Law Firm IT Whiplash

Head and Neck - Gray1194The Mayo Clinic staff describe whiplash as,

a neck injury that can occur during rear-end automobile collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward — similar to the motion of someone cracking a whip. These extreme motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.

Whiplash is what I experienced this weekend. The backward movement happened when I read early reviews of the newly released ILTA 2014 Technology Survey. The forward movement occurred when I read Riverview Law’s announcement of its new Software-as-a-Service offering entitled “In-House Solutions.”

Without a doubt, the ILTA survey is an enormous undertaking that provides a real service to the legal industry by shining a light on current IT practices among law firms. As Jobst Elster of Inside Legal reported, the survey results reflect the input of “454 law firms (33% of the ILTA membership representing more than 106,000 attorneys and 217,000 total users) responding to almost 200 questions about what technologies they are using to run their firms.”

Legal IT for the rest of us

While ILTA provides this incredible resource to the legal industry, it is not responsible for the data. That responsibility lies at the feet of law firm technologists and the senior partners of each firm who make the technology decisions. In reviewing the survey’s findings, Ron Friedmann of Prism Legal noted the following:

  • Social Networking and Collaboration Tools: “The results here disappoint but do not surprise.”
  • Legal Project Management and Budgeting: “The survey did not ask about  legal project management, pricing, or budgeting software. … As clients demand value and as more firms respond, demand for LPM, budgeting, and pricing software surely will grow. So I hope the survey will cover this area in the future.”
  • Contact Management and Marketing: “Corporate CMOs looking at these results, if they understood all the software listed, would undoubtedly chuckle.”
  • Predictive Coding / Computer-Assisted Review: “…I was surprised to see what I consider fairly low percents of larger law firms using what I thought was a well-established (if not universally accepted) technology and process.”
  • Document Assembly: “Less than half of responding firms report using any document assembly.”
  • Chargebacks to Clients: “Many firms continue charging for items that many clients likely consider overhead.”

There may be good news inside the survey, but the items noted by Ron Friedmann, Randi Mayes (ILTA’s executive director) and Jobst Elster suggest that, among survey respondents, law firm IT is constrained externally by client concerns about security and internally by partner concerns about cost.

Legal IT for the best of us

What’s behind the new Riverview Law product? According to their website, they are responding to a clear client need:

Having met our people and seen what we do, visiting General Counsel and In-house lawyers often ask whether we will license our technology. Whether we can help them design, implement and roll-out processes, workflows, and data analytics tailored to their in-house function. As one General Counsel commented “If I had your systems, if I could tailor your model to my function, it would help my team make quicker and better decisions.”

In the words of Karl Chapman, Riverview Law’s CEO,  they are “taking the Riverview Law model and enabling general counsels and legal teams internally to actually tailor it to suit their business.”  This means that corporate legal departments that purchase these tools get the benefit of the technology platform that gives Riverview Law a competive advantage in delivering managed legal services. Their SaaS customers can now use the Riverview expertise embodied in a collection of modules to

  • manage the flow of matters,
  • manage “new contract creation from start to finish via multi-channels (desktop, tablet, mobile)”, and
  • manage their processes and productivity through the analytics module that “provides detailed management information and business insight” to help GCs “preempt risk and reduce future cost.”

As Katy Robson, Riverview Law’s head of IT, observed: they have built these tools from the bottom-up, from the lawyer’s perspective and reflecting lawyer user requirements. Equally, they have built these tools from the top-down to ensure the tools provide the necessary data and analytical capability to run a legal business more efficiently.

 Treating whiplash

So what happens after you suffer from whiplash? According to the helpful Mayo Clinic staff:

Whiplash injuries can be mild or severe. Treatment typically begins with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice applied to the painful neck muscles. If pain persists, prescription medications and physical therapy may be helpful.

Most people recover from whiplash in just a few weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury.

While most people recover within a few weeks, I suspect the denizens of the legal industry will take much longer. However, all is not lost. Karl Chapman has kindly offered to license their technology to in-house counsel who do not use Riverview Law’s managed services. I wonder how other law firms will respond when their clients purchase Riverview Law’s In-House Solutions? The contrast between a client’s new software-enabled efficiency and their external counsel’s approach could be quite striking.

