Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tip - the paperless office: take a rational pilot approach to workgroup systems

"Ignorance is bliss"
- as the saying goes, and it can be expensive when you are talking to snake-oil salesmen of computer systems. The rule is, caveat emptor ("let the buyer beware").

Whenever you plug your laptop or thumb drive into a client's knowledge systems, you may need to be able to share knowledge, which is often in the form of documentation. You need to have common, up-to-date and preferably "open" standards for this. Some organisations have really good knowledge-sharing or workgroup systems. Others do not and just use email to spray copies of documents around. This is a small case-study of one of the latter.
Last year I was working on an assignment for a client whose IT operation was running a moribund, unsupported version of Novell GroupWise (v6.5.6, from 2006), on an IT infrastructure that was based on an archaic operating system (Windows 2000). I was pretty surprised by this as, though the business processes in the organisation were pretty high up the CMM (Capability Maturity Model) - being at Level 3 or higher in some cases - they were using archaic systems to support these processes that I had thought no-one used any more.
I was further surprised when I subsequently learned that there were some areas of the organisation that were running a trial/POC (Proof-of-concept) of a couple of different modern-day workgroup systems that were unrelated to Novell's GroupWise.

Tip - use Gmail and other Google services to avoid "lock-in"

The post [G] Welcome to the Data Liberation Front discusses Google's approach to Gmail data portability and zero "lock-in". Brilliant. This is one of the main reasons I like using Gmail and Google's other free services. They don't try to lock you in. It's YOUR data - e.g., they even make it easy for you to pack up and migrate your Google blogs to some other system.
It reminded me of my recent experience with migrating my NZ mobile phone number from Vodafone to the much cheaper - by up to 50% - 2degrees mobile network service.