We generate massive amounts of content within our organizations. The pace of this production will only continue to increase – forcing us to devote huge amounts of time searching, cataloging and saving links to critical information for our job roles. Now multiply this effort by the number of people in your organization. In order to get our work done we have all had to become enterprise librarians on top of our regular functions. To make matters worse, a sizable percentage of that effort is redundant. What can be done to fix this?
It is natural that the beginning of the content life cycle – creation – has historically received the most attention from developers of content management technologies. Organizations have attempted to make sense of the mountain of this information by deploying various search technologies, but search is only as good as the meta data applied to particular items and not conscious of community relations around them. On the commercial web, companies like my6sense Inc and Cascaad are pioneering how we consume information from a never ending stream of unstructured content. What are we doing from an enterprise perspective to address this and get us away from the business of devoting substantial time and energy to personally address this?
Targeting content to enable enterprise productivity can be broken down into three distinct areas of focus – ME, TEAM and GLOBAL. For each one of these areas there are some distinct technical technologies and strategies that can help to add relevance to the endless stream of information produced in our enterprises. Nothing is a silver bullet, but given that we probably don’t want to spend our time working as an enterprise librarian, fighting a limitless stream of content, they are worth giving some thought to.
ME: Actionable Implicit Connections – Making Sense of the Fire Hose
Communication through email and instant messaging generates the most unstructured forms of content, but has the ability to reveal a tremendous wealth of knowledge about users and more importantly – their skills. An emerging area of innovation involves taking this user generated data and starting to associate competencies with various authors.
Tacit Software is one vendor taking advantage of this stream of information to implicitly identify expertise based on this torrent of information. The technology then takes things a step further and makes the data actionable, helping to connect people with much needed expertise within their enterprise. Working within a large organization it is amazing what benefit can be gained from content that was previously not able to be acted upon.
“We had a beryllium-welding problem solved by linking up two people who worked down the hall from each other, and they didn’t realize that one had the answer the other one needed to solve this very serious technical problem that was holding up the entire project. We deemed the pilot to be very successful.”
– Ron Remy, the Deputy CIO for Space Systems
Imagine working at a company so large that this happened at your office! Without similar tools people would are forced to maintain a directory of enterprise expertise, which is nearly impossible to keep current.
TEAM: Gain the Wisdom of Peers – Select and Rank Areas of Interest
Stumbleupon and Delicious are brilliant tools to help let people find quality sources of material within the unstructured web. Why not take this same approach with our peers? By using an aggregated, profile aware, solution to manage bookmarks we can get insight into what our peers are choosing to catalog. This ideally brings the best and brightest to the forefront. A range of technologies now exist to incorporate profile, group and security information into peer-based bookmarking solutions. With some business incentive, perhaps monetarily through contests or reputation, it is possible to build relevant collections of critical links that make sense to teams.
GLOBAL: Save Time – Bubble up Consensus
Yelp, a darling of the Web 2.0 space, has developed an innovative approach to help people quickly consume pages of detailed reports about dining experiences. A new feature “Review Highlights” looks for trends in the unstructured information and exposes them to end users who are skimming the reviews. The following is an example of what was drawn out of a listing for a Boston restaurant.
“The food was great- esp the appetizers foie gras and tuna tartar.” (in 20 reviews)
“A gooey warm chocolate torte and creme brulee.” (in 6 reviews)
“For apps, I recommend the Maine Crab Ravioli (oh-so-succulent) and the…” (in 6 reviews)
In a very short amount of time a user is able to glance at the list and understand that the foie gras, torte and ravioli are all excellent choices at the establishment. This provides significant time savings to a user by leveraging algorithm to extract insight from unstructured content.
This approach would work extremely well at organizations to keep everyone in the loop about global activities – only brining the key events and or hot topics to the attention of all users. Information with lower levels of relevancy is now be condensed into a readily understandable format, with more detail easily available for items if needed.
What are some other solutions companies are using in the enterprise? I consider the above examples to be truly innovative in helping people to connect with previously obscured information to help support and achieve business goals. It gets people out of the business of each having to be an enterprise librarian and into the business of focusing on tasks at hand.