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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds OK, so obviously I want fresh information. I want stuff to be personalised for me. It also has to be relevant for me. This is obviously very closely related to the personalisation, and there are some overlaps as well. But it is also a little bit different. So in terms of the portal solutions, for example, it was a big change in how they were developing portals until they were going towards what was called, at the time, enterprise information portals, which signifies that the central focus was on the information. So they had all this information and tried to get something out of it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds However, then the word information disappeared, and they started first to talk about enterprise portals and then the corporate portals, which is the term that we currently use. Now what was the big jump here? It’s not a technical reference. However, there was a huge difference that they started to focus on the activity that they need to support. They were still dealing with the same information, the same amount of information, and growing the amount of information. But they did not ask anymore what we can get out from this information. They asked, OK, so what sort of information could help you with what you are busy with? And that’s what defines the relevant information and, of course, also what I am interested in.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds And a lot of that is done by relatively simple technologies, such as your smartphone or a laptop that has a GPS embedded, because it will, for example, set the location of your information system. And of course, if, for example, it displays the weather, for me it will display the Glasgow weather at the moment. And if it is about the news, it can display the local news. Now what is very interesting is that the news part, both in the business world and everywhere else, it started to polarise very much because of how we handle the news– so the new information. It became clear that people are usually interested in the local things. Why?

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds Because when I am coming to work, I need to know about the traffic, whether it is likely that I will get in a traffic jam. If it is I want to go to the cinema, I would like to know whether I should take an umbrella with me and so on. So the local things are of huge interest, but it also means the local business deals and everything in the world of organisations, and the global ones. So where the world is heading, whether there is some new technology changing the world, I don’t know– they came up with the first very, very smart computer– and so on and so on.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 seconds But it is only these two polarities, and anything that is in between is irrelevant. So very often the country-level news are considered irrelevant by most people, unless there is something big happening in the country that will affect them either on the local or the global level. So anything in between is of much less importance. Now in terms of the business intelligence solutions, so you would have various business intelligence solutions in your own organisation. Then you would have your customers, your suppliers, your partners and your subsidiaries, some external stuff that is gathering information on the internet about what’s going on in that industry and so on.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 seconds Now bringing all these things together and cherry picking out what is relevant, that’s the tough part of the information systems today. And what is very important is that the so-called big data– and some call it a revolutionary thing that we now have big data– that’s entirely wrong. First of all, there was no jump that until now we had the small data and from now we have the big data. The amount of data is steadily increasing, and it will continue to increase in the foreseeable future. However, one of my favourite terms is big data, small insight.

Skip to 4 minutes and 17 seconds And that means that very often, they process horrible amount of data, but what they fail to do is to figure out what is relevant to me. So relevance is going to be the crucial question of the information systems of tomorrow.


In a holistic view, that is if we believe that all things are connected, we can easily end up concluding that everything is relevant to whatever we do. This may work well on a philosophical level, but it raises serious usability issues: we cannot handle everything. Peter Drucker, the most significant management thinker in our history, famously remarked that we have too much data but not enough information. Linking once again back to Bateson’s definition of information: it is only relevant, if it makes a difference.

In terms of work, this is the essence of the shift from Enterprise Information Portals to Corporate Portals: the focus is on what we need to do and the IS should be there to support us in this: making our work more convenient; saving us from wasting time on what can be automated; putting everything we need at our hands when we need it and so forth. Technically we have everything to achieve this. Nevertheless, the experience of many people often suggests that we have more administrative work than ever before and guess what? It also became easier for administrators to ask for additional reports…

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