Gilbane Conferences & Advisor

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Category: Collaboration & Social Media (page 1 of 59)

Intranets that succeed

Employees are customers too. You want to reach them, you want them responsive and engaged with your organization and your joint customers, and you want to keep them. Today’s employees have little patience  with poor workplace digital experiences. In addition, organizations need to consider the connection between engaged employees and the ultimate customer experience.

Below are a selection of four conference sessions with multiple intranet case studies at the upcoming Gilbane Conference that will be especially relevant to anyone planning for a new or more successful intranet.

E1. Strategies and Lessons from Successful Intranets

Intranets that work provide an invaluable resource. But too often intranet projects either never get off the ground, or struggle for months or even years before being put out of their misery. How do you know when intranets are working? There is only one metric that matters – adoption, at least voluntary, and ideally enthusiastic. Attend this session get inspired by the managers at two organizations responsible for building successful intranets tell you what they did and how.

Wednesday, December, 2: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Moderator: Sara Redin, Senior Consultant, Think! Digital
Speakers:
Rachelle Byars-Sargent, Director, Collaborative Technologies, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Productizing Intranets: Breaking away from the Service Catalog
Krista MacDonald, Manager, Business Services Portfolio, Employee Services, Business Systems Integration & Development, Jazz Aviation LP
Engaging Support at Every Level of the Organization – The JazzNet Story

E2. Critical Considerations for Building a Modern Intranet

In this session our speakers take a look at some specific areas to pay careful attention to when getting ready for a new intranet project, or for updating and modernizing an existing intranet.

Wednesday, December, 2: 2:40 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Moderator: Sara Redin, Senior Consultant, Think! Digital
Speakers:
Deb Lavoy, Founder and CEO, Narrative Builders
Employee engagement is the opposite of being patronizing
Shannon Ryan, President & CEO, non-linear creations
Imagining and designing your next intranet

E4. Growth Without Compromise: Using Intranets to Scale What Makes You Great

Growth organizations – those who are growing fast, from a few dozen to a few hundred or thousands, have a unique challenge. You’re doing things right. But how can you maintain quality and momentum as you grow? How will you stay great when there are more and more newcomers?

Scaling organizational greatness means scaling a strong community, a strong culture, and a strong sense of belonging. How can culture, leadership and community expand to embrace people who don’t work in the same place or have pre-existing relationships? With intranets or digital workplaces. This panel of HR and Communications leaders will talk about the challenges of scaling culture, and how a great intranet enables extended teams to remain powerful. No compromise.

Thursday, December, 3: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Moderator: Deb Lavoy, Founder and CEO, Narrative Builders
Panelists:
J Ackley, Senior Director of Technology, Ivie & Associates
Amanda Connolly, Communications Manager, Plexxus
Eric Scholz, Sr. Director & Editor-in-Chief on Marriott Global Source, Marriott International, Inc

E5. Connecting Customer and Employee Experiences

Building a holistic and seamless customer experience is not just a job for marketing. It is not even a job limited to customer-facing employees because they are dependent on other internal employees and systems for their effectiveness. The two case studies in this session are excellent examples of the kind of efforts needed to achieve organizational level customer experience.

Thursday, December, 3: 9:40 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.
Moderator: Sara Redin, Senior Consultant, Think! Digital
Speakers:
Laurel Nicholes, Director, Information Experience, Emerging Technologies & Jill Orofino, Director, Information Experience, Core Technology, EMC
Build a Community not a Crowd: How employees and customers can build content communities to achieve shared goals
Gretchen Nadasky, Manager, Information Management, Optimality Advisors & Matt McClelland, Manager, Information Governance Office, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
The E3 of Enlisting Employees to Support Customer Experience: engagement, expectation, enthusiasm

Subscribers save $200 on conference registration – use priority code 200BB

 

Can Human Sensors Contribute to Improving Search Technology?

Information Today fall meetings usually have me in the Enterprise Search Summit sessions but this year KM World was my focus. Social networking, social media and tools are clearly entering the mainstream of the enterprise domain as important means of intra-company communication, as many corporate case presentations revealed. But it was Dave Snowden’s Thursday keynote, Big Data vs. Human Data, which encouraged me because he conveyed a message of how we must synthesize good knowledge management practices out of both human and machine-based information. Set aside 52+ minutes and be prepared to be highly stimulated by his talk .

