The biggest changes sneak up on you

Content management (ECM) systems can track everything that a user does. Usually this capability is seen in the context of compliance – you can answer the 'who did what' and 'when did they do it' questions. You can also track changes in what users did over time. And so it is that a colleague was able to track how my behaviour has been changing without me noticing it by reporting on how many documents I deposit.

  • A bit of background: I use a number of Open Text Content Server systems. One of these, nicknamed Ollie, is used to support to support content-centric business processes within Open Text. I have authored many documents, mostly in MS Office formats over the course of my nine years with the company.
The 'aha' moment: So when my colleague made a social networking post that he had found that I had deposited almost 700 documents in Ollie, I wasn't surprise. I was surprised though when he pointed out that I hadn't added any documents in the last month! Zero! None!

This of course got me to think: "What had I been doing?"

He asked if I'd mostly moved to social networking-style tools. But no, I've been using collaborative tools of one form or another fairly consistently, and indeed heavily, over the last decade. What I realized as that I have almost entirely shifted to using wikis in place of documents.

  • A bit more explanation is in order. Content Server (formerly Livelink) is a full-featured ECM system. You can add documents of any type, including of course MS Office files. You can also directly author in wikis. On the collaborative/social networking side you can also post to a range of collaborative tools such as forums, discussions, news channels, blogs, etc., and with more recent additions instant messages, status posts, etc. So a user has a range of content and social tools in the same system to use – they can select whatever they feel most suited to the business task at hand. Given these choices you can then track user preference changes over time by analyzing audited events.
On further reflection it shouldn't have been surprising. Once I used to have the Word and PowerPoint applications open all the time. I would typically send documents to colleagues as email attachments or via links to copies in Ollie.

Now I create wiki pages and then rely on automated notifications and RSS for others to learn about them, and of course push awareness by targeted emails. I very seldom open Word to author content, and when I do I get frustrated because all of the embedded code makes it hard for me to reuse the content (unless I force Word to the blog posting mode as I'm doing now).

That's another thing – I repurpose content to multiple channels much more than I used to. I don't simply author 'free-standing' documents and then deposit and email them. I often use the same content in several blogs and/or wikis.

And now I'm starting to create short videos where once I'd have authored a document...

None of this is surprising in an abstract sense. Pundits have been saying that there are huge changes underway and as someone who works in a company at the forefront of how content is managed in organizations, I've been aware of it and promoted it. I just hadn't realized how much my own behaviour has changed; otherwise I wouldn't have been surprised that I didn't deposit a single document in Ollie last month!

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