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Comment on Gartner: Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit – Main sessions & Keynotes, London 16 & 17 Sept

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Gartner hosted the 4th annual Europe based “Gartner : Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit” (pcce4) in London this week. From statistics given the delegates had a good cross industry and European countries (and further afield) representation.

The summit host Toby Bell and his colleague Debra Logan welcomed us by providing a grounding for the event through a key note “Certain Strategies for Uncertain Times”.  This contextualised the summit, technologies, and business objectives of the delegates against the backdrop of the current business and economic climate.  They underlined the need for IT to re-shape its role in their business, and shift the perception of being a cost centre into a facilitator and necessary partner to achieve growth and business revenue.

A challenge indeed! Especially when the business will continue to demand cost optimisation or look for significant strategies and approaches to deliver reductions in cost overhead from the operational maintenance of IT systems within the business. Which is backed-up by the Gartner indicating “8 out of 10 dollars spent in IT is ‘dead money’” – spent just to keep things running, and protecting existing investments in people and technology.

Achieving this role change doesn’t lie in a technical solution. But comes back to the people, corporate culture and the manner in which communication between different but inter-dependant business (departments/teams/individuals) transpires.  The resulting business strategies and goals either foster better mutual understanding, respect and cooperation and can produce transformational attitudes and benefits.  Or result in strategies that continue to reinforce the siloed thinking, divisional structures and misalignment of roles that hinder and hamper mutually beneficial events and results for the business.

I think that though not clearly emphasised by the summit, in terms of a ‘track’ or major session, “people and culture rather than technology”,  became a significantly re-occurring comment or phrase that was a common thread throughout the summit. Underlining it as an important concern, and fuelling enquiry and debate amongst both delegates and analysts.

The summit also provided stimulus and examples for new and innovative approaches and methodologies in the format of thought leadership and model case studies.

None more so than the excellent guest keynote from highly respected author, thinker, inventor and speaker Dr. Edward de Bono (author of ‘Mechanism of the Mind’ and ‘Lateral Thinking’), on “Why our Current Thinking is not Enough”.

His talk on creative thinking and the need to overhaul the underlying mechanisms and approaches to thinking that have been so dominant for the last 2400 years in the Western culture, was very well received. I’m sure it will prove a fruitful ground for much personal, and you hope, corporate and societal introspection and contemplation.

He gave some great examples on the use of challenge, provocation, and random introduction to stimulate and produce creative and value ideas and approaches to established conventional and logical thought.

This post describes some excellent examples of where his thinking has been used.

He also described his 6 hats parallel thinking technique which can prove extremely beneficial when understood and correctly applied.

There is a concern that his thought leadership, proposals and hypotheses have been widely adopted or practiced without the appropriate analysis and enquiry to show whether they are most optimal ‘thinking behaviours and patterns’ to be adopted and used.  It makes sense to me, to have that debate, enquire, study and draw conclusions in this area before further advocacy of major changes to society ‘thinking behaviours and patterns’ is more fully utilised.  Whatever that result, the contribution from Dr. de Bono is immensely valuable and it was a privilege to hear him speak.

The model case study presented to the full body of the summit was that of “Building the stacks for a Mutualised Newspaper” by Dr. Chris Thorpe from the Guardian. He provided tremendous insight into how the Guardian is developing it’s ‘Open Platform’ (content API and data store). Made to serve out its contents & its people for the mutual use and benefit, co-creation, co-fabrication/co-distribution and co-monetisation of both itself and its ‘collective community’. So that what is contributed, aggregated, used and consumed helps integrate the Guardian “into the fabric of the internet.”

When you consider the ‘doomsayer’ stories, articles and events that envelope the ‘traditional push media and publishing model’ – the transformational approach and interactivity that the Guardian have achieved via this open data, content and platform approach is nothing short of revolutionary! And as Chris Thorpe described is fully deserving of the accolades prescribed by Tom Watson MP.

I’m not bowled over much these days. But Guardian Open Platform is a chasmic leap into the future. It is a work of simplistic beauty that I’m sure will have a dramatic impact in the news market. The Guardian is already a market leader in the online space but Open Platform is revolutionary. It makes all of their major competitors look timid.

Governments should be doing this. Governments will be doing it. The question is how long will it take us to catch up.

Furthermore their achievements in the use of cutting-edge content enabled cloud based mass-media applications is to be applauded. Demonstrating clear prowess, leadership and innovation in the development, design and delivery of these applications.  There are perhaps more example of such temporal cloud based mass-media applications out there. That aside, however, I think these indicate a ‘new’ breed or model of application delivered from cloud based resources, which will become the frequent offspring of event driven interaction between the “collective” and their social media and content.

A great example of this is The Guardian’s use of the community in the analysis and review of the UK MPs expenses receipts and claims.

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In conclusion:

The Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration summit main sessions and keynotes, provided much for the delegates to take away and contemplate, which should then be followed up by evaluation and incorporation of appropriate strategy for that organisation.  For me one the key tenet to build a clear strategy of utilising the “collective web intelligence” as it relates and is relevant to your organisation.

Disclaimer:  Permission for publication was sought and granted by Gartner

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