All posts by Stephen Dale

Stephen is Director and founder of Collabor8now Ltd, (http://collabor8now.com) an organization focussed on developing collaborative environments (e.g. Communities of Practice) and the integration of knowledge management tools and processes to support business improvement. He is a certified knowledge manager with the Knowledge Management Institute (KMI) and the author of several published research papers on collaborative behaviours, knowledge management and information technology.

Knowledge workers not ready for Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 tools

Technologies that are over a decade old are hampering the way that knowledge workers collaborate but there is still a long way to go before firms are brought up to speed with 21st century IT…Knowledge workers are collaborating more extensively but their businesses are using technologies that are in some cases over 100 years old, impacting the efficiency and effectiveness of collaboration, according to new research. And it could spell disaster in the current economic crisis as firms look to save costs by making their business processes more efficient.The research, which was conducted by Forrester on behalf of Adobe, showed that while 81% of knowledge workers in Europe regularly collaborate with two or more colleagues in different time zones, they rely on the telephone and email to do so. And the shortcomings of these older technologies are increasingly being recognised as 70% are looking for better speed and efficiency to improve current collaboration methods.

“The survey data shows a marked propensity among knowledge workers to stick with what they know for team collaboration despite the recognition of needed improvements and potentially better alternatives.”Tim Walters, Forrester

However, knowledge workers themselves are in danger of being left behind the times as the report also highlighted that European knowledge workers are not ready to use emerging web 2.0 or enterprise 2.0 tools – current adoption rates are just 1% for wikis and 2% for blogs, for example. The report speculates a key factor could be that the younger generation, who are leading the way when it comes to utilising these technologies, has failed to penetrate a large majority of the current European workforce compared to the US and Asia.But rather than jump in at the deep end, the survey report suggests European knowledge organisations should take “evolutionary steps” towards web 2.0. “The survey data shows a marked propensity among knowledge workers to stick with what they know for team collaboration – email and attachments – despite the recognition of needed improvements and potentially better alternatives,” said Tim Walters, senior analyst at Forrester. “The challenge for the enterprise therefore is not just to provide improved collaboration solutions but also to support workers’ current work habits while transitioning them to new and constantly evolving ways of working.”The report suggests IT departments consider a ‘design for people’ approach to support the way European knowledge workers want to work by building upon their current email-based workflow. The goal is to bridge the gap between structured business processes and everyday disparate collaboration habits. “People’s work habits and preferences need to be a top consideration when planning any business and IT endeavour,” said Mark Wheeler, marketing director for Northern Europe at Adobe.The key areas of insight include:Technology enables, and complicates, team collaborationWhile knowledge workers in Europe favour the telephone and email for collaboration, they also express dissatisfaction with current collaborative methods and a desire to learn about alternatives. Because of the overwhelming need to collaborate with widely dispersed teams, European enterprise IT managers are faced with a range of tactical and strategic issues to support the needs of knowledge workers, including the challenge to secure the content and the need to act as a business partner by improving how knowledge workers collaborate effectively through the right technology for their needs.Information gathering is a sore spot for ad-hoc collaborationWhile real-time communication may be a preferred method of collaboration, the effort to compile responses and put the data to work often creates redundancies. Without technology to extract and synthesise data collected, making sense of the responses becomes largely a manual effort that creates extra busywork without adding value. Forrester concludes that IT departments must embrace email and phone-based data collection methods that include measurable, engaging approaches that work in these environments, such as surveys or forms that help compile data, not just collect it.The bar has been raised for communication qualityAs expectations for engaging communication experiences grow, European knowledge workers find themselves increasingly needing to create high-quality, persuasive communications. Nearly half of all European knowledge workers indicate that they need to create high impact content once a month or more but 87% of European knowledge workers experience problems with the default collaboration tools they are using today. Forrester suggests that IT organisations must adopt a ‘design for people’ approach to help European knowledge workers succeed while planning for change because needs are expected to shift as collaboration tools and the enterprise 2.0 mature.Security risk of current collaboration methods underestimatedThe study also reveals that knowledge worker habits in their collaboration efforts are not aligned with enterprise security concerns. This insight confirms findings from Forrester’s 2008 Security Forum Europe, which identified that delegates overwhelmingly chose “poor protection of information assets” and “employees acting in unauthorised ways” as the top two IT threats they will face in the coming year. As a result, IT departments need to educate knowledge workers of the security risks, find tools and processes that minimise exposure of sensitive information, and reduce security risk by aligning technology, processes and people. Analysts further suggest that enterprise IT departments that can focus on how European knowledge workers want to work will look to document-level security as the means to best protect sensitive information.Read the full report:

