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Collaboration is Great! Says who?

A couple of years back, executives were very strongly against collaboration and business social applications. The tide has turned and they are gung how now. During this same period, end users became stubborn and for the most part refused to participate or engage in these approaches. This is still the biggest reason for lack of adoption and abandonment of tools expected to encourage communication and sharing of information. At least that’s what 99.9% of analysts tell us. No one will use them. The exception – Google.

I just read a Google survey, conducted by Raconteur, where results were consistently highly positive on the benefits of collaboration. In a nutshell, the survey found:

  • 88% of response indicated their company fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration’ agree that ‘employee morale and job satisfaction is high in their company
  • 73% of respondents agree that their organization would be a more successful organization if employees were able to work in a more flexible way
  • 56% of respondents ranked a collaboration-related measure as having the biggest impact on their organization’s profitability
  • 53% of respondents are confident that collaboration is currently having a positive and tangible impact on their organization

I am often not able to connect the dots without assistance. In this case, I did. I then went back and looked at who the survey was sent to. Guess what? The survey included senior staff and C-suite executives at 258 North American companies representing a wide range of business sectors and sizes. So, the responses are not really surprising. I would like to see the same survey using the responses of the business users.

Interesting follow-up project.

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Collaboration versus Social – It’s time to redefine the terms

A new report, ‘Microsoft Collaboration Usage‘, written by suggests the most common activity among business people using Microsoft collaboration tools is document sharing, and much of that activity occurs early in the week, on Monday and Tuesday. If you ask the typical end user they will define collaboration as email.

So, that’s what collaboration is all about? Something is wrong here. Not that I am against document sharing or easy access, it’s just in my mind I don’t associate that with collaboration. The definition of collaboration by Merriam Webster is: “to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something”. File sharing and document access doesn’t seem to jive with the definition. The report, by is a very interesting paper and, although it focuses on Microsoft, it could apply to any enterprise cloud platform. I would assume the end statistics would be quite similar.

According to the report, the most popular activity conducted by users on mobile devices using was online and offline document access, both  81%, but I would have expected that percentage to be high. On the other hand, “business users opened documents 68 times more often than they participated in Yammer discussions. Just three percent of users conducted document searches, and less than two percent participated in Yammer discussions, viewed activity streams, or looked up a colleague’s SharePoint profile, according to”

I think it’s time to redefine the term collaboration. Collaboration is much more than accessing documents. Social, on the other hand, the Yammer’s of the world, is focused on communication. If we really delineate the terms, social is pretty much of a bust, according to this report and the term collaboration, in reality, doesn’t even exist. I say call it what it is. Document access both online and offline. It is not collaboration as I see it.

Do you see it differently?

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Precision versus Recall – What is old becomes new again

During my research I often find some little snippets of information that make me stop and think about how ideas, theories, processes are repeated, imagining a highway being built that stretches endlessly in the horizon and we return to the starting point. It seems to be happening more often lately.

Even with technology we are still seeing history being repeated. Enterprise search has been around for about 67 years as described by J.E. Holmstrom in 1948. Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence has been around for 61 years, and is now becoming the newest buzzword and must have technology. Precision and Recall, was introduced in 1955 when a gentleman named Allen Kent joined Case Western Reserve University. That same year, Kent and his colleagues published a paper in American Documentation describing the precision and recall measures as well as detailing a proposed “framework” for evaluating an Information Retrieval system which included statistical sampling methods for determining the number of relevant documents not retrieved.

Over three generations have passed, and what is ‘old’ is now ‘new’. Precision and Recall is now back in the news, at least in the legal industry. What brought this to mind is an article I read in Legaltech News, written by Zach Warren, it’s actually a good read regardless of industry as in almost all points he hits the nail on the head.

Years ago, the accuracy of search was measured by precision versus recall, in fact, we have several clients who use our tools to tweak and manage precision versus recall. Why? One is considered one of the top three global analyst firms, and they need precision and recall on their external client web site – poor search results equal lost revenue. The other client has 170K global users and needs accurate search results. The image from Wikipedia illustrates Precision and Recall in an easy-to-understand graphic.

These days, despite some of our clients, I don’t think it is used much. I also agree with the writer, that most tools don’t let you easily manipulate precision versus recall. It seems to be a forgotten metric in search efficiency. Luckily, our tools are easy-to-use and although precision and recall is a tough nut to crack it’s not like it used to be. Nice to see it back around again, at least in the legal industry.


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