[Photo credit: Wikipedia]



Middle-Earth Communications, Part 2

The Hobbit SecondEdIn my previous post on Middle-Earth Communication Methods, I wrote about the importance of varying the way we communicate. And, I gave some examples from Delta Airlines and Air New Zealand (official airlines of middle-earth) that illustrate how a little imagination and humor allowed them to communicate their crucial safety messages more effectively.

Michael Foster, writing on, takes the importance of variety in communications even further. In his view, when communications are predictable, their intended audience simply tunes them out:

Safe equals predictable

Human beings process information every second of every day. What we do with this data varies, but in many cases we use it to make tiny, subconscious predictions about what will happen next. At its simplest, this can be illustrated by watching the flight of a thrown ball. Our brain automatically estimates the ball’s future trajectory based on its path up to that point, thus allowing us to catch it (or try to).

This process works in exactly the same way when we listen to someone speaking, with our brain constantly making and revising predictions on where the sentence, point or speech is leading. An engaging presentation tells us something we don’t know in a way in which the outcome becomes unpredictable. The result is that this forces us to pay attention. However when we hear a familiar presenter, speaking in a way we recognize about a message we have heard before, our brain quickly tells us we already know the outcome and maintaining focus becomes much harder. Most of the time this happens subconsciously, but it is a vital process for … communicators to be aware of. [emphasis added]

Predictable equals shortchanged KM

In her comment to my previous post, Vishal Agnihotri (CKO of Akerman LLP) reminded me that effective communications are a critical part of effective change management. Further, effective change management is a requirement of effective knowledge management. So if you stick to predictable messages, you will have a hard time engaging your audience sufficiently to convince them to embrace the changes embodied by your KM initiatives. At that point, it’s game over.

There is, however, an alternative path if you are willing to employ some middle-earth methods. Introduce a little humor and imagination into your communications. Feed the curiosity of your audience so that they stayed tuned to your messages.

When you find yourself stuck in a communications rut, befriend your colleagues in the marketing department of your firm. Ask them to provide some strategic and tactical advice on your own department’s communications. By this I mean more than simply asking them to design a pretty logo or slick internal newsletter. Rather, give them free rein over your text and images too. Ask them what they would recommend you do to incorporate into your communications those vital elements of surprise and delight that capture the attention of your audience. In fact, if you’re serious about sharpening up your department’s communications, see if you can bring a marketing/communications person onto each KM project team from the beginning. By involving them early, you can bake an effective communications strategy into your project plan. In this way, you give yourself a fighting chance of actually getting your message across.

And in those moments when the appeal of dull but safe corporate communications seems most enticing, gather up your courage and then  summon your inner hobbit. As Gandalf the Grey observed:

“Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.”

May you always find good ways to surprise your colleagues.


[Photo credit: Wikipedia]



Middle-Earth Communication Methods

Hobbit booksWhen you are sharing your knowledge management or technology insights, do your colleagues listen attentively and then do exactly as instructed? No, I didn’t think so. Why is this? They may be suffering from information overload and you are just one more unwanted input. Or, they may be multitasking and simply can’t focus on you. Or they may be absorbed in something and cannot spare the bandwidth necessary to process what you’re saying. In fairness, our bodies are complicit in this. Our brains sort through all the incoming stimuli to identify those that are most critical to survival in the moment. Chances are your message about law firm knowledge management or technology just doesn’t make the cut when it comes to survival.

Don’t feel bad. Often even messages that are critical to survival get screened out. A prime example are those safety announcements that are made at the beginning of every flight. If you take a look around you, you’ll see that other passengers are involved in matters that apparently are more pressing to them in the moment: listening to music, flipping through the scintillating inflight magazine, napping. Priorities, people?

Madison Avenue’s approach to capturing attention

Madison Avenue faces its own version of being ignored. In fact, advertising experts have been working for over 100 years to increase the chances that we will hear and act on their messages. Back in 1885, Thomas Smith wrote Successful Advertising in which he provided a formula for how many times a consumer would need to hear a message before that message had the desired impact. In his view, the magic number was … 20!

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

Smith’s formula is one response to the challenge of effective frequency: “the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made and before exposure is considered wasteful.”  Others have settled on the less extreme number of seven. In other words, they believe that you have to repeat a message seven times if you want it to penetrate the noise and have the desired impact.

