Making the Digital Workplace Work

Armless Black Knight kicking King ArthurI recently wrote an article at CMS Wire about how Intranets have been eclipsed by the advent of new tools like enterprise social networks (ESNs). Like the old web, Intranets, and the portals that were often created in their name, didn’t really serve much of a purpose outside a large bulletin board. Efforts were made to make them more useful but without addressing a real need, those efforts often came to naught.

The concept of an ESN works better because it is a place where people can come together and work. I’m not talking Facebook in the office. That is crazy. I am talking something more akin to Yammer. I am talking about taking the break room and moving it online for organizations that are collaborative in nature but may not be co-located.

My good friend Jed Cawthorne took exception to my article. He said Forget ESN’s, Give me a Digital Workplace.

ESN, More than the Sum

Jed rips into me for using the term ESN. I agree, it is a cruddy term but the industry seems  to like their three letter acronyms (TLAs). Part of the reason is that a TLA is more than the sum of its parts. It is multiplicative in nature, not additive.

  • Enterprise: Jed restricts this to being within the organization. It is bigger than that. The scope is everything in and related to the organization. Enterprise can scale to include partners and systems.
  • Social: Jed and I agree, people. People need to work together. Without them we can just go home. This qualifier is more about the approach to putting the system together. It has to support how people work together.
  • Network: The connections between people and information. This is pulling everything in the enterprise scope into one place.

Just as Jed took me to task for being restrictive on the definition of an Intranet, I think Jed should ease up on the definition of an ESN. Semantics do matter but to focus on the the term more than the concept can lead to a lot of tangents.

The Digital Workplace is Good

I’m happy with Jed’s vision. It is the vision I had, just different labels. As an industry we have evolved so far past the original Intranet that I feel we need a new term to describe what we do. Digital Workplace is a solid term. It describes what we are trying to accomplish in the same manner that ESN focuses on the how.

My proposal to Jed, let’s kill the terms Intranet and ESN. Digital Workplace is solid. The tools that make up the Digital Workplace will depend upon the mission, structure, and culture of an organization. Map those out and a useful Digital Workplace can be created for any organization.

Box Makes a Huge Leap in Security

The Keymaster and Gatekeeper from GhostbustersI saw the Box’s announcement of their Enterprise Key Management (EKM) feature yesterday. This is a big jump forward for Box and puts them well in the front lines for cloud security among vendors with traction. Matt Weinberger had a good write-up about how Box’s EKM works complete with a Ghostbuster reference.

Chris Walker wrote about Box’s EKM announcement and quoted a tweet I made. The tweet follows but I encourage you to go read his post as it is a good one.

I wanted to expand on the quote up above in a comment on Chris’s post then I couldn’t stop typing. I decided to write it here.

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Sony, Information Governance, and the Quest for Relevancy

Movie: The InterviewPeople have been writing for months about what could have prevented or lessened the impact the Sony hack. I’ve talked to many people in the information governance industry on this very topic. I’m a firm believer that even with proper information governance policies that were properly followed, the impact of the Sony hacks would be the same.

Of course, not everyone agrees. Lubor Ptacek asked if enterprise content management (ECM) could have prevented the hack. While his answer was not a definitive ‘Yes’, it did fall strongly on the side that it would have made a significant difference.

Lubor is a smart person so I’ve decided to visit his points in this post.  Before I start going point-by-point…

You Can’t Govern Stupid

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Stop Talking about Backups Tapes!!!

Bookshelf of backup tapesThis isn’t a rant against backup tapes in IT infrastructure. This isn’t a rant about how backup strategies need to change. It is a rant about all the people that depend on backups for managing information.

Stop it!

Backup tapes are to restore your system when things go wrong. Period. If you have to keep something, don’t use tapes. There are other ways. There are several archive vendors out there that will gladly take your phone calls.

Tapes are even worse for this than other backup methods. Tapes degrade. Tapes become corrupted. Tapes are easy to lose. Tapes get out of order. Tapes take up space that we are trying to save by going digital.

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Reports from the Content Management Frontier

The following are excerpts from an explorer hiking the Gartner Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies.

Day 1, Reached the Peak

Today we finally reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations. The view is simply amazing. This technology is going to revolutionize everything. Everyone is excited and  teaming up with their friends. Documentum just got some great new equipment from EMC. I suspect that those two will be very happy together for a long time.

Life is good.

Day 2, Getting Crowded

Apparently everyone is excited and more and more people are joining us on the Peak. While the view is still lovely, they ground is starting to get muddy from all the people trampling everywhere.

Stellent showed up with their new pal Oracle. Everyone thinks they are a bunch of posers but they are mostly keeping quiet because Oracle has a bit of a temper.

There seems to be a new noise. I’m going to go check it out.

Day 4, Ooops

That noise from the other day? That was the beginning of an avalanche that carried the entire group off of the Peak. According to our maps we are in the Trough of Disillusionment. It is hard to validate because nobody can get a clear signal anymore. It is a bit gloomy but some people seem to think we can get out.

OMG! Open Text ate Hummingbird while we were sleeping! They must be panicking already.

Tensions are very high.

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Box and Dropbox Race for Long-Term Relevancy

The Spanish InquisitionIn case you missed it, Dropbox has followed the path blazed by Box and has integrated with Microsoft Office. While Box integrated on the desktop, Dropbox is integrating with the Office mobile apps and plans to extend it to the Online Office versions. This is a no-brainer move as anything that simplifies people’s ability to work with content within Dropbox helps keep people using both tools.

On top of all this, Microsoft announced that their Android and iOS versions of Office will now be free. Microsoft is clearly trying to maintain their edge on the office productivity world and Dropbox is aiming to stay in front of people’s eyeballs.

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Celebrating Women of Technology, My Mother and Her Sister

World's Most Dificult Jigsaw Puzzle, Leprechaun StyleFor Ada Lovelace Day, I was all set to write a post on making the tech industry more welcoming to women. I was almost done with that post when I decided that it was the wrong focus for today. I want to celebrate inspiring women in tech. Instead of picking from a slate of relatively well-known women or scrounging together some research on lesser known ones, I thought I’d target some people closer to home.

My mother and her sister.

I could say that a PhD in Biochemistry and a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering is enough to inspire, but there is more. Diplomas sit on walls. It is their journey to those degrees and how they live their lives that show the impact.

What was that impact? Three of my four women 1st cousins work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). In fact, in my generation, if you earned a college degree, the men were less likely to be in STEM than the women.

That is an impact.

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