Media_httpstevedalene_vklff

How to fail on Twitter

50 ways to fail on Twitter – originally from Marketing Blog http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/07/50-ways-to-fail-on-twitter/

  • Don’t auto reply follows with a link to your free piece of crap ebook. This sentiment is shared several times below.
  • Don’t provide an obscure description of who you are and what you do
  • No photo or an image that only makes sense to you and your imaginary friends
  • Don’t mention a great resource with no link
  • Not customizing your background
  • Don’t post 10 messages in succession (also repeated below)
  • Don’t follow over 1000 people in a 2 hour period
  • Don’t write about the cat/hamster/potted plant over and over again
  • Don’t swear often and expect business people to take you seriously (Unless you work for Outspoken Media)
  • Don’t over-abbreviate.

Here are a few “Twitter FAIL” tips from Tweeple following @leeodden

  • @glenngabe DON’T tell people on the public timeline that someone else is on vacation.  Saw this happen last week… Can get a house robbed!
  • @glenngabe DON’T reply on the public timeline when you meant to DM (or when it should be a DM…)
  • @cyandle don’t retweet EVERYTHING…
    Media_httpwwwtoprankb_ksnoy
  • @kholloway Don’t expect me to follow you if you have 0 updates
  • @aimclear DO research content you recommend, add value to the bookmark, Success is gained by offering value, Friends made by being a friend.
  • @aimclear Don’t compliment gratuitously in public
  • @shelisrael  Don’t tell people not to do something on Twitter. It will just give them ideas.
  • @kenburbary Obvious but annoying, DON’T auto DM spam (also mentioned by @CarrieHill @Justin_Freid @NicoleElise)
  • @RonArden Twitter don’ts: don’t send spam and don’t send me ads for things. This is the quickest way to get me to unfollow someone.
  • @doctordns Just don’t be stupid – some people will take whatever you write and use it against you. If not now, then when you least expect it!
  • @JeremyMeyers “don’t” spend all your time on twitter talking about twitter (also mentioned by @timjahn)
  • @thelostagency dont tweet broken links, and if you are retweeting check link is accurate and not spam/broken
    Media_httpwwwtoprankb_ksnoy
  • @rickburnes Don’t pretend that Twitter alone is a marketing plan (you only get referrals from Twitter if you have great content to refer to).
  • @steveplunkett don’t ever argue.. in writing on twitter…
  • @Aerocles Don’t tweet breaking news that’s more than one hour old, we’ve all heard/seen it already
  • @brandonfritz@leeodden Don’t St@lk
  • @KateOnline Don’t take credit for tweets that did not originate from you (also mentioned by @matthewdiehl)
  • @glager Dont report on every piece of news you can get your hands on
  • @kimgarretson Don’t tweet about your need for coffee in the mornings. This has moved past cliche to downright irritating.
  • @Ms_Write Test links before tweeting them. Nothing worse then a dead link.
  • @MBenti Before you use twitter for your business b/c it’s the “thing to do”, take time to observe and figure it out for yourself.
  • @Zarniwhooper Don’t retweet something and leave off the original Twitter poster. Always give credit to those who wrote it first.
  • @KaseyInCharge here’s a “don’t”: don’t talk about ways to increase followers. so annoying. people are here for conversation…
  • @AmberGallihar Don’t repost the same tweet more than three times. We saw it.
  • @Zarniwhooper Don’t say anything that could get you fired or prevent you from getting a job.
  • @Zarniwhooper Don’t be boring. A simple rule is “Never tweet about food or the weather. And never your bathroom habits. Seriously. Never.
  • @steveplunkett no foul language in same tweet as a URL. (SafeSearch Anchor text)
  • @Saudiqua Don’t tweet emotional rants!
  • @bobmutch ya don’t share stuff you are doing or going to do that is too personal
  • @melaniemitchell don’t sell to people who don’t care about what you have to say.
  • @michaelpearsun Don’t worry about your follower count. It’s about quality.
  • @michaelpearsun Don’t let spammers into your feed
  • @marrina Re-tweet of a re-tweet. So annoying.
  • @patiomensch First, you must call it a list of “don’ts”  (ah, the spelling Fail)
  • @EstrellaBella10 Don’t post multiple back-to-back updates on Twitter. Many people have complained about that.
  • @myklroventine Don’t try to explain it to Letterman
  • @imeldak Don’t join things that gets you thousands of ‘instant’ followers. Quality of followers is always better than quantity
  • @anon Don’t post a link to a picture of yourself with a large knife, especially if you are a governor
  • @anon Responses to ethics charges are probably best left for a forum where you can respond with more than 140 characters

Last, but not least: @marrinaHelp compile a list of “dont’s” for TwitterThat should get our “What not to do on Twitter list” party started. What are your Twitter dont’s?

