A Change of Focus to Search Driven; or Control vs Openness Part Two

The Shift Towards Portals with Search Driven Functionality

A lot of the people I meet in my work use these new web 2.0 tools daily. They ask me why metadata and taxonomies have to be so complicated when you can do “that web 2.0 stuff” with tagging. They say they prefer “the easy way” and prefer folksonomies over structures; they don’t think they can trust the structures anyway. People, who would like to work in an organization like Charlies.

Traditionally intranets are about control; we want to control what information people get and when and how they get it, instead of trying to make sure that people have the information they need when they need it.

I did some sketches for a search driven portal the other day. One of the comments I got was: “Wow! Why can’t we do that?” Actually, people are doing that. There are dozens of services out there like iGoogle and Superstart; all about customizing the experience for each user. This is like the intranet I want!

In order to achieve this, the companies need a change of focus. It is not about having control over every detail, or about just seizing control. It’s about finding a way to manage communication and make it easier for people to find what they want when they need it.

The search vendors have started to realize that. There is a shift towards portals with search driven functionality.

The design is not static, but reflects what is new and important to you, the specific user.
There are no menus in several levels; instead information about current events and information about what has happened since the last time you visited, take up the information space. Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs can be used internally to improve communication and collaboration.

Are you looking for something special? Search for it! You don’t need to know where it is in order to find the information you are looking for.

This is off course the vision, where few organizations have dared to go. But there are off course exceptions to this. I have been working in a project where there is no fear of seizing control over every little detail. The aim is instead to understand how to best support the users in their work, using enterprise 2.0 tools and search as a vital part of the solution. I would like to see more organizations like Charlie’s…

Wisdom Comes With Knowledge – Let’s Have it at Our Fingertips

Wisdom comes with knowledge – this is our payoff, a generic statement, easy to agree with. But what do we mean with these few words….

The management guru Peter Drucker (www.peter-drucker.com) stated already 2001 that the next society will be a “knowledge society”. Knowledge will be its key resource, and knowledge workers will be the dominant group in its workforce. Its three main characteristics will be:

  • Borderlessness because knowledge travels even more effortlessly than money.
  • Upward mobility, available to everyone through easily acquired formal education.
  • The potential for failure as well as success. Anyone can acquire the “means of production”, i.e. the knowledge required for the job, but not everyone can win.

Together, those three characteristics will make the knowledge society a highly competitive one, for organisations and individuals alike. Information technology, although only one of many new features of the next society, is already having one hugely important effect: it is allowing information to spread near-instantly, and making it accessible to everyone.

But the important thing in the knowledge society is of course to find the right information at the right time. This is the success factor, to turn information into knowledge that could be built up for each separate task or mission. This requires a good way to extract the useful information. A good search engine could give you this, the ability to dynamically find, extract, structure and understand information and to turn information into knowledge.

We call this “dynamic knowledge”, easy to achieve through search solutions, suitable for each situation. This is a way to feel wise and well informed in the knowledge society. The ability to get the right information for each and every situation will give you the ability to have “dynamic knowledge at your fingertips”.

The Right Information at the Right Time; or Control vs Openness

There is obviously a difference between what people want and do and what the organisations think and want to do.

I saw a good definition of what enterprise 2.0 is the other day. Meet Charlie is a good example of how web 2.0 tools can be used in the enterprise area. Because people do use them; these new tools have changed the way we communicate and collaborate. If your not an organization that is.

I think social media is here to stay. Things like flickr and youtube ultimately changed the way we deal with our photos and videos. Look at the competitive analysis valuecurve for flickr to see how it changed the business behind photo services. (Flickr is now also the second most popular photo site.) And social media isn’t just for kids. You can find booktips from the library in Norrköping at youtube, many professionals have profiles on LinkedIn, we subscribe to dozens of blogs and blog ourselves.

There is a lot of professional networking going on on the web. People of today have a need to share their thoughts and ideas. So there are a lot of Charlies out there. Howcome there are so few of his employers?

According to Gartner, today 80% of Business is conducted on unstructured information, which is about 85% of all data. And yet most of the development för IT is done for the rest of the information, the 15% that is structured and semi-structured. People go for openness and collaboration but organizations go for structure and control…

Using Search for Web and Enterprise 2.0? Plan for the Future!

Buzzwords such as ‘the long tail’, ‘user generated content’ and ‘web 2.0’ has been around for some time now, but does it automatically mean that everyone understands the way that technology is heading? And what happens with search?

If you haven’t seen the rather old, but brilliant video The machine is us/ing us on Youtube you should. If you have, you should take a look at the updated version.

When working with search on a daily basis one tries to get behind the fuzzy words to see how blogs, wikis, RSS, mash-ups and social tagging among other things will affect the way we interact and do business in the future. Linking Wikipedia to these words is only one example of knowledge sharing that wasn’t possible a few years ago.

The tools that the new web 2.0 development provides us with helps us create and gather more information than ever. As the amount of information increases rapidly, according to Gartner an average company doubles (!) its information every 6-18 months, the need for efficient search solutions becomes crucial in order to handle the vast amounts of data.

All search vendors claim that they will be able to provide effective search for these purposes. As a customer you should ask yourself; what is the future need of my business? Do I need a search solution that provides support for basic functionality such as spellchecking and static relevance adjustments? Is there a need for more advanced functionality that increases cross-functional sharing in the organisation such as dynamic navigators and common workspaces? Do I want to use search to increase knowledge sharing powered by web 2.0 tools?

An interesting and short debate presentation can be found here. In conclusion; Different stages of maturity require different approaches to achieve different outcomes.

These questions may seem to be looking too far ahead? I can say for sure that by asking the right questions from the beginning you can save yourself a lot of time and the company a lot of money (and use your solutions for present as well as future needs).

By knowing your users, your organization and its future you can make search solutions that help enable knowledge discovery, sharing, and connection, which in the end is what web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0 is all about.