Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year and Thank You

It's that time of year for a heart felt thank you to our clients, colleagues, friends and business partners for making 2009 a good year for Contextware. Truth be told, we're constantly thankful to the people we work with because they are the key ingredient to enjoying what we do and to our success.

A lot of folks talk about putting 2009 'behind them' but more powerful is the notion of understanding how we got here in the first place, making appropriate changes to our businesses and then growing. Maybe that's too simplistic but those are the marching orders for 2010.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gilbane Boston 2009 Content Management Conference

Spent Wednesday afternoon at the East Coast iteration of the Gilbane content management conference. A lot of activity...a whole lot of vendors. Credit to the Gilbane folks for a crammed exhibit hall. But in talking to many of the technology companies in attendance, there were few potential clients walking the floor...and even fewer buyers. This isn't a surprise so close to the holidays as people are rightfully distracted, only compounded by the economic environment.

Picked up on a couple of major themes, at least as portrayed by the technology companies there.

1. 'Traditional' web-CMS companies are heavily focused on providing services that allow for site personalization...i.e. the ability to customize the site experience based on customer specific preferences. The problem with this...most websites can infer very little from an IP address (at least very little when it comes to customer segmentation). There is still a long way to go to match customer type (prospective customer) with site content but at least the technology is there.

2. The ubiquitous SharePoint. A major strength and problem is flexibility. This has led to legions of consulting firms dead set on implementing solutions. As with most markets that begin to mature, the newest craze is packaged SP solutions and an increasing number of add-on products. One of our issues continues to be the lack of attention to the way in which information is architected from the outset of any SP engagement. The most frequent response to my question: "how do you organize content" is "ahhh...hmm...we usually use the client org chart."

3. Control mechanisms for corporate social collaboration. Control social collaboration? Good luck with that.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Process and Customer Service Content - Part II

In the previous blog on customer service we discuss the benefit of organizing customer service content around the processes and workflows that agents follow. What follows are some specific steps to get started.

1. Determine the most frequent workflows/customer inquiries that your agents are expected to handle.

2. Take each of these workflows and break them down into a series of sub-steps that explain how the workflow should be handled by the agent. Keep it simple.

3. For each step within each workflow, identify the various types of supporting content, tools, information and guidelines that and agent might need in order to address each specific step. This is your inventory.

4. Now the hard part...which depends a lot on the content management system(s) you use to support your agents. Specific content should be filed in a structure that mimics the workflows and steps that you've outlined. This could be a folder and sub-folder structure, it could be a series of web-pages or it could be metadata that you associate with each piece of content.

In concept this seems pretty easy, and makes plenty of sense. In practice, trying to manipulate your content management system can be a bit more challenging depending on the way(s) in which content is organized in that system.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Corporate Giving: Off topic

Although this blog posting is more than a little off topic, it is timely. Contextware started giving more to non-profit causes the last couple of years for lots of reasons: it’s a good idea, we can afford to, events impacting our own lives compel us to and it there are lots of needs that go unaddressed. In 2008, Americans gave more than $307.65 billion to their favorite causes despite the economy. When adjusted for inflation, giving was down 5.7 percent, the largest drop recorded since it’s been tracked.Corporate giving, tied to corporate profits, decreased 4.5 percent (8 percent when adjusted for inflation) in 2008 to $14.5 billion. So although corporate giving is a smaller percentage of the total, it’s an important and volatile component. And to be fair, that number doesn’t include giving from all of the private (business-like) foundations e.g. the Gates Foundation in the total.

In 2009, it’s likely that giving in total, and corporate giving in particular will be lower. We’re telling as many people that will listen about opportunities to contribute back to the community, sign up for United Way (and other) capital campaigns and donate time to worthy causes. Hope you do the same. It does make a difference.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Process and Customer Service Content - Part I

(Part 1 of 2)

Providing customer service, whether via self-service, performed through the web, delivered through a call center; outsourced or insourced is a business process...on that everyone can agree. And the specific types of customer inquiries can be grouped into a series of sub-processes related to providing customer service e.g. purchase a product, inquire about a charge, return or repair a product. And most customer service environments have figured out how to create prescriptive work flows (scripts and call aids) that are organized around these sub-processes.

However, most of the supporting content and information designed to support accurate and complete response to customer service questions isn't organized by process. It's categorized in information categories that don't align with the way an agent or a customer would expect to find them. So the most common approach to solving customer service content issues is to use enterprise search or to create a large knowledge base of Q&A that can be...searched. One problem with this approach is that as the body of knowledge and content grows, so do the search results...and instead of helping with productivity, this approach drains it by requiring agents and customers to wade through the mounds of content and Q&A returned in a search result before they can provide a hopefully, correct answer.

