I spent part of May on the road, traveling to two very different events. 

At the start of the month I had the pleasure of once again attending the J. Boye Groups’ annual North American conference in Philadelphia. The website is still up, and you can download many of the presentations here. A week later I had my first trip to Ottawa, for a meeting of the Council on Information and Knowledge Management of the Conference Board of Canada.

As I mentioned, two very different events, but they shared some common themes.

Putting People First in Philly

Areas covered at the J. Boye conference included customer experience design, digital marketing transformation and social business. My main area of interest is the digital workplace, so the majority of sessions I attended (and my own presentation on intranet governance and information governance) were on this track of the program.

A lot of sessions and a lot of conversations were about putting the people who consume our services at the forefront of our thinking. Whether that was through a session on user experience design or a discussion of content strategy, there was a good amount of focus on strategy and planning, on usability and utility — but no one was really getting hung up on technology.  

There were Yammer users, Tibbr users, Jive users, Chatter users and SharePoint users. Some people were not big fans of their employers’ chosen technologies, yet all were putting their efforts into what people are actually using the platforms for, how user communities are being engaged, and what the business value proposition for the organization is. This speaks to me of a relative maturity in social collaboration, where we no longer care about the shiny new software and may even have to take a “something is better than nothing” approach – but we get on with using what we have to create the best effects and the greatest impacts. There are indeed some organizations out there that are doing some tremendous things, despite technical problems.

There were a lot of conversations on the social collaboration front about “working out loud,” the concept behind a new book of the same name by John Stepper. These conversations tended to focus on the use of social collaboration platforms with “status update” type postings, large networks of weak ties, etc. Some organizations certainly appear to be seeing the benefits of using an enterprise social-network/social-collaboration platform for working out loud, but again it was all about the executive support, the use of champions and community managers — the human element rather than the tech. 

Jed at J Boye

Knowledge Management in Ottawa

Moving on from the city of brotherly love to the Canadian capital for a two-day meeting of the CBoC Council on Information and Knowledge Management provided another round of stimulating discussion and thought-provoking presentations on subjects ranging from knowledge management (KM) strategy in federal government agencies to academic studies on why individuals will choose to deliberately not share knowledge and information. 

It was interesting that while for some government agencies, KM centers around enterprise content management and electronic document and records management systems and repositories, for others there is increased use of social collaboration platforms to drive KM activity — an obvious link to the J. Boye conference intranets and digital workplace conversations. 

The most interesting session for me though, was the Conference Board’s own research team introducing their new report on how KM drives innovation. It’s a paid-for report, so I can’t give too much away here, but it covers how Codified (explicit), Tacit and Open KM approaches can help set up an organization for a successful innovation environment. The report goes on to provide nine lessons in “KM for Innovation,” and I will mention just one: “Equipping the Tool Box.” 

To directly quote the report: “The right tools are critical for effective KM and knowledge-sharing, especially in large and geographically dispersed organizations.” 

For any technology tool to be useful in KM, information sharing or collaboration, employees need to be engaged and motivated, and leadership needs to see the business benefit of investing in change management efforts — so once again we seem to be linking back to the theme of all those discussions in Philadelphia about putting people first!

Of course, while I was at these small events, Microsoft was holding a slightly larger one, and as the “KM for Innovation” report notes, a lot of people are using SharePoint as a KM tool, and now we are starting to see roadmaps and feature sets for SharePoint 2016. So, all in all, May has been an excellent month for learning and doing some thinking.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  woodleywonderworks 

Title image by woodleywonderworks