IKO 2016: Competencies & Taskonomies

Innovations in Knowledge Organisation 2016 was very enjoyable. I had a hectic Friday afternoon – delivering a case study pitch, variations on the case study 3 times, a keynote, and co-facilitating the activity afterwards. However I cannot complain because the event is always a wonderful mix of the welcoming, the practical, and the intellectually stimulating. Many thanks to Patrick, Maish, David and the whole team in making it happen and Panviva for enabling me to be there.

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The Silicon Valley Consensus and what it means for information professionals

This is the 24th article that one or both of us has written for Online Currents over the course of six years. The first topic was “Enterprise collaborative bookmarking” – which was a hot topic with a number of start-ups in 2009. As of 2016, it is dead in the water and some of the technology companies mentioned in that article are no longer going concerns. Since then we have discussed big data, mobile, enterprise social networks, search, email, cyber-security and SharePoint. Researching these topics and trying to formulate 3,500 words on them has been a valuable learning experience.

However this article is a little different. We will be taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. The example of enterprise collaborative bookmarking indicates that not all hyped ideas will be successful and the mixed fortunes of the other topics demonstrates that there are complex forces at play in the world of technology. This article wants to explore the gaps between the hype and the reality and mark out a possible path for information professionals.

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Reporting on the Knowledge Organisation Competencies Project

More info here.

Matt Moore and Patrick Lambe developed a draft competency framework for knowledge organization professionals in support of the inaugural “Innovations in Knowledge Organization” conference held in Singapore in June 2015. With the support of ISKO we then tested this framework within the larger professional community through a global survey attracting almost 150 responses from knowledge organisation professionals and researchers around the world. In this session we discuss the findings of the survey, and the key development areas, gaps and development opportunities we identified. The findings will help those working on knowledge organisation roles identify gaps and self development opportunities, and it will help those working in KO teaching and research roles to identify useful areas of focus. We will also report on the planned next steps in this research project. We will then break out into workshop discussion to identify the implications for professionals working in knowledge organization.

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Building Competence for Knowledge Organisation

Download Building Competence for Knowledge Organisation

As software eats the world and the internet transforms vast swathes of human activity, the field of knowledge organisation has not been immune. Traditional tools such as thesauri and controlled vocabularies are being augmented and disrupted by ontologies, auto-classification, graph databases, data storage, analytics, and visualisation. These changes present information professionals with a challenge – what skills do we need to survive in this brave new world and how do we acquire them?

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Kai Riemer writers here about Microsoft’s axing of the Yammer Customer Success team. There’s two points worth discussing here.

The Death of the Utopian Vision of Enterprise Social

Kai writes about Yammer as less a software project than a mission to revolutionise corporate organisational hierarchies. In some respects, this flashes back to the debate between Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee in 2007. For those of you that don’t remember, there was a lot of discussion about the impact of collaborative technologies on organisational structures. One wing said that these technologies would radically reconfigure workplace environments into flatter, less hierarchical structures. The counter-revolutionary response said they, well, wouldn’t. I’ve been a fan of social software since the late 90s but I found myself caught in the middle. I love this stuff (and still do) but I see it driving change at the margins. I read some drafts of manifestos by Adam Pisoni and my response was: “Yes, this is all lovely. I agree with much of it. And it will only have a slight impact on the business world”. Power structures are as much a function of human psychology as they are of technology capabilities. Or as Jeffrey Pfeffer writes: You’re Still The Same.

And the world has changed. The utopian vision of business in 2007 was all of us on social software talking like equals and forging a new egalitarian world together. The current vision of business in 2016 is somewhat different. Lets go back to Tom Davenport and Andrew McAfee. Both are now writing about automation (and also analytics for Davenport). The business vision of the organisation is one where we’ve removed everyone. We don’t need to give employees enterprise social platforms because there will be no one to talk to on them. Whether this is a utopian or dystopian future depends on whether you own the machines or are replaced by them.

Of course, we haven’t fired everyone just yet. The hot new kids of the block of enterprise collaboration are Slack and HipChat (I’m keeping a watching eye on Facebook @ Work). Neither of these are pitched in terms of organisational revolution. Slack is very much focused on team communication. Which actually takes us back to the CSCW work of the 80s. Their tagline is “be less busy”. Improvement at the margins.

The Rising Importance of Customer Success Programs for Enterprise SAAS

Customer success management (CSM) as “a thing” was apparently invented by Salesforce – combining account management, technical support and organisational change consulting around software implementation. It’s particularly critical for:

  • Software that’s sold on a monthly licensing basis that is typical of SAAS rather than in one big hit with a little dash maintenance & support to keep things going, as was typical of on-premise software. The software vendor cannot just take the money and run.
  • Software whose value requires significant investment to realise over time. This is typical of content and collaboration systems as until conversations start or the content is loaded up, all you have is a pretty interface and some workflows.
  • Software with a large potential user base (often with pricing focused on per seat). Keeping one or two people satisfied (e.g. a data mart used by one or two analysts) is very different to ensuring the success of thousands of users that you might see in end-user enterprise applications.

CSM now has its own supporting ecosystem of consultants and software firms (with Totango and Gainsight being two of the most prominent). It remains to be seen how this will play out over the longer term (I’m still getting my head around it at the moment).

The axing of Yammer CSM staff by Microsoft pretty much says that Yammer does not have a future as a standalone product. It doesn’t seem like the beginning of wider CSM backlash tho.

And Finally

The 60s vibe of social software in now well and truly gone. This track lurched out of my id this evening…

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Innovation in Knowledge Organisation: A Conference Report

Innovation in Knowledge organisation was conference put on by Straits Knowledge (a Singapore-based knowledge management consultancy), PebbleRoad (a Singapore-based user experience design consultancy) and Synaptica (a global taxonomy software company). 

The format of the conference was high energy – although 26 presentations were given, most of these were short form and much of the conference was given over to discussion and interaction. This was not a conference to sit back and fall asleep in.
In this article, we provide an overview of the material presented and the discussions we had with participants. We will begin with plenary presentations and the case studies. We will continue with an overview of discussions within the clinics. We will end with some broader reflections on the conference topics and what they mean for information professionals in Australia.

Download the article here.

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Cybersecurity for information professionals: The organisational dimension

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Our previous article on cybersecurity approached the issue from the perspective of the individual internet user and showed the breadth of issues that we face and the simple things we can do to make our online interactions safer. This article has a different focus: How are organisations managing the cybersecurity risks that they face?

All Australians have some kind of relationship with large organisations that hold their data, be they corporations, not-for-profits, or governments. While we can take efforts to personally safeguard our own data, we are also reliant on the efforts of others. As consumers and citizens, we often blithely assume that these organisations are protecting their (our) data from harm. Those assumptions may not be wholly justified. This article will begin with an overview of the types of hostile parties and threats that organisations face and how they are meeting those threats.

The situation becomes even more complex when we are employed in roles where we play a role in information security – which we often do as information professionals. “Security” may not be our main priority but it is nevertheless there. The second half of the article, through practitioner quotes and academic research, explores the challenges that managing security as one of a number of information priorities presents to us.

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