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OMG! ECM is OCD for LOB!

We are obsessed! It dawned on me the other day, when I was trying to write up a requirements questionnaire for a client who is implementing an archiving system.

When I say “we”, I mean the ECM professionals. You need to have a good deal of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to be in the ECM business. Whether we are records managers, archivists, consultants, document managers or process designers.

We love things being neat. We love organising information. We obsess about making sure that everything is captured and has a place to go. We love our folders and hierarchies and fileplans. We put labels on everything: We tag and categorise, and add metadata. And then we make lists, and lists of lists, to be able to find stuff. We need rules to abide by, and ideally we like to make the rules ourselves. And we like things that repeat and work the same way every time. We want to know who is who and we are paranoid about security, in case someone sees something they shouldn’t. We need things to be predictable and under control and we don’t like exceptions.

Doesn’t that sound like OCD to you? Come on, admit it. I dare you to try and convince me otherwise…

Now, is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily. The business and to a certain degree the law, needs this kind of rigour and precision. Vast amounts of information would be forever lost at the bottom of the sock drawer, if we didn’t organise things properly. Decisions would take a lot longer and any kind of auditability and transparency would be questionable. The get-on-your-bike-and-see-where-it-takes-you approach does not work in business. Correct? Well, maybe…

ECM is on a collision course. The world of tight controls and neat labels fundamentally contradicts the free Enterprise 2.0 spirit of collaboration and social media. Blogs, wikis, Twitter and Googlewave are there to allow everyone to jump in and do their bit. In real-time. There are very few imposed rules. The blending of personal opinion and work interaction is encouraged. Traditional barriers and organisational structures (from the department to the whole corporation or even across industries) are torn down in favour of exchanging ideas and learning from each other. We don’t have to preserve everything. It’s OK for information to end up in a heap, where analytics can find insights that traditional ECM discipline couldn’t. It’s OK for large communities of common interest – very much like Open Source software – to contribute, correct, expand and share knowledge for the benefit of the common good. It’s OK to have ad-hoc processes that define themselves reactively, based on contextual priorities instead of prescribed recipe.

All of this seemingly anarchic chaos, is revolutionising information management and knowledge sharing. But it has also created a lot of anxiety for most of us OCD types, who still think in terms of folders and hierarchies, and metadata and labels and disposition dates. Will there be a new generation of “free-style” ECM to cater for this? Will we end up with two Information management disciplines – “tightly managed” and “freeflow”? Will the legal and regulatory systems move with the times or shut their eyes pretending the change is not happening? Only time will tell…

But next time you are thinking of architecting an ECM environment, don’t assume that your neat little boxes and clearly labelled compartments will be there forever. They will not!

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What to wear to a Social Media party

Repost – Many thanks to John Mancini (AIIM President, aka @jmancini77) for originally publishing my little Social Media etiquette piece “8 things to wear to a Social Media party” as part of his ever popular 8 things series 🙂

Have a read and enjoy the party!

—–

I was watching my two teenage daughters going to extraordinary lengths preparing themselves for a friend’s birthday party. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea if we also spent some effort preparing ourselves, before joining the virtual party that is Social Media interaction.

So, imagine the scenario: You have been invited for the first time to a Social Media party. It may be a TweetJam on Twitter, a collaborative wiki, your first blog or a group chat on Microsoft Live! Messenger. How do you dress up for the occasion? What do you put in your pockets or your handbag before you leave the house?

8 things to wear to a Social Media party

1 — Loose clothes and comfortable shoes.

The Social Media scene is fast paced place. You need to be flexible and fast. You need to sense and respond quickly. You need to be following several conversations at the same time. You have to be precise and concise. You can’t develop a thesis on 140 character chunks and, even if you do, nobody has the time and patience to hang around waiting for it. Respond now, while people are listening, otherwise your salient gem will be out of context and go unnoticed tomorrow.

2 — Your business card.

There is nothing more irritating than trying to strike a conversation with someone that does not introduce themselves. Let me know who you are, and I’ll talk to you about something we both care about. Otherwise, one of us is likely to bore the other to tears, or walk away. Spend a little time filling your profile in your favorite SM tools. I don’t follow people on Twitter, whose profile is blank! Tell me who you work for, tell me what matters to you, tell me if you have kids or not. Just don’t keep me guessing, because I just won’t bother.

