Organizing An Open Data Program

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Last week I gave a Forrester webinar on open data in government. The premise was that while big data is changing business, open data is changing the business of government. Open data provides not only greater transparency through access to information, it also improves government decision-making and operations, enables new forms of constituent engagement, facilitates new services delivery, opens new avenues for economic development, and gives rise to new government processes. The presentation explored the evolution of the open data movement, providing examples of the government transformation it has enabled and best practices for launching an open data initiative gleaned from the early adopters.

There were a couple of great questions that came in via chat as we were ending the webinar. And, I wanted to make sure I addressed them.

Who should or could be the business owner of Open Data Initiatives?

What are good practices with regard to this organizational question?

My upcoming report on open data provides a few relevant recommendations:

  • Build the right team to manage and promote the initiative. The CIO of Honolulu picked a millennial as a deputy with clear marching orders: Keep me informed and don’t break the law. The new deputy was the father of the Code for America program in the city, ran the hackathon, and an unconference to gather input from the developer community. Ghent also needed new blood and knew that it needed to have civil servants willing to engage with the community, open to young people and developers. Engagement is a two-way street. They also forged strong ties with local university students to extend their team. 
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What's Your APAC Enterprise Software Strategy — SAP Or SaaP?

A number of Forrester analysts from the Asia Pacific region attended the recent SAP analyst event in Singapore. Meetings with SAP global and regional executives and a large number of detailed breakout sessions over the 1½-day event all clearly indicate that SAP is continuing to try and reposition itself as a true generalized application platform player.

At the core of (almost all) initiatives is the HANA in-memory database technology. Whatever the problem, HANA will solve it (said with tongue planted very firmly in cheek). While the technology clearly has immediate performance benefits, particularly for existing SAP clients, net-new customers will likely need to compare the value of SAP’s offerings with others much more seriously.

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Read any good books lately?

Chip Gliedman

I have.

During the holiday break, I had the opportunity to spend a week on the beach in the Turks and Caicos islands (but that's another story).  One of the books I brought with me and thoroughly enjoyed was The Idea Factory - Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, by Jon Gertner. 

Back in the day when “network” meant “telephone,” AT&T either directly or indirectly controlled virtually the whole thing.  Bell Laboratories served as the R&D arm of the organization, developing the equipment that Western Electric would produce for AT&T.  In addition to the very practical work in things like insulators for cables (which are a big deal when the cable is running under the Atlantic Ocean), there was a small group who conducted the basic work that led to discoveries such as the transistor, practical lasers, charge coupled devices (CCDs), and information theory. Bell Labs built the first communication satellites – Telstar.

While it could be argued that AT&T did not reap all of the benefits possible from its inventions, the way that Bell Labs operated presents some useful lessons for organizations looking to improve their innovative capabilities:

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Global Tech Market To Grow By 5.4% In 2013 And 6.7% In 2014

Andrew Bartels

The 2013 New Year has begun with the removal from the global tech market outlook of one risk, that of the US economy going over the fiscal cliff. On New Year's day, the US House of Representatives followed the lead of the US Senate and passed a bill that extends existing tax rates for households with $450,000 or less in income, extends unemployment insurance benefits for 2 million Americans, and renews tax credits for child care, college tuition, and renewable energy production, as well as delaying for two months the automatic spending cuts. While it also allowed Social Security payroll taxes to rise by 2 percentage points — thereby raising the tax burden on poor and middle class people — and did not increase the federal debt ceiling or address entitlement spending, the last-minute compromise does mean that the US tech market no longer has to worry, for now, about big increases in taxes and cuts in spending pushing the US economy into recession.

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The Mobile Power Shift Will Accelerate In 2013

Ted Schadler

Happy New Year! I love holidays because the fog of daily work lifts and important things become clearer. This year, over Christmas, what became suddenly and sparkingly clear is that mobile’s biggest impact is that it shifts power away from institutions and toward individuals. People have a huge advantage when they carry the full power of the Internet and Internet-delivered services in their pockets.

The only question is whether you shift power to customers and employees willingly (and to benefit your company) or whether a disrupter or competitor does it for you. To develop your intution of just how powerful mobile apps make you — and just how much you’ve come to take them for granted — imagine yourself in a room with 30 strangers listening to my colleague Thomas Husson.

Thomas opens the presentation with these words: “Pull your smartphone out of your pocket. [Pause.] Now unlock it. [Pause.] Now hand it to the person next to you.” You immediately feel tense and uncomfortable as you wonder if you should really hand your unlocked phone to a stranger . . . or even a friend or family member. A few people actually do hand their phones over, albeit reluctantly. Thomas then breaks the tension with a chuckle and the room titters with nervous laughter. Two things just happened:

  • First, you realized that you were being asked to hand everything that defines you to a total stranger. Your most intimate and empowering things would be someone else’s. Your bank accounts, your friends, your photos, your shopping list, your email, your documents, your sense of self. You would be handing your identity to a stranger.
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Use Social Media To Drive More Learning

Claire Schooley

My colleagues and I talk often about social collaboration and its tepid adoption. The fact is that it’s hard to get employees to use a tool unless they see a real use for it. This is certainly true in learning. Most of the learning management vendors have some kind of social offering. The uptake depends on the efforts made by the learning department staff to integrate social, and how appropriate social is to the specific learning content. Another stumbling block for learning and social is that using social tools is a change from a typical online learning experience, and it demands some change management. Most people don’t embrace change; they need help in learning to use the tool and they need to see that social has positive effects on their learning.

