How to remain compliant while becoming a social business

One of the best things about working for the market leader in social business is that you get to work with some very smart people. My colleague in the SWAT team, George Brichacek, has prepared this useful video showing how compliance, such as the marking of particular content (like financial records or personal information), can be handled correctly and appropriately using IBM Connections.

Thanks for sharing this, George. And, please check out George’s other excellent videos on YouTube.

Experton put IBM as the leader in Social Business in 8 out of 9 Quadrants

With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50% by 2016, the market for social business for communication & collaboration (SB4CC) even outpaces cloud computing as IT and business driver.  (Experton, 2013)

Experton, a European Analyst organisation, has recently posted one of their first in-depth analyses of the social enterprise market.  Their findings?  IBM is the leader in social in 8 out of 9 of their categories:


What the Experton study highlights is that the term “social” covers not just collaboration, but also “socialytics” and talent management.  It’s about the complete concept of social in an organisation to gain fresh insight on what people know, how they work, how they interact and how best to uncover their expertise for the benefit of the organisation and for the staff member themselves.

To quote their study:

IBM has a strong, consistent social business history, covering nearly all market segments benchmarked for this study, including services.

If you are interested in obtaining a closer look at Experton’s study, my colleague, Stefan Pfeiffer, will be more than happy to help you.

It’s great to see such a broad and rounded examination of the marketplace and, for me at least, a European one at that.

BP403 – Driving Business Opportunity with Social Business Patterns

At IBM Connect 2014, Scott Smith & I presented at Business Partner development day how to generate business opportunities with the Social Business Patterns.  Here is the deck via Slideshare

Supercharged IBM Connections Activities

IBM Connect is the place to be when it comes to understanding all that’s happening in the world’s leading social business platform.   There is a large exhibition center where the large services and application market for the Platform can be explored.  Australian business partner, ISW is there as they have been for most years and are demonstrating something which I believe moves the paradigm of using Activities in Connections as a tool for managing projects to a whole new level.

If you follow my blog you’ll probably know that I have been an advocate for using Activities as a mechanism for managing the progress of your projects.  Combining the tasks to be performed with the documentation you collect so that the activity is both a system of record and system of engagement is something which bridges the gap in many collaboration environments.

Walking around the exhibition space at Connect I spotted ISW’s Kudos Boards product which drives this paradigm forward in a whole new way.  In IBM Connections, Activities are presented like a structured list of documents, tasks, and other information which can be grouped under headings:


Kudos Boards helps turn this concept on its head by presenting the contents of the Activity like a work-breakdown structure:

The major sections of your project are presented in columns with each of the tasks, entries, to-do’s and so on, shown below.  To my eyes this is a huge leap forward for group and personal productivity and something which, if you are at Connect, I would strongly encourage you to go and check out at the ISW stand.

Have a look at it in action:

Disclosure: I am presenting this topic because I genuinely believe it will be of interest to the readers of this blog.  I am not receiving or have received any compensation from the vendor or anyone else.  Basically, I think it’s great and I’d encourage you to check it out.

Expertise Location and Knowledge Sharing Drive Better Outcomes Through Social Business

In the last article in my series about the role of social collaboration in knowledge and document management, I set the scene for positioning social as the glue which brings the tacit knowledge we humans have but which these systems don’t harness. I promised another article about the role of Expertise Location and Expertise Sharing Practices so thought, with the new year upon us, the time was right.

Expertise is an interesting concept. To me it is different from experience and different from knowledge. To my understanding, experience is what we gain as we go through life carrying out tasks and doing our work. We may not necessarily understand the task we’re doing but we know that if we do it one way or another we might get different results. As an example I worked in a lab in a production plant which made vitamin products, like vitamin c, vitamin e, etc. I was in the middle of working towards a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and so therefore found the opportunity to get some practical experience of what it’s like to apply my knowledge. In the lab were a number of very experienced lab workers who knew every aspect of loading samples into the analysis equipment, handling an error and reporting the results. They didn’t have any, or at least very much, chemistry knowledge. They didn’t know what the machine they were working was doing – they just knew what they had to do with the machine to get it to produce a number which one of the chemists would understand and be able to action. In my understanding, those lab workers had a great deal of experience but not a lot of knowledge in chemical analysis. I, on the other hand had knowledge but not much experience.

