E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Collaboration

Content Management Taken to the Extreme ?

That is exactly what I thought about, folks, as soon as I read about the recent announcement on ZDNet (Google touts new features in desktop tool) on the latest release of Google Desktop Search version 2.

Say, for instance, that you have got a whole bunch of e-mails, IM conversations, presentations, word processing documents, local Lotus Notes databases, PDF files and a whole bunch of other stuff that you have been accumulating for quite some time now. I am sure that you would agree that in most cases it would probably take you quite some time to search for what you were looking for. And in such an on demand world as today I doubt we would be able to afford having to spend hours and hours searching for your own content, without even going into the Internet to get some more.

In a world where we may be working with a number of disperse team members, having always access to the right information at the right time and in the right context  (Does that ring a bell ?) could become key towards the success of that interaction. That exchange of knowledge and information cannot longer reside on waiting for ages to find the documents you need. That is something from the past. Managing your content has now become much easier than ever before. And therefore people have got the opportunity to focus more on collaborating with others and sharing knowledge than just search for their own information.

And this is the case where Google Desktop Search version 2 comes into place. I know that there are other different options out there like Copernic Desktop Search or Blinkx, to mention a couple of them, and they may be even better than Google’s option. In fact, I have been trying Copernic’s and Blinkx’s offerings and I have been quite content with them for a long while now. However, ever since I decided to take Google Desktop Search version 2 for a spin I haven’t looked back. It provides me with all I need to continue working with my teams in such a way that information is available right away as we speak and in front of my screen. That on demand thing strikes again ! And instead of having to figure out where the information is stored I can just get it right on the spot with a relatively simple search query.

But the tipping point that made never go back from GDSv2 is the fact with this newest version it allows me to index all of the different file types from the commonest applications I use on a daily basis plus all my local Lotus Notes databases, too ! Which is just all I need to be able to manage my content in a seamless way and with me always in control.

So whoever else out there was saying they cannot longer manage the information they have stored in their computers I guess it would be a good option to give a try to Google Desktop Search version 2. It may work for you, or it may not work. One thing for sure is that “Knowledge is Power” and now you are in control of that power. So go and use it !

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Blogging Means Business

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

You have probably seen this already, as it was published during the course of yesterday, but, just in case, you may not have seen it yet, over at IBM – On Demand Business there is a very interesting article about an interview with both IBM executives Harriet Pearson and Willy Chiu around the topic of weblogs: Blogging Means Business.

There have been a couple of people already weblogging on the topic, including BL Ochman and Neville Hobson, and I have just watched and listened to the interview and I can seriously recommend it to anybody who feels that corporate weblogging is not as important and key as they may have expected. Certainly, after you have watched and listened to the interview your opinion about weblogs will be different. I am sure. Both Harriet and Willy have always been inspiring enough to deliver very powerful messages and this time around they have done it again. Just to give you a quick excerpt of what they both talked about in Blogging Means Business here you have got a couple of random thoughts taken out of the interview about what weblogging means for IBM:

Weblogs is all about sharing expertise, building (And maintaining) a connection between different people with similar interests. A key element though is to keep on listening ! Listening to people who have got something to say about you, your product, your company, you name it. You cannot longer ignore the weblogging phenomenon. Yes, indeed, this is something that I have been mentioning myself for quite some time now.

Weblogs is all about how open do you want your company to be as you will be communicating with the whole world, whether you have an Intranet or an Internet weblog. Having weblogs will create customer loyalty, they will speed up innovation, team and different collaborative services. In short, “Weblogging is the glue that brings all the experts together within the company”, and beyond.

Lots of good information out there, indeed, folks, including as well some statistics on the number of IBM internal weblogs. A must watch if you are planning to get into weblogs, but do not know enough on how to get things going, as another powerful enabler to encourage people to collaborate and share knowledge with one another in a much more intuitive and direct way.

Thus with all that said I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank both Willy and Harriet for taking the initiative to show how committed IBM is to weblogging. And as far as the credibility from both Harriet and Willy is concerned, since they do not have an external weblog (Yet), I can only say that having one of the first Intranet weblogs myself I have always found their own internal weblogs very inspiring about what the whole phenomenon of weblogging is all about. I am sure that sooner or later, at one point or another, they will dive into creating their own external weblogs and continue delivering those key messages on how beneficial weblogging can be for any company who wants to be open. So stay tuned !

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Harnessing Your Interstitial Time

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

Over time, you always have got a tendency to get the same types of questions over and over again. Yet, for some of them there are easier ways of finding a solution than for others where it would require some substantial work. Funny thing is that those recurring questions seem to be slightly more complicated every time they come up. And this is what has been happening to me over the last few months. Lots and lots of people have been asking me over and over again how they can go ahead and share their knowledge and collaborate with their peers when they are busy doing something else working on the different projects they may be involved with. The complicated item in here as well is the situation were lots of people think that sharing knowledge is a hardworking activity that would require substantial amount of time and therefore some people think that sharing knowledge is just not worth their time and effort. Boy, are they just so wrong or what?

Sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers is just an activity you engage with just whenever you have got some free time for it, not when somebody tells you to do so. Sharing knowledge cannot be imposed on anyone, no matter what people say, and cannot be rewarded or incentivised like it is happening in most cases all over the place. Instead, sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers needs to be encouraged and promoted as an ad-hoc activity for those spare or idle moments in between much more complicated activities. And since lots of people keep on asking me how to get engaged in such a way where they could share their knowledge with little effort but still getting the most out of the experience I just advise them to check out the following weblog post from 43folders: Harnessing your interstitial time.

Harnessing your interstitial time is probably one of the best reads I have come across in months as it clearly puts together a very strong and clear message as to what Knowledge Management and collaboration is all about. It is not about writing long essays or books or updating websites with some large content or when creating lengthy weblog posts that would take ages for people to digest. It is more about spending some time on those idle moments, where nothing seems to be happening while we wait for things to take place, when we can take the most advantage for knowledge sharing and collaboration. That is when the inspiration and the motivation would come up to share some knowledge with your colleagues. The key thing from Harnessing your interstitial time is that it brings forward a message that anybody can do apply successfully Knowledge Management principles about sharing knowledge and collaborating with others who may need to know or be aware of what is happening.

And as you can read from the weblog post there are tons of ideas for short activities to get engage with in order to share knowledge with others. Sometimes a simple phone call, or an e-mail, or an IM / VoIP conversation with others would be more than enough to get the ball rolling and start sharing for the benefit of the group. And this is what 43folders has put together very nicely. A good listing of impressive tips with which nobody can say there is any longer an excuse to share knowledge with your peers, since we are all having lots of idle moments during the course of the day, and yet we do not get anything done during those time lapses. Well, maybe we should do something now, maybe we should start taking much more seriously Knowledge Management and encourage folks that the benefits of knowledge sharing and collaboration are much more rewarding than working in your own silo without looking any further. And on top of that you can do it in a much shorter time than you thought. Or not ? Thus are you harnessing your interstitial time well enough or are you thinking that those idle moments are still unproductive and you are just as fine with that? I guess you decide but let me tell you how easy it is just to make things work and share that knowledge with others. You just need to dive in for a few minutes and off you go. You have done your work and have made it work for others. Knowledge Management in its purest form: sharing knowledge whenever you want with whoever you want in the time span you decide it is best for everyone and without having any restrictions on the nature of the amount of time spent.

I tell you, folks, if you are looking for an inspirational weblog post to help improve the productivity of your colleagues by helping them share their knowledge and expertise I doubt there is a simpler, yet so much more effective, way of achieving this than 43Folder’s Harnessing your interstitial time.

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Killer Buzz Flocks to New Browser

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I have meant to create a weblog post back when I was first exposed to a Wired news article, but I thought I would delay it a little bit hoping that it would be in perfect timing with the release of a new web browser. But it looks like it is going to take some more time before that may happen so I thought I would go ahead, create the weblog post, give you a little taste of what is coming and then wait for an upcoming launch of, what some have already mentioned, the best web browsing experience there is out there on the Internet, specially for those power web browser end-users who are very much into Web 2.0.

The news article itself from Wired is titled Killer Buzz Flocks to New Browser and it basically comes to talk about Flock, an open source browser that supposingly will go live in early October. I am certainly looking forward to trying out this new web browser, more than anything else because of all the hype there is going on about it from the perspective where it has been flagged as a “social browser”, something that you obviously don’t get to see every day.

I will be looking forward for its integration features with other social computing offerings like Flickr, Technorati and del.icio.us since we may be actually witnessing a new much more creative and interactive way of browsing around the Internet, and, what is most important, we may end up using a browser that will help people connect with one another much easier in such a way that group collaboration on the Web will take another meaning. Lots of great things have been said about it, about how it will be helping out give web browsing a lot more collaborative power than what we are used to with the current offerings. But so far the only thing we can do is to head over to the Flock and sign up with your e-mail address and hope you will be one of the lucky winners who may have the opportunity to try it out first before everybody else does.

Either way, if it does bring together all of the different social computing features that have been mentioned all over the place I think we are off to some some really good fun on the Web by allowing us, end-users, to collaborate and share information with others in a much more powerful way than ever before, even than when working with traditional desktop software. If you want to go for a good read on what is behind Flock just check out this weblog post at Techcrunch: Flock – Social Browsing is Cool. I bet you can’t wait for it long enough, can you ? Neither can I.

