Tag: • Financial Markets

Can the Enterprise Strike Back?

Submitted by Martin Sumner-Smith on Fri, 10/12/2012 – 16:17

Most people have written-off Research in Motion (RIM) and their Blackberry platform. But then most people take a consumer’s perspective in making that assessment.

RIM is making a play to its traditional strength – security. But it is considering security for both enterprises and consumers. Security is a powerful draw for enterprises, but not for consumers in my experience.

I got to think about this when I attended a RIM Blackberry event in Toronto yesterday – the BlackBerry Enterprise Forum 2012. Clearly aimed to the enterprise, as you’d expect, at least half of the attendees were from IT departments. And I estimate 95% were male! This is interesting because the day before I attended a webinar on electronic signatures and all of the questions came from women. In my experience women dominate the business side of records and document management efforts in enterprises. The under-representation of women should have set off alarms.

Toronto-20121011-00110

RIM is responding to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend in many organizations. First they provide tools under the BlackBerry Mobile Fusion banner to help IT departments register and manage Android and iOS (Apple) devices, in addition to RIM devices. This approach recognizes that staff, and most significantly, senior executives, are bringing such devices to work and demanding that they be connected to enterprise resources, starting with email. But it will do nothing to reverse the trend of people investing in Android and iOS devices personally.

“Blackberry Enterprise Server improvements will mean enterprises will have one unified view of their complete mobile infrastructure so IT managers can have control of every mobile device in their company.” – Thorsten Heins quoted

RIM hopes that BlackBerry Balance (video), a key feature that is further built-out in the forthcoming BB10 release, might encourage staff to pick a BlackBerry as their personal device. There is a complete separation of personal and work information on a device into two workspaces. In BB10 users get a unified interface, but are unable to copy information from work to personal areas. Certainly IT departments will like the added security, and this might let them push back on the deployment of non-Blackberry devices, but there is less ‘in it’ for staff. Perhaps the best feature is that IT can delete all work information on a device without touching personal information. I could have benefited from a better separation between work and personal information on my devices earlier this year (blog post). But in the end, for most people, look for the shiniest, coolest, most fashionable device of the moment, and don’t consider their possible future dismissal.

RIM knows this and acknowledged it by highlighting the hot features of the new camera in BB10 devices and the new intelligent keyboard. But I doubt it will be enough.

I was left with the feeling that RIM is trying to do too much in too many arenas. The breadth of their effort was presented as strength: “No other company has as comprehensive a platform as BlackBerry,” said Andrew McLeod, RIM’s managing director of Canada operations and event chair. RIM offers operating systems, enterprise security and device management, cloud services, and handheld devices, while trying to appeal to consumers and enterprises, and also feeding a developer and partner network across all of these. Apple, Microsoft and Google each only do some of this, and they are able to devote far more resources than a diminished RIM. For me, in a fast-paced market, you can only win when you focus sharply. A fully integrated offering wins when there is enough time to complete it, which requires competitors make few changes and that there are no disruptive market entries. That is not the current climate in the mobile device world.

For me the enterprise and cloud security story was the most compelling, and perhaps it will be the ultimate, surviving asset.

The excitement and enthusiasm of the RIM staff at the event was palpable. They are believers and are being tested in ‘the fire.’ I tried to be supportive – I took my BlackBerry and had my Kindle in my pocket (to read on the subway), but refrained from taking my iPad. But even at such an event for hard-core supporters, I saw a number of iPhones in use.

 

The Future of Work

“The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is,in fact, a return to the idealized past.”Robertson Davies, “A Voice from the Attic”, 1960I’ve been thinking about the nature of work. Can there be any doubt that:

  • The nature of WORK is changing rapidly
  • WHERE you do it
  • WHEN you do it
  • HOW you do it
  • WITH whom you do it
  • The SPEED at which you do it
  • What you have to KNOW
  • What you have to do
  • And the DECISIONS you have to make

…all the while working to meet the demands and expectations of your organization.

So it has been interesting to review some of the recent future workplace concepts from RIM and Microsoft. The technology and interfaces are certainly very cool. But in large measure most of the depicted activities are things we already do.

  • I think I could have predicted the developments in mobility we see today 10 years ago. I’ve been wanting the ability to link my smartphone to local devices and to create virtual interfaces exactly as shown in these videos for some time.

What is missing are new styles of work. Those things are much harder to predict and they are what will matter far more.

  • I would not have been able to predict social networking as we know it now 10 years ago. Especially as it has affected B2C and B2B activities.

This customer service concept from RIM shows how an idealized version of today’s social networking can be used to detect power outages: BlackBerry Future Visions 1 from Evan Blass on Vimeo.There are many elements in this Microsoft Office conceptual video, but there is a certain irony that one of these (near the end of the video) is how to use a computer to manage cooking recipes – this was one of the first proposed uses for home computers in the 60’s when people could not conceive of the uses we have since discovered. Playing to its strengths in security RIM demonstrates in this video how automated provisioning and de-provisioning could work:BlackBerry Future Visions 2 from Evan Blass on VimeoI must admit that omniscient IT guy is a little scary. Maybe that’s just my perception although I do like how he can provision personal devices to work in an enterprise.So while I like these concepts, I’m pretty sure they are missing the killer application that will be the biggest driver of change. I don’t know what that will be, but I’m confident there will be one.