In a safety-critical situation or where the stakes are high you need to find people who have both knowledge and experience. You need to locate who can apply correct knowledge in the right way. Traditional Knowledge Management and Document Management solutions don’t go anywhere near this issue. Social Collaboration systems act as the building blocks to draw the inference between the knowledge and its application through experience.

Encouraging your staff to share their experience through blog posts, status updates, wiki articles, questions and answers, forum discussions and all the other collaborative solutions a system such as IBM Connections has gives you the foundation to build expertise location into your business processes and hence, perhaps, to improve a critical situation.

Expertise Location is much more than biographical information in a profile, however. I am sure virtually all of you reading this document have a profile on LinkedIn and probably on Facebook, Google+ and who knows what else. Each of these systems encourage you to say something about yourself. LinkedIn, in particular, structures that information to give you places to describe projects you’ve worked on, publications you’ve made, etc. In other words, LinkedIn is going some way towards giving you the facility to describe the knowledge and experience you have.

The reader of your LinkedIn profile has, to a large extent, only got your word for it that you have this knowledge and experience. That’s one of the reasons why we saw endorsements appear in LinkedIn. This is a kind of crowd-sourced experience index for your knowledge. If lots of other people endorse you as being an expert in social business, then the chance are you know something about it. It’s not fool-proof, of course. Neither was the recommendation engine they have. It’s easy to get all your friends to write glowing recommendations to give the impression that you are the best employee in the world. To a complete stranger these recommendations are useful, but not a decider, in my opinion.

So let’s say I work for an airline and that airline has a social collaboration solution which contains profiles of all the staff in the airline. I can find anyone by searching for their name, their job title, their department, etc. That’s great and solves a problem for lots of organizations. What is doesn’t tell me is who to call on if I have a plane grounded in Atlanta with faulty engine.

The company might compel everyone to create some form of biography in their profile – like LinkedIn. This helps to some extent with my problem, but is not a complete solution for the same reasons LinkedIn has a problem. I might search for a jet engine expert and might get a cast of hundreds of apparent experts. Who do I pick?

Next up I could perhaps filter my search to be jet engine experts in Atlanta. I might not get any results. I might get a few, but I might find that their biography doesn’t specifically mention the Rolls-Royce RB211 engine I have a problem with. Traditionally I might be left with asking around about specific people or calling them to see if they can help.

Social Collaboration helps me narrow in on the best person for my issue by blending the user’s contributions, referrals, comments, etc, with their biography. Let’s say my search in Connections produces three experts I might want to consider:

  1. Mike Doe – Biography says he services jet engines and he is based on the East Coast.
  2. Jane Smith – Biography says she’s experience in Rolls-Royce maintenance, and I can see see she is a regular contributor to the Rolls-Royce community on our system.
  3. Ian Jones – Biography doesn’t explicitly say anything about Rolls-Royce engines, but he has a regular blog on engine maintenance and he has a ton of recommended and liked contributions that other people have re-posted and fed-back on.

Who is the best expert? Ian Jones surely?

While this isn’t an exact science the inference here is that Ian would have more EXPERTISE, i.e. knowledge and experience, and hence might be the person to contact.

I am of course applying subjective judgement in this situation and to some extent I am using my own expertise to judge the most appropriate expert for my problem.

So, if Knowledge Management and Document Management don’t cut it when it comes to capturing the tacit knowledge – the experience – your staff have, surely the case for implementing a social collaboration system becomes clear. However, if you want to remove the last obstacle – your own experience and judgement – from the expert location scenario, you need to turn to some smart technology that can analyze the results.

IBM recently launched its Expertise Locator application which is an add-on product for IBM Connections. It sports both a web-browser interface and an extremely groovy mobile app for both Android and iOS. The Expertise Locator does deep analysis of the biographical and experiencial information your social collaboration system has and offers reasoned suggestions for experts you might be searching for.

