Monday, June 16, 2008

What's So Special About Litigation Knowledge Management?

A few weeks ago I posted a reply to an International Legal Technology Association "KM Forum" question. While the questioner remains anonymous under the ground rules of that forum, I thought it would be useful to post my (slightly updated) answer here to the question, "What makes litigation knowledge management different from other kinds of legal knowledge management?" Lit KM is after all my job.

I see five primary differences.

1) Court Filings And Data Are Usually Public

Much of litigator's final work, if not actually out in the open, is publicly accessible. That means that it is possible to cross-check or pull in relevant, helpful documents from outside the firm (the other side's position might well be yours in the next case).

It also means that effort spent on tracking some types of information, like who in your firm has appeared before a particular federal judge, can better be spent elsewhere as it may be available through services like Lexis' Courtlink.

Down the road, as I have commented earlier, there is great (as-yet unrealized) potential for caselaw search based on free public access to court opinions.

2) Calendaring / Docketing Really Matters

Calendaring is much more important for litigators than for people who make deals. We even have a special name for it--"docketing", which technically refers to either filing of a pleading or motion in court or the entry of a deadline for the same type of activity (or a discovery deadline) on an internal calendar. Some large law firms even have centralized "Docketing Departments."

Obviously there are deal deadlines, but there are so many more deadlines in court, and missing them can be so harmful, that deadline tracking systems, technological and otherwise, are of critical importance.

3) Practice Areas Don't Matter (as much)

My firm is organized (in descending level of order) around Departments (two), Major Practice Groups, and Practice Areas (~35--the smallest unit). While different practice areas on the business side of the firm have quite different knowledge management needs, litigation groups have largely compatible knowledge management needs.

For instance, litigators want to be able to find all firm work product that cites to a particular case or statute (thank you, West KM!). They need to track ongoing trials as a group, and so on and so forth.

Practice-area specific KM is certainly viable in litigation, but many of the most effective KM efforts benefit the entire litigation department rather than a particular litigation practice area.

4) DMS Use Differs

Document management system use is also slightly different. While litigators negotiate documents outside the firewall, it is not the main thrust of our efforts. Therefore, versioning, redlining, and importing files from outside as new versions of DMS documents all tend to be less important than they are on the corporate and real estate sides of the firm. Final versions of documents are available from courts and pleadings systems, as well as from the DMS. Another DMS difference I've developed at Goodwin is pulling in "forum" matters data directly into the DMS for use by our litigators. I'm not aware of any comparable business-department-wide piece of matters data.

5) Bleak House vs. Let's Make A Deal

Litigation cases on average take much longer than deals. With the amount of work being relatively equal, that means that A) there are proportionally fewer litigation matters than deal matters and B) different time horizons have to be considered for all kinds of support systems.


There may also be some difference with respect to reliance on case law, though I am less certain of that proposition. It may be that business lawyers rely on cases as much, but simply don't like to use Bluebook form in their cites).


The above are my opinions as a litigation KM practitioner. These general distinctions tend to blur in the context of high-volume, commoditized litigation, and where deals blend into dispute resolution and administrative agency work.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 4 of Enterprise 2.0 Boston: Lockheed Martin & Enterprise 2.0

I just saw an outstanding session on a real adoption and social collaboration success stories, from one of the biggest U.S. companies.

Their summary:

"Enterprise 2.0 at Lockheed Martin is sparking a knowledge management revolution enabling the business to more effectively compete, win, and perform. At its core, a social computing platform empowers knowledge workers by lowering the barriers to create, share, and find information. The platform evolved from collaborative tools and now includes Web 2.0 tools such as social bookmarking, blogs, wikis, discussion groups, weekly activity reporting, and personal/team spaces. This session will communicate what the platform is, demonstrate the components, and share some case studies and lessons learned from the E2.0 implementation at Lockheed Martin."

