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Archive for the ‘Alek Lotoczko’ Category

I spotted this very interesting article on the Intranet Journal:

“Global information company Reuters has taken a step that it hopes will leave a big footprint on the development of the semantic web.”

I just had to link to this valuable resource: 40 Downloadable Open Source Social Software Applications.

Thanks to Maish R Nichani who’s blog alerted me to it.

Fantastic news: Atlassian have introduced an embedded wiki spreadsheet for the Confluence product called EditGrid. It has been implemented as a Confluence plug-in and finally brings real-time spreadsheet collaboration to the enterprise wiki world.

When the wiki page is saved the spreadsheet is stored as an Excel like attachment to the page. Normal wiki change tracking / versioning is extended to the spreadsheet’s contents!

When the page is viewed the sheet’s contents is rendered in HTML right on the page – no clicking of links or examining the page for attachments! The viewing user is even able to perform sorting and auto filtering.

When the page is placed into edit, a special sheet editor is provided.

Uncharacteristically for Atlassian, the plug-in has been provided first for hosted users (both Hosted and the newer Enterprise Hosted schemes) but in-house users will have to wait until “later in 2008 Q1″.

I feel that this feature opens up the Confluence tool to even more possibilities regarding emergent applications/user organized applications and is possibly another nail in the coffin of the traditional CMS style intranet.

Well done Atlassian and thanks!

More info here.

Promoted by Euan Semple’s post, here is my rather meagre
travel map for 2007.

Thanks to the Great Circle Mapper.

Robert Paterson summed it up nicely “Wow! A way of [the British Monarchy] talking directly to [the] people – hats of to the Palace”

The Royal Channel

The Christmas Broadcast or ‘Queen’s Speech’ for 2007 will appear on that channel at approximately 3pm GMT today.

When will the captains of industry realise that they can use a similar trick to address their workforce?

…and network all the time! Social networking for producers and consumers of whisky!

(Vodka is more my tipple).

Thank you for reading and have a great Christmas day.

Gartner really do not get it! I enjoyed Ken and Sheryl’s post over at Stardust and it prompted me to write. I think I can contribute a couple of points that I have not seen blogged elsewhere just now.

I usually have to wait two weeks for my 18 year old son to reply to my email. His presence on MSN nowadays is also erratic, but I know that I can get a near instantaneous reply via social sites like Myspace.

It is this generation that is now pouring out of higher education and into the workplace and of course they prefer to use the consumer web based tools because the work environments they are entering have been so slow to implement equivalent tools inside the firewall.

Another points is that the current workforce already finds that these tools are fun to use. How many companies can say that about their current CMS or KM tools?

I believe that by using tools like wikis, blogs and tagged person/skills finders, it is feasible now, for the first time, to do KM and as Euan Semple implies in his post, these things do not have to cost very much (perhaps lest than the cost of a few Gartner reports?).

London wiki Wednesday, 5th December 2007 at NYK Line / NYK Group Europe

Last night I hosted London Wiki Wednesday, with facilities kindly provided by NYK and refreshments funded by SocialText.

At the top of the bill was Jimmy Wales but although David Terrar delayed start of proceedings significantly, he did not show up. To be fair to Jimbo, apparently his commitment was along the lines of “I will try to be there”.
Despite his non-appearance, we were by the presence of Alison Wheeler from Wikimedia UK who spoke eloquently and at some length about the charitable work of Wikimedia.
Well into the evening, I exited the room to look for stragglers (hoping to spy Jimbo emerging from the lift) and found instead Wikimedia’s Sue Gardner, (great name for a wiki enthusiast!), who was hopelessly lost and wandering NYK’s 17th floor looking for the venue. To her credit, she immediately took to the lectern to further illustrate their altruistic work.
There were then a couple more speakers that I missed because I was busy organising stuff.
After that, I took the stage to give my brief talk on Enterprise Wiki Tips and our use of Confluence. I gave my typical, low key Lotoczko presentation but this was followed by a lively Q&A.
When I was discussing Person Pages and Skills Discovery one questioner asked if I wasn’t worried that the wiki would degenerate into a dating site. I recalled a Euan Semple story that he had recounted during one of our many meetings/coaching sessions. It runs along the lines of: During the early days of Euan’s experiments with forums within the BBC, a body of staff appeared to be using the platform for dating. Undaunted, Euan allowed it to continue, a case of any use is better than no use. A while later a program maker found the material to be an invaluable resource when he was asked to make a documentary on modern dating trends. The story was well received (I think there was one BBC guy in the audience).
An animated and enthusiastic Hong Kong student guy Francis Wan gave an impromptu talk about his involvement with the Chinese language Wikipedia. Although it faces huge problems from Chinese censorship he explained that Hong Kong and Taiwan nationals were keeping it thriving as were the ex-pat Chinese community. I found this to be an enthralling account of social media helping to overcome imperial censorship.
I even received help from Alex Jerreat (wiki gardener extraordinaire) and Sean McClowry with the back-breaking task of re-assembling the boardroom tables, allowing me to catch my last train.
In all, one of the best Wiki Wednesdays of recent months, in my opinion.