The airlines’ approach to capturing attention

Does this mean that every piece of KM or technology guidance you offer must be broadcast seven or (heaven forbid) 20 times? I sure hope not. In fact, I’d go so far to say that if you simply repeat the message, your audience will tune you out from sheer boredom. But don’t be dismayed. There may be a path out of the darkness. Going back to those boring airline safety announcements, have you noticed what’s been happening lately? I saw it first on a Delta Airlines flight. Their safety warnings sounded exactly as they had for years. However, their video was suddenly peppered with visual jokes designed to catch the passengers’ attention. And, to avoid boredom, those visual jokes change periodically so that there is always something new to tickle your funny bone. Smart!

Going even further (physically and metaphorically), I draw your attention to Air New Zealand.  I wrote earlier of their clever transparency campaign in which they claimed they had nothing to hide. They have now added to their collection a wonderful safety announcement presented by characters from Middle-earth. Once again, the audio is nearly conventional. However, the video is a feast for the eye. It’s filled with visual jokes and sure to please a Tolkien fan.

Middle-earth method

Taking a leaf out of the Air New Zealand book, think about how you might present your message so that it captures the imagination as much as it captures attention. Can you use color? Can you use humor? Can you use metaphor? Our standard forms of corporate communication are excessively constrained. Worse still, too many within our organizations are expert at screening out those communications. So if you want to break through, you’ll have to break out of those constraints. Using this middle-earth approach, you’ll still have to repeat your message, but you’ll do so in a manner that avoids rather than encourages boredom.

If you need some encouragement, take a look at the Delta Airlines video below. It’s almost corporate — but with a twist. And, if you’re ready for a bolder approach, look at the Air New Zealand video below. As the official airline of Middle-earth, they have a method of communicating that would enliven any law firm!





[Hat tip to Claudia Batten for pointing me to the Air New Zealand video.]

[Photo credit: Tim Sackton]


More than a Facelift

Facelift_incisions_and_undermining_of_different_proceduresIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that it looks quite different today. Yes, Above and Beyond KM has had a facelift. But more than that, it’s also been upgraded to handle 2015. As part of the upgrade, email subscribers should receive new posts by email again. With any luck, RSS subscribers will also find new posts in their feed readers. Best of all, this new and improved should work well on any device ranging from desktops to smartphones.

Thanks for your patience. This upgrade is long overdue. I hope you find it as welcome as I do.

– Mary


[Photo credit: Wikipedia]


An Introduction to Microsoft’s Office Graph #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker:  David Pileggi, Senior Consultant, Earley & Associates

Session Description: Pileggi discusses the recently introduced Office Graph that offers an innovative foundation for designing and delivering information rich experiences to users based on behavior and their relationships to both their peers and content. He explores how these contextually relevant experiences can be delivered through custom developed apps such as Oslo and how components of information architecture including taxonomy and metadata can be used to enrich these search-driven solutions.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • What is it? Office Graph is an extension of Yammer’s Enterprise Graph. It is a tool that does not operate independently. It needs another tool such as Office Delve to surface insights. Office Graph combines 3 buzzwords: Social, Cloud and BigData. 
    • According to the Office Blogs: “The Office Graph uses sophisticated machine learning techniques to connect you to the relevant documents, conversations, and people around you.”
  • What’s driving it? Data is doubling every year; information workers are overwhelmed by content. Further, people have been relying on the Verizon Search Engine (i.e., picking up the phone and asking for help) or Email trees.
  • How does it work? Office Graph records what you are doing. What people, sites or documents are you following? What have you posted? What have you shared? With this data, Office Graph then starts identifying relationships and relevancy. Then it can present relevant content to you via Delve.
  • What works with it? SharePoint Online, Office 365. In time, it will work with Yammer as well.
  • What does this mean for us? Office Graph is to unstructured data as taxonomy is to structured data.
  • Governance: Office Graph is either turned on OR off for your ENTIRE enterprise. At this point, it cannot be turned on for some uses/users and off for others. Be sure that this is acceptable under the data privacy rules of every jurisdiction in which your organization operates. Delve respects the permissions in SharePoint, so Delve will deliver and display only the content from Office Graph that a particular user has permission to see.