Christopher Keohane, Unity Product Owner, Lockheed Martin
Shawn Dahlen, Unity Program Manager, Lockheed Martin

The goal of their "Unity" project was to bring social collaboration; "Express * Discover * Connect" [nice motto and branding!]

One major purpose was to meet Retirement / Recruitment challenge. Another was because they collaborate too often with meetings, powerpoint, and email.

They wanted to allow each individual to express themselves in their day-to-day activities. Each must be grounded in the day-to-day activities, create content because it will help get the job done.

Put together key messages and a product strategy.

1) Provide user experience that users will love; else the contrast with the fun stuff they use at home will be too great.
2) Address "What's in it for me."; Provide tools to operate more effectively. Have to ground in personal utility. Network effects come later.
3) Balance the need to share with the need to know; there is competitive / HR sensitive information in there.
4) Foster an ecosystem around a standard platform (?); in a large organization, there are lots of IT groups.

UNITY platform was the result.

It was built on Google as Search, Windows Sharepoint Services, with Newsgator as feed reader. They added bookmarking, custom discussion boards, Weekly Activity Reporting, and a suggestion tool.

A Backend data warehouse collects all relationships, feeds into "spaces." There are personal spaces and team spaces. Both types can network and relate to each other. Each space can have blogs, wikis, documents, discussion forums, and bookmarks.

Users didn't want different sets of collaboration tools.

Each activity generates RSS feeds, that can be consumed by Newsgator or portal.

Activity reports integrated into a branded "UReport" tool. Let people tag their activities so they could be reported on later. Also great for transferring knowledge. Shows all tasks, people that have been met with over 6 months. Can look at individual status reports of individuals to see what they are doing, engage with the right people.

UReport is a custom .net application. Their idea of organizing around tasks / activities is a good one.

LM employees can subscribe to activities that people you follow. See stream of activity, be plugged into what they are doing.

What is the value of a list of friends? Real value is to be able to watch what people are doing and search network or ask question within group.

Personal network search--can search content just created by your network.

Right now the attention data is just from social system. They are looking at being able to watch different component that tracks activities, feed in to the attention system.

With 150,000 people, opportunities may be greater, but each person loses the ability to market value across the enterprise.

The personal space allows to connect and network. Shows interests (mountain biking, kayaking, child, astronomy). Shows stream of activity, so there isn't a blank page without content. It gets filled in through daily work.

They built basic platform in 2007; built beta and collected feedback. Rolled out Unity earlier in 2008. There are 4,000 personal spaces, growing 10% every three weeks. Want to roll out across all of LM in 3rd-4th quarter. The most succesful approach was to play up the team space and downplay the personal blog. Collect lessons learned every 3 weeks. Managers blogging in the team space really helped the engineers see the bigger picture and feel engaged. Specific expertise varies from area to area. Based ROI on ability to find information. What really sold them was customer's interest, expressed in RFPs. Wanted to potentially sell to clients. LM might potentially make available as open source. They are more systems integrators than software vendors.

Legal, HR, and Information Security are on the system, and some of them are the champions.

Growth has been viral to date. It's the early adopters spreading the word. They had to add some polish and enhance the look and feel after the first release. People who already have to collaborate between groups are good champions. Some organizations need this tool more than others (for instance, people developing process documentation).

Created tags using a custom version of 'free" Sharepoint lists. [I want to know more about their tags and how they feed into search, content, and the profiles].

Unity team had bimonthly hourlong training sessions, and developed wiki FAQ and screencasts. This wasn't effective enough. Also have a FAQ wiki. It answered questions like, "Why am I creating a wiki in the first place? Why am I blogging?" How & why are both key. Why am I using a wiki versus a blog?

The Unity development put together a "collaboration playbook" for themselves to show what you would use a wiki or a blog for. When do I use email / phone / wiki? Put together best practices. Depends on whether everyone else needs to know answer. Internally focused team of 40 needed to work together. Keep documentation simple and terse, bullets, not paragraph length. There was a request to share the playbook with the world. [we have developed a simplistic version of a playbook for us internally on the KM team at Goodwin, but haven't done much with it.]

