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The Future Will Be Built Around Social Content Context, Cloud Collaboration

A final visit to the Advanced Intranet+Portal Conference from last week. We heard already that the importance of content is changing so that now the context of that content is really where it’s at. At the heart of this is the next emerging trend in content: Social, mobile and cloud.

As individual elements, according to Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo, there is nothing really new there. Combined, however, enterprises are faced with a powerful force that they either embrace and manage, or get left trailing.

Needless to say, this is where Igloo has pitched its tent; providing services since 2008 around this trend. Igloo, he says, is not an IT company, but a company that provides services; a company that provides and installs Igloo’s software, but a services company nevertheless, in the SaaS sense of the term.

Business Software Market

What is changing as a result is that the old way of doing software business is just not going to cut it anymore. The business marketplace and the corresponding software landscape is changing so rapidly that deployments that used to take 36 months, or even six months, will not be practical anymore.

Problems that enterprises are dealing with now are a different set of problems than those they will be dealing with in 12 months' time, so time is of the essence.

It’s clear, as the CEO of a SaaS company, where Latendre is coming from with this. But this is not just corporate promotion — this is the reality of the marketplace.

Workers are going mobile, they are doing that through the cloud and they are communicating using social networks.

And this is clearly a subject into which Latendre has put some considerable thought, and not just for the Advanced Intranet and Portal conference.

He also addressed the issue in a recent paper for KM World article that also took a look at content in context.

Communication, Content and Collaboration

Clearly this is going to be a subject of the near future. Enterprise workers are using so many systems that it is getting close to impossible to get a single picture of a given piece of content.

The problem, he says, stems from the fact that communications and collaboration exist outside the flow of work; communication occurs in one system, collaboration takes place in another and the content is often stored in another.

Take even a simple document, for example — if there is anything that might be considered a simple document any more. Chances are that it is not all that simple at all, and that far from there being one author, there are many authors.

To develop that document, then, communication typically happens through email and instant messaging with a final version published to a content silo in an enterprise CMS.

To actually work out and dig to what is important in that document, users will have to sift through email, instant messages and probably a number of different versions of documents.

That document, if it is to be used across the enterprise, will probably also have to be viewable through ERP, HRM, CRM and enterprise CMS systems, and be published across the enterprise intranet, with a version dropped into a records management system, if it has a legal standing in the enterprise.

This doesn’t take into account meetings or voice discussions around that document that may lead to other email messages, meetings or support documents. And none of this is going to get any easier as more people are using more technologies.

Collaboration Problems Go Social

In fact, according to Latendre, it's all going to get a lot harder. Knowledge work, he says, is unstructured work; it is based on interaction between people. Structures are becoming less hierarchical and information less structured; interaction between people who do business is increasing as more tools enable interaction.

Good. Well, yes — and no. While it is clearly better that people in a business, pulling together to achieve a set goal, are communicating better, the amount of information produced in this interaction is staggering.

So much is this so that, according to an IBM Global CEO Study Capitalizing on Complexity, two hours per employee, per day is spent looking for the right information and expertise — costs of which probably can’t be estimated.

Social As A Solution

As social technologies are introduced to business, it becomes easier to share unstructured and ad hoc information.

Workflow and employee interactions become more visible, and that decreases the time it takes to find information to solve problems.

But if social increases the volume and velocity of information, structure and context make that information relevant and searchable.

Whether you’re publishing a blog, posting a forum or sharing a small burst of information via a microblog, you should have the ability to target that sharing based on the notion of audiences.

People can then tune into the conversations based on roles, interest or the groups they belong to or the task they are carrying out, which becomes easier with a defined taxonomy that enables users to align content with a set of defined and accepted keywords given the context.

But with the development of social, content also develops context. Social profiles, for example, connect online identity to your contributions so people can understand who you are and where your expertise lies. They also set the framework for personalized content based on your social identity.

 

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