Just in case you have not followed the recent saga of the demise and reinstatement of AIIM’s CIP certification, read Mark Owen’s blog here, which has a good summary of events.
I am not going to dwell on the ins and outs of AIIM’s decision, which has been analysed enough. However, there is an underlying story to the events which is significant: In case anyone had any doubts, this is one of the best showcases of the power of Social Media that I’ve seen so far: From the original decision announcement, through the members’ rebellion, to the final reversal decision, took just 7 days, and that included a weekend.
Think about this process: Within hours of the original decision announcement, the twitter feeds were buzzing! (well, the ECM twitter feeds at least, let’s not get over excited…). Amazement, scold, sarcasm, and a genuine discussion on the relative merits of CIP vs. IGP and vs. other AIIM certifications such as ECMm. A great amount of very good content. Over the next couple of days, the blogs started appearing. Most of the vocal people in our community were up in arms and made their voice heard. Even more twitter traffic, while these blogs were disseminated. People at AIIM saw and heard the response, loud and clear. A few more discussions later, a new announcement of the reinstatement of CIP (through a blog and twitter) and a lot more twitter traffic and a lot more blogs. For the most part, congratulating AIIM for being active, listening, responsive and doing the right thing.
AIIM is a community of several thousand people. There is a core of a few dozen people that have been actively involved with AIIM for a long time and, by default, they are the biggest advocates the most ferocious critics. They also happen to be prolific Social Media users, particularly on Twitter and blogs. You could argue that the statistical sample of the people that complained about CIP is not significant, compared to the overall number of AIIM members, but that would be a very short-sighted view. When you consider who these people were, the communities that they themselves represent, and the influence they exhort into the ECM community (again through the power of Social Media…), it would have been very difficult for AIIM to ignore.
On top of that, when your best advocates become critics, you tend to pay attention…
Kudos to AIIM for recognising the issue and doing something about it. Even bigger kudos to Social Media, as a platform for change. I don’t think that this kind of dramatic unfolding of events, immediate and overwhelming public response to an unpopular decision, and finally the winning over of the disgruntled masses to a successful outcome, all in the space of one week, would have been possible in any other era or medium.
Finally, a quote from a tweet by Lisa Hoover McGreevy (@Lisah), who summed it up beautifully: “Well done, # members. And, uh, remind me to never piss you off. ;)”
A recent conversation with a colleague sent me searching back to my archives for a conference presentation I did nearly 16 years ago. The subject of the conference was on the impact of Document Management as an enabler for Knowledge sharing in the enterprise.
Driven by three different technology sectors at the time, Document Management, Search and Portals, Knowledge Management was all the rage back then. No good deed goes unpunished, however, and after several massive project failures and even more non-starter projects, Knowledge Management lost its shine and became a dirty phrase that no self-respecting consultant wanted to be associated with.
Why did Knowledge Management fail in the ‘90s?
They say 20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing… Reading again through my slides and my notes, made me realise how different this market has become since the late ‘90s. There were a number of factors at the time that made sure that Knowledge Management never took off as a viable approach but, in my view, two were the most dominant:
The first one was the much used phrase of “Knowledge is power”. Leaving aside the fact that knowledge in and by itself very rarely has intrinsic value – it’s the application of knowledge that creates the power – the phrase was quickly misconstrued by the users to mean: “I have knowledge, therefore I have power”. Guess what? Who wants to dilute their power by selflessly sharing out knowledge? Not many users felt altruistic enough to share their prized knowledge possessions, their crown jewels, for the greater good of the organisation. “As long as I hold onto the knowledge, I hold on to the power and therefore I am important, valuable and irreplaceable”. Nobody said so, of course, but everyone was thinking it.
The second one was the incessant focus on the information itself as the knowledge asset. Technology was focused almost exclusively on extracting tacit knowledge from individuals, encapsulating it in explicit documents, categorising it, classifying it, archiving it and making it available to anyone who could possibly need it. There were two problems with this approach: The moment tacit information became explicit, it lost its owner and curator; it also started aging and becoming obsolete. Quite often, it also lost its context too, making it not only irrelevant but often dangerous.
Why are we talking again about Knowledge Management in 2015?
The last decade has brought a silent cultural revolution on knowledge sharing. We have all learned to actively share! Not only did we become a lot less paranoid about sharing our “crown jewels”, but we are all actively enjoying doing so, inside and outside the work environment: Wikipedia, blogs, Twitter, self-publishing, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Open-source, crowdsourcing, etc., all technologies that the millennium (and the millennials) have brought to the fore. All these technologies are platforms for sharing information and knowledge. The stigma and the paranoia of “Knowledge is Power” has actually transformed into “Sharing is Power”. The more we share the more are valued by our networks, and the bigger the network grows the more power we yield as individuals. And, surprise-surprise, it’s reciprocal! The bigger the network we create the bigger the pool of knowledge we can draw upon.
