Information Management

In The Age of the Customer BPMS is not enough

Submitted by Mark McGregor on March 8, 2013 We live in “In the Age of the Customer” a time when he world’s leading companies look outward to emphasize a deep understanding of their customers, and what it takes to make their customers successful. They have come to realize that only when their customers are successful, will they be successful. As Sam Walton once said “The Customer is King – for they can fire everyone in the organisation from the CEO down – simply by spending their money somewhere else!” Switching our mind-set from one of internal focus to one of external focus is not easy; we know intuitively that an outside-in approach leads us to better decisions on how to serve our customers. But for the most part the monolithic IT systems upon which we mostly still rely are not best suited to supporting us during such a transition and can actually prevent us from serving our customers. The need to better serve customers is something that BPM and in particular BPMS have long been touted as the ideal technology. Well suited to assist such business transformations, however, in reality the majority of use cases for BPMS tools have been directed at the automation of more transactional work. We have concentrated on removing paper or reducing task times e.g. BPM has been used as a tool for efficiency and still very much internally focused. Truly successful businesses and leaders understand that the growth they seek and the market differentiation that sets them apart only comes when they switch their focus from efficiency and instead direct their people and efforts in the direction of effectiveness. The results are even better when that effectiveness is directed at better serving their customers. Consider the example of First United Bank and Trust, a company that found that the old ways of working were actually limited their ability to grow as a business. By first addressing efficiency issues and then moving on to effectiveness they were able to harness their people and resources better, deliver better service to their customers and as a result accelerate their corporate growth once more. In this short video, Bryan Wandel, Director of IT, First United Bank and Trust, shares how they made the change. This need for effectiveness requires that we once again rethink our IT systems and our approaches to developing them. Any business today, however large or small is going to be more dependent on technology today than ever before. Greater effectiveness requires us to find better ways to create flexible applications that are more able to deliver what we need, not just today, but tomorrow and the day after – for agility and responsiveness are just two of the hallmarks of an effective business. Much of the effectiveness we seek will come as result of a better harnessing of the skills and abilities and enabling greater collaboration between our own people, between us and our customers and even between us and our competitors. In this respect the jury is still out on whether pure BPMS is really the right technology to help us. It seems that perhaps there is a better way; Smart Process Apps an approach that provides us with the benefits of traditional package solutions, but with the greater flexibility afforded by BPMS based systems. At the same time Smart Process Apps reduce system implementation times, while supporting a more collaborative environment and providing ubiquitous access to systems. At first glance you might think that Smart Process Apps is just another marketing buzzword. If so consider that recent report by Forrester Research suggests that the market for Smart Process Apps will reach $27.6bn by 2015, while the BPM platform market will only grow to around $6.5bn. (To learn more about what Forrester have to say on Smart Process Apps click here for a free report) Based on these numbers it would seem that transitioning to Smart Process Apps offers a win-win for both vendors and their clients.

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Claims Compliance in the Cloud

PropertyCasualty360, an online news resource covering all aspects of theinsurance industry, recently published an article titled “Behind the Numbers,” in which it highlighted the growingavailability and advantages of cloud technologies like those offered by OpenTextEasyLink. Several IT executives are interviewed in the piece, including MarkBerthiaume, senior vice president and CIO of commercial insurance for Chubb Insurance. Chubbprovides both business and personal insurance, and relies on EasyLink FaxServices to streamline high-volume fax communications—without paper oron-site IT infrastructure. In the article, Berthiaume explains that the decision to move fax to thecloud was simple and pragmatic: “I don’ think we went out to the market saying ‘we want cloud.’ We wanted thebest way to get something up quickly. We realized early on that cloud solutionscould really be implemented without IT.” Throughout the article, Berthiaume and others cite a number of reasons theychose to move claims and other insurance processes into the cloud. Mostnotably: Swift implementation: Chubb had EasyLink up and running in 90days Minimal IT burden: No extra software, hardware, or staff Flexible, easy-to-use configuration: Chubb business and IT leadersworked together to optimize their EasyLink solution Scalability: The EasyLink network is unfazed by traffic spikes, andcustomers only pay for what they use Security: EasyLink supports regulatory compliance including Sarbanes-Oxley by tracking alltransactions Integrations: EasyLink integrates with key business applicationsincluding email In short, Berthiaume and the other IT leaders interviewed in the articleevoke a common refrain for EasyLink cloud customers with strict data securityrequirements: “When it comes to complex communications infrastructures, why notleave it to the experts?” To learn more about EasyLink Cloud Services, clickhere. To learn about EasyLink solutions for the insurance industry, click here.

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The Value of Information

There is a lot written about Value of Information andthe conclusion of almost everyone is that you need information beforeyou make your decision for it to be of any use. Can we act quickly basedon historical information? What happens with the information thatcompanies have gathered on their customers? Is it easy to access theinformation? Do companies use the information to build profiles and thenconnect with them in a more efficient, personal way, either directly orthrough an intermediary? Mostcompanies still have an “Archive all” policy where all recordsbeingarchived. And whether that is in cabinets or electronically, itisstored in an archive to be there for any given period, exposing a compliancy risk when being audited not to mention the cost of storage. Companies that want to reduce that risk and especially enterprise businesses that create billions of records may have applied Records Management in their Enterprise Content Management system and offload records that would no longer be needed for compliance purposes through a defined set of rules. Very internal driven to reduce risk and cost which is very good, I am sure we all agree. However, as said in general most of the records are stored in (several) legacy archive systems, either on-premises, off-premises or nowadays in the cloud. Records that contain information. Information that can be of much value when it is used in a proper way. Today EnterpriseContent Management technologies allow organizations to take fulladvantage of enterprise information and gain better business insight,create a positive business impact, increase process velocity, reducerisks related to information governance, and protect intellectualproperty from internal leaks and external threats. But it takes a goodstrategy to really take advantage of valuable (historical) information. I amsure that it must be difficult for organizations to take advantage ofall that unstructured data. The volume of unstructured data is huge andjust growing and growing anyway. But can we somehow start using theinformation we archive and unleash that information? Information that isstored in many different repositories or business applications where itis hard to access and use the information. For internal purposes, yesof course but a customer should also to be able to access informationthat concerns them, old or new information, on any device they preferand update information where needed and/or required. Then businessesshould use the information to target their customers in a moreeffective, personal way, through all communication channels, also whenusing social media. All the valuable historical information must givethem the possibility to build a profile of their customers, right? Yet,I still see another challenge for CIO’s and business managers to findthe right balance in unleashing the information in a secure environmentand on every required device. How much information can be shared andused? Allowing business operations departments using information tobuild profiles to target and communicate with customers on a morepersonal way and still remain compliant with regulations that have beenput in place over the years and those to follow. Not to mention theirchallenge in finding one vendor that can offer solutions in all areasbecause that would be ideal. OpenText customer DDR Corp. DDR Real Estate Investment Trust,is one of those companies where their internal business can alreadyview the history of previous lease contracts. They applied severalOpenText solutions and continue to look for new ways of developing Mobilizing Enterprise Content,like using the Content Server for property managers, depositing moreinformation in their Content Server and exposing it via web access.Another OpenText customer Blokker plans to store a profile of each shopkeeper and wholesale customer inthe OpenText system using it to preferences on how they want to receiveinformation. Are these companies done? I don’t think so but they see thevalue of information. The challenge is on;finding the perfect balance in reducing legal risk and IT cost tounleashing valuable information and do more business while remainingcompliant. Yes, there is a lot to consider and a long way to go but onething I am sure about is that once an organization forms an informationgovernance strategy that includes using valuable information it can overtime gain better business insight, take the right decisions andcapitalize on opportunities to positively impact the business. I mean,all that historical information and new information that is created on adaily basis gives companies the perfect opportunity to build customerprofiles based on the most important pieces of information. Thenconstantly refresh those profiles based on new information. And why notmake information available to the customer in an environment thatremains compliant and managed so they can update and influence theirprofile? Don’t you think it will get companies closer to the customersand vice versa? Don’t wait, start using the valueable information andmake it part of your information governance strategy.