So I’ll close with another quotation: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay

Content Decision Fatigue

If something of value is in short supply you will tend to conserve it. That turns out to be true of your capacity to deal with alternatives, make decisions and even to sustain your efforts at tasks.These finding have profound implications for enterprise content management (ECM).Psychologists have recently described the phenomenon of Decision Fatigue. A recent New York Times article by John Tierney titled, Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? gave an excellent overview which I will quote extensively here.The more you make decisions, the less capacity you have to make additional ones in a given period. And these decisions do not have to be hard to deplete your capacity — in fact they can be quite trivial. Once you have depleted that capacity, you generally respond in one of two ways: you make impulsive decisions or pick the default; or you delay making any decision.The biology behind this process is beginning to be understood. It turns out that making decisions takes energy; in fact regions of your brain actually use glucose to fuel decision making. If the glucose becomes depleted it needs to be restored — typically by taking a break and having a snack. Until that happens, these brain regions, especially those involved in impulse control, have lowered activity.However, overall use of glucose by the brain does not change, because other regions of the brain, including those involved in seeking reward, become more active.An increased tendency to make impulsive decisions is also associated with a reduction in willpower. People become more easily distracted and less likely to complete tasks, including completing a series of decisions required of them. Alternatively, they make take the easy way out by picking a default.What does this have to do with enterprise content management? I think it is very important. Let’s consider two examples:

  1. Consumer behaviour on a business website — a web content management (WCM) example
  2. Staff execution of work — a business process management (BPM) example

Website ConsumersOne of the studies cited in the New York Times article compared the degree of decision-making required of online consumers and the consequences:“…Kathleen Vohs, …now at the University of Minnesota, performed an experiment using the self-service Web site of Dell Computers. One group in the experiment carefully studied the advantages and disadvantages of various features available for a computer — the type of screen, the size of the hard drive, etc. — without actually making a final decision on which ones to choose. A second group was given a list of predetermined specifications and told to configure a computer by going through the laborious, step-by-step process of locating the specified features among the arrays of options and then clicking on the right ones. The purpose of this was to duplicate everything that happens in the postdecisional phase, when the choice is implemented. The third group had to figure out for themselves which features they wanted on their computers and go through the process of choosing them; they didn’t simply ponder options (like the first group) or implement others’ choices (like the second group). They had to cast the die, and that turned out to be the most fatiguing task of all. When self-control was measured, they were the one who were most depleted, by far.”Very clearly then the online purchasing process required a series of decisions that online consumers found fatiguing, and which reduced their motivation or self control.The tiresome nature of the process could cause some consumers to abandon the website without purchasing the computer, defeating Dell’s aim of selling a computer.But those consumers who complete the process became more susceptible to impulse purchases. This is illustrated in another study:“Levav… put the experience to use in a pair of experiments conducted with Mark Heitmann, then at Christian-Albrechts University in Germany; Andreas Herrmann, at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland; and Sheena Iyengar, of Columbia. One involved asking M.B.A. students in Switzerland to choose a bespoke suit; the other was conducted at German car dealerships, where customers ordered options for their new sedans. The car buyers — and these were real customers spending their own money — had to choose, for instance, among 4 styles of gearshift knobs, 13 kinds of wheel rims, 25 configurations of the engine and gearbox and a palette of 56 colors for the interior. As they started picking features, customers would carefully weigh the choices, but as decision fatigue set in, they would start settling for whatever the default option was. And the more tough choices they encountered early in the process — like going through those 56 colors to choose the precise shade of gray or brown — the quicker people became fatigued and settled for the path of least resistance by taking the default option. By manipulating the order of the car buyers’ choices, the researchers found that the customers would end up settling for different kinds of options, and the average difference totaled more than 1,500 euros per car (about $2,000 at the time). Whether the customers paid a little extra for fancy wheel rims or a lot extra for a more powerful engine depended on when the choice was offered and how much willpower was left in the customer.”These findings could be used to improve the effectiveness of a website to help consumers make the best decisions to meet their needs, or to make the most lucrative, near-term decisions to the benefit of the vendor.They also point to the importance of reducing the number of decisions that are being asked, asking the most important ones first, and providing default options that ideally are matched to the specific, expected needs of a given online consumer. Business ProcessesMany business processes are quire automated, but typically depend on staff to provide input. This input usually takes the form of decisions, whether those are to interpret handwriting entries on faxes or to approve a purchase order.A design goal for most automated business processes is to process more items while employing fewer staff. Little consideration is usually given to the decision-making capacities of the staff, or the consequences of decision fatigue that will lead to poorer or delayed decisions.A study of Israeli judges reviewing parole application cited in the NT Times article illustrate this very clearly:“Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.”Those are astounding numbers. The effects of glucose were clearly illustrated:“In midmorning, usually a little before 10:30, the parole board would take a break, and the judges would be served a sandwich and a piece of fruit. The prisoners who appeared just before the break had only about a 20 percent chance of getting parole, but the ones appearing right after had around a 65 percent chance.”The safest, default decision for a judge is clearly to not grant parole. They take the ‘easy way out’ when decision fatigued. SummaryIn my last post I talked about the ‘disjunction effect’ and how users may fail to correctly use the categorizations you designed in your content management system. In a similar manner, the elucidation of ‘decision fatigue’ has clear implications on the potential for success of a wide range of content management solutions.

