Thursday 30 August 2007

RaboDirect sharing financial advice via RSS & Podcasts

Online bank RaboBank, has launched a new RSS & Podcast service for sharing financial advice such as investment tips and money management at According to, they are the first Irish bank to provide podcasts to customers. Early signs are that this scheme is proving popular, as it is the #1 business podcast on iTunes Ireland today (30/08/2007)

To start, they have setup a library of Podcasts by financial experts with titles including:
  • The Basics of Investing.
  • Secrets to becoming a successful investor.
  • Factors to consider when choosing investment funds.
  • How to learn from the mistakes of others?

The RSS channel has small summary type posts with the post titles linking to press releases and relevant pages of the RaboDirect site. Examples include:

  • Product Announcements
  • Events (Investment Seminar)
  • Web Links (Notifying Customers of Information on RadoDirect Site)

This is a great example of business adopting the power of web 2.0 tools to capture customer attention and promote content on their site. RSS and Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular and this method of marketing will surely grow as more and more people move to Feed Readers for information consumption.

RaboBank said the scheme "empowers customers to maximize their savings and investment opportunities through immediate access to a bank of knowledge from independent financial experts".

Customer facing sites are often powerful on design at the home page, but often lack the content to support this. With RSS, organisations can target customers with topical and timely alerts to new content on their site. Coupled with the links to the product pages they can "pull" customers to the product rather than "push" an advertisement to them.

Monday 27 August 2007

Tackling the document approval problem

A new web 2.0 tool called Approvr, currently in Beta, is a web-based Approval Workflow Manager to give users a faster, more efficient way to manage proofing and approval of documents.

It aims to solve the problems of document approval:

most organisations use email and attachments to manage their approvals. This means a large number of emails, multiple attachments, inbox filters, firewall attachment limits, late responses, collation of comments, organising revisions, checking and repeating the process again and again until everyone agrees with the final version.

With regulatory compliance acts such as Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) requiring detailed audit trails of ownership and responsibility for change within organisations, the workload on high pressure individuals such as project managers has increased.

I have seen the problems that can arise, some examples include:

  • The sign-off email for a particular document has been deleted in error.

  • The sign-off email is stored but the incorrect version of the document is attached.

  • Non-standard sign-offs, with insufficient detail resulting in a failure to meet governance rules.

Problems can also arise during the process of iterative review. You create the document, send it to the X number of associated parties, and you receive a number of emails in response. So you update the document again, however in the meantime, more comments come in, and the result can be chaotic.

I like the basics of this product, however it's adoption by large organisations may be hampered by the fact that the documents are uploaded to Privacy and security are key, but a version of approvr implementable behind the firewall could attract a huge potential market.

Thursday 23 August 2007

Inbox Zero

Here is a great video called "Inbox Zero". The presenter is Merlin Mann, a well known productivity guru and creator of the popular 43 folders website talks about Getting Things Done, the importance of getting your inbox to zero, and strategies for dealing with high volume email.

I love the comparison of the processing of email to a deli worker taking orders. If the deli worker continues taking orders without making sandwiches, the queue would grow longer and their customers would grow angry. Similarly, if we keep reading mails without actioning them we will never get anything done.

He has a list of 5 actions, of which one applies to every email:

  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Respond
  • Defer
  • Do

He also says that you should never have to scroll beyond 1 screen in your inbox!

Tuesday 21 August 2007

An excellent COP success story

This slideshow is a championing story for all trying to get a Community of Practice (COP) up and running. The DIGWWW (A Discussion Group about the World Wide Web) is a COP which has gone from strength to strength with some amazing results.

Wednesday 15 August 2007

KM - Creating the learning environment

I love to learn, but in my own way. I prefer the practical - learning by doing, rather than classroom training courses with a "comedian" instructor.

I like to learn from others in a master and apprentice situation. I like working closely with an experienced colleague to watch how they complete tasks, analyse problems, communicate and deliver solutions.

However, the working environment within an organisation often doesn't allow sufficient time for such learning. The "master" may be so busy, that they have no time for an "apprentice".

JP Rangaswami makes some interesting points in his post entitled Facebook and the Enterprise: Part 5: Knowledge Management on his blog confused of calcutta.

Knowledge management is not really about the content, it is about creating an environment where learning takes place. Maybe we spend too much time trying to create an environment where teaching takes place, rather than focus on the learning.

He continues by noting 3 primary reasons why organisations would want to "manage knowledge" to share learning:

  1. So that same mistakes are not repeated.
  2. To speed up tasks.
  3. To encourage teaching and learning.

I described above what my favourite learning traits are, and JP puts it very nicely:

a “let me show you” session, is worth a thousand “let me tell you” sessions.

Monday 13 August 2007

Lost in Translation - Knowledge Sharing

I spent the last 10 days in Spain, and while I was there I realised how difficult it is to implement a global KM program trying to encourage knowledge sharing.

What I am referring to is the language barrier. I cannot speak Spanish, and I was thought that maybe the most important concept is to define the key elements of the KM strategy and allow others in your global offices around the world to access the content.

If the employees in the Spanish office complete a successful project, and subsequently wish to share their experiences with others within the organisation - will employees in the New York office be less likely to read this content if it is in Spanish?

Now I know that many organisations have invested in translation services (a friend of mine working for SAP has mentioned that they have a number of employees based in Galway, Ireland translating documents from English to German, Spanish and other Languages).

Would this investment be better spent on a KM program that enables content to be digested by all, providing a platform for publishing?

At the end of the day, making this information available to others in the organisation must be an improvement on the siloed operation of the past. Translation may be the next step.

For more on this concept, see the Globally Local - Locally Global blog, which is an excellent resource on global enterprise portals and intranets.

Social Bookmarking in plain english

Here is another great video from the guys at CommenCraft. This time they are focusing on Social Bookmarking using sites such as del.ici.ous.

This video explains how social bookmarking can be used for:
  • Personal Knowledge Management
  • Collaborative Bookmark Sharing
  • Tagging

Visit the CommonCraft video archive at The CommonCraft Show.