Snowden does the deep thinking and research on these topics; at present, my best option is to try to figure out how to apply concepts that he puts forth to my current work.

Having long tried to get enterprises to focus on what people need to do to make search work meaningfully in an organization, instead of a list of technology specifications, I welcome messages like Snowden’s. Martin White called for information specialists for search management roles earlier this year in a CMSWire piece. While it may be a stretch to call for “search specialists” to act as “human sensors,” it does merit consideration. Search specialists have a critical role to play in any enterprise where knowledge assets (content and human expertise), data retrieval and analysis , and understanding user needs must fit cohesively together to deliver a searchable corpus that really works for an organization. This is not typically an assignment for a single IT professional focused on installing software, hardware and network oversight.

One of the intangible capital assets defined by a recent start-up, Smarter-Companies, Inc., is human capital. Founder Mary Adams has devised a methodology to be used by a person she calls an Icountant. An Icountant establishes values for intangible capital and optimizing its use. Adam’s method is a new way of thinking about establishing asset value for organizations whose real worth has more to do with people and other intangibles than fixed assets like buildings and equipment.

Let’s consider the merit of assigning value to search specialists, those experts who can really make search technology work optimally for any given enterprise. How should we value them? For what competencies will we be assigning jobs to individuals who will own or manage search technology selection, implementation/tuning and administration?

Rather than defaulting to outside experts for an evaluation process, installation and basic training for a particular technology, we need internal people who are more astute about characteristics of and human needs of an organization. High value human sensors have deep experience in and knowledge of an enterprise; this knowledge would take the consultant off-the-street months or years to accrue. People with experience as searchers and researchers supporting the knowledge intensive units of a company, with library and information science training in electronic information retrieval methods must be on the front lines of search teams.

Knowledge of users, what searchable content is essential across all business units, and what is needed just for special cases is a human attribute that search teams must have. Consider the points in White’s article and the wisdom of placing humans in charge of algorithm-based solutions. What aptitudes and understanding will move the adoption of any technology forward? Then pick the humans with highly tuned sensitivity to what will or will not work for the technology selection and deployment situation at hand. Let them place search technology in the role of augmenting human work instead of making human workers slaves to technology adaptation.

If you are at the Gilbane Conference next week, and want to further this discussion, please look for me and let me know what you think. Session E7 will have a special focus on search, Strategic Imperatives for Enterprise Search to Succeed, a Panel Discussion. I will be moderating.

Leveraging Search in Small Enterprises

A mantra for a small firm or start-up in the 1970s when “Big Blue” was the standard for top notch sales and selling was we need to out-IBM the IBMers.

Search is just one aspect of being able to find what you need to leverage knowledge assets in your work, whether you are in a small firm, a part of a small group in a large organization or an individual consultant seeking to maximize the masses of content and information surrounding you in work.

My thoughts are inspired by the question asked by Andreas Gruber of Informations und Wissensmanagement in this recent post on Enterprise Search Engine Professionals, LinkedIn group. He posed a request for information stating: For enterprise search solutions for (very) small enterprises (10 to 200 employees), I find it hard to define success factors and it seems, that there are not many examples available. If you follow e.g. the critical success factors from the Martin White’s Enterprise Search book, most of them doesn’t seem to work for a small company – simply because none of them can/will investment in a search team etc.

The upcoming Enterprise Search Europe meeting (May 14-16, 2013) in London is one focus of my attention at present. Since Martin White is the Chairman and principal organizer, Andreas’ comments resonated immediately. Concurrently, I am working on a project for a university department, which probably falls in the category of “small enterprise”. The other relevant project on my desk is a book I am co-authoring on “practical KM” and we certainly aim to appeal to the individual practitioner or groups limited by capital resources. These areas of focus challenge me to respond to Andreas’ comments because I am certain they are top of mind for many and the excellent comments already at the posting show that others have good ideas about the topic, as well.

