I find it interesting that I’ll identify a problem and my mind won’t let go of it. I’ll wrestle with causes/catalysts and environmental circumstances that may have “allowed” or set conditions perfectly to allow such a situation to occur. Then magically, within a day or week or two…someone else will touch on the same thought wave in conversation or I’ll see it in Twitter-land.
The thing that has embedded itself into my cranium of late is data, visualization, and information sharing/knowledge management. I know that’s a lot, but hang with me–they’re all related. Because of how information and computing technology has evolved over the last three decades, we’ve unknowingly been victims of the boiled frog syndrome discussed in Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline.” Applications, technology and people are referred to and “developed” in a versioning construct. To prove my point:
Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
Office 2000, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office 2010
MOTO DROID, DROID EVO, DROID 2, DROID X
The Web, Web 2.0, Web 3.0
Baby Boomers, GenX, NextGen
Forgive me if I got any of them out of order…but you get the idea! Applications are accomplished in increments; spiral development….there’s always some reference to relevance/importance in a linear fashion. That very thought process paradigm unavoidably plagues all aspects of our culture as a nation! (Acquisition, Elections/Rank, Education, Administrations, Technology, Clothing Sizes) We are victims of our own nomenclature / ontology!
Two Dimensional Thought (Kilroy was Here!)
Now that I’ve infected your mind with how my mind sees this situation, let me get back to data, visualization, and information sharing/knowledge management. In most implementations, our applications are available to each workstation as single apps with little integration across them. For instance if I want to:
Look at Email: Outlook (MS)
Look at Help Desk Tickets: Remedy (BMC)
Look at Current Media Internal/External News: Internet Explorer (MS)
Use Chat: DCO XMPP (Adobe) or MS Messenger (MS) etc..
….just to name a few!
Let’s consider local data. There’s a plethora of share drives; local drive; or SharePoint to begin my search. I can attempt a “Search” in Windows or Internet Explorer and hope what I’m looking for shows up in results. But even when I get “there” even the simplest questions that my mind elicits due to what I’m viewing requires me to go looking elsewhere to find those answers. Our administrative, information and knowledge management energies/productivity are naturally linear, not associative like your mind. The user interfaces are also designed and behave on a very primitive level…breadcrumbs tempting the hungry from one crumb to the next in search of the source (goal!) The way we structure our resources and HOW we use our IT automation is static, defined one-way corridors to further tasks (to go to another app to find another piece of data) rather than ready transports to answers.
I don’t know how the rest of the world operates, but after 25 years in the IT profession, I have yet to run across one single organization that has taken action to STOP the MADNESS!!! We cannot solve these workflow/automation challenges without stepping back and taking a strategic look at how we humans function in our thought world and apply that logic/processes to our engineering and automation IT solutions. This brings me to my last segment on this thought nugget.
Three Dimensional Thought (Associative)
With very few exceptions in a professional environment, most energies/productivity/conversations can be related and binned into one of three categories:
Activities (meetings/operations/conferences/admin transactions (coord/task/track/decide)
Entities (person (role)/organizations)
Now pardon what might seem a temporary side-bar, but what is it about social media that has people swarming to it? Communication, connection, social interaction and awareness are the things that social media platforms offer people. It is glue that associates and creates bonds between you and me! Business and marketing professionals are just now catching the fever and realizing the impact on sales and market share. They are capitalizing on a branding / influence medium that we still do not appreciate fully in the corporate world.
The simple beauty of it is, it allows everyday users to connect and share with people they know, love, admire….a place to talk about their:
Entities (spouses/children/small businesses/clubs)
The sticking power of social media is “RELATIONSHIPS”….it is what is missing in our IT solutions, the associative property that connects the dots between activities, resources, and entities. I want to see IT solutions that are simple and binned at the super macro level that allow me to drill down into the micro if I choose. So, if this idea interests you in any way, I’d love to chat with you…I’m calling it RARE Business Intelligence: