The Amazing Technicolour Self Directed Learning Tool

Yesterday I published a post asking for help from you all to help me develop a Personal and Self Directed Learning Tool. Thank you to those of you who have contributed stuff so far. Today i was making it look a bit better than a simple black and white hand out.

Whilst I was searching for inspiration on the look and feel, I found the Conversation Prism developed by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas, a picture of which is below and the picture will take you to their website which they have developed. I remembered seeing an early version of this back in 2008, it has evolved quite a bit and looks amazing if you ask me.

Now I’m not trying to re-create this directly  – As i’m really after creating more of a subset or alternative viewpoint aimed in particular at Public Sector employees to support their personal and self directed learning. However I have to give credit to Brian and Jesse for the idea and inspiration as I obviously can’t claim what I have done is original, but more of an adaptation. (I’d love to know what software package was used to create the prism as I used Photoshop and i’m not particular good at using it but it does a job)

I haven’t yet gone as far as including the actual tools within my version yet, as i’m still thinking how best to display them, what I like about the conversation prism is the use of the logos, but i’m wondering if that will work for some quite informal public sector forums or discussion groups? Maybe a combination of both will work? What do you think?

Anyway the “hopefully” more colourful version of my tool is below and I have made a decision to have 3 layers representing “professional”, “semi-professional” and “social”. The centre still at this stage represents the “intranet”, however I would hope that in the very near future that this could actually represent the Knowledge Hub, as it very much delivers the same outcomes and facilitates the same journey.

Self Directed Learning Tool - Colour

If you saw the previous version yesterday then you might notice that I have added an additional two headings which are Research and Reflection, this was due to feedback from the workforce development team and looking back at my first scribble, I had actually made a note of these two but forgot to include them – Doh!.

Any comments or thoughts on how you might use this to help colleagues in your council navigate the web for professional or social sites aimed at supporting one or more of the activities around the edges, I’d very much welcome your views.

Move aside Intranet, here comes the super powered Extranet

Yesterday I attended the Knowledge Hub Advisory group in London, although this time I had company (Richard Carter – Head of Business Solutions and Innovation).

We were asked to give a short presentation on our vision and plans around our future Web, Intranet, Extranet etc, so we obliged (I’m not normally one to turn down a chance to talk about stuff I’m passionate about).

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t see the point in Local Government considering investments in new intranets when the Knowledge Hub is and will be available from early next year and fully live by next september. If you are also ambitious you could consider downloading the source code which is free and installing a local implementation.

Anyway, yesterday was primarily aimed at talking about how the KHub fit with our vision and our potential technical architecture and our information architecture.

You can see the full slide deck on the Communities of Practice site – however one of the slides showed the very broad concept of how we essentially want to create a Service Oriented Architectural approach which will provide more agility, flexibility and scalability as well as providing a better platform for integration (we are all facing budget reductions and it is highly likely that we will commission more services)

The slide i refer to is below

This slide is for illustrative purposes but is essentially attempting to show how by decoupling the layers of our website we can provide better integration opportunities and greater business capabilities.

The services listed at the bottom represent business applications which will need to be presented via the web, the possibility of integrating Khub in at this level is relatively simple, once we move forward with this architecture. However we are also considering whether or not the KHub becomes part of the core technology towards the top of the slide. We call this the common solutions platform or CSP. It is core technology that supports a number of key strategic priorities around web, document management and business intelligence.

I wasn’t the only one who thought it was an interesting approach as Ingrid Koelher in her post Knowledge Hub – get an early look said:

But what was the coolest for me out of the day was Carl Haggerty’s presentation on the possibilities for Knowledge Hub as part of a local authorities information architecture. Yes, of course, Knowledge Hub will be an awesome replacement for communities of practice and yes, it will give us new opportunities to explore, share and compare data and information. But it’s also a huge money saving opportunity for the sector. Carl thinks that first opportunities are particularly around the extranets – as councils need to work closely with public sector partners, the voluntary and community sectors and social enterprises around new ways of delivering public services. And, of course, there are also opportunities to link sources of learning and help within council intranets to the Knowledge Hub. But there may also be opportunities to use the Knowledge Hub as an intranet itself. Either through extended use (we’d have to work out that might be done), but also perhaps as a local instance of the Knowledge Hub code.

The last point to make is that we are on a learning journey and i’m keen to hear from other lcoal authorities who are interested in this approach or who are considering the same thing as i’d love to chat some things through with you and look at how we can save development and integration time and costs.

GartnerSym – SharePoint 2010: Is It Enterprise-Class?

My day so far has been a bit scattered as there have been supplier sessions interwoven between Gartner sessions. I’ve also allowed some time today to actually write some of the reports I’ve been tasked to produce on the back of this – although I’ve been primarily been putting in placeholders as my brain needs a bit more time and a nights sleep to make sense of some of this stuff.

Anyway this post is about Sharepoint 2010.

The first thing that struck me from the session was the Strategic Planning Assumption shared by Gartner Analyst Regina Casonato:

By 2015, SharePoint will be as popular a platform for enterprise content applications as the iPad and iPhone are for consumer apps.

