CIO’s, Collaboration and Search
I spent a little time at two conferences this week: Collaborative Technologies, and the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Both were good events with interesting content. There were multiple discussions where I wrote entire articles in my head, but of course I have no time to write them down. Of the few sessions at each event that I was able to go to there was a fair amount of overlap, which is interesting in itself. Here are some quick notes:
Collaboration was popular at both events.
The Google Enterprise Group keynoted both events. (Matthew Glotzbach, and Dave Girouard).
“Design for the end user”, “keep it simple” were heard often at both events – and not just from Google.
Both events had at least one major rant about the productivity-destroying power of meetings. (37Signals’ Jason Fried, and MIT’s Michael Schrage).
An interesting presentation about today’s actual organizational relationships: a combination of networked nodes, pyramid and diamond shaped, i.e., complex (NetAge’s Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps).
Evidence that IT does contribute to productivity from MIT’s Eric Brynjolfsson. Had a million questions about the research, which involved something like 1000 case studies, might follow-up.
CIO’s from Commonwealth of MA, BT Retail, Monster, and Orange all said IT budgets are going up, although Orange said it will cycle back down in 3-5 years. There is no more room to cut and IT is now seen as business enable/driver not only back room. I think it was the MA CIO who said that now “IT is Operations”.
CIO’s from Dunkin Donuts, TAC, and especially State Street, and CHEP said there was a long way to go before IT and business were truly working together, although it sounded like it was better than average in their own organizatons.
Discussion about Google-like search vs searching tagged and organized text. One questioner said the DoD had given up on XML tagging years ago. Which is of course wrong – what they did was to back-off forcing a single DTD and tag set on everyone, but the approach of tagging was been steadily growing. In fact at our own conference last week in DC we heard from senior officials at many agencies (for example CTO at the GPO and the Deputy CIO at NASA) who are enthusiastic (and realistic) about tagging.
“The Semantic Web is doomed” was heard more than once and this was at MIT! Of course they are right that the whole idea is flawed, but it was a bit surprising to here it here. (MIT’s Schrage was one the naysayers as was Fast’s Bjorn Olstad, and maybe MIT’s Tom Malone). This came up in Tom Malone’s panel on “Liberation Technologies” (e.g., blogs , wikis, RSS, collaborative tools, and user-driven content. Will content become open source in the same way that (some) code is? The CIO audience voted by a slight margin that technologies were more controlling than liberating. However, many voted both ways. There was a funny but long argument between the ever-vocal Schrage and Howard Dresner on whether email was a collaborative technology.

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