The tipping point for social and push technologies in the enterprise

“I don’t have time for social media at work!” A colleague made that comment to me recently.My response was: “You have to replace something you already do. It isn’t about squeezing yet more time out of an already busy work day, but of finding when a social media tool better suits some task you are already performing.”Some people have suggested that one or more social media tools will replace email in the workplace. Unfortunately a direct one-for-one technology exchange is not always possible. This becomes clear when you consider the range of use cases for which an existing technology is used.Here’s a common business use case:

  • You want to share an interesting webpage or video that you have found with colleagues. It may be about a competitor, a market trend, a new technology, a new regulation, etc. and you expect that it may be useful to the recipients.

In recent years a typical approach would have been to email a link (or even an attachment) to the six people you think might be interested. Likely you will forget three others who would have been interested, and maybe there are a couple of others you didn’t know would be interested. So the approach would always have been flawed since you could not or did not completely predict who would value the information.In addition, another problem has grown in recent years: namely email overload and developing user resistance. In the above example, of the six actual recipients, maybe two will resent the intrusion and consider your email spam. The issue here with email is that it is a Push technology – recipients get it whether they want to or not – and it also has a narrow reach, going initially only to those people you define.So if the original solution always had a limitation, and over time is becoming less effective, is there a better alternative? Currently the best technological alternative for this example use is a Pull technology. You post the information and users decide whether they want to follow you and/or a specific topic.

  • A good example of a Pull approach is social bookmarking. To share an interesting website, you could instead have used a bookmarklet installed in your browser to automatically post the link and your comments to an internal collaboration site.

While this approach is effective in reducing the perception of span, it is limited because others might not be aware that you are someone they should follow, or may not yet have learned and adopted the technology.Pull technologies have an inherent entry barrier that limits their usefulness and can be hard to overcome. Most social media are pull technologies. This is a critical problem for organizations looking to use social media tools effectively.In the above use case there is an expectation of benefit if the information is shared widely, but it is seldom critical. What if the aim is circulate ‘critical’ information to the widest possible audience?In most current enterprises, if the organization wants everyone to be informed about something they will send an email to ‘all staff’ on the assumption that it will reach everyone and be read. In reality this assumption is increasingly false for a growing proportion of staff – they don’t bother to read, don’t have time or have even set email filters so they don’t see such emails! An alternative is to post the same information to a stream that users can watch, but in most organizations usage has not yet achieved a level that the post will reach most staff.So email pushes are increasingly ineffective, while social pulls have yet to achieve sufficient adoption to take their place as workplace tools. It seems there is a growing communications chasm which will create a tipping point to drive adoption of social media in enterprises at some time in the future.

Where is the concept of Employee-to-Employee (E2E)?

Organizations are struggling to understand the relevance of social networking tools internally. You can see the lack of maturity in this field by looking up E2E on Wikipedia; of the several interpretations of E2E, none refer to Employee-to-Employee. Other X2X concepts are better documented:

  1. B2B – Business-to-Business
  2. B2C – Business-to-Consumer
  3. B2G – Business-to-Government

These three all have aspects of commerce for the provision of products or services between different parties. A more recent, fourth X2X entry is B2E – Business-to-Employee, recognizing what goes on within a given organization rather than its external interactions. As the Wikipedia entry notes (2011-04-20):”Business-to-employee (B2E) electronic commerce uses an intrabusiness network which allows companies to provide products and/or services to their employees. Typically, companies use B2E networks to automate employee-related corporate processes.Examples of B2E applications include:

  • Online insurance policy management
  • Corporate announcement dissemination
  • Online supply requests
  • Special employee offers
  • Employee benefits reporting
  • 401(k) Management”

The traditional 1.0-style of Intranet is one of the tools used by businesses to provide information to their employees, so it can be regarded as a B2E platform. Typically the provision of information is controlled in a top-down manner.With the newer 2.0-style of Intranets, employees are able to contribute, either by adding documents and other forms of content, or by participating socially. But B2E tools are ineffective at supporting social interactions. It isn’t about what a business tells its employees, but rather what the employees tell each other.Social interactions within an organization typically enable the execution of a wide range of critical business processes that aid commerce. Workers requesting input on a task, or notifying the next performer that they are finished, engage in social interactions that increasingly use mediating technologies such as email, instant messaging, telephone, fax, workflow, online discussion, videoconferencing, online web meeting, etc. Seen in that light the more recently available social tools such as wikis, blogs, microblogs, communities, ideation sites, expertise location, etc. just provide more choices to increase the effectiveness and timeliness of those critical, internal social interactions in support of commerce. E2E seems overdue for recognition.Syndicated at http://conversations.opentext.com/