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Information does matter

In recent years there have been manyhorror stories about the mismanagement of information, whether itpertains to personal, private or public data in the form of lostlaptops, discs, files and briefcases etc. How should information bemanaged? Could anything have been done to avoid the loss or minimise therisk of human error? Is there an easy answer? The HM Government released a whitepaper entitled“Information Matters: Building Governments Capability in ManagingKnowledge and Information” this highlights an extension of‘Transformational Government into data, information and knowledgemanagement where there is a need for best practice policy supported bytechnology’. Ithas been said before that this is the century or age of information.More information is being created every day, this in turn means thatmore information is being stored every day too. Businesses, Services,Governments and other Organisations all need this ‘lifeblood’ ofinformation to be accessible, useable, safe and accountable. Thegovernment is committed to addressing specific aspects of informationmanagement and information security (BS10012 and BS27001). This is allvery well, but having just information management on its own is notenough. Good information management needs to be aligned with goodknowledge management. Well, what use is information if it is not usedcorrectly? If you go to an ATM to withdraw money, you expect that thebank has used the information about you correctly, to ensure that youget your money from the correct account when you need it. But what ifthis information was not managed properly and you were abroad andneeding to access your funds and were unable to? This is a simplescenario but think about how information is used when you renew your cartax online, at passport control or to ensure you have the correct taxcode etc. It is not just about having the information but using iteffectively. Recently Knowledge Management and Information Managementhave been formally recognised as functions of government, in the sameway that finance, IT and communications are. With more and moreinformation being created, how long should you keep certain pieces ofinformation before it loses its usefulness or becomes dangerous? Whodecides what parameters are set for this? How does this impact on dataprotection laws? These are just a few of the many important questionsraised. Each organisation will have differing requirements on thismatter. There are guidelines online for organisations which help them tomeet the necessary regulations required by law, but you still need tomanage this effectively. So what do Governments and Businessesneed to do in order to deploy an effective information management andknowledge management strategy? The government, here in the UK, has setout guidelines highlighted in their Information Matters whitepaper and have organised a committee to help manage this. Many businesseshave done the same, but some are not seeing the bigger picture yet.People are talking about big data and the age of information but whatare they doing about it? Many of their current systems andprocess have been in place for many years and a lot of the informationis paper based. Technology is moving forward at an exponential rate,particularly with smart phones and tablet devices. Many businessprocesses nowadays are handled electronically with little or no actualpaperwork involved, but how is this information tracked and handled?Electronic document and records management software (EDRMS) appears tobe the answer. Many vendors will offer this at a departmental level orin some cases at enterprise level. Having an EDRMS system in place willensure that your business or government department meets the necessarylegislations and ensure that you have an effective informationmanagement strategy. However, there is a relatively new approach called Enterprise Information Management(EIM). In effect what EIM does is brings structure to the unstructured by unleashing the power of information to the organisation. With the growth of information coupled with the myriad of differentformats,only one organisation is standing up to be the leader in thisfield,with the goal of becoming recognised as the #1 EIM vendor. This organisation is already demonstrating leadership, according toanalystsGartner and Forrester, and is well on its way to being leaderin allfive pillars of EIM, namely Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Business Process Management (BPM), Customer Experience Management(CEM),Information Exchange and Discovery. If I were a CIO of a majororganisation or government department, I know full well what I would bedoing. I would contact my local OpenText office and ask for guidance. By acting now, I would hope to avoid any mishapsor issues around information management, compliance and legislationwithin my organisation.

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Why being first on social media matters

It might shock you that I’m not a traditional sports fan and didn’twatch the Super Bowl. I really didn’t need to because most of theinteresting points outside of the score we’re captured on Twitter. Ifyou’re like me and don’t follow sports, but also don’t follow Twitteryou may not be aware that there was a power outage at the Superdome thisyear (that should hopefully come off as a sarcastic joke to most ofyou). This presented a unique opportunity for advertisers tocapitalize on a lull in the action and engage with their audience onTwitter who were already making the blackout the biggest trending topicof the night (yes bigger than Beyonce and Destiny’s Child). Two big brands we’re able to come up with a quick comment related to the blackout. Oreo was one of those brands and already had a commercial appear earlier that night. Tide was another, but didn’t have a commercial during the Super Bowl and instead had a Super Bowl inspired one. Below are the two tweets and the associated images included with them: See the following article for more details on other brands and companies who also joined the blackout tweet brigade: Super Bowl blackout generates plenty of online buzz, gives brands a boost Dissectingthe numbers of these two tweets a little bit gives you some insightinto the value these single tweets created. With 1,359 re-tweets and 363favourites Tide ensured that at least a minimum of 1,359 people viewedits tweet during the blackout and shared it with their follows for anunknown level of reach. Oreo’s tweet trumped this number with currently16,060 re-tweets and 6,156 favourites. The value in both of thesetweets is probably not measurable in advertising dollars per say.However, if you look beyond Twitter the coverage that accompanied bothof these tweets in the mainstream media obviously fed the popularityeven more and gave it a significant bump. So what was it about these two tweets that propelled them further than their counter parts? Lookingat each of them they both make direct reference to the blackout, andthey both use images to engage their audience. Tide has an arguablybetter and more related message, but is 3 minutes behind Oreo in postingits contribution. Walgreens was technically one of the first tweets outa full 4 minutes ahead of Oreo’s and enjoyed more exposure than Tide’stweet because of this. So what does this all mean and why wasn’t everyone under the sun doing it? Ifyou can get an innovative and relevant post out with some associatedcontent odds are you’re going to get some decent coverage and return.Unfortunately, most large organizations don’t have the flexibility theywould like or should have on social media and have established archaicapproval methods for social media content which stifles this progressivetype of engagement. The lesson is not to be one of them!

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How safe is your company’s social media?

A guest post written by our own Matthew Mullerworth. Thisweek we saw a cyber-attack on US Fast-food giant, Burger King. For overan hour their Twitter profile resembled a McDonald’s advert. Duringthat time, it posted comments about why it had been bought by theirrivals, along with numerous racial and obscene tweets. This goes to showthat no organisation is immune to a cyber-attack. Criminals, andterrorists alike, target businesses with the goal of disruption, thebigger the better. With cyber-attacks they often aim for the softunderbelly of an inexperienced person within that organisation. This canbe in the form of a simple email purporting to be from a colleagueasking the recipient to click on a link or open an attachment. This iswhat experts are calling “spear-phishing”. Chances are that this simpleaction can result in a virus that attacks the computer in question andsubsequently infects the rest of the company. This gives the criminalsaccess to do their thing and cause disruption. All companies havesensitive information, some more than others. These could includegovernmental departments, emergency services, pharmaceutical companiesand law firms. Many have taken steps and have done all they can toprevent this from happening. All organisations should have InformationSecurity teams who monitor, legislate and educate staff to be aware ofany potential dangers. In the UK, ISO27001 is the standard that most adhere to. Alsomore recently, Content Management and Information Managementtechnologies are being used to offer an improved level of access andsecurity to the data held within an organisation. Information Security is one topic being discussed at OpenText EIM Days this year. In the UK it is being held at Twickenham RFU Stadium on 16-17 April 2013. OpenText has a wealth of experience in this area globally, working with many governments and businesses alike. Please contact your local office to learn more and experience true information security for yourselves. Matthew is a key member of our UK Account Development Team. He is a keen marketer and amateur blogger/photographer.Heis currently supporting the OpenText UK Public Sector Sales Team to bethought-leaders in the EIM space through strategic & specific ideasand campaigns.

