Human Factor, and the inevitable messiness

October 19, 2012

The real treat to the on-going online conversations is humans interacting and sharing, adding flavours to the context in where they do their provisioning and knowledge foraging.

Creative Space, emerging ways of learning

Learning Networks

Game Plan

Why the Landlord’s social game evolve and create such embedded culture? Organising people is hard, herding the cats really makes sense, since most collaboration amongst people hold in-built power relations, and we constantly disagree. Even in the small world examples as within a family or between friends, we argue. The fruitful conversations helps us pane out the negotiated truth. Rules help us find a pattern useful for collaboration, as with Monopoly. The basic rules of this game are very simple, so simple that even kids grasp the core concepts in a snippet. What makes this game so intriguing is the social layer that is not codified in the rules.  We as players expand, cheat, remix, i.e.  building pacts to win. Refine the money transactions with add-on rules that the taxes paid should go into growing pile of money, that anyone stepping on the free-parking collects. This is why people with very strict morale and compliance to rules have difficulties to engage in the extra layers to the game. Whereas most of us others who are adaptive, go with the flow and have fun.

When organisations do engage in knowledge management, they have tried to codify and apply rules that are overly complex, which leads to a mess. Since people obstruct, when they can’t comprehend the plan and don’t know how to behave in this strictly regulated environment. In information management practices derived from us being information professionals, we stretch the matrix with way to many metadata steps in provisioning.  Killed by taxonomy! We are only able to add context within our enacted environment. The matrix machinery behind the scenes has to help us and refine the provision and uses in the pathway of the user and their networks. This fluid notion to knowledge is a much better reflection to how we humans act and reflect. And the matrix machinery (digital information infrastructures i.e. ecm, search, taxonomy, ontologies and so forth) has to be adaptive, and let the social layers and human factors and messiness be part of the calculation.

There will never be a perfect match, only information tidbits in the social fabric. The notion of social business and uses of social platforms will in a good setting lever the similar patterns to the ever growing public learning happening on the Internet. Appreciate the power of difference, and be aware of the echo chamber problem, with closed silos. Make the networks smarter!

But the enterprise social platforms do need a game plan, as simple and crispy as for Monopoly. Without a goal, and a framework for engagement and collaboration, there will only be technology without a relevant use.

The Remix Culture

Youth of today, level positive deviance and the knowledge creation in emerging networks. The entrepreneurial learner generation embrace the notion of networks, and take the information abundance for granted. Remix and Lego go hand in hand, since the most compelling part of playing with Lego. Is not only to go by the book, develop the bought package according to the manual, but rather the steps beyond. Where you take the simple building blocks and innovate new creations, or even program the tool through Lego MindStorm. The kids of today apply same passion to learn, through tinkering as we grown ups did. But with the big difference that their room is global, always connected with networks of peers who share the same passion. This is the reason why games like Minecraft grows with mind blowing speed, we like to co-create things and learn in the flow of events. This behaviour is in-built in our spines. How do we embrace creation spaces in the enterprise setting, and apply similar inspiring ideas to our workforces?

Reflections from the on-going conversation oozing out (#kmw12, #kmworld) from KMWorld 2012 conference. More reading from leaders in the KM guild, John Seely Brown, David Weinberger, Lt Col David Sanchez and more…


on Commerce: a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose!

May 10, 2012

The wheels keep on turning, and we as world citizens do embark into consumerism ever so eagerly. What to do with all the stuff we get in our daily foraging?

Digital Infrastructures have set the prefix of e- in front of every possible term, to emphasize the reasoning of electronic or digital. Question, does this really make sense today? The picture is really blurred. Where does the real world and the digital world end, where does means met ends? When we Internet savvy folks, speak of Internet of things do this echo in the minds-sets of our less connected peer human beings?

On a philosophical angle we buy things either to survive or to boost our personas with stuff related to who we think we are in the social fabric of life. Leaving a signal to other humans that I consume and because of this I am ;-)

Hence, Commerce is a Commerce is a Commerce is a Commerce transformed from the simple but yet omnipresent poem by G. Stein 1913. When traditional retail, brick and mortar, meets e-commerce on the social battle field what is the outcome for the everyday consumer? Well one could name tag this x-channel commerce, where intertwingularity really starts to happen.

