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Microsoft's Information Work initiative (training or hype?)

 
 
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DCrx
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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 4:47 pm    Post subject: Microsoft's Information Work initiative (training or hype?) Reply with quote

In the speech "Realizing the Partner Potential of Information Work" Jeff Raikes, Group Vice President, Productivity and Business Services, kicked off a major push by Microsoft to deliver tools for information work. Strangely enough, there is no mention of information ...how it differs from data ...or in what ways information work differs (at least from the MS perspective) from data processing.

In the speech, Raikes refers to Peter Drucker. And so shall I. Peter Drucker said, in a 1997 Forbes magazine interview, "For top management tasks, information technology so far has been a producer of data rather than a producer of information-let alone a producer of new and different questions and new and different strategies. ....It can be argued that the computer and the data flow it made possible, including the new information concepts, actually have done more harm than good to business management." Forbes ASAP: the Next Information Revolution August 24, 1998

Flash forward two years.

A large computer training chain has everything Microsoft ever put out -- but nothing on this idea of information work. I called the CEO. The guy had never considered creating any course on information, or its relationship to what people do on computers. The "journalist," ever ready to write about the Microsoft information work initiative, seems put upon when questioned what information or information work is.

So, easy answer, the idea (and the resulting Microsoft Center for Information Work) is classic hyperbole. Of course, when you think about it, the ability to recognize hype and buzzwords would be a skill information workers might well need. And just this one skill is one sorely missed. I can't count the number of “web–centric marketing and assessment solutions for performance enhancing retail businesses through innovative e-enabled marketing ideas" I've seen. (And no, I didn't make that up, it's pretty much word-for-word, page after page of a brand spanking new site). The list goes on and on.

So, since information is the supposed product of computers, wouldn't information work be a handy skill for consumers of IT? (That is short for information technology, by the way). ...A good way to differentiate computer training services?? ...The whole point of there being computer services?! At a time where information -- or its lack -- seems to come up in more Congressional and SEC probes and committee meeting and trials (and Congressional probes of the SEC), isn't this a bit more than a quibble?
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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot is covered in this post, so I try to break it down and respond to each point.
Quote:

So, since information is the supposed product of computers, wouldn't information work be a handy skill for consumers of IT? (That is short for information technology, by the way).

On information work:

Kind of IT, but not quite. Back in late 90s, IT still meant developing information work infrastructure including CRM development, Sales Automation system development, and database management(that is, optimizing queries and so forth). Today, it's a little different. Infrastructure is there or it's really easy to create infrastructure; BBS is one example, CMS is another example. Many people create information on top of the structure and make money, and that's information work.
Quote:

... seems to come up in more Congressional and SEC probes and committee meeting and trials (and Congressional probes of the SEC),

On politics:

This is not the first time we deal with these problems, nor is this the last time. I personally believe that IT has very little to do with these problems.

Over-hype(?):

It is very typical of companies like Microsoft to over-hype their products and services; they advertise something like service pack as a revolutionary step in IT industry. With that say, the way in which information is managed will change dramatically. As technologies like web service are widely utilized, we will be managing information in a very different way. However, it does not happen in a day or two; it can take years. In that sense, Microsoft's pitch back in 1998(?) was over-hyped.
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DCrx
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PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
IT still meant developing information work infrastructure including CRM development, Sales Automation system development, and database management(that is, optimizing queries and so forth). Today, it's a little different. Infrastructure is there or it's really easy to create infrastructure; BBS is one example, CMS is another example. Many people create information on top of the structure and make money, and that's information work.


Yes. That doesn't address the basis of Drucker's comments. It can be argued all these technologies exist to manipulate data and are data processing technologies. The words data and information are used as equivalents, interchangeably. It is just preferable on one's resume to call it information technology. No. Wait. Knowledge management technology. These are technologies. The naming conventions are fictional constructs, changed as is fashionable. Why not just keep it as data processing technology? One benefit would be to manage overblown expectations.

The nature of the word Content (CMS) would seem to more accurately describe data. That is, the lack of any attempt at making any kind of distinction about what is managed. And, pretty much, so do the actual software systems. CRM, one might argue, is misnamed. One might, under an understanding of the varieties of information provided by any dictionary, consider such misnaming something other than informative. TLAs by their nature being somewhat less than accessible.

I don't know for sure, but the remarkes also seem to assume anything that makes money is information. Or information happens at some layer beyond technology, by which it can safely be called data processing technology. I'm not sure I follow this line of thought.

Of course, since information is a fond absraction -- a polite fiction exchanged with a knowing wink -- what could it matter? Drucker obviously isn't in on the joke.
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