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Rise of the social intranet

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You don't always know when you're going to need certain knowledge. A knowledge worker's job is unpredictable, and it's difficult to determine what information might be useful until the need arises. This is a common challenge though, and nothing new to the industry.

What is new, however, is how knowledge workers are trying to manage and overcome this challenge today. Oscar Berg has a great write-up on his blog where he discusses our changing information needs, and why traditional intranets are failing today's knowledge workers.

"The information that knowledge workers need can often not be anticipated and served by a push-based intranet," he writes.

Instead, intranets need to broker knowledge, so that knowledge workers can easily and rapidly create, store, find, and use information. Oscar's solution is a social intranet, which he defines as "a platform that combines the powers of push with the powers of pull to supply anyone who participates and contributes within an extended enterprise with the information, knowledge, and connections they need to make the right decisions and act to fulfill their objectives."

Oscar goes into much more detail about this on his blog, and I'd encourage you to click over if you're interested. I think Oscar is right on the money with this paradigm shift. As I wrote in my comment on his blog post, no one works in a vacuum. An environment where business users can access information and act with context to address crucial business challenges is the new world order.

Gulf oil spill teaches us an ECM lesson

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If your knowledge repository is like most organizations', good data lies within a pool of bad data. I thought Carl Frappaolo drew a great analogy about this on his blog recently, comparing it to the Gulf oil spill and how "BP is using a form of ECM and Web 2.0 to control public opinion." I encourage you to hit his post to catch his explanation.

In my opinion, which I left in the comments, I think this spans two issues. There's the "garbage in garbage out" problem, which relates to content authentication. And then there's the need for a regular "weeding" strategy as content ages, loses relevance, or is supplanted by newer content. I'll refer you to my comment for my full feedback. Just scroll down to the bottom of Carl's post.

What are your thoughts?

AEC industry's adoption of social technologies continues to grow

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Not only does the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry rely heavily on its knowledge workers, but firms are in an essential, ongoing race to acquire knowledge about prospects, clients, and competitors. Some interesting insights about this surfaced at the Society for Marketing Professional Services' (SMPS) Basics of Business Development in the A/E/C Marketplace event last week in Boston.

AEC firms attending the show explored and discussed ways to identify new business opportunities, engage technical staff, motivate presentation teams, and manage client relationships through cutting edge social technologies.

This tech-savvy industry is embracing social technology to win work and talent. As more firms incorporate social technologies as a part of their explicit marketing or communications strategy, they also are reaping the benefits behind the firewall, through more effective recruitment, retention, reputation management, business development, and collaboration.

We're seeing Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs) are finding a home with customers in AEC firms because they efficiently gather, manage, and leverage internal and external knowledge assets for improved productivity and profitability.

Externally, acquiring, vetting, and enhancing the knowledge in the marketplace in a timely manner is essential to a firm's agility, growth, and successful proposal development. Internally, SKNs break down the marketing and business development silos and bring together the far-flung subject matter experts need to collaborate on and successfully lead a strong team toward a common goal of winning new business.

Registration for Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara now open

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The Enterprise 2.0 Conference Boston is a wrap, and we're already looking ahead to the next meeting in Santa Clara, Calif., in November.

The theme of E2.0 Santa Clara will be "Driving Business Value with Enterprise 2.0," with a focus on how organizations are using Enterprise 2.0 to make their companies more productive and efficient. Like the Boston conference, the Santa Clara show will span four days packed with workshops, keynotes, and breakout sessions.

Some of the topics lined up include social networking in business, community and marketing 2.0, social CRM, social search, unified communications, and building an E2.0 culture. Hit the conference's website to learn more about what's in the hopper and who's teed up to present.

Also, the folks from the show are offering early bird pricing right now. You can save 30 percent off the on-site price of a conference pass or get a free expo pass. So if you’re interested in going, click over to the registration page and sign up while the discount is still available. After Oct. 8, registration goes back to regular pricing.

Social Knowledge Networks -- Adoption Strategies and Best Practices: the white paper

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Key to the success of any new technology initiative is adoption. The most difficult step is bridging the gap between early adopters and the early majority, also known as "crossing the chasm."

When it comes to Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs), we've found several similarities among our clients that have enabled them to cross the chasm.

Bob Warren, our Vice President of Products, has been at the front lines of these efforts with our clients, and put pen to paper to document some of the best practices that he sees surfacing among companies as they build adoption of their SKNs across their teams and organizations.

We've published those best practices as a white paper, which you can download for free from our website. What you'll find is a practical collection of do's and don'ts, drawn from our customers' experiences and industry research.

