Mobial presents at the Knowledge Management Leadership Forum

Simon Waller presenting on knowledge management and mobile technology

Photo courtesy of @NickyHW

On Wednesday 26 June, Mobial presented at Melbourne’s Knowledge Management Leadership Forum (KMLF). The KMLF is a face-to-face education and networking forum, run by Knowledge Management practitioners for Knowledge Management practitioners and attracts a diverse audience from across the public and private sectors.

The focus of the presentation was the use of mobile technology as a personal knowledge management tool to compliment an organisations existing knowledge management systems. You can follow some of the conversations on the Mobility in the Workplace Storify by Nicky Hayward-Wright

Thanks to Nicky Hayward-Wright, Luke Grange and the rest of the KMLF team for organising the event.

Do your executives really want Android?

Android has a keen following in enterprise IT circles because of its openness and customisability. But before you embark on an Android deployment ask yourself, is Android usable enough to build engagement amongst your workforce?

Many IT departments prefer Android over iOS because if its openness and customisability. Although this makes IT’s job of managing and supporting devices easier it is actually not something that the end user generally cares about. There is a genuine risk that if IT doesn’t take the end users needs into consideration, they may end up implementing a safe, secure system that people struggle to use effectively.

I find that most executive teams ultimately care about usefulness and usability. They want a suite of apps that helps them do their job more effectively and that are easy to learn and use. Although these tools should also be safe and secure, this is not their primary concern.

It should be pointed out that this isn’t so much about the Android platform as it is about the apps. Although there are plenty of Android apps in the Google Play store there is still only a limited range of tablet optimised apps and many of these are either buggy or have limited features compared to their iOS alternatives.

Although this will close over time I don’t see it happening soon. I have contacted a couple of app developers to see if they were planning to release or update their Android apps and both said they were focusing on the iOS platform at the moment and didn’t see the value in dedicating resources to Android development at the moment. Their reasoning for this was that the Android user base was less willing to pay for apps and the cost of development was higher due to the variety of hardware and screen sizes.

So if you are looking to implement a mobile technology program my advice to organisations is not to rush towards Android without taking into account end user needs. Although it may cost less in terms of hardware and support than an iOS or, even better, a cross platform solution, you may ultimately pay for this in lower levels of engagement and use.

Remember, the value of a system is not what it costs you. Cost is how much you pay for it, value is what it returns to the organisation in terms of greater productivity and effectiveness. And value is only created once the platform is both used and useful.

Mobial presents at West Australian small business events

Digital futures event

Mobial presented two workshops hosted by Business Foundations as part of Western Australia’s state government funded Digital Futures program. The free workshops were aimed at assisting small businesses identify and engage in the opportunities offered by digital technology.

The workshops where held on May 30 in Victoria Park and June 4 in Joondalup and focused on why small businesses need to be engaging with mobile and cloud technology and the tools they can use to be more effective in business.

Mobial presents to the South Australian tourism industry

SATIC Conference

In May Mobial presented at the 2013 South Australian Tourism Council conference. The theme for this years conference was ‘Your business – Our tourism future’ and SATIC wanted to be able to provide participants with cutting edge thinking to support the states tourism operators.

Mobial discussed the advantages that mobile technology offers tourism operators and how to implement a mobile technology program. Mobial also presented a case study of its work with South Australian Tourism’s Hall of Fame nominees Adventure Bay Charters.

 

Mobial launches new ‘Leaders with Technology’ program

Mobial is proud to launch its new flagship program Leaders with Technology. The one day program is aimed at senior executive teams that want to both harness the benefits of mobile technology and reduce the negative impacts, especially in regard to leadership traits.

Many leaders are concerned about the distractions posed by technology and the negative impact that it has on work-life balance, time for reflection and other aspects of leadership. Given that the use of mobile technology is set to boom in business it is more important than ever to give leaders the skills to use their technology in an effective way.

With Simon’s extensive knowledge of mobile technology and post graduate training in business management and leadership, Mobial is uniquely positioned to help leaders manage technology. To find out more about this program please contact us.

The ghost of technology past

One of the most common challenges  I come across when trying to get people to engage with mobile technology is their ‘ghosts of technology past’. Ghosts of technology past includes our memories of losing important documents and not having backups, dial up internet and ‘The blue screen of death’.

