Collaboration in Financial Services conference in NYC

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Collaboration – technological and otherwise – is central to the future of the financial services. In order to address these issues, in conjunction with Business Development Institute and Michael Ross Associates, I am designing and co-organizing a one-day conference in New York on September 29 on Collaboration in Financial Services. Full details are at http://www.bdionline.com/cfs.

We have got a tremendous response to the event. The current key sponsors are Intralinks, I-Deal, Microsoft, Interactive Data Corp, Vignette, Broadvision, and FaceTime, together covering the key technologies that support collaboration in institutional financial services, including real-time collaboration such as IM in a trading environment, document collaboration in deal-making including M&A and syndication, and internal collaboration systems. Many of the leading investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, CSFB, Bank of America etc. etc. are involved. Banks now see collaboration as a key driver both internally, and externally with clients. While there are significant compliance and security issues in the short-term especially, the core issues are first technological, and then process, organizational, cultural, and strategic. Banks are recognizing these will be major shifts, and there is lots to do in gearing themselves up to address these issues.

The reality is that we are far from achieving the potential of collaboration technologies in the financial services industry. Much of the reason is standards battles have at times dramatically slowed progress. A classic example is instant messaging, which is already at the core of communication in many of the financial markets such as bond trading, but the reluctance of AOL, Yahoo, and MSN to enable interoperability between their instant messaging systems has placed severe constraints on how banks can implement these technologies. Many similar issues remain in other domains, including establishing collaborative workspaces for M&A and other complex deal-making.

Part of my vision for the conference is to contribute to the industry – comprising both banks and vendors – acknowledging and beginning to address some of these standards issues. The last high-level panel session of the day will focus specifically on creating an industry roadmap to enable greater benefit from collaborative technologies in the near future. This conference will be run annually, and we may also establish some kind of working committees to help further these agendas on an ongoing basis.

Hope to see you there!

The Future of Knowledge Management

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I recently wrote an article on The Future of Knowledge Management for the Australian Financial Review which has attracted substantial attention. It also been slightly adapted to be published in the current edition of the leading knowledge management journal, KM Review, as “The Five Key Frames for the Future of KM”, and once I get a moment free (!) will also adapt it for some other publications that have requested it.

The basic theme is that “knowledge management” is no longer the most useful name to apply to much of the work that has flourished in this broad domain. It’s always been too unwieldy a term and concept, and today we have a number of emerging frames that are more relevant and practical to today’s business challenges. The term “knowledge management” still has a long, solid future, however several of the more focused disciplines it has spawned offer more traction for business. One leading practitioner said that he is finding that companies are referring less and less to KM, with one of the terms succeeding it being “organizational effectiveness”. Indeed, that’s a central objective, and more focused thinking is more likely to get us there.

In October I’ll be speaking at KMWorld in Silicon Valley and ActKM – a leading government KM community and conference – in Canberra. During the late 1990s I was strongly associated with KM, and it’s around five years now that I’ve been endeavoring to move beyond that. It’s interesting that I’m being drawn back a little into that domain. Despite my misgivings on the terminology, there is much in KM that will continue to be immensely valuable in what absolutely is a knowledge-based economy.

The Future of Customer Relationships

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I’ve just posted a new article on Creating the Future of Customer Relationships on my Advanced Human Technologies company website. The article supports the keynote speech I delivered recently at Customer Contact World 2004.

The article examines how to integrate the entire spectrum of relationship channels available in order to build true “knowledge-based” customer relationships. This is founded on understanding – and accentuating – the difference between what technology can do and people can do. Fast Company magazine’s blog wrote about and linked to the article, which has resulted in lots of attention and traffic for this.

The Metaweb

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Nova Spivack, the grandson of Peter Drucker, has a vision of the connected future that aligns very strongly with mine. He describes the emerging “Metaweb” as the result of the rapid increase in both information connectivity and social connectivity, leading to the emergence of the global brain. A diagram and overview is provided on his website – well worth a look. I agree wholeheartedly this is the way we’re going.

The Rise of Social Networking Technologies: video and references

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I recently gave a brief, casual presentation on The Rise of Social Networking Technologies to a very interesting group of technology innovation professionals in Sydney called Innovation Bay. A video of my presentation is at http://www.viocorp.com/clients/innovationbay.