I have just returned from the Atlassian Amsterdam User Group meeting.
I give below my very rough notes of what happened:

Accenture Keynote: Michael Widjaja spoke. He stated that Gartner had placed enterprise wikis well to the right of the disillusionment area of the “hype – disillusionment – growth acceptance” bell-curve.

There is a company in Liverpool who are very knowledgeable regarding Confluence – can build plug-ins etc. They are very busy at the moment.

Jeffrey Walker (Atlassian) Introductions, then: Josh Wold, pre-sales support, has moved from the US to London. Can now give us support in our time zone. 37% of Atlassian’s business is in Europe. They will establish a office in Europe in the next few months. They are talking to a team of independent developers in Poland who know the Atlassian products very well. They are in discussions. I predict that this team will probably become the backbone of Atlassian’s European support.

Atlassian were established 5.5 years ago. They had a 1M turnover – now 25M. They now have around 8,500 customers. They aim to always keep their costs low and the costs of products low.

The largest Confluence wiki is at SAP with around 800,000 signed-up users. An interesting customer is Pixar Animation Studios. All film production PM meetings have a scribe keying into a wiki page.

New releases of Confluence will come every 8 – 12 weeks. Features due to arrive soon are: UI improvements for Attach / Insert while in Edit; a new super user role – Manager with more powers than Admin; sorting of gallery pictures; other UI-like drop-down menus; page ordering; an easy installer.

Expect to see many commercial 3rd party plug-ins.

SharePoint Connector, which provides for Cross Search, imbedding of a wiki page in SP, wiki links direct to SP and a single sign-on.

The “Builder” product from has a tool that can turn an email archive item into a wiki page. We could use this to enable mail-in.

PIX Software produced a case study showing how a major bank had used JIRA as a large scale Bill Payment processor.

Atlassian are finding themselves adapting to the fact that their wiki is being used in the enterprise whereas at the start it was used in technical communities. This brings new requirements in the area of permission.

Lodovic Hirlimann from JOOST said that Confluence was used as their document repository globally. They found it very good for test cases and test results. They make extensive use of templates for page creation – using templates to auto-label pages. They use JIRA for their entire travel authorisation process!

Josh talked about uses for the wiki. He pointed to many case studies on their site such as BI reporting using charting plug-in.

Ideas that came from the floor: hold person-to-person brainstorming sessions involving senior managers. Get each of them to think of their (or their department’s) 6 best successes / best practices then point them at a blank wiki page to write about them all.

On the wiki, build discussion trees / problem solving procedures.
Start CEO blogging using a personal space and the NEWS label. The CEO could make a physical desk visit to anyone who comments to give words of encouragement.

Use a Rate-this-page, digg style plug-in.

Second Life are big users of JIRA.

Last Wednesday I spoke at he Intranet Benchmarking Forum’s Global IBF meeting in London.

Afterwards, I spotted Richard Dennison’s post about one aspect of the event: the Financial Calculator.

Richard’s post along with the single response by shaidorsai got me thinking about the cost/benefit equation of using a wiki for one’s intranet.

During the meeting, while Lars Ploughmann of Headshift was giving his exelent talk, a senior figure from one of the global IBF members commented that a Confluence wiki was not that cheap. Though the licence fee was only GBP4000, the total installed cost was likly to run to 70 – 90k.

This could turn out to be true but I would argue that this expense is more-or-less a one-off.

During a typical year (for our Notes/Domino based intranet) I paid 30k for our business partner to develop an image library, 90k for a Powerpoint presentation storage and download area, and 20k for enhancements to a bespoke meeting booking system. This pattern was repeated each year as new business requirements emerged. For each requirement, a lengthy making-of-a-business-case process was needed.

Because the wiki imposes no business logic, process or work flow, once I have paid the first year cost, these types (and other currently un-thought off types) of application can emerge for free (OK, there is my salary and those of the business departments, but these would have been a factor of the old way of working as well!).

In addition, because the wiki supports self organizing, I expect business users to emerge, creating their own applications, with only a minimal amount of support from me (the central intranet management function).

If of-the-shelf commercial plug-ins, or even bespoke code is needed to support some of the more elaborate emergent apps, it should be possible to develop working prototypes for free using the base functionality of Confluence. Benefit could then be measured over a period and used to justify the additional spend as part of a phase II.

To steal a phrase from our head of corporate comms: “it’s easy to get [financial] approval if the ‘i’ in ROI is kept small”