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Archive for May, 2008

2008 CIO Wishlists — SOA or Web 2.0?

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A recent Rust Report details the wishlists of CIOs, with service-oriented architecture, not Enterprise 2.0 toys like wikis and blogs, dominating the shopping lists [1]. This focus is seen as an important enabler for improving internal business and technology processes, business reporting and information management, infrastructure, and communicating with partners, suppliers and customers. But does this focus mean Web 2.0 is loosing the game?

Some, like John Hagel, might suggest that there’s a cultural divide between SOA and Web 2.0, that may be at work.

“The evangelists for SOA tend to dismiss Web 2.0 technologies as light-weight ‘toys’ not suitable for the ‘real’ work of enterprises. The champions of Web 2.0 technologies, on the other hand, make fun of the ‘bloated’ standards and architectural drawings generated by enterprise architects, skeptically asking whether SOAs will ever do real work.”

I think Dion Hinchcliffe’s article on mashups, though, puts the CIO wishlist into perspective:

“the continued proliferation of high quality Web parts and open APIs, especially in the last couple of years, has offered compelling sourcing options for enterprise mashups is the making the expanding Global SOA compelling as local IT resources for building and improving business solutions.”

Hinchcliffe’s diagram suggests a world in which the SOA serves to support the interaction of components for a variety of users and purposes, of which social computing tools play a specific role — visualisation of deep-content from disparate systems, repurposing data, and knowledge entry points for further repurposing.

I guess you can have your cake and eat it too!M

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1. Rust e-Research (2008). The Rust Report, March 2.




RealMatch Brings Matching Technology to the On-line Job Connection Process

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Until recently most on-line job listings used one of two approaches. First, there was the classified version that works like the traditional classified ads or the more modern Craig’s List. In this case there is a linear listing. It is passive and you have to be there at the right time to make a good connection with a job opening. Timing is everything. Then there is key word technology. Resumes and job profiles are uploaded and indexed. Job seekers and prospective employers type in key words in to a search box like Google or other key word search engines. Now taxonomy is the challenge. Faced with a blank search box what do you put in? What different terms do you use to uncover your dream job? It may take a number of tries to get it right and you still won’t know what jobs or candidates you missed because your taxonomies were not aligned.

RealMatch is now offering a third way, profile matching. Recently, I spoke with Rafael Cosentino, VP of Business Development, at RealMatch who explained what they are doing. In a way it is like profile matching found on dating services like Match.com but they have taken it a significant step further. To facilitate the profile matching process RealMatch did research and to date came up with 65,000 job titles which encompasss over 300,000 related skills. They have three taxonomists working on this effort. So if you are looking to become a driver, for example, you are asked to select from about 30 skills a driver might have. Are you experienced and bonded to drive an armored car or a school bus or just your grandmother? What types of vehicles can you operate? You can add as many skills as you want. What type of nurse or IT specialist do you want? Job seekers have the same options. Here is a sample input screen.

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Now instead of facing a blank search box or a going through a linear list with many false hits, you get matches that are rated (e.g. 96%) and prioritized. Both job seekers and employers can post their offerings for free. The employer can then request a match. Employers see Candidate matches prioritized as well as the details except the name and contact information, still for free. Employers can also choose to pay to get the contact information of the candidates that interest them. You can also receive email alerts as a job seeker or employer and receive them in real-time as new opportunities or people enter the system. Here is a sample result screen.

[photopress:realmatch_job_matches.gif,full,pp_image]

They are taking their approach a step further. At the moment there are over 50,000 unconnected job boards so job seekers and employers face the task of choosing which ones and potentially working with isolated job boards. RealMatch has also launched a new Career Portal Network (CPN), a private-labeled career channel using their platform technology. The CPN allows any Web site to offer its own co-branded career portal with no upfront costs and they do revenue sharing with RealMatch. This approach expands the reach of participating job boards since the boards are now interconnected. Matches for job seekers and employers can now be made cross hundreds of sites in the network.

RealMatch is already partnering with over a thousand job sites in this manner, including MIT’s Technologyreview.com, McGraw Hill’s Accessmedicine.com, Medicalnewstoday.com and Scientificblogging.com. Rafael said that their partners range from market verticals to general-interest business and lifestyle sites. I like the fact that they are leveraging the possibilities of the web to break down silos. It looks like a disruptive technology and approach to me. Here is the co-branded site with MIT Technology Review.

