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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Improving your use of Google

A good post by Dennis Kennedy via his writings on the ABA Web site. He has written a brief article on how to use Google effectively especially with searches.

So here is the article and if you use it in your blog be sure to reference Dennis Kennedy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Firefox add on you should have

I've been out and about watching the 20/20 cricket over the last few days at Edgbaston so my time for blog posting has been a bit limited. However last week I downloaded Firefox 3 and I've been looking for some useful extensions. Well I've found one and although it is in beta it does enhance my use of Google Reader by a company called feedly.

This has provided me with a good reading platform and allows me to save articles in Google reader but also I can pass them on to other people who follow me on Twitter and can be advised instantly of a useful web site or web article. For me the good integration with Google Reader is excellent though I did have to delete some feeds that were saved to Google Reader from some of my other sites.

A nice piece of eye candy is the ability to create a screen saver of articles and then click on this to read. It would be great to have say on an intranet where new articles appear as a screen saver and then you click on the article that you want to read. A good attention grabber.

I should say that this is available on Firefox only and is still a work in progress and no doubt will improve over time. It is the one function, that would make me switch from using google reader as my standard blog reader and saver.

Monday, June 16, 2008

iPhone - a 3rd revolution?

Now that it is one week since all the hoopla of the WWDC and the launch of the iPhone Version 2, I've been reflecting on this and also thinking whether this is the time for me to switch.

The new iPhone answers some of the questions that I had in terms of allowing 3 G and GPS and also for its future if it is going to really tackle the corporate market - dealing with CIO's queries about working with their systems.

The main point was the price point - numerous bloggers felt that iPhone 1 was really aimed at the first adopters and the price in the UK of £100 for the 8GB version is within peoples pain threshold especially as in the European market - most phones are free and subsidised by the supplier.

The main thing was that although some of Apple's work in this area is a slight sense of catch up technologically - what no one does better than Apple is in ist very high standards in terms of design (the wow factor) and more crucially the ease of use for people. Talking to users of the iPhone 1 they said that even with it's limited offering they found it easy to use a significant number of the functions as well as the music (remember this doubles as an iPod also).

A number of commentators highlighted that Steve Jobs looked unwell (even though he is 53 - he did have surgery 4 years ago for pancreatic cancer). He also delegated a lot more of the key note to other speakers than he has in the past.

Maybe the iPhone is Steve Jobs 3rd revolution in the field of technology in terms of computers. He 1st did this in 1984 with the original Macintosh by utilising the GUI we all use today. Then the 2nd revolution was the developmenht of the iPod and iTunes and now the iPhone with it's attendant app Store which makes it into a handheld computer with software.

Apple have always tried to make using the technology not only a triumph of design but also an easy to use for those of us who aren't computer geeks.

Simplicity uber alles would summarise the Apple technology for me and why I will continue to use it.

If the iPhone is to Steve Jobs last major contribution to consumer technology, then what a way to bow out - most of us never have the opportunity to be revolutionary - he may have achieved three revolutions in his career in consumer technology and interestingly bought them closer to what Bill Gates wanted in terms of a computer on everyones desk. Jobs may have liberated that to one in everyones hand.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I was reading an interesting article last night from McKinsey's which was an interview with Marina Levinson the chief information officer of Net App in California.

I'm always interested in trends in this area as I have worked in organisations where the IT function seemed to take a perverse delight in hindering and not helping the business to develop or even automate certain functions or helping us to analyse information.

It was interesting, that for the major parts of the business that had say a global aspect, that there was a key decision maker in the IT department who was allocated to cover that business.

In these days where more organisations are covering a matrix style organisational structure and project teams that form and dissolve that a key IT person who can deliver IT that helps that business improve itself and understands the type of business and the work that it undertakes would be of benefit. The hope is that they would be a partner and not a stopper.

Based on that the concept of the IT link to a large part of the business would enable that person to answer two key questions in my mind:-

' How can IT help my division to be able to collaborate effectively, to assist innovation and to capture and share knowledge with a high level of systemic reliability'

' What are your business challenges and how can IT aid you in delivering on these challenges.'

The IT person attached to the business should look to see where the capability gaps are - ie does the IT support the divisions strategic delivery plans.

They should also consider whether they should buy in IT - or if the capability exists build the software them selves.

This week, there has been a major conference on Enterprise 2.0 and I find one particular question and response of interest in the light of that conference and also from a KM viewpoint.


In the last decade, companies made major investments in automating structured processes and routine tasks. More recently, investment has supported knowledge workers who base decisions on a combination of structured and unstructured input and dialogue. How do you see this shift?


There isn’t much innovation left in the structured world. If you want to innovate, you really need to look at collaboration and the creation of communities. Businesses are not as advanced as consumers in creating these communities, but I think there are a lot of opportunities for very interesting innovation that we haven’t seen yet.