I prepared a crib sheet for those attending the talk, as below, giving a few references and thoughts on this space….

What defines this space is that it taps existing connections between people – our “six degrees of separation” – to form new, useful direct connections.

Selected Social Networking Technologies

Social/ dating/ politics

Friendster

Tribe.net

Orkut

I Stand For

Professional

LinkedIn

Ecademy

Ryze

ZeroDegrees.com

Corporate

Spoke

Visible Path

Matcheroo

Related applications

Jobs: Monster.com

CRM: Interaction

Search: Eurekster

Content: LinkSV

Microsoft Research: Wallop

Event technologies

nTag

SpotMe

PowerMingle

CRG

Intro

Business models

Subscription

Subscription for higher-level functionality

Pay per request

Link to classifieds

Targeted advertising

Enterprise implementation

Suggested references

Stanford Business School Alumni Social Networking Panel video

Stowe Boyd’s weblog (see especially under Recent Publications)

Friend of a Friend (FOAF)

Later I’ll post some thoughts on where this whole space is going, including industry consolidation, user growth, business models, reputation systems, collaborative filtering, learning on demand, and more. Plenty has already been said on the current primary issues of privacy and extending trust through networks, not that these are close to being resolved…

Media jamming in the presidential election

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Howard Dean’s post-Iowa primary “yeagh!” is now famous. This has provided the opportunity for musicians (and geeks) to rework and remix his speech to music. At last count there were 45 remixes available for discerning political pundits. All it took was one person to come up with the idea to do a remix of Dean’s speech, plenty more jumped on board, and it became a media phenomenon.

This is a fantastic illustration of what I call “media jamming”: taking media and playing with it, improvising variations and twists, then feeding it back into the media system. We can now all participate in the whole media infrastructure by how we rework and reinterpret what flows, building it into a ever-evolving feedback loop instead of simply a one-to-many broadcast system.

The other great example of this recently was when Cherie Blair sang the Beatles tune “When I’m 64” in response to demands for a song at a Chinese press conference, and it was remixed as an Ibizadance hit. Her song was also rumored to be available as a mobile ringtone.

These are some early and evident examples of what will develop into an entire world of media jamming. This promises lots of fun in store!

Living Networks Forum debrief

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The Living Networks Forum in New York the other day was great fun and went extremely well. Both anecdotal and formal feedback was excellent. The official commentary on the event is here. When you’re trying something new, you never know quite how it will work until it happens, but the reality was a very good match with my original vision. The core concept was creating connections between people and ideas at the event, and that’s exactly what happened in a very rich fashion. In the end the way in which we created serendipitous connections at this event was more based on innovative facilitation processes than technology, however in future events the technology will gradually be integrated to take this “enhanced serendipity” to the next levels.

The major sectors respresented at the Forum—because of the location and the representation of both my and Business Development Institute’s core communities—were professional services, financial services, and technology. All these sectors are grappling with similar issues in the event’s core themes of developing client relationships, enhancing collaboration, and creating partnerships, so the cross-pollination was invaluable for participants. We began the session with a space-based facilitation process, in which people position themselves in a room according to their relative interests in key themes, enabling immediate connections with people with similar profiles. For each of the themes we had a brief presentation of core material, and then demonstrations, syndicate group discussions, and break-out exercises. All of the groups for both syndicate discussions and exploring potential partnerships were carefully designed around participants’ profiles. In this way the connections were not “engineered,” but facilitated. Before lunch we played a game between teams based on game theory, which was used to explore some of the dynamics of trust development over time. Much hilarity and some confusion here—it went well but perhaps a little redesign required for next time.

The overriding theme of how technology can enhance personal and organizational networks drove much of the very tangible excitement at the event. While by this time most attendees had come across the concept of social software and some of its implications, being able to see and experience the technologies helped to bring to life how these can be applied in business. Earlier in the week I’d been to the Christmas party of SDForum—the leading Silicon Valley technology networking organization—where the interest in social software was immense.