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Community 2.0 (Part 2: Measuring Success)

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Francois Gossieaux led a workshop and panel on measuring progress and success in business communities. The presentation part of the session was derived from the preliminary results of the 2008 Tribalization of Business Study. Tribalism? Well, yes, because we are social creatures. And because we are social creatures, participating in online communities taps into our need to connect. Online communities also work because people want to help and be helped. I saw this first at Digital Equipment Corporation in the mid- to late 1980s. Our community tool, VAXNOTES, was designed for business (getting help with technical problems), but also adopted for social purposes (cats, dogs, ballroom dancing, dining in Geneva). Nancy White did a fabulous job on Tuesday of the conference mapping the history of communities. (Be sure to browse to parts 2 and 3.)

So what’s different now? Francois and panelists Mark Yolton (SAP Community Network), Ed Moran (Director of Product Innovation at Deloitte) and Rachel Makool (Sr. Director of Community Development, eBay) described an industry landscape in which it is imperative for companies to have a community strategy — for connecting customers, partners, users. The research found a diverse array of usage scenarios, business objectives, and strategic goals, which were elaborated by the panel members:

  • At SAP, customer service has saved $10M in support costs by using a community-based model
  • eBay’s work with communities has shown that sellers who participate in communities get higher ratings from buyers

These are two ways that companies can measure the success of the investment in creating online communities. The survey also delves into “what gets measured” and there is the usual distinction between qualitative data (web analytics and business measures) and qualitative data (“which community features contribute the most to effectiveness”). I liked the distinction of looking at transaction metrics vs. engagement metrics.

It is inevitable that as more companies adopt community strategies, for whatever reason, the nature of work inside the company will change. Employees will be more tapped into customers and more likely to be reaching outside the boundaries of the organization.  Because business is business, it is also inevitable that there will be a push for good metrics and measures. This study (which is ongoing) is surfacing many of the important issues and opportunities for how companies will build and use communities. The good news is that what the study has found (and what many attendees at C2.0 are demonstrating) is that communities can be built with predictable success. We have been working in online communities long enough to understand the pitfalls and the success factors. Being in communities will be a way of life at work.

The better (or perhaps best) news — and the parting message from this workshop is that once communities have been introduced into an organization, they are transformational (“game-changing”). They have a huge impact on the organization and offer new job roles and responsibilities, closer relationships, greater transparency, and a better work environment.




Notable + Quotable: info leaks, social media predictions, enterprise 2.0, brainstorming

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In this new weekly feature we’ll be highlighting interesting developments, original insights, useful tips, and other items we hope you’ll find of value. Please feel free to alert us to interesting articles that we can consider for inclusion in next week’s round-up.

Big Brother is watching: companies snoop e-mail to combat leaks
Forrester Consulting conducted a survey that showed that 44% of company decision-makers conducted investigations to find information leaks from their employees’ email accounts. But that’s not all that companies want to investigate. According to this Ars Technica article on the survey, “Businesses are also increasingly concerned about the risks posed by blogging, social networking sites, and instant messaging.”

Google Docs ventures closer to Word territory with print view
The new “print view” feature of Google Docs allows users to look at their documents in the same way they would via MS Word’s “Page Layout” view or “Print Preview”. This article points out why this new feature is good news: “On wide-screen displays, [the old viewing sysem] often meant viewing entire paragraphs on just a line or two of the display–something that wouldn’t be noticed until it was printed out or sent to another medium where the width was sized down to something reasonable.”

The Fastest Talking Guy in Social Media Tells Us Where All of This Might Be Going
Peter Shankman shares a few predictions on the future of social media, including “a convergence into one tool that helps you manage your entire network from any device at any time and automates the process for you.”

UK to streamline identity theft with data retention proposal
According to this article from Ars Technica, the British Government wants to centralize the data-retention of UK telecom companies. “Under the new proposal, these records would have to be automatically submitted to a centralized government database. The government believes this will facilitate law enforcement access to the information, although a court order would still be required to access it.”

TextFlow’s Shiny Document Collaboration System
TextFlow is a new Flash-based online app that allows its users to share, collaborate, and edit documents – much like Google Docs, but with some extra features. “…authors will be able to drag Word documents right into the browser where they’ll get automatically ported into TextFlow. Once there, they’ll be shareable via email and editable by collaborators. All changes will show up in the original author’s view of the document as suggested changes, which can then be approved or rejected.”

9 Firefox Extensions to Protect Your Privacy
If you want to protect your online privacy, Mozilla Firefox has several extensions that can help you achieve that. This list from Web Worker Daily contains 9 extensions that will make your internet surfing more secure.

Enterprise 2.0 industry matures as businesses grapple with its potential
What exactly is Enterprise 2.0 and how does it affect your company’s IT department? This article from Dion Hinchcliffe states that “we seem to be coming from a push-based era of command-and-control management and are heading into an era where more and more work is being conducted using a decentralized pull-based model that’s more scalable, efficient, and leads to increasingly innovative outcomes.”