To download it, first register on our website. Once you've created your account, go to our white paper page and click on the paper's title, "Social Knowledge Networks -- Adoption Strategies and Best Practices." The paper will begin downloading.

Registration gives you access to all our white papers and other educational resources on our site. So if you've already registered on our website, you'll be able to download the white paper directly. And while you're signed in, feel free to peruse our other white papers, archived webinars, and educational materials. We're continuing to add new resources to our website, and we'll keep you updated on the blog.

We hope this white paper will come in handy as you launch your SKN and build usage across your organization. And as always, feel free to share the download link with colleagues and friends. And if you have any questions or additions -- just leave a comment here!

How to moderate social commentary in KnowledgeNets

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I joined a discussion on Andrew McAfee's blog recently regarding the iPad and Apple's closed ecosystem. The level of vitriol regarding the Apple iStore was astounding. Many people were claiming that the iStore environment is the end of freedom as we know it and Steve Jobs is virtually the devil himself.

As I wrote in my comment, I believe this is all very much overblown. The Apple ecosystem is just an alternative model where moderation (Apple getting to decide what's in the iStore and what's not) is used to help the user and the community. If this form of moderation really bothers you, then you are free to opt out.

But the discussion regarding moderation in that environment got me thinking again about moderation in a KnowledgeNet environment. I get this question all the time when we talk to prospects and customers: Won't the social media aspects of the system go wild? I generally answer with the following story.

How social media is controlled and your ability to moderate results are very much a question of context. Take for example an Internet-based hotel review site, like TripAdvisor, where users are encouraged to share reviews. What's the most crucial part of this scenario? I believe it is that the reviews are not moderated in any way (except possibly for spam and offensive language).

The issue is that if the user believes that bad reviews or good reviews are being deleted, then what is the point of using the site? The user needs to know that all the feedback provided by the community is available for review and that common sense tells the user to take the over-the-top good and bad reviews with a grain of salt.

This is why rumors that sites such as Yelp manipulate the reviews as a sales tactic are so damaging to these organizations. Why use the site if the wisdom of the community is being compromised?

Now, if you take this same logic and apply it to the internal use of socially enabled tools, where does it get you? It would seem to lead to the conclusion that even when erroneous information is posted on the internal sites, you just need to accept it.

I do not agree. A wiki is a good example of group moderation. And it works well in both the context of the public Internet and a private intranet. Erroneous information can be quickly "corrected" by other users.

But when subjects get very controversial, like on the George Walker Bush page on Wikipedia, then you move to moderation by an administrator. Users can no longer directly edit the article. Instead they are asked to submit requests for changes to the article to the administrator.

Wikipedia calls this feature "silverlock," and any article that is no longer available for general editing by the public displays an icon that looks like a small silver padlock.

But what about social media items (social intelligence), like comments? Here intranet practices should diverge from Internet practices. On the intranet, our clients are often looking to the KnowledgeNet to make high-quality information more readily available and re-useable.

Social Knowledge Networks: It's all about relationships

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Today's social networking sites focus primarily on developing, building, and following relationships (generally people to people). If we consider the more business-oriented LinkedIn rather than Facebook for this analogy, we can see how relationships are key to professional development, but are crucial to taking you beyond your comfort zone.

In other words, relationships not only help you follow current interests, but really pay off when they introduce you to new things or people you perhaps hadn't thought of. In summary -- relationships lead to discoveries.

In a Social Knowledge Network (SKN), where subject matter and subject matter experts are intertwined, it is perhaps the relationships between our knowledge assets that will prove more valuable than the assets themselves. Here is an example to illustrate my point.

In my SKN, I am managing multimedia assets and documents to make them more easily available to a business unit. This in and of itself is a useful capability because I can search for assets, use social tagging to impart my institutional knowledge about the asset, and e-mail a link to someone else on my team who might find it useful.

We both decide that this cool image would be great for use on our corporate brochure. But before we can do that, we need to find out if we have the rights to do so.

In my SKN, there's a "relationship" between that image and its copyright contract. In this case, that relationship is a Web link. The contract might also be linked to five other images that are covered under it, and which we have now discovered. After reviewing the other images, we end up finding one that's better than the one we started with.

This is a somewhat simple example, but shows that finding exactly what you are looking for is not the end of the story. How this asset relates to other assets in our SKN enables us to find out more and ultimately discover and use assets we were not looking for, or assets that we just didn't know existed.

If you had chosen to manage your assets through federated search, or decided to search different systems for the same information, these relationships would not and could not exist.

So when you are considering how to improve the efficiency of an information-centric project or business unit, don't stop at solutions that focus solely on the assets themselves. Consider how these assets are related in the real world and how that relationship will enable discovery and innovation if it is managed.