What couldn’t have been envisioned in the late ‘90s, or early ‘00s, is that by 2015 the knowledge power would be contained in the relationships and the connections, not in the information assets. Not just connections between knowledge gurus inside an enterprise, but amongst individuals in a social environment, between companies and consumers and amongst professional organisations.
Social Media and Collaboration environments have proven to us that the value of sharing knowledge is significantly higher than the value of holding on to it. We may or may not see the term “Knowledge Management” resurrected as an IT concept, but the reality is that knowledge sharing has now become an integral part of our daily life, professional and personal, and it’s not likely to change any time soon.
It’s now about a year since AIIM first introduced their study “Systems of Engagement and the future if Enterprise IT” (led by Geoffrey Moore). In this last year I’ve heard this study presented several times and it always resonates with the audience.
However, I believe that the study does not go far enough.
I agree totally that in the last few years we have seen a dramatic shift in the way people interact and communicate and it’s primarily driven through the adoption of social networking and collaboration tools. So the principle of moving to “Systems of Engagement” is sound.
Where I disagree with the study though, is the concept that “Systems of engagement begin with a focus on communications”. That we have moved from managing content to managing interactions. Yes, the new mediums are a lot more interactive and as a result we have more transient content and a higher volume to manage. But fundamentally, this is still describing a system of records, with records encompassing this new type of content.
In my view, what has fundamentally and irrevocably changed is the perception of value. Systems of Engagement no longer derive value from managing information. The focus is on managing Relationships.
- Relationships between individuals
- Relationships between people and knowledge domains or communities
- Relationships between people and information
- Relationships between information sources – i.e. context
- Relationships between groups, businesses, communities
What was the primary driver for adoption of tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? connecting people into networks. What will determine the success or failure of Google+? The transition of communities of users from other networks.
In Systems of Engagement, we no longer bookmark the information. We connect with individuals: Friends, Circles, Connections, Followers. We trust the information, because we trust the source. We seek expertise first, and information second. My value, as an individual, is not defined by the documents I’ve written but by my network, my presence and my contribution to the communities I belong.
This applies just as much inside the firewall, as it does outside. Collaborative tools, crowdsourcing, open Q&A, etc. are not driven by sets of captured information, they are driven by connecting the right people to the right tasks and the right communities. By developing relationships.
Yes, as Geoffrey Moore describes in the study, new information is generated through the interaction between individuals. But the new currency in the world of Systems of Engagement is not the snippet of interaction between individuals and the knowledge contained within it. That knowledge is transient and most often obsolete as soon as it is captured.
The new currency today in Systems of Engagement is the Relationship, the connection, the network: Who knows whom? Who knows what? Who do I know? Who knows and follows me?
I spent two excellent days last week at the Legal Week’s Corporate Counsel Forum, where I’ve met several new and interesting people and learned an awful lot of things I didn’t know.
But I left the conference very frustrated.
The forum audience comprises primarily senior lawyers: General Counsel and Heads of Legal departments. The topics covered were as wide as crisis management, ‘moral’ compass, employment, Bribery Act, ‘Tesco’ law, cross-border teams, intellectual property, competition, etc., etc. Fascinating subjects, some of which admittedly I knew nothing about and learned a lot. It gave me a small insight into “a day in the life of a General Counsel” and the sheer volume of diversity that they have to be knowledgeable about, deal with and protect themselves (and their company) from.
And in 8 out of 10 conference sessions I wanted to shout: “There is a solution that can help here!”.
It amazes me (and frustrates me!) how much of the technology that other parts of the organisation take for granted seems to be absent from the legal department. As if they are the poor relatives in the organisation. I am not talking about highly specialised legal technologies such as eDiscovery, Content Analytics or even Information Risk & Compliance Governance (although these too are available and seem to be missing from many legal officers’ armoury, but that’s another conversation…). I am talking about basic capabilities that make the daily office operation significantly more efficient:
- Digitising paper – avoiding the costs, avoiding delays of shifting piles of paper around and the risk of losing them by accident or in a crisis
- Electronic document repositories – managing security and access controls, reducing duplication, managing versions, allowing online access from anywhere and simple searching
- Case management – allowing lawyers to organise their work, negotiate with third parties, monitor progress, apply rules and generate reports automatically instead of using spreadsheets
- Email management – capturing, filtering, organising and routing emails, ensuring compliance
- Collaboration software – communicating amongst large teams, dispersed in different geographies and timezones
The list goes on… This isn’t trailblazing, these are automation tools and capabilities that have proven their value and have been helping organisations remove basic inefficiencies, for the last 10-20 years.
