If you are a marketing executive or like to think of yourself as one (as I attempt to do on occasion), the I recommend the blog Branding Strategy Insider. Today, when reading about his latest post, I came across the following which prompted the creation of this article:
When asked what single event was most helpful to him in developing the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein is reported to have answered: ‘‘Figuring out how to think about the problem.’’
When I think about the problems that Collaborative Networks solve it begins with connecting people to content in meaningful, contextual ways. For example, if I want to create a new cost cutting initiative; I want all of the relevant enterprise content at my finger tips to create goals and tasks, learn about my current suppliers, understand the cost structure of each, and appreciate the consequences of switching to a lower total cost supplier.
Yet we still haven’t reached the core issue in this example. I’ve identified the problem, but haven’t quite figured out how to frame it in a meaningful way so that it’s remembered. So let’s attempt to break down the problem then rebuild it so that it clicks in our minds (or at least mine
- People create and use content with many different applications. This content is not stored centrally or contextually it’s spread out across unconnected applications like email, instant messaging, blogs, wiki’s, databases, office documents and video sites. Meanwhile the content is very difficult to find and resides in disparate locations, it’s not similarly structured, and worse it’s not current in time relative to one another (e.g. 2008 content versus 2009).
- Having all of the most up to date content at the right time to make decisions is a game changer is not being done today. It’s an extremely difficult challenge because content is stored in many different places, and it’s not self-organizing. If it was, the content could organize around key concepts and become more contextual and relevant.
For example, if my Word document about Sharepoint 2010 strategy knew that my PowerPoint about SharePoint strategy was about a similar subject, then it could self update the content (or at least link to it). Instead, the content is disconnected, unorganized and stored in multiple, isolated locations.
3. Today we make important decisions by considering all of the criteria involved in making a determination. We then prioritize and weight the criteria according to our own experiences. We also consider alternative solutions and how they compare to one another. We may ask friends or work associates for their advice especially if they are an expert. Finally, we let our emotions and feelings affect the decision.
4. Having access to all of the Enterprise content is a difficult proposition by itself, yet we still need the ability to measure all of the activity to see how it’s being utilized. We need reports on content that measures usage, importance and relevance. We need to capture organized content (e.g. content in a project) and ensure that it’s repeatable for future employees. We need to measure the results of organized content so that we know if a project is worth doing again.
So how can a Collaborative Intranet facilitate this process?
- It must be connected to all relevant Enterprise data in contextual ways.
- It must give me all of the most current content from around the Enterprise.
- It must measure and monitor the data so that I have an appreciation of trends, hot topics, revenue gains or losses, cost increases or external changes related to my industry or supply chain.
- It must organize content so that my team or I can make optimal decisions. The goal being to increase my decision making batting average.
- It must allow for easy connections (sharing) with other people in order to collaborate. It must either suggest or easily find experts in the Enterprise to help me solve a business need
So for me, thinking about the problem involved breaking it down into bite size chunks. I then theoretically tried to conceptualize the needs of each chunk. Now I must attempt to frame it in a memorable manner.
The problem of Enterprise collaboration is that we don’t have easy access to all of the current and relevant information we need to make important decisions without laboriously tracking it down across several people, databases and documents.
So if Einstein were alive today and he architected an intranet what would it look like? I contend it would be theoretical and full of black holes. Seriously though, I’m confident he’d discover a more efficient method of connecting people to content and permit us to build out his models.
(Originally published @ Seek Omega)