Industry Update No. 1: Pivot Software

This is the first of a new intiative on the ChiefTech blog where I’ll give you an update on a particular vendor or product in the information and knowledge management space. I’ll be primarily looking at different content, messaging and collaboration tools but from time to time I reserve the right to look at anything else that looks interesting (this is my blog after all!).

This week I had the opportunity to catch up with Colin Tan, NSW Regional Manager, from Pivot Software to learn more about their “integrated Knowledge-Based Business Application”, which goes by the same name. Pivot Software is based in Queensland, Australia, and was established in 2000. The focus of the company is on a suite of applications all based on the same Pivot architecture, for example Knowledge-Pivot, Project-Pivot and Sales-Pivot.

Since I had already spoken to Colin earlier in the year about Pivot Software, this time it was a chance to take a closer look at Project-Pivot in action (client and server were running on Colin’s laptop). There were a couple of particular features that caught my attention:

  • It manages ‘knowledge objects‘, consisting of unstructured data within a form template, in a loose content architecture that allows users to navigate either by a folder-like interface or by following links between knowledge objects.
  • It provides a graphical navigator that lets you browse knowledge objects as a network of connected objects or as steps in a process.

One of the other nice things I liked about Pivot was that it doesn’t try to ‘capture’ everything – the Pivot approach has a strong emphasis on capture and reuse of knowledge objects but in quite a flexible way. For example, project steps can be templated and linked to related ‘knowledge objects’ such as people, resources and other unstructured information. Users can then collaborate on individual projects – reusing or adapting these templates plus adding new knowledge objects – all from within Pivot.

There is obviously more to Project-Pivot (and the other flavours of Pivot in suite) than just the features I’ve highlighted, however these alone make it worth taking a look at. I can see immediate application for this tool in the SME space and the fact that it has its own client interface, rather than being browser based, is probably a point in its favour. I plan to keep in touch with Colin and will keep you posted on any interesting developments.

Meanwhile look out for updates in the next couple of weeks on Objectify, Crux Cybernetics (one of my previously unpublished articles recently appeared on their TeamFrame portal) and Grouputer

Disclaimer: Information on this site is of a general nature. Please seek advice for specific circumstances. Unless otherwise stated, please assume that I have no commercial relationship with the vendors or products discussed.

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Will Microsoft take on Adobe’s PDF with Metro?

Earlier in the year I blogged about PDF software but now I hear (various media reports including this one on internetnews.com) that Microsoft will include a new XML-based document file format called Metro in its next operating system (currently code named Longhorn), which is due for release next year.

Most people have pointed out that Metro does a lot of what PDF is designed to do, but Microsoft claim that it won’t compete with PDF. Read the reports and judge for yourself…

21st Century Tools for Business

Next Tuesday (3rd May), as part of the Australian Innovation Festival that runs from the 28 April to 15 May, I’ll be one of three technology “gurus” (their words, not mine) speaking to small business owners in the Illawarra on 21st Century Tools for Business.

My presentation is based around the idea of looking at information technology tools that are right here, right now. But as well as looking at the information technologies that I think every small business should be using, I’ll also take a look at the real and present disruptive information technologies that are on the immediate horizon.

Yes, that means I’ll get to talk about empowering customers with self-service technologies like self-service checkouts – they are a great way of demonstrating how technology can impact any business in any industry. However, I’ll also be introducing them to other ideas such as business blogs, RSS and social software. The presentation itself will then be wrapped around some ideas such as the IT Feasibility Triangle and SMART goal planning for IT.

BTW One of the other presenters is Geoff McQueen from Internetrix, who has previously shared his thoughts on enterprise wikis on the ChiefTech blog. Geoff will be talking about how small business owners can use the tools on their desktop to better manage customer relationships.

Drive IT from the boardroom, not the backroom

Call me cynical, but its not often that I find myself agreeing with a politician 😉 However a press release from the Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, telling us about new research that confirms “the level of benefit achieved from an ICT investment is largely a function of effective management” is music to my ears.

The key lessons appear to be that:

  • You need clear, strategic reasons for the investment.
  • You need to be knowledgeable about how ICT can best serve your organisation.
  • You need clear, formal arrangements in place with ICT suppliers.
  • You need to be patient and persistent in realising ICT benefits.
  • You need to expect, and be positive about, organisational change.

The timing is great considering the current debate between cardigans and suits in IT while Standards Australia and SAI Global are promoting the publication of the new IT governance standard. BTW I’ve already made use of the new IT governance standard in a report to a board to help set the context for their IT decision making. I do actually think the principles and model it provides are quite good, even if you’re not a director on the board.

Rojo – hosted RSS reader with unique features

Rojo is another hosted RSS reader service, however they apparently offers some unique features:

  • Sharing of content between friends and colleagues;
  • Tagging and commenting on stories for yourself and others; and
  • Recommended feeds based your current subscription.

Also – have a look at their Introductory Tour site. It uses Jotspot, a hosted enterprise wiki that also includes some advanced functionality. For more on this look out for my article on enterprise wikis in the May/June edition of Image and Data Manager magazine.

Australian Telework Advisory committee

The recently established Australian Telework Advisory Committee (ATAC) has made a call for public submissions. Past and present teleworkers as well as people who employ teleworkers are invited to provide comment on their experiences of telework. The ATAC define telework as:

Telework generally relies on the use of ICT to facilitate communications between remote workers and central work locations. A significant focus of this review includes the consideration of flexible working practices that are supported by broadband connectivity, including the use of high-speed Internet, multi-party videoconferencing, virtual collaboration and 3G hand-help [I think they mean hand-held?] access technologies.

While its great that they are talking to employers and teleworkers, I would have liked to have seen them also talk to people who work with teleworkers but are not managers or employers. The support and training of rank and file staff in the central work locations (to use ATAC’s terminology) is also a critical factor to success.

Info-mania is bad for your IQ

Research commissioned by Hewlett Packard (HP) in the United Kingdom (UK) by Dr Glenn D Wilson has found that “The abuse of ‘always-on’ technology” can cause IQ to drop by 10 points! This is apparently equivalent to losing a night of sleep and has obvious implications for productivity. HP recommends that people use always on technology appropriately and learn to switch off occasionally.

That’s good advice that reminds me of the idea of a techno-Sabbath (literally a day off from using technology) that has been floating around for a while. Last year I actually presented at a conference where I spoke about the issues that being always on, always connected might be creating for the workplace. It was based on a short article I wrote titled, The Future of Work: Always On, Always Connected:

If you believe what they say, then mobile phones and wireless computing devices give people the opportunity to live the most wonderful, ‘unwired life’. For business this is a world where we are constantly connected to the information systems that are increasingly critical to getting work done. No doubt we expect the industry to talk up the benefits of a wireless world but the trouble with disruptive technologies like this is that we can never be quite sure of the end result. What is clear from looking at the past is that disruptive technologies throughout the ages have changed society in surprising ways.

If you would like a copy, drop me line – contact details are on my Website.