"It's now baked into the rhythm of what we do as a team."

One way to sell it is to show people the power of links. When you're trying to get information you can link to other resources. Find and refind information serendipitously.

Wikis allow you to capture process and make documentation generation easy.

The intranet-style application has a nice look & feel. Tabs for "Home / Connect / Documents / List / Blog / Wiki / Tags."

They abandoned subsites. Created sites that can be networked together so that you can go in and change who the parent is.

Users create a space through a workflow.

Discussion boards are another custom application. People can put out a question on a forum. Responses come in in 15 minutes to an hour. People from all over the country responded to a question about a foreign country's navy.

Blogs shine in the team spaces. Team space for process compliance got input from geographically diverse set of people.

What's next?

--SIP labeling (sets security at item level at six tiers)
--Export control filters
--exposing team affiliation in profles.

Lessons Learned:

"Think big, start small, move fast."

Paint the biggest picture you can on how to solve the business needs. Get motivated and excited around clear goals. Show how you can transform the business. Demonstrate passion.

Shawn started small with an $8k pilot. It worked, got $50K for wiki. Now have 40 engineers. You have to incorporate feedback into the next steps.

These guys were excellent presenters because they were so excited about what they were doing. The backchannel was really excited by this one. I hope that they keep sharing this great story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Enterprise 2.0, Day 2, Session 5; Thomas Vander Wal on Making Sense of the Flood of Information (Tagging!)

Thomas' presentation last summer was the only substantive and intelligible part of the Enterprise 2.0 conference I attended last year (I understand that his was one of two presentations last year that got "perfect" scores from the audience). Last years' got me excited about Delicious and tagging and I was happy to get a chance to hear him again.

Thomas is a consultant based in Bethesda, Maryland who coined the term "folksonomy, " putting him up there in the Enterprise 2.0 pantheon with McAfee in my opinion. His sparse but pretty powerpoints are on Slideshare.

Crowd Survey

He started by asking how many had internal bookmarking. Perhaps 10% of the audience did.

Too Much or Too Little?

He's learned that what you get after 6 months to a year is different than what you expect going in.

The "one year club" either says:

1) Nobody is using our services--only 2-5% using them


2) Oh my goodness we have way too much information here.

1) Too Little Tagging

In the first scenario, how do you encourage use? Adoption rate does not vary between generations (boomer, X, Y, millenial) once value and understanding is known.

Improving Adoption

A) Guidance

Like much of Enterprise 2.0, the consumer space is way ahead of the enterprise. Amazon has a variety of ways that guide consumers in their use of tags.

  • Label tags correctly and plainly, e.g., "Tags Consumers Associate With This Product."

  • Describe process of tagging with a "What's this" link.

  • Say what your behavior will do, e.g,. "Click on a tag to find related items, discussions, and people."

  • Add shortcut key / guidance--e.g., "Press T twice to access."

  • Suggest terms.

B) Understand that even light use can have high value

C) Don't worry about the number of tags per items, as most things get tagged only a few times even in Delicious.

D) Understand who is using the service, and assess the value gained. Value can be assessed from four perspectives:

Personal--Tagging can help a user refind things better, without input from anyone else. Some people also learn through tags by investigating who else might have tagged an object.

Group-- Most tools called "collaborative" are actually collective. A collective approach is people working in parallel on their own documents. Concept of editing someone else's page/work is scary to most. Collaborative is many different people working on one document/task.

Newbie--The Newbie hasn't tagged, but consumes tags developed by others.

Service Owner--Tags add to value to the service owner by acting as a pointer. Pointers help own search and helps Google seach external web site.

E) Show Commoncraft tagging videos.

F) Provide many use cases.

How would Marketing or R & D use tagging? Can it tie to CRM? How would middle managers use this tool?

