There is an interesting news piece about IBM adding virtual worlds support to Lotus Sametime … although there is not much information available except that IBM is testing this with select customers, this has to be a rather interesting development. This is because this brings a large part of the capabilities of virtual worlds to the enterprise … something which has not been seen except in a few organizations … like IBM!
Given the nature of interactions in the virtual space, this has the potential of far enriching the way people can interact with each other on a day to day level. Especially when it comes to demonstrating how to do things, and sharing knowledge which is essentially tacit. Put another way, this has the potential to enable experiential learning … where people can experience what is being done, rather than simply reading about it.
Of course, as with any of the web 2.0 tools, the key here would be adoption, for if people are not too comfortable using the tool, it would be another one of those enhancements which doesnt get used. Wait and watch, i guess?
I came across an interesting post by Jenna Sweeney about Financial Squeeze on Training Departments. Interesting read … Especially the part where she goes on to mention that …
That a lot of time and resources (MONEY) is being spent on things that don’t teach anybody anything!
Interesting, this … in a scenario where the training folks have to do more with less, where the requirement for delivering on diverse trainings is much higher, given the diverse nature of the work that is done by different folks, and the kind of specialization that is required in today’s working life.
I had raised something similar in a presentation i had made some time back to a gathering of training practitioners … what i like to call the “long tail of training”! OK OK … so, i have already written a post about the “long tail” of KM, and now this … sort of fancy the term you could say … makes me seem smarter than i actually am! 🙂
One of the thoughts was about the increasing diversity of technology that people need to be trained on, more and more of a geographically dispersed workforce (not so much of an issue today, considering the advance of virtual worlds … something i have written about) which needs to be trained, and an almost total lack of post-training engagement. This last one is about making sure folks attending a training are engaged with the topic over a period of time, so as to make sure they dont lose all of the things they learnt in class (which is something most folks lose within a fortnight of attending a training, unless they keep in touch!). One way to address this is to bring in some of the ideas which can be harnessed from the web 2.0 domain (hey … is this actually a separate domain? i dont think so, but read this somewhere, so …) to bring about greater engagement with students, post-training …
I will share this presentation once i upload this on slideshare (tried in vain to find out how to upload a ppt here on blogger!).
Andrew McAfee has an interesting post about My Provocation, and Others. Interesting read about the impact of technology on the world of business. We have seen this happening over a period of time. How the advent of the steam engine and the telegraph changed the entire notion of business, and enabled the expansion of the European business model to large parts of the world, especially Asia. We have seen how the automobile has further changed the way work is organized (anybody who commutes in any of the megapolises of the world would agree with that, wouldnt they?), and of course, how the advent of computers, and more recently, the emergence of the network have drastically changed business models, created entirely new things to be done, and entirely new ways of doing the things we were already doing.
I remember someone once arguing that human needs lead to developments in technology. While there is merit in that argument, over the last decade or so, it seems to be even more apparent that probably its the other way round. Technological developments are changing the way we do business.
And this holds good for the web 2.0 surge as well. Like a lot of us have written earlier, web 2.0 is going to change the way things are done. The challenge, i feel, is more with the organizational willingness to let go, rather than people contributing their thoughts. One of the interesting things he writes in this …
The second thing IT does is give business leaders the ability to let new work structures emerge without forcing them. Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 technologies are wonderful new tools for letting processes, interdependencies, decision right regimes, operating models, etc. appear over time without central direction, and without much (if any) up-front guessing about how these structures will or should look.
Now this is an interesting thought … with web 2.0 technologies, there is the scenario where work structures would emerge based on the experiences and thought processes of people. The question that remains to be seen is … How quickly organizations can let go. Let go of the control over decision-making, and understand how to harness these new discussion channels (if i may coin the term!) towards building a more robust organization, and more importantly, to create an environment of embracing change.
I was reading an excellent post by Andrew McAfee about The Friendster Years which sort of rang a bell. Interestingly, the phenomenon he talks about need not simply be restricted to IT. We have seen this happening all over. Remember the days of the radio? Fast forward to today … See the face of the radio. Nobody would be able to recognize the two as similar things. Or computers … i dont remember the last time i saw a floppy disk. Or, cassettes, and the way they morphed into CDs, into mp3 …
Moving to technology, one could say the same of the internet … what started with a particular shape has morphed into a rather different one. To my mind, it would be a reasonable assumption that this would be applicable to web 2.0 tools as well. Simple networking sites have been around for some time now … Close to a decade? But, the shape SNS is taking today is rather vastly different from what it was back then. Similarly, we could assume that other tools, and by extending the logic, E 2.0 would morph (based probably on concepts similar to what they are today, though with differences) into something which is more in line with the requirements of the organization. We are already seeing it happening … Read this. Second Life began quite recently out there on the web, and today, is being taken within the firewall … quite a bit of morphing, wouldnt you say? If anything, the rate at which technology is morphing is increasing, which only means the next steps for E 2.0 might not be too far away from now. Which is why i would agree with the student in Andrew’s class …
I came across an interesting article … Virtual World Gets Another Life … The interesting thing this article brings out is the fact that virtual worlds seem to be moving towards a scenario where they can be deployed within the organizational perimeter. This is a distinct move away from the initial intent of virtual worlds, but nevertheless, this seems to be an interesting move, because this could help unleash a large part of the potential of virtual worlds.
The article has some interesting examples of how organizations are working towards getting this environment within the firewall. The most interesting being that of Big Blue. However, the larger question would still remain … To what extent would this be enabled within the firewall, given the misgivings of managers towards virtual worlds.
There was a question in linkedin … about the reason which holds back e-learning. Why is it that adoption of a tool like e-learning is not high. And, even in companies where e-learning has been deployed, it is only in skeletal way, more like an item on a check-list. For a tool, the value proposition of e-learning is immense … People can learn at a place and time they choose … So, learning doesnt have to interfere with their day to day work, and they can have learning complement profession. That its not necessary that learning happens at the expense of work. This should be music to the HR folks, but somehow, its not.
While e-learning should play a much larger role than it does, i dont think it would really achieve what has been promised as its potential … this is for one simple reason … and that is, we are still human beings, and learning, in large part, is a social activity, much more than it is an intellectual activity.
Which means that the primary challenge to bring the social part into learning. The solutions which are found today address the intellectual part well, but … I guess this is why you would find that e-learning works ok when you have experienced people upgrading their skills, but if you have to learn something new, e-learning doesnt really replace face-to-face learning. Some of this can be addressed by the rich context of virtual worlds, and the way they enable creation of a social environment, which enables us to learn with co-learners, while at the same time, maintaining some of the benefits of e-learning.