Energizing Organizational Learning through Narrative #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Dr. Madelyn Blair, President, Pelerei

Session Description: Narrative intelligence is a critical approach that helps an organization to strengthen its organizational vision, enhance communication, share organizational knowledge, externalize and internalize tacit knowledge, encourage innovation, build communities, and to develop effective social media strategies. The speaker shares strategies, cases, and exercises on how using narrative intelligence through channels offered by social media and organizational communication can energize how the organization is communicating through digital channels.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Sense-making is Key: There’s nothing more frustrating and de-energizing than feeling confused. In our lives, we like to make sense of things. “Turning experience into a story is a fundamental mode of sense-making.” When you listen to a story you become connected to it.  This opens up the possibilities of narrative becoming a learning tool. 
  • What’s Narrative Intelligence? It’s about how you approach a problem, using a mindset that understands that a story is the smallest unit of knowledge (to quote John Seely Brown). “It’s the search for the meaning that does not confuse.”
  • Narrative vs Story: Story concerns a specific event. Narrative is a collection of stories. In that collection, you can begin to see the patterns that exist across the stories. Through a collection of stories, you can imbue an organization with specific values. For example, at the Disney Company, they tell many stories about Walt Disney. These stories are all about creativity, imagination and entertainment.  They are also about making a difference and doing it well. Employees feel empowered by the stories. This is how the people in the company share and reinforce their company values. In effect, the stories create communities of practice.
  • Structure: Each story needs to answer some basic question –  who, how, why, when, where and what happened.  This is necessary to engage the audience. Narrative looks for common threads, emotions, values. While the story helps the storyteller make sense of a specific event, a narrative helps people within an organization with broader sense-making of the larger patterns.
  • Solve Problems by Turning Stories Inside Out: Start by identifying the business problem you want to solve. Put that “in the middle” of  a story that you’re about to create. That problem is the “what.” Then add to the story to provide the other elements (who, why, where , how, etc.). This helps identify possible solutions.
  • Want to learn more? For further information, see Making it Real: Sustaining Knowledge Management, edited by Annie Green.

Understanding the Power of Twitter Chats at USAID #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeakers: Zachary Baquet, Knowledge Management Specialist, US Agency for International Development (USAID); Maciej Chmielewski, Communications Specialist & Digital Media Producer, Insight Systems Corporation

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: For the past year and a half, USAID Bureau for Food Security has experimented with #AskAg Twitter Chats to drive engagement and knowledge exchange inside and outside of its community. Part of Twitter’s value lies in its ability to foster global, multidirectional communications between users that can lead to real and meaningful knowledge exchange. The #AskAg Chats have moved from one-way, ask-the-expert type events to lively conversations in which participants share their experiences with the experts as well as each other. Speakers describe the process for implementing the chats and how it has changed, other products developed from the Twitter Chats, metrics used, and more.


  • Challenge: how to distribute knowledge housed in the organization to all the field staff and affiliates around the world.
  • History: They had a very elegant “Ask the Experts” system in place. However, those experts didn’t have the bandwidth or incentives to engage with everyone in the field who had a question.
  • Why Twitter Chats: they are quick, easy and globally distributed. By doing an 60-90 minute Twitter chat, they were able to concentrate the focus of the experts and the field staff.
  • Method: The chats have a structure to help people understand what the conversation is about and how it will proceed. They are conceived as a highly controlled Q&A session where it is ok to say no. Behind the questions is a Google Docs spreadsheet for each chat. That spreadsheet contains the themes that will be asked during the chat. These themes are then translated into 4 guiding questions. The experts can type their answers into the spreadsheet before the chat. Then a guiding question and the related answers are released every 15 minutes. This eliminates dead space on the chat. After each chats, the gather the tweets via Storify. Storify provides a recap of guiding questions. Further, it might also include a specially written synthesis plus an aggregated list of links and resources that were shared during the chat.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: They work with approximately 100 experts who are the chat players. There are also chat operators: 3 individuals to run a particular chat:
    • Curator
    • Controller
    • Director
  • Lessons Learned: 
    • Encourage a conversation. You need to show participants how to participate and gain value. (The structure helps — especially for newcomers to Twitter)
    • Have a framework so people know what the conversation is about. This helps them find order in the chaos of Twitter
    • Summarize and curate the knowledge shared.
  • What value emerged? After their first 12 Twitter chats, they prepared a chat report tat desceibed the process, metrics, feedback and recommendations. Their spreadsheet for each chat is available in Google Docs for others who want to use it.  Finally, they gave their experts a guidance document that explained roles, respsonsibilities and expectations. You can find these resources at