3 — Sunglasses.

Be prepared to be confused, excited, thrilled, interested, dazzled and emotive. This is the value of Social Media. Keep an open mind and leave the blinkers at home. If you come into this party with pre-conceived ideas, you are likely to get no value from your experience. And you will annoy several people on the way too. You don’t have to agree with everything, but be prepared to at least consider other people’s view. If you disagree, explain why. It’s not a game of right and wrong, it’s a game of learning from each other.

4 — Your hearing aid.

Before you speak, listen! Not only out of courtesy but with interest. Some people will inevitably get to the party before you. They have been talking. Take in the atmosphere and don’t dive into the pool straight away. Don’t hog the conversation and don’t be a fly on the wall. You may feel very strongly about your point, but the more you go on about it, the less attention people will pay. Pace yourself and make fewer comments, where they are relevant. There is no rule that says you must blog once-a-day or you must tweet every 10 minutes. And if you do, at least add some value. Add your own views. If all you do is repeat other people’s comments, you are not adding much value. People notice very quickly who adds value to the conversation and who is there just to fill the gaps.

5 — GSOH.

Bring plenty of that… “Good Sense Of Humour”. Don’t forget the “Social” in social media. It’s fun, it’s personal and it’s important. People will quip and joke. People will make mistakes and make fools of themselves. We’ve all done it. Don’t berate people for honest mistakes or hang them just because you took personal offense. If you have a problem, take them on the side and sort it out (that’s what DM and email are for…), don’t pick a fight in the middle of the room. Remember, you never know who is watching and you never know when you will be in their shoes!

6 — Your iPhone, Wikipedia and the Guinness Book of Records.

In other words, knowledge. This is a place to share knowledge and insight. Not to show off, but to add value. Did you hear a good joke? Did you hear an excellent comment? Did you take something away from so-and-so’s presentation? Did your kids make you laugh? Was he ever-so-helpful? Can you take a wild guess on what will happen next? Did you wake up with an amazing idea? People will trade knowledge with you. Interesting info and references. Share what you know and they’ll share back.

7 — Bring a Friend, or Two.

The more the merrier! Seriously though, this is a great opportunity to introduce a colleague or a friend or a relative to the social media scene. Especially if they are introvert or shy, show them what it’s all about. Show them how much they can learn on a topic that interests them. Introduce them to some new friends. To your friends. Give them some ideas what to say. Be an example they can follow. It’s always easier to go to a party with a friend.

8 — A long drink.

This party is a hoot. Social Media is addictive and compulsive. You may need a quick drink to remove your inhibitions when getting into it, and you will definitely need a drink later on, when the party is in full swing, you are totally dehydrated, you’ve been staring at your screen for four hours and you realize it’s 2am and you have a customer presentation in the morning. Please drink responsibly! 🙂

Social Media is not about technology. It’s not even about each of us individually. Each of us contributes and complements the whole community, and the value is in the community as a whole. It’s about a new way of social interaction, as much as it is about gate-crashing the party or eaves-dropping on a cool brainstorming session. It’s about connecting with people you may never meet, who live on the other side of the planet and who have never heard of you before. But they are genuinely interested to hear what you have to say. And it’s about listening, learning and understanding.

So it’s totally worth putting the extra effort to dress up for the party. Enjoy!

—–

George

Categories: E2.0 Tags: ,

What is a #TweetJam? Can I join? What do I do?

What is a TweetJam?

Musicians “Jam” by getting together and playing unscripted music, constantly working off each other, around a general theme. A TweetJam is the same concept, but using Twitter to have a fast-paced conversation around a particular topic. The idea is that a panel of people who are knowledgeable on a theme, are available to answer questions. Anyone can pose a question and anyone can answer.

What is the ECM TweetJam?

IBM, in the context of IOD EMEA (their primary Information Management conference in Europe http://bit.ly/iodemea), is running the first ever TweetJam on the topic of Enterprise Content Management (ECM). The official timing of the Jam is between 15:00 and 17:00 Central European Time on Thursday May 6, 2010. Of course we can’t control what is posted on Twitter so the TweetJam is effectively on all the time. But that’s the time that the panel will be monitoring and answering questions.

