The Knowledge Worker Desktop.

integration drives paradigm shift

Enterprise 2.0 and Government 2.0 — Knowledge Worker Productivity.

by on Oct.07, 2009, under compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, government 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

During the last few weeks I have been talking to a number of people from within governmental organizations and different business segments about white collar productivity.

Actually the discussions have often been around the new buzzwords “Enterprise 2.0” and “Government 2.0” and what these two buzzwords entail. It boils down to trying to define/apply/govern/restrict the use of the emerging bunch of new social media tools (similar to WEB 2.0 tools – Facebook, Twitter, etc… BUT inside the firewall!) within a corporate or public agency environment.

WEB 2.0 tools just showed up in the work place and people began using them as collaboration tools to get their work done (AND you could at the same time communicate with your “friends”). In other words the tools helped people be more productive and gave them an easier way of sharing information than current corporate legacy systems and “sanctioned” office productivity tools.

It reminds me of when the IBM PC showed up in the workplace in the mid-1980s to the horror of and without the approval/control of the IT department. The IBM PC fulfilled a need for getting the work done more efficiently, i.e. they increased productivity and created a whole new industry.

The IBM PC was an integral part of what happened next with legacy software systems going from rigid mainframe systems towards more “flexible” client/server systems with the IBM PC providing the user interface. It became an interactive process instead of the old batch approach to entering data and retrieving information. It was more inviting and easier to use.

During the 1990s Integration began driving a paradigm shift from free standing best-of-breed accounting systems (G/L. A/R, A/P, Order Entry, Purchasing, Inventory, Distribution, etc…) towards integrated systems that became known as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.

The value of system integration and information context won out. Your Accounts Receivable (A/R) system was in sync with your A/R assets account in your Balance Sheet. The same integration to the General Ledger applied to Accounts Payable, Inventory, Purchasing, Billing, etc…

For project based organizations the recording of time sheets and expenses towards projects provided similar integration to the financial system and gave good overview of Work-in-Progress and now you were getting closer to managing the business in real time, at least from a financial point of view.

This has evolved into specialized ERP system for different industries – ERP for Services, ERP for Wholesale Distribution, ERP for manufacturing, etc…

I was involved as a vendor of ERP systems for the service industry in the 1990s and to me ERP meant blue collar productivity improvements by optimizing the processing of structured information and we often showed the advantages of ERP as illustrated below:

Blue-Collar-flow450

As ERP systems from SAP, ORACLE, PeopleSoft, Maconomy, Navision and many others improved their functionality and usability during the 1990s, overall attention turned towards managing the unstructured information that flows along a project timeline.

Many firms in the service segment (consulting, advertising, engineering, etc…) where I spent most of my time realized that they could get the billing rate up with ERP systems to maybe 70% (100% less vacation time, sick time, education, presale, non-billable,..) but that was where they maxed out.

These firms knew that they made money or lost money depending on their ability to manage scope creep on key projects and give project leaders, their supervisors and the PMO office the tools to align the scope definition with the contract appendix detailing the service to be delivered.

The scope of a project most often changed during the execution of the project but often that did not result in an amendment to the contractual service definition. Furthermore this change often resulted in modifications of project timelines, milestones and deadlines as well as resource allocations – people and material.

Most of the corporate silos of finance, legal, human resource and specialized practice departments should have been involved in this effort but are often notified after the fact or when the project is in a serious crisis.

Part of the problem was that the tools simply were not available.

This is where I think Enterprise 2.0 and Government 2.0 enter the scene. These emerging technologies simply fill a need for helping knowledge workers share information in the context of the project or process to which the knowledge belongs.

I think we will see a rapid evolution of these tools towards integrated and specialized solutions dramatically improving white collar (knowledge worker) productivity and this might parallel what happened with ERP systems in the 1990s for blue collar productivity – reference the figure below:

White-Collar-flow450

At cBrain we have named this integrated solution the “Knowledge Worker Desktop” and I will cover this concept in some more detail in coming blog entries but will close with a few highlights:

•    The Knowledge Worker Desktop works within an automated archiving system that automatically, based on context assigns classification and META data. Archiving and record management is a by-product of the work performed and not a separate work process.

•    Give up on most user-based classification (cynical me! It never works!) and automate as far as possible the process of assigning classification and other META data based on context – you already know the entity (customer, vendor, employee, location, case, project, business process, deadline/milestone, next step approval/review, etc.) you are working with or you generate it as part of your work, SO the system will automate classification and META data!

•    Regulatory compliance is facilitated.

•    The system includes search and presentation facilities for necessary work overview.