The purpose of social learning is to provide an environment in which learners share experiences and resources and work together. A social learning environment supports conversations, discussions, and learning from each other. I see a number of ways that organizations are beginning to use social learning.

  • Wrapping a discussion group or instructor blog around an eLearning course. An instructor poses a question related to lesson content; learners react to questions and to comments from their classmates. They may agree, disagree, or provide an alternative viewpoint.
  • Using social learning in project work. Instructors involve online students in project work. They collaborate with their fellow students in planning, developing, and presenting the project results.
  • Tapping the experts. Often called expertise location, employees use a keyword search of employee profiles to identify other employees who have expertise in a certain area. They contact the expert(s) via social media, phone, or email for an asynchronous discussion.
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2013: The Year Of Digital Business

Nigel Fenwick
While Social Business continued to evolve in 2012, 2013 will see the emergence of digital business as a new strategic theme for many firms. What's driving this shift and what does it mean for CIOs, CEOs, and chief digital officers?
 
The Communications Evolution
 
Communications continue to evolve. Consider how humans have transformed communications over the centuries: signal fires; semaphore; Morse code; the telegraph; the telephone; telex; fax; email; SMS; Facebook; and Twitter. I have no doubt that this evolution will continue in 2013 and beyond. Perhaps beyond 2013 we will eventually achieve the ability to communicate our thoughts directly — whether we’ll want to is a different question. As people the world over learn to use new social networking tools, they drop older tools that are no longer useful to them. Regardless of where you are in your personal communications evolution, the undeniable truth is that over the past decade we have significantly changed how people communicate; we are no longer dependent upon email. But social tools and 24/7 mobile access have not removed the complexity or decreased the volume of information we must process. Time remains our most precious resource and we’ll always seek ways to use it more effectively — but social tools are not necessarily the silver bullet we might think. In 2013 we need to rethink business processes to take this new communications paradigm into account.
 
The Social Business Evolution
 
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Lessons From A Photo Book

Claire Schooley

For Christmas, my daughter Sarah gave me a book of photos of last summer’s family trip to Cape Cod. Each page was beautifully designed with descriptions of the events captured in the photos: the great lobster feast . . . the trip to Martha’s Vineyard . . . the day at Old Silver Beach playing in the water. Each page was a different color and had graphics appropriate for the theme conveyed by the pictures. How did she do this? It was a photo book with backgrounds, layouts, and embellishments that she had customized just the way she wanted them. It was template-based and Sarah rearranged pictures, added captions, and chose preset layouts. Tools allowed her to easily organize the page. There’s even spell check and autofill to instantly arrange pictures on a page.

As I read through the book for about the 10th time today, I thought, “This is what we need in online learning simulations!” Subject-matter experts need to be able to create interactive and adaptive game-like simulation activities through easy-to-use tools that use templates with many design options. We know that when learners engage in a simulation, the retention of learning is much longer because they have been involved in learning by doing. Examples include nurses learning how to use a defibrillator to save lives, machine operators recertifying their skills by operating the machine in simulated activities, or bank management training through a suite of simulated psychological activities.

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Why Do So Many Change Management Initiatives Fail?

Claire Schooley

The data shows that 70% of corporate change efforts either totally fail, have lukewarm results, or the change never becomes an integral part of the company culture. As I talk to clients about their change efforts, what’s worked and what hasn’t, some clear patterns emerge.

  • Change is not an event — it’s a process. You make plans for the executive to announce the change to employees. The executive talks about why it’s important for the company to make the change, what the change will look like, and the assistance the company will provide employees during this transformation process. The executive responds to employee questions and recommends that employees discuss any additional questions with their managers. A thoughtful speech, well delivered with empathy around challenges of change . . . it’s good, but it’s not enough. The executives have been thinking about and planning this transformation for weeks or months and know it well. The employees are hearing about the change for the first time, in this hour-long, all-hands company presentation. Anxiety, shock, and fear are typical reactions. Rather than this one-time announcement, make sure executives explain that today’s meeting is the first of many that will be held periodically using different media (web, in-person, email, social network, etc.) to provide updates and answer questions. Remember, half the audience may have heard nothing beyond the statement that major change is going to happen. Fear set in and they began to think about how this change will affect them.
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Internet Escapes Tighter Governmental Controls — For Now

Dan Bieler

Dan Bieler, Enza Iannopollo

Boring as it may appear, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), which just took place in Dubai under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), matters to all Internet users globally. To us, the three most important questions that were discussed are:

  • Should national governments have greater influence over the global regulation of the Internet?
  • Should over-the-top providers (OTTs) like Google and business networks be governed by international telecom regulations?
  • Should the underlying business model of the Internet change from a free and neutral exchange of data to a “sender pays” model?
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