Apr 03

Hi Cortana, pleased to meet you


Yesterday from the Microsoft Build event we started to hear more about Microsoft’s answer to the personal digital assistant.  Everyone is taking this seriously and we are finally starting to see the emergence of intelligent assistants which interact with other apps and data on the phone (see my December 2013 post).  This for me is the key to these tools being accepted by enterprises and in turn increasing the productivity of their employees.  The challenge for us as employees is we’ll have to be more productive, if we don’t then our peers will!   Tom Austin, of Gartner, has predicted that 51% of information workers will be impacted in some way by Smart Machines, including personal digital assistants, by 2020.  To paint a picture:

How susceptible is your job to computerization? According to Frey and Osborne, 47% of all current U.S. jobs are at risk over the next two decades because they consist primarily of tasks that can be automated in that time period.

Moving back to the enhancement of these technologies … I now hope that the developers of solutions that containerize data on devices for enterprises will enable data flow to the personal digital assistant.  The augmentation of that data with the data in the public domain (maps, traffic, weather, other sensor based data) will provide us with much better information on which to make decisions about our activities.  Here are some thoughts on integration points for us to watch for:

  • Microsoft already support voice control of calendars in Exchange with simple interactions like “I’ll be late” resulting in messages being sent to attendees.  Well that voice interaction could be integrated to Cortana (or Siri or Now).  But the digital assistant itself could simply inform everyone while you concentrate on driving through congestion or parking your car.
  • Travel applications could see that travel approval for a trip has arrived, know your preferences, provisionally book travel itineraries for your approval.
  • Interact with beacon services in offices to guide you to appropriate working areas for the tasks you need to perform that day.  Automatically group people together who have a similar aim that day.

There will be thousands of other use cases but I’m pleased Microsoft, and I’m sure Apple and Google, are on this journey.  Its going to be exciting to see how this matures.


Dec 21

My Personal Knowledge Management Systems : Evernote, Instapaper and OneNote

Its about time I updated my old post on personal knowledge management.  Things have changed somewhat since that time.


personal knowledge


Industry Updates – Twitter

I tend not to use twitter for research, however if something comes through in twitter that is of interest then it’ll get logged for either reading or captured in my research library.


Industry Updates – RSS

I’m still a big fan of RSS and subscribe to many streams in Feedly, these are scanned and logged for reading if appropriate.  I’ve not yet found a good tool to automatically assess items I would be interested – I’d like to (suggestions welcome).


Focused Research

Analyst resources, internal enterprise resources and of course Google search play primary roles.  Useful documents, data, images and information are then captured using Google plugins for Instapaper, Evernote and Pinterest.



Instapaper is the tool of choice.  The web client and the iPad/iPhone clients are great for reading at my desk, on the move or on the sofa at home.  I probably don’t spend enough time reading.


Personal Knowledge Library

Evernote is just the best thing since sliced bread for me.  I have a catchall folder and every once in a while I’ll move things to folders and tag them.  Primarily though its a search index.  Folders I’ll have a love affair with for a month or so and then drop them again reverting to search.


Note-taking and initial action capture

I can’t find a better tool here than OneNote.  As mentioned in a previous post you can’t beat it in conference meetings.  It doesn’t only work well for  me in conference meetings but also in day to day work meetings.  OneNote will generally be opened on half of my secondary screen in the minimal clutter mode shown below.  My primary screen will be running or consuming the meeting (most of my meetings are remote web conferences).  I’m looking forward to switching enterprise productivity applications soon so that I can use the integration with Outlook and then the onward integration with MilkSync to take actions into Remember the Milk.


onenote meeting use


Ultimately the result is an enterprise note taking system and a personal knowledge system; the contents of the latter is I suppose the tangible knowledge value that I have and bring to bear daily….I wonder how this will change over the next 24 months.


Dec 10

Is Enterprise Software Ready for the Personal Digital Assistant?

Its 2018.  You are woken early by your alarm and see on the screen that traffic en-route to your first meeting is heavy.  As you walk into the shower your home sensors know its you and that your preference is to hear your calendar for the day which is played through the speakers which integrate to your calendar.  As you drive navigated by the location information in your calendar to your client meeting important and relevant information is played about the people you are meeting, their business challenge and the latest from the CRM system.  And then the day proceeds…….


(Credit to @FedericaTroni for the framework to that story)


The questions:

  • Where will the data from your personal digital assistant come from?
  • Where will the data for your personal digital assistant be processed?


I don’t think the industry have fully addressed these questions yet but you can see that Apple with Siri and Google with Now/Glass are pushing foward assuming the user owns and has access to all that data; however the enterprise also feel they own a lot of that data.  The impact on the enterprise for saying no to personal devices has brought BYO to the fore.  I cannot imagine that when these devices are capable of making knowledge workers lives much more efficient that key employees will run headlong into adopting these technologies.  The questions we all need to be getting ready for are:


  • How do we enable enterprise data to be consumed by personal digital assistants?
  • If the enterprise tries to ”stop” or “control” this data flow what risks will be posed?
  • If the enterprise allows this data flow what risks are posed?


There are big questions about the link between the smart device, enterprise clouds and personal clouds that we need to be ready to answer and pushing our suppliers to answer.  There are also big questions about containerization with respect to isolating data from the native capabilities of a device and hence a personal digital assistant.


digital assistant


Food for thought.


(Credit also to @SteveRichards and @GrahamChastney who have both had various “water cooler” discussions with me on this)


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