» Archive for November, 2006

Stories from the Trenches: What the New Workplace Survey is Telling Us

Friday, November 24th, 2006 by Jonathan Spira

In the New Workplace survey, we ask survey takers to tell us a specific example of when they used technology to make themselves more productive and to provide us with a description of being confronted with a problem and using software in a clever way to solve it.

I thought I would share some excerpts with you; the ingenuity of the knowledge worker is boundless.

  • I write custom applications using for example Microsoft VB, Excel/Access vba, and SQL, to extract, translate, and load tax data from disparate systems into my company’s software.  The programs I have written have automated processes that would otherwise been performed via manual Cut and Paste efforts, or even thru retyping.
  • Used Office applications (spreadsheets, etc.) to transform data into usable form.
  • I adopted local HDD search capability from the earliest times (Alta Vista Personal Edition).  My organization did not provide such tools, so I’ve always purchased the latest tools available in this category to enhance my ability to find stuff on my machine.
  • I heavily use our enterprise blog/wiki platform to collaborate with customers, partners and team members.  We are constantly evolving how the technology is applied to use cases in customer support, support documentation, sales reporting and requirements management by Milestone.
  • Created a traffic light system using macros and a heap of conditional formatting and validation in Excel to manage 27 concurrent projects and their priorities.

Share your stories; we’ll send you a complimentary copy of the executive summary of our findings and you can enter our drawing to win a new Microsoft Zune digital media player.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Open Text Adopts the One Environment Rule

Friday, November 17th, 2006 by Sachin Anand

This week at its annual user conference, LiveLinkUp (which I am attending), Open Text unveiled Livelink ECM 10.  Livelink ECM 10 is Open Text’s strongest move yet into supplying the tools necessary for enterprise customers to build Collaborative Business Environments that will make their knowledge workers more productive.

In compliance with the One Environment Rule (simply put, users remain in one overarching environment for their work), Livelink ECM 10 seems to have been designed from the ground up to ensure that content management is not treated as a function that is separate and distinct from other Collaborative Business Knowledge tools.

The advances present in Livelink ECM 10 lead a path towards Enterprise Transparency.  Enterprise Transparency, in the ECM world, represents the change of content management from a static process to a dynamic process that can be leveraged for business advantage by providing knowledge workers centralized tools from which they can make their decisions.

Features include Enterprise Library Services, which include integrated archival, metadata management, enterprise records management, and search capabilities.  Users can also manage the metadata and lifecycle of content stored in enterprise applications from Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle, among others, as well as business content stored in Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, e-mail, file systems, and other repositories.  Knowledge workers can access business content in ERP systems, such as customer information, from Microsoft Office Outlook, providing a unified view of structured and unstructured business content.

Livelink ECM 10 allows companies to build and deploy solutions on any Basic Content Services offering such as SharePoint Portal Server 2003, while managing the enterprise-wide retention of the mission-critical business content with Enterprise Library Services.

Open Text didn’t forget the knowledge worker’s interface to his work.  Livelink ECM 10 features a new rich client interface, and offers seamless access to business content from Microsoft desktop tools such as Outlook 2003, Office 2003, and Internet Explorer.

Finally, to make it easier for customers to integrate their content with Livelink, Open Text is providing published Web services APIs for Enterprise Library Services and Livelink Content Services.

Sachin Anand is an analyst at Basex.

What We’ve Learnt from Our New Workplace Survey: Week 1

Friday, November 17th, 2006 by Jonathan Spira

The New Workplace survey has been underway for ca. one week.  Several hundred people have already participated – if you haven’t, please go to http://www.basex.com/officesurvey.  We will send you an executive summary of our findings after the survey with our compliments, and one lucky survey taker will win a new Microsoft Zune digital music player.

Although it’s too early to draw conclusions, here are some interesting facts.

Survey takers come from every walk of life, from elementary knowledge worker to CEO, and from almost every industry one could imagine.

Not surprisingly, ca. 96% of respondents use e-mail and word processing regularly.

60% have told us that their work is completely autonomous, while 46% said their job is all about creative thinking.