Anybody who either have undertaken some kind of business school or baseline marketing diploma knows for sure there are some elements that one just do not take away that easily to make an prosperous business. Same goes for us who have been engaged in entrepreneurship in a small retail or local grocery store. Know your customers! Engage with them on their grounds, invite them to a conversation so you as a provider are able to align your brick and mortar store front and shelves with goods (ends) that meet needs. Second to this, secure a feasible supply to have your store up and running.

The disruptive technology leap with the digital infrastructures, relates to information flows and the social life dealing with this information. Hence in a less open environment with constraints in the information supply, we just either had to comply with the options given, and trust the service provider. Or tinker to find pragmatic solutions to a broken system, as the folks in former eastern Europe had to do due to policy makers with twisted minds. Today in the modern big city life, we all have devices that gives us instant access to information when needed. An upper-hand for the consumer. Power relations have slightly changed the ballpark. Or maybe not? In a local setting with only one ‘Store’ the dealer had to know the demand and personally listen to all locals. We are rather getting back to business, as it emerged on the local marketplace or bazaar still omnipresent in many countries.

e-Commerce pains?
Well first and last… the churn rate to buy stuff when they have entered into the shop is between 2-4% on average. If they find the store in the first place that is! Many users do a quick search using either aggregation measure (Google, Pricerunner) where they get a decent overview, window shopping. All these aggregator services tries to tie some extra value with enhancements or schemas on-top of the unstructured world. Emerging ways of get semantics into this play have been in the loop for 15 years, and we are seeing this mashup economy growing daily and standards being put into action. Second how to curate a nice storefront that is compelling, easy to navigate and vibrant with goods and services to the users preferences and liking? When the information flow back-end with aggregation, integration more reflect staggering data mazes from all the suppliers? Topping this easy to pay! Here still many online stores have über-complex schemas. The x-commerce platform using Ebay/Paypal or Klarna from Sweden are some possible solutions to this threshold. And lastly the social interaction both in term of delivery, service provided and the show-off persona attribute ;-)  My mind started to remember the Internet bombastic e-commerce failures, like Boo. Where users hardly could enter the store due to UX from hell, and those who got to the cashier couldn’t pay. Lastly the few bespoken people who actually managed to buy  something had hard time getting their stuff!

Brick and mortar retail have not gone out of business, ask IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad. If they had the same churn rate for all people driving to their sites and entering the store as the eCommerce folks have. He wouldn’t been on the list of richest in the world. Even the times you visit their site only to get your moneys back for a broken or dysfunctional goods. You can’t resist to take a peek-view into the store and find yourself buying even more. The same goes for food-stores. No one enters them without buying stuff! That’s why we spend time and effort to go there in the first place.

The frontier of eCommerce have realised this, and done their utmost to lure us firstly into the store through SEO, banners and whathaveyous. Second have a curation process that makes their store sticky, mimic real world experience.  It is not as simple as copy the IKEA model, given that you are virtually not present in their store. Lack of sensory triggers! Might improve in 3D worlds with extra-embodied gadgets in near future. The most engaging experiences have basically a content factory with people infusing contextual data to the goods. Improve the appearance and findability across both their own site and in their value network. As the i.e. the fast growing Nelly.com from Sweden.

When you navigate in the store as in IKEA you follow a known path. Well designed so your sensory wayfinding skills don’t make you feel lost. Navigate any eCommerce site that lacks proper and sound Information Architecture and you instantly feel stressed and usually leave before even reaching for the cashier icon. Ask my dear wife who really loves to ‘shop’ compared to me who get the same mall-lost-in-shopping-hell-syndrome in any brick and mortar setting. She trashes many sites within seconds! or rather milliseconds!! Non functional!!! even if she knows that the store hold the searched for goods.

What amazes me, is how bad many eCommerce sites have settled pragmatic organising principles to their content? Maybe a better Content Choreograph assigned to this quest? Derived from this is the insufficient information supply chain. Data from their origin have so poor quality that not even the best automagic data-laundry helps. Why not crowdsource this obvious constraint to a viable and scalable business model? Shared responsibilities amongst all actors? Maybe a intermediary-data-laundry-model for data-flows could be of some help?

