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Have you tried out any new devices or services lately that may have caused you problems? I have started to use Flickr to store and share pictures, and easy as 1-2-3 I had created a page that I could connect to my Apple TV. My daughter also wanted an account, so we created one for her too. But, we couldn’t connect it to the Apple TV. You really get crazy when simple things don’t work. So what do you do? You post a query on Google and find the answer in a forum. You have to be over 18 to share photos on Flickr. To share her photos on Apple TV, we just needed to be connected as friends. Now it works.

This is an example of how I today most often find expertise on-demand in communities and not through manuals. I just drop a question “out there” and find the answer in forums or pick it up from someone who replies to me. Reading manuals is the worst case scenario.

The data in a business application has similarities with the Internet. The data volume is huge; the ways I find information is by searching and through my network of expertise on-demand.

Out of office but in the know

A mobile workforce of field technicians at Ericsson, Infratek or Eltel who are always on the road, how can they instantly share expertise with each other? No one knows everything, but there is always somebody who knows something better than others. How can expertise be utilized better and smarter within a field workforce? In some cases, technicians can search for the information in IFS Applications, access videos with work instructions etc., but what if they need instructions and hands-on guidance to solve a particular problem?

See my hands in China

Last week I had an interesting meeting with a company located just a block away from IFS HQ in Linköping. The company, called XMReality, has developed a solution where an expert can guide you and visualize how you solve a problem hands-on, e.g. which button to switch off, how to close or open a valve. Trying to describe this with words over the phone is not easy. XMReality has developed a solution where the technicians put on a pair of glasses and a headset including a camera. On a screen, the expert can now see what the technician is looking at.  The hands of the expert, who also has a camera, are filmed and can be seen in the technician’s glasses to guide him, and he can hear his voice in the headset. Together they can now solve the problem. And this can happen while you are sitting in your car helping someone 3 kilometers or 3 continents away.  This is a good example of how technologies can facilitate communication to utilize available experience to solve a problem in a faster and smarter way.

My take on this is that we as human beings always seek the easy solution to a problem. Complex solutions or processes will not be used. The Internet, apps and phones/tablets with their always-on capabilities have dramatically changed my behavior over the last 3-5 years. I can see that my new expectations have an impact on the business systems I use—and I see the same response from our customers.

Surprised and disappointed

I’m surprised and disappointed that companies don’t see the business benefits for more instant communication and guidance in professional communities. In private, we do use public forums to get help from expertize, but professionally, companies are not.

I have three advices;

  1. Accept and utilize people’s new behavior how you search for information and experience.
    Advice: Ensure you utilize modern tools for instant communication like Lync, Skype and IFS Talk
  2. Understand the difference between information and experience. Information is an explanation of a solution. Experience is self-perceived solution explanation of a unique problem.
    Advice: Premier individuals who helps other people by sharing their experience.
  3. Search for inspiration and motivation beyond your own industry to learn how they work with experience sharing
    Advice: Ask you ERP supplier to share insights how other companies and industries are dealing with experience sharing on-demand. Make sure you get involved in a user group to share experiences and best-practice.

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