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Collaboration Isn’t Working: What We Have Here is a Chasm

This is a cmswire cross-post. What we have ourselves here is a chasm. Collaboration isn’t breaking out all over. Dear Colleagues: Canyou feel it? It’s the subtle loosening of gravity’s pull as we pause atthe peak of the hype apex before we thunder down into the trough ofdisillusionment (with apologies to Gartner). Social collaboration isn’tworking very well, but must we go gently into that good night? Some of the reasons we’re hitting the near edge of this “chasm” we’ve known and predicted from the beginning. Thisis a paradigm shift as fundamental as any the modern workforce orcapitalism has ever seen. More significant than the PC, the internet andthe IT department combined. More significant than globalization. It’sabout retreating from command and control practices designed to make theENGINE of capitalism (and government and war) purr, to a collaborativeone which activates the full capabilities of the participants andnetworks them in a way that amplifies and accelerates action. It’sabout changing from a daily grind of covering our individual andcollective heinies to one where we are joined in the intellectual,emotional and emergent pursuit of “better.” Of mission and service. Ok— so that’s pretty hard, we have established but few ground rules, andit looks like we’ll wander another 10 or 20 years or so in the deserttill it’s really as true as we’d like to to be, but it does seeminevitable, and so it is. But we could speed it along with more rigorousresearch and learning. We need to stop trying to ferret out bits ofgood news and start ferreting out learning. In other words, weneed to take our own advice about facing both good and bad news withequanimity and an authentic learning orientation. But there’sanother angle to this and its really, really bothering me. Adoption. Allthe 68,000 vendors in the space (including my employer, OpenText) havesettled on streams and digital workspaces as the definition of socialcollaboration technology — with some allowance for variance in quality,focus and features. And now we’re all lecturing on about adoption. There are several things that are bothering me about that. First.The language we’re hearing about adoption is eerily similar to thelanguage we heard about every other enterprise IT paradigm that socialcollaboration is supposedly saving us from. “People don’t get it, weneed change management and training and… ” And maybe that’s alltrue. But I know that I have scoffed at those foolish 1990’s KM peoplewho stuck to their guns and soldiered on in spite of the fact that whatthey were doing clearly wasn’t working — though the value propositionwas real, vital and clear. I have said the same thing about other ITsystems of yore. Can we now smugly believe that we are somehowmore enlightened than others because we “get it”? If we’re so awesome,why isn’t this working? Why doesn’t everyone “get it” and why are wehaving such a hard time with adoption? I know, I know, humanbehavior, culture and all that. But we adopted cell phones as fast asthey could make em. Just sayin’. Some of the change management stuff isreal, true and urgent, and some of it is just denial. We do not want tobelieve that maybe we aren’t right. But we aren’t. Second.So we’ve been pushing this techno philosophy pretty hard for three orfive years, and as a Gartner analyst recently observed in a meeting,it’s no longer a new industry. And what have we learned? We have abunch of people like me, many better than me, lecturing on what shouldbe and could be, but where’s the “what is”? I want a more rigorous bodyof learning out of the last five years. We deserve it and we need it tocontinue to be leaders in the reinvention of work. I know that there isan Amazon’s worth of books and papers out there, but it’s not enough. Yet. Wehave some clear wins. The majority of fortune 1000 businesses are usingsome form of social media to communicate internally as well asexternally. Pockets of success are found within many companies and a feworganizations are entirely transformed. Perhaps more new organizationsare being formed after the new model rather than the old. In theface of a mountain of evidence that something isn’t working as well aswe hoped, is “try harder” a good strategy? Are we asking the hardquestions of ourselves that could help us tell the difference? Like —whydo people like email so darn much in spite of the fact that its killingthem and makes their life more difficult in both the long and the shortterm. Are we wrong to ignore it? To insist that “email is dead, usethis instead”? Why do teams fail to act the way we think theywill? Are we oversimplifying the notion of team? What aboutorganizations? Where is the deeper insight on the relationship betweenteams and organizations? Why isn’t a sophisticated vocabulary breakingout? Why do we not yet have 100 words for different kinds ofcollaboration and teams, as expert in it as we think Eskimos are aboutsnow? What is the difference between an intranet, a community and ateam? I don’t want a tweetchat full of clever answers, I want clarity — and so do you. So— yes, the paradigm shift will take a generation to turn over. But wehave not yet come close to our full measure of duty as techno-innovatorsto drive it. I would like to toss out some themes where I think we haveimportant questions to ask, things to learn. Maybe these are on theright track, maybe not, maybe its the wrong question entirely. But weneed to start asking questions and stop searching — exclusively — forcrumbs of corroborating evidence and data, and start looking at theentire body of information. In other words, we need to step backfrom building business cases — though they are still important and valid— and put more emphasis on building our knowledge. Editor’s Note: Deb will be speaking on this topic at Social Media Week NYC on Feb 21 at 2pm Themes and VariationsThese are some of the themes where I want to see harder questions asked. What are your questions? 1. The organizationFirst— the organization, the intranet and collaborative teams are NOT thesame thing. The relationship among and between these things needsserious scrutiny. We’re beginning to see serious and rigorousstudy of public social networks in use for marketing, crisis management, etc., but that’s a bit easier — it’s all happening out in public, so wecan see it and analyze it, thanks to the Twitter API. It’s a bit harderto go into private enterprise systems and have a look (with someobvious and disturbing exceptions). 2. Connecting the dotsSecond— streams are nice. I adore Twitter. I adore our internal corporatetools that are similar to it. And here we’ve seen great adoption. We’veturned our org into a giant chat room: an extension of Instant messengeror chat for all. There’s benefit in that. Ambient awareness has huge benefits and is one of the key elements in making remote work work. But that’s not a“wirearchy,”it does not make work visible in an actionable way, it does not cementteam bonds, it connects only a modest set of dots, it is, in short,inadequate to change how we work, though it’s a nice addition. We needto build the semantic, statistical, psycho-social and otherwise toolsthat goose the gods of serendipity. 3. CollaborationSeveral years ago, I came up with a definition of collaboration that focused on three key ideas: creation, connection and compounding. I also observed that great teams shared four basic traits — they had ashared sense of mission, they respected one another, they trusted oneanother and they were committed to achieving excellence. We’ve since learned that very effective teamshave great communications — and very importantly — members are more orless equal in the amount they contribute. No divas, no wallflowers. Butwe’re only seeing whispers of real actionable insight into how tocontrive (or “cast”) these magically great teams. Leadership, yes,balance and matching of people — yeah, we sorta kinda know we have to dothat, but few of us know how. How is most collaboration achieved?What is the type, volume and velocity of information that needs to beexchanged? Is this the same of variable by team? By task? By… what? Howcan teams connect to the whole and vice versa?

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HIPAA Enforcement – A Whole New Ball Game

The recent $50,000 fine of an Idaho hospice following the theft of alaptop containing protected health information (PHI) of 441 patients was anotherreminder that HIPAAenforcement has changed dramatically in recent years. Enforcement hasevolved from having very little teeth behind it, to fining organizations forbreaches affecting 500 or more—and now to fining organizations for breachesimpacting less than 500. Healthcare organizations should not be surprised at the change, because theregulatory agency responsible for enforcement, the Office for Civil Rights(OCR), has been transparent about the new direction. OCR Director Leon Rodriguezstated at the recent HealthcareIT Security Summit that the OCR has adopted a more assertive enforcementphilosophy with greater monetary penalties that will impact a broader range ofhealthcare organizations. He said the rationale for greater enforcement is tosend a message to the rest of the industry and to help organizations identifyareas for improvement by communicating clearly why an organization was fined. While the threat of greater financial penalties can sound ominous, Rodriguezcommunicated that the OCR believes in a balanced and fair approach accompaniedby a heavy dose of education. He said, “Enforcement breeds compliance, but itdoes need to be mindful of business reality.” The new reality for healthcare organizations is that they must improve theirinformation security or face the consequences of fines, time-consuminginvestigations, and damaging public exposure. Introducing change to any workculture is difficult, but this is an important challenge that healthcareorganizations need to begin tackling now. Fortunately, the technology that healthcare institutions need is out there.Whether the challenge is simply moving from paper records to electronic medicalrecords (EMR), or finding a way to manage those EMR securely, OpenText has asolution. To learn about OpenText solutions designed specifically for the healthcarecommunity, click here. For additional resources and success stories from OpenText customers in thehealthcare industry, click here.

