Confronting Your Favorite Canadian

Our firm has several great Canadian partners, counsel and associates. However, our firm’s favorite Canadian is more popular than all those wonderful folks combined. What’s the name of our favorite Canadian?  Blackberry.

In a few short years, the Blackberry has become a critical business tool for most law firms as well as businesses in other industries. Despite its ubiquity, can anyone tell me of an instance where the Blackberry was used to advance law firm knowledge management efforts? Does it allow users access to KM systems? Is its display of your RSS feeds so attractive that lawyers are happy to read those feeds on their Blackberries? Does it provide the ability to use your social media tools (e.g., your internal wikis, blogs, etc.) remotely? What about your enterprise search engine — can you run a search via your Blackberry?

In fairness, the Blackberry is not a portable computer and, therefore,  we should not expect to replicate the functionality of our office desktops on our Blackberries. However, this fact does leave a question for law firm knowledge managers: if the most popular tool in the firm provides 24/7 access to lawyers, but handles only e-mail well, do we need to tailor our KM systems to work via e-mail? Or is this a gross distortion of good business process? Alternatively, if your KM systems aren’t accessible via Blackberry, are you, your KM systems and your team a luxury only available in the office? Does that make sense when your lawyers have to work around the clock and around the world?

If the Blackberry is going to be a fixture in our enterprises (at least in the short term), doesn’t it make sense to confront our favorite Canadian and figure out how the Blackberry can be used to advance knowledge management?

Happy Canada Day!

[Photo Credit:  michael40001]

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11 thoughts on “Confronting Your Favorite Canadian

  • July 2, 2009 at 8:42 am
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    I know of one organization that has its business continuity plan and call trees installed on the Blackberries it gives to managers.

  • July 2, 2009 at 9:39 am
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    Don't forget, PBworks Mobile Edition (available for free to paying customers) lets you access anything on your PBworks workspaces via your Blackberry, including files and documents!

  • July 2, 2009 at 10:32 am
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    Our firm actually uses iPhones rather than Blackberries (with a few throwback Treo users mixed in), but the theme of your post definitely still applies. I definitely believe that KM systems/functions need to extend to the smartphone/PDA realm.

    We're not lawyers, we're consultants, and a lot of us are road-warriors (and we don't spend a lot of time in offices). For the guys and gals on the road, there's not always a starbucks or panera or Kinko's available to use a login point, so it's essential for out people to be able to access the resources they need over a 3G network.

    We're not totally there (hell, we're not even close) but my CTO and I (as CKO) spend a lot of time trying to find ways to enable our people to use their smartphone to get them into our core, critical systems.

    While law firms may not face the same challenges we face, as far as the NEED for mobile access, I strongly believe that if you build the capability and implement it properly, your users will love you for it.

    Just my 2¢. Another great post, thanks for starting the discussion!

  • July 2, 2009 at 6:08 pm
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    That's a step in the right direction, Wendy. I know Blackberries are critical to business, I just haven't seen many examples of Blackberries facilitating KM.

    – Mary

  • July 2, 2009 at 6:09 pm
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    That's great, Chris. I wish every vendor did this.

    – Mary

  • July 2, 2009 at 6:14 pm
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    Seth –

    Thanks so much for keeping the conversation going.

    Until we have a good smartphone/PDA channel for knowledge management, we aren't going to be able to extend the benefits of KM to all our internal clients who need it when they are away from the office. Even if we aren't all road warriors we still need mobile KM access unless we want to force our colleagues to find a computer in order to have KM support. I'd rather not be the one delivering that message to our users.

    – Mary

  • July 10, 2009 at 10:44 am
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    I still figure that email-based input and output are required to make a collaboration system really take off. As long as your on-the-go employees (middle management, consultants) are away from the desk most of the day they won't be participating in a system that doesn't play nice with email.

    Submit by email. Read new submissions via email. Convert RSS feeds to email when the user prefers it. Email email email. It's not that emails themselves are bad for us, it's just the “private by default” nature of the traditional inbox that creates a black hole of knowledge.

    Oh, I wrote a post of my own about integrating email with your collaboration workflow here: http://www.sharingatwork.com/2008/10/easier-to-… My blog is down at the moment but I'm working to get it back up ASAP.

  • July 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm
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    You're absolutely right, Daniel. Unless you can compel participation in the collaboration system (which by definition seems so wrong!), you're going to have to find ways to entice people into it. Since they live in e-mail, we have to open an easy channel between e-mail and the collaboration system. Once they've tried the collaboration system, it will have to rise or fall on its own merits. But why preordain failure by setting up unnecessary barriers to entry?

    – Mary

  • July 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm
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    For what it's worth ThoughtFarmer claims to do the bidirectional email
    integration thing I'm pushing. I haven't yet figured out how to make it
    really hum in Sharepoint but I'm still looking.

  • July 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm
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    Thanks for the tip, Daniel. I've heard that ThoughtFarmer is doing some
    really good work.

    – Mary

  • July 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm
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    Thanks for the tip, Daniel. I've heard that ThoughtFarmer is doing some
    really good work.

    – Mary

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