Thursday, 13th September 2007
Tim Buckley Owen
Hard on the heels of its July report on Information Management Best Practices: Enterprise 2.0 http://www.outsellinc.com/store/products/519, Outsell has now come up with a related report, Information Management 2.0 Advances Collaboration, Communication, and Knowledge Management http://www.outsellinc.com/store/products/523. Priced at $295 and $395 respectively, these offerings consider how new tools such as blogs, wikis and RSS are impacting on the way organisations plan their information management practices.
Best Practices provides an analysis of Enterprise 2.0 trends and drivers and includes case studies showing ‘the wisdom of crowds in action’. Information Management 2.0 shows that information professionals as a group are outpacing their colleagues in adopting 2.0 tools.
It also includes some imperatives for information managers who want to embrace 2.0 tools and drive them within the enterprise. However, whatever other advice Outsell offers, one crucial imperative for information professionals is to avoid remaking the mistakes of the past – and nowhere are these mistakes more apparent than with email.
Researchers at Glasgow and Paisley Universities http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_37307_en.html have found that employees working on a computer typically switch applications to view their emails as many as 30 or 40 times an hour. Although half the participants believed that they checked more than once an hour and 35% said they did so every 15 minutes, monitoring software fitted to their machines for the experiment showed it was actually more often than this.
Reduced efficiency was the result, concluded the survey team, which included a computing science specialist, a psychologist and a statistician. Breaking off to deal with distractions such as email made you tired and less productive – but the subjects experienced real pressure to respond quickly to emails, so felt they had to do it whatever the consequences.
Abuse of email as a communication medium, and the inefficiencies that result from it, are increasingly inducing organisations in a range of fields to largely abandon it for business purposes. An article in the Independent newspaper in July http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article2800175.ece explained how outfits such as Dresdner Kleinwort, Forrester Research and others have been turning to solutions such as wikis, or even instant messaging, as means of managing essential communications between staff.
Small wonder that information professionals are already embracing such solutions, as the Outsell reports indicate. But we mustn’t fall into the trap of assuming they are a panacea.
Wikis may introduce a better structure to information sharing but still don’t address the issue of information overload. Instant messaging merely replaces the disjointed conversation induced by email with a continuous one, and there’s no guarantee that it couldn’t become just as addictive and destructive a medium, given time.
To embrace these new solutions effectively, we need to learn from the mistakes of the past.
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