I just got off the phone with a small software startup called Get Back Software. For $3/team member/month, a department head can use Get Back’s product, called Postware, to put a cap on the number of emails that people in their group can send. The thinking behind this new software as a service is that email has turned from a productivity-enhancing tool into a productivity sinkhole, and that by giving workers a limited “email allowance” you can change their behavior—you can get them to think twice before cc:ing their boss or replying to all, or inviting a colleague to lunch via email rather than by walking down the hall or picking up the phone. I agree with the core premise here—that the productivity benefits of tools like email (and instant messaging and mobile devices) go down when the volume of communications hits a critical mass and when workers have no control over the volume and frequency of interruptions to their work.
My mind is a sieve. It can take a few requests before I remember to do something. And even with a few prods, it takes a while for me to get moving. But I've gotten so many requests along the lines of "What does a collaboration strategy document look like? What should it include?" that it's all I'm thinking about these days.
I will be publishing a sample collaboration strategy document in Q2. If you have developed and documented an enterprise collaboration strategy and would be willing to share it with Forrester for the greater good of industry research--with our promise to guard it and not share it with anyone outside the company--we would love to include you in our research. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday morning I ventured out in the newly-fallen snow for my morning latte. The tree branches were heavy with wet snow. It was gorgeous. But promptly after settling in at my desk I miscalculated the length of my arm and spilled about 12 oz. of coffee and milk all over my laptop. Little red lights blinked a few times and my screen went dark. That was it. Done. Gone. Dead.
I got on the horn with Forrester's top-notch IT group and I had a new laptop at my doorstep in about 24 hours. Forrester IT rocks. But I'm not here to bemoan my clumsiness or sing kudos to our help desk. I'm here to tell you what happened when I took over my husband's laptop for the remainder of the day. He doesn't have Microsoft Office installed on his machine; he uses OpenOffice.org 2.1.
I had no choice -- I gave it a shot. I was able to get some of my tasks done, but not all. And the learning curve was not insignificant. For example:
Something really big is happening. Many companies and even software vendors aren’t aware of it because they’re so busy trying to get their arms around content—put it in repositories, integrate the repositories, manage corporate records, get people to stop emailing documents around—that they’re way too busy to see the ground shifting underneath their feet. This groundswell is about putting content to work—and that means, quite simply, doing something with the content that’s being managed so it creates business advantage.
For years, enterprises, vendors, integrators, consultants and others (including me) have strived mightily to get content under control. It’s still a massive problem: there’s so much content — written documents, presentations, email, web pages, spreadsheets, graphics, videos, podcasts . . . the list goes on — and it’s in every filing cabinet, drawer, hard disk and memory stick. Even today, after years of investing in document imaging, document management, collaboration, and web content management systems, most content is not locked down, versioned and searchable using metadata or tags. But it’s time to move on — “simply” (that’s a laugh) managing content isn’t enough.
This week, the mainstream press reported that Microsoft made a Wikipedia “no-no”: Microsoft offered to pay an independent contributor — Rick Jelliffe — standards expert and the CTO at an Australian tech company — to investigate the accuracy of, and change, if necessary, technical articles about Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) on Wikipedia. ODF is an OASIS and ISO standard and Open XML is Microsoft’s alternative, currently an ECMA standard and potential ISO standard. Kyle McNabb and I were talking about this incident. Here are our thoughts:
Lotusphere was inspiring. The investment and effort that IBM Lotus has made in social computing with its announcement of Lotus Connections is visionary. Although learning is not a part of it in a formal way yet, it’s coming. I spent a number of hours in the Research Lab with researchers from all over the world looking at their ideas; some were more developed than others. These thinkers have taken the step forward in looking at learning as something that is informal, contextual, controlled by the employees, and available when employees need it so they can be successful at a task. 2007 will bring more developments and I’m betting that informal learning will be an important part of Lotusphere 2008. Of course, all this is going to require a culture change within organizations. Companies that encourage people to explore new technology for use as a business tool will be the first adopters. Those, for example, that still don’t allow IM most likely will watch from the sidelines. A knowledge management or collaboration evangelist or champion is important to get social computing started within an organization.