Confronting the “Technology Imperative”

Technology is literally exploding: that’s a good thing isn’t it? PDAs, Twitter, iPods that do everything but cook, social networking and constant connectedness: all of it making our lives more in-touch, immediate, visual and interactive. There is, however, another side to this amazing progress. I like to call it the "technology imperative" and it grows from the fact that as technology and its use grows, it usually follows paths driven by consumers’ desires and willingness to spend money–whims if you will. Once unleashed, these technology-triggered, consumer driven appetites tend to return the favor, pointing the way to where and how their technology providers will go next. Sometimes the process literally becomes circular, taking the technology and its uses into a spiral no one would ever have predicted and for which no one is fully prepared. If you’re designing chips, selling gadgets or trolling Best Buy for the next version of the iPhone, this looks like the best of all possible worlds. The problem comes when non-consumer sectors of the culture begin to feel the impact of this race to connect. Technology is Neutral but its uses are Often a Poor Guide: In effect, consumer technology becomes the de facto guide for areas of our culture far from the environments for which it was designed and the modes in which consumers use it. For example, as we saw the rise of the Blackberry, instant email and messaging, we eventually saw workers, even in meetings, with their eyes and attention spans glued to their devices, scarcely even aware that they were supposed to be a contributing part of the meeting and its decision making. The situation became so widespread and vexing that many firms have literally banned PDAs from company meetings, and in 2006 a new condition known as Continuous Partial Attention Syndrome was identified in which the individual becomes so distracted by the overload of available information that any attempt to focus on a thought or subject is seriously degraded if not lost. In its extreme form, this syndrome sees the individual succumbing to a virtual addiction to instant information gratification, leading to a mind wandering in a sea of tidbits with no logical relationship to the subject at hand, even if that subject involves controlling a 4,000 pound automobile. Should Government Use Technology or Technology Drive Government? Today, technology has progressed far beyond those days, rudimentary by comparison, into a world of constant connectedness that can deliver not only the linkage but an intense, and seductive, visual, auditory and activity experience. With it, we are seeing an entirely new impact, especially pronounced in government sectors. Should government agencies, for example, put their important decisions out on Twitter and other social media to inform and elicit feedback from citizens? Sounds like a good way to improve the governing process, but in practice it has all manner of problems, not the least of which are mass responses that can overwhelm the agency’s ability to make sense of them, egalitarian leveling that makes everyone’s opinion on every subject of equal weight if not value, group influenced or generated responses that masquerade as individual opinions, and so on. In the intersection of government and technology, the technology is likely to come out on top, driving the governing process in directions it should not take, but becomes powerless to avoid. So what are we to do? Like Ulysses stuffing his crew’s ears with wax to avoid the clarion call of the Sirens, we must ignore how technology is taken up by the consumer world, no matter how enticing the outcome, concentrating instead on how the governing process may be improved by increased transparency and responsiveness. This concentration should be based on a healthy respect for the unintended consequences of any fundamental changes in the governing process coupled with an even healthier skepticism for any of the brave new world claims of the technological community. As we better understand what is broken in our governing process and what can be accomplished more effectively, we will have a foundation to consider, evaluate and adopt technology in a way the improves government as it was envisioned by our founders, always remaining mindful that government as we conceive it is not supposed to be slick or interactive but solid, fair and resistant to both individual whim and mob rule.

Gilbane Boston call for papers

Gilbane San Francisco is next week, and soon after we’ll be switching our energies to our annual Boston conference. The 2009 dates are December 1-3, and we are returning to the Westin Copley hotel for our 6th year. The first important date is the call for papers deadline, which is June 15th. Instructions for submitting speaking proposals can be found at: http://gilbane.com/speaker_guidelines.html.