The next big thing in Knowledge Management

From David Wilcox’s Socialreporter blog.1 Create conditions for collaborationYou can manage information – but you can’t manage the most useful knowledge. What you can do is help people to share what they know. That requires leadership to develop a culture of trust where collaboration is encouraged.2 Encourage conversations The best way to help people share knowledge is to give them plenty of chances to talk to each other. The richest conversations usually happen face-to-face, after which people are more likely to open up and contribute online.3 Add new rolesOnline knowledge sharing among a diverse group of people requires appropriate tools – but more than anything it needs appropriate people to help. They may be variously called community manager, technology steward, digital mentor, social reporter … and it’s unlikely one support person can do it all.4 Listen carefully, connect widelyUse light-weight social media tools like social bookmarking, Twitter, Netvibes, Ning communities to scan what’s going on outside. Build relationships with useful people, follow and share with them.  Then the network is your new library.5 Talk failure, tell stories about successIf you really want to understand what works in any situation, help people talk about what failed, and  to tell stories of success in their own words. Case studies from consultants won’t connect nearly as well.6 Open up, cross boundariesCommunities of Practice behind a login are excellent for sharing knowledge among specialists. If you also want to understand what service users need you have to engage with the wider community out in the open.7 Mix and blend your mediaWork both on and offline. Run semi-structured events like knowledge cafes and unconferences. Shoot some video, blog and tweet the event … then use digital assets to spark new conversations online. Cultivate a knowledge ecology where learning can flourish.8 Dive in, try it, change itYou can’t learn to swim outside the pool … or learn to fly watching the instructor. Find time to explore. Many of the tools you need are free, so you can experiment and build on what works, or drop anything that doesn’t. Invest in people rather than technology.9 Decentralise, foster resilienceEncourage teams and groups to take responsibility for their own research and learning, then share with others. That way you should have a more resilient system less dependent on central services.10 Three Ps before TIt’s easy to get caught up in the how and wow of new tools. Think Purpose, People, Process – and only then Tools.

Communities of Practice and the elusive ROI

I have been saying from the very beginning that you won’t be able to prove ROI for your investment in a social network if you try to get beyond the initial listening and reacting.  This is one of the main reasons why organizations have not gotten past this point: they are being asked for a return on investment that is not there, cannot be calculated.  You can do some calculations for basic functions you will perform – but there is nothing really that talks to the infrastructure investment.My answer has always been: you won’t get an ROI, but you need to invest on it as if it was infrastructure.  Who computes an ROI for more storage? or an additional laptop? a printer?  Those are infrastructure components that your organization must have and you just invest in them without expecting a specific return on the investment.

Reflections for Online Information Conference 2010

Media_httpstevedalene_pgnaw

It was a great privilege to be asked to become the next Chairman of the Online Information Organising Committee, and at the risk of appearing envious, I wish Adrian Dale a pleasant and stress-free retirement. He has been an excellent chairman over the past three years and will be a difficult act to follow. I should probably explain here that despite the surname there is no blood relationship, though I did briefly ponder whether one of the main criteria was a ‘Dale’ lineage!Looking back at this year’s (2009) conference, I felt it struck an ideal balance between the three pillars of ‘people’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’. The opening keynote from Dame Wendy Hall and Prof Nigel Shadbolt gave us a glimpse of where we are going with open and linked data, and I’m certain this is going to be a hot topic in the coming year, particularly in relation to the “Make Public Data Public” initiative in UK Government. I also felt that the ‘Social Web’ theme hit the mark, and certainly all the sessions I attended were full and overflowing.So, for me and with the expert guidance of Lorna Candy and the Executive Committee, the work starts in January 2010 in planning for the next conference. I feel slight trepidation at the prospect of trying to predict what the knowledge and information landscape will look like by the end of 2010; the pace of change is relentless. Will Twitter still be the ‘killer app’? Will Cloud Computing become ubiquitous?  Who will be gobbled up by the Google and Facebook juggernauts?One thing I’m sure of is that none of us can be sure about anything and that we all need to continually refine and adapt our skills. I’m reminded of a quote which is (arguably) attributed to Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change”. Let this be the mantra for 2010!