Let me illustrate this with an example.  In IBM’s own Expertise Locator I did a search for Knowledge Management Airlines to find people in IBM who might know how to apply knowledge management to the airline industry.  The results were as follows:


From a constituency of 450,000 employees, the Expertise Locator has found 3395 who potentially match my requirements.  OK, so that’s not a bad start, but its a very long list to have to wade through, especially if I am in a hurry.  Over on the left hand side of the example above, however, I can quickly zoom-in on the search results by being a little more prescriptive:

In three clicks, I choose that I need a consultant, someone who works for the Collaboration Solutions area of IBM and is a specialist in Collaboration.  The 3395 results get reduced to 3:

IBM_Expertise-5So I’ve got a much more honed list of people to speak to.  Notice also, however, that Expertise Locator is indicating if I know the person or not.  The top hit is a second degree connection (I know someone who knows them).  The middle person I don’t know and is out of my network.  The bottom person is one of my connections.

For me, though, one of the most important aspects about the results is the “Why Cook, James?” section:

IBM_Expertise-4I can see that James Cook has been highlighted not only because of his job title, and other information in his profile, but also for the Forum post he’s made.

I am still needing to apply some level of judgement about which of the three experts I could work with, but by providing the “Why” like this, Expertise Locator is making my life a whole lot easier simply by pulling together and analyzing the biographical information and the contributions of users in the system.

Put this into the hands of a turn-around manager at a busy airport when he has an aircraft that’s not going anywhere and you suddenly bring a huge level of corporate intelligence and improved decision making to everyone wherever they are:



Knowledge Management

We started this discussion identifying that social collaboration solutions are one of the key aspects of gluing together the information silos and encouraging the unlocking of the tacit experience people have and combining it with the explicit knowledge in knowledge and document management systems.  In this article I’ve described how Expertise Sharing and Location can add important dimensions to your organization by applying the combination of tacit and explicit.  The key for your organization is to embed social collaboration into the business processes you run and then applying those social interactions to help drive better business outcomes.  Expertise Location is just one of many tools to help unlock that potential.

Social New Year’s Resolutions…

Happy New Year to you.  Thanks for stopping by my blog again.  2014 will be a busy time for the blog, so if you like what you see here I recommend you subscribe using the link at the bottom of the page.

To kick us off gently in to the New Year I wanted to highlight some very inspirational words, courtesy of Abraham Maslow, who is of course famous for his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation“:

I found these quotes via the University of Hawaii, I thought that they were the kind of thing we should all aspire to in 2014:

  1. We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.

  2. We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.

  3. We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.

  4. We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.

  5. We must accept the person as he or she is and help the person learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.

  6. We must see that the person’s basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.

  7. We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.

  8. We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.

  9. We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.

  10. We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.


I hope you all have a great 2014 – be good, be thoughtful and be happy.

Meet me at Connect 2014

Review of Living Social 2013

2013 was a busy year for the blog.  In this post I’ll summarize the postings I made and some of the highlights that came from it…













One of the biggest events, for me at least, was joining IBM.  Since then it has been a very inspiring experience.  I have met a lot of very talented and passionate people.  I’ve done a lot of traveling and enjoyed almost every minute of it.  I’m looking forward to attending Connect 2014 as a presenter and am looking forward to catching up with my long-standing community friends as well as putting faces to names amongst my new IBM colleagues.

It’s perhaps a little early for New Year resolutions, but looking at the list of posts above I think one of them will be to space them out a bit more in 2014.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the posts on my blog.  Thanks for the comments – please reach out to me through the usual channels if you’d like to discuss any of my content.

Have a great Christmas and New Year.


The Role of Social Collaboration in Knowledge & Document Management

In my career so far, I have come across a lot of confusion about the terms Knowledge Management, Document Management and now Social Collaboration.  Of these the latter is of course the newest, but the other two are still essential disciplines for any organisation to get a grip of if it intends to become smarter, leverage its staff better and unlock the competitive potential it has.