What do I do to follow the TweetJam?

Very simple: Sign on to twitter.com and do a search for the terms #IOD2010 #ECM (both need to be there). Anything related to the Jam will have these two hash tags in the message so it will appear in the search.. Alternatively, you can use one of the other Twitter tools (e.d. TweetDeck) and monitor the search terms from there.

How do I join in?

Also very simple: You can post anything on twitter – a question to the panel, a response to a previous question, a comment. As long as you add the hashtags #IOD2010 #ECM to your message, you are participating in the TweetJam. That’s all! No need to register, or sign up, or anything else. Just join in!

Where can I find more info about the ECM TweetJam?

Look at: http://bit.ly/iodecm

When is it again?

Between 15:00 and 17:00 Central European Time on Thursday May 6, 2010. But you can even start posting questions now if you want!

See you there!!!  🙂

The Twitter experiment…

(Originally published on IBM.com by George Parapadakis on 20 August 2009)

I have been using Twitter for a couple of months now, trying to assess its value as a business tool (I’m not too good with broadcasting what I had for breakfast or where I go for a walk in the evening, I’m afraid…). So I’m trying several things out and in a pseudo-scientific fashion trying to analyze the outcome. So here is my first batch of observations, from my experiments so far:

1. Twitter is time consuming. Whether you are a regular contributor or a lurker, it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with everything that interests you in Twitter. Even with dashboards like TwitterDeck and Seesmic, it takes a great effort to keep up once you go beyond 30-50 people that you follow. Add to that regular searches on specific topics and you are swamped! So from that perspective it’s interesting, but unreliable as a definitive source of information.2. While there is no definitive protocol that distinguishes personal from business use on Twitter, the signal-to-noise ratio is very high on the noise side. I can see that over time either there will be a Twitter for business and Twitter for personal, or some sort of classification system where you can tag a tweet as personal, business, local interest, hobby, etc. People will get eventually get tired of trying to spot the useful needle in the drivel haystack. In the meantime, I set myself up as three different accounts and have three different communities of following/followers: Work, Hobbies, Other

3. Pay attention to what people are tweeting and re-tweeting. You will soon spot the ones that add value! People who retweet everything – OUT; people who only write marketing /advertising/self promoting tweets – OUT; people who selectively re-tweet and tag things relevant to you, great filters – IN; people who provide insight and genuine thoughtful tweets – IN. I just wish there was a way of grouping the people I follow by stars out of 5, based on how interested I am in what they have to say!

4. Twitter is a pyramid networking system! Unless you are a celebrity comedian, you will only ever have a limited number of followers. But your followers’ followers are your real network. They people that follow you and pay attention, will retweet your posts to their followers. And they to theirs, because they trust the source. Here’s an example: I recently posted a humorous blog on: “10 questions to spot an ECM expert”. I have less than 100 followers on Twitter, and only a handful of them actually pay attention to anything I post. Six (6) people retweeted my tweet. From their followers, I got another 9 retweets. From these 16 tweets in all (and thanks to using relevant hashtags of course) , my blog ranked up to 550 hits within 24 hours. Similar blogs before twitter would have had 5 to 6 hits over a couple of weeks. Very powerful!

5. Don’t believe everything you read. There is a lot of scope in Twitter for distorting (deliberately or accidentally) information, because people implicitly trust the sources they signed up to. A re-tweet does not necessarily come from whoever it says it comes from, nor did it have the same text necessarily, when it started its journey!

So here is my conclusion so far, and I would love to hear your views on it: In the next 6 months Twitter will either collapse under its own weight (people getting tired of trying to find the relevant amongst the irrelevant) or it will transform radically into a set of different and more refined tools. Marketers who already abuse the system will be marginalized, while marketers that understand (and respect!) how powerful this tool can be, will use it to disseminate valuable information, faster than ever was possible before. Personal tweeting will either be segmented out, or it will move back to other networks like facebook, linkedin, etc.

What if Orson Welles used Twitter?