I will cover other aspects of the concept for the Knowledge Worker Desktop in coming posts.

Any comments are welcome!

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Enterprise 2.0 and white collar productivity improvements.

by on Sep.14, 2009, under enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

The discussion about how we define Enterprise 2.0 is still going on in some great blogs and the general business media months after the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston in June 2009.

Having spent the last few weeks in Europe and observed the discussion about the use of social media inside public and private organizations I am beginning to get a clearer picture of how the new media tools might evolve – with some serious help from my colleagues and some major ongoing KM projects within public and private organizations here in Scandinavia.

First a little background – I and several of my colleagues were involved in the upstart of a company (www.maconomy.com) developing ERP software solutions in the early 1990s.

We competed head-on with other ERP providers – SAP, Oracle Financial, PeopleSoft, Lawson, Navision, Great Plains, etc. – and evolved into specializing in “ERP for the service industries” – Consulting firms, PR firms, Engineering firms, Advertising firms, Media Communication firms and similar project based organizations where knowledge workers collaborated around projects.

ERP systems evolved into integrated suites handling the mundane – blue collar -  tasks of Finance (G/L), Budgeting, Receivables (A/R), Payables (A/P), Inventory, Time & Expense, Distribution, Invoicing, Purchasing, etc. all in one integrated package or suite, replacing best-of-breed point solutions.

Integration provided a “blue collar” productivity improvement that made ERP the superior offering.

Knowledge workers in the creative part of the service industries did not see the same “white collar” productivity improvement. Yes, they captured time and expenses more accurately and got more control of the financial part of budgeting for projects – in other words all the structured information.

Unstructured information – i.e. project scope changes, contract amendments and the like – and necessary collaboration between corporate silos were lacking, too formal and not timely. AND lacking not just because of culture differences between the corporate silos of Finance, Legal and Creative groups but because available tools were cumbersome, inadequate and non-intuitive.

Enterprise 2.0 is addressing this gap trying to gain some control and structure to the social media tools that people knew from their private lives and just started using social media tools in a corporate environment because they addressed a basic need for collaboration and interaction.

Bill Ives has a post about “management lurking and monitoring” and Patti Anklam is writing about organizational shifts that must occur in order to get an organization to a state in which “knowledge is fresh and findable and represents the best thinking in an organization”. Nick Milton is describing KM managers final weapon – Stakeholder Mapping, i.e. relationships of power and influence (or power and impact). Carl Frappaolo is writing about not confusing Enterprise 2.0 with WEB 2.0.

All are great reads and I encourage everybody interested in Enterprise 2.0 to visit these blogs.

This leads me to “white collar” productivity and what we at cBrain are beginning to call the Knowledge Worker Desktop.

I feel that we are at the beginning of “white collar” productivity improvements that parallel the “blue collar” productivity improvements we witnessed from integrated ERP in the 1990s.

“Integration”, I believe will become the key driver for white collar productivity improvements using Enterprise 2.0 tools.

I my next posting I will address how I see Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management evolve and possibly merge into one concept (?) and how we at cBrain use “The Innovative Room” as a methodology to arrive at solutions.

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Will Enterprise 2.0 change corporate culture or reinvent the silos?

by on Jul.01, 2009, under compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston last week there was an impressive representation of actual practitioners of “enterprise social software” from major corporations like BofA, Raytheon, Alcatel-Lucent, Allstate, Humana, Jet Blue, M&M Mars, Eli Lilly, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and many others.

Many participants have blogged about the conference and I will refer to Bill Ives, Larry Hawes and Gil Yehuda and their summaries from the conference for a balanced view of the state of Enterprise 2.0. All have many references to other much respected bloggers and their conference take away and I encourage you to check them out.

Paula Thornton has an interesting post today – in reference to the conference – about “reinventing silos” that I find thought provoking. I have been in the trenches implementing solutions that would only succeed if company culture somehow could change/evolve/adapt. Paula is quoting Ben Foster from Allstate for saying “Enterprises and practitioners are often guilty of using Social Media as a cure chasing a disease.” I agree and will post about the role of organizational silos in my next post – stay tuned.

My own bottom line about the Boston conference is that there is a long way to go before Enterprise 2.0 “grows up” to be “WEB 2.0 for the enterprise” (or “Facebook and Twitter inside the firewall”). Integration with existing legacy systems, including general access control, logging of information exchanges in the context of a project or process combined with an upfront approach to industry specific compliance issues, FRCP and eDiscovery was rarely discussed during the sessions.