So i tweeted a comment along these lines which lead to quite a good mini discussion about “what was really meant by this” < My tweet is below:!/carlhaggerty/status/1923864636432384

Gartner Analyst Regina did cover the improvements in Sharepoint 2010 since 2007 and broadly major improvements to search and integration have been made and some improvement to workflow have been made, but i still ask myself is this really enough?
In terms of the Gartner Magic Quadrants Microsoft sit in or near the top right quadrant for ECM, Portal (internal) and Social software (internal) < Whilst you can’t ignore the dominance, it still doesn’t quite feel right considering that we were also told that Sharepoint is and i quote Gartner Analyst Regina here
“Basic social computing tools are “Good Enough” to challenge tactical suppliers”
However for local government and in this current economic climate can we really think about this level of investment or should we being more innovative and radical and consider shared options across the sector, something like the Knowledge Hub project is something which came to my mind and this lead to another interesting side discussion in twitter about whether we should consider making strategic decisions about IT on this scale without really knowing what the shape of our own organisations will be in 12-18 months time.
A very brief  summary would be that Sharepoint 2010 is better than Sharepoint 2007 but is just average at most things which overall means it could be good enough < each organisation needs to work out what value this would bring and whether or not they are prepared to accept the risks and issues associated with large systems.
Update: The views above are observations and people should check out the full features list of sharepoint 2010 to ascertain what value and benefits can ben realised in their own organisations

Death of the Local Authority Intranet

I’ve checked my twitter timeline but can’t find who posted a link to this article on Intranets – It didn’t really offer anything new in terms of definition or uses in my view, in fact I had to check the date of publication just to be sure that I wasn’t reading something from a few years ago. In all fairness I’m focused on Local Government and I’m not for a minute saying that businesses shouldn’t consider them. :o)

The reason I say that is because I believe there is no longer a need for Intranets in Local Government and I for one would be happy to see them all go. I did blog about this before but now I am utterly convinced there is simply no future in them.

They all seem to have common problems around user engagement and usefulness, the promotion and talk of Social Software components for intranets did for some time breathe a bit of life back into them, but times moves on and the cost of replicating this failure across all organisations isn’t efficient (we should fail once and big time :o) ) Seriously though, the shape of councils will change and the concept of what is internal and what is external and what is partnership and what is for suppliers etc will increasingly get more complex that we will simply have no need for a behind the firewall website.

If we are moving towards a strategic commissioning model then we will need to develop effective extranets which can support collaboration across organisations and sectors as well as providing a platform for policy and standards. With Open Government what is really sensitive about all these policies and existing content on Intranets that couldn’t be requested under FOI anyway? In my experience people who do have access to intranets don’t bother looking and it is seen as an after thought.

We would be delivering applications via the web into a web platform – dare I say portal of some kind – I do hate the word portal, but as I type nothing else springs to mind! We would need to ensure security of sensitive data and this will be facilitated through access controls and not simply a giant firewall around a poor web platform which is generally a place where internal information goes to die.

I’ve said it before but the Knowledge Hub project will offer a huge opportunity and although some people have said to me that councils will need Intranets – I can’t think of a single reason why we would need one of our own, instead of using a sector wide extranet which allows staff to connect with each other regardless.

The Knowledge Hub as I see it could be integrated with local technology solutions to provide a proactive destination for information – a place you go to “do” your work and collaborate with colleagues. This is the complete opposite of most Intranets which are a place we “store” policies and documents….

Ok there are some good examples out there – well I’ve heard that there are, the thing is I can’t see them….another thing the knowledge resolves we all see the same platform and only access information which we are allowed to see.

I have been called optimistic before and maybe this is exactly that….but in these tough financial times, can we really afford not to join up….I for one am looking forward to February 2011 when the Knowledge Hub is launched.

What is the future for Public Sector Intranets

Public sector and in particular Local Government Intranets are in my view a bit of a strange thing really – they are supposed to support productivity, knowledge sharing, internal communications and staff engagement to name a few key areas, but most in my experience fail to do a single thing well.

I don’t think we need to ponder the reasons as i think they are pretty easy to point to: lack of dedicated funding – often diverted to the “priority” public website, lack of focus, lack of direction, lack of external review and benchmarking (no Better Connected report for inside the firewall), lack of interaction and a lack of culture around real collaboration (assumed not proven!).

So I asked myself what is the future for Public Sector Intranets?

I actually find this quite an interesting area to talk about – I know i need to get out more – but there is a convergence happening around corporate desktops and Intranets which has to be considered and recognised if organisations want to move forward. They aren’t the same but the capabilities of each do overlap, depending on how you define your intranet of course.

Then there is the IDeA’s Knowledge Hub Project which in my view offers huge opportunities – Any public sector body considering replacing or rebuilding there current intranet ought to at least find out more about this project as i believe it will transform the way the public sector collaborates and could in my view become a public sector intranet – It almost has to, if it wants to deliver some of the benefits it talks about. This model also becomes even more relevant considering the impending cuts across the sector and the drive to move shared services and a reduction in duplication. Intranets seem a likely if not obvious target in my opinion.

The future for intranets may in fact be that we no longer need them at all. If we are being driven to publish data online to service areas such as FOI, being encouraged to collaborate across the sector to reduce duplication and share best practice and learning, increase staff and employee productivity, work in partnership and across the public sector and ensure a skills transfer and knowledge base. Then how can any single public sector organisation justify or even consider developing there own – well at least until they can prove they need one on there own?

Whatever the future for Intranets, one thing I can say with certainty is that they can no longer continue being static, boring, un-engaging, repositories of out of date information.

Do you think there is a need for an organisation to have its own intranet?