I am not advocating that technology is the answer to everything. Some business problems can be improved with some common sense and a bit of reorganising. Others are far too complex to be tackled by technology alone. But there is certainly enough basic technology to make a General Counsel’s life much simpler.
One of the key messages coming out of the conference was the resource constraints that legal departments are facing. Too much to do, too little time, too few people, too much information to process, too much knowledge to upkeep, too many risks to avoid, too many departments to coordinate, too many regulations to adhere to and too many stakeholders to appease.
So why are you wasting time on menial tasks that can be simplified, automated, or eliminated by use of simple tools, instead of using that time effectively to add value to the elements of the process where technology can’t help.
Whenever I asked that question, the answer is typically “We don’t control the budget” or “We have other priorities” or “We don’t have the time to look at new tools”, etc.
Excuses! The question here is not “have I got time to worry about technology?”. The question is “Can I afford the luxury of NOT using it?”. If these technologies can improve the productivity and reduce costs in the operations department, the marketing department, the sales department, the procurement department, why not use them to improve the efficiency of the legal department too?
(I would love to hear your views on this, especially if you are and in-house lawyer or work in a legal department)
Last Thursday I participated in another exciting ECM Tweetjam (if you don’t know what a Tweetjam is read it here) organised by @bduhon (long suffering editor of AIIM’s publications and curator of @AIIMCommunity). I had missed the announcements, but stumbled upon a tweet message from a friend, just in time, so I jumped in.
The usual suspects participated in the discussion. Virtually all vocal participants were from the vendor community, but that is not surprising given AIIM’s make up as an organisation. Also not surprising, since the people who have opinions to share on ECM tend to be the ones that have been around this industry for a while and have seen the good, the bad and the extremely ugly (I’m talking about ECM projects here, before anyone gets offended!)
Even though you can use any twitter client to participate in a tweetjam, TweetChat was the preferred tool of the day. It just keeps everything focused and flowing but even with the best tool for the job, it’s difficult to keep up. At the peak of the discussion there were between 5-10 tweets in every 5-second refresh cycle. No chance of reading all of them, never mind responding. Bryant did his best to streamline the flow by numbering the questions but, inevitably, the limitation of 140 characters and the multiple threads of conversations/retweets/comments on each question meant that it was fairly chaotic at times. That’s not a bad thing in a tweetjam! It shows that the participants are passionate about the topic and that it’s not scripted. I’ve been in other tweetjams before, where it was obvious that the only participants were marketers with a very specific message to convey. Those tweetjams are boring!
For those interested in stats: In an hour – 977 tweets, 82 twitterers, potentially reaching 42,500 people…
It’s worth remembering though, that for every person active in a tweetjam conversation, there are several others that just listen in, monitoring the hashtag and looking for pearls of wisdom. And there were several in the session.
So, what ECM pearls did we pick up in the Jam? Here are some…
- The never-ending saga of “is ECM the right name for what we do?” continues
- BPM is a fundamental part of ECM, as confirmed again by OpenText acquisition
- ECM is relevant to small organisations as much as it is to large ones
- SharePoint is here and offers basic ECM, if implemented correctly, but there are some ‘evil’ implementations out there.
- Operational efficiency is “sexy”… According to some at least.
- Some of us are too old and have been in ECM for far too long…
You can read Bryant’s more detailed blog about the #ecmjam here, but I must say it was fun!
I had the unfortunate experience of losing one of my Social Media accounts recently. And as per the popular song… You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!
I like Social Networking: Even if I haven’t quite eschewed email and my C: drive, I rely heavily on my social network for information, for feedback and for personal communications. My 350 carefully vetted Twitter followers, my 150 Facebook family and friends, my 100 LinkedIn business contacts and University alumni, my 50 RedBubble artist friends and the dozen subscribers to my WordPress blog, make up most of my social network.
It’s not a huge network, but it’s mine, it is personal, it is relevant and it is important to me. Whether I like it or not, it also defines my public identity, to a certain extent.
So what happens when disaster strikes? What if all that was wiped away?