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PAYE in Real-Time: EDI Works for Payroll & Pensions

How companies and pension providers report payroll and pensions is changing, HMRC are moving from filing returns on an annual basis to filing them before, or at the same time as wages are paid. From 6th April 2013 employers will have to report in Real Time Information, or as HMRC refer to it – RTI – and if your company doesn’t have a solution yet, you maybe asking if your EDI solution can work for you. For payroll, this means that employers (or their accountant, bookkeeper or payroll bureau) will have to: • send details to HMRC every time they pay an employee, at the time they pay them • use payroll software to send this information electronically as part of their routine payroll process This is probably overdue, as employment patterns have changed quite a bit and the UK government needs a more effective way to handle a fluid workforce where people change jobs frequently and many have more than one source of employment. As the old process disappears, with it go a number of government forms that payroll teams used to have to deal with – including the iconic P45. From a single annual filing, organisations will provide 12 a year if they pay their employees monthly, and 52 if people receive their wages weekly. The HMRC expects the employer to provide an electronic file containing all relevant information in a correct manner. There is a lot of confusion about exactly how this will work as when initially proposed, the data transfer method of choice was via the bank automated payment process, BACS. If you’re like over half the UK organisations surveyed by KMPG, the answer is that you’re not sure whether your existing payroll systems can cope. Payroll reform is only half the story. There is also the 2012 Pension Reform Act which requires every organisation in the UK – starting with the largest –to provide a workplace pension for its employees. Each organisation has to auto-enrol all its employees onto the scheme and even if employees opt out, the employer still has to auto-enrol them first. It’s important that both the payroll and pension reforms are considered together because the government requires that it has Real Time Information on both in order to properly administer its Universal Credit (UC) scheme that comes into effect in October 2013. Initially the idea was to remove Electronic Data Interchange from the equation, but HMRC have perhaps realized how many companies are already using EDI, and they have now allowed this reliable method to continue. So if your company hasn’t implemented an RTI solution yet, and you are using EDI – Look no further. It will hardly come as a surprise to learn that most large B2B providers already have HMRC as part of their trading network. EDI has been an established method of data exchange with UK government for a number of years.

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How the ‘Omnichannel’ Effect Placed a Curse on UK Consumer Electronics Retailers

Over the past two months the so called ‘Omnichannel’ effect has been tightening its grip on the UK retail industry. The consumer electronics retail sector seems to have come off worst and as I have a keen interest in the High Tech sector here at GXS I thought it would be worth taking a few minutes to find out what has been going on. There has been a bit of a revolution in retail spending over the past thirty years. When I was a young boy, I remember cycling into town to do some lengthy window shopping at the numerous small consumer electronics shops that were around at that time. These small shops expanded over the years into large out of town stores, normally within big retail parks. The final level of expansion saw online stores being set up to allow consumers to browse goods via websites. In recent years online related product browsing has expanded across PCs, tablets and of course smart phones. So the Omnichannel effect is exactly that, providing companies with multiple ways to promote their goods to the consumer and the consumer has multiple ways to view or review the products concerned, eg online or in a traditional bricks and mortar store. So here is an example of how my buying pattern has changed over the years. Thirty years ago I enjoyed going into Dixons, a major consumer electronics retailer in the UK, to see the latest gadgets, I liked to see how they worked and mentally trying to work out what they would look like in my bedroom at home! Tell me who didn’t go in to a store to play music, change TV channels or play the Atari console based games at the time? Ten years ago, as my career got progressively busy, I had less time to actually visit the stores so I would review the different products online, choose my top 3 products and then go to the store, select and then buy in the ‘physical’ store. At that time buying online was not really the thing to do as the internet could not be trusted to process your payments. Then coming right up to date, today I look at the goods online, review other purchasers comments, compare prices across other websites before paying online and the goods get delivered to my house and I haven’t even left the comfort of my chair at home! Apple has been one of the main companies fuelling the growth in online technology purchases. Apple products are renowned for being high quality, so there is no real need to go into the store as they are a ‘trusted brand’ ie you know what you are getting. So why do Apple need physical stores?, well it is brand recognition in the eyes of the consumer and quite cleverly they hold in store workshops where you can go in and learn about a specific device or how to use a piece of software or app. In fact last week Apple announced that they have patented the way in which they layout their stores to prevent other companies from copying it! So Apple has indirectly fuelled the growth in online consumer electronics shopping which has then given consumers the confidence to pay for other goods online. This effectively created a snowball effect over the years especially retailers in the high tech space, as consumers shifted their buying power to the internet, it made physical stores pretty much redundant. But this has only affected one or two stores right?, wrong, it has completely changed the look of high streets and retail parks, especially in the UK. I am sure other national retailers in other countries have suffered the same problem. Online stores certainly offer consumers the choice of where to spend their hard earned money and this shift in retail spend has contributed to many bricks and mortar stores to become purely online stores instead. For a new start-up retail operation, particularly in the high tech space, an online retail presence is certainly the way to go as setup costs are minimal and more profitable. So here are four high street brands that have recently gone into administration, each being a household name in the UK for many years:- Blockbusters – Leading DVD rental store – 4190 employees, 528 stores. Increased competition from online stores, streaming films over the internet as well as rentals through the post. Appointed administrators on 16th January 2012 HMV – Leading retailer of DVDs/Consoles & Games – 4350 employees, 239 stores. Sales of CDs and DVDs undermimed by competition from supermarkets, online retailers and online downloads. Announced on 15th January that they would be entering administration Jessops – Leading retailer of digital cameras and associated accessories – 1534 employees, 187 stores. Hit by increasing competition from supermarkets and internet retailers. Improved quality of smart phone based cameras means people think less about buying a dedicated camera. Went into administration on 9th January, all stores ceased trading with most jobs lost on 11th January. UK Dragon’s Den star, Peter Jones, has now agreed to buy the brand and remaining stock which is likely to help create a new online retailer to continue the Jessops name Comet – Leading retailer of consumer electronics and white goods/appliances – 6611 employees across 236 stores. Economic downturn led to many consumers put off purchases of big ticket items such as TVs and large appliances. Sales of these types of items, the ‘bread and butter sales at Comet’ have increasingly moved online. Administrators were appointed on 2nd November after suppliers refused to provide credit in the run up to Christmas. Last remaining stores closed on 18th December. In fact Comet’s main competitor is Curry’s/PC World and they are, for the moment at least, still in business. If they close down as well then the whole consumer electronics sector of the UK retail industry will have been more or less wiped out. These particular four high street brands have very high brand value with UK consumers and it is this brand recognition which is leading some entrepreneurs to buy the brand name so that they can develop the equivalent online brand and the bricks and mortar stores will in most cases simply close down. The move to online platforms is driving a requirement for tighter integration between consumer focused ecommerce sites and back end order management systems. From a B2C perspective, consumers need to be able to conduct real time queries of stock levels for certain products. This means that synchronous based communication methods are going to become more and more important over the coming years. Traditionally business related EDI based systems have been asynchronous based, ie they receive and process transactions at specific times. Synchronous communication undertakes a query via a web based service that is directly integrated to a back end order management system. So in summary, will the Omnichannel effect drive further investment in web based services and synchronous communications?, only time will tell but it is certainly heading in that direction at this moment in time. Synchronous communications will be a subject for a future blog as real time inventory queries are becoming a key requirement across many manufacturing based companies as well.

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Top 10 B2B Predictions for 2013

