Visual Search: don’t get too excited Reply

visual searchVisual search is not new and it’s so obvious that it hardly seems something to get too excited about.  In well understood, discrete systems visual search is an excellent means to share and develop multi-disciplinary, cross-functional information without the need for complex ontological integration or the tedious and often futile process of trying to agree on corporate taxonomies.  If there is no visual boundary to the relevant information then creating contextual diagrams will hinder the retrieval of information.

The military have used visual information storage and visual representations of information in counter-terrorism generally and within intelligence systems in particular.  “Starlight” by PNNL and I2 (Analyst Notebook) both use various methods to visualise terrorist networks and their contexts.  Nimbus Control has used this technique for a number of years.  By building a simple graphical representation of a company’s process (eg, Carphone Warehouse etc) which then links to SharePoint file stores in corporate repositories allows various functions to collaborate around a common visual understanding.

In a recent blog I wrote about the utility of visual search (and its limitations) in managing corporate information.   It doesn’t matter if information overlaps but those intersections need to be link back to the relevant file systems.  The beauty of visual search is that visual representations are more easily understood so long as the user communities are not too disparate.  Moreover, they are more cost effective because they require less UI consultation and design as well as lower Change Management budgets.   In summ, there needs to be a purpose and the ability to draw a boundary around a discrete area of information and companies should limit visual systems in order to coral common understanding.

The Social Enterprise: what will business 2.0 look like? Reply


If Andrew McAfee‘s book “Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for your Organization’s Toughest Challenges” is to be believed then:

“We are on the cusp of a management revolution that is likely to be as profound and unsettling as the one that gave birth to the modern industrial age. Driven by the emergence of powerful new collaborative technologies, this transformation will radically reshape the nature of work, the boundaries of the enterprise, and the responsibilities of business leaders.”

Most pundits believe that Enterprise 2.0 is the full adoption of Web 2.o by an organisation.  In the next few years, therefore, we will see:

  • Cloud technologies and better enterprise application security enable bring-your-own-device and with it the greater fragmentation of organisational information.
  • Greater transparency of organisational work through social media leaks (i.e. people advertising their work and mistakes on the internet)
  • The decomposition of many more business processes into micro-tasks (much of which can be outsourced or contracted out).
  • The improvement of distributed working practices enabled by better collaboration tools, devices and connectivity.
  • Increased pace of business through improved self-governance and, in turn, empowered by better oversight (from GRC and finance software to more pervasive CRM implementations).
  • Shorter time-to-market cycles driven by improved idea generation and organisational creativity (so called – ‘ideation’).

So, is Enterprise 2.0 the social enterprise?  Are the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 merely social?  Simply a more hectic work schedule enabled by greater ease of using mobile devices and tighter communities of practice?

McKinsey Social Enterprise

A 2010 survey by McKinsey & Company found that most executives do believe that this is the sum total of Enterprise 2.0 benefits.  Most simply believe that (i) knowledge flow and management will improve.  Many believe that (ii)  their marketing channels will be greatly improved whilst only a few believe that (iii)  revenue or margins will increase in the networked enterprise.

If this is the dawn of the new enterprise then why do so many large businesses find it difficult even to implement Microsoft SharePoint?

The most likely truth is that this is not the dawn of Enterprise 2.0.  We are probably not on the cusp of a grand new age of information work.  Our businesses are unlikely to change significantly, although the hype will be re-sold by IT vendors for some time. One only has to hearken back to the ’80’s to remember to cries of the ‘paperless office’ to realise the low probability of Enterprise 2.0 materialising.

Whether it will be Enterprise 2.0 is debatable but we are entering the age of  The Social Entreprise.  It has ushered in a new age of commercial culture but it will unlikely herald a paradigm shift in commercial structures.  The truth is that human networks and communities operate in parallel to corporate reality.  Networks are how humans interact  – they are not how humans are paid.  Ask anyone who has ever been through or performed a cost reduction exercise.  In short, emerging social software platforms (ESSPs) are fun and sexy but the do not currently affect operations in most businesses.  Emerging social software platforms will make a difference internally when they affect cost structures and not just when they show up in sales figures.  This means that ESSPs need to be able to track and apportion innovation; they need to actively manage workflow (not just passive engines); they need to engage dynamically in governance and highlight good corporate participation and collaboration.   Only once these elements are incorporated into scales of remuneration and talent sourcing will both the enterprise and the workers benefit.

Maybe then we can move to Enterprise 3.0.