Sunday, 24 January 2010

Innovex blog on collaboration, social media and cloud computing

I attended the student presentations that Mary Rose discusses. As a technologist I was fascinated by what the students had discovered during their journey. From my experience, among entrepreneurs are groups of technology lovers, but a good many cannot see the benefit to their bottom line, and even see additional risks imposed by collaborative platforms. There is an upfront cost to switching to a new platform (e.g. training) but implementation need not be rapid and new platforms can be brought in gently until staff become comfortable with the new ways of working. Starting simply is key. Once engaged however, the knowledge management benefits very much outweigh the initial switching costs. A clear advantage of collaboration platforms, as Mary highlights, was presented during the recent bad winter weather. Although I could not travel to work, I was able to work from home as productively as I could in my office. In this sense, collaboration platforms are also green technologies as working from home or hosting meetings whilst participants are geographically dispersed is now possible. Technology during the 1990s and the early naughties became far too complicated. Large firms adopted new technologies quite well as they have the resources to buy in consultants, but smaller firms lagged due to a lack of finance, skill and a 'one liner' explaining the benefits more clearly. Heck, you needed to be a computer expert and an entrepreneur at the same time and this is a fairly rare blend of abilities! With cloud technology becoming more widely available the IT world is going to be simplified and less expensive. So, here is my 'one liner': Employ collaborative platforms to raise productivity, manage your people, manage their knowledge, keep IT costs down, find/retain customers better and simplify your operations.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Building novel e-communities

Recently, Lancaster eScience, the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (IEED) and the Northwest Regional Development Agency was awarded JISC funding to develop online communities of business professionals using the Sakai collaborative environment. Called EMBRACE (EManaged Business Relationships and Cohesive Environments), the project builds on the JISC award (CRIB, see blog roll for more detail) and seeks to apply embedded social network functionality that Sakai now contains to develop lasting communicative relations between the public sector (e.g. academic and governmental agencies) and small and medium sized enterprise. The project begins on the 1st of February. EScience would like to take this opportunity to thank collaborators (IEED, Northwest Regional Development Agency) and supporters (Swansea University) for providing the evidence base that led to the successful bid. Without their support new opportunities such as these would not be feasible. I would also like to thank the Sakai development community for providing incentive to developers to keep on producing innovative and new ways of building e-communities. In particular, we would like to thank Steve Swinsburg (Sakai Fellow) for delivery of a new and innovative social networking tool beyond his contractual obligations. I personally would like to thank the development team at Lancaster eScience (Adrian Fish and Dan Robinson) for their sterling work in delivering Sakai to the academic and business communities and supporting the Sakai service provided at Lancaster. For further details of EMBRACE or CRIB please contact me at