An alternative method for categorizing content is to do so around the processes, workflows and types of questions that are typically posed. This approach can reduce agent and customer "search" time by up to 50% on a per incident basis. The impact on quality is intuitively positive. The flow-through impact of answering customers more quickly and accurately is also obvious.

But where to start?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Contextware: In the Basex Briefing Room

As often happens, third parties looking from the outside-in find new ways to explain and articulate issues that Contextware addresses, and the article below from Basex, Inc., the world's foremost knowledge economy research and advisory firm is no exception. We think you'll find their review of Contextware interesting.

The article begins:

One of the missing pieces of a puzzle the knowledge worker faces in the course of performing knowledge work is context. Without context, the knowledge worker is looking at isolated bits of information that are, more often than not, of limited value. Most content doesn’t stand on its own; there is always important related and supporting information that completes the picture. Beyond a single document, what else should one read and whom else should one query? Knowing what to read next or which experts to contact completes the puzzle and increases the value of the content exponentially. Click to read the entire piece...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When do you stop?

Summer in D.C. is usually a slow period...people on vacation, oppressive summer heat and humidity, Congress out of session. But we've never been busier and as a result, we've neglected the blog a bit. Apologies.

I spoke at the SALT learning conference in Arlington, VA the other day and was asked the question by a knowledge manager in the audience, “when do you stop gathering process or business knowledge and implement your solution.” In other words, how do you know you have what you need to deploy?

I answered it this way. When you implement a training solution, you create a class or an instance of that training which is very modular in nature. You might review it annually or on some other schedule, but regardless, the content is not dynamic in nature. When you implement a BPM solution…you go to great lengths to define requirements, create workflows and integrate/code systems. But try to change it? Workflow is very brittle.

But business is ever evolving. Rules and regulations change. Content and templates change. Employees leave, new ones join. But most importantly, someone is always figuring out a better way to perform the job they’ve been told to do. And in Contextware’s world, we made the conscious decision to create a technology that allows for those improvements to be captured and conveyed quickly and efficiently. It is one of the biggest differentiators in the way we approach process improvement, knowledge and performance support.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Process documentation for communication and collaboration

Yesterday Contextware announced the award of a new contract from the U.S. Army. The award is for software to help with capturing and codifying manufacturing process knowledge and information. That’s a great new client for us and also serves as a nice lead-in to an important point about process documentation.

There are a lot of software technologies classified as business process management, or process documentation tools. So why Contextware for the Army instead of a more classic (precisely defined) BPM or process documentation software?

The honest answer is that the Army uses plenty of process tools, but in this use-case, the answer lies in a specific Army requirement for this procurement: “the system will also facilitate communication and collaboration to conduct prototype and manufacturing process development efforts.”

The origin of documenting business processes traces back to the need to develop data models, data bases and automation of business rules…resulting in the creation of a common language to document processes. And based on these needs an entire industry of business process management software was developed.

Contextware’s focus is on the non-automated aspects of the business. And early on we determined that process documentation served a useful role, not just as a means to enforce business rules, but more importantly as a means to capture information about the enterprise and the way it does business. And then to serve as a means for communicating it and connecting to content relevant to those processes.

This is why the U.S. Army is working with us…because its challenges related to process have much more to do with understanding, accumulation of knowledge, learning and collaboration then they have to do with automation of specific activities or tasks.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tough Subject Matter Experts

As a follow up to our June 17th post about capturing subject matter expertise, we thought we should take a moment to address a subject we're always asked about and occasionally run into.

How do you approach subject matter experts that are less than willing participants in the process of gathering/documenting their knowledge? These folks are different from SMEs that find it difficult to articulate their knowledge. This group simply tends to obstruct the process, don't necessarily buy into the project, and as we often hear "are trying to protect their jobs."

The initial trite comment is that you don't need them. In our experience, it's often the people that are most difficult to deal with that a) possess something that really doesn't have that much organizational value or b) have created such convoluted processes or approaches that you'd be better starting from scratch once they're gone (this response is often met with the nodding approval of the project leader or executive sponsor who realizes "Joe the SME" is really a liability to the organization, much less a team player.)

The kinder gentler answer of course is that you need to apply a combination of carrot and stick. Here are few to consider.

