Content on Top (Lavacon 2013 J Gollner)


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One of my presentations at this year's Lavacon (2013). It looks at a Case Study where content technologies and communication practices found unexpected applicability within the upper echelons of an organization...

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Content on Top (Lavacon 2013 J Gollner)

  1. 1. Content on Top Joe Gollner Managing Director Gnostyx Research Inc @joegollner
  2. 2. Case Study: Enterprise Reporting Systems • Government Financial Reporting Mechanisms • How performance is measured, reported & monitored • Major Area of Technology Investment • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems • Business Intelligence (BI) Systems • Executive Dashboards • In reality, reporting is communication • Editing, adapting, positioning, publishing
  3. 3. From Humble Beginnings…. • It should have been a quiet project • A Discovery Portal for Canadian Farmers • A solution driven by XML metadata & aggressive usability testing • Explosively well received • Led to executive level interest • Led to unexpected requests…
  4. 4. Single Source of Program Information • The result was an immediately successful discovery site “better than Google” was one Farmer’s feedback (!) The number of participating partners began to grow rapidly Other stakeholders became interested in the collected content as the best data source available
  5. 5. Key to Success: Tools that are simple & effective • Success Factor #1 Focus on the Content Clients need • Success Factor #2 Simple & extensible use of XML, metadata & Web technologies • Success Factor #3 - Iterative development, testing, refinement - Flexible approach to engaging content partners
  6. 6. Strange Requests Followed • Something in the Discovery Portal hit a nerve • Can we have something similar for our financial reports? • Can we use this to make sense of our performance data? • Can we offer something similar to other stakeholders? • Can you make sense of all our financial data? • Me: Sure, I guess • But…
  7. 7. What about your Management Systems? • These Departments had spent millions on financial systems, business intelligence applications & executive dashboards (hundreds of millions actually) • These systems were intended to track low-level financial events & provide detailed reports on progress against objectives
  8. 8. And there were other systems in the same boat… • Human resource systems, • Case management systems,… None of these systems seem to provide executives with the information and insights that they were intended to provide None of these systems were trusted…
  9. 9. So where is the real information? The real information lived in documents that were formally signed & submitted on a monthly basis Management systems were updated to align with the documents …to the extent that this was possible… Obvious question: Why do you need to do this & how do you do it?
  10. 10. One Reason: Complexity • Real Events rarely, if ever, go according to plan • Serious exceptions cannot be reflected in planned information systems • Exceptions are recorded externally • Explanations are provided as references to documents
  11. 11. Second Reason: Lost in Datatopia • Management systems provide a lot of data but very little information • Largely devoid of the context that can give data relevance
  12. 12. What were the Executive looking for? • And that they saw in the Farmers’ Discovery Portal? • Two Things: • Client-centered context that organizes the data in ways that aligned with what the clients saw as important • Straight-forward metadata & plain-language descriptions that helped stakeholders to understand key details – especially exceptions
  13. 13. How did the Management Reports get prepared? • An Army of Financial Analysts • Pulled data from various systems • Added missing exceptions and explanations • Packaged, polished, & published the Management Reports The reports went through an elaborate review & revision process The opportunity for manipulation was more than a little scary
  14. 14. A New Project is Born • Expand the content discovery solution to contain more types of data from a wider array of sources • Provide a managed environment within which to prepare, track and deliver management reports • Support exceptions in a controlled way • Support introduction of client-centered content views • Support addition of contextual metadata • Support provision of explanations…
  15. 15. What does all this mean? • Essentially the Lunatics are running the Asylum • The Financial & Management processes rely utterly on their content management & publishing activities • These activities are often hugely inefficient & risky • These higher echelons desperately need: • Content Management technology & techniques • Formalized communication practices
  16. 16. The Good News • We can do this • Communication practices & content technologies can fill the gaps in these management systems & processes Harvesting Information
  17. 17. A Real Executive Dashboard • Based on, and linked to, the real information
  18. 18. Why is this Important? • Enabling the vertical flow of real information is essential for effective institutions • Widespread failures in this area have led to the breakdown of institutional accountability • Fixing the problem demands • Effective communication practices • Adaptable content technology • Open & extensible content • Without this, Digital Dashboards are essentially useless or worse misleading…
  19. 19. This Tells Us Something about Content • Content is what we manage in order to deliver highly effective information INFORMATION • Content can handle the complexities associated with real events • Exceptions • Extensions CONTENT By managing & leveraging the content we can make the sea of data understandable & useful
  20. 20. Making Connections Joe Gollner Gnostyx Research Inc. Twitter: @joegollner Blog: The Content Philosopher