Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The World in Real-Time

I came recently across an amazing array of sites that provide a real-time or near real-time view of things happening around the world. I have picked my top ten favorites for my blog post today:

This service has been around for a few years but it continues to fascinate me. It provides a real-time view of the air traffic over pretty much any part of the world. I was once playing with this service on a flight UA902 from Frankfurt home to San Francisco using the on-board WiFi and I was able to locate my flight and see our position better than the screen in the seat in front of me:


Marine Traffic provides a very similar service as FlightRadar24 - but for ships. Of course, if we can track planes in the air, we should be able to do it for ships! Watching the ships passing by from the 18th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid while being able to identify them online is cool. Sadly, I never have time for something like this...

The US Geological Survey (USGS) web site provides a near real-time tracking of worldwide earthquakes. Living in California, I have this page bookmarked in my browser. Because when it shakes, you want to know... provides a near real time view of the lightning strikes. Not much use in California where we never get any lighting but I've seen some amazing storms when I lived in Waterloo, ON! As I wrote this post, New Orleans was getting some action.

There are many great weather applications with real-time or near real-time weather maps. I particularly like Dark Sky on my iPhone with it’s down-to-the-minute precipitation forecast. This is a great app for a runner to check what to expect just before leaving the house or hotel! Dark Sky.png

Sailflow is one of the many real-time wind monitors, showing the wind speed and strength anywhere in the world. This is a great service for a [rusty] sailor like me! There are also services that show the near-real time data for ocean currents such as the NOAA site.

Digital Attack Map is a collaboration between Google Ideas group and Arbor Networks. It shows a nice visualization of all cyber attack by country. Kinda scary if you ask me!

GasBuddy provides a National Gas Price Heat map with the ability to drill down to see the current (or recent) gas prices at practically every gas station in your neighborhood. If you don’t mind a little detour, you can save some good money with this app:

Trendsmap Is another Google research project mapping in real time what’s trending on Twitter:

There are many, many other great visual tools tracking things in real time. I couldn't possibly show them all. But I thought my list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Waze, the ultimate real-time road traffic monitor based on crowd-sourced data:

Aren't all these tools amazing? I’m sure you know other examples of real-time monitoring services that I've missed. Please do share your favorites in the comments to this post!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New World of Information Governance

The people won.

For many years, we used to talk about the information balancing dilemma.  On one side, organizations would like to assure themselves of complete risk elimination as it relates to how their employees handle information. Nothing good can come from employees having the ability to write something in public, right? It could easily result in a lawsuit, a damaging audit, or a security leak. The less people can share and communicate with the outside world, the better. If they have to post something on the outside, let’s make sure our Legal department checks it first!

The employees, on the other hand, want to use any tool that helps them get their job done. They are under constant pressure to do more with less and they are usually measured by objectives that rarely consider the constraints of information governance. They need to produce, perform, and deliver - and anything that prevents them from doing that is counter-productive. Not being able to freely share and communicate stands in the way of getting the job done. Filing records, assigning access privileges, classifying content assets - that’s all just a waste of time!

For years, one of the main value propositions of enterprise content management (ECM) has been helping organizations deal with this dilemma. ECM would offer productivity benefits in the form of search, well organized libraries, workflows, and collaboration while also ensuring a sufficient level of information governance with capabilities such as access control, records retention, authenticity and non-repudiation.

The success rate wasn’t that great, actually. Users typically had to be forced to use the information governance features and hence their compliance reliability was often dismal. Have you added metadata to any documents lately? Do you like filing records? Do you enjoy organizing your email into folders? Yeah, me neither…

At the same time, the restrictions imposed by security and governance requirements are usually seen as a software adoption hurdle. What do you mean I can’t invite my partners to this workspace? Why do I have to classify documents when saving them? What’s metadata, by the way? It was this constant tension between the people and the companies that left ECM in the middle.

Not anymore. Because, the people won.

It’s true. The groundswell of consumerization has swept across the enterprise and the scales have been tipped towards the users. They have clearly shown which tools they want to use - by flocking to the consumer tools and eventually bringing them into the enterprise, often while knowingly violating corporate policies and ignoring the rules of information governance. Yet denial is no longer an option for the organizations. You can’t hide behind corporate policies if nobody adheres to them. The users have won and organizations have had to change. And so does ECM.

As a result, enterprise content management is going through some profound changes. ECM depends on metadata and so far, the users were the primary source of that. Or at least they were supposed to be. But let’s face it, they won’t do it. Like it or not, that ship has sailed. In the new world of ECM, we can no longer rely on users. From now on, look to content analytics as the source of metadata.

Similarly, most information governance policies used to rely on users properly filing and classifying content assets. Yet again, they won’t do it. If you want the content classified - and you do want to have it classified, trust me - check out auto-classification technologies.

The same thing is true for security. The users will ignore it, not matter how much fear you instill in them. Sure, they will use strong passwords if you force them but when you think that they will be diligently managing access privileges for each document, forget it. If you want security,you need a system that will do it for them.

So, get ready for the new world of information governance. What you need is a content management system that to users looks just like the popular consumer tools such as Dropbox, Evernote or Google. Yet, it needs to be an ECM system that inherently and automatically takes care of user permissions, metadata generation, classification, and even workflows and business policies. That can only be accomplished by heavily leaning on content analytics, process analytics, auto-classification and other smart technologies. The race is on.

Chances are, you have an ECM system today that still relies on users doing the hard work. Or, your employees are using consumer tools without any notion of information governance, corporate data ownership, or data sovereignty. Or perhaps you don’t have an ECM system at all? Either way, you need to re-assess your requirements. If you are lucky, you already have a content management platform that allows you to add the “user-independent functionality”. If not, look for a system that will be able to evolve as the technologies mature. Because, guess what?

The people won.