Here are our Top 10 2013 predictions for the B2B industry. Our experts in Cloud Computing, Retail, Manufacturing, e-Invoicing put together their thoughts on the major changes for the coming year. The predictions, which span different industry verticals, geographic regions and technology sectors, are based on research, news, trends and customer discussions. Continued Threat of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks will Drive Banks to Embrace Host-to-Host Transmission – In late 2012, hacktivists launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against several global and regional banks. These DDoS attacks flooded banks’ website servers, preventing access to internet banking and other online services. The news media focused on how consumers were not able to access online banking services.  However, many corporate users were impacted as well.  Unable to access online corporate banking portals, these corporations could not conduct time-sensitive financial activities such as initiating wire transfers.  In 2013, financial institutions will begin to recommend a different, more secure approach for their corporate clients.  Host-to-host transmission solutions enable corporate clients to upload files using secure FTP protocols that are less likely to disruption by hacktivists and fraudsters. – Follow Patty’s blog here or join her on Twitter. Competition in Emerging Markets will Drive Significant Growth in Managed File Transfer for Manufacturers– In 2013, manufacturers will continue to invest in servicing the fast-growing markets of China, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam and Mexico.  Heightened competition in these emerging markets will drive companies to decentralize their design departments.  They will push product design and development closer to these emerging market locations to enable them to quickly and more accurately tailor their products to meet local demand.  But this new decentralized structure will create information sharing challenges for designers around the world.   Design files such as CAD/CAM diagrams will need to be exchanged quickly and securely between users and locations. This will drive a significant increase in Managed File Transfer related projects across manufacturing companies to transfer the engineering related information from one location to another with ease. – Follow Mark’s blog here or join him on Twitter. 2013 will be the Watershed Year for E-Invoicing – Despite being a simple solution to optimize financial processes with compelling savings for both the buyer and seller, e-Invoicing has yet to reach critical mass.   But 2013 will be e-Invoicing’s watershed year.  Governments around the world will continue to enforce e-invoicing mandates for suppliers doing business with the public sector.  Large corporations will push suppliers more aggressively as well.  E-Invoicing enables these large buyers to reduce supplier credit risk with early supplier payment and supply chain finance programs.  To simplify the process for small suppliers, accounting software vendors, such as Sage and Intuit, will promote the turnkey e-invoicing features in their products.  – Follow Nigel’s blog here or join him on Twitter. US Businesses Will Expand Use of EDI Documents in the Supply Chain – With the debt ceiling issues behind us, the US economy will see a surge in consumer demand and manufacturing output.  There will be a major push by industry to replenish inventories.  To support the growth, companies will invest in supply chain automation technologies such as EDI.  Not only will the volumes of purchase orders and invoices increase, but companies will start to exchange a broader range of transactions.   Advance Ship Notices (ASN) will become more common.  In addition, we will begin to see the widespread adoption of the Purchase Order Change and Purchase Order Acknowledgment documents. -Follow Rochelle’s blog here 2013’s Supplier of the Year – The Crowd – In 2013, crowdsourcing will move from being considered a risky experiment that a handful of innovative companies are piloting to a more mainstream approach to business.   Retailers are beginning to more extensively source new product ideas from the crowd as they seek to differentiate their merchandise mix from the competition (Think Etsy and Shapeways).  Professional services companies are starting to source labor-intensive projects to the crowd as they continue to seek out cost advantages in labor (Think Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk).  And high tech companies are awarding prizes for breakthrough ideas from the crowd as they continue to seek answers to their most complex design problems (Think InnoCentive and Spigit).  But much like any supplier, the crowd will need to do business electronically with these large corporations.  And this need to automate the registration, invoicing and payment process with the crowd will create a new B2B challenge for the market. – Follow Steve’s blog here or join him on Twitter. Re-shoring will Lead to an Increase in B2B integration – Issues such as the rising cost of labor in China and the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand, have led many manufacturers to rethink their production strategies.  In 2013, we will continue to witness leading corporations reshoring their manufacturing activities to Western locations away from the Far East.   But to compete successfully with a re-shoring strategy will require a supply chain that is optimized for cost and agility.  As a result, companies will further invest in connectivity and integration with their business partners.  Not only will B2B help to optimize costs, but it will ensure companies can collaborate with their business partners and maintain visibility over their activities. – Follow Matthew’s blog here.   Online Marketplaces will shape the Content Collaboration Agenda for Omnichannel initiatives– The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets have given consumers persistent and pervasive access to the Internet, allowing them to research, compare, shop, and buy anytime and anywhere.  But without the ability to see, smell, touch, hear or feel the products in a store, consumers are critically dependent upon the information on retailer websites to make purchasing decisions.  The surge in omnichannel commerce over recent years has forced brands and manufacturers to develop a better understanding of the information consumers need.  Without accurate, up-to-date and complete item attribute information consumers either won’t buy online or they will return what they did buy. In 2013, consumer products manufacturers will get more aggressive about sharing item attribute information with online marketplaces and etailers. And the more successful collaborators will drive higher volumes of omnichannel sales.  – Follow Melanie’s blog here or join her on Twitter.   Social B2B Graphs will Embrace Capabilities from their Consumer-Oriented Counterparts and add Role-Driven, Dynamic “Circles”– There are many similarities between the social networks used by consumers and the business networks used by corporations.  Much as Facebook maintains a social graph showing the connections between friends and family members, business networks can map a business social graph that shows the relationships between customers and suppliers.  Each consumer relationship, or verb, such as “follows,” “likes,” has a counterpart in B2B such as “trades with,” “follows,” and “endorses.” And much like Google+, circles of business partners can be can be formed by grouping companies according to the role they pay. For example, “suppliers,” “3rd party logistics providers,” and “financial providers”are each circles of business partners.  Business partners can also be grouped into circles by the attributes of their organization, including “industry,” “geography,” and “regulatory compliance.” These groups, or circles, will then support dynamic, extensible, transaction sets that are available to its members. As with the consumer space, in 2013, the network which can best leverage these social graphs and circles will enjoy a competitive advantage.  –  Follow Miguel on Twitter. Big Data and B2B Integration Cloud Platforms will enable Predictive Analytics to improve Supply Chain Performance – Omnichannel commerce produces significant amounts of unstructured buying behavior information and B2B integration cloud platforms process structured supply chain data. Combining the two, companies will have a holistic approach to predictive supply chain analytics, rather than fragmented.  In 2013, by combining big data and B2B integration cloud platforms information, companies will gain a better understanding of how to achieve their desired outcomes.  – Follow Andrea on Twitter. Supply Chain Network Providers will Simplify Master Data Management for all of us, Finally– In the same way that LinkedIn has simplified our ability to keep one single online resume/CV, there is a need for businesses to be able to keep a portable profile of the information they share among trading partners that is not relationship-specific.  Now that supply chain network providers have reached massive scale, this can become a reality. In 2013, businesses should select the network provider that has the biggest scale in addition to financial viability to ensure business continuity. Follow Nick on Twitter.  

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Could the Junk Drawer 1.0 become the Junk Drawer 2.0?

Ah, the infamous junk drawer. We all have them in our homes. They are that designated place, often a kitchen drawer, where we store the items that we use frequently that really don’t have a proper home, or they do but never make it back there. In the drawer, there is a huge quantity of “stuff” that we need, not all of it put there by us. Typically the junk drawer creation is a group effort, with many contributors in the home. There are a lot of items in there that I have several of, like 4 sets of spare keys, 6 nail files, chopsticks, 15 pens, all different colors of course. I often need dig to the back of the drawer to find what I need, and by the time I get to it I realize that I don’t need it anymore as I now need to move onto a different task in the house. My last trip to the junk drawer gave me a sense of déjà vu as I realized that is a similar experience that I have when I am trying to locate information in the office. As I launch my PC and try to search for a piece of content that I need to work I open my intranet and realize that there is a ton of content here, created and added by several different people. The content is often contributed by a large number of authors, and often there can be duplicated work, appearing in a variety of formats and layouts. Even with the best search tools, there is no easy way to find the information that you need without looking through many different layers that often exist inside the intranet. Often before I locate the content I am looking for, I am pulled into another direction, probably an urgent email that needs to be dealt with. According to IDC, “The typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $6 million to $12 million per year searching for non-existent information.” Of course my junk drawer at home is small in size and can be easily cleaned out and reorganized to be effective again. The same cannot be said about the intranet or file shares that many of us are using. As the amount of content grows, so does the size of the junk drawer. So how can we battle this plague of the ever expanding junk drawer? Content is not going to stop growing. According to Yankee Group, “80% of data in an enterprise is unstructured Information. This type of information is growing at 200% per year.” Many companies are tackling this issue by moving away from the static intranet scenarios and adopting a better, more effective way to work by deploying more collaborative tools that augment their content with social features. Allowing them to share more effectively with co-workers, add value to the existing content and search more easily for both content and the people they need to be able to get their work done. But are team spaces, social collaboration tools and community spaces exempt from the plague of the junk drawer. I don’t believe so. It is just as important to ensure that these environments are also designed with purpose and driven by good design. I am seeing this first hand as OpenText has adopted the use of our Tempo Social application internally. Our new environment has quickly spawned well over 300 communities in a short time frame. We are learning firsthand the importance of keeping the signal to noise ratio just right to encourage adoption. We are thinking through things such as the lifecycle management required for communities. We are learning how to better understand when a community is needed versus a forum or a project space. We recently hosted a webinar session campaigns.opentext.com/forms/2013-Q3-GL-CS-OS-OTLive-January172013 on the topic that resulted in some great conversations, in case you are interested. We have also published our use case for using Tempo Social.www.opentext.com/2/global/customers-home/successstories I would love to hear from others on what their recipe is in avoiding the “social sprawl” that can result in the junk drawer 2.0. Feedback and comments appreciated!

