Mashup Enterprise a Social Creature that will be a peril for Findability?

By Fredric Landqvist posted 11-16-2011 20:15


Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business are set out to be the remedy for many bewildered organisations, who are strapped back by legacy dated to Stonehenge. There are several real tidbits if you apply a pragmatic social business design, and align this with the abundance of academic research about creating sustainable collaboration. Witnesses from the trenches (#e2conf , #socbiz, #collaboration) make it pretty clear that this is an social creature difficult to tame. The governance of social, put Executive teams into limbo, if they don’t sign-up to the open-leadership mantra, and apply networked governance models.

Everyday work practice amongst practitioners who act at the fringe of the organisation to undertake their daily pursuit and tasks, leave digital trails into the mashup world outside the company walled garden. When our digital workplace don’t measure up to our demand, we start tinkering with dropbox, evernote, g+, ning, google apps and the like. If you live in a nicely cultivated and nurtured walled garden with blooming flowers, passionate peers who share and engage and gardeners who take away the weeds and make simple to follow pathways. You are a happy fellow. Sadly most corporate intranet, and internal information environments renders a mix of user experiences, and where social flavor is only a lipstick on the dying pig. Wayfinding is a matter of corporate survival, hence heavy vested interests in information management. In all repositories, structured or unstructured. Wishful thinking is to live long enough to see the day when the digital workplace or social intranet is seamless and actually levers on its promise.

Regardless of what models you use to deliver the digital habitats that your fellow members of staff use, through platform (Sharepoint, Notes or the like) or integration. You will by the end of the day have a mix of uses across the business, and incorporated also the use of emerging social platforms that are cloud-based, i.e. SalesForce Chatter, Yammer. Directories of staff mixed with LinkedIn to render the profile pages driving the personalisation or filtering. We all know that the most sought after features are related to finding peers to solve my daily issues and pains and to form groups. Who owns your enterprise social-graph? Will Facebook or LinkedIn derive the networks you can’t visualise inside? When your staff members spend more time sharing inside out.

Enterprise Information Management, and Information Architecture has never been a more complex task to undertake. How do you get pragmatic Information & Data Governance around this hydra? The never ending struggle for anyone up to Information Management and Information Architecture in a large enterprise, trying to keep the herd into coherent content provision based upon the game plan. Decided information management & data principles. Apply machinery and semi-automagic (master data, information models, integration, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, ontologies, search engines etc) processes and tools to get the refinery and pipe-line from the information data crude oil into high-quality, timely and relevant use in the business.

For me being a Linked Enterprise Data enthusiast I would bet a coin or two on that pragmatic way of bridge different data sets and uses. The Mashup Enterprise needs to engage in Information Management and Data partnership with preferred suppliers of services online and demand interoperability and features and options to develop Linked Enterprise Data. Without full access and applied access principles into these domains. It will be extremely difficult to deliver decent findability and seamless digital workplace user experiences. There will also be a learning curve to tutor the end users what tools to apply and when. Especially when platforms, spaces and habitats blend without depicted borders.

A couple of living examples

  1. The widely used mix of Yammer and Sharepoint, which makes sense because microblogging eases the pain to get cross talk compared to document-sharing which is the upbringing of the Sharepoint platform. Even if Sharepoint struggles in every incarnation to become a more socialable fellow on the block. Silo conversations resurrected, different platform but same social path. It is a nightmare to integrate these two seamingly easy to use platforms into one coherent way of working. Simple things as sharing links from Sharepoint into useful URL’s that engage people in conversations on the cross talk channel (Yammer), or populate the mySite features with a blend of contribution in either platform. Not only a silo appearance in a building block from Yammer. Lastly searching across the channels to find peers based upon their expertise and contribution? How? The integration becomes lipstick on a pig. How do one apply information lifecycle management when conversations reside in another service? Same goes for social-tagging features incorporated in Sharepoint. A good thing in their latest incarnation, but if you work for a company not Microsoft ONLY, you want your folksonomies develop in a platform agnostic manner. That isn’t stuck into one space?
  2. Collaborative Space to undertake inter-organisational sharing. When people group to solve issues, it is a very common that they fail to agree on one of the active participating organisations preferred collaborative ‘semi-internal’ platform. Hence the rise of Google Apps or Dropbox, or more project oriented spaces like ProjectPlace and the like. If the lion part of essential and mission critical content provision is undertaken in these space. The internal spaces will become nice places but empty. Staff members do act at the fringe of the organisation. In the everyday block of professionals dealing with information management, it becomes tricky since it is very difficult to get proper access and integrate the information and data into the Refinement and Pipeline (read Enterprise Search).
  3. Personal Information Management, is where all this starts. Bring Your Own trend is already giving the IT-manager headache, and topping this is the individual preferred choices where I like to store, share and govern my information and data. From personal perspective DropBox is brilliant and simple way to get away from email with heavy attachments and do really simple sharing. Same goes for collaborative notes taken in Evernote on either platform. It just works. But then....going from the small circles of invited peers who participate to Enterprise isn't that easy. You end up having loads of personal and shared folders. The great thing is that these services do co-act with Desktop Search on either OS, so you feel like they sit on your own set of devices. It would be smart to address this group and sharing effort with easy integration means when the virtual folder gets crowded with fellow users inside and outside your company. Kindly send a invitation the Enterprise Search Service inside, sayin' here is a pile of content and add some relevant metadata and contextual stuff to it. And off you go, you will get an expanded enterprise findability?!

Conclusion: If findability have been a hard nut to crack in one closed enterprise setting it will become a death march in the Mashup Enterprise ;-)

Yet another twist to this stew, is the notion, mobile first design approach to user experience. We are just seeing the cues to future ubicomp uses. But since consumer products like iPad will become ‘my precious’ (Gollum) for all top executives. It is a no brainer to envision this path already today. The mobile intranet? Well it makes no sense to squeeze all into one size fits all. Interesting innovations in this, might be using already popular apps as a bridge for corporate messages and connections? The reason why Yammer works, and triggers the conversations today relates in its availability on all platforms, iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS and so forth. You get business triggers in your iPhone and happily engage. Why not integrate the corporate news stories and even collaborative feeds into a nicely displayed and socially enabled platform as Flipboard for iPad? I would love to pick up myIntranet reading there together with my tweets, Facebook updates and Google Reader feed. No worries, but whatabout control? Apply Identity2.0 with i.e. OAuth2.0. If your mobile staff members never sit down in front of the stationary computer your messages will be obsolete anyhow!

Do these simple ideas resonate? Will all these choices of platforms, channels and spaces give us a new profession, being content choreographs? where we will help make do in the art of dynamic content? I am happy to take on any conversation and Hangouts with fellow peers at G+

My next post, based upon these drafted ideas, will be the Content Choreograph toolbox. When will EA-tools, IM-tools, Stats and measurement and the like make for a seamless collaborative workplace? Today my everyday work feels like trying to build a Lego MindStorms robot with my fathers outdated Meccano from the 50’s. Tinkering everday!

#mashup #findability #SocialBusiness #informationarchitecture #informationmanagement #Search