Sticks (we're not a big fan)
-incorporating knowledge transfer into performance review objectives or goals
-heavy supervisor/management intervention-peer pressure (e.g. publishing KM project progress to all involved and highlighting constraints)

-Appeal to ego. Educating the SME on their role in the organization and leaving a legacy (most well intended people want their company to succeed in the short and in the long term).
-Appeal to laziness. A true SME is sought after answer the same or similar questions over and over again...a well run capture project will reduce the amount of time SME spend answering questions.
-Financial or professional recognition. Everyone likes rewards, even non-monetary. Having some incentives in place for a KM project and as part of your project plan/budget can get more out of people
-Be reasonable and accurate in the time required from the SME. If you need more than 10-12 hours of their time over a couple of month period, you've lost them-Show them; involve them in the results of your effort. Most projects such as knowledge capture or process capture have very little near term gratification. Systems or projects that show incremental success and output have a far greater chance of convincing those involved that the project is worth the effort.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tweeting for Business

Having created my own Twitter account a couple of months ago, I still struggle with trying to determine the business value of tweeting. Although there are plenty of anecdotal examples of how Twitter can benefit a business those examples are the exception and not the norm. And as a result it seems difficult to envision a systematic adoption of tweeting in a business environment. That said, here is an interest blog page from blogger Chris Brogan titled 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business. They aren't use cases as much as they are things to consider. Check it out if your looking for an excuse to dive in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Congratulations to us

At risk of sounding too self-promotional I am very happy to announce that Contextware was selected as a finalist in the General Business Software award category for this year's SoftwareCEO Innovation Awards.

Finalists were determined by a panel of industry judges and winners will be announced in mid-June. The awards recognize products and technology for their innovation and ability to solve buiness problems.

We're very proud to have gone this far in the process and appreciate the support of our clients in this effort.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

After Action Reviews (AARs)

After action were originally developed and practiced by the U.S. Army as a method for reviewing training and live exercises and ensuring that feedback on what worked, and what didn't made it back into the training regimen. Since then a handful of other government and some commercial organizations have adopted the process as part of their standard set of operational processes.

We're big fans of AARs because they provide a rigorous framework by which specific activities and outcomes can be measured and evaluated. We've also seen through experience how AARs can be used (stretched) beyond their original structure and purpose and can be applied to reviewing marketing programs, sales engagements, product development, litigations...almost anything.

The keys to successful application of the After Action Review process are 1) using a defined structure, templates and tools to conduct it, 2) having management buy-in that results will be reviewed and used, and 3) ensuring that the AAR itself doesn't overreach in scope or it's intended goals. It is just one piece of formalized feedback required for continuous improvement.

Contextware has taken the time to create an online step-by-step version of how to conduct an AAR. You can request access to this, by accessing the link found here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Organizing content around business processes

In January, we blogged about the intersection of process and content. There was also a link via the blog to an article we were asked to write on the topic for the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM).

We've had a few questions about this, and thought it worth a more concise explanation (in case you're not inclined to read the AIIM piece).

When we refer to "content" we are referring to the body of information informally and formally documented that is relevant to performing one's job. Content could include a presentation, a white paper, templates, forms, email messages, guidelines, photos, get the picture. This information can exist inside or outside of the enterprise. And if you pause for just a moment to think about just any one process you perform as part of your job, the types of content you might use to help you can be exhaustive.

As you've already figured out, content can be found in lots of different places. Content can also be organized in lots of different ways. Think for a moment about the way you store documents on your own computer. When you click on "My Documents" have you organized information by business unit, by project, by customer or high level function? The likely answer is that you've organized My Documents in a way that makes the most sense to you (your context), and makes the content easiest to retrieve and locate.

Problem is, there are a lot of different contexts for organizing when you take a look at an enterprise, how do you arrive at a least common denominator that is still relevant and effective. Well for most folks, that least common denominator is 'search' technology. While easy, it is imprecise and places the onus on the end user to determine if content that is returned from a search query is actually relevant.

