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Archive for June, 2010

by: Bsomich
30  Jun  2010

How to Gain Knowledge from the Online Community

As employees today have increasingly free reign to connect and share data online, the amount of untapped organizational knowledge grows in proportion.  The very nature of online communities allow us to create personas that enable us to say whatever we want, whenever we want, and to whomever we chose.  As our virtual freedom increases, it becomes more and more difficult to identify and make use of concrete, usable information that can help the business in a tangible, measurable way. 

According to Oliver Marks, Enterprise2.0 strategist and consultant, business collaboration should be about “facilitating communication, streamlining processes and providing valuable contextual information to coworkers, against which business value can be measured as increased efficiency and awareness.”

To achieve this end, it is necessary for community managers to create an environment that promotes the exchange of information with a defined and measurable objective in mind.  Much like offline collaboration, the members of the online community must be working towards a common goal and have a framework in place to start from if we are ever to make sense of the information being contributed.  There must also be mutual benefit for both the community and it’s members to promote contribution.

Case in point– The MIKE2.0 project contains a framework of 5 phases and an overall task list for industry collaboration.   Members of the community have open source access to an ever-growing set of Solutions and Assets that can assist them with enterprise projects, while providing opportunity to enhance them for use by other community members.  Aside from the recognition of contributing to a knowledge center accessed by 2,500 members worldwide, contributing members can freely make use of community and wiki information and utilize the platform in real world scenarios

Much different than your typical Zing, LinkedIn group or Q&A forum, where little to no strategy has been devised to guide and make sense of the flow of information.   If we are ever to gain knowledge from the online community and collaboration platform, we need to concentrate not only on driving traffic and dialogue, but setting goals and offering a blueprint for reaching them.

Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
28  Jun  2010

The Case Against Collaboration, Part I

As I familiarize myself more and more with the MIKE2.0 framework, it’s obvious to me that it’s highly contingent upon collaboration. In general, collaboration can be a very good thing. Sometimes, however, something is lost among all of the buzz about collaboration, Web 2.0, and Enterprise 2.0. In particular, I’m talking about the increased difficulty involved on “community” projects.

In a series of posts, I’ll make the case against collaboration. For today, I’ll address some of the benefits of minimizing the number participants on information management projects.

Disclaimers

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m a big believer that the whole can well exceed the sum of its parts. Further, many–if not most–large IT endeavors cannot be handled by one person, no matter how talented. Let’s not forget that many organizations may not employ an individual capable of being the single point of contact. Finally, even “one” were possible, it’s typically not desirable. A defection of employee exit can cripple a project of this ilk.

With these caveats out of the way, let’s talk why collaboration might not make sense for your particular IT or information management (IM) project.

Understanding

In my post a few weeks ago, I wrote about how my current project entails an application fraught with superfluous complexity. While the details aren’t terribly important, suffice it to say that my client’s current app is about a two on a scale of one to ten. Its replacement is about an eight.

Mitigating this complexity, however, is the fact that I am primarily dealing with one person at my new client. Let’s call her Kayla. She’s a smart and seasoned professional who knows the following:

  • the old application
  • her organization’s policies
  • the data
  • the culture and the key players

Long story short: Since Kayla is stepping up to the plate, I can spend most of my time ensuring that she gets it. In turn, she’ll work with end users after I depart. While I am working with others at her company, she’s made it clear that everything should go through her. She’s not being territorial; she just knows how everyone and everything works there. Like me, she wants the project to be successful and making sure that she’s the “super user” is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Communication, Responsiveness, and Clarity

One of the biggest issues continually haunting IT projects has nothing to do with information or technology. That’s right.  Communication issues are the bane of many data and system migrations and have been for quite some time. Long, essentially pointless email chains often confuse, rather than convey. We’ve all been there. Everyone’s copied because of fear of excluding someone from the loop. Or maybe it’s death by meeting. Regardless of the medium, we’re left wondering what on earth we’re trying to do.

Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with these headaches on my current gig. I know that I can send an email to Kayla or call her up to get an answer to a policy, data, or system question. No large email chains or meetings required.

Accountability

Now, I tend to approach the notion of accountability from the vantage point of a consultant. I love the increased accountability of dealing with a single person. Stop me if this sounds familiar: On past projects, I have had to junk or significantly rework documents, custom reports, mini applications, or system configuration because Person A made a decision that Person B was supposed to make. (Obviously, the “authority” issue is highly related to the previously mentioned communications one.)

Again, I really enjoy being held accountable by one person–and concurrently being able to hold her accountable. It’s one of the main reasons that my current project will, in all likelihood, come in ahead of schedule and under budget. I’ll be the last person to take credit for this. Yes, some of this is my doing, but I can only be as good, efficient, and effective as my clients let me. I can say without fear of accurate contradiction that I’d feel worse about the project if I had to ensure that everyone was at Kayla’s level. They don’t seem to have the same skill set and they sure haven’t participated in the project to the same extent that Kayla has.

Simon Says

It’s rarely a wise idea to staff projects with a single person. From a risk mitigation standpoint, I can think of few more foolish decisions than to concentrate all knowledge and power in the hands of one person, no matter how benevolent, loyal, or sharing. People win lotteries and quit jobs for all sorts of reasons, even in a bad economy.

At the same time, however, it’s important to consider the potential limitations and drawbacks of collaboration. Ask yourself if the potential drawbacks are worth its benefits.

Feedback

What do you think?

Category: Enterprise2.0, Information Management
7 Comments »

by: Bsomich
28  Jun  2010

Weekly IM Update.

 
 
 Untitled-1.jpg

A Structural Overview of MIKE2.0 

Here is an intro to the structure of the MIKE2.0 methodology and associated content:

  • A New Model for the Enterprise provides an intro rationale for MIKE2.0
  • What is MIKE2.0? is a good basic intro to the methodology with some of the major diagrams and schematics
  • Introduction to MIKE2.0 is a category of other introductory articles
  • Mike 2.0 How To – provides a listing of basic articles of how to work with and understand the MIKE2.0 system and methodology.
  • Alternative Release Methodologies describes current thinking about how the basic structure of MIKE2.0 can itself be modified and evolve. The site presently follows a hierarchical model with governance for major changes, though branching and other models could be contemplated.

We hope you find this of benefit and welcome any suggestions you may have to improve it.

Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community  

 
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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Does your organization need rewired when it comes to information management? 

From emails and tweets to databases and applications, there is a multitude of internal and external information that employees need to keep up with.  The ability to collect, store, categorize and prioritize that information is paramount to making sound business decisions.  However, to fully maximize the value of operating in our increasingly data-ridden society, it may require a rewiring of the corporate brain.  Organizations must rethink the way they see, store  and use data to be able to make the most of it…

Read the complete post.

The Enterprise 2.0 Consultant 

When I started consulting in 2000 (arguably the height of Enterprise 1.0), I quickly became aware of three general types of consultants:

  • functional consultants who knew how to configure applications
  • technical consultants who worked with security, databases, servers, and other “behind the scenes” things
  • strategic consultants who did, you know, “strategic” stuff

This is no accident. Historically, many large consulting firms or system integrators (SIs) have intentionally segmented consultants for several reasons…

Read complete post. How Information Valuation Will Lead to Knowledge Management 

Recently, the term Information Valuation popped-up in various leading industry reports and in a few blogs, but the term is so new, there isn’t even a Wikipedia entry for it yet (as of June 11th, 2010)! The term does however make a lot of sense and it made me think: it is this just a new term for Knowledge Management or is there more to it and should we worry about it? 

Read complete post.

 
 

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Category: Information Development
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by: Bsomich
24  Jun  2010

Does your organization need rewired when it comes to information management?

