Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, July 28, 2008

This summer in links

Although I have tried to stay away from blogging during the past couple of weeks, I've been watching the feeds I subscribe to in Google Reader. Here are excepts from some of the more interesting posts I have encountered:

"As Travel Costs Rise, More Meetings Go Virtual" by Steve Lohr, New York Times:

Accenture figures its consultants used virtual meetings to avoid 240 international trips and 120 domestic flights in May alone, for an annual saving of millions of dollars and countless hours of wearying travel for its workers.

The results can be seen not only in the expensive new telepresence systems like those from Cisco Systems or Hewlett-Packard, but also in more mainstream collaboration technologies — Web conferencing, online document sharing, wikis and Internet telephony.

Only in the last two years has the technology gotten to point where it really makes sense to use it,” said Alan Minton, vice president for marketing at Cornerstone Information Systems, a 60-person business software company in Bloomington, Ind. With his sales force doing many product demonstrations online, Mr. Minton estimates the group’s travel costs of have been cut by 60 percent and the average time to close a new sale has been reduced by 30 percent.
"Freeing Yourself from Email" by Betsy Carroll:
A common problem that office workers face today is email overload. For some, email has taken over their work life and it is damaging, rather than improving, their productivity...//...A major reason for email’s negative effect on productivity is its injudicious use. Because of its accessibility and convenience, email tends to get used for purposes it was not designed or best suited.

Last week, I saw an article in New York Times about an IBM employee, Luis Suarez, who has freed himself from email’s grip...//...He was able to cut down the incoming emails by 80% in a single week. Suarez still uses email but he uses it judiciously, such as when he has to discuss private and confidential matters.

Suarez suggests that people have an array of technologies available for communication and collaboration, and that those options should be chosen depending on how well they are suited to the task at hand. Suarez uses wikis, instant messaging, emails, phone calls, blogs, and social networking each for different purposes. Here we outline the situations or purposes for which the technologies that Suarez is using are likely to be suitable.
"Social Media is not Community" by Rachel Happe:

I'm finding that there is a lot of confusion between the concept of social media and the concept of community. They are often used interchangeably and they are not the same thing. Social media can help foster communities but social media can be limited to allowing a conversation around content...which is *not* community.

There are two opportunities for enterprises then. 1 - to use social media to enable conversations and get a better idea of how constituents respond to specific content, initiatives, goals. This is much easier both to understand and implement. 2 - to create communities that extend their capabilities and engage their constituents in richer ways that results in higher retention, lower risk, increased ROI, and faster operational capacity.

Communities have enormous strategic benefits to companies but require considerable investment (in resources, time, and tools) and are difficult to implement because they have a significant impact on business processes.
"Objection #3: Control of Information" by Kevin D. Jones:

By implementing a social learning solution you sit on the control fence. Control to much and it won’t be used. But not controlling it at all is unwise. There needs to be a balance - enough structure and processes to give guidance yet enough freedom to allow the users to do what they want.
"P2P & the Limits of Cloud Computing" by Mike Karp:

In the business world, some data is highly valuable, some less so. And some (the accounting department's football pool, for example) may be of no value to the company at all. This is an important concept, because these different categories of data are entitled to different classes of service. Less valuable data -- an example might be archived data, "less valuable" in the sense that it is rarely, if ever, accessed because it exists elsewhere on local, high-performance storage systems -- would seem to be particularly suitable for Web-based storage. Storing data that is involved in business-critical transaction processing would not be. If you like this logic and are thinking about Web-based storage, and if you understand the value of your various data sets, it's likely that offering Web-based services to your less valuable data will offer the greatest utility.
"Overload, Schmoverload: The Myth Of Personal Productivity" by Stowe Boyd:

As we have moved from hierarchical, top-down, centralized work -- think Henry Ford's assembly lines or the pre-Internet global corporation -- to networked, bottom-up, edgewise work personal productivity has been trumped by network productivity. Network productivity is the effectiveness of a person's entire network: contacts, contacts of contacts, and so on.

Connected people will naturally gravitate toward an ethic where they will trade personal productivity for connectedness: they will interrupt their own work to help a contact make progress. Ultimately, in a bottom-up fashion, this leads to the network as a whole making more progress than if each individual tries to optimize personal productivity.
"The tacitness of wikis" by John Tropea:

Stewart Mader from Grow Your Wiki is guest posting on Wikinomics and his lastest post is on the effectiveness of wikis enabling tacit sharing.

Documents that are open and dynamic allow people to evolve the documents by direct editing or leaving comments…ie. people are sharing their experience and what they know can add to the richness of the document.

Right away I thought of the How-To Guides I’m writing for our Communities of Practice (CoP) at work.

If my guides are on a wiki rather than PDF, people who use the guides can leave comments, or people with permissions can edit the page itself or a new page to add what they know.

This way they can help me evolve the document, even though it’s finished. Well, that’s the idea, it’s never finished…I may miss a feature, and I can’t experience every context, so there’s stuff that happens when people use Communities that I may not know up front. eg. a new way to use blogs, a workaround (exception to procedure) page for Document Control as each client has different needs.
"Interesting Report on IT depts role in value creation" by Bertrand Duperrin:

The CIGREF (french big companies CIO club) issued and interesting report co-written with McKinsey. Although it’s written in French, I would like to share
some points with you. And, if ever you know someone who can make a quick
translation for you I think it’s really worth.

- IT doesn’t impact directly value creation

- value doesn’t reside in tools but in their use

- as a result, IT depts don’t have to provide people with tools, hoping it will meet their needs and they’ll manage to do something efficient with it, but have to fulfill people’s needs.

- IT depts can’t create value by themselves and on their own, they have to co-create it with business managers.

- by the way, IT’s impact on value creation has to be measured by business indicators and not by IT ones.


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