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IBM and the Future of Shopping

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I am sure that you folks will know about it already but, just in case, yesterday evening the third in the series of Podcasts was made available at the IBM Investor Relations web site. Yes, indeed, here we go again with another Podcast, and this time dedicated to the world of shopping. In IBM and the Future of Shopping you will be able to get a very good insight about the world of retail and shopping. I must say that so far this is probably the one of the whole series that I have enjoyed the most. And the main reason being how close I felt with the discussion topics mentioned throughout.

It is funny, but as you go over the podcast itself you will notice all what is mentioned makes sense. Not only from the perspective of everything that has happened so far around the world of retail but also from the perspective of what lies ahead. More and more people have got a tendency to shop online and, somehow, the differences from the traditional way of shopping are there for us to take advantages of it. There may be some disadvantages but certainly while listening through the conversations I just couldn’t help that we have got some exciting times ahead of us in this particular area. For instance, two of the comments that were shared come pretty close to one of my passions: collaboration and process change, i.e. the people.

Indeed, it looks like the main key success factor for the retail industry to survive in this century is not just a matter of providing the best technology, on the contrary, it will very much depend on how we share information in a collaborative way so that we can get the best out of the deal, as far as consumers are concerned but also at the same time that retailers would need to collaborate more with their consumers in order to be able to sell the best products. This is something we have seen over and over and over again in the Blogosphere, where more and more people are coming through and share their experiences on the products they purchase. And that new visibility is what will encourage retailers to go out and listen. Listen to their customers about what they are saying and what they want. Yes, you guessed it right as well, failure to do so will have severe consequences because information travels faster than whatever you could imagine and in most than one case it may get you in trouble. Thus collaboration is going to be key for the success of the retail industry.

On the other hand, I certainly agree with the comments as well regarding that the key success factor will be related to the process change, and not just the technology. Retailers would need to get used to the new shopping habits from the younger generations as they will be the ones that will shape up the retail industry of the near future. So if those processes do not change soon enough, they would become obsolete and consumers will just move on elsewhere. That flexibility of changing processes on the fly is going to become crucial for the survival of the industry. Yes, indeed, exciting times are ahead of us and something tells me that we are bound to go into a wild ride over the next few years. Time will tell, but you can already taste it with the IBM and The Future of Shopping podcast.

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Tagalag – Tagging Taken to the Extreme

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

For those people familiar with tagging and folksonomy, from where del.icio.us may be the most representative example, what I am about to post may no come as a surprise but for those folks who may not be familiar with those terms or who may not even have heard about TagCloud this is going to be something really interesting. Now, we all know that with offerings like del.icio.us and TagCloud, as an example, we get the opportunity to tag almost everything there is out there on the Internet. However, there was one single option for which we could not have the possibility of tagging.At least, till now. That option was e-mail. And that offering that changes everything is now called Tagalag.

Tagalag is a really impressive offering that allows you to tag people, yes, indeed, people, based on their e-mail addresses. So the way it works is that you can search for e-mail addresses or tags you are interested in and then add your own tags for your colleagues or friends. That way you get a chance to tag everyone of your e-mail contacts with whatever the keywords you may want to use and then after that if you are not happy with the results you can always revert back. The great thing about this kind of flexibility, and this is where the strong social networking component kicks in, is that you can change the tags that other people have used for you, if you are not happy with how they have described you. Yes, indeed, with this new offering you will be able to help build up your virtual network of e-mail addresses, i.e. people, based on your, and their own, input.

And this is an ideal option if you want to build some strong and lasting connections with your peers, because it allows you to stay close to them by being able to classify them but at the same time you can keep in constant contact with them by getting those tags updated back and forth. Pretty neat, I must say. So I had to try it out. And I did. And I love it! I logged in with my e-mail address and I got to tag already some of my colleagues. And after getting done with some of those tags I just didn’t notice how easy it is to actually work it out. But it gets better. Once you are logged in you get to enjoy a whole bunch of different features, such as a Tagalag box, which is what you can see now embedded in my weblog template, or you could use a Greasemonkey script that would allow you to integrate those tags with GMail or Yahoo! Mail. Indeed, that is right, you will always be in control, as long as your peers are ok with your tagging, but since they all seem to know you already for some time I doubt there would be any issues related to trust. There is already a certain level of trust in between all parties.

Tagalag is, indeed, a very useful offering and something that I am planning to continue using for quite some time since I do have plenty of e-mail addresses from colleagues and friends who I would love to keep and tag in a single place where they could also add their own input. That, folks, is tagging taken to the extreme and, even better, when you can search for people that meet a certain description based on those same tags. Have a look and search with the following example: IBMer blogger and you will see the options that will be coming through. Thus what are you waiting for now ? Go and tag me, so that I can then tag you back and / or update your already existing tag(s) about me.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that you can also log in with TypeKey. Yes, I know, great stuff !

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