From emails and tweets to databases and applications, there is a multitude of internal and external information that employees need to keep up with.  The ability to collect, store, categorize and prioritize that information is paramount to making sound business decisions.  However, to fully maximize the value of operating in our increasingly data-ridden society, it may require a rewiring of the corporate brain.  Organizations must rethink the way they see, store  and use data to be able to make the most of it. 

This often requires an organization to embark on one of more of the following:

  • Analyzing and prioritizing business needs with respect to enterprise information capacity
  • Understanding your corporate culture and to what degree employees value and prioritize information
  • Outlining the departmental and company-wide benefits of effective information management
  • Creating clear communication channels between information, employees and business leaders
  • Building teams and leaders that include employees from both a functional and strategic standpoint
  • Implementing awareness and training plans to ensure employees fully understand their role in the initiative

It’s one thing to understand the benefits of effective information management, and a completely different thing to put it into practice.  By taking the time to first understand the basis and structure of your information needs, culture and capacity before developing a program to improve them, companies should experience better decision making and less costly system failures.

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
23  Jun  2010

Profile Spotlight: Peter Thomas

Peter Thomas

Peter Thomas has 20 years of experience in the IT industry; spanning business intelligence, financial systems, change management and many other areas.

Having spent the first eight years of his career as a manager in a UK software house, more recently he has developed award-winning data warehousing / business intelligence solutions that have been deployed in the European and Latin American operations of a large, multinational insurance organisation.

Peter has run several specific data quality initiatives and of course ensuring the quality of data is a major part of any successful BI project.

Connect with Peter

Category: Information Development, Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
21  Jun  2010

The Enterprise 2.0 Consultant

I was heading to work for my new client this week when something fairly mundane happened to me. While entering the elevator, a woman bristled against me. After apologizing, some small talk ensued:

Me: Don’t worry about it. I’m used to being hit. I’m a consultant.

Nice Lady: What type of consultant are you?

Me: Technology.

This innocuous exchange had me thinking all week.

Now, at 6 am, I’m hardly about to bore a nice lady with a long, detailed description of the nuances of what I do. This isn’t to say that what I–or many consultants–do is fundamentally or necessarily boring. It’s not. But it’s pretty presumptuous of me to assume that, from her query, she wanted anything more than a simple answer to a simple question. Plus, did I mention that it was 6 am?

This little exchange affected me all week. I kept wondering, “What type of consultant am I?”

Traditional Types of Consultants

When I started consulting in 2000 (arguably the height of Enterprise 1.0), I quickly became aware of three general types of consultants:

  • functional consultants who knew how to configure applications
  • technical consultants who worked with security, databases, servers, and other “behind the scenes” things
  • strategic consultants who did, you know, “strategic” stuff

This is no accident. Historically, many large consulting firms or system integrators (SIs) have intentionally segmented consultants for several reasons. For one, to be fair, no one person (no matter how bright) can know everything about a large enterprise application such as Oracle or SAP and the business that it’s trying to serve. Second, it takes time and money to train consultants and SIs to place their consultants on projects to recoup their investments. A byproduct of this second reason is that many consultants have been typecast. SIs would send in specialists at occasionally exorbitant rates because no one consultant could do everything required by its client. Again, this wasn’t altogether false, but the benefit to the SI here should not be overlooked.

Enterprise 2.0 and the Blurring of Terms

So, with Enterprise 2.0, have traditional consultant classifications blurred? Are most consultants becoming equal parts techie, “tool jockey” and trusted business advisor?

Speaking for myself, I’m pretty much staying the course. On enterprise software consulting gigs, I have always tried to know as much as possible about applications, the technology and database tables behind them, and the business reasons for the project. I just didn’t like being pigeon-holed. This isn’t to say that I’m somehow more evolved than all or even most consultants. I’m really don’t think that I am exceptional. I know others who refuse to limit their knowledge to one narrow area. People like us are fundamentally curious and we like to solve problems.