What do Millennials teach us about the future of the workplace?
“This generation of Americans will have an enormous impact on the future landscape of the workforce”, says blogger Aaron Green, who discusses how Millennials (Gen Y) are going to affect the workplace.

How Twitter Can Work in a Corporate Environment
Zappos is doing a great job of keeping both employees and customers happy with Twitter. According to The FASTForward Blog, “This is a company that’s bursting with personality, to the point where a huge number of its 1,600 employees are power users of Twitter so that their friends, colleagues, and customers know what they’re up to at any moment in time.”

Running a Brainstorm in a Virtual Space
This article is a great guide on how organizations can run successful brainstorming sessions online. “When we can’t be together…how do we translate the guidelines of brainstorming to work facilitated by collaborative tools? “




Desktop Apps versus Online Apps: What to Choose for Your Project

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Since it’s rare to find a perfect tool that applies to all projects, the best you can do is look at your needs and strike a balance between desktop and online applications. But as you’re going through the phases of project development, how do you know which is the way to go?

Planning. This mostly depends on how your team prefers to conduct planning and brainstorming sessions. If you only do it in a meeting room with all members present, a desktop application is best. It’s usually just one file (or a few) that only one or two project administrators can access and edit. If your business computers are networked locally and the project files should only be accessed via office computers, you can use the local network as an alternative to the collaboration that online apps provide.

However, if some project plans require further collaboration after meetings or after office hours, online applications are the better option. It’s best to choose a user-friendly application that all participants can access via individual accounts. This is because most online collaborative software can track which changes were made by each member or who opened the document last. Alternatively, your tool of choice should allow email notifications sent to individual members or administrators whenever changes are made.

Executing. For projects that are primarily executed through writing, follow the same criteria as indicated in the planning stage. If it requires collaboration from different work environments, go for online. If not, go for desktop. However, design or graphics based projects are better developed via desktop apps. While Adobe recently launched an online version of Photoshop and Google Docs allows users to create and collaborate on presentations, the features of these online programs are limited compared to those available on their desktop counterparts.

If the project requires several documents that go hand in hand and should be edited or viewed by multiple team members, you can use your desktop applications with an online collaboration tool. Just make sure that a file upload feature is included, and that you can set custom security and privacy settings for each member. Some noteworthy online collaboration apps include Basecamp and Wrike.

Overall, your primary concern should be about how static or dynamic your project phases are going to be. The more modifications and changes you make along the way, the more you should lean towards using online applications. However, if you are going through a static project phase and you need to access files even without an internet connection, desktop applications are the way to go.




Work in a world when printed Oxford English Dictionaries are artifacts

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The piles in my office point to my reading behinded-ness but I wonder if anyone else caught the May 11, 2008 New York Times Magazine article reporting that the Oxford English Dictionary has no future plans to publish print versions. The author, Virginia Heffernan  laments:

 ”But while The New York Times and other newspapers have refrained from rash decisions about their print editions, the Oxford English Dictionary — staid, right? — has already shaken off the shackles of print and said cheerio (“a parting exclamation of encouragement”) to books! The stab I felt was sharper than nostalgia. It was fear. “

From TheAppGap perspective it was the OED editor’s reported comment regarding technology that caught my attention:

“ In any case, we’ve only finished from volume ‘M’ to ‘quit shilling.’ We have about 20 years’ more work to do revising and adding entries. Who knows what will happen with technology in 20 years? We certainly don’t.”

“Technology in 20 years?”

Prompted by hearing about Dave Weinberger’s references to Ray Kurzweil at the Community 2.0 Conference  (at which Patti Anklam spoke), I went searching for what occupies Kurzweil these days.  In terms of what technology will look like in 20 years this video is interesting.

 Bottom line. If carbon based humans are challenged to keep up in  an exponentially digital world in 2008 then how will we manage in  2028?  What will work and technology look like then? What trends now will help us see the future?

 A serious question and I look forward to reading your thoughts.

~ Jenny Ambrozek




Many Eyes – Visualization from IBM Research Hits Facebook

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IBM Research has been doing some cool things for a while in the social software space (see IBM’s Social Software Initiatives from 2005 ). Now they have developed Many Eyes. Their sites says, “Many Eyes is a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns. Our goal is to “democratize” visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis. Jump right to our visualizations now, take a tour, or read on for a leisurely explanation of the project.” It was created by IBM’s Collaborative User Experience research group. They have a Many Eyes blog.

On the blog they show an interesting comparison of the text in the US Presidential state of the union addresses in 2002 and 2003. You seen the relative tag clouds for each text with side by side color coded comparisons to see how terms rose or shrunk from one text to the next.

I found it especially interesting that they have a Many Eyes Facebook application. The application helps you collect, format and prepare social network data and visualize it on Many Eyes. I wonder how many of the other big players are putting apps on Facebook?




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