Intangible capital is particularly significant in many small firms, academia, and for independent consultants, like me. Intensive leveraging of knowledge in the form of expertise, relationships, and processes is imperative in these domains. Intangible capital, as a percent of most businesses currently surpasses tangible capital in value, according to Mary Adams founder of Smarter-Companies. Because intangible capital takes more thought and effort to identify, find or aggregate than hard assets, tools are needed to uncover, discover and pinpoint it.

Let’s take the example of expertise, an indisputable intangible asset of any professional services. For any firm, asking expert staff to put an explicit value on their knowledge, competencies or acumen for tackling the type of problem that you need to have solved may give you a sense of value but you need more. The firm or professional you want to hire must be able to back up its value by providing explicit evidence that they “know their stuff” and can produce. For you, search is a tool to lead you to public or published evidence. For the firm being asked to bid on your work, you want them to be able to produce additional evidence. Top quality firms do put both human and technology search resources to work to service existing projects and clients, and to provide evidence of their qualifications, when being asked to retrieve relevant work or references. Search tools and content management methods are diverse and range from modest to very expensive in scope but no firm can exist for long without technology to support the findability of its intangible capital.

To summarize, there are three principal ways that search pays off in the small-medium business (SMB) sector. Citing a few examples of each they are:

  • Finding expertise (people): potential client engagement principal or team member, answers to questions to fulfill a clients engagement, spurring development or an innovation initiative
  • Retrieving prior work: reuse of know-how in new engagements, discovery of ideas previously tabled, learning, documentation of products and processes, building a proposal, starting point for new work, protecting intellectual property for leverage, when patenting, or participating in mergers and acquisitions.
  • Creating the framework for efficiency: time and speed, reinforcing what you know, supporting PR, communications, knowledge base, portraying the scope of intellectual capital (if you are a target for acquisition), the extent of your partnerships that can expand your ability to deliver, creating new offerings (services) or products.

So, to conclude my comment on Andreas’ posting, I would assert that you can “out-IBM the IBMers” or any other large organization by employing search to leverage your knowledge, people and relationships in smart and efficient ways. Excellent content and search practices can probably reduce your total human overhead because even one or two content and search specialists plus the right technology can deliver significant efficiency in intangible asset utilization.

I hope to see conference attendees who come from that SMB community so we can continue this excellent discussion in London, next month. Ask me about how we “ate our own dog-food” (search tools) when I owned a small software firm in the early 1980s. The overhead was minimal compared to the savings in support headcount.

Box Achieves Mobile Ubiquity with New Offerings for Enterprise Platforms

Box has launched three new mobile solutions, with Box for Android Tablet, Box for PlayBook, and an HTML5 compatible mobile browser. These new mobile offerings join Box’s apps for iPad and TouchPad, rounding out the company’s tablet app lineup. Additionally Box launched a rebuilt version of m.box.net, its mobile web offering. The new m.box.net site leverages HTML5 features to enable users to easily view files and folders as well as directly add comments, share new content and search throughout their entire account quickly on any device. www.box.net

Ixxus launches Social Content Platform for Alfresco

Ixxus announced the launch of its Social Content Platform for users of the Alfresco Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. The Ixxus Social Content Platform features out-of-the-box integration with existing social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, meaning that users can create a central repository based on Alfresco for managing both their traditional and now social content. Through being able to disseminate and access information quickly and in a consistent manner via a single platform, organisations can improve both brand awareness and customer loyalty, as well as create revenue opportunities. The Ixxus Social Content Platform offers users a number of features including‚Äî Integrated social content publishing; Central management of feedback; Review and publish workflow; Integrated Reporting; as well as a full history of published content across networks. http://www.ixxus.com/

Enterprise Hive Releases HiveSocial Version 3.0 and HiveSocial Now for Education

Enterprise Hive’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) collaboration platform HiveSocial has been upgraded to Microsoft’s .NET 4.0 Framework. This upgrade provides a technology infrastructure that allows customers more flexibility to connect to existing applications with their online communities. In addition, enhancements were developed to optimize user engagement. These enhancements include simplified content creation, ameliorated content search and navigation. Enterprise Hive also announced HiveSocial Now for Education. HiveSocial Now for Education has no software license fees, yet provides a social collaboration solution that can be fully implemented for customers within days. Running on the same platform as edu1world.org, HiveSocial and HiveSocial Now for Education are SaaS offerings that allow organizations to provide cross campus groups, multiple department teams and education user groups with branded public and private communities. These communities can be integrated with existing websites or internal applications. http://www.enterprisehive.com/

