We lost a true visionary last week –Steve Jobs died at the early age of 56. We have heard some compare Steve to the Thomas Edison of our generation. Only time will tell if this is true. One thing for certain, like Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs definitely transformed the way that we use technology in our daily lives. Jobs was known for his creativity and the ability to create a new market for his products. He had an instinct for being able to properly package technology so that it was easy and fun to use. The products most often didn’t even need a user’s manual to get started. – just push a button and the device will light up and guide the user through the setup process. Not only are they easy to use, the products work as expected. It’s intuitive.
Over the years, we have realized that this packaging holds true for delivering collaborative technologies. If people in an organization want to collaborate but the tools are not easy to use, will they go the extra mile to collaborate or will the barriers still be too high? When people go to the collaboration site and no one is there, will they come back? The key in the corporate environment is to put collaboration literally at the fingertips of employees and to generate mass involvement—which is the only way that collaboration works. Quite often organizations launch a new collaborative environment within their organization with great fan fare only to discover that it doesn’t get much use. Collaboration applications are unlike most applications used within your organization.
A collaboration solution is used throughout the entire organization, whereas only a portion of the organization uses other applications, such as an accounting package. Because of this, it’s important to understand how to package the collaborative functionality so that it’s easily accessible by all users within the organization. If the collaboration mechanisms are seamlessly integrated into the programs you use on a daily basis, you can share a document or initiate a chat without having to change your focus. If the collaborative capabilities are packaged properly, users will automatically begin to use them and use them often. This in turn will drive others to use the capabilities which will lead toward the successful use of collaborative technology in your organization.
There’s no disputing it – between our computers, netbooks, ipads and smart phones we generate an insurmountable amount of data every day. The items we purchase, the websites we view, the web searches we make and the blogs and articles that we write and view every day generate the bulk of this data. Most of this information is used to improve search results or to help companies and marketing firms develop better ways to market their goods and services to us.
Some organizations are looking at how to use these large quantities of data to make better decisions or alert the public. WellPoint and IBM announced an agreement to put Watson to work in Health Care. Watson is IBM’s computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer question. For this initiative, Watson will pour through millions of healthcare related data to help physicians identify the most likely diagnosis and treatment options in complex cases. In addition, this past weekend the Wall Street Journal contained an article entitled Decoding our Chatter which focused on analyzing data from Twitter and other social media sites. Twitter texts are as timely as a pulse beat and, taken together, automatically compile the raw material of social history. The Twitter analysis indicated that the Tweets about the Virginia earthquake reached New York before the tremors. This information is a treasure chest of information for researchers interested in compiling the raw material of social history.
How can we make better use of these large quantities of data within our organizations to make better decisions? What if we had these social networking tools within our work environment and added the data from these tools to our corporate knowledge base? This would allow the various social networking exchanges to be captured and searched – after all, if is often the case that the most valuable knowledge is distributed in various bits and pieces across the workforce. Adding these workplace social networking communications to the corporate data set would provide a greater chance for the information to be available to the company at large.
The better organizations get at mining their knowledge bases to extract relevant information, the more competitive they will be. One of the keys is to start thinking of your collaborative interactions as part of your knowledge base.