We have some of this activity happening at the grassroots level in our company, such as deploying wikis for the engineering staff. But it will become necessary to develop a Web 2.0 strategy that benefits the entire company. You have to allow some chaos at first to get people to experiment. But at some point, you have to create a framework, some kind of order. And, of course, it’s impossible to quantify the benefits right now—you just need to believe that collaborative technologies help to improve employee productivity.

Amen to that and I also see the job of the IT person to ensure that projects are delivered - one post I read last week about how to kill enterprise 2.0 in the business had this quote.

They will grind down their early adopters until they give up. I'd like to add that this can be done through the bureaucracy within companies where a good idea is lost in some Kafkaesque procedure until either the idea is lost, or takes so long the technology is obsolete.

I've put a link to Euan Semple's article here and it is interesting to read as are the comments. It begs two questions.

  • whether the majority of organisations are like this and
  • are IT departments themselves agents of change or agents of reaction.

I'd also like to agree with a comment from Steve Dale who cross posted this article. I agree with him that in some organisations the phrase one size must fit all is used.

The beauty of Web 2.0 is in it's flexibility and ease to set up and if people within an organisation are frustrated by the lack of internal solutions then they will go and find workable external solutions that are cheap enough to sneak below the budgetary radar.

Knowledge workers require IT that helps them in their job and answers the top two questions. These tools can help and support a firms knowledge management process though it is always the people first and the technology second - you shouldn't start by looking at it through a technological prism.

In the end the IT is a tool that can help you move from being an island of knowledge to an army of people who see knowledge and its use as they key weapon in your businesses future survival thorough collaborative and connective technology and person to person communities.

As regular readers will know - KM in my eyes is the convergence of people, technology and process to help the organisation meet its strategic aims.


Many thanks to Doug Cornelius and all the others who have placed their thoughts on the E 2.0 conference during the course of the week. I wish I could have been there - despite the problems with the wifi - their posts have been excellent and I will no doubt post about this during the course of next week when I've reflected on it

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Keynote Speech from WWDC - announcing iPhone

Here is the link to the keynote speech at WWDC from last night. First reaction looks promising to the new version - presses most peoples buttons, though a few would want a better camera and the ability to MMS - though I think the second will be answered via App store - anyway enjoy the performance. Note also how Jobs crafts his message and does his presentations - very simple but very effective.
(PS - this will also be on iTunes as a vodcast - so that you can download)

Monday, June 09, 2008

iPhone 2.0 with 3 G announced today.

Here is the video of the new iPhone for people to look at. I think that Apple have come up with an offering that every IT manager will be looking at over the next 12 months and may have a queue outside their door for tomorrow morning especially as major firms in the Fortune 500 have been using it and finding it completely satisfied with the way it integrates into their enterprise system. 

Apple for me have answered every question that has been posed at it - in terms of price point etc and features that make it a no brainer for me - even the ability to post a blog entry and to twitter.. 

Just hope that o2 don't queer the pitch in the UK with the 3G option by poor pricing. No doubt this will all be sorted by launch date of 11th July in the UK.

For those of you interested and with pictures here is the link to Appleinsider

Friday, June 06, 2008

Web 2.0 - is it at a financially viable tipping point?

I've been looking at Web 2.0 sites more following downloading the excellent Flock browser which is one of the best that I've seen for handling all my social media and RSS needs. Though I've been noticing some simialrities between Web 1.0 and 2.0 - in that there is a lot of money probably being put in by venture capitalists into these sites I didn't realise how many sites there where out there until I say the directory of web 2.0 sites that some one has compiled at go2web20.

I don't think even allowing for the incredible growth of this market, that all these sites are going to be taken over by Google/Microsoft et al - so some of these are going to either fold or consolidate over the next year or so especially as the credit crunch bites in the global economy. I've tended to stick with social media that I think is likely to make it through either because of it's connections with large players - or it's ability to stand on its own financially (in my unsophisticated opinion.

Just something for you to think about when using social media for something work related. Being cuatious I have both browser and social bookmarking for all my bookmarks just in case one of the SM sites folds.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Conference & WWDC - some pre-thoughts.

This conference is in Boston next week and I wish I was there to listen to people like Andrew McAfee talk about it. He basically has given E 2.0 some academic kudos as well as being a thoughtful blogger.

From what I'm reading around in the blogosphere, there is some guerilla infiltration in to the enterprise of Web 2.0 softwarebut as of yet security conscious IT departments are trying to block usage.

Whereas new entrants when confronted by legacy systems are wondering why the companies they work for haven't got the tools they are using as students.

I think also that there is still the perception by senior management as there was in the early days of the Internet that having Twitter, Face book etc is a slackers charter.