The track structure this year will be similar to what we are doing in San Francisco. We are still fiddling with the exact names and descriptions, but currently the tracks are:

  • Web & Business Engagement
  • Managing Collaboration with Colleagues and Customers
  • Integrating, Searching & Publishing Enterprise Content
  • Content Infrastructure Strategies

We’ll be continuing our focus on enterprise use of social software and how it integrates into various business applications. We’ll also be adding more coverage of mobile content strategies and technologies. The mobile channel is no longer just for pure consumer applications, but has a critical role to play in mainstream business applications, for collaborating and content delivery, and much more. "Smartphone" platforms are rapidly becoming at least as important as desktops, notebooks and netbooks. Some specific technology areas at the Boston conference will be:

  • Web Content Management
  • Enterprise Social Software
  • Enterprise Mobile Content
  • Authoring & Publishing
  • Content Globalization
  • XML & XBRL
  • Enterprise & Site Search
  • Semantic Technologies
  • Enterprise Content Management

The preliminary Gilbane Boston 2009 site is live at http://gilbaneboston.com/. If you have questions about speaking proposals email us at speaking@gilbane.com.

UPDATE: We have just created a Twitter account for the conference: http://twitter.com/gilbaneboston, and we’ll use #gilbaneboston for the hashtag. We are going to use our main twitter account for Boston at  http://twitter.com/gilbane

Have a question for our analyst panel?

Looking forward to seeing many of you next week at Gilbane San Francisco. Whether you will be there or not, you can suggest questions to ask our analyst panel. Each of the panelists have specific areas of expertise covering web content management, web governance, enterprise social software and social media, collaboration, and enterprise search. The panel is a keynote session after the two keynote presentations from Microsoft and Adobe, so we’ll also be covering reactions to those. You can submit your questions directly to me via a comment, email, or twitter (DM or post using the hashtag #gilbanesf).

Registration for the conference is still open and will be available on-site. If you register in advance you can still get a $200. discount using GILBANE as the discount code. There is no charge for the keynotes or the technology demonstrations or product labs.

K2. Keynote Analyst Panel
We invite industry analysts from many different firms to speak at all our events to make sure our conference attendees hear differing opinions from a wide variety of expert sources. A second, third, fourth or fifth opinion will ensure you don’t make ill-informed decisions about critical content and information technologies or strategies. This session will be a lively, interactive debate guaranteed to be both informative and fun.
Moderator: Frank Gilbane
Panelists:
Jeremiah Owyang, Senior Analyst, Social Computing, Forrester
Hadley Reynolds, Research Director, Search & Digital Marketplace Technologies, IDC
Larry Hawes, Lead Analyst, Collaboration and Enterprise Social Software, Gilbane Group
Lisa Welchman, Founding Partner, WelchmanPierpoint

Webinar: Multilingual Product Content at FICO

June 17, 11:00 am ET

The challenges facing FICO, a leading supplier of decision management analytics, applications and tools, will sound familiar to global organizations: the need to streamline product and content development lifecycles, support global expansion with accurate and timely localization and translation processes, and satisfy customers worldwide with consistent, quality experience. What makes FICO’s story unique is its strategic and proactive approach to addressing them.

With a successful business case based on reuse as a “first principle,” FICO is building an enterprise content infrastructure that includes XML and DITA, component content management, translation memory and terminology management, and automated publishing. Learn how FICO is aligning global content practices with the company’s business goals and objectives. If you need to spark that “aha!” moment within your organization, you won’t want to miss this webinar event. Topics:

  • Reuse as the tipping point: the synergies of component approaches to product and content development
  • Implementing an end-to-end global information strategy
  • The value of content agility in FICO’s global business strategy

Speakers:

  • Leonor Ciarlone, Senior Analyst, Gilbane Group
  • Carroll Rotkel, Director, Product Documentation, FICO
  • Howard Schwartz, Ph.D., VP Content Management, SDL Trisoft

Registration is open. Sponsored by SDL.

Will The SEC Be Ready For Its Own XBRL Mandate?

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is getting a bit behind on XBRL. Since publishing the final rule in the federal register (http://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2009/33-9002.pdf) on February 10, 2009, the SEC has been preparing for the first official filing

gs in XBRL. According to the guidelines, large accelerated filers with a world-wide capital float greater than $5 billion USD as of June 30, 2008 are required to begin filing XBRL with the first quarterly filing for periods ending after June 15, 2009. 