Integrating Learning and Development with KM #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeakers: Dr. Susan Camarena, Chief Knowledge and Learning Officer, Federal Transit Administration; Turo Dexter, Knowledge Resources Manager, US DOT / Federal Transit Administration

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: KM coordination may reside in any of several parts of an organization—for example, human resources, research, or IT. At the FTA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, KM is tightly integrated with the Learning and Development function in its own group within the Office of Administration, where FTA’s chief knowledge and learning officer is a peer with the director of HR and the director of IT. The powerful synergy of FTA’s integrated Learning, Development and KM strategy supports employees as learners—and also as teachers—from onboarding to exit, throughout every branch of the agency. This dynamic presentation illustrates FTA’s strategy development, describes the major program activities that support FTA as a learning organization, reviews the metrics used to evaluate program effectiveness, and offers a template and process to help participants identify key facets of knowledge related to each business function in their own organizations.


  • Not just KM, but LKM: They focus on Learning AND Knowledge Management to enhance individual, team and organizational effectiveness by connecting people with what and how they know, what they need to know and how they can find it.
  • Evolution of LKM at the FTA: Initially their KM effort had neither staff nor budget. They started with a knowledge audit, appointed local knowledge coordinators in each of their 20 offices, provided facilitation for meetings across the organization. Then they created an initial KM strategy. When their Training Officer retired, they merged their learning & development organization with their KM organization. This created the Learning, Development and Knowledge Management department. These functions together became a real force multiplier within the organization.
  • Learners and Teachers: Their overarching goal is to support all FTA employees as learners and teachers from onboarding to exit. It is those individuals who “manage the knowledge,” not the KM department. (The KM department make manage some information from time to time, but they support individual KM.)
  • Initial KM Strategy:
    • culture of knowledge and experience sharing
    • efficient and effective business processes
    • leverage knowledge and experience for decision making and strategic planning
  • Current Strategy: They are creating a strategy that integrates learning, development, communications and engagement. All of this needs to be responsive to the agency’s goals (i.e., to the business goals).
  • Metrics:
    • They do regular audits
    • Learning and knowledge assessments
    • Employee viewpoint survey
    • Training evaluations
    • Testimonials and success stories
    • Increasing course enrollment
    • Increasing requests for services.
  • Lessons Learned:
    • Facilitate and support — It is our job to provide facilitation and support throughout the organization
    • Just say yes! —  We may sometimes say “later,” but we will never say “no” to any request for help.
    • No ask, no get — This is particulary
    • Never stop learning! —  Ask after every engagement and every interaction, what did I just learn?
  • How to Prioritize Resources? Is KM in service to L&D or vice versa? Both are in service to the agency (the business). The department cross-trains its personnel so that they can perform both functions together.

Using Tangible Interfaces for Predictive Knowledge Delivery #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker:  Lorin Petersen, Software Systems Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: Thanks to Google, today much of what enterprise users interact with is a standard search box on a web page. Though simple in design, there is an explicit action that needs to be taken by the user to discover information and knowledge. In an effort to better integrate the physical workspace with backend knowledge systems, MITRE explored how implicit actions through everyday interfaces could aid in delivering information and knowledge to that same enterprise user. For example, it looked at how content from e-whiteboarding collaboration sessions can be scraped and parsed to obtain the context of the session, then at how the context could be automatically fed to the search mechanism on behalf of the user. The results were then delivered without any explicit action on the user’s part. MITRE also explored allowing the user to embed tags in their e-whiteboard drawings to perform implicit actions such as “<#find me an expert >” or “<#email this to xyx>”. This session highlights lessons learned on the effectiveness of using tangible interfaces to deliver predictive knowledge to the enterprise user.