For instance, he has seen managers use tagging to speed up monthly reporting process, through developing initials + monthly / yearly tags (0508=May 2008), and then collecting the information thus tagged.

G) Integrate tagging into all of other tools.

Tagging within Sharepoint is now available. ConnectBeam lets you show what certain people have bookmarked, subscribe to their bookmarks. Integrating tagging with search is key to adoption. Social search will show who else that I know has tagged something, and how many times. I have also seen tagging effectively integrated into enterprise search as Lynda Moulton's term social search with Vivisimo's Velocity 6.0, which I reviewed in October 2007.

2) Too Much Information

In the second scenario, where administrators and users are complaining that there is too much information, what do you do?

A) Single tags

People new to tagging will sometimes tag too much as "document" and then not see utility. e.g., Scuttle.

The proper solution is to have the user interface encourage a diversity of tags. Prompt with "did you mean to only use one tag?"

B) Tools too simple / Lack Context

Delicious doesn't surface who is doing tagging. Cogens and others do surface people. The smaller scale of an enterprise lets you surface context and role of people doing the tagging. If you know who is doing the tagging, you can understand more about the tag.

Another solution would be to group tags by the role or location of the people doing the tagging. [In the law firm environment, for instance, a tag from a litigator for a "settlement agreement" means something entirely different than an M & A lawyer tagging a "settlement agreement."]

C) Suggest facets of tagging

Is it a "red" a product , geographic referral, or a color? For these types of words, ask at the time the tag is applied to group them into categories.

D) Self-stem

Let searches and tag application both encompass the extended version of the word (tag, tags, tagging).

E) Synonyms

Ideally, tagging tools should surface the different meanings of words.

F) Mispellings

Simple tools don't spellcheck

G) Tools need guidance and self-help

(see 1.A. above)

3) Tagging Administration Practice Tips

A) Hire A Taxonomist.

Use a taxonomist who understands folksonomies; they can add structure to the tag set.

B) Watch scarce tags.

Address attention to tags that are used a lot. Watch tags used somewhat less. Use long tail to identify synonyms.

C) Embrace structure.

Co-occurence of terms;
Knowledge of social relation with tagger; and,
Link with existing tools such as search, profiles, and taxonomies.

D) Three tag contexts :

Human context--what are people calling it
Related Terms--what else are people calling it
Object--content of tagged thing

F) Value Proposition

The real value of tagging is refindability. Put that up front and users will adopt it.

4) Questions

I asked whether the Amazon "suggested terms" works within the enterprise. Thomas suggested that using other people's terms limits findability, it's better to suggest terms that the individual already uses, possibly by drawing on the user's terms that others have tagged the resource with.
Can suggest terms if they are from the users own slide set. The less time and thought that was put in, the better the refindability.

Some of this is in vendor roadmaps.

Another participant asked about delicious. Delicious has plateaued. It's missing contextualizing, stemming, and spelling. Delicious can't add in many-to-many relationships because it's so processor-intensive, but tagging inside the enterprise can pull it off.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Day 1, Second Session: Hinchcliffe on Tools and Techniques of Emergent Change

Dion Hinchcliffe's address was to "examine the latest Enterprise 2.0 tools and platforms, current and cutting edge implementation techniques, and explore successful Enterprise 2.0 case studies." He certainly was an able and appropriate speaker for such a large topic (he runs the Web 2.0 Journal, Hinchcliffe & Company and is an avid blogger , web 2.0 educator-slash-consultant, and TV show impresario.) Unfortunately the case studies and implementation received short shrift in favor of an intensive and extensive discussion of what constitutes real and successful Enterprise 2.0.

Enterprise 2.0 is different, powerful, and important, and will take 5-10 years to spread through the corporate world.

Dion wants people at the session to join Facebook, Twitter, and Friendfeed. If you do too, look me up! (I use KMHobbie for those sorts of apps).