(Originally posted on InformationZen by George Parapadakis on July 10, 2009 )

A scary Friday thought, but with a hint or reality thrown in…

A lot of people will be familiar with the famous War of the Worlds radio hoax story: In 1938, Orson Welles presented a Halloween spoof alien invasion story on CBS radio. The story was so believable that widespread panic ensued.

“The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast was presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual Martian invasion was in progress […] The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast” (Wikipedia)

In 1938, pre-TV era, radio was the most immediate medium for communicating information to people. People trusted the radio and in particular they trusted the News bulletins. In a way, Welles hijacked (abused, if you like) that trust. People reacted to snippets of unconfirmed information, because they implicitly trusted its source. The resulting panic was not the only effect. The trustworthiness of real news sources was questioned. A host of conspiracy theories followed. The same play was adapted and reused in other geographies, causing similar panic and even resulting in deaths.

Roll forward 70 years or so… The most immediate broadcast medium today, is Twitter. Based on 140-character snippets of unconfirmed information. Delivered straight to your mobile/cell phone, wherever you are. What if the BBC or Time or CNN (or anyone spoofing as them) were to broadcast an Orson Welles equivalent hoax. And the world re-tweets, seconds later…. What would today’s reaction be?

Would people panic? That means that people are trusting their social media sources as much as they trusted the radio in 1938. And twitter is a dangerous place to be!

Would they wait and double check their sources? If so, it means we are inherently NOT trusting the information we get from twitter. Which then questions the value of the medium.

Are we any more savvy today than people were in 1938? We would like to think so. But the thousands of people that daily fall victim to email and phone and get-rich-fast scams (and the proliferation of these scams) does not substantiate that belief… Fortunately or unfortunately, people are generally more naive than paranoid.

Have a good weekend! – George

Put that down! You don’t know where it’s been…

(Originally posted on InformationZen by George Parapadakis on June 29, 2009)

Sometimes, we take too much for granted. Twitter is a wonderful and dangerous thing! Recently I had three twitter experiences which made me sit back and think again:

1) I saw Michael Jackson’s death twittered, before there was an article about it on the BBC News page. The immediacy of twitter as a medium is phenomenal. But “caveat emptor”. This time the news checked out when verified – it was true. It could have just as well been completely false, which would have equally driven crowds into mild panic and depression. So while I appreciate hearing about it first, I prefer the slightly more reserved “verify your sources first” approach of the news. Especially now that the conspiracy theorists are having a field day.

2) Re-twitting is what drives twitter and spreads information around faster than wildfire. Brilliantly simple concept and it really gives me a buzz to see people that I’ve never heard of, re-twitting my comments or my links. Just prefix with RT and the name of the original twitter and off you go. The other day however, someone RT’d one of my comments (thanks) but decided to slightly change half of it. The quip was funny, I appreciated his point and there was no malice intended. But it made me realise how easy it is for someone to put words into my mouth, by allegedly re-twitting something I’ve never said. People inherently trust information if they trust the source. There is no control in twitter-land for verifying that what someone says I said, is actually true! Combine that with the speed that information spreads on Twitter and you have a potential recipe for disaster!

3) Spare me the drivel! I think a lot of you will recognise this symptom: I am being very selective on twitter. I have a personal account and a work account. With my work account I follow people that relate to my work or have information that may be relevant to me. Including people from my own company. Recently I also joined a couple of twitter “communities” (twibes or Comtweets) from work, which changed my Twitter experience dramatically – I want to know what’s going on in my company. I don’t want to know the football results or what someone in Venezuela had for breakfast! The signal-to-noise ratio on some of these communities is very low. There is so much irrelevant noise that I am forced to un-follow them. I’m sure I will miss some important information from there. But it’s a small price to pay for not losing all the value of the other people I carefully decided to follow, who have something relevant to say and are now lost in the alphabet soup I receive.

I’m sure that over time, some form of informal “etiquette” will develop on twitter that will allow me to filter out the noise, verify re-tweets and validate news gossip. But until then I have to protect myself by treating everything with a little bit more caution than I have done so far.

Have you had any similar experiences that made you think twice about the value of social networking tools? I’d love to hear them and compile some sort of “Beware” list…

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