Where are Implicit Connections and Business Intelligence for Unstructured Communication?

By John Brunswick posted 10-17-2010 16:45


Even with some level of unified communications, we spend a frustratingly large amount of time tracking down materials related to conversations, accounts and projects that we are working on. We may have project management tools, integrated email, calendar and voice tools, but they are primarily geared toward the only the storage of information and provide rudimentary search capabilities.

We are spending too much precious time trying to connect and recall unstructured communications

As much as technology has progressed the past few years it is nearly impossible to effectively track down what specific activities we did two weeks ago, let alone last week, in our enterprise systems. Taking things a step further - answering what was done within those activities requires some serious detective work. Finding unstructured information related those activities can be even more problematic.

With enterprise systems providing broad collaborative capabilities, shouldn't these systems be able to provide the answer? We are very good at storing information, but have only started to scratch the surface of analyzing this information to assist decision making and speed knowledge work.

Not only could we save time, letting our systems work for us to provide details to the questions above, but use this knowledge to be more effective communicators.

Common Time Consuming Detours

  • Where did a particular conversation leave off?
  • What were the details of what was decided at the meeting last month?
  • Where did we place a document in relation to a call or meeting?
  • What materials elsewhere in the enterprise might be related to a call or meeting?
  • What activities was I involved in last week?
  • What documents, blogs, wikis or other systems did I use in relation to a call, meeting or project?

Going Beyond Storage of Unstructured Information
The technologies all exist today and the software marketplace supplies companies with a broad range of offerings. With that being said it seems as though most vendors supply a means of storing the information and offering collaborative functionality, but beyond activity streams, stop short of providing deep BI capability into the way that we work with unstructured information.

Companies like Xobni have made some inroads around this, but they are just scratching the surface of what would be possible in the enterprise.

Imagine correlating voice, calendar, email and collaborative functionality to trends and associations based on time, contents and themes of calls and emails. With this knowledge it would be much easier to look back in time and or browse through concepts, enabling data that was once difficult to track down to be shown in the context of the activities that it supports.

  • Visually understand what occurred over the course of a day
  • Ability to search and locate trends in my voice communications
  • Visually browse daily voice communications by top keywords by call
  • Discussion, blog and other data needs to be available in the same search / analytics context
  • Correlate unstructured information with business events for event based lookups

It is by no means a simple exercise, but time and energy spent correlating these activities will have a real payoff around time and efficiency in knowledge work.  It will be interesting to watch tools evolve to support this - will this one day be part of standard communication / collaboration suites?

#UnifiedCommunications #BusinessIntelligence #BI #Content Analytics