State of E. 2.0

Wikis and Blogs

Two years ago at this same conference Dion asked the room how many could easily create a blog post or wiki page on their intranet. Three people raised their hands. Today more than 80% of the people did (he usually sees two-thirds). While wikis and blogs are the start of E2.0, not the end, this is quite a change.

Lines are blurring between consumer and social media. Work and home life too. People now create vastly more content than our institutions or the official media.

"Mind share" is the next step to "market share" so it's important what the buzz is. Dion used accurate charts of what people seach on Google to identify what is more popular or interesting. Searches for "Enterprise 2.0" are not rising, but searches for wikis, which first started in 2005, now surpass blogs. Searches related to phone and email are both declining. People do wikis first and blogs second. More succesful rollouts tend to do both.

Adoption and State of the Market

In terms of Rogers' adoption curve, social networks are in "early majority", consumer blogs & wikis in "late majority", Enterprise 2.0 might be in the Adoption Chasm, after early adopters

Hundreds of Enterprise 2.0 pilot projects exist. Enterprise 2.0 is far more than blogs and wikis but it is where most people usually start. Sometimes implementation is not at all official. Individuals install them and get a spiral network effect, for instance at AOL (the company). Within 60 days a personal mediawiki sitting on a single person's PC had completely eclipsed the company's Documentum document management system for the people exposed to it.

Culture matters, so Enterprise 2.0 is not taking off in Germany like it is in the U.S. and Commonwealth countries. The attitude of, break it first, ask permission later is a product of a particular culture.

Even in the U.S., small and medium businesses have been slow to adopt. They are not sophisticated consumers of IT and didn't have legacy enterprise software.

Large enterprises are buying this stuff today.

Dion showed a Forrester Research "Magic Quadrant" slide of Q3 2007. There were no firms in the "leadership" quadrant and only two (IBM and Microsoft) in the "challenger" quadrant.

For firms with between 1,000-4,999 employees, 41% are buying Web 2.0 tools in 2008, 15% of enterprises are only "considering" a purchase, and 55% are not considering

The vendor space is rapidly developing--BEA and SAP now coming along. IBM has been beating the drum, Microsoft has Sharepoint. Between 80-90% of $60-70 billion in software spending goes to these four. By 2013 should be a $4.3 billion chunk, per Forrester Research Report of April 21, 2008. Some of the smaller vendors are doing things like develop good plugins into Outlook.

Successes and Lessons Learned

Generally speaking, successful projects report better communication, improved cross-pollination and leverage of knowledge, higher productivity, and few expected problems.

Over the last few years, people have learned how to:

  • create network-based communities in the workplace
  • manage communities through seeding content, moderation, etc.
  • draft social media guidelines for workers
    manage change change management methods
  • drive adoption
  • govern Enterprise 2.0 projects
  • measure outcomes
Many successful implementations have reached a tipping point through an enterprise seeing leaders adopt the tools. (In similar fashion, my uncle Charles Hobbie used to tell of how in Korea, a country he was quite familiar with, the media makes it a point when the weather gets hot to show the Korean President outside in a formal short-sleeved shirt. While it is not a formal news item, the next day, but not before, every professional has ditched the tie and is also wearing a short-sleeved shirt).

Continued Pain Points

Relevancy of search in the enterprise is a real problem. It just doesn't work as well as on the Web, because of the absence of the link infrastructure and concomitant search algorithms. Until link structure and large percentage of workers generate links gets into enterprise systems, it will continue to be a problem.

Organizations that are not knowledge-dependent will realize less benefit. I think that means that knowledge-dependent outfits like, for instance, law firms, will realize a lot of benefit.

Dion plugged "The Cluetrain manifesto, " a set of 95 theses developed in 1999 (almost 10 years ago) e.g., Markets are getting smarter faster than most companies. It is available on-line for free, and very little in it has not aged extremely well.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

Innovation in software and networks is coming from the Internet, not from the business world. Other tools like email, database servers, etc., came from the enterprise and then made it out to consumers or the internet. Web 2.0 is a collection of documented best practices. Web 2.0 is a set of new software applications that shifts most control to the users. Gives them control over content, structure, and processes.