Collaboration, Convergence and Adoption

Here we are, half way through 2011, and on track for a banner year in the adoption of enterprise search, text mining/text analytics, and their integration with collaborative content platforms. You might ask for evidence; what I can offer is anecdotal observations. Others track industry growth in terms of dollars spent but that makes me leery when, over the past half dozen years, there has been so much disappointment expressed with the failures of legacy software applications to deliver satisfactory results. My antenna tells me we are on the cusp of expectations beginning to match reality as enterprises are finding better ways to select, procure, implement, and deploy applications that meet business needs.

What follows are my happy observations, after attending the 2011 Enterprise Search Summit in New York and 2011 Text Analytics Summit in Boston. Other inputs for me continue to be a varied reading list of information industry publications, business news, vendor press releases and web presentations, and blogs, plus conversations with clients and software vendors. While this blog is normally focused on enterprise search, experiencing and following content management technologies, and system integration tools contribute valuable insights into all applications that contribute to search successes and frustrations.

Collaboration tools and platforms gained early traction in the 1990s as technology offerings to the knowledge management crowd. The idea was that teams and workgroups needed ways to share knowledge through contribution of work products (documents) to “places” for all to view. Document management systems inserted themselves into the landscape for managing the development of work products (creating, editing, collaborative editing, etc.). However, collaboration spaces and document editing and version control activities remained applications more apart than synchronized.

The collaboration space has been redefined largely because SharePoint now dominates current discussions about collaboration platforms and activities. While early collaboration platforms were carefully structured to provide a thoughtfully bounded environment for sharing content, their lack of provision for idiosyncratic and often necessary workflows probably limited market dominance.

SharePoint changed the conversation to one of build-it-to-do-anything-you-want-the way-you-want (BITDAYWTWYW). What IT clearly wants is single vendor architecture that delivers content creation, management, collaboration, and search. What end-users want is workflow efficiency and reliable search results. This introduces another level of collaborative imperative, since the BITDAYWTWYW model requires expertise that few enterprise IT support people carry and fewer end-users would trust to their IT departments. So, third-party developers or software offerings become the collaborative option. SharePoint is not the only collaboration software but, because of its dominance, a large second tier of partner vendors is turning SharePoint adopters on to its potential. Collaboration of this type in the marketplace is ramping wildly.

Convergence of technologies and companies is on the rise, as well. The non-Microsoft platform companies, OpenText, Oracle, and IBM are placing their strategies on tightly integrating their solid cache of acquired mature products. These acquisitions have plugged gaps in text mining, analytics, and vocabulary management areas. Google and Autonomy are also entering this territory although they are still short on the maturity model. The convergence of document management, electronic content management, text and data mining, analytics, e-discovery, a variety of semantic tools, and search technologies are shoring up the “big-platform” vendors to deal with “big-data.”

Sitting on the periphery is the open source movement. It is finding ways to alternatively collaborate with the dominant commercial players, disrupt select application niches (e. g. WCM ), and contribute solutions where neither the SharePoint model nor the big platform, tightly integrated models can win easy adoption. Lucene/Solr is finding acceptance in the government and non-profit sectors but also appeal to SMBs.

All of these factors were actively on display at the two meetings but the most encouraging outcomes that I observed were:

  • Rise in attendance at both meetings
  • More knowledgeable and experienced attendees
  • Significant increase in end-user presentations

The latter brings me back to the adoption issue. Enterprises, which previously sent people to learn about technologies and products to earlier meetings, are now in the implementation and deployment stages. Thus, they are now able to contribute presentations with real experience and commentary about products. Presenters are commenting on adoption issues, usability, governance, successful practices and pitfalls or unresolved issues.

Adoption is what will drive product improvements in the marketplace because experienced adopters are speaking out on their activities. Public presentations of user experiences can and should establish expectations for better tools, better vendor relationship experiences, more collaboration among products and ultimately, reduced complexity in the implementation and deployment of products.

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