Subscribe to feed

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 http://www.adaptavist.com/ 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 http://www.adaptavist.com/ 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”

Often during my meetings with Euan Semple he refers to corporate intranets as “knowledge coffins”. This is pertinent as one of my worries about the intranet that I manage is that, though I can see numerous items of fresh content posted each week, I am far from convinced that anyone is reading it!

I see enterprise strength wiki integration as a major way to address this and reinvigorate the intranet. Notification features such as granular Watch, E-mail Notification, and of course RSS, features of enterprise wiki offerings like Socialtext and Atlassian’s Confluence will draw a regular audience into the wiki, and, just perhaps, the legacy intranet content via hyper-links.

This new crowd of active and frequent lurkers boost the ROI by consuming, and hopefully acting on, the wealth of business knowledge that the weekly posters so diligently supply.

To boost this effect, I would love to find a way to integrate the wiki’s built-in search and labels (tag cloud) such that it returns relevant documents from the legacy intranet in addition to wiki pages. The converse of this would be to also have the intranet search include wiki pages.

Does anyone have experience of integrating wikis and legacy intranets in this way? I look forward to hearing your comments.

I have just returned from the Software Developer Conference (SDC) in Arnhem. My area of interest was DotNetNuke (DNN) the open source CMS and web application framework for the Microsoft environment. An entire conference within a conference, (DNN Open Force 07) was planned.

Although I no longer develop I have recently used DNN to deploy a number of corporate websites. Readers of this blog will know that my focus of interest is the intranet and enterprise 2.0. My experience of DNN had taught me that it has huge potential for use inside the firewall for corporate intranet/extranet apps but that the social tools were rather weak and underdeveloped. I wanted to hear from the core DNN team, whether 2.0 was on their radar?

I was not disappointed! Shaun Walker’s (DNN’s dynamic founder and CEO) keynote bristled with references to the social tools he was determined to bring to the core product. The topic also came up in break-out sessions by Salar Golestanian, Stefan Kamphuis.

Blog Platform

I gathered from later sessions that plans for a blogging platform module “as good as any out there” were well advanced and perhaps we would see this within six to twelve months.

Although the blog platform tool market on the consumer web is more or less sewn up by the likes of Typepad, Google Blogger and others (therefore the barrier to entry is huge) I see a significant niche market within the firewall.

Forward thinking intranet managers are crying out for a economical business blog platform that can be easily integrated with core intranet facilities like authentication and notification. If DNN get it right (provide the essential features and also the permissioning tools to allow the intranet manager to balance workforce self-organising with an element of control for both employee and customer blogging) they will be on to a winner.

I am considering offering my services to help them with their requirements definition.

Tomorrow I will post about the possibilities for an enterprise wiki within DNN.

All comments welcome.

  1. A recent post by by Stewart Madder on the Atlassian blog prompted me to explain how I believe an enterprise wiki can be used to re-invigorate a legacy intranet.

    Typically, the intranet tools which are in use today have somewhat clumsy publishing processes. There is a form to fill out with half a dozen fields (categories / sub-categories, Title, expiry, attachment and a few more) Some of them even have an approval/authorization process and other impose a conversion routine where word attachments are converted to HTML. Information is usually categorized via a taxonomy and it exists in silos that mirror the companies’ organizational structure.

    Thos who know wikis will appreciate the magical qualities they bring to content management, some of which are.

    - Incredible ease of publishing
    - Anyone can publish / anyone can read
    - There is no clear content owner. This reduces the feeling of intimidation thereby encourages others to pitch-in and improve the text.
    - The tags (labels) provide for a folksonomy and a way for one piece of information to be categorized in many ways thereby enhancing discovery.
    - Notification: Advanced enterprise strength wikis like Confluence have sophisticated “watch” tools that provide both email and (spam/virus free) RSS notifications of new and changed content.

    It is my hope that the workforce will create new documents within the wiki that reference, via hyperlinks somewhat more formal documents that exist within the traditional intranet thereby driving traffic to and reinvigorating the legacy intranet content (or the sub-set of that content that the workforce decide is still relevant/useful.

    As part of a future phase I would like to investigate Atlassian’s social book marking plug-in to see if this can be used to boost this effect.