I also came away with the sense that a major driving force behind Enterprise 2.0 is a desire to get people to collaborate by other means than email. In essence that Enterprise 2.0 becomes a central repository for the exchange of messages and documents for a team of knowledge workers that need to collaborate in an easy and transparent way towards a common goal – sounds simple enough BUT it is not!

According to a recent AIIM report, there has been a dramatic increase in the understanding of how Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, blogs, forums, and social networks can be used to improve business collaboration and knowledge sharing, with over half of organizations now considering Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success. Only 17% admitted that they have no idea what it is, compared to 40% at the start of 2008. However, only 25% of organizations are actually doing anything about it – but that is up from 12% in the previous survey.
AIIM does a lot of research and some of the findings are quite scary:

  • 34% of organizations never delete emails, 31% have no policy, 8% delete when running out of storage space, 27% delete after 1- 24 months
  • Some 45% of organizations do not have a policy on Outlook “Archive settings” so most users will likely create .pst archive files on local drives
  • 33% of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery, 40% would likely have to search back-up tapes, and 23% feel they would have gaps from deleted emails.
  • 18% had been exposed to a legal challenge in the last 12 months and a further 15% in the last 3 years – a one-in-three chance.

Old habits and deep-seated corporate culture will be difficult to change without the chief change agents being senior management backed by a concerted effort to communicate to employees why this will benefit the overall organization and not threaten the individual. Knowledge is often perceived as power/job security and a difficult thing to share without getting something in return.

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ROI and the privacy paradox – can social networks be secure?

by on Jun.24, 2009, under eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

Today at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston there were a number of interesting presentations and panel discussions. One of the “debates” that stuck in my mind was the one about ROI. For this audience I think the consensus was that measuring ROI is meaningless since social media is a game changer that cannot be sensibly measured.

Social networks are, the argument goes, under the same scrutiny that the telephone was decades ago – why would you want to put a telephone on every person’s desk? People would just use it to gossip and call family and friends and hinder “real work”.

When the IBM PC (PC clones and the Lisa/Macintosh a bit later) emerged in the early 1980’s a similar discussion took place – I know, I was there on the vendor side! Department managers often had the budget privilege (cost < $10,000) to purchase PCs as productivity tools without the approval of the IT department and soon PCs were everywhere because it helped people “get the work done”. Soon networking capabilities emerged facilitating email sharing of information and for a while IT lost control of computing.

It took the 1990s for IT departments to regain overall control of “data processing” within larger corporations. Central control of licensing and distribution of software and subsequent maintenance updates put the IT department back in control. In many corporations internet filters limited how employees could access the Worldwide Wide Web.

Social media tools have changed the rules about who controls personal and corporate data. For the most part they have been free – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others – and have simply reflected how people communicated privately with friends and family and simply applied these tools to groups of people within corporations. They just appeared because people found them useful to “get the job done”. CIOs are challenged with controlling the information flow and integrating the new concepts into the legacy IT structure.

As Elizabeth Bennett writes about trends in the June 2009 issue of cioinsight.com:

FEELING THE FEAR – but doing it anyway.
CIOs are setting aside ROI as they boldly rush into the enterprise social media fray.
She gives examples… Dell is expanding projects across divisions and Cisco and Booz Allen Hamilton are graduating from individual tools and rolling out strategic companywide platforms. And the most successful projects have at least two things in common: They were built with a key business process in mind, and predicting their ROI was not part of the equation.
She talks about the culture wars and cultural barriers that impedes adoptions at many firms and wraps up by quoting Dell CIO Robin Johnson. Johnson says his role is to enable collaboration and exploit what’s available to improve idea generation and intellectual property – safely! But sometimes that posture is out of sync with the openness these tools foster, creating another kind of clash:” Those with an audit or controls mind-set are unpopular”.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s Walton Smith talks in the article about a new generation of system integration and is adamant about the level of care and attention needed to drive adoption and usage of these new tools with change management being a big part of the budget.

Cisco’s CIO Rebecca Jacoby is quoted: “You learn you way through it. It’s not comfortable to go through that cultural change, but it is unavoidable. You just roll with it.”

Fascinating reading and I am sure we will see robust tools and platforms emerge that will integrate with current corporate legacy systems and retain the ease-of-use that have made today’s social media tools so popular.

The issues of privacy, FRCP and eDiscovery will evolve within these emerging enterprise 2.0 platforms, as the culture war between openness and control goes on.

Until then “you just roll with it”.

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Government employees’ role in government 2.0.

by on Jun.09, 2009, under e-government, government 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

Just a few years ago when the term e-government was coined it covered the concept of making more information about government available to the citizens. Self-service portals and one-way information sites almost created a faceless interface between government and citizens, void of human interaction.

