Friday, July 13, 2012

Working out Loud: No More Knowledge Hoarding!

I spend much of my work day as many do, writing documents, sending emails and researching online. A typical document that I write goes through several reviews, and I am often leery to send a draft for review until I am almost 70% sure of the content that I have laid out.  Through my editing process I often come across some great nuggets of information and the old me use to say, keep that in your back pocket to use when needed. 

Yes, I was “knowledge hoarding”.

The term knowledge hoarder is often heard in business as knowledge holds great value. I know more than you, so I hold the power. Knowledge hoarding is often seen as a method of ensuring job security. Employees often feel that the company could not do without them simply because they can’t do without the knowledge they hold inside their heads. As a result, a lot of content is sealed away on home computers, locked down in file stores and databases and kept in silos for no one else to see. This culture is starting to back fire and I like to think that Social Business has something to do with this. The power of “working out loud” sharing those drafts, crowd sourcing ideas and connecting with others both internally and externally to build conversations around content is proving to have significant power that will see a shift in culture to help fuel a more transparent and open work environment.

Collaborating on content is not new; we have had the ability to do this for years. We all send documents through emails, create wikis together, post documents in team spaces, but what is new is the ease and the velocity in how it can happen when powered by the right tools designed with the right strategies. Now, when I embark on writing a new piece of marketing content or get engaged in a new project I look to my network first to see, who can help, who can contribute and who has had success in this area in the past that I can learn from.

Simply sharing what you are working on as you are getting started, maybe in an activity stream or on Twitter or Facebook or by posting an idea to your ideation app  - all of sudden you are opening a window of opportunity and inviting others to share their thoughts and or ideas. All of sudden you have 10 or more  experts at your fingertips helping you to pull together your research and your project suddenly has wings and you are completing your work in half the time and with a renewed perspective (that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the possibility is there). Imagine if I could write a marketing piece for a new product based on feedback I am getting directly from a beta customer. I am guaranteed that this piece will now have more meaning since I am more aware of the audience. Of course this sounds easier said than done and much of the concept of working out loud comes with change and we all know that change is hard. Removing the knowledge hoarding is a culture shift and changing culture is an uphill battle, but there are many small steps you can start with. For starters, stop storing files in "My Documents" and move them to an intranet portal like environment where others can see it and comment upon it and tag it for find ability. Look to the community and your network and start discovering where the experts live online.

If you have any examples of how you are working out loud, please share them as I would love to hear some more real world examples!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Web Personalization, Online Privacy and the Fine Line Between Convenience and Creepy…

I think most would agree that there is something comforting about walking into your favorite coffee shop and having the barista start on your drink order before you even ask. It makes you feel a little more important, it makes you feel as though the shop cares - but does this comfort translate to an online experience?

Am I comforted by the fact that Google and or Amazon is presenting me with content before I search for it? Content that is targeted at  me based on things like; my location, my time of day, my gender, my browsing habits, my buying habits, my email, my social networking habits?

While I agree with what is stated below:
Without personalization, the Web is a 'static' environment where every user is presented  with the same content and users will select which content to view based on navigation  and search results. As a result without personalization Web Experience Management is  predominantly a low engagement 'pull' relationship that a user has with content.  Personalization changes this relationship into an environment where the web assists the  user in their voyage of discovery by pushing content to the forefront in a manner that is  specific to their 'journey' or interest. In this way the web content is deemed to be  managed and the content provided in context to the user.
I do wonder at what point does this become too much, or too close for comfort? Are the right safeguards in place to protect the privacy of the consumer? When do things like targeting, segmenting and personalization become more creepy than convenient?

Mobile devices have the ability to take this even a step further by making use of our location information to learn more about us, and we can already see examples of this happening today. Look at tools like Foursquare that allow consumers the ability to publish their every move and then reward them with store coupons as a result of sharing this information. (I actually use this feature and find it quite rewarding but there can be a dark side to this, as you can see in this article.)

Will we get to a point where we try to hide our digital footprint or will it just become a fact of life that we learn to accept? 

Now of course the above is written in the view point of my consumer life, but in my work life, I certainly welcome targeting, segmenting and personalization. In this context, the more personalization the better! If my intranet can better understand my needs by doing the following; tracking my content browsing habits; matching my profile to others based on similar areas of expertise; understanding the context of the content I am searching for; and then use this data to deliver more targeted content to me to help me do my work more efficiently - then bring it on! My next post will write more about this side of things so stay tuned…