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

Innovation

APQC – The Conference on Knowledge Management and Innovation – May 2007 – Houston, TX, US

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First day back after the long Easter break and it looks like this time around the everlasting battle between work / life balance was won by life! What an incredible weekend I have had! Checked out lots of different places and had a really good time! I took a whole bunch of pictures that I am hoping I will be sharing shortly in my Flickr account, as soon as I get back on track from catching up on everything! Goodness! How much e-mail can you get after being a couple of days off? At least, I am now done with it and back on track with almost everything.

Anyway, that is not the reason why I wanted to create this particular weblog post. Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on a presentation that I will actually be using very shortly as beginning of May I am heading over to Houston, TX, US, to attend the APQC event on The Conference on Knowledge Management & Innovation.

Yes, that is right. From May 10th till 11th I will actually be attending what promises to be a fantastic event, if you get to read the 7 Reasons why this KM conference is a must attend. The list of keynote speakers is rather impressive as well as you can read over here (Dave Snowden, Jimmy Wales, Carla O’Dell, amongst others). No doubt. But there is actually a whole lot more. From May 7th till the 9th there will also be some specific Knowledge Management training and I have actually decided to attend a couple of the different courses offered: Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results and Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management.

So in the end I am going to be there from the 6th of May till the 13th enjoying what I am sure is going to be a great learning opportunity to find out some more about what is going on around the world of Knowledge Management at the moment. As I have mentioned above, I am actually going to be speaking, along with two of my fellow IBM colleagues (Alice Dunlap-Kraft and Mary Ellen Sullivan), during the event as well as one of the different breakout sessions. The title of the session is Communities: Hotbeds of Innovation at IBM and I have taken the liberty of reproducing the abstract over here so that you get to see what we will be covering during the couse of the breakout session:

"IBM’s culture emphasizes innovation, and its leaders rely on communities of practice for innovation. The innovation culture permeates communities from the very top, where IBM’s vice president for technical strategy and innovation issued an executive challenge to communities, to the grass roots, where ThinkPlace catalysts evaluate new ideas from their communities. Community members swarmed around the buzz of new ideas in a recent 72-hour Innovation Jam, and IBM’s Academy of Technology created an outreach program to link to community members. The growing use of social software has increased the number and diversity of collaborators working on new ideas."

As you would be able to see, we will be talking about how communities have shaped the way knowledge sharing and collaboration amongst community members have taken a new wave of interactions within the enterprise by which innovation is thriving back again thanks to the adoption of different social computing tools, like wikis, weblogs, social bookmarks, podcasts, tagging, Web syndication, etc., in order to help those same knowledge workers drive that same innovation. And all that along with the usage of one other tool that has certainly grabbed a lot of interest already: ThinkPlace.

The final presentation has not been made available just yet. We are just giving it the last finishing touches, but as soon as it is ready to go I will actually be sharing it over here, so that you can have a look well ahead in advance of what we will be talking about. You can imagine how excited we all are with the whole thing, not only for making it to the event and present on some of the stuff we have been working for the last few months, but also because of the incredible opportunity it would be to attend some KM related training along with meeting up with a whole bunch of other passionate KMers and do some heavy (social) networking. Perhaps one of my favourite activities from every single event I get to attend 🙂

Will you be there? Will you be making it to this years’ APQC Conference on Knowledge Management & Innovation? If the answer to both of those questions is Yes! and if you would want to meet up for a drink, do not hesitate to drop a comment over here or contact me offline and we will be able to hook up, I am sure. Look forward to meeting up with those of you who may be going to the conference!

I may create another follow up weblog post with some final comments as the final dates approach, thus stay tuned for some more to come!

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Here’s a thought: Not All End Users Love Technology – Drawing the Line between Work and Play

(Previously, on elsua – The Knowledge Management Blog at ITtoolbox)


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A couple of days ago I was actually browsing through my RSS feeds from Collaboration Loop and I bumped into this particular article, created by Melanie Turek, which I found rather interesting and thought-provoking: Here’s a thought: Not All End Users Love Technology. In it Melanie gets to discuss how IBM keeps getting more and more involved with the world of the metaverse, specially with Second Life, as another interesting platform to dig in so that knowledge workers would have an opportunity to improve their online interactions with others by sharing their knowledge and collaborating through virtual worlds in, perhaps, a much more efficient and effective way.

However, she also questions whether other companies would be able to join in what IBM seems to have been doing lately: i.e. encouraging its knowledge workers to see the business side of playing with Second Life:

"Most companies don’t want to entice their employees to work by making it seem as though that work is actually play. And frankly, most employees don’t really want to play when what their supposed to be doing is work."

Here is another thought-provoking quote to go along those same lines:

"The typical knowledge worker doesn’t want to play with her technology; she wants her technology to help her do her job better, faster and more easily."