There are many definitions of these terms out there on the internet and in published literature and I am not about to argue with any of them.  Suffice to say, that Document Management has been with us since we started scratching stuff on tablets of stone.  Knowledge Management is a much more cerebral pursuit where the organisation seeks to control and access the information held in the data their document management system provides them with.  Oh, and the social collaboration thing?  Well, that’s just Facebook and the likes, isn’t it?  No.

To my thinking, I see the three disciplines like this:

Untitled 8

Traditionally Document Management, Knowledge Management and Enterprise Social Networking solutions are designed for their purpose and for nothing else.  Document Management might well support commenting on documents.  Knowledge Management might well let you upload a file and so on.  What’s been missing from these disciplines is the kind of engagement in the content which we are becoming used to when we use a collaborative network in our organisations:

Untitled 9

But what does “Social Collaboration” mean and what does it bring to our business information systems?

The Role of Social Collaboration in Knowledge & Document Management

Document Management solutions are designed to provide a level of control over complex or important documents.  They are often employed to house large volumes of data and provide access to these via a business process or through search.  For the most part they do their jobs well, and they are a very mature business.

Often Document Management Libraries become limited by the fact that you need to know where to look in order to find something.

One of the downsides to a Document Management solution is that it is a Library of data.  It’s not easy to share thoughts, insights and work together on getting the document produced.  Very often a Document Management system is embedded into an intranet to provide a context for the Library itself.  Unless the Library is maintained well it soon just becomes a place where people now put stuff instead of saving it on their hard disks.  Often Document Management Libraries become limited by the fact that you need to know where to look in order to find something.  If you don’t know a document exists in the first place then your options are therefore quite limited.

The wikipedia definition of Knowledge Management is

“the process of capturing, developing, sharing and effectively using organisational knowledge”.

This means it can relate to the collecting of paper, tablets of stone, electronic documents, wiki pages, or anything that has “organisational knowledge”.  The key with Knowledge Management is to “effectively use” that knowledge to the benefit of the organisation.  So, Knowledge Management is not a “thing”, it’s a practice.

Enterprise Social Networking is the use of social networking technologies like networks of people based on proximity, knowledge, department, etc to leverage information to better effect.  Its a form of unstructured Information Management where apparently random information put out into the network by its participants become of value to others.  It offers a collaborative structure to work together on a “thing” to get a job done – that “thing” being a document, a business process, or whatever.

Social Collaboration fits into the model by enabling the Knowledge Management and Document Management to have a context to the business of the organization.  Looked at in the cold light of day, a document or other piece of knowledge may have a completely different appearance than when it was produced in the flow of a business process, or as part of a decision-making system.  Thus, I would propose that the role of Social Collaboration fits as shown in the diagram below:

Knowledge ManagementThe diagram aims to show that all organizations have information silos and many have some sort of knowledge and document management processes, however ad-hoc in nature.  Social Collaboration (in purple) brings the management of these sources of information together with less formal forms of documentation and knowledge.  Status updates, recommendations, feedback and likes are all such examples – implicit expressions of experience and knowledge turned into explicit and merged with more formal means of documentation.

As well as augmenting traditional approaches to business information management, Social Collaboration can bring an exciting additional aspect to unlock the experience and expertise in your organization.  Connecting Expertise Location – i.e. providing a mechanism to find people based on their contributions to the corporate body of knowledge together with Expertise Sharing Practices allows the organization to truly become self-educating.  If done properly the socially-collaborating organization can begin to unlock the experience in the heads and hearts of its people and bring that together with the explicit knowledge and documents being collected using business processes.  It’s for this reason that I show it at the top of my diagram.  It’s the pinnacle of knowledge management and is as far abstracted from word processor documents and faxes as you can get.

In my next article I’ll look more closely at the concepts of Expertise Location and Expertise Sharing Practices to delve more deeply into how your organization could become self-learning.

In the meantime, please get in touch or post your thoughts in the comments below.