Without refined and enhanced raw-data, next step is basically impossible. Cross-channel commerce have to have sound organising principles, if not considering stove-pipes of different content factories in the back-end to a great cost! The improved digital assets needs to be smarter in all possible ways. When we talk about Internet of Things, as with RFID, NFC and other emerging standards within the UbiComp arena. Mobility First raises the bar for simplicity, cut the crap. Get to the point and deliver now.

The Social Creature
Living in a world of social means to capture our attention, it is no reason for a commerce provider to stay with a stale, stigmatised old school commerce model without the flavor of social intertwined all through. Some genres of products and services, do have better social flows, given that they are things people happily share. The travel and tourism industry is one of the business arenas, where user-generated-content really makes-sense. No one books a hotel without first checking out TripAdvisor, google maps/earth and many more sites to get a more nuanced picture of the planned trip. And both during your travel users annotate, share, curate and socialise around their experience, with a final reporting while being back home again. Same goes with fashion, and similar goods and services. Food chains have recepies.  Whereas other stuff never have had any social sharing either in brick-and-mortar or eCommerce realm.

A greenfield commerce project
The notion of greenfield gives us a fun journey when we develop the cues for future commerce. No strings attached and build from ground-up with the soil and plants. Cultivate and nurture this new space. New entrants in the retail business have done some remarkable assertions. A people centric view to shopping, make the online and store visit a compelling journey that is seamless. C. Wonder have developed a new experience, where there are only personal shopping assistants, no cash register lines. The staff are passionate about the goods served, use mobile devices and pervasive and ubicomp setting to get handy information and data while guiding their clients in the store. All items sold have been enhanced with RFID. In the background there is a back-bone ERP, Supply Chain, CRM and whathaveyou cloud instance. That serves up real-time data and do manage the data in a completely new fashion.

What runs the show? DATA! all over the place but with a pragmatic, agile, and make-do feeling. Tinker, try, build and engage, review and improve. With proper organising principles to information and data. Here cloud service delivery models interplay with the ubicomp and mobile devices to create an ambient data service.
How to engage, well obviously social have been built into the spines of all core processes for the commerce set-up. As other retailers in this scene do. Have your Customer Service with Facebook feeds, and so forth. Online stores in any relevant social space. Basically let the users share their love (or hate!?) for the services and products. Have talented staff members intersected into the different levels of conversations. Social Business by design if you will ;-)

Intelligence – pick my brain!
With the abundance of data flows in such a business design, big data. Tools and metrics to quickly align the practices on the floor have to be real-time. Consumer behaviour in all domains leave digital trails, combined with ‘smart things’ (RFID). But intelligence also implies tapping into the social conversations online pre- , during and post physical in store experience.

Intelligence also have to be the tuner to competitive outlook. Even if person centric service and human touch have a great impact on revenue, consumers still do have choices to make. So intelligent price-modelling and scanning will be key. These data backbone algorithms produce prices in constant flux ;-) Higher quality and experience taxes a bit more pricey level to things, but it still have to be on the same ballpark as the most low-cost option online. As with the Bazaar, where local store owners do mutual adjustment to prices, but then in the sales-pitch ‘haggle;-)


Me, Myself and I: reflections on identity mashup

November 15, 2011

Living through the days of social internet changes, puzzles your own ego sometimes. A very fruitful and delicate debate, and was the main topic as web2.0 summit last month, has arisen amongst both internet intellectuals and ordinary folks like me. Who am I in the different representations of my daily life online? Split personality issues arise daily, given that you mashup professional feeds with family and truely private spheres.

Obviously I would love to have the simplicity of a seamless integration of services and spaces online without having to fill in forms from hell. Hence the rise of Facebook Connect, Twitter and Google alike mixes. They have different approaches to the problem from both technical and privacy/integrity stand-point. Facebook and Google+ stress authentic personas to clean out any internet-trolls diluting the conversation, whereas Twitter have more open strategy with psedonymn spaces. I do need both, as do we all.

It becomes even more relevant for people living under stressful and threatning environments of change or weird power relations to become a internet-handle rather than the exact person you are.  In his recent book Evgeny Morozov, The Dark Side of Internet Freedom strikes against the utopian internet change perspectives. Which is really a good read, but then he sadly becomes one of these trolls in the furious debate with Jeff Jarvis and his recent book Public Parts.

