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Technology Adoption Vs. Information Management

One of the things I’ve realized over the years, popular technology adoption does not equate to business productivity. It may actually be the reverse; when a technology becomes all the rage and takes on fad-like status, it rapidly gets out of control resulting in all manner of side effects.

SharePoint is one such example. Being touted as the application backlog silver bullet: “End-Users can build their own collaboration applications themselves leaving I.T to work infrastructure an enterprise applications. I think I heard this story before with MS Access and Excel. Now CIOs and Business Executives are left with thousands of unmanaged applications with critical corporate information distributed on workstations and laptops across the enterprise.

This is not a critique of MSOffice or SharePoint far from it, it’s more of a condemnation of how adoption is managed or rather mismanaged in organizations. Despite all the talk of governance and adoption maturity levels most of these are applied to the installation of the technology not its productive use. I watch as technologist, I.T consultants, and sales representatives promote technology virtues with all sorts of hyperbole in amazement knowing that an organization is lucky to get one fifth of those benefits. Not because the technology can’t deliver, but rather the organization can’t incorporate usage best practices as well as installation best practices.

A simple proof point how many MS Access and Excel spreadsheets are used in your organization to manage core work? How many are managed as a critical asset? How much of the information is duplicated in some form or version of the truth? And now you’re going to enable end users to do the same in SharePoint by creating their own sites?

This is not a call to ban end-user site generation, more so a suggestion that education and training on information management for information workers (i.e., most of us now) is becoming a critical need more so than simple computer literacy. Either we learn how to manage our information better or we’ll drown in a information glut of our own making. Consider joining organizations such as AIIM and DAMA are providing some thought leadership in this area.

www.satory.com –where I hang my Architect and Futurist hat most of the time

Twitter: @bseitz

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Just shared this in our knowledge management group, Brian. Largely asked them: what’s the best way to go about educating folks?

Dennis McDonald

One problem is that effective adoption of any technology requires management and resources.

Project management practices for IT projects don’t necessarily translate perfectly when the mix of activities, change, and learning required by technology adoption are distributed throughout the organization and require careful balancing of competing interests. Technology adoption requires much more collaboration than technology development. Regarding Andrew’s question, in today’s environment I think it makes much more sense to use modern collaboration and networking technologies as a vehicle where users can share information and seek support not only from traditional IT or support groups but also from each other. The days are long gone when “top down” software application changes could be mandated especially when what was automated was repetitive clerical processes. As Brian points out tools like SharerPoint address (or rather, can address) a wider set of information sharing and collaboration functions that are new to most folks for whom email is their primary collaboration tool. In summary, I think that adoption of technologies such as SharePoint requite changes go how we view change management, training, and user support, especially now that employees are so quick to adopt commonly available social media and networking tools.

Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D.

Alexandria, Virginia

Website: http://www.ddmcd.com

Twitter: @ddmcd



Brian K Seitz

Best link to use is http://www.aiim.org/About

•AIIM provides market research and information that:

Empower end-users to make smarter information management decisions.

Help vendors, consultants and solution providers reduce the amount of uncertainty involved in developing, marketing and selling their products and services.

•AIIM provides educational services that:

Help users, project managers, and business executives become more savvy information managers, strategists and technology buyers.

Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of sales and marketing executives from solution provider companies.

•AIIM creates networking opportunities and communities that:

Allow users, vendors, consultants, and solution providers to connect with each other in a vendor-neutral and non-profit setting.

Provide a means for the industry to communicate the value of effective information management and its impact on organizational effectiveness.

James E. Evans, MISM, CSM

Personally, I think the big problem is lack of ongoing training. We use Sharepoint here. But, the staff do not know how to manage Sharepoint. The ones with knowledge are either;

  1. Not Sharing it
  2. Retired or in Retirement mode
  3. Repositories were not developed to extract/retain knowledge for future use

If there were a better handle on knowledge management, Sharepoint (and others like it) would scale better. We dont need to change the technology. We need to change the knowledge management processes.

Dennis McDonald

James, one thing I’ve heard repeatedly about SharePoint applications is that they don’t manage themselves. Content needs to be curated, update, and organized. That takes time and specific skills. That’s not a criticism of SharePoint but a realization of what Brian says in his original post — people need a better understanding of how to manage knowledge management and collaboration tools.

Susan Thomas

We use SharePoint throughout my agency. My team uses to manage the production of our IG’s semiannual report to Congress. It has been a very important tool for us in this and other endeavors.

James E. Evans, MISM, CSM

@Dennis McDonald

Agreed. It’s just amazing that organization will invest so much money in the technology. But, will not develop processes around the technology. It’s really doesn’t cure itself.

Delia MacNamara

I completely agree with you. I am currently completing some research re: the adoption of technology here in the UK. Initial findings that are emerging is that there is no clear strategy when new technology is implemented, it is not clearly communicated and no one is educated on information management. There seems to be an assumption that if one is computer literate one will also be information/software (in the case of web 2.0 technologies) savvy as well. The culture of online collaboration is also not present. Although you can train people, they don’t necessarily adopt due to their own personal work ethics/paradigms until it becomes the norm.

Susan Thomas

@Delia: I agree that technical savvy and information management are distinct. Training is always good but the real “training” comes from actual use of the software. Frankly, I like new technology but after the “bugs” are eliminated.