Handling unstructured/conversational data
Where formal processes don’t reach
A lot of attention has been paid to handling formal process/work-flow data. It is usually easy to retrieve data form these systems as well as business intelligence data gathered from corporate ERP/SCM systems. However business intelligence is more than these structural data retrievals, a big part of the intelligence lies in the unstructured on-the-fly conversational data, handling exceptions or areas where formal processes don’t reach. These should be an important part of the Enterprise Information Management strategy. Emails, documents, DMS, files and file servers are usually the habitat for these type of data.
Another immediate sense-making aspect is dealing with exceptions to processes. Email is our survival tool to not only improvise, but to plain and simply do work. Same goes with MS Word and Excel…then put them together as email and attachments.
James Dellow pins this down:
“Like cockroaches, spreadsheets have continued to thrive despite the growing (perceived) sophistication of modern enterprise information system. They record data, drive barely repeatable processes, they are spread around by email systems and people use them to address problems that other systems fail to solve.”
The unsensible use of emails:
A lot has been said about the unconscious/unsensible use of email as an information bearer/keeper. We all agree that email was not made for and therefore is not a good information bearer/keeper. Still, habitually we continue to use it for that and suffer the consequences. How can we turn the NOT sense-making use of email as an IM handler to a sense-making one? It is not easy to take people away from using emails, and perhaps that’s not even desirable. However we need to provide a better IM handler for them. It need to be “in-the-flow” like email. In fact, it need to be the email or feels like the email, or make people believe that they are in an email system.
Email still holds its merit as a notifier or as a conversational tool for restricted one-to-one interactions. But for a lot of issue raising/tracking use, we need to guide the data into a different system than a plain email system. In this case we can expect everybody to be more conscious about how and where they deposit their intelligence/information items.
Is it possible to turn the email metaphor of:
“I have a message I need to send or discuss with certain people. I write an email and address it to the people I know about it may concern”
“I have (the start of) an issue here that need to be enlightened/expanded upon by more people than myself. I know about certain people that may have viable input here, but there may also be others I don’t know about that can give valuable input. Nevertheless this thread need to be gathered/developed in one place, and we (me and unknown others) may need to find/refer to this thread of intelligence at a later stage .”
- The intelligence need to be developed/expanded upon by certain persons, but also unknown others may have valuable input to give.
- The information need to land/reside in one place with a unique reference that contains the (only) current/updated state of intelligence (and history of development)
- The gathered intelligence to be “public” or accessible by anybody that need it. The policy: “Open if not restricted”. Restricted data resides in restricted spaces.
The sensible solution:
This is the domain/purpose of the E2.0 system that finally will allow us to handle conversational, issue development, emergent data in a sensible way. It will not reside in an email, it will not reside in a document. This kind og intelligence/information will develop/emerge using wiki style E2.0 collaboration tools and it will reside as Hypertext/Hypermedia (Internet/www type data). Email will be integrated as a notifier and can serve as an input giver. However all data/development will land and appear in one common store with one unique identifier/link.
Here’s an example of how this can work in real life:
Expert or “the one” focus