Tech Talk 1 by Ken Baker
Zeroing in on Information Relevance with Novell Teaming
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We work in a knowledge economy, but sometimes we face more information than we can handle. Information floods your users from many different sources. Corporate applications and data are supposed to assist users with structured tasks. E-mail, calendars, IM and chat facilitate impromptu communication among employees, partners, suppliers and customers. The Web, with its almost limitless supply of information, adds yet another source. Sometimes we can simply have too much of a good thing.
In a very real sense, users have been forced to become integrators of all these different systems and sources. Users pull bits of information from here, there and everywhere, weaving the most useful pieces together in the hope that it will result in unique value to the organization. Left on their own to wade through the deluge of information, users often spend more time culling through information that might or might not be relevant than they do on the subsequent activities that actually produce value.
As part of its long-term Unified Communications initiative, Novell aims to make it easier for users to quickly identify and make use of relevant information. Novell sees teaming capabilities and enterprise social software playing a key role in this effort. In fact, Novell Teaming already provides powerful features to help your users easily and quickly pinpoint, track, integrate and manage relevant information. But these are just a few first steps in Novell’s ultimate goal to help users zero in on the information they need.
One of the valuable collaboration tools Novell Teaming offers today to help users find relevant information is social search. When you search for information in Novell Teaming, not only do you get the information you searched on, but you also see all the places and people in the enterprise connected to that information. The search results provide a social context for the way information is being used, as well as its relationships to other documents, projects, teams and individuals within the organization.
For example, if you do a search on “social marketing,” you see the expected natural results as a list of links to documents, wikis, blogs, calendar entries, and more—all sorted by their relevance to social marketing—along with who posted it, the date it was created and the name of the folder where it’s located. In addition to the standard link list, Novell Teaming provides a listing of top-ranked places or folders in the global workspace that have information on social marketing, which might include areas such as Marketing Plans, Direct Sales Kits, Sales, Market Competitors and more. You can then explore those areas to not only see what related information they have on social marketing, but also what activities or projects they contain that relate to the subject.
The search results page also gives you a list of top-ranked people, so you can immediately see who the experts in your organization are on the subject you’re searching for. Knowing who your subject matter experts are can save valuable time in getting hard-to-find answers and insights that everyone needs to do their jobs. It’s also a vital step in forming virtual teams and building key relationships. But even more immediate than any of that, it gives you the ability to instantly see what certain experts have been working on, what material they have created on the subject of interest, and the teams with which they’re working.
A sophisticated search builder in Novell Teaming allows you to be very specific about the information you want to find. Users are also only able to see search results based on their assigned rights and access control privileges.
Restricted content will not appear in the natural search listings or ranked places.
Simplifying Social Networking in the Enterprise
Social software holds the promise of increased productivity in the workplace by bringing together the right team members for important projects. To facilitate this goal, Novell Teaming makes it easy for anyone to create a workspace in seconds. Every workspace provides easy access to a series of folders containing blogs, wikis, discussion forums, surveys, calendars and documents. Once the workspace is in place, you automatically have an online area where the people that form your team can come together, access and store the content relevant to team projects. Team members can easily send out invitations for new members to participate on the team, and they can begin contributing right away. With Novell Teaming, there’s very little, if anything, to design or configure to get teams working together and collaborating with the expediency needed in today’s fast-moving business environments.
Additionally, personal workspaces can act as a virtual on-ramp to the increased productivity delivered by enterprise social software. These workspaces help users organize their own files and wikis while making it easy to communicate ideas via blogs and use surveys to tap into others’ opinions and collective wisdom. Personal workspaces also provide a great way for users to let prospective co-workers get to know them and their skills.
Both the personal workspace and team workspace capabilities in Novell Teaming are ready to use out of the box. Unfortunately, not all team productivity solutions share this commitment to simplicity and ease of use. Some, in fact, have complex designs that stifle the very productivity they’re meant to create. For example, Microsoft SharePoint is Web design-heavy and usually requires a corporate SharePoint designer to create a workspace before the team can even begin working together productively. That heavy upfront design effort can make it difficult to address the immediacy of many projects, or to get the spontaneous creativity that comes from bringing the right people together quickly.
Tools to Support More Effective Work
Successfully dealing with the issue of information overload sometimes means that users simply need to change how they work with the information they have or the tools they use to manage that information. For example, over the past twenty years or so e-mail has evolved into one of the most powerful and indispensable tools for collaboration. The trouble is that e-mail is also one of the chief culprits in creating information overload.