When Symon Garfield isn't working, he's working. Whether through his 20 part series "The Art of SharePoint Success" or his current pursuit of a Doctorate of Business Administration, knowledge management is never far from his mind. Symon took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions.
An Interview with Symon Garfield
CMSWire: What first brought you to the information management industry?
Symon Garfield: I left university with an IT and business management degree and had no idea what to do with it. I spent my first three years working as a software engineer developing n-tier applications with VB6. I took an MBA part time while still working, and one of my favorite elements of the MBA was knowledge management.
Around the same time, a recruitment consultant tipped me off that SharePoint Portal Server 2003 was likely to become a hot market. When I looked at SharePoint I realized it was a set of software tools for implementing knowledge management solutions. I took up a role as SharePoint Practice Lead for a UK based Microsoft partner.
For the past six years my focus has been on understanding, articulating and realizing the business value of SharePoint.
CMSWire: What project are you working on now that you'd like the readers to know about?
Symon: I've just begun a Doctorate of Business Administration program at Henley Business School. I am still defining my exact area of research, but it will certainly be around business value, knowledge management and strategy.
A lot of my professional time at the moment is being spent researching, thinking, writing and consulting around social business, or enterprise social computing. I have no doubt that social technologies have huge potential for organizations, but the completely one-sided hysterical hype that some people are putting out there is driving me crazy. I am trying to add some thought, balance and perspective to the debate.
CMSWire: What excites you most about your field today?
Symon: I broadly define my field as being at the intersection of strategy, people, knowledge and technology. The combination of cloud, mobile and social technologies is going to have a huge impact on business strategies, the way that people live and work and the discipline of knowledge management.
It’s not the technology itself that excites me but the change that it drives, the pace of that change and the opportunities that result.
CMSWire: Was there ever an "aha" moment in your career and if so, what was it?
Symon: I have mini “aha” moments almost every day. Every time I learn something new, have an idea or solve a problem. It’s those moments that make what I do so enjoyable.
I guess the most fundamental “aha” moment was when I made the connection between knowledge management and SharePoint. That moment changed the direction of my career.
CMSWire: What would your one or two biggest wishes for the industry be for 2013?
Symon: Tricky! Considering the current global economic gloom I am going to go for something basic and simple. A prosperous and successful year.
CMSWire: Is there anything else our readers should know about you?
Symon: I am vegan. I support Manchester United. I have two cats, Norman and Pig, and two dogs Holly and Rowlf. And my girlfriend, June, has no interest whatsoever in SharePoint, knowledge management or football (soccer).
Speed Round: 6 Things you should know about Symon
1. Right now I am reading
A lot! I think I am actively reading around 10 books and 15 academic papers. I have around another 20 books on the pile that I haven't started yet. First part of the doctorate is to read everything that's been written about my research area.
2. Quote to live by
From a professional perspective, “Technology has no value without purpose.” From a personal perspective my father always told me, “Keep your pants on.” That’s great advice in almost every situation. Try it.
3. The best word ever said
4. When not working, I am
“Not working?” Sorry I don’t understand the question?
5. Word that should be stricken from the dictionary
“Impossible” — As I seem to remember it says in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, "in an infinite universe everything is not only possible, but probable."
6. Best song ever sung…
“Always look on the bright side of life” by Eric Idle.