For instance, the first wiki was the "simplest database that could possibly work'"--a blank web page with an Edit/Save button.

Web 2.0 applications are essentially free for users because they leverage economy of scale and rely on advertising for revenue.

Social media now generate more media than traditional media. There are 60-90,000 videos on Youtube every day.

Web 2.0 Principles

All Web 2.0 winners such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook are:

  • using the web as platform;
  • treating data as the next "Intel Inside";
  • leaving behind the Software Release Cycle;
  • leveraging lightweight software and business models;
  • managing software above the level of a single device;
  • providing rich user experience;
  • innovating code assembly; and,
  • incorporating collective intelligence.

Tim O'Reilly boiled this down to, "Networked applications that explicitly leverage network effects." The networked effect occurs when a good or service has more value the more that other people have it too. For instance, once email or the telephone reached a certain tipping point in value, people "have to have it" or they are out of the conversation.

Reed's Law--if the network is social, it is much more valuable.

We've seen a sudden shift of control from institutional to individual control. Open Source software produces much more code than "normal" software companies.

Enterprise 2.0

McAfee in The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration (March 2006) coined the term Enterprise 2.0. He defined it as "emergent, freeform, social" applications for use within the enterprise.

There is a simple answer to individuals in corporations who question why they should bother with Enterprise 2.0. It leaves behind reusable knowledge. A blog will record the answer to the FAQs so people won't bother subject matter experts.

What about where people want to have people come to them to get the answers? Possible answers are:

1) knowledge belongs to the organization, it shouldn't be hoarded.
2) Sharing and collaborating will benefit the sharer because it will benefit the organization he or she is a part of.
3) Participation is a way to gain the sort of reputation as a go-to person that the curmudgeon is trying to maintain.

People find that large organizations are creating and recreating same information in a couple of different places.

"Network effects by default" should be the norm. Only lock down information following extra effort.

Benefits of Enterprise 2.0

  • Increased knowledge retention
  • More adoption and use of knowledge management tools
  • Creation of emergent structure and processes
  • Increased transparency and availability of information
  • Less duplication of effort (some companies discover they were maintaining the same information twice or three times).

What is different about Enterprise 2.0?

It is Emergent--lets right structure and details come out over time. There are low barriers for using it--the lower the barriers are, the higher the adoption.

McAfee's SLATES test is what Dion uses in assessing whether a particular approach qualifies as Enterprise 2.0. SLATES means Search, Linking, Authorship, Tagging, Extensions, Signals.

Search--discoverability and reuse of information drives retun on information

if you don't link the information you can't make sense of it.


Authorship--users generate the content

Tagging--handles volume problem--users provide their own context, provide multiple perspectives or conceptions on documents--other people share point of view--"one of most potent" in financial return study. must be on the fly. Tags stabilize around a core set.

Extensions--Lets users recommend content based on other's behaviour

Signals--centralizes the location of where you look at changing information. Signals ensure that there is pervasive access to the information.

Without tags and signals, the volume of information in a social collaboration environment quickly becomes overwhelming.

How reusable is the knowledge with search, tags, and linking? How large an audience can you reach?

Enterprise 2.0 must also be "Non-interruptive." Sharing incorporated into the workflow is much more effective.

Why Enterprise 2.0?

We are automating more and more--we have automated extraction and conversion of raw materials. Routine interactions like check generation and billing is now very well automated. Complex interactions that require decision making, collaboration, and knowledge consumption are now subject to efficiency benefits of Enterprise 2.0.

There was a lot more, including a demo of the Space.ous portal / Enterprise 2.0 platform. I will try to post on it soon.

