in a workshop I ran last year on Intranet 2.0 and its worth reading the article and browsing the slides at the same time (just so you don’t get confused, I was still with CSC at that time, hence the CSC branding on the title slide):

Note: You can now download a copy of the article (PDF) As always I’ll make a copy of this article online in due course (my last IDM article and another new whitepaper is already available for download).

Unfortunately, due to space, one part of the article didn’t quite make the cut – however, as its also something I didn’t address in my original workshop I thought I would share it here anyway.

The context is that in the article (and also the workshop) I outline three broad Intranet 2.0 strategies (tactical social computing, a Web 2.0 orientated intranet and Enterprise 2.0). However, if none of those approaches fit your organisation’s vision for Intranet 2.0 then you might like to consider alternative and complimentary pathways for breaking out of the traditional intranet model. These include some revolutionary and not so revolutionary ideas, which are:

  • Metaverses – ‘3D world’ (or ‘metaverse’) technologies such as ‘OpenSim’ (an open source version of Second Life) and Sun’s ‘Project Wonderland’ allow organisations to securely host these environments internally and represent a complete departure from the traditional concept of the intranet and how users interact with it;
  • Social networking sites as intranets – Software company Serena has championed the idea of using social networking sites like Facebook as a replacement for the traditional company intranet – or if you prefer, you can setup an internal social and skills-sharing network instead;
  • Combine into a single extranet – Many organisations still operate separate intranet and Internet sites, but mature portal and newer wiki technologies already exist to make this kind of symbiotic combination a reality;
  • Support for mobility and other points of access – Most intranets are designed for full size computer users, but alternative access channels such as mobile computing and kiosks can be supported; and
  • Unified collaboration – The next evolution of the Unified Communication concept, brings same time interaction into the context of content, business process and business activities.

I must admit that out of all those suggestions I’m less excited about Serena’s idea of using Facebook as an intranet, however there is no doubt there is huge potential for improving our ability to find other people in organisations through enterprise social networking technologies. Also, I’m not sure if enterprise microblogging (e.g. Yammer) can sit neatly with Unified Collaboration in this list of ideas, but its clearly another possible option for injecting a little bit of Intranet 2.0 into your existing intranet.

Want to know more about Intranet 2.0? Then give me call, a tweet or an email. I’m always more than happy to chat further over coffee or present something more formal.

BTW Later in the month I’ll be presenting again at Key Forum’s Intranet 2.0 conference, this time on Enhancing employee performance with real time content and personalisation. Hope to see you there!

Thursday 2 October 2008

I want Google-like search in my company… well, you can’t have it!

I was reading a requirements document the other day and the old “we want Google-like search” raised it head again.

I’m not sure why we need to keep saying this, but it is generally accepted in the information management community that a Google-like search is neither desirable nor achievable in a complex enterprise environment.

Anyone that claims they can implement a Google-like search is setting unrealistic expectations (unless of course we’re talking about a very progressive Enterprise 2.0 organisation).

BTW This is a distinct argument from the questioning the suitability of Google’s search appliances – in my experience where I have seen them fail in practice its due to the implementation approach and an expectation of “plug and play”, rather than the technology itself.

Or am I wrong?

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Out of the box: Supporting projects with a collaborative infrastructure pattern

I’ve joked before about SharePoint being the new Lotus Notes, but in all seriousness its great to see that a successful pattern from the past can still be applied to the new generation of Web-based collaboration platforms – most recently its the example of Transfield Service’s Team Sites in a Box.

I use the word *pattern* deliberately because this isn’t a formula approach – it needs to be tailored to the technology and business activities it supports. For example, I’ve seen a similar approach to Transfield’s concept applied to collaboration tools like eRoom, Quickplace and Lotus Notes in the past.

The Lotus Notes story is a good one tell because years ago at Ernst & Young in Australia I was involved in developing a series of internal “products” as part of the then Centre for Business Knowledge’s service offering – and one of these products was called Pursuit Team in a Box. :-)

However unlike Transfield, we bundled not only the technology and support (which was underpinned by the overarching EY/KnowledgeWeb architecture and governance model) but a range of information and knowledge management services, including competitive intelligence. The the types of support activities provided were also tailored to the size of the project. However, the overall pattern was the same.

A more generic model for this pattern – and one that I’ve used over and over again – is the concept of “Collaborative Infrastructure” – the following slides should give you an idea of how this works:

For further reading beyond my own articles and papers that refer to the Collaborative Infrastructure model, I suggest you check out Implementing Collaboration Technologies in Industry: Case Examples and Lessons Learned.

Socialtext’s evolution towards the “intranet”?

After commenting on ThoughtFarmer’s post about being a hybrid wiki/intranet CMS, I started reading about Socialtext latest version 3 release. It has some interesting new hybrid features, which are demonstrated in this short video:

One of the new features is the “Customizable home pages that let each person decide where to focus their attention”. Is it me, while we know that the traditional portal and intranet CMS vendors have trying to become more like social media applications, but are the enterprise wikis now trying to become more like traditional information platforms? It worries me a little because there are so many other business applications offering portal like interfaces (but with varying degrees of success) and I just hope we don’t end up where we started!

UPDATE: Also worth reading is a more upbeat analysis from Susan.