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“Social Business” is only half of Enterprise 2.0

This is a CMSWire cross-post. Sothere are these two things going on. The first you’ve definitely heardof – its the great reawakening of the white-collar and consumer world astheir value and participation and voice are released from the anonymityof the command and control corporate model thanks to nifty new socialtechnologies. The second is about the exponentially increasingcomplexity of the world. Everything that touches anything sets offanother thing and so on. Social is accelerating complexity and viceversa. The very best of us and even our technology are daunted by thechallenge of understanding issues and taking action in such anenvironment. This is why the future has become ever more unpredictable,and planning ever-more – optimistic. [There’s a third – and that’s thatall this reawakening stuff has nudged us to look hard at some thingsthat had been left unexamined for too long, like leadership,collaboration, and certain exploitative forms of capitalism, but that’s adifferent discussion] These two forces are putting intense pressures on business. In his classic work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn describes a period of “crisis” that precedes a scientificrevolution. The crisis is a period where a field of math or sciencebecomes dramatically more complicated, while yielding diminishing,incremental returns. If John Seely-Brown and John Hagel are right, and the average Return on Assets has dropped by 75% since 1965, then we may be seeing an analogous crisis in business that leaves usripe for business revolution (they call it the Big Shift). Calling it“social” business is missing half of the point. Business isn’t going“social” because it wants to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Businessis changing to a new model – Enterprise 2.0 – both because people aredemanding it AND because a centralized command and control model thatuses process and efficiencies of scale to achieve superhuman feats haslimits to what it can do. But a new model of applying networks ofsensors and capabilities (people) onto complex problems, to achieveuniquely human feats, can solve problems that hierarchies cannot. [note- i’m officially, if temporarily, moving back to Enterprise 2.0., untilsuch time as someone finally coins a term that is less misleading than“Social”.] 1. Some problems are too hard to solve the old fashioned way.Asa math student (computer science was in the math department back then) Ilearned that we can classify problems by how hard they are to solve. Wemeasure how much effort a solution takes based on the level ofefficiency of the clever little algorithms we use to solve them. Ingeneral, these solutions use logic to make hard problems into simplerones. There is a class of problem, however, that cannot be solvedefficiently because though we understand the problem, we can’t find aclever way to make it look simpler. The technical term for these isNP-Complete. They are very hard. There is another class of veryhard problem – one we see in economics, society and business. These areknown as“wicked” problems. Wicked problems have so many factors twistedup together that you can’t really hope to untangle them. Thinkeconomics, or the weather. Or product strategy or organizational design. There is no particular right or wrong answers, but there are better andworse outcomes. Our instincts tell us, based on 400 years of Newtonianrationalism, that if only we work hard enough, with enough intelligenceand discipline, we will see the component parts and the relationshipsbetween everything and the formula and methodology will be revealed.Everything can be understood by examining its component parts. Nothingis beyond examination or building with swiss-clockworks perfection. Ournotion of business and process design (among many other things) dependon this idea, but it is – if not exactly wrong – limited. Thereason strategy is hard, the reason R&D is hard, the reasonmarketing, support, sales, innovation, operations and design are hard isbecause they are multifaceted challenges that involve manyunpredictable, often external forces that change at an acceleratingpace. When you wade into the morass, you are making it even morecomplex.There is no definitive right or wrong answer, there is onlybetter and worse. These types of problems are often referred to as“wicked”. Wicked problems defy systematic, top-down solutions. OurCommand and Control organizations have done many things well, but we arenow entering an era dominated by the kind of problem they don’t dowell. 2. But that doesn’t mean we can’t solve them.We’velearned some things about solving very hard problems. In the late1980’s we learned that Genetic Algorithms can solve NP-Complete problemsvery fast. A subset of these problems were in the field of graphtheory. The kinds of problems that deal with optimizing pathways. Thatcould be shipping routes, airline routes, or even communicationsrouting. As an undergraduate I read about Genetic Algorithms inScientific American. [I carried a photocopy around in my backpack for myentire senior year, showing it to every professor and other people, whomostly thought I’d started speaking in tongues] What was at that timemind-blowingly cool about these is that you could get a solution to a“very hard” problem, super fast, without knowing anything about theproblem itself. No clever algorithm required. I’ll say it again, becauseits hard to believe. You can optimize these systems and solutionswithout finding a trick or invention that depend on some new insight orunderstanding of the problem. You can solve extremely hard problems withno knowledge. 3. Bars and Boids – complex adaptive systems solve “impossible” problems Inthe mid 90’s I was actually paid to build simulations of complexsystems (think SimCity for business) for customers like FedEx, AT&Tand certain government agencies. This meant I was messing with “Boids” and the “Bar Problem” and living in Monterey, California – it was a peak experience. The Bar Problemis an eye-opener in terms of how you can solve impossible problems withno insight, knowledge or intelligence. It bucks every intellectualinstinct you probably have, which is what makes it so interesting. Itaddresses the question of whether you can solve “impossible” problems ofthis kind: there’s a bar in Santa Fe (not at all coincidentally thelocation of the Santa Fe institute that pioneered this work). The bar isa great place to be iif 60% of the population – but no more than 60% ofthe population shows up on a given night. Otherwise it is either dullor overcrowded. If no one has any information about what the others aredoing when they make their decision, how do you get the right number ofpeople in the bar? Here’s one way. Create a “population” (a set ofagents). Everyone follows a random rule. Like “if I liked the outcome 5days ago, go to the bar”. Or “if today’s date is a multiple of mybirthday, stay home”. If the rule doesn’t work more than a few days in arow, change to a new rule. And an answer emerges like an old Polaroidphoto. The system finds the answer. If you have any programming skills,this is very easy to simulate (even I have done it, but its a secret – inever want to write code again. It annoys the computer and myselfequally). These kinds of systems are called “complex adaptive systems.” A Complex Adaptive System has a large numbers of components (agents), that interact and adapt or learn. So- we learn that we can solve (some) impossible problems like – supplyand demand, traffic flows, and other insanely hard things – easily. 4. Teams and Crowds – collaboration also solves impossible problemsMorerecently, we’ve shown that teams and crowds can solve impossibleproblems. Andrew McAfee has pointed to some stunning proof of this. Likechess. In the old days (1980), a chess Grand Master could blow away anycomputer at the game. By the mid 90’s, it was the other way around. Butmore recently, we’ve discovered that a competent team (not masters, butdecent players), a process, and a computer assist can consistently blow away the super computer. Or that a random and loosely affiliated group of people can solve theprotein-folding problem – a completely “impossible” problem better than any other known method. Protein-folding is hard because a protein is a long string of aminoacids. In a body, the long string folds up on itself based on thechemical and electrical properties of its thousands of amino acids. Thebiological effect of a protein are determined almost entirely by itsfolded up shape. But its impossible to predict how it will fold, andtherefore, what it will do or how it will play with others. In otherwords, how medicine will or will not affect it. What I’m gettingat here is that when you start to network people, you are building whatwe call a complex adaptive system – that’s what Boids, GeneticAlgorithms and the Bar Problem are about. Complex adaptive systems cansolve “impossible” problems. 5. So – when we’re talking about Social BusinessYou’vebeen promised Collective intelligence – but there’s even more. Agentsare stupid. People are not (mostly). So – Social Business means we canaccess collective intelligence – no one is as smart as everyone. Atleast we’re trying for that. But also, socially connected businesses arecomplex adaptive systems – able to solve impossible problems – not headon – but through action. This idea has been implied in severalplaces, but I want to make sure its crystal clear. People are agents.Organizations are complex adaptive systems. Social technologies andphilosophies amplify the interaction and connectivity of its agents(people).Of course, the pathetically simple agents described above,can’t hold a candle to the magnificence of a human network. But we needto build our ability to think of human networks as a kind of acomplexity calculator. In 2013 we will begin to learn how to wield this“wicked” weapon against complexity. Emergent outcomes – the onespromised by social collaboration, social marketing and social in general- are not just a hope and a prayer, but real. Trusting in them is notfoolish but wise. Our human networks, thoughtfully connected, with somesmart methodologies will help us to apply complexity to complexity andmake progress against now-intractable problems. Enterprise 2.0 isnot about social per se, it is about thinking very differently aboutwhat is hard. About what is impossible. About what IS possible. Aboutyour role in it, and about how a human chorus of intellect can help.Enterprise 2.0 will measure outcomes dispassionately (with equipoise) asa way to ask questions without assigning blame. It will focus onlearning as innovation, and disentangle accountability, blame andoutcomes. It will depend on the connected circulation of insight andinformation of a network, often knowledge-less solutions, and thedeepest respect for what people can and will bring to the table, giventhe chance. Our goal then in this next handful of years is tobetter understand the relationship between organizations, complexadaptive systems, complexity, and impossible problems. We have hints andclues, some research, instinct, experience and trial and error. Its ahard problem, but its not impossible. We need to break open opaque ideaslike “collaboration” and “team” and “serendipity” and get to know themintimately. We need to redefine our ability to sense and createconnections and conclusions from luck to faith to something we actuallydo understand. The best is yet to come.

