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Unleashing Social Knowledge

By Samir Ghosh & Jay Pullur - April 8, 2011

Increasing Knowledge Gap

Valuable business knowledge outside of documents is increasing. Twitter users generate 90 million tweets per day . An estimated 2 210 billion email messages are being sent everyday. Information is changing from big, formal, thick documents to small, informal and volumnous communications (emails, IMs, tweets, comments). Instead of feeding information updates to a master document author for future revisions, valuable decisions, conclusions, opinions, and lessons are stored exclusively in communications threads. The snowballing demands for business agility from growing global competition, costs, regulations and growth expectations have shifted work from structured teams and processes to virtual teams and unstructured collaborations. The applications, content and records management systems we traditionally rely upon for knowledge management do not capture this growing knowledge source. Expected Reality

Ideally, we have expected our knowledge management systems to capture most of the organizations knowledge. In reality, however, the supporting communications and ad hoc workflows qualitatively if not also quantitatively contain valuable company knowledge.

New School
Solutions like Lotus Notes or SharePoint have offered for decades the ability centralize some portion of collaborative content from email silos. However, these old school platforms are complex and provide little functionality without customization by IT or expensive consultants. This is too slow for todays agile business needs and too expensive given common budget constraints. Business social collaboration tools similar to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis offer an easier alternative that is familiar (9 out of 3 10 Internet users visited a social networking site each month in 2010 ) to employees. This is critically important for rapid adoption 4 by employees, but social collaboration offers a key benefit to the organization too. Users are reducing web email in favor of 5 embedded social messages . This brings these conversations into a central repository where this critical collective knowledge can be captured, analyzed, discovered, and securely shared.

Knowledge Gets Social

Social collaboration includes a bundle of key advantages for knowledge management. Following are some examples: Personal information cloud: Social, for the first time, is helping to move information from personal silos like email Inboxes into centralized cloud where it can be captured, analyzed, discovered by others. Social bookmarking: As the amount of content on the web explodes, sites like,, and have demonstrated the value of democratized content recommendations.
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RJMetrics, Jan 2010 3 Comscore, Feb 2011 4 Comscore, Dec 2010 5 2011 Qontext Inc.

Media abundance: The eruption of mobile devices has flooded us with multi-media, including photos, audio, and video. Social collaboration leverages familiar interfaces (from sites like, for submitting and organizing media on varied devices. Crowdsourcing: By breaking problem discussions out of email into a controlled, more transparent forum with self-subscription capabilities, larger, more diverse groups can be leveraged for faster and better problem solving. Consumer-driven: Portals and internal solutions are only useful if they deliver what users want and expect currency, relevance, interaction. 6 Engagement: Social engages users. 1 out of every 8 minutes online is on . Discussions: Not all important knowledge ends up in documents. In fact, [find #s?]

Social Contextual Collaboration

Information workers need fewer, not more collaboration destinations. The productivity losses of email interruptions alone are 30% . The context switching that users experience when, for example, attempting to resolve an exception in an order entry system, creates friction in the business process. This friction can result in process delays and other inefficiencies. The answer is to build the collaboration service directly into the business process. Linking the collaboration content to the associated business objects then 8 enables contextual recall, improving overall knowledge management. Social applications like Facebook, while social in purpose, also include social collaboration tools that can be utilized inside of business organizations for knowledge management and productivity gains. To maximize these benefits, consistent social collaboration tools should be integrated across the business applications used everyday. is the leader in Business Social Contextual Collaboration. Jay Pullur is CEO of Qontext Inc. Samir Ghosh has 20 years in collaboration at Microsoft, IBM and Lotus.

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Comscore, Feb 2011 Case Study: Evaluating the Effect of Email Interruptions within the Workplace, Jackson, Dawson, Wilson, 2002. 8 Matthew W. Cain, Gartner, 2011. 2011 Qontext Inc.