But still the opportunities with identity2.0 needs to be amended, as from my personal reflection being researcher, practitioner, family father and so on. I use Google stuff to run my small business, but want that to work in tandem with my public google profile on G+. Happily I am not a well known name, and have not been struck by either Facerape or the like. The well known author Salman Rushdie used his social means to take-back his persona on Facebook, and I think this is only a fraction of all the issues and pains we are going to see going forward.

The social construct of personality is not easy, and have been heavily researched from many perspectives, and in the days of status updates reveiling our ‘best selfs’ reflections one do get The Picture of Dorian Gray in mind ;-)

Your digital trails and profiles, is big bucks, no doubt about it. A marketers wet dream! Integrity, privacy and openess to conversations in different spaces will be one of our hardest nuts to crack, but I think the community online will tailor this a long the road. Blend the utopian and reality-check messages and raise your voice in the places your voice matters. Do not get overun by either market or govermental policies, it is time to act for your future and your kids. We design this together!


Things that matter in life!

October 6, 2011

Moved by the event today when I got the news about Steve Jobs death, I realise how intriguing his masterpiece Apple and the ecology around this is. Condolances to Steve’s family, a great loss for You and all of us.

Excellence in all the things you do in life, since you only got one. Have been inprinted by Steve’s notion.

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life

My first encounter with Apple devices goes way back into the mid 80’s when I started my education at the University and learned to master Apple II and Apple Lisa. Loading the operating system on floppy disks, and using the mouse.  1987 I bought my very first computer Macintosh SE/30 for a huge pile of money (36500SEK) given that I still were a student. This piece of art, still works fine, and live a second life at our summer residence re-painted (when I gave it away to my younger sister) with bright blue-metalic paint ;-) In late 80’s this was a very fast computer, with 4mb ram and 40gb HD?! I still have all the software intact, it is a closed system but it runs without any errors….

Movin’ into business post graduation I had to convert to Unix (SUN) and later the PC domain. Stuck in this business suit machinery for more than a decade. Only to envy the ‘creative’ fellow staff members of our Internet start-up who used Mac ;-) My first Personal Digital Assistent was the famous MP100 based upon the Newton technology. I still have this somewhere in the PDA graveyard at home. A fun device, but it couldn’t measure up to the expectations until Apple released its second coming in the tablet space being the iPad ;-)

Going back to University to start my research and PhD journey I were given the options to pick Mac again, so since 2004/5 I mainly use Mac, in combo with all kinds of flavors of PC’s. The home-office and devices there have all been Apple-fied. ;-) From iPhones, iPads, iMacs, miniMacs, MacBook’s and so forth…

Why one might ask? It simply works…as for my first Macintosh SE/30 24yrs later? none of my PCs run that long….

I have a dual personality to the Apple brand. First I do like the appearance, the way things work, design and all, but I have great doubts about the walled-garden approach. Since I do practice, and preach in my lectures about open-innovation, open leadership, open business models and do like open-source… it really do not match the way Apple is run at all? How comes? Being human and irrational! One can have several personas I reckon!

Today all media, and the web have been flooded by messages about Steve Jobs and his genius. I can only summon the hymn to him. But as the dark side of the moon, he also had a bit strange ways of working, the extreme control pattern. Empathic is not a word I have found yet when Googling his name? Innovative yes!

Things that matter in life is related to love, to your family and friends, close circles, to what you do professionally and by sheer interest of creating and sharing your insights and know-how of things to do greater good. My beloved mother recently got her first iPad2 and it has become emboddied with her, given her hospitalisation. It makes her connected to life outside the walls, medicines and treatments. This connected environment improves her wellbeing.

I think this is why we keep our Apple things close to our personalities as Gollums expression:

My precious

As my wife is teasing me with when I lose sight of my iPad or iPhone ;-)

I hope that the good things from the corporate culture within Apple will continue to bring us with marvellous devices. Having Steve’s spirit engraved into the walls.


Bring out the eminence of your workforce

September 22, 2011

The notion of social business, resonates to many people today, given that we are seeing the swift change to more transparent business practices. And true engagement to the different constituents within the ecology for the enterprise, being the customers, consumers, partners, suppliers and obviously the leadership & workforce.