Our argument is that content should be organized around the specific processes that your employees are expected to perform. By organizing information in this way, you proactively provide people with a viewpoint into what is precisely relevant to their jobs. And because a business processes can easily be broken down into a series of activities that comprise the process, you can organize content at an even more precise level...the actual step itself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Improving Customer Service Through Training

A poor customer service experience this weekend reminded me of something we were asked to write for Chief Learning Officer Magazine a year or so ago. Here's the exec summary:

Most of us can cite examples of a positive customer service experience that left us with the satisfaction and knowledge that we had made the right purchase decision. That the company understood us – and perhaps that as a result of the experience, we had an even greater affinity with the product or service we had purchased. All of us can cite examples where poor customer service left us gasping for air – exasperated by the arrogance and ignorance of the company we were dealing with, left wondering how can they “do business that way?” Many of us probably took the step to tell a family member or friend about the negative experience and in today’s environment of real-time information flow where the web can serve as a force multiplier for bad news, we might have sent an email to the company or even blogged about it to anyone who would listen.

When clients need support or assistance, an organization’s ability to address and resolve those matters consistently and in a quality manner is a key component in the total value delivered to a client and to the retention of an increasingly fickle client base. Whether your clients are consumers or businesses or both, your "brand" and the value behind it, is highly dependent not only on what you deliver, but also on the post-sales experience.

Customer issues should be viewed and treated as opportunities. Although customer service organizations (call centers) are frequently treated as cost centers, there are some compelling arguments that support increased investment in improving the customer service function to help them do just that. One way in particular to gain improvement is through increased investment in training and decision/performance support with learning and training managers taking the lead. Simply put, well-executed training and performance support provides the basis to make a positive impact on many of the key benefits that come with good customer service.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Soccer, Business and Making Decisions

Read no further if you don't like sports and soccer metaphors in particular.

Mike Prokopeak, the editorial director for Chief Learning Officer magazine wrote an April 2009 executive briefing piece titled, "Goooaaal! Decision-Making Lessons from Soccer." The article features 2005 research on the effectiveness of soccer goal keepers blocking penalty kicks by diving left or right vs. remaining in the center of the goal -- akin to doing nothing. The report shows statistical evidence that by doing nothing, goal keepers in fact increase their chance of stopping the penalty kick.

Here's a link to the 27 page research.

Furthermore the conclusion of the report and of Graham Jones, a sports psychologist from the consulting company called Lane4 (interviewed for the article) is that just like goal keepers, today's executives may be doing things just for the sake of doing things.

Well as a career soccer player, I couldn't resist digging into the research further, because from my perspective, there are too many elements to consider in the fierce competition of a soccer match that a bunch of scientists could reduce it to an algorithm. I also couldn't accept that a subject matter expert such as a goal keeper couldn't be right in trying to anticipate the direction of a penalty kick when trying to stop a it. The kicker has to choose a side, why not the keeper?

Turns out I was sort of right. In more recent research scientists showed that goal keepers typically stand just off center of the just a few centimeters...thereby trying to influence the side to which the penalty kick taker will shoot the ball...and apparently in the majority of cases, the penalty kick taker does in fact shoot to the side of the goal with more space. By taking action the keeper does influence the outcome.

You see, just as in stopping penalty kicks, in business, sometimes making a move, even a subtle one (such as standing a little left or right of center) can increase your chances of success in the long run. Accepting the status quo without trying something just doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finding and Using the Right Content - IDC Directions Follow-up

Clare Gillan is Senior Vice President of Executive and Go-to-Market Programs at IDC. Her general session presentation was titled "The Year of the Sales Rep." Among many of the juicy tidbits in the presentation, she cited a 2009 analysis from the Savo Group that indicated only 20% of the content created by the marketing organization for sales, was actually used by sales. Think of the massive waste in terms of time spent, actual cost and opportunity cost. Although this example is specific to sales and marketing content, it could easily apply to content anywhere within the organization. In fact when you think about your own enterprise we bet you'd be surprised that even 20% is used.

Part of the reason for this lack of usage Clare hypothesized is the classic disconnect between sales and marketing. Marketing produces stuff assuming sales needs it, sales doesn't communicate customer pre-sale requirements to marketing and the ships pass in the night. This is certainly a reason. Here are some others that we would add to the list.

1. Inability to locate information. Even if you have an enterprise search technology in place, it's still often difficult to a) search across all content repositories in the business and b) receive search results that reflect the precise intent of the query. Nucleus Research finds that 34% of employees spend 2-5 hours per week searching for content they can use, and 28% spend 5 hours of more. Not how most sales managers want their sales people spending their time.

2. Content without context. Even if you locate content that you think you want, it is up to you, the end user to determine the context of when/how/what/where to use the content. While determining context may seem easy, it places a huge burden on the end user, and also a huge expectation that they'll get it right. Outdated content and poorly written content proliferates most organizations. If you could, wouldn't you want your employees to always have access to the more relevant, best examples of content.

