Thursday, January 17, 2008

Learning by Using the Internet

How do we learn anything? We learn on the playing field, we learn by doing it, we learn from our friends and associates. So YOU learn about the Internet by using it and often by trying out new things your friends told you about.

How does your BUSINESS learn about the Internet? Too often it's by employing someone with a very technical disposition, someone with a precise sort of mind, to take care of the details. So she/he builds a website, an Intranet and a perhaps some databases for "company knowledge". This is a fair bit of work, but it usually achieves very little and sometimes nothing at all. While the company is "on the Internet" company knowledge of the Internet is close to nil. While the company has an Intranet, it's badly supported, disorganised and employees try to avoid it rather than use it. As for the "Knowledge Base", it's cost a lot of money and is drives nothing at all.

What's wrong here? Essentially the people who work for the company are not in the picture. Executive staff are left out, supervisory staff are left out, and the people at the coal face have no part to play. What is the company learning? Where are your companies ambassadors? Where are the connections to new ideas and knowledge that will drive future innovation? Where is the ongoing learning for each staff member? In a global economy, where are your companies connections to the world?

The MAJOR failure is that both companies and government have neglected the learning opportunity that the Information Super-Highway was supposed to bring us. I've been a severe critic of the NZ Government Digital Strategy. Nothing changes with the "Dec 2007 Refresh" A focus on broadband and on software development, won't do anything to help New Zealanders overcome their dismal failure to use the Internet effectively. What's missing is a social and educational programme that's well funded, that I was calling for 5 years ago. There have however been some successes. Maori have a presence on the Internet, and generally the quality and functionality of government web sites is excellent. (Would somebody tell site designers that ALL URL's should be very close to permanent. We forever go to government sites to see "This item has been moved". Why?)

It is my hope that this Blog and the Open Future web site and my connections with colleagues in New Zealand and across the world can help bring the value of the Internet into the business world.

John Stephen Veitch
Open Future Limited - You may comment privately to John S Veitch using this form.