The social software space is hot, Hot, HOT! I frame what is currently happening as phase two. Phase one began with the now defunct sixdegrees.com and a couple of similar initiatives. After a lull and some nascent initiatives last year, this year has seen the space take off big time. Living Networks Forum gold sponsor Spoke Software has recently secured another $11.7 million in funding. Business is waking up to the fact that not only is this a new technology sector with strong promise—because of its ability to create value—but also that these technologies could transform how businesspeople communicate, form relationships, and develop trust. I’ll be writing a lot more about this later—this is a seriously important topic.

Perhaps not surprisingly, both Business Development Institute and myself have had numerous enquiries since the Forum about designing and running innovative events. There is an increasing recognition that it really is possible to create conferences and events that are far more valuable to participants than what we usually experience, by carefully designing for rich sharing of knowledge and ideas and forming connections in valuable ways, fully integrated with novel and useful content. We’ll probably run at least one other public Living Networks Forum somewhere in the US next year, however it seems as if more of the demand will be for creating similar events for professional associations, user groups, vendors, and inside organizations that need to create richer connections and exchanges between divisions and locations.

Microsoft toys with social software

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Avid watchers of the “social software” scene have been galvanized by Microsoft’s recent announcement that one of its research teams has developed the core of a product called “MyWallop”. Screenshots show that the software would allow people to map their social networks and personal similarities between people in their network, as well as to blog.

In the last 18 months a multitude of social software applications have blossomed, including Ryze, LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, Spoke Software, and many others. If Microsoft entered this market, it’s an open question whether it would swamp or stimulate existing efforts. Either way, there’s no question that its imprimatur on this type of software – and its distribution power – would mean that there would be massive uptake and usage. This in turn would allow the true potential of social software to emerge. The more people that are connected with this software, the more it allows the networks to become visible, and for people to become connected in new and useful ways. In short, it would be a massive boost in bringing the networks to life.

All the hype aside, this is one of many dozens of research projects that Microsoft runs, all vying for attention and resources, so there’s no guarantee anything will happen with this. However the attention this is getting – at least with the people I speak with – may well prompt Microsoft to put this higher up their list of priorities.

Experience the Living Networks in New York!

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Since I wrote Living Networks, I’ve dreamed of creating an event that would literally bring the book to life, to allow people to experience personally the power of the networks and the implications for business. The first of what I hope will be a whole series of events – the BDI Living Networks Forum – will be held in New York City on December 4th, 2003. I have the perfect partner for this – the Business Development Institute, which combines a fantastic network of network-minded individuals and organizations with innovative business development services.

In the agenda you’ll see that the event is focused on creating interaction and what I call “enhanced serendipity” between participants. Using Spoke Software we will show participants their “relationship path strength” with all other attendees, and with any other individual, who they know in common. Litéra collaboration software will be used as a platform for showing participants how to implement collaboration effectively in and across organizations.

We have some great supporters, and there’ll be some awesome people along. Nothing like this has been done before, so I’ll let you know some of what we learn at the event. Or of course would be fantastic to meet you there!

I believe that events that use emerging social network technologies and effective design of participant interaction will over time become the norm. Hopefully “talking-head” conferences will die a natural death very soon. Events that apply living networks ideas will create immense value in bringing the right people together to create and share knowlege, ideas, and relationships. Be there at the birth of something big!

Help me find the music I like!

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Apologies to all my readers – it’s been way too long since I posted here. I’ve been frantically busy and on the road, but these are no excuses. I resolve to do better, and have no shortage of interesting stuff to write after my recent travels, so here we go…

“Collaborative filtering” – systems that allow us to collaborate with others to find what is relevant to us in a world awash with information – will rapidly become central to our lives, whether or not this is visible to us. One of the best single implementations I’ve seen is Last.FM, a personalized online radio station. It builds a profile of your preferences based on your nomination of your favorite artists, albums, tracks, and music labels, as well as what you choose to listen to. When Last.FM is playing on your desktop, you can either let it run if you like what it’s playing, or if you don’t like the song you can press skip to go immediately to the next one, or let the system know you love or hate a particular song if you wish. As it builds an increasingly accurate profile of what you like and don’t like, it can identify other individuals with similar musical taste to you, and play you what they like. In this way you both hear what the music you like, and get to hear new music you like that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. There’s an article on Last.FM on Wired News that got it a lot of attention at the time.