Government 2.0 changes all that. Now government employees become a valued asset and facilitator of communication between all stakeholders – citizens, politicians, grass-roots associations, business associations, lobbyists and finally within the governmental hierarchy.

In other words government employees will in the future be challenged to become true knowledge workers doing more non-trivial work and often in teams in order to serve the citizens. The most valuable skill set in the future isn’t necessarily knowledge, experience or training (although important attributes), but rather the degree to which the new knowledge worker looks for, expects and is prepared to deal with and successfully initiates actions to deal with the unexpected.

This has the potential of fostering a new trusted relationship between government and citizens that can be mutually beneficial but it could also become a serious challenge if the governmental employees are not provided the tools needed to deliver on the service levels citizens have been promised.

The European Commission is stating the following:
————–
“While promoting the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in society as a whole through the i2010 strategy, the Commission intends to lead by example by applying to its own administration the European information society policy in e-government.

Modern on-line public administrations are an essential element of the information society and contribute to achieving the Lisbon goals of increased growth and competitiveness.

The e-Commission aims to deliver better quality and more transparent services, guaranteeing security of information including the protection of personal data, to the benefit of its own staff and of everyone having contact with it i.e. administrations, businesses and citizens. The Commission is thus following an ambitious strategy to become a front-runner in the domain of e-administration.”
————–

In this blog we have previously covered some of the Obama Administration’s initiatives towards a more open and transparent government.

The latest initiative invites citizens to participate in improving the existing site where regulations are published – www.regulations.gov/exchange.

People are invited to give input to design and features from May 21, 2009 until July 21, 2009 and the response has been impressive so far.

I believe the human factor will become the single most important factor to deal with in this transformation of government. Expectations are certainly raised to what seems like almost unreasonable levels and one can certainly hope that the governmental employees are being empowered with the proper tools to deliver on the promise.

It would seem that the timing of releasing our “Knowledge Worker Desktop” product could not have been better. We will cover the “Knowledge Worker Desktop” in more details in future posting on this blog.

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Enterprise 2.0 and white collar productivity.

by on May.12, 2009, under enterprise 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

Enterprise 2.0 as a concept has gained a lot of momentum since Andrew McAfee from Harvard University (http://andrewmcafee.org/blog/) coined the term a few short years ago. Today there is even a separate exhibition for Enterprise 2.0 – http://www.e2conf.com – with a lot of serious attention and money being paid to the concept.

Enterprise 2.0 has often been described as social software or so-called WEB 2.0 for the enterprise (inside the firewall). AIIM (http://www.aiim.org/What-is-Web-2.0.aspx) defines it as “a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise”.

In contrast to traditional legacy enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software as we know it today tends for the most part to encourage use prior to providing structure.

Obviously with FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley and other compliance issues this is a conflict and corporate management might feel under legal obligation to control and at least monitor the internal communication in order to hold people accountable for their actions communicated to others using Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Now, the question is if this is not all due to the lack of proper tools for today’s white collar knowledge worker?

And will we see Enterprise 2.0 evolve in a similar pattern to when ERP evolved from a bundle of best-of-breed point solutions to fully integrated ERP packages?

We think so and will cover our experiences, opinions and observations in this blog – stay tuned.

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Integration lowers eDiscovery cost.

by on May.11, 2009, under compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, government 2.0, integration drives paradigm shift, software for the knowledge worker

Many work routines for white collar workers within government and business enterprises (Customer Relationship Management, Employee Hiring and Case Management are examples) have common issues when people need to collaborate and share information along a timeline with milestones and deadlines galore.

Traditional software tools for white collar workers today are not integrated.

Often the process of archiving information (emails, documents, notes, etc.) is a separate work routine after the work has been performed involving the knowledge worker deciding what to archive and what META data to add for the purpose of later information search and retrieval.

New integrated productivity tools like the Knowledge Worker Desktop are automating the archiving process and assuring that META data are derived automatically from the context of the work performed and NOT as a separate after-the-fact process. This has shown major improvements in productivity and quality of work.

Regulatory compliance (Sarbanes-Oxley, FRCP and HIPAA) demands that companies establish and maintain an adequate internal control structure and procedure for their business processes and for Sarbanes-Oxley also control points for their financial reporting.

The kitchen sink approach to archiving everything will NOT work. Archiving and indexing according to content (words and phrases) is better. BUT automatically archiving and indexing emails and documents (WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT, PDFs, E-Mails, IMs, etc.) according to context is the only viable way to ensure that you later can actually produce messages and documents that someone considers legally material, a term often referred to as eDiscovery.

Again, integration is the key driver of this paradigm shift .

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