But what about these large SIs? Let’s just say that I have my doubts. For years, I have not seen eye-to-eye with the practices of huge consulting firms for a whole slew of reasons, many of which are outlined in a recent lawsuit. When I read about lawsuits like these and hear stories of IT projects gone wild, I wonder if large SIs are still mired in old ways. Are they continuing to train specialists at a time of collaboration and the widespread dissemination of information? Do they hope that we somehow revert to the halcyon days of Enterprise 1.0?

Feedback

What do you think? What kind of consultant are you? Are strict classifications changing?

Category: Information Development
5 Comments »

by: Bsomich
16  Jun  2010

The Benefits of Information Governance.

Information Governance is defined by Gartner as “the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.” 

Organizations that practice a solid information governance strategy are likely to experience the following benefits:

  • Greater protection of sensitive data
  • Access to critical business intelligence in a timely manner
  • Better information sharing and decision making
  • Increased value of information throughout its lifecycle
  • Decreased information management costs and risks

Many IM professionals are aware that its success is largely dependant on how often information policies are evaluated and adapted as business priorities and market conditions evolve. 

Still, many organizations do not have a formal information governance strategy in place.   An EIU research survey of senior executives from leading companies around the world found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of companies have no formal information governance program in place, a concerning trend that can leave many corporations underperforming and open to preventable risks to sensitive information.

In your experience, why is this?   Is it lack of time and resources?  Or unacknowledgment of the benefits of information governance and the risks if avoided?

Category: Information Governance
5 Comments »

by: Bsomich
15  Jun  2010

Profile Spotlight: Dan Power

 

Dan Power

Dan is President of Hub Solution Designs, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in Master Data Management and Data Governance.

Prior to founding Hub Solution Designs, he was the general manager for Dun & Bradstreet’s strategic alliance with Oracle Corporation.

Mr. Power has twenty years of experience in management consulting, enterprise applications, strategic alliances, marketing, corporate strategy, project management and entrepreneurship at companies like Deloitte & Touche, Computer Sciences Corporation, eCredit and Parson Consulting.

He has worked with Oracle’s MDM, ERP and CRM platforms for more than twelve years. He is frequently an invited speaker at technology conferences and has written several articles for publications such as DM Review. He regularly advises clients on developing & implementing high impact MDM strategies.

He studied Computer Science at Princeton University, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Studies from Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

Connect with Dan

Category: Information Development, Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
14  Jun  2010

8 Rules for Managing Complexity

At my new client this past week, I faced a familiar question: What’s the right level of complexity? I had also been thinking about this question when reviewing the MIKE 2.0 Data Migration Complexity Estimating Model.

Now, there’s no one right answer to this question. Suffice it to say that it’s an interesting topic that I’ve addressed before while writing for my own site and others.

What is an Appropriate Level of Complexity?

Opinions vary on what constitutes an “appropriate” level of complexity for software applications and system architectures. In Software Testing Techniques, Boris Beizer writes that “software complexity (and therefore that of bugs) grows to the limits of our ability to manage that complexity.” In other words, a bare bones IT staff of two people will probably keep things simple for one reason: they don’t have the time and resources to manage anything else.

For his part, Mike Rosen of Cutter has written extensively about how many organizations’ efforts to implement new technologies never stand a chance:

Perhaps nothing is more drawn out and aggravating for an IT organization than what I call “death by architecture.” The story goes like this: the high priests and architects depart for the ivory tower and return some months or years later with “The Revealed Truth,” in the form of 1,000 pages of architecture documents. In the meantime, new applications have been developed, requirements have changed, and the architecture is out of date on delivery. Other reasons may also contribute to its being DOA: It may be irrelevant to the development organization or might not have enough buy-in to be accepted. It may be hard to understand its value or how it achieves business goals, or dozens of other reasons.

Does this sound familiar?

