Archive for ‘articles and presentations published’

November 9, 2010

Optimize Your Customer Experience First…Then Your Content!


Today, companies need to focus on the 360 degree relationship and interaction they have with customers in all forms of media. It is not enough to just ensure your content is search engine optimized or enhanced for analytics. It’s not enough that your site navigation is simple enough for the average person to find what they’re looking for, or you have a Facebook page or “like” buttons on your site. It’s not about “web experience management” or “web engagement management” that you hear some WCMS vendors talk about. It’s about the customer experience. 

It’s a Multi Channel Experience

People are looking for current and relevant information as well an interactive experience. It’s difficult to capture people’s attention today and they are looking to interact with your brand on your website, on Facebook, tv, in your store, on their mobile device, at work on their laptop or at home on their iPad. It’s critical companies look at the overall multi-channel experience customers have with their brand in a web browser, on their website, in email, in print, tv, in a social network, on their laptop, on their cell phone, iPads, as well as in person!

Customers expect websites to be dynamic, fast and incorporate rich media content. And depending on where and how the customer chooses to look for or access information about your brand, it might dictate a different experience all together.

For example, look at a retailer like Best Buy. I go to bestbuy.com on my desktop browser, I see a rich and engaging experience. I can view the weekly circular, browse products, deals and more. When I access Best Buy on my mobile device, I am automatically taken to a store locator and have the ability to search for a product or read the circular in text based format as well. The mobile vs. web experience is obvious.

iPad-like devices may not be as obvious and may incorporate different UI and navigation design because of the touch screen and “pinch” capabilities. Additionally, I might be holding my iPad vertically vs. horizontally and use the device in different ways than my mobile or desktop. I might even want to bring my iPad to Best Buy, walk through the store, have the latest circular and deals automatically fed to me, and have it tell me where in the store a particular product is located. Of course no matter what I do with any device, I will always want to share that with my friends.

Customer First, Technology Second

The point here is that content management systems are important and will always be a necessary technology no matter what the customer channel. As organizations have begun to move to this next generation of web content management technology platforms, many are doing so without a solid strategy, without optimizing the customer experience, and without an understanding of how that content fits into consumer lifestyles and purchasing decisions.

Fortunately, we’re starting to see at least one major vendor recognize this with IBM’s announcement of their Customer Experience Suite. However, as with any technology, it’s more important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes before pushing that information out through multiple channels.

You need to understand how people prefer to consume the information you’re providing them, in what context, on what device and how customers use those devices, when, and where they use them. Once you understand the process and the people, it will be much easier to focus on the technology, the channel, and the optimization of content and analytics.

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August 6, 2010

Three Things to Consider in Your Enterprise Collaboration Strategy


This post was featured on CMSWire.com:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-20/three-things-to-consider-in-your-enterprise-collaboration-strategy-008261.php

Many organizations are planning or are already in the middle of deploying collaboration technology to their global organization. Before you go much further, ask yourself if you’ve identified these three elements of your collaboration strategy.

Perhaps you have invested in a single vendor eco-system like MS SharePoint for collaboration and information management. Like most organizations, you are looking for ways to reduce costs, create efficiencies, consolidate multiple repositories of information, innovate, connect people globally, change corporate culture and simplify the end user experience.

However, your executive leadership is not sure if your organization is optimizing the use of this technology and maximizing the return on your investment. If that’s you and your organization, it’s not too late to take a step back and review your strategic objectives and approach.  A solid collaboration strategy encompasses 3 key things:

1. Define the Business Context

Defining collaboration as synchronous or asynchronous is not enough. Making a decision to invest in SharePoint or Oracle or IBM is not enough. Build it and they will come is not enough.

Typically the best approach to deploying any collaboration technology is having a focused business context in mind. Multi-purpose collaboration platforms offer many features and capabilities. Part of a solid strategy is having a focused business context around social networking, team spaces, communities of practice, crowd sourcing, project management, knowledge management, business process management, etc…

You need to demonstrate real business value and evangelize that throughout your organization to further drive adoption and create a perception of collaboration technology as a productivity tool.

Identifying and applying the technology in a specific business context will help stakeholders and decision makers see how this thing called collaboration can alleviate business pain points, surface information and impact employee engagement and morale.

2. Identify the Degree of Openness

Further expanding on the concept of collaboration in “context” is to identify the degree of openness. Is the collaboration external, internal, global or regional, or line of business focused (depending on how your organization is structured)? Security and user access also come to mind here as it’s easy to create a mess of information within these eco-systems combining confidential information with more public content.

