Sentimental Minions

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Archive for March, 2007

Switchfoot

Posted by Avadhut on 29 March 2007

And finally, everythings paid off—the off-Saturday I worked on, endless hours spent in reading everything about social networking, several accounts opened on all types of social networking sites to see what they are all about. Everything.

 On Monday, I made the final presentation on my collaborative knowledge management system to my CEO, CIO, and Web team head. It seemed that all they needed was a little push, and I was more than willing to be the one to provide it.

The icing on the cake is that I will working on this project alone; for two whole months that too, which means I can reignite my old romance with PHP for a third time (the last time I abandoned it was more than 2 years ago, after my EXL project). A truly Web-enabled language, PHP’s association with MySQL and Apache is almost legendary. Heck, WordPress itself is powered by PHP and MySQL, and so is Drupal! I could’nt be more excited.

Posted in Office | 3 Comments »

Knowledge management

Posted by Avadhut on 25 March 2007

Its been a difficult week. Hectic. Conveying the benefits of a social collaborative/knowledge management tool to CEOs and CIOs is a difficult task, especially when you weren’t even hired as a IT guy. A 16-page proposal and 15-slide presentation later, I am still waiting for an answer.

Our current Intranet is like any other corporate Intranet—blogs, forums, company policies, FAQs, ISO information, wikis, the works. Yet, considering the number of people who actually “use” it, it can be positively considered a failure. Infact, the Web/IT team went as far as to setting the Intranet page as the home page on our browsers just to have us visit it.

What then drives people to successfully adopt an Intranet tool?

The successfull adoption of an Intranet tool depends less on the characteristics of the tool itself and more on the motivation people have to use it, which is ofcourse helped by a heavy dose of ease-of-use. Someone proposed that if we had employees participate in the Intranet itself, it could help adoption. So they put up blogs and forums. Did these blogs/forums really have a purpose or were they deployed just to keep us occupied, entertained? In my opinion, if the Intranet isn’t tied to a business goal, the organisation could end up with an expensive system that takes up server space but has no real purpose or returns. Most of the existing implementations are technology solutions and curtail the need for subjective interpretation of information and try to minimise criticism and conflicts in order to achieve conformance and compliance. Here, one needs to understand that what needs to be done with data and information and knowledge is best decided by the individual or group that is using the data. As a result subjective interpretation of data is a must.

Ours is an intensely knowledge-based firm.  Given the amount of expertise each person brings in, it was surprising to know that we were doing nothing to capture tacit information—we were losing crucial knowledge without even knowing it. Our Intranet would have to be a knowledge intiative, a social collaborative tool facilitating something—not just storing information but making sure that it is actually useful.  What should a social collaborative system achieve then?

  • Capturing tacit information
  • Connecting experts
  • Realizing reach and discoverability of people, processes, and projects.

The Intranet would not be powered by technology but people.

With all the hype surrounding “knowledge management,” its surprising to see so little being done about it by Indian companies. Infact a thorough research of Indian knowledge companies in conjuction with knowledge management revealed disturbing facts. Not only were there very few adopters, but most of them were involved in what they wrongly believed to be knowledge management—false positives.

However, one of the companies with an impressive array of innovative KM solutions is Satyam. Satyam’s KM is known as K-Window comprising a problem broadcasting and response system (K-Radio), a knowledge sharing forum (Pathshala), and a mobile interface to K-Window for associates on the move (K-Mobile). But what grabbed my attention was “Communities of Excellence” (CoE)—groups of people with specific domain area expertise to whom questions can be directed through K-Radio. These, I found were quite similar to my proposal of “equal communities.” You see, our organization has employees from varied backgrounds—experts in linguisitics, computer science, Phds in physical sciences, geologists, engineers, doctors, etc. Yet, they do little to apply thier domain skills expect in thier day-to-day activities. Thier representation in our organization’s knowledge base is negligible if not non-existent. There is so much that they can contribute, if only they were made aware of what the problems are. An Intranet should establish equal communities—HR, core associates, IT, Web, admin, etc. If anyone faces a problem, he/she should post it on the broadcasting service. These problems will then be e-mailed to the respective community members. They can respond by either replying to the e-mail or by entering the solution on the intranet site itself. Moreover, no matter how this communication takes place—e-mail or through the intranet itself—it will all be stored in a documented manner on the intranet. If tomorrow, someone faces a similar problem, he/she can either post a new query or search through previous solutions to see if they match his/her requirements. Question: Why go through all this when a person can simply ask another person to help him/her out. Answer: The proposed process give you not one but several solutions from different perspectives; it documents these solutions so that when tomo, the solution provider leaves the company, the solution itself is not lost; and repeated instances of the same problem don’t need repeated discussions as anyone can simply pull up the solution from the Intranet.

With regard to my difficulty in conveying the benefits of such a knowledge management/social networking tool as an Intranet, Krishna Koneru, Satyam’s KI intiative’s vice president says

Measuring knowledge is a tricky affair and attaching a ‘monetary’ value is subject to endless debate. Measure an employee’s contribution by assessing how frequently his/her document gets referred to and who uses the document.

and

There is no clear way of measuring return on investment (ROI) for knowledge management. KM investments, like investments in people and training, are long-term investments for a company.

Bang on! Now why didn’t I come across that quote before sending in that presentation.

P.S: Koneru’s quotes were from Satyam’s KM page.

Posted in Office, Social media | 16 Comments »

Imaginary Conversation – II

Posted by Avadhut on 21 March 2007

She: I bought another pair of shoes yesterday! Clogs.

He: I bought another USB drive yesterday. 2 gigs. What do you do with so many shoes anyway?

She: I assign weights to each pair and decide which pair to wear each day such that the distribution of their weights is a Gaussian with a mean of 2.5 and variance that is 3.75 times the rate at which my brain cells multiplied in the previous month. What do you do with all those USB drives anyway?

He: I just use them to store all the data I have so that I don’t need to delete anything. Ever!

She: That’s just pathetic! You could not even come up with a pseudo-random process? And everyone thinks you are the eccentric genius and I am Jessica Simpson. It’s all about your ‘little Einstien’ look, isnt’ it?

He: Of course! My friend, image is everything.

Though I know some day,
She is bound to go away,
And stay over the rainbow.
Gotta learn how to let her go, over the rainbow.

Posted in Foo | 4 Comments »

Imaginary conversation – I

Posted by Avadhut on 12 March 2007

 

They sat at the booth—leather clad couches, dark wood paneling, and soft jazz music floating in the air.

 

She: (offering her most exquisite profilesucked in cheeks, puckered lips, just gently holding the cigarette in its place) aren’t you going to light it? (it wasn’t a question nor a demand, somewhere between the two and beyond them both at the same time)

He: (obviously fumbling, lights the cigarette)

The thing about goddesses is that they can easily kill decent living mortals with even their most banal gestures.

she must be swift and white

And subtly warm, and half perverse

And sweet like sharp soft fruit to bite

And like a snake’s love lithe and fierce

Posted in Foo | 4 Comments »

Foo (1)

Posted by Avadhut on 12 March 2007

When I was in school once, I told my aunt that I did not want to eat food as I was tired.

She yelled at me.

I ate.

Remembered for no reason.

Posted in Foo | 11 Comments »

Tags, memes, and wet chickens

Posted by Avadhut on 8 March 2007

Posted in Office, Social media | 7 Comments »