Upgrading your ICT capacity

ICT enterprise solutions is a term that encompasses large and complex networks that span multiple sites and may include both intranets and outward facing internet services. Clearly this is a complicated and challenging problem from a technical point of view, but even more difficult are the complex issues surrounding the people who actually have to use the solution developed. Because of these difficulties we turn to consultants who can advise on the various options such as choosing one ‘best of breed’ solution or integrated systems – there are of course many pros and cons in both directions.

I attended a presentation the other day that explained one such solution. In essence a large organisation wanted to update its systems to provide a coherent ICT solution across its operations. The technology impressed me, but I am no expert in all of this. The solution would cover:

content storage and enforcement of policies (version control, process/workflows, security, classification linked to communities)
portals (both internet and intranet, presentation and personalisation, and choice, context oriented, reusability and repurposing of parts of the portal)
search (content, communications)

Content includes word-processed documents, web pages as well as the communications between individuals and groups through online forums and email exchanges. XML standards offer the potential to render into multiple and different formats from pdf. to web, to that which can be accessed through hand held devices.

The overarching concepts around implementing the above were identified as security, classification, and Social Networks . I got to thinking about this and what might be some of the implementation challenges :

1. How to persuade the customers that they should move from the current web based forums that they run and manage and set up camp within this system? For example, who owns the utterances/written words that are contributed to the system? Do customers want the vendor to access what they are saying, especially when the vendor is a powerful organisation that could potentially influence the customers’ future viability.

2. The training of staff is an immense undertaking. Not only do they need to learn technically what they have to do, they have to change work practices that will be enforced by the system.

3. Innovation and risk taking are to be encouraged. However, in such a document management system everything is filed and stored in such a way that it an be accessed and attributed. Will individuals either staff or customers be prepared to share thoughts when they think the unthinkable and hopefully arrive at those innovative solutions to problems, or will that seem like it is too risky for them?

4. Is the organisation prepared to let its customers discuss openly its products and services warts and all on its own websites? Not everything said will be complimentary nor in-line with the goals and aspirations of the organisation.

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