Thanks to Moore’s Law (which predicts technology doubles in performance every 12-18 months) technology has come along since those dark days. Modern technology is both easier to learn and provides greater productivity benefits than ever before. But for many users, their ghosts have led them to disengage and they aren’t aware how much technology has changed.

I once read a tweet that said ‘is it time that we came up with a new name for technology?’. I find this a tempting thought, the ability to wipe the slate clean and start again. But appealing as this might be it wont make disengaged appreciate how far we have come, and how quickly it has happened. This is why I always try and start my engagements within an organisation by training key decision makers one-on-one so that they can truly appreciate what this new breed of technology can do.

I think that the current wave of technology development is extraordinary. It is allowing us to automate our most menial tasks and share information and collaborate on a previously unimaginable scale. Perhaps it is time for us to let go of our ghosts of technology past and embrace the opportunities of the technology future.

Mobile technology and ecologically sustainable development

For many there is a view that technology is the antithesis of ecologically sustainable development. Looking around us we can see the dramatic impact that human technology have had on the environment. Evidence also suggests that if we continue on our current trajectory much of the earth will cease to be inhabitable within a couple of hundred years.

Although this might seem a compelling argument against technology I feel that we need to take a broader view about how technology is created and used. We create technologies with the objective of improving our quality of life. When food sources were insecure we devised hunting, gathering and farming technologies. When disease created discomfort and untimely death we developed medical and health related technologies. More recently, when life was hard and dominated by work, we have created time saving and domestic technologies such as white goods. And perhaps less impressive is our development of leisure technologies to overcome boredom.

I think that the health of our ecological environment is increasingly being seen as a key drivers of our quality of life (even if this is in part due to the technologies we have developed). In response to this, we will mobile global technology development to creating a sustainable response. What is more, the time that it has taken for us to devise, create, produce and adopt these technologies will happen at an increasingly rapid rate.

I believe key to this mobilisation is communication and mobile technologies. Communication technologies such as the phone, television, the internet, and social technologies have allowed us to see the impact that we are having on a global scale (and these communication technologies will also allow us to collaborate and develop the next wave of technologies at an even faster rate). Mobile technology will be the next big thing when it comes to enabling ecologically sustainable development.

There are the immediate benefits of mobile technology such as reduced carbon emissions, to the ability to work remotely and attend meetings digitally. In addition, tablets will dramatically cut our reliance on paper due to the ability to transport and access information when away from our computers. But perhaps the greatest benefit of mobile technology is that it frees us from our cubicles and allows us to reconnect with the world around us.

By being able to operate our businesses from the world in which we live, I believe we will become far more aware of the impact that we have. In our business life, we can be immensely powerful with the ability to summon and direct huge amounts of resources towards achieving our objectives. I believe that if we can do this whilst connected to the outside world, we are likely to make decisions that are not only economically sound but also positively impact our environment and our future quality of life.

Is this the post PC era?

Is this the beginning of the post PC era

Since the release of the iPad only a few years ago we have seen a phenomenal growth in tablet usage leading many commentators to suggest that we are entering the post-PC era. Microsoft on the other hand believes that there is no such thing as the post PC era and insists that tablets are actually ‘tablet PCs’ (with Microsofts own Surface RT tablet you only have to scratch the thin veneer of the ‘Metro’ operating environment to find a traditional Windows desktop underneath).

[tweetthis url=”http://bit.ly/1Jz3sdd”]Tablets can do 95% of paper tasks better, more likely ushering in a post-paper than post-PC era.[/tweetthis]

Although this is most likely a question of how we define ‘personal computer’ and ‘tablet’ I believe that the mixed messages about how tablets should be used and integrated with our other digital devices is stopping us from seeing the potential of our tablet devices. Rather than think about the PC tasks that you can do on your tablet, think about the tasks that you have traditionally filled with paper. I would argue that the current breed of tablets are only 50% like a PC but 95% like paper. This is because a tablet will do about 50% of what you can do on your PC and often do it badly. Conversely your tablet can do about 95% of what you do on paper, and most often do it better.

My own view is that although we are going to continue to see a convergence of tablets and PCs we currently face some fairly significant limitations in regard to screen size, input methods and (less significantly) computing power that means a ‘post-laptop’ era is still a few years away. In the meantime tablet users should rest assured that their devices can be used to fill a fairly significant technology gap.