Or even this other one which is just as provocative:

"Most knowledge workers don’t want to pretend to be living a second life in order to do their jobs; creating avatars and 3-D mazes won’t make their work more appealing, and it’s unlikely to encourage them to do it more successfully… or even just more of it."

Goodness! I am not sure what you all think about those particular quotes, but I have yet to see the first company who wouldn’t want its knowledge workers to have fun while getting the job done! Isn’t that the perfect combination? Or am I missing something larger in here? Isn’t that what every single business tries to achieve with their workforce, that they are working in an environment that is friendly enough for them to make the most of it by having fun? By playing, if you would want to say that out loud?

I mean, we all know this. Most of our learning processes whether for our personal lives or whether for our daily job tasks will always be much more effective if they are done in a playful environment. After all, we all get to learn stuff by interacting with it, by playing, by having fun. Otherwise, it would become rather difficult to let sink in and adjust to it.

That is why I have always felt that one of the key components towards the success of a KM strategy is how flexible it would certainly be to incorporate fun elements to the whole thing. More than anything else because knowledge workers seem to adjust better when there is some playing involved, specially in the learning environment. Something they can relate to, they can have fond memories about and connect with those, and with other people whenever it would be needed. That is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why social computing has brought KM back again into the spotlight. It is actually fun hanging out there with other knowledge workers sharing knowledge and collaborating on those topics they feel passionate about. Don’t you think?

Why is it that every time a new project team or a community gets started, or a bunch of people who do not know each other well just yet, they start connecting with one another by doing team  / community building activities, or icebreakers, that usually involved playful events, i.e. games? How can we then turn around and state that we do not enjoy having having fun while doing our jobs? It beats me and I can only imagine that being in that situation will eventually end up in boredom and therefore time to move on to the next thing.

I am not sure what you think, folks, but I have a feeling that we better get started changing out state of mind and embrace the fact that the workforce from today hasn’t got anything to do with the workforce from the last century. Things are changing fast! Getting the job done is not enough any longer. To be able to keep knowledge workers satisfied with what they are doing, there would be a need for a balance between play and work. Yes, indeed, getting the job done while they are having fun!

I know that this may sound a bit idealistic and everything, but if you come to think about it it could well be the way future interactions will be taking place within the workplace, which is probably why more and more businesses are exploring some of the business benefits from virtual worlds, and in particular Second Life. Otherwise, why would they do it? For the hype? I don’t think so. The time, efforts and energy spent on it would no longer be worth it.

"But not all consumer technology needs to be used on the job, and not all of it will be. If technology doesn’t help employees work smarter, faster and better, it probably won’t gain traction—no matter how cool it appears to be."

Yes, I agree with that argument to some extent, but wouldn’t it be much worthier having technology help knowledge workers work smarter, faster and better and have fun at the same time? What do you think? Are you having fun at work yet?

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Damaka – Experience the Joy of Communicating with a Twist

(Warning: Yesterday I didn’t get a chance to finish off this particular weblog entry in time to be published, so I decided to extended it a little more today to give you a bit more of information based on my own experience and I guess that I got carried away. A bit 🙂 So go and grab a cup of coffee and read on further!)

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Those folks who have been following this weblog for some time now would probably know by now how there have been a number of different IM and VoIP clients that I have been trying out all along in order to help improve my real-time interactions with other co-workers, friends, family, etc. and you probably know as well by now how lately I have settled myself down to two main different IM and VoIP clients. Well, actually three of them. The first one, the one I mainly use behind the firewall, is IBM’s Lotus Sametime. Perhaps at a later time I will share a couple of weblog entries on what that experience is like, specially with the latest client available and which brings the client a bit closer to the social computing realm.

The second tool that I use, mainly for IM, VoIP and file transfers, would be Skype, which I am sure that by now you are rather familiar with it, since I have weblogged about it a couple of times already. But I am not going to talk about it today either, even though there have been some interesting discussions on the subject. Perhaps at another time as well.

What I do want to do today though is to share with you some further thoughts about the third IM and VoIP client that I am currently making use of and which, over time, I have grown to become rather fond of. Specially with the latest releases that have been put together. Yes, indeed, I am talking about Damaka. I have actually talked about it a few months ago, but I thought it was a good time to touch base with it again since the latest additions that have been put together are actually trying to bring forward this particular tool into the realm of instant knowledge sharing and, most importantly, real-time collaboration.

If you check out their Web site the set of features put together is actually quite impressive. You would probably be able to agree with me that Damaka is actually trying, and, in my opinion, succeeding, to move beyond the initial intention of just being another IM and VoIP client. And if not, check out some of the features they have put together all along, including the new ones, and which they have become some of my favourites lately as well. No, don’t worry, I am not going to describe each and everyone of them. I am actually going to leave that to you to explore them further. I am just going to mention the ones that I feel would make a difference in that realm of online real-time collaboration and knowledge sharing. So here it goes:

VoIP: Just as good, if not better, quality than what Skype is currently providing. So even if you are a big fan of Skype it is always a good thing to have a backup client. I use both of them quite often and I must say that the difference in the voice quality is rather minimal. So if you are looking for other options to play around with in the VoIP space, Damaka is a very good option.