Enterprise 2.0, Boston 2008--First Day Plan

I'll be doing some live blogging from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston this week. If you're there and would like to meet face-to-face, email me (look me up at ) or Twitter me @KMHobbie.

I don't have much responsibility for analyzing possible security breaches, and I'm very interested in the vendors that are working with and complement Microsoft's Sharepoint 2007, so on June 9 I'll be attending the workshop "Social Computing Platforms: IBM & Microsoft," addressing both IBM's Lotus Notes and Microsoft's social collaboration systems, out-of-the-box and otherwise.

Then in the afternoon I'll take a look at successful Enterprise 2.0 in Implementing Enterprise 2.0: Exploring the Tools and Techniques of Emergent Change.

Social Computing Platforms--IBM & Microsoft

I learned more about Lotus at this presentation, as my firm is a Sharepoint shop.

The Lotus Connections Speaker was Suzanne Minnassian, IBM Lotus Connections Product Manager, IBM.

Lotus Connections lets companies set up communities that span the firewall, and are available through an external site. In her example (apparently drawn from real life), she hurts her ankle running on the Esplanade, and goes to the hospital web site looking for information about doctors who might be able to help. Through a standard search, she finds a sports medicine doctor. She sees more information about a doctor than just her contact data—she also sees a blog by the doctor that gets published inside & outside the firewall, gets access to doctor’s calendar to schedule an appointment [ I doubt that would ever happen! ], and sees what internal “communities” the doctor is involved with. If one of them is a “sports injury” community, she might be able to get advice on how to treat her injury in the short term from another patient.

Lotus provides much richer set of information for users inside the firewall.

Compared to Microsoft, it looks a lot more user-friendly and easy to adopt. Microsoft is stronger in having so many partners and applications developers that are willing to invest in integrating with Sharepoint.

Lotus has really built out a fully mature social networking and collaboration system. Suzanne noted that “the longer a social application is out there, the more data gets added to it” and it also looks like the longer a social collaboration system has been published and actively modified, the more and better features it has.

I totally ate up the rich use of social tags in Connections. For starters, bookmarks, in their “Dogear” system, apply to people, items such as blog entries, documents, and external web sites. In all environments, tags are links to what others have tagged with that word. Tags are directly integrated with search, such that documents tagged with the search term come up higher in the list. Furthermore, people who have been tagged or who have tagged using that word are displayed alongside, in case you’d rather call someone than look at a document. You can filter down search results by tags, with guided navigation, so that you can see which content has to do with “Liu” and “environment” after two clicks.

Suzanne noted that having your content “pre-filtered” by other users through tags has greatly enhanced search at companies that have adopted the system. Tags and combinations of tags generate RSS feeds as “watchlists” so users can monitor content additions containing particular terms.

Users have profiles, with a rich set of data pulled from their work, connection, and tagging activities. Allows people to establish formal “connections” with people (I wonder if this is mediated, i.e., if the person on the other end of the proposed connection has to agree to form the connection.) Each user also has an “iGoogle”-like landing page with a set of widgets that can be moved around, such as blog posts, tags, activity by other users, activity on tags, and so forth.
Lotus Connections also allows quick creation of “Communities.” They’ve learned that different groups organize around different types of activities, and so their communities have flexible features such as discussion boards, other live communication such as IM, wikis, shared bookmarks, and feed views.

A feed view is a list from an RSS feed that people can comment on and share with particular people. There are also “Activities” which constitute flexible project management spaces.

The one social piece missing is a feed reader, which Lotus still has in Beta (it’s called “Spectacular”.

Connections also has a very flashy-looking social networking analysis tool built in. You can view a person’s connections, in the form of icons that are closer to the main person’s icon the closer the relationship. Like ContactNetworks, strength of relationship is determined by mining email and IM. The strength can be filtered by date, division, or country. You can also search networks for a particular keyword, which shows clusters of people and lets you identify the key people who connect clusters of people. In the example Suzanne ran, she found the key IBM person working on, of course, “tagging.”