Microsoft today put itself squarely into the enterprise search market by introducing Microsoft Search Server Express 2008. You can download the release candidate from its website and give it a try if you have a Windows 2003 Server with some free space on it. It's free today, and it will be free when it goes to general release in the first quarter of 2008. Don't be fooled by its cost; this is a capable product that will get the attention of anyone considering or in the midst of a search deployment. Search Server will disrupt the strategies of clients and vendors within the already confusing search landscape. It is better than 'good enough' on many fronts, including its connectivity into Documentum and FileNet content repositories — also free — and its unified administration interface. For more insights, take a look at Forrester’s view on the release.
Second Life is an anonymous virtual world — most people cannot identify themselves with avatars that use their real names. I say most people because I suppose there is a chance your name in real life could be Baklava Lacava and you could have picked this combination for your avatar. Oops, no you couldn’t – Rob Koplowitz picked that one a long time ago. Anyway, users in Second Life (called “residents”) choose a first name and a last name from a list of options ranging from realistic to fantastic. For a long time I’ve been thinking that because Second Life is an anonymous world it will be doomed to be no more than experimental grounds for use at work. But yesterday I had a phone interview followed by an in-world tour from Claus Nehmzow, a partner at PA Consulting, a 3,000-person consulting company headquartered in London. My thoughts after talking with Claus:
I picked up a book at the airport last week because 1) It had a pretty cover, and 2) The title was Juicing The Orange: How To Turn Creativity Into A Powerful Business Advantage. I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between the stuff that information and knowledge management (I&KM) pros are doing at work and the business movement toward organizations that are creative and have a heavy emphasis on innovation and design. Juicing The Orange turned out to be about lessons learned specifically in the advertising industry — not exactly my area of expertise. But I couldn't put it down! Many of the points authors Pat Fallon and Fred Senn raise are directly applicable to the efforts I&KM pros are undertaking — especially those who are or who work directly with HR, chief design officers, or other "culture players," as they are described in Juicing The Orange. In particular:
Interwoven has announced its acquisition of Optimost, a company offering Web site testing and optimization through a software-as-a-service model. Optimost enables organizations to use multivariable testing to identify combinations of Web content — such as ads, pricing, and layouts — that get the best response from site visitors (all the better to drive up those conversion rates).
This isn't Interwoven's first effort to appeal to marketers; earlier this year, the company announced a targeting management module that allows non-technical users to manage contextual experiences for Web site visitors. This latest acquisition plays nicely into the story of traditional WCM vendors offering features such as targeting, testing, and analytics that will differentiate them from the platform vendors, which tend to offer more limited functionality in those areas.
My colleague Suresh Vittal commented that this acquisition is just another step in the broader issue of increasing relevance and targeting. The question now is whether Interwoven will continue to add additional components of an online marketing suite, such as enhanced campaign management and Web analytics, in order to further differentiate themselves from their competition.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology, was speaking from experience this morning during his interview by Wall Street Journal Columnist Walt Mossberg at the BIF-3 collaborative innovation summit. By a near-death experience, Wladawsky-Berger was referring to what IBM went through when Bill Gates founded Microsoft and the PC took off. Another example interviewer Mossberg raised during the conversation was Apple, which was in terrible financial straits in the mid 90s and has risen from the ashes to become today’s darling in the consumer electronics and digital music markets. Wladawsky-Berger said that near-death experiences open up the mind to new experiences – they “clean the brain.” These experiences force people to think in new ways and look for new opportunities. For IBM, the Internet became the lifeboat and the company clutched onto it. Later came Linux and other technologies.
As part of the run-up to the Business Innovation Factory summit (BIF-3) currently going on in Providence, Rhode Island, attendees participated in an online social network. On the social networking site, the most common one-word answers to the question “What are 5 keys to innovation?” were rolled up into a tag cloud (see figure). Words that rose to the top of the list included creativity, collaboration, and passion. These are all good.
I am chomping at the bit about the 3D Internet (of which virtual worlds and massive multi-player online games are early iterations). What I see is its potential to improve my work experience dramatically — and the work experience of information workers world-over. Not that I've got it rough — I am privileged to be able to work from my home office in rural Rhode Island when I'm not on the road. But working remotely has two major downsides:
Last week at Forrester's Technology Leadership Forum conference in Carlsbad, CA, I did 3 presentations and workshops on collaboration — and Information Workplace (IW)-related topics, all of which turned into highly interactive discussions. I'll find out when I see the participants' feedback whether this was good or bad, but in one of these sessions we never got past the agenda slide. During the 2-day event I also had 16 one-on-one meetings with attendees and spoke with many other people informally during meals and breaks. A few things jumped out at me. Today, information and knowledge management professionals:
Web 2.0 is hitting the preschool set, as children's TV favorite Sesame Street is now producing a weekly video podcast. Each video podcast is five minutes long and features content repurposed from the show’s broadcasts. The content is available as a download on the show’s Web site and via an RSS feed, as well as through iTunes (apparently to help keep the wee ones occupied and educated while they're being dragged around town on errands).
So even the Muppets are finding new ways of engaging their customers by distributing Web 2.0-type content through multiple channels. Hope they’re using a digital asset management system and a good solid taxonomy while they’re at it.