3. Information overload. Sticking with more statistics from Nucleus Research, 67% of employees are overwhelmed by the volume of information they have to access despite (or maybe as a result of) enterprise search technologies such as Google or Autonomy. Who isn't overwhelmed?

So if 80% of marketing content created for sales is going unused, what's to blame?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Enterprise 2.0 Won't Succeed - IDC Directions Follow-up

There was a great breakfast presentation on Tuesday the 17th by Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions at IDC. The presentation was really about leveraging 2.0 technologies and approaches in the partner channel. But the broader Enterprise 2.0 piece was of course a part of the discussion.

The problem we (Contextware) have with 2.0 technologies and initiatives (ironic I'm blogging about this), is that regardless of the problem they are trying to solve they inherently lack structure in how information is captured and organized. The ability of the mob to contribute content and information via a wiki, blog, community of practice, twitter, yammer or blather is very democratic...but also chaotic by their nature, whereas businesses are highly structured entities and require organization of chaos to be effective. While this is a self-serving viewpoint for Contextware, since we argue that information should be structured around the processes people are tasked with performing, the viewpoint isn't without merit.

Enterprise 2.0 will experience the same problems that content management systems (one of its technological predecessors has):

-massive amounts of information produced stored in loose structures
-challenges navigating that content...with search often exacerbating the problem based on the number of results it returns
-determining stale vs. fresh content, and the battle to keep information relevant
-authoritative commentary vs. blather
-finding a way to capture information from the best performers in the business who often have the least amount of time to contribute.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

IDC Directions 2009 - Content Rich, IT Poor

I attended IDC's Directions conference in Boston earlier this week. This was the East Coast version of its West Coast twin held earlier in the month. According to one of the hosts, John Gantz, Chief Research Officer and SVP there were over 800 people in attendance. The rumors of the demise of the technology industry in this economy must be greatly exaggerated.

Credit to IDC for herding dozens of their analysts and hundreds of senior technology industry people into the Hynes conference center. It must have been the content. This is the first conference I've attended in a long time where there was more information of value than I could consume.

Networking opportunities were plentiful despite the openness of the space, and IDC analysts were readily available and approachable.

Not surprisingly, many of the attendees from software and technology companies that I spoke with are seeing their sales pipelines slashed and even existing contracts renegotiated. You see declines in tech spending mimic pretty closely declines in GDP, again no surprise.

The good news - at least from my perspective - is that good products, people and companies always seem to flourish in adverse environments and those that aren't...don't. Gantz was very optimistic about the future and I hope other attendees took that to heart.

We'll post more on some of the specific presentations over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Performance Support Imperative for Training Professionals

Check out the most recent ezine version of the peer reviewed Training Industry Quarterly in the link below. We were asked to write a white paper on the topic of performance and training. Seems to be a common theme these days as training and learning organization budgets get crunched. According to the “2007 State of the Industry Report” prepared by the American Society for Training & Development investment in learning and development initiatives reached $134.39 billion in there is certainly some there...there. Consider some estimates on training’s effectiveness that suggest from 40% to 80% of training content doesn’t transfer to the worker. That’s significant money and time invested that could be redirected to any number of corporate initiatives if training doesn't find a way to be more relevant.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Society for Applied Learning Conference: New Learning Technologies Part II

Well...results are in from the SALT conference and I must say anecdotal evidence suggests Doug Harward from is correct in his assertion that the training and learning profession will experience a 10% downturn in 2009. A lower attendance rate, lower energy and reports from the people attending all but confirmed his hypothesis. But really this is no surprise is it?

During our very well attended talk at the SALT conference in Orlando, I emphasized to learning professionals that they will increasingly be asked to connect their projects directly to ROI and key performance indicators KPIs of the business. At risk of alienating potential clients...there were a lot of blank stares. That's pretty hard to believe but it's true.

Our recommendation (albeit self-serving) to them is that learning professionals increase their focus on efforts that impact day-to-day performance of employees. In essence they need to focus on performance support initiatives. Beyond just job preservation, there are a fair number of business reasons that support this change of mindset.

One of the statistics we presented related to the number of applications and systems that knowledge workers are expected to interact with as part of their jobs. Shockingly, on average a knowledge worker may have to work with upwards of 20 applications and systems as part of their job. This is true even for smaller companies.

