Sharpening the knowledge workers’ tool kit

I’ve just finished reading a very interesting article by Steve Hodgkinson, Director of research firm Ovum.  He observes that the tools of information sharing in the past have been poor.  “Most information is, in practice, stored in an ad hoc manner in thousands of computer hard drives and network folders, application databases and content repositories.  Why is it so?  Because we can.  Because we have equipped ourselves with the tools of personal expression.

“Everyone is a writer.  Everyone can create, name and store a document in an instant and send it by email.  It is easier to create afresh than to find and reuse pre-existing content.  The tools have empowered us to create documents with scant regard for the past (has this been done before or is anyone else working on this topic?) or the future (will anyone else need to find or use it tomorrow?). 

Hodgkinson argues that whereas the previous generation of tools were designed to support individual authoring and one-one exchanges such as email, the next generation is emerging to support collaboration. 

“These new tools make it easy and natural to share knowledge,” Hodgkinson says.  “New features, for example, include the ability to create a document in a shared repository, with many authors but only one authoritative version – a ‘Golden copy’ – searchable, secure and archived.  Not in a separate document management system that nobody actually uses… in the tools that all knowledge workers will use every day.”

His punch line is this: one of the key determinants of your ability to hire the best and brightest young employees in the near future may well be the quality of your knowledge worker tools and the culture of collaboration that they engender.


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Russell Yardley said,

    This is indeed a thought article and proposition from Steve. Steve would agree that online collaboration has the allure of enormous value creation but unlike email these tools need a significant modification to most people’s behaviour. That is they need to be prepared to be open and share with people they may not know. Where as when the fax machine and later email offered great opportunities for efficiency gains there was little or no change in behaviour required! History tells us online collaboration may therefore have a slow take up.

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