Identifying the degree of openness also includes defining your audience, the type of information you plan to collaborate on, and the overall scope of the collaboration. This will help focus your efforts, deployment, or investigation of collaboration technology as these platforms all offer several components from social computing to team sites to portals and workflows.

When you step back and understand the degree of openness, you may also realize that 3rd party solutions for administration or security just might be a mandatory requirement to protect intellectual property and sensitive information.

3. Establish Goals and Objectives

Project management 101 includes determining what success will look like for your organization. Often times when planning projects, goals and objectives tend be high level and don’t really provide a concrete definition of success. Setting the right goals and objectives will ensure stakeholders, decision makers and users are on the same page when determining if the collaboration strategy is a success.

What specific results should users and executives expect to see?

  • Will this solution reduce costs?
  • Provide a competitive advantage?
  • Do your objectives simply focus on just improving collaboration within project management?
  • External collaboration with business partners or clients?
  • Improving employee engagement & morale?
  • Is it to improve the search-ability of information and documents?
  • Enabling compliance?
  • Executive dashboards?
  • All of the above?

No matter how you’ve defined your collaboration strategic goals, there is ONE objective you MUST have as part of your overall strategy: Develop a standard information architecture and governance of the collaboration platform. Collaboration is generally unstructured (compared to traditional and more structured taxonomies of document or knowledge management) and information architecture and governance are a must for any successful collaboration strategy and deployment.

Collaboration is About People First

As a concept, collaboration goes beyond the simple sharing of documents in a team site or a creating a wiki. It can be all encompassing from team spaces, email, web meetings, IM to communities, web 2.0 and more. At the end of the day, collaboration is really a broad spectrum of content creation, sharing and information management.

Multiple technologies from multiple vendors have been used to address this broad spectrum with email being THE main tool Executives and knowledge workers rely on day-to-day (mostly because of convenience, availability and Blackberries).

Collaboration is about people and allowing them to work when and where they want without being constrained by schedules, time zones or geography. Perhaps your organization has invested in multiple tools (from multiple vendors) to address your collaboration needs: You are using SharePoint for project/document management along-side Websphere Portals, Lotus Notes, Lotus Connections/Quickr, or Documentum eRoom.

In the absence of a solid strategy, the risk of failure or creating a poor first impression of collaboration technology becomes even greater which result in workers continuing to rely on email as comfort food.

Is It Time to Step Back?

The bottom line is this “buzzword” called collaboration has shown up on CIO radar screens as a “Must-Do”. Over the last few years we have seen vendors like Microsoft, IBM and Oracle all begin to offer a single “uber” eco-system to manage all of your collaborative needs, artifacts and related information.

As organizations have rushed to implement these all encompassing technologies from a single vendor, they proceeded without a holistic collaboration strategy, believed that somehow platforms like SharePoint would magically improve the current state, or simply failed to leverage all the collaboration capabilities with the right strategy, approach and governance.

Throwing technology at the problem just resulted in another repository, another place to store documents, another place to create a discussion and another mess in which they search for information when collaborating.

In spite of an expectation for a high ROI and a Google or Facebook-like experience throughout the global organization, users remain confused, continue to be overloaded with information, are limited in their collaborative capabilities, and still use email as the primary collaboration tool. If this sounds like your organization, then step back and look at your strategy.

 


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August 4, 2010

What is Knowledge Management 2.0?


The following post was also featured as a “Featured Blog” on AIIM E2.0 Community during August, 2010:

Knowledge Management seems to be making a come back.  Like E2.0 or Web 2.0, KM 2.0 seems to be more about aggregating unstructured information with structured data (perhaps in a community, portal, team space, etc…).

Perhaps the explosion of applications like SharePoint have once again made organizations think about how to manage knowledge more effectively and invest time and money into related projects.   While there is a promise that platforms like SharePoint will “do it all”, organizations have to move beyond simple document sharing and leverage these all-inclusive technology platforms as a collaboration system before it can be considered a system of knowledge.  Users need to make the application part of their day-to-day as much as they live in their email inbox.  And administrators and managers of Knowledge/Information Management systems must ensure they provide the right balance of governance, tweaking/development, care/feeding, and obtain the right consulting guidance to optimize the ROI and ensure users view the technology as a productivity tool that enables them to get their jobs done better, faster, and cheaper…..  Then complete eco-systems (e.g. from IBM, Oracle, or Microsoft) can work very very well for communications, collaboration, community, and knowledge in large organization (both inside and outside the firewall).  However, for traditional ECM/RM or larger knowledge management efforts like digital libraries or e-Commerce driven websites, these all-in-one platforms just may not be the best fit (esp. in larger organizations).

