Socialtext 5.0 released, with new UI goodness

The much anticipated Socialtext 5 has been released – see this announcement post from Sarah:

This release sees a complete overhaul of the user interface, introduces a world-class rich text editor and a barrel-load of other features that make Socialtext more accessible, social and successful than ever before.

I have to say, the refreshed out of the box UI looks great!

KPMG Australia’s tibbr pilot

Dennis Howlett interviews Chris Robinson, CIO of KPMG Asia Pacific, about their tibbr pilot:

I wanted to know why KPMG would invest in what many people see as technology toys. In the above video, Chris talks about the many needs KPMG has identified as it adjusts to the 21st century.

Among other things, he says that the payback in terms of improved talent retention and the ability to actively connect KPMG alumni back to the mothership provides more than enough ROI to justify the spend. And that’s just the start. In their case, KPMG is using its rollout as a pilot that demonstrates value to the larger global practice. Oh yes, and for the naysayers out there – it is being used as a secure communication connection between KPMG and its clients.

Listening to the interview, you will hear that tools like email and Sharepoint are also still part of the user’s information landscape at KPMG, but they are also mixed with other tools like SAP. tibbr’s role in many respects isn’t to supersede those tools but compliment them.

What Do Citizens Want (in pictures)

Naturally, you can find the actual slides on Slideshare for my 20 minute #govcampau presentation.

Some narrative for the photos:

I started off with the question, are we asking the right questions about Government 2.0?

So often the focus is on the needs of public servants (culture, access to tools, skills and knowledge, etc) or the technology (“Should my department be on Twitter?”). But I thought its time to consider the bigger picture and actually look at what citizens want and need. To do this I turned the tables on the audiance and ran a short user-centred design based brainstorm around the Government 2.0 needs of three (fictious) “personas”.

Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to talk about the details of current projects I’m involved with, so I finished by looking at three examples that I felt reflected some of the ideas behind my presentation:

There was a bunch of questions and discussion that isn’t covered here, so look out for the video recordings from the day.

Photos by my able assistant, Miss 10.

Beware of Digital Taylorism

E2.0 tools today are typically not integrated with the rest of a company’s applications. So the unstructured / emergent / social work happens in a totally different digital environment than the structured / pre-defined / formal work. Orders get filled using the ERP system, while conversations about why the order’s not getting filled happen in email, IM, a wiki, and so on.

For some purposes, this is OK. Narrating your work via blogs or microblogs so that others can find you and access your expertise is a great standalone use case, as is narrating your ignorance —   asking questions to the enterprise as a whole without guessing in advance who will know the answer.

But most informal collaboration, I bet, happens ‘close to’ the formal work of the enterprise. So the digital environments that support the formal and informal work should also be very close to each other, either within the same application or across tightly integrated ones. Data and decisions (“OK, go ahead and increase the customer’s credit limit so we can ship the order”) should be able to flow easily between the systems for formal and informal work. This is not a new point, but it bears repeating for exactly the reasons Laurie mentions. Unless and until this happens, E2.0 is much less than it could be.

Yes, its easy to drink too much social ‘Kool Aid’. But that applies as much to the process centric view, as it does to focusing only on the “social, humane, people-centric” perspective.

My point about the impact of electricity on industry still stands. Hard nosed contextual collaboration built around a bad or inefficient business process is only stop-gap measure (if even that), but is probably easier to sell in the short-term. This kind of digital Taylorism is bad not because it ignores the soft stuff, but because the pseudo-science of scientific management was debunked a long time ago.

Part of the problem is that we still get confused by the differences between ideas such as user-driven computing, lightweight enterprise IT approaches, creating good user experience in enterprise apps and social software. Each offers benefits and there is a strong relationship between these four, but they aren’t mutually inclusive all of the time.

For example, improving a process might not be so much about contextual collaboration but could simply be about applying lighter Web inspired IT solutions to enterprise problems. I remember seeing this example of a shipping company having a bottom line impact with Enterprise RSS back in 2008.