Why will open be so engraved to what we do in our everyday work. It all boils down to be authentic. Companies will not prosper with double standards, simple as that! Or as Lincoln ones said, character is like a tree, and reputation is the shadow.

For us who actively participate in this change, it is a true prerogative.

What facinates me, is what happends when we get the mutual adjustment of the crowds. Conversations orchestrated in similar ways as the virtual choir. We build bonds and relations, through our insigts and emotions to relate and see other peoples interests resonate our own being.

The creation of constituencies will emerge, and if these groups of people sharing values and insights also nourish curiousity and serendipity to new ideas. We are on the right path, again open! Contrasting this is the personalization of delivery. A matter of filter the abundance of triggers, feeds, content and flow of events that takes place all over the place. This notion is already very in front today in politics in US blocking their economy. This creates stove pipes, and balkanization of something that should go the opposite way. The bots already raise this issue of filter bubbles, i.e. the feed in Facebook or Social Search from Google. Algoritmic filtering in conjunction with social filtering might ease our minds in short term, but these small world scenes have to intersect and be intertwined! Our Circles overlap, as in the recent G+ design!

So if you are running a business, or are about the embark in the enterprise world. I would bring out the eminence of your workforce.  As people connect with people, and embeddning this into the core values. Every discrete unite of practice will lever new knowledge creation. And build constintuency that will be a competitive advantage, regardless of what type of business you do.

The fear of loosing control, when the workforce speaks up (as in social media), should rather be reflected back to the leadership who fails to behave and act in the open. A good coach and thought leader will get people engaged to the cause and mission if the ways of working also is lived by the managers. The social networks run our lives, and helps us in continous learning. That is key to all this!

The art of long view, have to be intersected into how you run your business. Diversity and always learning and innovating outside your comfort zones, charge the influencers. From the inside out!

Who you are, speaks out so loudly, that I can hardly hear what you say!

We are seeing the contours of a new collaborative profession. The path to co-creating the social business.


Information Tidbits in the social fabric!

May 19, 2011

Terminology, is what we talk about in our daily practices, share insigts and ideas with peers related to our business processes and embeded/intersected into our information systems. To harmonise, standardise and communicate coherent use of terms across the enterprise is a continuous improvement (think ‘lean‘). There will never be one golden standard only useful tidbits in the social fabric!

Lately we have seen an abundance of ‘terminology’ feeds into the ‘social’ realm. As Social Business, or Social Collaboration. This is an obvious tautology, never the less it comes into fashion ;-) In my research practice I have the refined use of terminology amongst peers, to get acceptance in relevant contributions to my part of the world, same goes when I do put on the business suit (like Mr Walker contrasting the Phantom). Same thing with different ways of communicating!

I took a detour into my reference litterature to grasp things ahead of me, and realised still how crispy and mindblowing the book ‘The Social Life of Information‘ is! Even if it was written during the haydays of 1998 (internet era or dot com) all things match with todays business arena. When we talk about the emerging social intranet (or social collaboration, or enterprise 2.0, etc), we as IS/IT-saviours get hooked into TOOLS! and forget that the social fabric that makes up any organisation. People will undertake predictable irrational uses.

As Mr James Robertsen, states in his recent post:

You can’t change corporate culture using social tools

Spot-on!

Communication and conversations amongst people is all about sense-making to cope with your everyday persuit. Hence in the midst of this resides our terminology, the way we express our self, manifest our agreements and rule out our policies and procedures to work together in a polite and easy manner. To narrow down the scope for this post into the theme around social intranet. I took the itchy part called Findability! One albatross around his neck, that any intranet manager could testify is intranets poor findability. Pragmatically we all agree that it should be easy to find things of high relevance to my needs, second it would be sweet if it also were simple to contribute in such a manner that I add things with high quality. And not dilute the information landscape with abundance of crap!

So findability isn’t a quest for a new search engine of preferred taste, it is all about pragmatic use of search patterns, and provision with good/simple to use information management practices. In all this our terminology is the glue to sense-making. Hence if one took a snippet of the social intranet tools and used it to cope with ‘the enterprise terminology‘! These terms are heavily embedded into the ICT tools we use. Be it in the Business Applications arena (structured data) or Enterprise Content Management arena ( unstructured data).

controlled vocabularies

Here in this hot-spot we really could get attention, engagement and lively debates about the use of words in the enterprise, and their different interpretations. Social as anything! and for a good cause. With this practice in place (networked governance), the future state of  enterprise linked data makes sense in everyday business. And we would also get pathways for our wayfinding to corporate culture and social fabric via the conversations around terminology….set into action in search engine refinement, guided classification means in any provision and so forth. All in all improving the information architecture and obviously findability….


