Same old problems.

I remember back in the late 1990s I worked on a project for GE to deploy Microsoft Exchange. GE at the time made a corporate decision to deploy a single messaging platform throughout the globe to overcome what they saw as a business communication problem. They used the analogy of a representative from GE Plastics walking past the representative from GE Lighting in the corridors of General Motors or Chrysler not knowing that they were both working for the same company with the same client and not being able to share any information. They believed that working together Plastics and Lighting could benefit the customer as well as GE. The case was compelling and the sponsorship of a single messaging platform came from the top, it had Jack Welch’s buy-in!

Reading Andrew McAfee’s post today I was reminded of this age and it occurred to me that we are still trying to solve this problem but this time the technology is Enterprise 2.0 and the use of Wikis and Blogs in a bid to reduce the use of email.

His students responses, in my view, are right on the button and his dissection of the responses make perfect sense. They mention cases where Wikis and Blogs can improve the collaboration between diverse businesses and teams within many different organisations, they highlight how collaboration and knowledge sharing can improve business processes, but I still can’t help thinking that whilst technology is evolving and we have new problems to solve, we’ve not fixed the problems that existed all those years ago.

Looking at it from another point of view, maybe we are solving the problem, but in stages. Email was the first step, but we are far from finished.

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One Response to “Same old problems.”

  1. Norman Sawers Says:

    Of course, the problems you sought to solve at GE still exist today…. and it’s not just a case of an information explosion but also an explosion of information sources and types.

    The challenge is to bring convergence to otherwise divergent sources and types of information – IM, email, vMail, CMS, wikis, blogs, etc.

    The trick is now less to do with handlng vast quantitities of information – it’s about understanding a user’s intentions when asking a question and quickly delivering the most relevant content.

    Dramatic improvements in collaboration will come from matching “intent” to “content” (however diverse). This approach will improve the bottom line performance of individuals, teams and businesses.


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