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What is Enterprise Social good for?

What exactly is Enterprise Socialgood for? What can Tempo-Social do for my business? We have all heardthese type of questions before. Today, it’s difficult to imagineany organization without email. I believe the state of affairs for the“Social Enterprise” is analogues to the early days of email, a timewhere some questioned email’s business value. In much the same way,Social will come to be seen as essential to the Enterprise. So, what exactly is Enterprise Social good for? Let me count the ways; Executive Outreach – CEO/Executive blogs, posts and status updates Employee Connectivity – Learn about, follow, and interact with other individuals throughout the organization Open Communication – Break down the walls and silos of information. Encourage discussion Situational Awareness- What’s going on with the rest of the company – know an individual’sor team status, who is working on what, where they are, what’s on theirmind Knowledge Sharing -Share interesting and relevant information/articles with your colleges Information Discovery – Ability to tune in to areas of interest “diving signal from noise”. Fine tune and customize the activity stream/s Serendipitous Learning – Discover relevant or interesting information by chance Personal Notes – Private documents and TODOs (accessible from your home page) – this is the flipside of a profile Internal Team Collaboration – A space to work and share content with individuals working on a common project External Team Collaboration- A Sandbox or locked down community accessible to externals, work withexternals on a project whilst not exposing them to the rest of theorganization Distributed Workforce – Common workspacesand asynchronous communication help when working with employeesdistributed over many geographies and time zones. The workforce isbecoming increasingly global, hours becoming more flexible and workingfrom home increasingly common Participation – Encouragepeople to contribute and share (reward those who contribute) typicallyby building an “economy” around followers, karma points, credits, etc Individual Empowerment – Give voice to all employees. Anyone should be able to post an idea in an ideation app, or interact with executives Wisdom of Crowds- Allow the community to self-classify, organize content, and vote. Thecrowd can be surprisingly clever. It’s been shown that a “diversecollection of independently deciding individuals is likely to makecertain types of decisions and predictions better than even experts” Agree, disagree ? What have I missed? Discussion and Feedback welcome.

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Leveraging QR Codes or NFC

There is a palpable buzz surrounding NFC (Near Field Communication)in the market place today on the same level of what QR codes used to be ayear or so ago. There is however significant confusion over what eachof these technologies can do, their purpose, and how to implement themin a useful and functional way. I may be the first to say it, butI think there is a complimentary link between these technologies. Letme try and summarize what each of these things can or can’t do before Iget to that. QR (Quick Reference) Codes:QR Codes are areimagining of the traditional barcode we’re all used to seeing onproducts, but with a different purpose. You can essentially embed anytext based information you want into one, from a website, to your emailaddress, or just a plain old message. They’re used for anything from augmented reality (although this is changing), to mobile application installation, information sharing, or as noted above redirection to websites. Themain thing to keep in mind is that QR Codes need to be implemented in asomewhat prominent and more importantly stationary way. The mainbarrier to entry for QR Code usage is the ability for a camera on amobile device to focus in on the QR Code itself in order to process it.So the size of the QR code is important and is why there is a standardsize used in most cases for most products you purchase or in mostimplementations. If you want to generate your own and play around with it on your own mobile phone here are some useful resources: QR Code Generator How to scan a QR Code with your:BlackBerry iPhoneAndroid NFC (Near Field Communication) NFC can be used only with smartphones that have the applicable hardware or some kind of attachment, and can be used as a replacement for ID cards, a replacement for your banking or credit card (with some caveats currently), exchanging data between smartphones, or by obtaining data from a NFC Tag (think of a physical QR code). Themain barrier to entry with NFC is that physical contact is required forit to be used. Any demonstration or article that hints otherwise isjust flat out wrong. It can facilitate or assist with things likepairing over Bluetooth or connecting over Wi-Fi to your Smart TV, but itcan’t use short range communication in the same way Bluetooth does. If you’re interested in seeing what is possible check out the following articles/videos:How to use NFC Tags with your BlackBerry SmartphoneSamsung Galaxy S3 NFC Demonstration Why or where I think there is connection Ithink the connection point between these two technologies is wherephysical contact is possible but a QR code may need to be used inconjunction with an NFC tag. An example of this would be that since notevery phone has NFC currently if you intend to use NFC tags in a printarticle, poster, magazine, etc, you should also include a QR code on ornear the NFC tag with the same information to produce the same intendedeffect. When using these technologies, it’s equally important toremember that you need to redirect people to a website that is mobilefriendly. There’s nothing worse than being redirected to a website andgetting the message, “You must have Flash installed to view thiswebsite.” Do you have any questions on how to use thesetechnologies to engage with your customers? Let me know by posting inthe comments!

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How Does Content Add-Value in Your Organization?

It’s January, and what does that mean?Lists, lists, lists. It seems to me that as a society we’re rapidlybecoming obsessed with boiling things down into a Top 10 list and inJanuary that seems to reach a fever pitch. Thanks Letterman. Even mycolleague Chris Walker has jumped on the bus with this list onSlideShare of “2013 IT anti-predictions”. SureI jest, but I have to admit, without my lists…I’d be lost. My to dolist, my goals list, my ‘don’t forget to take it’ list, my playlists forthe gym, my list of people I need to see this month. Seriously, I thinkI have somewhere in the area of 10 apps on my iPad and Blackberrydedicated to keeping my bits and pieces straight when I’m on the go, andI’d be lost without my Outlook Tasks. I never end my quest for theperfect app that does it all for me. But as I ended 2012, it becameclearer than ever—there’s no way I will ever finish checking off theentries. I need to think about what’s really important for me in 2013and prioritize! Thatprioritization and goal setting is critical for all of us, more so thanever in our professional lives. I’ve read countless blog posts andarticles over the past few weeks talking about the big picture trends.Bob Evans calls out what he believes are the hottest issues for CIOs in this articlefrom Forbes. Trends and priorities I’ve heard echoed many times over inthe discussions in and around OpenText. But when it comes to channelingmy inner Kreskin, there’s one tidbit I picked out of my colleagueDeborah Miller’s recent CMS Wire article that I’d like to delve into more. Deb pointed to recent IDC research that indicates: “Thetrend toward industry-specific solutions will be further driven by theincreased participation of line of business (LoB) executives in ITinvestment decisions. In 2013, nearly 60% of new IT investments willdirectly involve LoB execs (with them as the decision maker in 25% ofthe investments).” Makes sense. If there’s not a business case for using technology that either helpsyou make money, save money or improve the life of someone you touch – beit a customer or a team member – then why embark on the effort? Andwhen looking for those little golden nuggets of opportunity, few arebetter poised than those in the trenches to provide a practical view ofthe problems and the potential solutions. Whether you call it Kaizen,continuous improvement, six-sigma, or something else, the philosophy ofsmaller incremental change is proven to deliver the potential for largescale, impactful benefit.What do you need to be successful? Ideally, you need to breed a culturethat’s fluid, adaptable and insightful—and technology that can act asbuilding blocks to meet that challenge. This is where I see the trueadvantage of supporting process transformation with an Enterprise Information Management (EIM) based approach. GivenI spend my days focused on delivering compelling product experiencesfor our OpenText Content Server customers, a product that acts as thefoundation to an effective EIM strategy, I got to thinking at a morepragmatic level. I would like to hear more from you, our Content Servercustomers, about your goals and projects for 2013. A few of the many questions I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on: What strategies are you focused on to increase the value from your content? What business processes have you content-enabled with Content Server, and what’s next? How do you prioritize projects? If you feel strongly about a project that hasn’t been deemed a priority, how do you build the business case? How mature is your information governance strategy? And do you dovetail process improvement initiatives when building on that strategy? Ithink this could be a very enlightening discussion for many of us,myself included, so I really hope you’ll chime in. Or, whether you’realready an OpenText Content Server customer or not, if you have a specific project you’d like to discuss, drop me a note at aclarke@opentext.com or on Twitter @alimclarke.

