The Knowledge Worker Desktop.

Tag: knowledge work

Digital Government 2.0 – Danish government intend to go paperless by 2012.

by on Nov.19, 2009, under Digital government, e-government, government 2.0, innovation, Paperless administration, Paperless government, software for the knowledge worker

What if employees in a government ministry were not allowed to move information on paper between desks any more, but were only allowed to move documents in digital form.

Well, this is happening in Europe where Denmark and Spain seem to be leading the way.

It has been a long time coming with many legal and bureaucratic barriers to be removed, i.e. requirements of formal signature, filling out of paper-based forms, etc.

Since January 2002 all Danish ministries have analyzed thousands of laws and regulations for barriers to e-government and a 2002/2003 analysis revealed 453 necessary changes in legislation and regulations. A deadline of the summer 2003 was established for the removal of these barriers and for the most part this was achieved successfully.

Obviously this was a major cultural change in the way governmental knowledge workers perform their jobs and a number of initiatives were started and new guidelines issued.

Since September 1, 2003 all government authorities have had the right to send documents to other authorities electronically and the right to demand that documents from other authorities be sent electronically.

The 2003 initiative aimed at promoting the use of e-mail and Internet communication in the public sector and reorganize work processes towards paperless administration, making government more efficient.

A major next step was that from February 1, 2005 all government authorities had the right to send documents containing personal and sensitive information electronically and the right to demand that the same documents from other authorities be sent electronically using secure e-mail (digital signature).

From the same date citizens and business had the opportunity to communicate with the public sector using secure e-mail (digital signature).

This was made possible by providing citizen and businesses with tools and extensive instructive information to make the transition easier.

•    Free digital signature to all Danish citizens.

•    Legally binding signature for all interactions on the Internet.

•    Authenticity – certainty of the identity of citizens, businesses and government authorities.

•    Integrity – certainty that the contents of the message have not been changed.

•    Privacy – no-one can listen in on the communication.

Obviously culture changes of this nature – well, indeed major behavioral modifications in how “white collar” work is performed – are not easy for people to make.

However the Danish government is pushing forward towards the goal of “full electronic communication by 2012”.

The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs as one of the leaders in this drive towards paperless public administration has piloted the “cBrain F2” case management system since June 2009 with success.

In the coming weeks I will be covering aspects of the cBrain F2 system and discuss some of the implications of this new integrated concept where social media tools are combined with case management, record management, archiving and more.

Further information in English about the Danish Governments drive towards paperless administration is available here:

•     http://www.modernisering.dk/da/english — including a summary of the Danish Government’s plan for digital administration (e-Government Strategy) 2007 – 2010.

•    http://www.virk.dk/English;jsessionid=ED260572073B396430E739F06924A5A2 – Central government to business portal for everything digital.

•    http://english.ism.dk/Further-development/digitalisation/Sider/Start.aspx — The Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs is one of the leading advocates for the move towards paperless administration by 2012.

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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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Enterprise 2.0 and regulatory compliance.

by on Jun.20, 2009, under compliance, e-government, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, software for the knowledge worker

Why is it that knowledge workers in government as well as private enterprises are fighting a culture of control driven by management focused on FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley, eDiscovery and other regulatory compliance requirements?

The social media tools like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter are already being used by teams in many governmental agencies and private firms because they help knowledge workers “get the job done”.

However these tools are often a nightmare for the Chief Security Officer (if such a “C” level position exists). Regulatory compliance continues to be the main driver for security spending in most industry segments and a substantial financial burden for governmental agencies.

Sarbanes-Oxley for the USA came about after the Enron scandal and with the current financial meltdown for sure new regulations will emerge. Current US regulation is a patchwork of local, state and federal regulation.

The complexity of all the existing US regulations is such that it hinders small and medium sized businesses’ expansion into national or even multi-national market coverage even if that is exactly what the internet offers smaller businesses – the ability to source and operate like big multinational.

Most regulations deal with privacy and accountability. Sarbanes-Oxley for publicly traded firms is the big accountability regulation but smaller firms often trade with publicly traded companies and therefore indirectly will be required to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.

Privacy is a hodgepodge of regional, national and industry segment specific laws. Obviously you cannot pretend these regulations don’t exist or hope they go away. Non-compliance may present a very real legal and financial risk to your organization.

Every bit of information exchange within the organization and with outside stakeholders must be auditable, i.e. there must be an audit trail and the kitchen sink approach to archiving of all information exchange and subsequent use of fancy search tools to retrieve information deemed to be material in a lawsuit will not work or at least be very, very expensive.

According to Ralph Losey, an eDiscovery attorney of FloridaLawFirm.com the cost of an eDiscovery associated with Microsoft is between $10 and $20 million dollars for each and every lawsuit.

Often organizations are opting not to go to court and instead just settle because litigation is becoming too expensive. Settlements are still expensive.

In the USA the Better Business Bureau shows 34 federal privacy laws that apply to business – industry specific, consumer protection, etc. Add the EU, Canada and the Far East and you are looking at 100+ privacy laws that could affect a company doing business globally.

Social media tools as we know them today do not provide an audit trail of information exchange with an easy way to access it. If you are ever the subject of an eDiscovery audit from a lawsuit, you may need to produce reports on hundreds or thousands of document transactions and other information exchanges from social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.

