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Collaboration with Scrap Lumber & Bailing Wire

January 30, 2012 at 10:57 am PST

I’ve always worked in creative environments with a lot of interdependent roles and processes – and big, unyielding deadlines. Twenty years ago (did I just type that?!), it was editors, writers, designers, artists, production teams, salespeople, prepress film houses, printers, and all of the rest involved in producing magazines. My role was at the intersection of the creative work and technical production. Sometimes it all happened as a meeting in one room, other aspects involved sneakernet, sending disks and film back and forth via couriers. Missing a print date cost big dollars. You didn’t miss the dates. Ever. 

Where's my sweater?Being a bit of a geek with a logical streak of an engineer’s daughter, I was always looking for ways to add structure and streamline processes. (This is not unlike trying to put a wet cat in a sweater.) I developed a successful, but perhaps unhealthy relationship with spreadsheets that I used to hold information – deadlines, story details, status, page counts, art files, page ratios. I dutifully maintained my trusty grids and could answer any question about any bit or piece along the way. But hand anyone else a printout and their eyes would cross and roll before they simply restated the question. The spreadsheets held data; I was the mechanism for sharing data – the user interface, so to speak.

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Towards A More Participatory Culture: Enterprise Q&A (Part 2)

In our earlier post, we explored growing interest in a new class of social application that AIIM calls “Enterprise Q&A”. We concluded that design and user experience were critically important. To deliver this type of application effectively, design practices had to accommodate the social dynamics that occur as people participate in various roles within “answer networks”. As organizations invest in social collaboration platforms, many of these systems will have, or will eventually include, an Enterprise Q&A capability. Design practices that prioritize user experience and social participation, not just Q&A automation, will likely deliver the best solution. While it seems to be straightforward design challenge (ask a question, get an answer), the cultural and social networking dynamics can be very nuanced. Those nuances are easily overlooked if solution providers implement Enterprise Q&A from a technological perspective.

Below are several strategy, design, and user experience considerations you might want to ask yourself if you are looking into this topic:

  • Where should the question get published to maximize the change of getting a applicable answer? While industry exuberance for activity streams makes it the likely candidate, is that always the proper mechanism?
  • If activity streams are leveraged, is posting a question into a stream cluttered with lots of other items vying for attention the right approach? Should we visually distinguish a question from other types of activity stream entries? What other filtering options should be considered so that questions receive the proper priority?
  • If posting a question into a stream is not always the best design decision, what other options should be considered? Should we decipher the meta-data associated with a question and map them to expertise tags of people and communities? If so, we can then define a notification process and ping those individuals and groups through different alerting options? Read More »

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e-Learning Technology: Promoting Creativity and Collaboration… On a Budget

January 27, 2012 at 10:49 am PST

When speaking with our customers and prospects in the K-12 community, we hear time and again that budget restrictions are a daily reality.

At the same time, these educators fully understand that in order to prepare the next generation for success in the 21st century economy, a “mixed” learning environment (where new, innovative technologies are incorporated into more traditional curriculum) helps to better engage students and improve academic performance.

From the boardroom to the barroom, American citizens, including President Obama, instinctively know that our K-12 public education system needs to be invigorated. From the President’s State of the Union address this week:

Give [schools] the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test.

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Cisco gains more business value by migrating Web 2.0 tools to the Cisco Quad platform

January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am PST

We recently published a new case study that describes how Cisco IT has evolved its internal collaboration and social sharing site, called the Integrated Workforce Experience (IWE). With IWE and the Cisco® Quad™ platform, Cisco IT provides the types of social networking tools—blogs, microblog messages, and informal videos—that employees use outside of work. In IWE, those tools are optimized for internal use within Cisco and are implemented in a robust, scalable, and secure way. Originally created by Cisco IT on an open-source platform, IWE now runs on the Cisco Quad platform. The platform migration required integrating the social sharing tools with minimal user disruption, preserving user documents, migrating different user data types appropriately, supporting application portals, and educating employees.
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Towards A More Participatory Culture: Enterprise Q&A (Part 1)

In October of 2011, AIIM (the Association for Information & Imaging Management, a non-profit research, community and educational association), published a survey-based report that examined social business and Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) trends. I had the good fortune to hear about the results first-hand when I co-presented with AIIM’s President, John Mancini, on a social networking panel at the Gilbane Conference held in Boston last November. John summarized the work and results of the study. One of the more interesting data points and trending analysis I found intriguing was a growing interest in a class of social application AIIM refers to as “Enterprise Q&A”.  Historically, when people ask what the common application use case scenarios are for E2.0, the most frequently cited examples have been: expertise location, online communities, and ideation (innovation).

Why the growing interest in Q&A applications? Perhaps because it’s a pain point all of us – from front-line worker to senior executive – can relate to in our everyday work experience. All of us can recall situations when we’ve had a question about something and have not been able to find an answer through the information and contacts at our disposal. We ask our colleagues. We send out e-mails. We might try discussion forums, knowledge-base applications, and of course – search engines.

“The question acts as a ‘social object’ that can mobilize networks, enable people to take on informal social roles, and help create social capital between participants in these answer networks.”

However, even if we are fortunate enough to find the content, the information may not be presented in a fashion that addresses our need. Sometimes the “question” is not easily resolved by locating content. Often, what people are asking for (indirectly) when they pose a question is to have a conversation with someone to “make sense” out of that issue (in addition to the content if it’s relevant). Read More »

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