  • Tangible Interfaces: These are things all around us such as whiteboards, flip charts, post-it notes., smartphones, badge readers, digital signage These materials contain a great deal of corporate knowledge, but it is not easily retrievable and shared. People will take photos and email them, but this is a sub-optimal pathway for knowledge. It does not allow people to build on top of the knowledge.
  • Pathways of Knowledge: capture; capture and tag; capture, tag and deliver; recall and deliver; sense and deliver.
  • Whiteboard Example:
    • Capture: ideation sessions often happen on a whiteboard surface, but there is nothing on that surface that makes that content portable. While they looked at some digital whiteboards, they found that they were more complicated than most users liked. There is a steep learning curve, there is no clear path for recalling digital artifacts and you need to use unnaturally large writing. Mitre created a Collaboration and Capture system (CoCap) using a standard whiteboard that they equipped with additional hardware so that it could send the content to email. a printer,  or an FTP site. From the FTP site, it can be delivered to a SharePoint site. (There is a SharePoint site for every whiteboard.)
    • Capture and Tag: The key issue tat there was no way to attribute the digital artifact to the creator. So they added a simple keypad so the creator could enter their employee ID. Next they used OCR technology to recognize special patters for identifying a user. The challenge was that the user had to remember to write their name on the board in a way that was findable. Finally, they designated a small portion of a board in which the user is supposed to write their username.
    • Capture, tag and deliver: As users are ideating, there may be topics or keywords they want to learn more about. Users can circles these keywords and when the board is scanned, a backend search is performed and additional knowledge is delivered to the user via email (and delivered to SharePoint).
    • Recall and deliver: Now that the digital artifact is tagged and attributed tot he creator, it can be easily printed without using a computer or a downloaded to a mobie devise. Each corporate printer has a QR code. The user can scan the QR code using their mobile device and this will trigger the printer to print a folder of content on the fly.
    • Sense and deliver: Schedule a meeting and then recommended participants based on the topics they have been brainstorming.
    • Future Possibility: Meeting connection assistance = the system senses that you are in the room, but haven’t yet connected to the meeting. The system then sends you a message asking if you need help connecting. If you reply “yes,” the system will provide the help.
    • Future Possibility: Sensing location = a user is traeling and enters a new office building. An ap prompts them for ehlp in finding an office to work in while they are visiting there. (This is their version of AirBnb for office space.)
    • Future Possibility: Sensing conversations = a sensor determines a group in a conference room is having difficulty coming to a consensus on a project and then offers assistance to facilitate the discussion (e.g., conflict management help or brainstorming facilitation help, etc.)

Pushing the Envelope: From CMS to KCMS #KMWorld

kmworld-socialSpeaker: Laurie Nelsen, Sr. Manager – Ontologist, Mayo Clinic

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2014 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: Mayo Clinic’s delivery of high-quality, affordable healthcare depends on integrating knowledge to promote innovation across patient care, research, and education. Providing the best current health information and services requires an agile and responsive content management ecosystem for creating and managing content as well as meeting the emerging needs for the delivery of “smart” content. The Clinic’s solution was to extend traditional CM technologies with a semantic services layer to support standards-based knowledge interoperability within and between organizations. Nelson shares the technical architecture and design choices made to build and deploy its Knowledge Content Management System (KCMS). KCMS’s solution to the problem of knowledge integration and flexible access is twofold: First, it utilizes the capabilities of the CMS to author, manage, and deliver the information. Secondly, it tightly integrates the CMS with a semantic services layer that provides the intelligence that enables users to find the right information, no matter who authored it or how it is stored.


  • Start by defining the problem: Content management system (CMS) technology provides content, authority and delivery functionality, but is fundamentally different than vocabulary and annotation (tagging) management technology, which provides the semantic context of the content to support findability.
  • Then learn to tell the story well: Create success story about how the problem could be solved and then told it, over and over again. Their story illustrated “semantics in action.”  (For an example, see their guide on Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Their approach: Their approach involved creating a pattern with a semantic overlayer to the content manager. This could be used to create one or one thousand disease guides. They were also able to replace manual links with new dynamically generated links that were organized by the semantic layer. As a result, the organization banned all manual links.
  • Vocabularies: While they try to use as many of the standardized vocabularies, they found that there were not great standard patient-facing or consumer-facing vocabularies. So they had to create those themselves. They have a series of ontologies: people, organization, medical condition, clinical studies, etc. Once they started identified the connections among these ontologies, they found powerful relationships.
  • Next stage: They are working on integrating their systems into a single system. They have learned that innovation does not end with implementation of the technical solution. You need upgrades and you need to continuous improve. They also need to find and tell new stories.
  • True adoption is a really long process: you need to keep nurture the tool and you need to keep telling potential users about how it works and how it can help.
  • Understand and exploit your tools and systems: Why drive a Honda when you have a Maserati in the garage?
  • Biggest Lesson Learned: It’s really about the story. Read The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling by Stephen Denning.