Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Data Science | Entrepreneurship | ..and sometimes Photography

Tag: Web 2.0 (page 1 of 2)

Mining for Knowledge

Mining for KnowledgeIn my doctoral research, I’ve been researching ways to improve knowledge capture and sharing methods, specifically within project teams but the ideas can be dissemenated around the organization.

One of the biggest issues I’ve found while working as a consultant is the amount of knowledge that I walk away with after a project is complete.  Sure, I try to share this knowledge in every way possible but converting tacit (i.e., internal) knowledge to explicit (i.e., external) knowledge is one of the most difficult things to do.

Let’s assume though, that some portion of the knowledge that I hold in my head is converted into some form of writing at various periods throughout a consulting project.  Where does that explicit knowledge live?  In an email?  In some document stored on a server?  In a knowledge repository somewhere?

In the past, this problem has been attacked using centralized knowledge repository platforms.  These systems require users to log in and ‘enter’ their knowledge into the system.  Many of these platforms have been well built and some have been successfully used in organizations, but the success stories are far outweighed by the stories of KM repositories sitting idle and unused.

So…how can we get that tidbit of knowledge from my brain into some form of knowledge repository without me logging in and ‘entering’ it into the system?

Web 2.0 as knowledge repository

The use of Web 2.0 tools (blogs, IM, wikis, etc) has become ubiquitous..  If incorporated into a project environment, these tools might allow an easy and efficient method for capturing and sharing knowledge throughout project teams and project organizations.

The key to retrieving knowledge from tools is to make the user experience as seamless as possible. For example, an employee creates a blog on an organization’s intranet and then uses this blog to write different topics, some that pertain to her project and some that don’t.

Perhaps this employee is participating in two projects within the organization and she writes about topics that might be of interest to a portion of the organization and project team members.  While she writes about interesting topics and at times, writes about her experiences on the projects that she’s worked on, perhaps her blog posts aren’t widely read.  This employee has attempted to convert a portion of her tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge but few people on the project team or within the organization find this knowledge because its tucked away in the intranet site (which is rarely used anyway).

In the above scenario, knowledge was converted from tacit to explicit but few people are able to absorb this knowledge and make it their own (i.e., perform the conversion from explicit to tacit knowledge).  What would happen if this knowledge were indexed, searched and shared with the rest of the project team in something akin to a project knowledge ‘journal’?

Since Web 2.0 platforms are ubiqutious, why can’t we use these tools as our knowledge repository?  Employees and project team members are already using them…so can we find a way to ‘mine’ these platforms for knowledge?

Could a system be built that ‘mines’ these web 2.0 platforms along with other unstructured data (documents, email, etc) to ‘build’ a knowledge repository available to the entire organization?

Mining for Knowledge

I’m currently looking at ways to use text mining methods and techniques to mine for knowledge. Text mining looks to be a good approach to solving this problem because it allows for knowledge to be gathered without additional work by project team members.

There are other approaches that could be used for gathering knowledge from project team members, but all require additional work to input information.  For example, a project team using a manual approach could ask team members to regularly update their blog and to ‘tag’ their posts with a special project tag or keyword so that a non-intelligent aggregation system (RSS, etc) could simply pull these tagged posts into a central repository.  While this is a good approach, it relies on the end-user to tag their content correctly, accurately and in a timely manner.  Tagging, and other categorization and taxonomic approaches, require the user to do something to allow their knowledge contribution to be categorized, indexed and found by aggregation systems and other users.

Using text-mining methods against pre-existing tools and platforms takes away the human fallibility issues found in current knowledge management repository platforms or by requiring a user to ‘tag’ a piece of content correctly as described above.

Using text-mining and other data mining approaches, I’m looking at ways to build semi-autonomous systems to index and organize both structured data and unstructured data pulled from blogs, email, IM, social networks, documents, spreadsheets and any other location / data sources. This system could aggregate knowledge found via text mining and social network analysis and build a project knowledge ‘repository’ that will contain all knowledge for any specific project. This repository will be searchable and will contain both manually curated content (e.g., content uploaded by project team members) and automatically curated / generated content based on text-mining and indexing techniques.

There are some major privacy issues here of course. How can you mine a users email and find the relevant knowledge without truly invading their privacy?  Not sure you can but I’m looking at it.

Trust & Mined Knowledge

One key element of this new inter-connected world that we live in is trust.   How can I trust that the information I read on a web page is worthwhile, honest and accurate?   If I want to know something about organizational behavior do I read go read a Wikipedia article on the subject or do I go look through the Harvard Business School’s Organizational Behavior faculty pages and find publications written by the faculty there?