Peer-to-Peer Video: One of the features that I have talked about in the past and which has become one of my favourite ones. The quality of the image is just as good as with Skype, once again, and quite easy to configure, actually. Certainly, videoconferencing is becoming more and more prominent with the leveraging of broadband and it is perhaps one of the first steps into helping improve quite nicely online real-time interactions. Oh, and how about VideoMail? With which you can send video messages via an e-mail interface? How cool is that? I like it!

Conference Calling: Here is another step towards opening up online collaboration with others. Perhaps having 4 concurrent people talking away may not be much, but it is actually a good start. I am not sure if they would be increasing that participation, but if they ever do Damaka will become quite an interesting real-time collaboration tool for small teams.

Record Calls: Here is another one of my favourite features and I am sure it would become one for you as well if you are into the world of podcasting or if you get to participate in different calls and want to record them all. And free of charge. Nice one!

IMConnectivity: Yes, indeed, no need to make use of Trillian Pro any longer, or use its vanilla version, in order to be able to connect with different IM networks. Damaka has been one of the main tools that has allowed me to consolidate all of the different IM networks, for which I still have got userids, and which I am still using every now and then, into a single focal point of entry. Through Damaka you would now be able to connect to MSN, Yahoo!, AOL and Google Talk. So there is no longer a need for us all to have all those clients installed. Damaka will make the connection for us and display all of the different contacts separately so that you do not get confused about which one is which.

Desktop Sharing: No need to have additional plugins installed. With this particular IM and VoIP, and with just a single click, you would be able to enable desktop sharing and get your chat / talk partners to interact with you while you are viewing what is going on directly in your screen. You would agree with me that this particular feature is perhaps one of the most attractive.

Voice Commands: Goodness! How cool is that? This particular feature reminds me so much of Opera!! If only Opera would be more Web 2.0 savvy… Sigh

File Transfer: I am going to keep this one brief… Just as good as what you can do with Skype. Did you know that you could send really large files in a matter of minutes through each of them ? Yes, you will have to try it out. Too good to miss out on it!

Multi-Party IM: This is another one of my other favourite features. Yes, I know that it sounds like just another chatroom, but the fact that you can pull it off directly from the IM client itself is quite handy if you need to bring other people into the conversation. Ideal for brainstorming, as a backchannel for a conference call, to reach consensus on a particular topic within the group and so forth.

Speak-Out-Loud: And how about this one? Those people who may not be constantly in front of their machines and who are waiting for an important message to come through, there is no need to be alert all of the time. Just pump up the volume and off you go. Also, if you are busy doing something else just that very moment you can still have those messages read out to you and carry on with whatever else you were busy with. Neat!

Send Offline Messages: Pretty much like with quite a few other IM clients, here we have got the opportunity as well to send offline messages to other folks. Quite handy, if you need to send something along and your chat partner is not online just yet.

Whiteboard: Here is another neat feature and another one that certainly helps separate Damaka from other IM and VoIP clients. Yes, with this feature you would be able to collaborate and share information / knowledge in real-time with other folks using a whiteboard type of interface. Impressive for an IM / VoIP client, don’t you think? And without having to have any other plugin component installed in your machine.

Oh, fancy a little bit of a break? How about if you watch some Internet Television (IPTV)? Yes, and without having to leave Damaka. Yes, there is already a good selection of channels that would keep you entertained for a while, just while you are waiting for those endless minutes before entering your next conference call, right? 😉 Just perfect! Oh, and if you are not into TV you can also listen to some Internet Radio!

RSS News Reader: This is also one of my favourite features from Damaka. It actually took me a while to get it sorted out and work with it successfully, but in the end I managed to get it working and I am currently using this particular feature for RSS feeds with a number of news sites that get updated quite frequently. Very handy to have that information available while you are chatting or talking away.

And, finally, something that I have been asked about in the past and which I know is rather important for folks out there. Security: "All audio/video calls and text messages are encrypted end-to-end. Encryption is required as all calls and text chats are sent over the public Internet." Enough said!

And, that would be it, folks! There are still plenty more features available that you could try out, but those would be the ones that I feel are significant and important enough to share with everyone out there to just show you all how Damaka is just so much more than an IM and VoIP client. Yes, I know that this is a rather lengthy weblog entry and perhaps you have long disconnected, but if you are just reading this last paragraph, I can only highly recommend that if you are looking for alternatives in the realm of real-time / online collaboration Damaka is probably one of the best options available out there! So get out there, download it and play around with it for a week and I bet it will stay in your machine after that time. I am sure.


