Friday, November 19, 2010

The IT Cycle of Optimism and Hubris

Once you have reach the twenty year mark in your IT career, look back, and chances are likely that you’ve experienced a few cycles of optimism from your leadership regarding using the latest software tools to become more competitive.

However, there’s a big difference when the optimism comes from the CEO vs. CIO. If it’s coming from the top it’s in the form of high level goals which are translated “logically” down to the tools to implement them. If the optimism comes from the CIO, the chances of it working are much lower and that’s because the CIO is throwing tools at a systemic problem that will eased a bit but not solved by them.

We’re at least at the second IT cycle of hype with “Knowledge Management” and Enterprise 2.0. As these cycles of optimism hit wide-eyed leaders who were not present during the last cycle enthusiasm breaks out on the presentation circuit with promises of curing the culture gap of knowledge sharing within companies.

Will Sharepoint solve the communication issues between different groups during the lifecycle of ideas, memes, and products? Did eRoom solve the issues in the late 90’s? Did ECM suites try for the past 10 years to make it easy for groups to share information? Wasn’t email or isn’t twitter going to help us? The point is that we need to go through these cycles to fail and get better at automating certain menial aspects of processing the information in our heads. The governance of engagement will prove to be a challenge with any attempts to fully electronically explore sharing of ideas within a company.

Dr. SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE talking about optimistic cancer “cures” that prove to a momentarily hubris in a long battle to finding cures:
“They said well, how can we possibly run a trial on something that we know has got to work? This story carries the memory of the kind of optimism that very quickly tips into hubris, which is so much part of the story of cancer.”

Tom Davenport, blogging a few years ago on Ent 2.0:
”I admit to a mild hostility to the hype around Enterprise 2.0 in the past. I have reacted in a curmudgeonly fashion to what smelled like old wine in new bottles. But I realized after hearing Andy talk that he was an ally, not a competitor. If E2.0 can give KM a mid-life kicker, so much the better. If a new set of technologies can bring about a knowledge-sharing culture, more power to them. Knowledge management was getting a little tired anyway.”

David Weinberger on Davenport’s 2007 blog above:
“But it's reasonable to think that the technology, when taken up and used, will affect enterprises directly and indirectly…”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flip this ECM Stack

Mike Alsup’s SharePoint and Records Management presentation got me thinking why not take the traditional ECM application stack and flip it upside down. I don't mean to be flip, but it's time to morph ECM into another set of solutions altogether. You’d have storage, records management, and archiving control through rules on top. Now think of these applications as goals, requirements and metadata which make a blueprint for the enterprise. The principle of this flip would be to drive consistency and efficiencies down through the enterprise of applications based on rules.

There’s no such thing as an enterprise application, an enterprise of apps is governed by new mechanisms like Boiko’s entities which have metadata repositories, identity, and apps which run models of rules, all of which are mutually exclusive, yet related and agile. These islands of entities are related to each other and connected by services at varying levels of complexity. CMIS is focused on inoperability, but is an add-on standard to the existing stacks of ECM. It’s time to unwind the stacks even more and create flexible models for governance, retention schedules, rules like 21 CFR part 11, etc.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ARMA and Enterprise 2.0

Ron Miller is right on when he’s reporting on the ARMA and Enterprise 2.0 shows and how their relationship to each other is getting closer. I agree with most of his analysis, but as far as the responsibility and control of this relationship happening at the content management application level I disagree. ECM vendors have been trying to reign in this relationship for a number of years now and do not seem to the have the agility or will to invest in the fast moving Ent. 2.0 software realm.

Take, for example, Documentum’s records management offering. Their federated records management (FRM) solution is interesting and heading in the right direction, but falls short of commitment from EMC. The technology behind the solution was created by a third party. Tell me any storage management company that owns an ECM software suite has a strong records management solution which is backed by top quality professional services? It is in the company’s interest to provide half hearted attempted at solving one of the biggest issues that legal and information management teams have: how to find content and get rid of it in a rules-base, systematic way. Do oil companies really want to provide alternative energy solutions?