The war stories survey respondents are contributing to questions asking how they have used software to make themselves more productive, tell us that human ingenuity is alive and well in an age of cold, faceless technology.

Make sure we hear from you – and please tell your friends and colleagues to participate as well.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

How Do You Work in the New Workplace?

Friday, November 10th, 2006 by Jonathan Spira

Regular readers are aware of the changes we are undergoing as we move from an industrial age mind set to the knowledge economy.  One of the intangibles we have yet to define is the issue of knowledge worker productivity.  We all know WHEN we are productive but that really is more of an impression, analogous to Justice Potter Stewart’s comment of “I know it when I see it.”

One question that comes up relates to man and machine, specifically the interworkings between the two.  Do we work with the technology or are we actually mere prisoners of the technology, sometimes using our ingenuity to make a difference?

In our quest to shed light on this matter we are launching a survey, The New Workplace. In addition to asking about work habits, we ask for real life stories about the creative use of technology to enhance productivity and how workers adapt technology in creative ways.  Survey takers are encouraged to share success stories of how they were able to push the technology envelope, making an individual or company more successful, productive, agile and/or profitable.

Not only is this an opportunity for you to share insights on knowledge work, but all survey takers will receive an executive summary of our findings (if requested).  In addition, one lucky survey taker will win a new Microsoft Zune digital music player.

I’m also starting work on a book on productivity and the best stories will be included in the book.

Please share the link (http://www.basex.com/officesurvey) to the survey with others in and outside your organization.  The more information we collect, the easier it will become for everyone in the knowledge economy.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Google Goes Wiki with Jotspot

Friday, November 3rd, 2006 by Jonathan Spira

Google acquired JotSpot, a Wiki company.  The transaction itself was – appropriately enough – announced through separate Weblog postings on the Google and JotSpot Web sites.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

A few months ago, JotSpot unveiled JotSpot 2.0, a wiki that went beyond the traditional boundaries of a Wiki by allowing the creation of collaborative calendars, spreadsheets, file repositories, documents, and photo galleries.  By adding a knowledge-worker friendly interface to their offering, they created a platform that might have the ability to support small organizations’ needs for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

As David Goldes wrote in this space back then, “wikis aren’t that common yet.”  They are, he noted, “easy to deploy and offer a good knowledge sharing and collaboration platform for organizations that have limited IT resources.”  Wikis may not be more common in the enterprise but they do have more mindshare.  More and more CIOs and line-of-business executives are asking us about wikis.

What scares managers and CIOs away from wikis, however, is that anyone can edit anything in a traditional wiki.  A wiki – “wiki wiki” is Hawaiian for “hurry quick” – is a Web page that allows users to add and edit content collaboratively; the term also refers to the software platform that supports wikis.  According to the Wikipedia, the first wiki, WikiWikiWeb, was named after the “Wiki Wiki” line of Chance RT-52 buses in Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii.

JotSpot’s permission model, added in 2.0, gives complete control over who can change and/or see information on a page-by-page basis.  It also added pre-defined page types that allow the creation of collaborative calendars, spreadsheets, file repositories, documents, and photo galleries.  The spreadsheet tool supports formulas, the ability to wrap text in a cell, copy and paste, and the ability to ‘shift-click’ to select a range of cells; the calendar page type allows users to create shared calendars; the file repository page type supports file sharing; the photo gallery page support allows the creation of pages with images and photographs (uploaded images are displayed as thumbnails and a slide show).  A link picker allows knowledge workers to create links to pages inside and outside of the wiki as well as to documents within the wiki.  All in all, JotSpot 2.0 started to sound more like an enterprise Collaborative Business Environment than a wiki.  And now, as part of Google, this is all free.

So what is Google doing with JotSpot?  Ultimately, wikis may prove very valuable to smaller organizations in need of good knowledge sharing and collaboration tools but lacking large IT departments.  They are not a cure-all for knowledge sharing and collaboration ills.  Only time will tell if a wiki suite is the right solution, but it sounds as if Google is making it easier for companies of all sizes to avail themselves of tools that previously only a large company might have in place.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.