(Update:) Whooops! I guess I got too carried away because I didn’t include in the original weblog entry my actual Damaka ID, so that if you would want to test out some of those features with me we could have a look into it together. Therefore this particular update. If you are using Damaka and want to get together, just add me as elesar and we will put it to the test together and see how it would go from there. See if it would stick around with you or not. With me it already has 🙂

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Social Networking and ThinkPlace – Why Communities Still Rule the Innovation Space

(Previously, on elsua – The Knowledge Management Blog at ITtoolbox)


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Goodness ! I cannot believe that another week has gone by already since I last posted a weblog entry over here ! WOW! I guess I have just been through one of the worst weeks I have ever had as far as workload is concerned and I supposed all of my weblogs have noticed a slight hit here and there. There is not much more that you can do after having attended 6 to 7 hours conference calls almost every day rock solid ! Yes, I know, just too many meetings and conference calls. And you are right, for sure. But there is just so much going on that it is sometimes difficult to let it all go, just like that. So, instead, I try to make it to all of those events that are worth while following up on, so that I can then come over here and start weblogging about them, because thus far most of them have proved to be very helpful and enlightening, to say the least. But I guess one step at a time.

First things first. Catch up with my RSS feeds, which is what I have been doing lately around the world of weblogging, apart from sharing the odd weblog entry in either of my other two weblogs as well. And while I was doing the usual catch up, so that I would get a glimpse of what is happening out there, I have bumped into an interesting article published by Robin Bloor, over at IT-Director.com and whose title is quite intriguing, specially if you do not know really what Think Space is: Social Networking and Think Space.

Well, to gets things started it is actually not Think Space, but ThinkPlace. But that is another story. Let’s have a look at what the article deals with.

Robin basically provides a quick overview of the Lotusphere 2007 event that he attended back in January sharing a bit of his impressions on some of the different announcements made back then. Yes, the ones I have talked about over here quite a bit: Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr. While he believes that they would provide some potential value to large enterprises and corporations alike, he is actually wondering if they would both work within the SmB market since there may not be a significant critical mass to make it all work.

Well, while I can see his point I must say that I do not see a reason why social networking / computing could actually not work within the SmB market. After all, people still need to connect with one another, most of the times, in a distributed environment, sharing their knowledge and collaborating with others. That is something that happens as well in SmB and quite a bit. And in fact, given how powerful social computing can be as an enabler to facilitate knowledge sharing regardless the environment and seeing how inexpensive it actually is it makes perfect sense to think that social networking tools would actually, if anything, be ideal for the SmB market. But perhaps that is the subject for another much more in detail weblog entry.

What I wanted to share with you as well, folks, is actually the second part of the article where Robin gets to mention one other IBM application, we are making use of internally, and which tries to help boost innovation @ IBM big time and which was demoed as well over at Lotusphere 2007. Unfortunately, Robin made a typing mistake and it is not Think Space but ThinkPlace.

In the past I have been talking about ThinkPlace a few times already as perhaps one of the most interesting options IBM is exploring around the world of innovation by placing ideas into a single repository in order to work with them and put them into practice. Not just with the work of several individuals, but also as a group. A group with a sense of belonging and commitment to keep things moving and drive those ideas through. This is something that I have talked about over here just a few days ago and which ties in quite nicely over here.

That is right, one of the main goals from ThinkPlace is to actually not just drive innovation forward for the sake of just doing it, but also from the perspective that innovation can be much more meaningful and rewarding, perhaps even much better positioned, if it is actually taking place from a group perspective. That is right, through the power of communities. And having different tools in place very much around the space of social computing is just going to have one particular effect: that of knowledge sharing, participation and collaboration with others. In short, innovation. I doubt it can get any better than that, don’t you think?

Either way, you would be able to read from that particular article how sometimes in order to reach out to others there is a good chance that you would be able to resort to your own social networks, those that you should treasure and nurture quite a bit, because they are the ones who are going to keep feeding your interest in innovation through sharing what you know with others using social software tools as enablers and not as showstoppers. So if you are thinking about an Innovation program for your own business, ensure that it is a program not just meant for individuals who can innovate, but also for communities to be able to do their share of innovation, because the chances of success are much higher than perhaps having one or two individuals sharing away. Don’t you think? At least, that is what IBM is finding out over the last few months with the existence of ThinkPlace and its use of several different social computing components, such as tagging, RSS / Atom feeds syndication, tagclouds, etc. etc. So whoever said that social networking / computing and innovation cannot walk through hand in hand should probably think about it twice and why it didn’t work in the first place, because for many other instances it is just a new and refreshing method for keeping innovation alive!

(Oh, and don’t forget to read the additional commentary, because it is equally educational!)

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