While no organization should build an albatross, what’s “simple and easily maintained” to one company may be unwieldy to another. I know of one organization that has customized its enterprise systems so much that it actually calls the vendor to tell them which line of code to change for future patches! Is this typical? Of course not. However, this organization has ten FT employees supporting its customized apps, aside from functional end users. Obviously, this is a far cry from a small IT staff supporting a ‘vanilla’ installation of an enterprise system.

Simon Says: 8 Rules for Managing Complexity

Here are eight general rules for managing complexity:

  1. Even a moderately complex setup is bound to fail if the organization does not have sufficient human bandwidth to support it.
  2. More complex systems require more people (employees or consultants).
  3. Some people are better able to handle complexity than others.
  4. More complex systems, applications, and integration points and procedures make it harder for others to enter the organization and “hit the ground running.”
  5. Even with backup documentation, a key employee departure could sting an organization with an overly complex array of technologies.
  6. Don’t be afraid to challenge business end users who unknowingly insist upon doing things in an unnecessarily complicated way.
  7. If at all possible, err on the side of simplicity.
  8. Complexity increases the chance of mistakes and, as Michael Sinz once said, “Programming is like sex: one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.”

Let’s face it. What a wonderful world it would be if we could just click a few buttons and our applications would work in perfect synchronicity. Maybe we’ll get there one day and there will be tight and easy integration among our enterprise applications. I just don’t expect that to be soon.

Feedback

What do you think? How do you ensure that your organization’s or clients’ systems are not “too complex”?

Photo by David Guiteriez.

Category: Information Development
3 Comments »

by: Bsomich
12  Jun  2010

Weekly IM Update.

 
 
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Join MIKE2.0 at SemTech 2010 

There will be a face-to-face session on MIKE2.0 and its semantic enterprise offering at the upcoming Semantic Technology Conference 2010. This F2F session on MIKE2.0 will be at 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM on Thurs, June 24. The conference, which expects 1200 attendees or so, is in its sixth year and is being held at at the Hilton Union Square in downtown San Francisco on June 21-25, 2010.

I will be leading the session and offering a few introductory remarks and slides. After that, we are hoping for a lively discussion and Q&A session on MIKE2.0 and its applicability to information development projects. While the emphasis will be on the semantic enterprise, given the broad usefulness of MIKE2.0, all topics will be fair game!

If any MIKE2.0 aficionados or practitioners are in the area, please attend and contribute. And, if you just simply want to learn more and meet others using the methodology, please drop by and join in the discussion.

Hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community  

 
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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Are We Seeing the Death of the Freemium Model?

This past April, popular social networking site Ning announced that it would no longer be able to offer its services for free. In an e-mail to his 40-percent-reduced employees, Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal wrote:

Our premium Ning networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others … drive 75 percent of our monthly U.S. traffic, and those network creators need and will pay for many more services and features from us.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that Rosenthal’s tone was rife with hope. But what if some or even most of Ning’s networks do not opt to pay for previously free services? I personally have been sent emails from soon-to-be-former Ning networks about their plans to move to a different platform rather than pony up..

Read the complete post.

Tips for Utilizing Customer Experience Data 

Customer knowledge and experience data can provide a multitude of business intelligence for companies to make better business decisions, yet it is often an untapped resource due to the complexities of data management and budget restrictions.  Yet especially in tough economic times, it is crucial to have the ability to not only listen to our customer’s needs but respond to them quickly. 

Theresa Kushner, Director of Strategic Marketing Customer Intelligence at Cisco Systems, provides a few suggestions to make the most out of your untapped customer data…

Read complete post. What’s Driving Enterprise Semantic Investments?  

As Web 2.0 applications like price comparison sites, travel planner sites, mashups become more commonplace, consumers are becoming used to and expecting features of the semantic web in their everyday lives – albeit without realizing their presence.

These sites exist because of the interweaving of existing technologies – federated search or content surfacing engines and structured data and/or metadata over unstructured content.

Read complete post.

 
 

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Category: MIKE2.0
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