Writes Line56.com:

Portals are becoming an increasingly popular method of automating communication with customers, partners and employees. Interestingly, there is a trend underway whereby organizations are starting to deploy groups of ‘similar’ portals for distinct, specialized groups. These would be able to share functions for like communities and would also reuse administrative procedures.

Microportals offer organizations an extremely powerful tool to empower and distribute the management of their portal for areas such as multi-tiered distribution models, partner relationship management or ‘white labeling’. Such models bring a level of organizational complexity that basic portals will not easily handle. The result is a cost effective way of managing large numbers of portal users within a single infrastructure while reducing the cost of ownership by distributing portal management to trusted parties. The benefit to an organization is that they have full visibility of all portal usage across all of their microportals, and can extrapolate valuable information to aid their own prioritization and planning.

Social Capital

Ross Mayfield discusses social capital – “the ease in which people in a culture can form new associations” – in the context of blogspace. He writes: “People use weblogs in different modes: Publishing, Communication and Collaboration. By dramatically lowering the cost for these modes on the public internet — they are rapidly increasing the value of social capital.”

Blog Post Recommendations

Sam Ruby has an idea: “Read a few blog entries and push on little green thumbs up or red thumbs down icons. Then any all all posts on topics that interest you in your greater neighboorhood will come to your aggregator.”

We want to do this via BlogStreet. The first step is being to get to the actual blog posts, and then be able to track who else has liked/read those posts. Would be great to have.

Corporate Blogs

Writes Richard Karpinski:

For creative b-to-b marketers, Weblogsespecially when combined with e-newsletters, message forums and XML-based feeds of Weblog contentoffer what Doc Searls, a well-known blogger and former public relations executive, describes as free-range publication relations.

“Weblogs give companies a way to relate to customers and other members of the marketplace in a truly human way that may be more authoritative than anything public relations organs can produce,” Searls said. “They also give companies a living presence on the Web, rather than just a brochure or a replica in pixels of a headquarters lobby.”

IBM’s Office Plans

From Techweb:

IBM, not exactly a powerhouse in desktop applications, has its own attack on the desktop planned for later this year. IBM Software and its Lotus Software Group have built J2EE-based spreadsheet, document, and presentation graphics “applications” that will be bundled for free with the company’s WebSphere portal, sources said…The applications are served up “on demand” from the server.

IBM executives asked about the plan were quick to say the effort is really not about the desktop, and that the functionality resides at the back end, while Office remains a client application. But those lines are blurring as Microsoft touts increasing Office tie-ins to back-end processes.

The average PC user, if he or she is not on the road, does not care where the capability resides as long as it works.

Some insiders say the IBM applications are not targeting Office users, but are more designed for deskless workers who share kiosks. But other IBMers are telling partners that Office is in their crosshairs, and that they see an opportunity to take business from Microsoft.

Andy Grove Interview

Quotes from an interview with HBS Working Knowledge:

That framework is changing now. The Internet is redefining software. The Internet is redefining the role of computing and communication and their interaction with each other. I still dont understand the new framework. I dont think any of us really do. But some aspects of it are pretty clear. Its proven to be not computing based but communications based. In it computing is going to be subordinated to the communication task. It is going to be very heavily dominated by the increasing portion of all intellectual property being created in digital form, stored in this platform, and therefore ready to be transported in digital form.

None of us have a real understanding of where we are heading. I dont. I have senses about it. But decisions dont wait; investment decisions or personal decisions dont wait for that picture to be clarified. You have to make them when you have to make them. And try not to get too depressed in the journey, because theres a professional responsibility. If you are depressed, you cant motivate your staff to extraordinary measures. So you have to keep your own spirits up even though you well understand that you dont know what youre doing.

You can promote intuition. You can recognize the innate aptitude of people to grasp what cannot be spelled out and cannot be shown by data, to be in tune with those vague attributes on the other side of that vague valley. And put them in positions where they can act on their intuition. But having said that, this presumes that the person making the promotion has a grasp of the situation. Which goes right back to where you started with your question. The senior leader has to have the understanding and the confidence in his conviction.

TECH TALK: Transforming Rural India: Intelligent, Real-Time Governance

A Government is very much like a large, multi-locational Enterprise. If we think of intelligent, real-time enterprises, we can also apply the same ideas to enable intelligent, real-time governance.

A real-time enterprise, as Ray Lane says, is a company that uses Internet technology to drive out manual business processes, to eliminate guesswork, and to reduce costs. The key feature of a real-time enterprise is spontaneous transaction flow.

In other words, think of a real-time enterprise as having the following characteristics:

Computing and Communications available to every employee
Superior Information Availability across the Value Chain
Streamlined Business Processes using the Web
Lower Inventory through improved Analytics
Data entered only Once
Single Interface to all Applications

This is exactly how governments need to think of themselves. It is about creating a corporate atmosphere with a social bias.

The villages are part of the real-time governance supply-chain. A supply chain is only as good as its weakest link. Today, isolated villages are the equivalent of unconnected small and medium enterprises in supply chains. The TeleInfoCentre and Village InfoGrid bring the villages into the governance network, enabling a two-way near real-time flow of information. They form the endpoints, the spokes, the front-office if you will. They need to be complemented with the automation of the back-office the heart of the government which lies in the state capitals and district headquarters.

What governments need is a four-step action plan to move towards the vision of architecting an intelligent, real-time information flow architecture:

  • Messaging and Internet Access for all employees: Every government employee should have an email ID and access to Instant Messaging. Each of the government locations should be networked. There should be integration of the messaging infrastructure with cellphones to enable delivery of real-time alerts.
  • Computing for all: Every government employee needs to have a computer on their desk. The same ideas that are applicable for a TeleInfoCentre (low-cost computers, server-centric computing, open-source software, and support for English and local languages) can be used to build out the computing infrastructure. Computer training and usage must be made mandatory for salary raises and promotions. The monthly cost to make computing available to every employee will be no more than Rs 500-700. If employees and government processes can be made just 5% more productive, the investment will pay back immediately.
  • Collaboration and Knowledge Management: Once the computing and messaging infrastructure is in place, the next step is to make people individually more productive and make teams work together more efficiently. This can be done via the use of workflow software and tools to aid decision-making. Every employees computer desktop should have a Digital Dashboard a single screen of information which shows the key indicators and events that need attention. Tacit knowledge within government employees should be harnessed through the use of enterprise weblogs.
  • Business Process Automation: The essence of governance is about managing money (think of it as accounting) and interacting with citizens and businesses (akin to customer relationship management). The focus needs to be on the core business processes, creating an event-driven architecture with the focus being not on routine information management but on handling exceptions. The OHIO (only handle information once) principle should ensure an integrated backend database. One of the first places that governments can begin using Internet and Web ideas is in eProcurement.

    The result of building out the government as an eBusiness will be to enable the creation of an Emergent Democracy.

    Tomorrow: Emergent Democracy

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