Enterprise 2.0 tools emerging as “social media tools for the enterprise” are as far as I can see not addressing these issues.

For the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston this coming week – June 22-25, 2009 – I see very few, if any reference to the issue of regulatory compliance! I see no mentioning of FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, eDiscovery, etc. or discussion of audit trails and archiving of information exchanges or “record management” in the context of a business process.

These are issues we deal with when implementing process applications like our Knowledge Worker Desktop for government or private enterprises.

I will be at the conference next week trying to find out how all these powerful emerging enterprise 2.0 tools could provide synergy to our process applications.

I believe in the future we will see a movement toward self-supported definition and ownership of processes by business stakeholders and project teams. Simple interconnected utilities (enterprise 2.0+) rather than comprehensive suites (SharePoint, OpenText, etc…) will emerge.

This will help to improve the orchestration of teams, people, content and collaboration, BUT someone must be the driving process engine.

I look forward to the Enterprise 2.0 conference!

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Knowledge Work 2.0

by on Jun.13, 2009, under compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise 2.0, government 2.0, software for the knowledge worker

I am trying to get my head into all the buzz around enterprise 2.0 as coined by Andrew McAfee from Harvard University not too long ago and “re-defined” by him less than a month ago.

Leading up to the Enterprise 2.0 exposition here in Boston on  June 22-25, 2009, Andrew has published an interesting take on Enterprise 2.0 – “Toward a Pattern Language for Enterprise 2.0” – seen from an “academic language view” – he is at Harvard after all.

So is Enterprise 2.0 “just” another definition (buzzword) of an attempt to improve the orchestration of teams, people, content and collaboration?

I think the new 2.0 tools (enterprise 2.0 or government 2.0) are supporting a movement toward self-supported definition and ownership of processes by business (or governmental) stakeholders and project teams and we will see the emergence of simple process utilities rather than comprehensive E2.0 suites – “simple meaning easy-to-use/intuitive/inviting”.

As others have suggested maybe we should use the term knowledge media tools instead of social media tools for business and government. What is clear is that the knowledge worker is front and center in this drive towards simple support for getting the knowledge work done.

Jack Vinson has an interesting take on Culture and KM. The organizational culture need to change/adapt to supporting the knowledge workers in new ways and provide the tools and training they need to “let them get rolling”.

Too often knowledge workers are fighting a culture of control by management focused on FRCP, Sarbanes-Oxley, eDiscovery, HIPAA and other compliance requirements.

BUT can you blame management? – Very few of the new 2.0 tools are addressing these concerns. At cBrain we are trying to produce solutions where these concerns are embedded and transparent to the knowledge worker and I will discuss this approach in several future posts, so stay tuned.

To get back to Andrew McAfee’s pattern language, I find it a very refreshing way to look at knowledge work 2.0 – here is his original take on pattern language related to enterprise 2.0 work – see his post for more details:
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Patterns Where 2.0 Should Replace 1.0

2.0 1.0
Technology appears to have been designed for the user Technology appears to have been designed for someone other than the user — the developer, the boss, a lawyer, etc.
Only small amounts of time and training are required to become familiar with a technology It takes significant time and training in order to become minimally competent with a technology
Few steps are required to accomplish basic tasks; technology-based work is ‘frictionless’ Many steps are required to execute basic tasks; technology-based work has a great deal of friction
Devices delight, pleasing the eye and the hand Devices exist to accomplish tasks and are designed only for function, not form
Delays and latency are low; technology responds instantly Delays (especially at startup) can be long and latency can be high
Crashes are no big deal and are easy to recover from Crashes are time-consuming and costly / catastrophic
Relevant data is in the cloud, so it doesn’t matter which device the user employs Relevant data is stored locally at many devices, so it matters which device(s) the user has access to
Users navigate via search Users navigate via menus and directories
Work is accomplished via the browser Work is accomplished via many discrete applications
Technology accurately guesses what users want, is forgiving, and makes users feel smart Users have to guess what the technology wants. The technology is unforgiving and makes users feel stupid
It takes virtually no time to author (to contribute online content) and few if any approval loops exist It’s laborious to author, and many approval loops exist
At its best, technology is welcoming and empowering At its worst, technology is alienating, isolating, and frustrating


Patterns Where 2.0 is an Alternative to 1.0

2.0 1.0
Technology is used to execute spontaneous collaborative work Technology is used to execute planned / predefined business processes
Technology is used to share work and conclusions with others Technology is used to generate or analyze information individually
Technology is used to broadcast information publicly to people both known and unknown Technology is used to transmit information privately to known people
Technology is used to ask questions and solicit information and help from people both known and unknown Technology is used to ask questions and solicit information and help from a small group of already-identified people
Online content is the start of group-level work; it is work in progress Online content is the end point of group-level work; it is finished goods
Online content is generated by many people Online content is generated by a few approved sources
A person finds new colleagues by examining the online content they’ve generated and assessing its quality A person finds new colleagues by asking around an looking through official directories
Information sources give good answers to the questions users thought they were asking Information sources provide complete answers to perfectly phrased questions
Technology is used to create and diffuse new knowledge Technology is used to encode previously-generated knowledge

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Andrew is asking for feedback and I am sure we will see this concept evolve with a knowledge work focus rather than a technology focus.

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