The pillars of the Earth: web squared a sanity check

August 17, 2010

We all get enlightened ideas, and creative innovative challenges popping up in our minds while being at ease. Not feeling the stress from everyday life, as i.e. being on vacation.

The emerging information shadow of intelligent things, combined with our social fabric will change the perception of everyday life. Augmented Reality has changed the way we look at real things, and get new lenses. Hyped to far reaching crescendos, but still in its fancy! Stepping back into more useful challenges, we realise that the apps we are about to try out do reflect more common grounds, such as shopping helpers to do well informed choices based upon both referral social constructs, as well as pricing and location angles.

This summer, I embarked into a very nice visit to Sicily with family and friends, and while being abroad I realised a few things:

  1. The lack of connectivity, due to stupid roaming deals amongst telecom operators. While at home, you use your mobile device daily to look-up things relevant to where you are, and what you are up to at the moment. Held back by costly data-traffic deals, you feel held back by the opportunity to be connected as a tourist. Trying to locate a WiFi hotspot….. Why can’t one buy a travel-pack from your telecom operator to a specific destination? I would be happy to pay a fixed price for the ease of use….
  2. Shopping, as a nice treat when being a tourist! Ask my wife ;-) How do one compare the things available in the local setting with a global networked manner, to do well informed choices?

Web Squared do hold several options, to bridge smart things and places with mobile devices and the Net with its ever-growing social scene. Who wouldn’t be happy to raise a question about a shopping choice, and get advise from both comparison services and friends!

With all emerging web services, and mobile devices and smart things we have now a scent of what will become a reality sooner than later.  Given that I am ‘trigger happy’ when it comes to early adapter of technology, I recall one of my first mobile video encounters, sharing my experience from Milano at the Dome with the family. Crappy lo-fidelity and high-cost! Second, my first cracked iPhone that my beloved kids nicked at pool site in Turkey viewing YouTube clips from Donald Duck. The result a phone bill from hell. Lastly a recent real scenario: my wife finds a very nice product on site in Sicily, and I realise that I would like to compare both local and other on-line options to compare the product at hand. Challenged by the in-built constraints with both expensive mobile data price models, and a less coherent and seamless, easy to use service pack. My mind started to wander, if this wouldn’t be a perfect mashup social and networked business model? In its simplest incarnation, a bar code scanning app for the iPhone and an SMS-service, while being abroad. At home with fixed mobile data cost, a more seamless app with connections to Google Product Search and social consumer networks.

Coming back to work reading my flooded reader-feed finding a on-spot article, I started to use an app called Bakodo (bar code in Jap.), and it works ;-) Well it have obvious drawbacks given that it still is mainly focused on US, and do not hold a good back-end data raw material. I used my summer reading, Pillars of the Earth and got a quick response.

Bakodo iPhone AppBakodo ScanBakodo iPhone App, result listView Result in Amazon

Other bar codes didn’t match due to the constraints of raw data in the information shadow. Building a Cathedral takes craftsmanship, time, resources and effort, given the book  I read, and the same goes for the information shadow.

Similar, experience with Foursquare, WikiMe and several other location based thingy’s that I use daily. I am thrilled about how this set of services, apps and uses will meld into seamless everyday solutions.

The mashup economy, and future business networks will strengthen the consumers and improve the services, and product we use daily. Buying groceries and get detailed information about how sustainable choices you make daily, to well advised choices being in travel mode.

Our kids take this for granted, and my son (8yrs) who is a knowledge seeker, do expect my iPhone with all the apps, provide him with timely and well-matched knowledge discoveries(i.e. Wolfram Alpha my most expensive app). Drop any subject, and you will get the information handy to answer your kids.

Wolfram Alpha iPhone App

Or as Shazam looks-up new music you hear, since my doughter wants her dad to update his preferences from the Beatles?!, and connect to new vibrant youngster music ;-)


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