Louis Richardson very eloquently describes a new Information/Knowledge Management environment that centres around the individual and his social network rather than information collected in documents. (“People-centric vs. Content-centric” http://bit.ly/gU5Skf). AIIM (by voice of Geoffrey Moore) similarly describe the transition from “Systems of Record” to “Systems of Engagement”. (http://www.aiim.org/Research/AIIM-White-Papers/Systems-of-Engagement)
Both of these highlight the fact that my social identity is now a more important asset than the collection of knowledge artefacts that live on my hard disk and get backed up regularly.
I have no backup of my social identity!
Within my work environment, people will look to my social community profile, to understand who I am, where I come from and what my interest and expertise is, based on my profile, my tags, my network contacts, my blogs, the communities I belong to, the bookmarks I shared, etc
One day my public profiles (through a weird upgrade bug) got wiped clean. My profile was blank, my identity was gone! I was no longer an opinionated thought leader and social media zealot, or helpful ECM advocate with answers to questions. I was another blank profile with just a name.
Rebuilding that identity is not easy. Not only it takes time and effort, but trying to remember what was there to start with, is a nightmare. Who was I connected to? Which communities did I belong to? What tags did people assign to me? More importantly, how long will it take for my profile to “mature” to the same level of trust and credibility that it carried before?
Thinking about this, I realised how much I’ve come to rely on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are my address & phone lists and birthday calendars for friends, family and work colleagues. My on-line calendar is also my diary and meetings history log. My blog site contains most of my innovative thoughts & nuggets from the last 3 years. The people I follow on twitter are my market intelligence engine. The people that follow me, are my influence sphere.
If these accounts were to suddenly disappear, I will have lost not only years of investment, but my social identity and my social memory. And that would cost me time, it would cost me operational efficiency, it would cost me credibility, it would cost me competitiveness, and it would cost me personal angst. It will ultimately have an impact to both my work and to my private life.
How do I protect this identity? Some tools, like Facebook, have their own mechanisms for taking a backup copy of your profile data. Did you know that? When was the last time you took a backup of your Facebook account? Other third-party tools (e.g. http://www.backupify.com) will backup and restore multiple public profiles from different tools. They are commendable, but not complete. And how many of us actually use them?
Take a step back: Imagine for a moment that your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are wiped clean. Imagine that your blog has no entries. In the people-centric world of social networking, what impact will this Social Amnesia have to your business and your personal life?
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you can’t have missed the “Future of ECM” project that AIIM has been working on with Geoffery Moore, author of the famous “Crossing the Chasm” book, documenting the shift from Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement, as the main driver for the future of ECM.
First of all let me say that I’m 100% behind this principle. Although not necessarily agreeing with all the points in the report, I wholeheartedly believe that the fundamental behaviour shifts that underlie Enterprise 2.0 and Social Networking, are defining a new type of “content” that is not constrained by the same parameters that we manage in ECM systems today, and will therefore need an altogether new approach to managing and governing it. And as that content is still fundamentally text-based (I don’t like using the term unstructured), the ECM industry is the right place for that transition to happen.
Anyone following my (sparse) blogs, will know that I’ve written about this the same topic before:
What I find fascinating however, is that the current market dynamic described in AIIM’s study, in some ways contradicts the original “Crossing the chasm” model that Geoffrey Moore developed. Instead of the adoption curve lagging behind software innovation, we now have the bizarre scenario where the market is ahead of the software. The ubiquitous presence of social networking tools, connect-everywhere-24×7 smart mobiles and online-presence-savvy Gen-Y “I want it in an App” teenagers, means that the market adoption is dragging the software industry, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. Software vendors are playing catch-up with the market demand and new information management models (e.g. Systems of Engagement) are being invented to reconcile the IT industry status, with the market that is already defined out there, demanding these new capabilities.
So we’re crossing the chasm backwards! We’re no longer educating the luddite users of the amazing benefits of the the latest and greatest IT innovation, waiting for the end-user market to mature. Instead, the market demand is dragging the luddite software vendors into producing real customer-driven, agile, adaptive, consumable enterprise software that has to keep up with the snazzy, clever, sexy and dynamic capabilities that consumer users are already enjoying on their mobile phones in their personal lives.
Today, there is a fundamental difference between the speed that the market develops, versus the speed that software is being produced. So, while the Information Management principles explored in AIIM’s study are absolutely valid and relevant, they need to be developed in tandem with new, better, faster, cheaper, more focused software development & marketing methods. Otherwise the chasm will only become bigger.
I am a Software Strategist, Social Media explorer and Photographer. Professionally, I have been involved with Document Management, Process Management and Content Management for the last 20+ years. The views here are my own and not those of my employer.
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