So next week I will be looking at what is posted out of the conference and be making comment for people to view.

Also next week - is the WWDC (developers conference for Apple.

The big player here will be iPhone with the 2nd generation likely to be launched. I think that this will be big as Apple launched a development kit for people to develop extra applications for the iPhone.

A bit like enterprise 2.0 will we see people over the next 12 months using these rather than the ubiquitous blackberry - probably not but I wouldn't want to be like one dinosaur sounding IT manager who is quoted as saying we are a blackberry shop and that's the way we are going to stay.

Be interesting to see how and if that starts to change as more enterprise friendly applications are developed in the near future and what is announced at WWDC. Though I do realise that IT Managers do have a number of issues such as compatibility that they need to consider - I don't think that you can just write off the iPhone especially if the enterprise element is sketched out in more detail next week.

UPDATE - the quote in full which I referred to is as follows.

"I have nothing against iPhone. It's great," says Manjit Singh, CIO at Chiquita Brands International Inc. "But we're a BlackBerry shop, and I don't think iPhone brings anything new to the table. It has a great user experience, but that's all."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques

My previous link about Tax freedom day shouldn't negate some of the excellent work being done by IDEA which is the improvement and development agency for local government. I often browse over to their site as I'm aware that they have an interest in knowledge management and one of my fellow bloggers Steve Dale does a lot of work with them - so this is a belated hat tip to him also. Anyway if you are just thinking about possible tools and techniques for knowledge management for your business, can I recommend their recent publication covering this (click on the title for access to the link)

It breaks the tools up into three key sectors namely

  1. Connecting people to information and knowledge
  2. Connecting people to people
  3. organisation improvement.
It covers the time and tested classics in a informative and easy to digest format that would provide a good starting point especially when dealing with busy managers.

I'm very happy to passon this link to people and would recommend people to bookmark this site in their favourites.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tax Freedom day

For those of us in the UK, today as the Adam Smith Institute reminds us is Tax Freedom day. The day we actually start working for ourselves and finally finish paying for the government expenditure. As the ASI points out this day is steadily increasing and is now a week longer than it was in 1997. (It was April 27th in 1965).

Governments of all persuasions should remember Colbert's maxim on taxation. He said that the art of raising tax is to ensure that you pluck the feathers without the geese noticing.

Looking at recent headlines, - I think the geese have and they have a sharp bite.

If you'd like to read more, then click on the title to this post.

Jack Vinson's thoughts on Knowledge Management

I've been reading a lot of Jack Vinson's blogs on knowledge management and always found him to be a pragmatic knowledge manager. I'm pleased to see he's been quoted by Stan Garfield over at Hewlett Packard - who asked him what words of wisdom he'd want to pass on.

Jack has two points that he makes that chime in closely with mine

Words of wisdom on KM:
  • It's not about the knowledge, it's about connecting people who have useful information to those who need it - whether you connect them face-to-face, or it is mediated via technology (and time).
  • It is very easy to get locked into one method of doing knowledge management. Be curious about options for KM. Test things out, ask your colleagues. Then make your decisions as they work in your environment."
I've always believed that people are the most important element in knowledge management, but I am excited by the range of potential options that are available for firms to use - if they are brave and trust their staff. It reminds me of the conversations that I had when the Internet was in it's infancy and I campaigned with managers to allow it in. They felt that people would goof off and productivity would suffer. It didn't because people used it to access information that they recycled.

The second one is all too easy to get sucked into. The danger of a one size fits all paradigm - there are always some options and try to devise a system that is flexible and meets the internal communities needs. They may not always work first time out - but it is always a learning experience that we can use for version 2.

Social Media in plain English

As many of you know - I'm a great fan of Common Crafts excellent videos as a way of explaining briefly - some of the new ideas going round.

(Picked it up via RSS feed but also thanks to Steve Dale for also picking it up- stops me missing things)

They've recently done a recent video on what social media is.

If you click on the video then it will play

Social Media in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

A good use of analogy - using ice cream. I think that there is a lesson for any company which is looking to update its internet site in the near future. Start to get feedback from your fans known and unknown to comment on your site or products. Perhaps contact them with some exclusive products such as thought papers and ask them to comment in advance. Beta testing for thought papers.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Coming back

I'm sorry if I haven't been posting for some time, but I've been busy dealing with some issues post conference in Hong Kong. Also about once a year, I try to take a break from posting, to stop myself going stale - but also to try to be a little more thoughtful in my blog posts.

I usually recognise the signs of staleness, and my wife who reads my posts is a very good judge of when I'm not writing at my best.

So I've stared posting tonight and I think that I will have some more interesting posts for people to view and hopefully learn from.

I write the blog mostly as an aide memoire to myself but if one person reads what I put and finds it helpful, then I feel I've helped a little to share knowledge.
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