There is a very good chance that we will reach the post-paper era long before we reach the post-PC one.

Tablets in business are inevitable: Only training and support will keep information safe

The other day I presented to the Knowledge Management Roundtable Victoria whose members includes  knowledge managers from across the public and private sector. The presentation was on the inevitability of mobile technology such as iPads and tablets in workplace and the opportunity that they offer in supporting ‘personal knowledge management’.

From the discussion it was clear that many organisations have been holding off on implementing a tablet strategy until there is a suitable enterprise grade solution that will let them control the information on the device. Although I understand why organisations are taking this approach I think it might be a risky strategy and based on some unsound assumptions.

The first assumption is that people need IT to deliver a ‘personal knowledge management’ solution and that they are willing to wait until IT is ready to deliver it. The second assumption is that unless organisations have an enterprise level of control over tablet devices information will be less unsecured

Reality Check 1: People don’t need IT to deliver personal knowledge management solutions

There are already countless consumer grade solutions that are allowing people to use their iPads to be more effective in business. Individuals who are willing to supply their own device no longer need an IT department to deliver a solution you can visit the App Store and set this up for less that $50. Unless your mobile policy is so strict that people are not allowed to bring devices onto the premises then there is a good chance that this is already happening.

Reality Check 2: Organisational information is already unsecured, you just don’t have any visibility over it

The majority of the information that people capture on their tablets would normally be captured on paper. This means there is actually a massive opportunity to increase information security, even without an enterprise solution.

In general employees do not set out to steal or maliciously share information (and if this is there intent Wikileaks has shown that even the US army can’t stop this happening). Most often information leakage (such as people emailing documents to their personal email accounts) is a result of a lack of understanding or training. What’s more, for most individuals the desire to be more effective in their work will override any small concerns they have about information security (because they get rewarded for being more effective).

I believe that the way forward has to be for organisations to accept the inevitability of people using tablets in the workplace and take a proactive approach to making the people more effective, and in doing so keeping information safer. If organisations don’t take a proactive approach, you can guarantee that people will take it upon themselves to deliver their own personal knowledge management solution.

The infographic below helps illustrate the inevitability of people using tablets in business

Why do we go to meetings?

Meetings, especially in large organisations, are often looked on with a level of disdain. People have a lot of work to get done and often see that time spent in meetings is wasted. Although this can be the case it is also worth reflecting on why we hold meetings in the first place.

Meetings are fundamentally about eliciting information flows. As knowledge workers in organisations we are tasked with making good decisions and those decisions are fundamentally a result of our personal knowledge base (what we ‘know’). Our personal knowledge base is subsequently a result of the information that we have access to and our intellectual ability to make sense of this information. Finally our personal knowledge base is a result of both the information that we find and the information that we get from others.

Meetings are one of the richest ways of us to share information with others and also for tapping into the knowledge base of others. Yet for many the only knowledge technology that they have at their disposal in a meeting environment is piece of paper…and their brain. They use their paper and pen for recording what was relevant and they use their brain as the indexing device to ‘remember’ the high level ideas of the meeting for future reference.

Unfortunately for many knowledge workers the quantity of information that we are provided in such situations can be overwhelming and the traditional paper and brain combination is now struggling to keep up. Combine this with research that was recently presented in New Scientist that our brains are actually a very poor remembrance device and it clear that if we wish to make good business decisions and deliver value to our clients that we need to come up with a better way.

I believe that this is the fundamental role that mobile technology, especially tablet devices, plays in delivering value to organisations. By replacing the paper and pen as our recording device and the brain as our indexing device we can both store higher quality and quantities of information and recall exactly what we need when we need it.

What’s more, by making this shift you are freeing up your brain to do what it is inherently good at, making meaning out of the information that it has available to it. For this reason I believe that there will be a big shift in how we view this type of technology over the next five years. Not only will they be increasingly prevalent in meeting rooms and board rooms, if you are a knowledge worker it may even be considered unprofessional to NOT be using some form of tablet or ‘decision support device’. After all, if meetings are about eliciting information flows, dont you want to be sure that you are getting the best possible information and knowledge from the people that you are sharing with?