After all, how large is your LinkedIn network now compared to when you joined and how much have you learned from those people and groups that you have been "introduced" to through common connections? The same principle applies to SKNs.

SLA CEO Janice Lachance talks about the organization's past, present, and future

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Janice Lachance
After interviewing SLA's CEO Janice Lachance last Thursday for a podcast, it's easy to see why she's well-suited to lead the charge for the organization. It's in her blood.

As someone who's dedicated her career to strategic planning and organization transformation -- including a stint serving as Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under the Clinton administration -- Janice knows what it takes to be a global ambassador for SLA and its 11,000 members.

Take a listen to our podcast with her, led by one of our bloggers, Janelle. I think you'll enjoy listening to our interview as much as we enjoyed hosting it!



As it turned out, we ended up scheduling the podcast on Janice's seventh anniversary with SLA. So it was a great time for her to reflect on her career with the organization and talk about how the special library industry has evolved over recent years.

The conversation fast-forwarded to the SLA 2010 conference, which took place just a couple of weeks ago in New Orleans. Janice talked about how she thought the show went, what she learned from it, and her future plans for the conference and organization. Much more insightful musings and tidbits were shared, so give our podcast a listen to catch it all first hand!

Another Inmagic winner: Who took home the iPad from SLA 2010?

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SLA 2010 show floor. (c) The Photo Group 2010 - All rights reserved.
While we're on the subject of giveaways and winners, I also wanted to let you know who won the iPad we gave away at our booth at this year's SLA conference. The lucky gal was Jennifer Larkin, Information Center Supervisor at McDonald's Corporation.

Congrats again to Jennifer! We hope you're enjoying your new iPad. Maybe you're even reading this post right now from it!!

And thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Knowing us, it won't be long before we have another giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled on the blog. :)

And the winner of "Implementing Enterprise 2.0" is ...

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Our contest to give away a free copy of Ross Dawson's new book, "Implementing Enterprise 2.0," is up! We've gathered all your comment submissions, mulled over each one, and selected the best response. So without further ado, our winner is ...

Nigel Burke!

Congratulations Nigel! To claim your prize, all you have to do is shoot our blogger Elena an e-mail with your mailing address, and we'll send the book to you. Feel free to keep Ross and us in the loop as you read it. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments on our blog, or better yet, Ross's.

Thanks to all the folks who entered our giveaway. Picking a winner was a tough decision since everyone left such great comments. Even if you weren't a winner, make sure you don't miss out on getting a copy of Ross's book. It is filled with invaluable information on technologies, strategies, and policies involved in successfully deploying Enterprise 2.0.

If you haven't yet, take a minute to read over the comments from our giveaway too. Many insightful points were raised, and they're worth a look-over. And by the way, don't let the end of the contest be the end of the discussion! Keep the comments coming, and let us know how you're doing with your own E2.0 journey.

Last day to enter to win "Implementing Enterprise 2.0!"

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The clocking is ticking! Today is the last day to enter our contest to win a free copy of Ross Dawson's new book, "Implementing Enterprise 2.0."

If you haven't entered yet, hop to it. All you have to do is leave a comment on our post of our Q&A interview with Ross. The best reply gets the goods!

Ross's book is great way to gain a better understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is and what it can do for your organization. You'll learn essential information on the technologies, strategies, and policies involved in successfully deploying Enterprise 2.0.

But enough from me. Click over and leave your comment. We'll announce the winner when we've all returned from the holiday hiatus!

Good luck and Happy Fourth!!

How MDA uses DB/Text Works to support its intranet

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I always enjoy hearing about how our customers are using our software in new and innovative ways. There's something to be learned in every deployment.

We think those lessons and takeaways are valuable in two big ways: First, other customers can learn about new ways to use certain tools or functionality that they might not be aware of. And second, we use those takeaways as feedback to help us improve our products to better suit our customers' needs.

The latest story that crossed my desk comes from MDA Corporation. The company provides technology solutions to support all aspects of the information lifecycle, including data collection, data processing and management, information extraction, and information distribution.

Kathy Bryce, Principal of Andornot (one of our partners), met with Dave Hook, Manager of Operations Information and Configuration Management at MDA the other week. Dave showed Kathy some of the things MDA is doing with DB/TextWorks, and Kathy detailed it on Andornot's blog.

The short of it is that MDA is using over 30 different DB/Text Works databases to populate its intranet content. The home page displays the latest news and training courses, including how users can register for them online. There are more interesting details about MDA's story, and I'll let Kathy take it from here. Flip over to her post to read more about MDA's DB/Text Works story.

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