Which of these two sources of knowledge would you trust to be more accurate?

The same can be said of knowledge captured and shared within an organization. How do you know that the white paper on your new API is true?  Is it because it was released? Is it because of the author(s) of the paper?   What if you had a knowledge-base generated by an autonomous agent using text-mining techniques…how would you know to trust the information contained in it?  Who wrote the content?  Were did it come from?

This is where trust comes into play. If you could ‘see’ the qualifications of the author or authors of the knowledge base articles would you trust the content more?  If I knew that the worlds leading authority on organizational behavior wrote the Wikipedia article on the subject, I’d tend to trust that article more.

This is another aspect of my research…building trust into the mined knowledge using social network analysis (SNA) methods & techniques.  Using SNA techniques, can the background, profiles, connections and knowledge of the users within an organization be automatically (or semi-automatically) generated to provide some form for initial trust metric to show that mined knowledge can be trusted?

I don’t know if it can…but I’m looking into it 🙂

Next Steps?

So what are the next steps for me and this research?

I’m working on a research paper now that I hope will outline the research in more detail.

Lots of questions still exist and there is quite a bit of research left to do.  I do believe I’m headed in the right direction as evidenced by an HBR video & Blog tilted How Knowledge Management Is Moving Away From the Repository as Goal which discusses a similar topic.

Look for more on this topic from me in the coming months.

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Book Review: Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0

Andrew McAfee's Enterprise 2.0Just finished reading Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges

My review in two words: Excellent book!

Whether you are an expert in the Enterprise 2.0 world or just a beginner, this book has something for you. Whether you believe in Enterprise 2.0 or not, this book has some excellent concepts that can be used to help bring social tools into the enterprise.

The book is split into two parts with the Part 1 covering the tools of Enterprise 2.0 and Part 2 discussing how to successfully utilize social tools within the enterprise.

Part 1 provides a very good overview of the tools and techniques of Enterprise 2.0 as well as some real-world case studies of companies that have implemented Web 2.0 platforms.  These companies are extremely diverse running the gamut from government agencies to start-ups and the information provided by McAfee shows real-world usage of Web 2.0 within enterprises.

Part 2 is where the really good stuff happens.  This is where McAfee shines.  This is the stuff that every CEO, COO, CIO and CMO should read and digest.   This is the place where you get to see some strategies for using social tools within the enterprise.    When you read this book make, sure you pay attention to the Six Organizational Strategies starting on page 179.  Good stuff.

Will this book give you the recipe for successful use of Enterprise 2.0?  No.  Will this book make your Enterprise 2.0 project(s) successful?  Maybe. Maybe not. What this book will do is give you some ideas on how to introduce Enterprise 2.0 into your organization and give you some tips on make it successful.

So…let’s take a step away from the book for a minute and look at the topic itself.  Enterprise 2.0.  Great name but one that has been much maligned.  The topic has caused a lot of debate since being introduced.  For some examples, go read Dennis Howlett‘s article titled “Enterprise 2.0 – the non-debate” and then read Mark Fidelman’s response on CloudAve titled “Enterprise 2.0 Caffeine: Let’s debunk the non-debate” to get some flavor of the various debate’s happening out there on the topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of Enterprise 2.0 in the comments.

With all of this debate, or non-debates as some would say,  let’s look at McAfee’s definition of Enterprise 2.0:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms by organizations in pursuit of their goals.

McAfee continues with his definition when he writes:

Enterprise 2.0, then, is about how organizations use the newly available ESSP’s [emergent social software platforms] to do their work better

With those definitions in mind, let’s revisit one of the main arguments against Enterprise 2.0 –> The value of Social Media / Enterprise 2.0 cannot be determined.  In fact, there are many (Howlett included) that say social media tools are worthless to the organization.

My response to this argument is a simple one:

How valuable is the knowledge of an employee?  How valuable is the knowledge of 10, 100 or 1000 employees? Can you place value on that knowledge?  Maybe.  Maybe not. That doesn’t mean that trying to harness that knowledge is worthless.  So why would using tools to harness that knowledge be worthless?

I can understand some of the arguments of folks out there against Enterprise 2.0.  There are a lot of buzzwords floating about and a lot of hype around the subject, but if you take the lessons from this book to heart, you’ll do more than buy into the hype…you’ll give your organization an opportunity to succeed by really harnessing the expertise, experiences and value of your organizational knowledge.

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Links for Aug 23, 2009

How to SWOT away Strategic Planning by Steve Neiderhauser

The Role of the CTO: Four Models for Success by Bob Gourley on CTOvision.com

A Tendency to Blame and an Inability to Confront by Charles H. Green on Trust Matters blog

Enterprise 2.0 Does Not Necessarily Mean Power To The People by G. Oliver Young on Strategic Heading

Communications Nimbleness – Kaleidescope Management by Lisa Haneberg on Management Craft

Authenticity: You Has It by Chris Guillebeau on The Art of Nonconformity

What if no one tells you that you’re wrong? by Christopher S. Penn on Christopher S. Penn’s Awaken Your Superhero

Shared Systems View: Bootstrapping Adaptive Capacity In Your Project by Bas de Baar on Project Shrink

IT, the CIO, and the business need for “roof projects” by Peter Kretzman on CTO/CIO perspectives

Fish Where the Fish Are by Tim Walker on Hoover’s Business Insight Zone

Cowardly Lion: Being Chief Means Facing Your Fears by Arun Manansingh on A CIO’s Voice

Surprise – Disrespecting Competitors Doesn’t Work! by Danny Brown

Four Tips for Building Accountability by Rosabeth Moss Kanter on HarvardBusiness.org

Blame the Road – Not the Person by John Hunter on Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

5 Strategies that Won’t Fix Your Dysfunctional Team by Cheri Baker on The Enlightened Manager

Measurement, competition and the right person for the job by Mark Riffey on Business is Personal

The Bridge Between “Evolve” or “Die” by Amber Naslund on Altitude Branding

When Enterprise 2.0 Intranet Strategies Collide by Mark Fidelman on CloudAve

What’s So Scary About Marketing Strategy? by John Jantsch on Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

The Cloudy Future of Corporate IT by Andrew McAfee

What is participation in a Web 2.0 world? by Matthew Hodgson on The AppGap

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Links for June 21 2009

Lots of great stuff out there this past week…can’t share it all but will share some.  If you want to track all my shared stories from my google reader Shared Items feed.

It’s Simple, Fix the Problem by Valeria Maltoni on Conversation Agent

Become a More Creative Leader — Think Small by Stew Friedman on HarvardBusiness.org

Systems Thinking: A Technique To Find Project Problems by Bas de Baar on Project Shrink

Service Outages — It’s All About the Response by Scott Blitstein on WebWorkerDaily

Reminder: Know what you’re measuring by Jason on Signal vs. Noise

Hitting The Social Media Sweet Spot by John Jantsch on Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

Creating Community Through Relevant Local Information by Christine Whittemore on Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Conformity Makes Community Comfortable by Micah Baldwin on Learn to Duck

“Technology over Tyranny” managing in a flat world by Mark McDonald on Gartner’s Blog Network

The 10 Questions Every Change Agent Must Answer by Bill Taylor on HarvardBusiness.org

The Future of Customer Service by Frank Eliason on Time to be Frank

Web 2.0 and IT: A Finally Friday CCrit by Steve on No Secret

Are You Keeping It Simple? by Danny Brown

Enterprise IT is not a Science Experiment by Glen B. Alleman on Herding Cats

The Benefits of a Classical Education by Tim O’Reilly on O’Reilly Radar

The New, the Big, and the Now by Julien Smith on in over your head

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Most Commented Articles for 2008

I recently installed IntenseDebate on my blog and started playing around with the tools available to me.  I noticed that I can easily stats of posts and comments…something I hadn’t really looked at before.

What are my most commented posts from 2008?  See below.

In addition to the top commented posts, I can now see my average ‘comments per post’…which is a measly 0.89 comments per post.   This is a bit strange since I’ve got 655 comments on 314 Posts…which should be 2.09 comments per post.

After reviewing some of the data, I noticed that IntenseDebates’s numbers are for comments only and not trackbacks (which makes sense).  With that knowledge, I guess I’m getting 0.89 comments per post and 1.2 trackbacks per post.

Its amazing that a rant I posted about Blu Domain’s horrible customer service is my number one commented post.

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Mike Schaffner on Web 2.0 & IT

Mike has a great post (that also mentions me…shameless plug?) titled Selling Web 2.0 to IT (also on Forbes here) that expands on a previous post of mine and conversation that Mike & I had.

As always, Mike has some great insight…..and really simplified the issue when he writes:

At its heart, Web 2.0 requires a new way of thinking about the inherent technology and also the respective roles of IT and the user community. It is a change. As we all know, change can be difficult and has to be managed.

Amen.

Did I say Amen? 🙂

Web 2.0 (and the future…Web 3.0?) requires a shift in thinking.  No longer can IT hide behind the business as usual mentality…we’ve got to change our thought processes and embrace our users’ needs.

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