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Is it Time to Trust the Cloud?

A recent study surveyed 327 CIOs, IT professionals and business executivesinvolved in cloud adoption strategies. The study, entitled “Drivers of CloudAdoption,” was conducted by Dimensional Research, and sponsored by software and on-demandperformance management vendor Host Analytics. Predictably, different operational areas shared differing experiences withcloud security and compliance. A quarter of total respondents did not know iftheir cloud applications were compliant when it came to maintenance. In fact,61 percent of IT respondents stated they regularly work with business-critical,on-premise software that has not been upgraded recently. Nearly half of thaton-premise software is three-to-four years out of date, they said. As conveyors of millions of transactions of critical information, leadingcloud providers must remain ahead of the curve in terms of their informationinfrastructure, security, and controls. This means updating infrastructure asupdates become available (not three years later), as well as conducting frequentnetwork testing to validate the cloud infrastructure is performing at or aboverigid performance guidelines. So how do you go about evaluating a cloud service provider? Here aresome solid “musts” to require of a potential vendor: The cloud network architecture is global for enterprise applications and isnot colocated at a third party data center where control is left to the thirdparty The network is fully capable of complete redundancy in the event of adisaster or outage The cloud vendor will allow transparency and audit of its data center,security and compliance policies, including but not limited to SAS70, SOX, SafeHarbor and HIPAA Service level agreements commit to service availability and uptime Cloud performance monitoring is done proactively, and professional servicesare available for critical issue resolution The cloud vendor has a core cloud focus and an extensive depth ofexpertise The cloud vendor has enterprise experience and an extensive list ofreferences The OpenText Faxand Document Distribution Group (FDDG) offers a wide array of cloud andcloud-based services for the secure exchange of information, all of which meetthe above requirements. For an overview of cloud offerings from OpenTextEasyLink, click here. Regardless of the type or quantity of information your business needs toexchange, an enterprise-grade cloud is agile, extensible, and powerful, anddelivers high value for the interchange of critical business information. Thebest way to achieve cloud success is through collaboration among all groups thatwill be most impacted by a technology shift, due diligence in selection of avendor with extensive experience, proof of value and process improvement (notjust cost), and clear visibility into the vendor’s cloud security andcompliance.

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SAP-Certified Fax Automation from OpenText

If you did not already know, OpenText—the numberone enterprise fax provider in the world—has been empowering SAP with faxand secure email for many years. We now have SAP certification powered by theNetWeaver technology platform for both OpenText RightFax10.5 and OpenText EasyLinkProduction Messaging (Fax2Mail). Whether companies prefer the on-premiseRightFax 10.5 or the cloud-based Fax2Mail, both integrate with SAP solutions,providing greater efficiency in order-to-cash and other processes involving faxautomation. Initiating and receiving faxes in SAP as well as integrating withworkflows means companies never have to send or receive a paper fax again. We are very proud of our SAP certification and the fact that we have beenoffering SAP connectivity for quite some time. When designing customersolutions, we take a holistic needs-based approach that encompasses far morethan just SAP certification. Many requirements must be considered to deliver theright solution for a particular customer, including compliance, administrativefeatures, portal access, workflow routing, production capability, accountsupport, integrations, and redundancy. The most successful IT projects reliably deliver value to every aspect of abusiness, which is the approach that has helped OpenText become and remainthe market leader. Because SAP is one of the leading providers of businessmanagement software worldwide, our SAP certification remains an importantelement of our overall value. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about OpenText’s SAPCertification or to discuss your broader set of business requirements.

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In 2013, online marketplaces will shape the content collaboration agenda for omnichannel retail initiatives

Consumers are all the rage. It may sound controversial, and perhaps not as exciting as Tickle Me Elmo or Wii U. However, if you are a retail or consumer products marketer, I’m sure you agree. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets have given consumers persistent and pervasive access to the Internet, allowing them to research, compare, shop, and buy anytime and anywhere. Because consumers have the ability to constantly access information about the products we make and sell, our needs as brands and manufacturers have intensified: We need to know what consumers are thinking We need to know what consumers are searching for on the Internet in terms of information and products We need to have content, products and services available for consumers when they want it We need to anticipate where the market is going and develop forecasts and product plans that will keep us one step ahead of our buyers     In the past, business-to-business (B2B) relationships between traditional brick and mortar retailers, brand owners and distributors were heavily focused on electronic data interchange (EDI) for the most basic order-to-cash transactions, such as the purchase order, invoice, and advance ship notice (ASN). We have seen a shift in the past several years to broader B2B programs and the use of extended business documents. More recently, we have embraced omnichannel retailing as a critical business imperative and are increasing our channel reach and our efforts to automate trading relationships across channels. And we have certainly witnessed the explosive growth of online retailers (etailers) and marketplaces, pushing the envelope with innovative go-to-market models and reaching the needs of even very niche demographics. These pure play online businesses are full of bright, energetic, super-intelligent personnel that are challenging traditional ways of thinking. They are detail oriented yet able to articulate the broad vision. They are agile and looking for quick solutions to further engage consumers, build communities, and connect people with the “stuff” they want to buy.  In 2013, online marketplaces and successful etailers will drive the retail and consumer products industry to get aggressive about sharing content. And not just the fundamentals like style, UPC/EAN (GTIN), color, size and price, but substantive information that consumers really want to know when researching items, like fabric content, where products are manufactured, care instructions, how to prepare food items, important features and benefits, warranty information and key product characteristics like the heel height for shoes, sleeve and collar type for shirts, and dimensions and style for jewelry and accessories. It is shaping up to be a banner year for growth in our B2B initiatives. We can certainly thank consumers for ensuring we’ll be very busy again in 2013, but we should also embrace the emerging and ever growing population of online retailers and marketplaces for joining our efforts and encouraging us to new heights!

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Leading Analyst Firm Validates OpenText as Leader in Growing Global Enterprise Fax Software and Services Markets

Recent Report by Davidson Consulting Highlights Compliance as KeyDriver for Continued Double-Digit Growth in Fax Services Waterloo, ON – 2013-01-08 – OpenText (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), a leadingprovider of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions, today announcedthat it was recently named the market leader in fax services by analyst firmDavidson Consulting, a fax industry analyst firm. In its “Fax Service Markets,2012-2017,” report, Davidson Consulting assessed the major players in theindustry and provided forecasts for several aspects of the fax service industryincluding compliance, fax servers versus fax services, fax machine connections,and fax over IP, looking forward to 2016. “Fax has proved much stickier than anyone would have expected several yearsago. Businesses find it an essential tool to comply with regulatory mandates anduse fax because their trading partners prefer them to,” according to PeterDavidson, President of Davidson Consulting. According to the report, the faxmarket has grown 23.2 percent over the past year, with an 18 percent compoundannual growth rate (CAGR) projected through 2016. The report positions OpenTextas the clear market leader in 2012, holding three times the market share of thenext closest competitor in both the large enterprise market segment and thebroadcast fax service market. “The enterprise fax services market represents a significant growthopportunity in EIM,” stated Gary Weiss, Senior Vice President of OpenText’sPortfolio Group. “With the acquisition of the cloud-based market leader EasyLinkearlier this year, we have accelerated our leadership in the fax services marketand will continue building out our leadership in fax software both on premisesand in the OpenText cloud.” Read the full press release here. Please visit our website for more information about OpenText Fax Software and OpenText EasyLink Fax Services.

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