In preparation for the new filings, XBRL US released the 2009 version of the US GAAP XBRL taxonomy. The new taxonomy contains guidance on the latest FASB pronouncements (FAS 160, 161, 163, 141 for example) that are required for most filers after December 15, 2008. FASB’s timetable requires companies to adopt the new Financial Accounting Standards and have their SEC filing for 2009 reflect the changes. The new standards were published long after the present official XBRL 2008 US GAAP taxonomy. In other words, the new 2009 US GAAP taxonomy, which does incorporate all filing requirements for US GAAP as of December 31, 2009, is required for the filing of correct XBRL.  XBRL US has released the 2009 taxonomy and they are now available on their web site but they are not available on the SEC’s website.

As of May 24, 2009, the taxonomies listed on the SEC website as official (see http://www.sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies.shtml ) are dated March 31, 2008. This means that any filing entity subject to the new FASB regulations will not have an official taxonomy with which to file. In fact, a few companies have already submitted XBRL to the SEC using the new 2009 taxonomy only to receive a swift rejection. The EDGAR system is not yet ready to accept the 2009 taxonomy and will not be until it is announced and listed on the SEC’s website. The XBRL viewer will also not accept the 2009 US GAAP taxonomy leaving filers with no means to validate their XBRL.

Will the SEC correct this problem? Of course they will. In the meantime, individual filers and filing agents are without any official means of determining the correctness of filings. Companies that are subject to the new FAS pronouncements are encouraged to prepare their filings with the new 2009 taxonomy and wait for SEC notification. Let’s hope that day arrives very soon.

 

 

 

Is Washington Serious about XBRL?

The Government Information Transparency Act (H.R. 2392), introduced May 14 by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), would standardize the collection of business information throughout agencies. It would require agencies to use a single data standard known as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and require that collected information be made readily available for public access.
 

Of course, this begs the question of what data will be collected.  Once decided, a taxonomy can be easily assembled that would collect the data in a uniform way.  Software companies in the XBRL space have developed web-based html driven fill in the blank data collection devices that convert cell entries into XBRL unseen by the end user.  This requires a mind shift from a report-based approach to a data-based approach to receiving feedback on TARP projects.  It also requires government agencies to centralize their data requests rather than each agency develop their own required paper-based reports.
 
The key again is to formulate the taxonomy, collect the data, then develop reports using a common data repository.   To see how this approach can work, take a look the Dutch Taxonomy Project ) or the Bank of Japan project detailed here http://www.xbrl.org/CaseStudies/BoJ_XBRL_06.pdf

Conference update

There are only 4 more weeks until our annual San Francisco conference. If you haven’t already made plans to attend, you should check it out. We have more content than we have ever had in San Francisco, so whatever kind of enterprise web or content application project or responsibility you have, you’ll find learning and networking opportunities.

Our marketing group has been posting updates on our announcements blog and on Twitter. But for those of you who only read this stream, here is a quick update:

  • The early discount rates have been extended to May 8th.
  • Gilbane conference room rate of $220 at the San Francisco Westin includes complimentary daily guest room internet use, valued at $14.95 per day.
  • There are 46 conference sessions, workshops or product labs, 90 expert speakers, 36 sponsors/exhibitors.
  • Keynotes from Microsoft & Adobe on the future of web platforms and customer engagement
  • Keynote analyst panel with Forrester, IDC, Gilbane, and WelchmanPierpoint.
  • We’ll be using #gilbanesf as the hash tag.

See you there.

Best of luck Fal

Contributing Enterprise Content Management Analyst Fal Sarkar is moving on to the vendor side of the aisle. Fal has always been a pleasure to work with, and I expect we’ll be working together again before long, just in a different way. Fal has a great new job that looks like a perfect fit for him. He is "… responsible for marketing EMC’s Content Management and Archiving products (Documentum, Captiva, Document Sciences, etc.) in a geography that ranges from Pakistan to the Philippines. The largest market in the region is India." Fal’s Gilbane email address will continue to work for a while, but his new contact info is below.

Fal Sarkar
Head of Marketing South Asia
Content Management and Archiving
EMC Corporation

UPDATE:
Oops!
Sarkar_Falguni@sun.com
should be Sarkar_Falguni@emc.com
Direct: +91 80 66228013
Mob: +91 9742264725