Total Information Experience: Defining an IBM-integrated Approach to Developing Information in a Flat World via Effective Global Collaboration
Eileen Jones and Dave Peterson attended CIDM’s September 2006 Best Practices Conference in San Diego, CA., where they presented their IBM Best Practice: “Total Information Experience: Defining an IBM-integrated approach to developing information in a flat world via effective global collaboration.” Eileen and Dave were awarded, on behalf of IBM, the elite CIDM 3rd Annual “Rare Bird Award” for distinguished contributions to best practices in management of information development. The Rare Bird Award recognizes the achievement of managers and their teams in developing a best practice that
- provides a clear benefit to customers (Customer focus)
- demonstrates the leadership abilities of the organization to peers, management, and professional colleagues (Leadership)
- demonstrates the ability of the organization to be innovative (Innovation)
- increases the efficiency and productivity of the organization (Efficiency)
- transforms an organization from ordinary to extraordinary (Transformational value)
- transfers effectively to other organizations (Transferability)
In this article we describe IBM’s experience in establishing successful global technical-information community collaboration and how we mapped it against the CIDM criteria.
Drive global technical-information collaboration across 10 different IBM company offerings to produce IBM solutions that deliver business benefits to a highly satisfied customer base.
Greater than 10,000 offerings per year with
- 1.5 billion English words published (easily double that across all content creators)
- up to 45 languages produced with an aver- age of 10 languages
- approximately 30 billion words published!!
Based on the CIDM Rare Bird criteria, here is our approach to achieve successful global information-development (ID) collaboration across our technical information community.
Customer focus: Incorporate customer needs in the technical-information development process. Our strategy is centered on understanding our users, both internal and external.
We ground all our work and drive our actions centered on our users and the user experience we want to deliver: Right content, right person, at the right time. Our community is “key” in defining and delivering our information user experience (Figure 1). The roadmap for developing the framework is driven from our shared users’ pains, and the standards we create are developed by our community. This process is iterative. We continually receive customer feedback and address customer pain points to constantly improve customer satisfaction and the end user experience.
Figure 1. IBM INFORMATION FRAMEWORK – CREATES AND SELIVERS OUR TOTAL INFORMATION EXPERIENCE (TIE)
Leadership: Demonstrate management vision, leadership, to achieve buy-in.
To deliver our total information experience required significant vision and leadership from our Corporate User Technologies team and the senior brand and content managers with whom we collaborate. We are working together to communicate our shared vision across all our stakeholders, collaborating on sharing our resources based on the priorities we have agreed to, and driving joint agreements on the tools and technology architecture we need to deliver the vision (Figure 2).
Figure 2. ENSURE THAT THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE, ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITES, AND ACCOUNTABILITY ARE CLEAR
In our ID space, we have demonstrated outstanding leadership in building a global collaborative technical information community. This achievement is accomplished through excellence in management leadership and superb communication with our community (Figure 3). We collaborate at the right audience level, consistently, with the tools and information required to enable the teams to do their jobs.
Figure 3. BEST PRACTICE: TARGETED COMMUNICATIONS TO ALL GLOBAL AUDIENCES BASED ON AUDIENCE NEED
Innovation: New approaches to traditional elements of information management.
We made a significant shift in orientation by driving true customer orientation and getting outside our traditional “ID” perspective. As we move to a total information experience (TIE) perspective, we are striving to get all our content developers aligned towards the same content strategy and a common information model. We are breaking down the content silos and encouraging all the teams to work collaboratively and focus on the total information experience for our customers (Figure 4).
Figure 4. FIRST STEP: BUILD AN ID COMMUNITY THAT COLLABORATES HORIZONTALLY AS WELL AS VERTICALLY
Based on our content strategy and the user experience we want to deliver, we are creating our information standards, architecture models, technologies, tools linkages, process intersections, as well as business and ownership agreements. These goals require creativity, innovation, and novel approaches to architect and integrate information across more than 20 content management systems containing multiple formats.
Efficiency: Increased productivity, lowered costs, effective global collaboration.
Our IBM Corporate team working with our community worldwide created an internal and external customer-driven collaboration process to define, deliver, and implement common tools, technologies, and consistency standards. We were able to save IBM greater than $100 million dollars and increase our product documentation customer satisfaction by 71% in three years.
The framework we have built grounds all our activities by focusing on our internal and external global customers (Figure 5). In addition, this framework provides the high-level game plan for our key technologies (e.g., DITA, Eclipse), tools (e.g., authoring, content management), processes (e.g., portfolio management, development) and information standards (user experience, information architecture, quality and infrastructure). Delivery of the framework is dependent on a well-run, collaborative community. Our best practice focuses on the lessons we have learned in developing and driving such a community. We have learned to balance rigor and avoid rigidity for the large space we have.
Figure 5. CLEAR COMMUNICATION OF CUSTOMER – DRIVEN PROCESSES
Creative thinking, to take information management to a solution-based focus.
Implementing our best practice clearly has demonstrated transformation value: We achieved a paradigm shift from thinking about individual products to delivering IBM business value solutions. This change signifies a move from vertical silo thinking to horizontal solutions. Through collaboration and leadership, our teams appreciate the value of working together to deliver solutions that IBM customers demand, while improving the user experience and increasing our customer satisfaction with the technical information we deliver.
Transferability: Must be easily adopted and deployed across multiple brands, organizations, and audiences.
This best practice has all the elements that are transferable to a small or large company.
In our presentation, available to view on the CIDM web site at https://www.infomanagementcenter.com/download.htm#ibm, we describe in further detail how we increased our scope from one product area, to a division, to all of IBM world-wide. We explain our crawl/walk/run methodology and how to achieve global collaboration for success. It is our belief that processes and deliverables that are both internally and externally customer-driven have a very high probability of success. The key points and elements of our best practice can be used as a checklist for any size company looking to improve their collaboration, customer orientation, and ultimately their business results.
About the Authors
Eileen Jones is a senior manager at IBM and is the management sponsor of the IBM Total Information Experience (TIE)/Information Development (ID) Content Community and internal information standards. She is responsible for the User Experience of all IBM delivered technical content. Eileen has held a variety of information management positions since joining IBM eight years ago. She has managed first line and second line ID teams in Tivoli as well as the Software Group team that developed and led the IBM Software Group ID community. She now manages the team that leads the IBM TIE/ID Content Community. Her specialty is in developing and driving organizational cohesiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Dave Peterson is the IBM Corporate UT Information Community World Wide Leader. He is responsible for ensuring we have excellent communications and effective collaboration across our ID Community. Dave’s motto is “leave no ID person behind.” He supports our Community by ensuring every IBM ID person is part of our initiatives and is using our resources, standards, and supporting materials. Prior to this role, Dave was responsible for this same role at the Software Group level. Dave has been with IBM 27+ years. During this time he has held many different positions: from working in the field with customers, development, programming, finance, service, and support specialist for multiple products. He also has had multiple assignments as an Assistant to Executives. Prior to joining IBM, Dave worked for GE and IT&T in engineering roles.