The challenges most organizations face with Knowledge Management are the cost of ownership, too many repositories, different taxonomies, and too many places to search.  What we see today is really not any different than back in the 80s/early 90s with companies having 3,4, or 5 different email systems….and they realized they needed to standardize on 1 email system (novell, exchange, or notes generally).

While it seems most organizations finally have a solid handle on email systems some 10-15 years later, they need to now focus on information & knowledge management.  These systems are not well governed and users inside the organization expect a Google-like experience in spite of all these challenges.  Organizations have simply created an “information mess” in a rush to the web over the last decade.   As a result, collaboration remains difficult and KM becomes even more challenging.  No doubt KM 2.0 initiatives will fail today just like in KM 1.0 unless these same organizations think more holistically in their approach.

There is a tremendous economic benefit attempting to cleanup and consolidate different ECM systems into a single vendor platform (for the 80%) with a consistent and enterprise information architecture that organizes collaboration, information, and knowledge.  While I don’t think 1 system will do everything required by the business, 80% is pretty good … while the remaining 20% might require a more unique/tailored technology solution (be it open source or a more pricey ECM solution).


August 3, 2010

Just featured as member of the week on AIIM Communities…


I’ve shared some of my blog posts on AIIM and was featured as member of the week on AIIM Communities:

http://aiimcommunities.org/users/sharepointpmp

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July 31, 2010

Is Social Media Making Us Dumb?


This post was also a featured story on SocialMediaToday.com:

http://socialmediatoday.com/richblank/154394/social-media-making-us-dumb

The explosion of social media has been nothing but a phenomenon. Communities, twitter, facebook, linkedin and other networks allow us all to instantly share articles, thought leadership, books, tweets, PPTs, news, events, and more. And the more we engage in social media, the more I’m starting to wonder if social media is actually making us smarter and more enlightened OR if we are simply becoming dumber by the day.

While I see tremendous value in the online links and information and articles that are shared into and throughout my social networks, social media seems to be influencing the world with “NBC Today Show”-like headlines and content containing lightweight, high level fodder and sound-bytes from whatever happens to be your knowledge domain of choice. While blogs provide fantastic ways to share insights into communities of interest, more and more the posts I see are generally less than 400 words, conversational in tone, and read like “Top 5 Ways…” or “Top Reasons Why” to promote sharability.

I also see social media trending towards the 60 minute webinars and 10 minute videos and tweets of less than 140 characters to capture people’s attention, promote your services or product like an online infommercial to capture sales leads and create brand awareness. I see individuals simply updating their LinkedIn profile with so-called books from their Amazon reading list just for the sake of sounding intelligent and creating a perception that they actually stay current on the latest trends and buzzwords like Tipping Points or Flat Worlds or Synergistic Change. Of course we are all soooo busy that there is no way we have read or even will attempt to read these books.   I also see the latest tweets from the Harvard Business Review being shared around and emailed throughout our social networks as if we are some enlightened thinker of strategy and management with some inspirational message of change.  And then there’s Ted.com…an addicting site of speeches & lectures from REAL thought leaders and experts throughout the world…and who doesn’t “heart” Ted?  Of course social media now allows Ted.com junkies to share online lectures and speeches like a drug dealer handing out free samples on the street.

Let’s face the fact that because of social media, everything is starting to look and sound like Cosmopolitan Magazine and USA Today headlines. Now I will admit I too am guilty of proliferating this trend to simply keep up with the “Jones” as the experiment of social media evolves and becomes “mainstream”.   The reality is… because of social media, today anyone, at any level, from anywhere has access to the same sound bytes of information as you. Maybe your niche is technology or six sigma or project management or talent management or even information management!!! … Social media allows anyone to act like an expert, pretend to be an expert, and promote themselves as an expert. Because of social media….we just might be proliferating the Dilbert principles we all know and love so well. We are possibly becoming dumber and allowing the mediocre to gain a competitive advantage or at least sound like they actually know what they’re doing or are an expert in their respective domain.

What say you? Are you jaded in your thinking like this? OR are you enlightened and encouraged by all that social media has to offer?


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July 28, 2010

Ultimate Guide to SharePoint Governance – download the outline now.



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July 25, 2010

Seven Tips for Managing Projects on SharePoint


Download the full presentation on slideshare…. And please feel free to comment and share your own tips for managing projects using SharePoint.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 


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July 21, 2010

My recent presentation on Managing Projects on SharePoint is available…


Includes PM 101, Tips for Project Managers, Project Management Dashboards, and Enterprise Portfolio/Project Mgt with SharePoint 2010

View more presentations from Rich Blank.