Knowing when to access and what to do with them is a huge part of employees jobs. Making this easier, in the context of learning and performing one's job has potential.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Society for Applied Learning Conference: New Learning Technologies Part I

Greetings from Orlando. Here at the SALT New Technologies Conference. Delivering a presentation on Performance Support and the role learning professionals should play in these initiatives. The presentation takes place early afternoon. I'm very curious about the response.

Learning and training have always been areas of return on investment for Contextware, but not necessarily our primary focus. However, as learning grasps for new ways to capture and deliver content, make an impact on the business and cast itself as strategic to the organization...we figured we would try to help. Help from the perspective that learning as a profession needs a wake up call to move out of the classroom and move closer to impacting day to day performance of the people they support. If you in the middle of trying to do your job, you're not going to pause to take a 1 hour class online to figure out how to do what you're doing. But what if learning content were delivered in more digestible chunks and if you were able to access those chunks in the context of the task that was being performed. Well...that's Contextware in a nutshell.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 Forecasts and Predictions

We shy away from making our own predictions other than where we think our business is headed...but some of the following from third parties that relate to areas our technology addresses are interesting.

Top 10 Market Predictions for 2009: Are YOU ready for the New Training Industry?
by: Doug Harward

Among his other predictions, Doug sees a decline of 10% budget and 11% workforce in 2009...that's 65,000 people.

Our take: Better figure out a way to better connect learning and training initiatives to KPIs and ROI or Doug is way conservative with his numbers.

Nucleus Research Announces Annual Technology Predictions for 2009
by: Nucleus Research

Nucleus offers 10 predictions via the link below. One that stands out: "No Shiny Objects. No one is investing in the cutting edge this year, unless there is a clear and compelling business benefit. Vendors still pitching their bright and shiny technology took a hit in late 2008 and will continue to suffer in 2009."

Our take: We agree completely. Nifty technology without an obvious ROI is done.

12 Technology Predictions for 2009
Analysts weigh in on content management trends for the New Year.
by Tony Byrne and CMS Watch quotes 12 predictions from content management guy Tony Byrne, the founder of CMS Watch Here's number 12..."Buyers will not accept vendors' first offers," the CMS Watch report states. "Rather they will demand better pricing, more licenses, and better support levels."

Our take: No kidding? When has a good buyer not thought this way. We would have stopped at the 11th prediction.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Real Intersection Between Processes and Content

The following link is to an article we were asked to write discussing relationships between business processes and content (hint: the answer's not workflow). This was published in the January 2009 issue of The Capital Image the monthly newsletter of the National Capital Chapter of AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Emergency Response Guide

Yesterday we announced the launch of an all web version of the Center for Disease Control's Emergency Response Guide for State, Local and Tribal Public Health Officials (that's a mouthful isn't it?). Here a link to the press release:

As much as an exercise to provide something of value (for free) to emergency response and preparedness professionals, it was also our intent to show that even something relatively mundane such as a procedural guide can still benefit from restructuring in the context of a process. In this case the process is ‘how to respond to a public health emergency’, but it might as well have been how to do… anything.

Point is a 65 page pdf of any procedure falls short in so many ways. It’s static, it is difficult to update, links to related content are limited and outdated and navigating the document is painful.

To register for the free version of the guide (there is a juiced up version as well), visit our site at:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Recession and knowledge management

Hate to say it, but we told you so. A lot of our clients and prospective clients have long fretted about the loss of talent as people reach retirement age. The point we've made to them time and again is that the decision to retire is often the sense that a good stock market will accelerate retirement and a poor stock market will slow things down. And with the most recent debacle on Wall Street the later couldn't be any more true. Even the best laid retirement plans have been impacted by massive stock, bond and mutual fund losses.

Many of those same clients and prospects have delayed knowledge management efforts because workers had not been retiring quite as quickly as the workforce planning folks suggested they might (even before the recession)...and now they're off the hook considering the current economic environment.

But that entirely misses the point about knowledge capture and its potential impact on the business. People come and go, the wave of retirements is currently replaced by the wave of layoffs and RIFs. What institutional and job expertise is being lost and at what rate? Most importantly, as the economy improves and we start to rebuild our much more quickly could new hires be brought up to speed, how much more could productivity be impacted and how much better positioned could your company be coming out of a downturn?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year Indeed

After considerable cajoling on the part of clients, partners, a few well intended colleagues and a New Year’s resolution, welcome to Contextware’s new corporate blog. We’ll blog about company information, observations on technology in general and our markets in particular; feature the occasional guest blogger and the occasional rant. Above all, we’ll try to keep it pithy. So Happy New Year indeed.