 


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July 14, 2010

Does SharePoint Cause Information Management Problems?


Does-SharePoint-Cause-Information-Management-Problems?   Interesting blog post and discussion….my thoughts are below….

SharePoint as an application should provide better capabilities around administration AND information governance. 2010 is better but more out of the box functionality is needed.  As a result, organizations need to spend the additional money on 3rd party solutions for admin/security/governance — which, in my opinion, is a necessity, not a “nice-to-have”. However, tight times and tight budgets haven’t helped the situation. As a result we see alot of out of the box vanilla SharePoint deployments whose main use is a glorified fileshare. While that hasn’t been a bad thing — the simple fact that users can easily share documents (vs emailing them) has created a “Shareplosion” in many organizations — which further adds to the problem. Combine all that with a lack of information architecture, lack of internal marketing and little if any end user education— you have an “information mess”.

Perhaps AIIM might consider rethinking the term “information management” and rebrand it as “Information Governance”.  Maybe IT will spend more time and/or money on planning SharePoint with the right governance.  Good governance will empower users, make them more productive, help them find information better, and allow the business to create solutions that actually improve project management, collaboration, & business processes — way beyond simple sharing of documents.  Governance is all about — user adoption and empowerment being a direct correlation to IT’s ability to administer, govern, deploy, and support a stable application.  Governance is about BALANCE — balancing IT control against user empowerment to ensure security and foster adoption. And it’s not just “governance of the application” — it’s also about governance of the information.

The unfortunate thing is that governance often gets pushed aside in favor of other priorities….and I do understand why the subject is often ignored at many organizations.   It’s been several weeks since I started to post my formula for successful governance of SharePoint — and I’ve gotten sidetracked again with my own priorities….time to continue my discussion on governance..

 


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June 8, 2010

What is more important: people? process? or technology?


The following post was also featured within the AIIM.org E2.0 Community:

I often see executives and project managers take charge of projects and focus on process first, people second, and technology last when it comes to change…   While I understand the thinking behind that mindset, in today’s world it is very difficult to leave the technology as an afterthought.  And when it comes to changing how organizations collaborate & socialize in this globalized web 2.0 world, technology is usually part of the answer.   Now some argue that technology should be secondary to process & culture when it comes to change.   On the other hand, sometimes the “system” actually causes the bad behavior or doesn’t allow or encourage the right human behavior.   So what is more important – people, process or technology?

If a CEO wants to know why engineers don’t act “social” and share knowledge across teams, then it’s a probably a people or cultural issue or incentives aren’t aligned accordingly or management isn’t encouraging it. Technology alone won’t change that. Social behavior is not something that can be mandated or dictated by management. Otherwise it’s just another thing we “have to do” and is viewed as a task or work. Social behavior is a two way street between workers and management with a heavy emphasis on management ….. who needs to encourage, promote, and reward good behavior. And the technology if implemented correctly should be there to support the culture, enable socialization, and hopefully easily facilitate the desired behavior. I’d argue that you can’t always treat the technology and the system as secondary to culture……as the system influences the process and culture as much as process impacts technology.

Some corporate cultures don’t promote collaboration or social behavior because of the systems they have in place.   The airlines for example have terrible antiquated systems.  And if the process is not easy or takes too long because the person behind the counter is typing too many letters and codes or doesn’t know how to easily do something — workers and customers may say “why bother” and everyone is frustrated by the “system”.

At a macro level, social behavior within a country is often influenced by the “system” of government.  The founding fathers of the US seemed to focus first on creating a “system” that ultimately empowers and protects people’s rights.  I’m not sure if there’s enough focus on “process” in government.  If there is one — well, it’s probably inefficient at best.  While I don’t think you can leave the “system” as an afterthought, government systems might tell us how important the process actually is.   Of course too much process & control is no good either as history has taught us.  Anyway….

Technology in so many ways today influences the way we socialize, collaborate, and share knowledge …. Today, workers rely too heavily on email & instant messaging as the main source of communicating, collaborating , and sharing knowledge where information gets lost and workers can’t filter out the noise and simply miss or ignore the “message”.  Blackberry’s are great (I have one), but sometimes they simply add to the problem vs. make us more productive….

It seems safe to conclude that you have to treat technology, people, and process equally if you want your organization to become that social and collaborative enterprise everyone talks about and puts in their grand “vision” statements.

 

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