Prem Kumar – We have been assuming that these actors are dumb

That is going to be next… the third level of maturity, but then there is the far deeper level which is: “can I design my system? My next system, from the ground up, to be social?” Moneygram fees which means only this simply, when most information systems are developed, we consider the actor to be predetermined to be dumb, to be able to do only a few certain things on the system. We assume that, and we assume that these actors are isolated elements. They are there only to trigger off these actions in the system that we are building. But that is not what actors are, right, so you have to start thinking about the actor as an autonomous entity, which is able to take decisions by itself.

But then again it is connected, for its success it is dependent upon the other actors also, in the environment in which the system exists, which means now we are talking about sociality, and the actor, in addition to reasoning, to be able to take decisions, they also have motivations, so that their decisions are always motivated to a certain kind of a decision. It might not always be the best for the organization nor for the system or anything, they might have their own intrinsic motivations, because of which they will not behave the way predefined in our systems design. Which means that all these years, these 60 years, 50-60 years or whatever, we have in designing information systems, we have been assuming that the actors, I am more talking about the human actors, but of course you could also include many various artificial intelligence programs there, we have been assuming that these actors are dumb, have predator mind actions possible, it’s not the case, but still we have been doing that. So that’s going to be the farthest that I am able to look at right now, when people, when they design the systems itself they will consider the autonomous nature or the social behavior of these actors.

Prem Kumar – The adaptation is still not there yet of these technologies that already exist

See, the technology itself has not been adopted enough. There are many fast movers who have adopted it, but I always say this, that the benefit of a new innovation doesn’t really start coming unless people start adapting, not merely adopting, but they have to adapt it, which means the original purpose for which it was build, that, of course people are using it for that, but somebody has come and found a new purpose for this, new innovation, using it for newer things, you are using it newer ways, right? So the adaptation is still not there yet, of these technologies that already exist.

Of course, as a technologist, as a geek myself, I could you know, throw up many incremental improvements that we could do like the one I said about Quora, like features in a Q&A system, or discussion forum, to surface the best answers or to ensure that the right questions… the questions are asked in the right manner or in the right place. Those are instrumental improvements but the real phenomenal advances will happen only when the practitioners start trying to adapt these tools, and then they run into road blocks, because of the limitations of the software. And then these organizations will demand the software vendors that I need to … “I was looking at this, trying to do this, but somehow you system did not allow me. Is there any way that you could do some changes and I could be able to do this?” Which is when we will see far better improvements in the software that is available right now. Otherwise it’s just going to be a tinkerer’s advances, not advancement happening to the practitioners.

Prem Kumar – We need to have the proper alignment of the organizations first

The collaboration between a supplier and the organization would really come in only when the relationship itself has matured to one extent that not just the top guys of the two organizations are, not comfortable with each other, but also the people down below, the people who actually work, also are comfortable with THEIR counterparts, right. So the person and the… you know, who is an operations manager in this organization has a channel of communication with the operations manager in the other organization. They are able to exchange and collaborate. So, right from the CEO, or the manager, whichever is the highest level at which the two organizations are working together, down from there to here, is there an alignment? Is there a linkage happening? So if that is there, then, only then, can these two organizations think about actually collaborating, and think about deciding on what to build together other than the contractual obligations, at which point, we are looking at scenarios where the relationship has matured to such an extent that the company is asking the supplier: “can you help me in innovating?” …Which obviously means that collaboration is required there. So, do I need collaboration to stay competitive? Yes, of course, I do need, because that’s how I would be able to innovate. But how do I do that? Not by implementing collaboration software, I’m sorry, we need to have the proper alignment of the organizations there first. So, tough job.

Prem Kumar – What you need to focus on is to help ask better questions

You know, these are the kind of questions that I am also throwing up to many of the developers who are getting started on these kind of systems that, why do you want to build yet another Q&A forum? Q&A is built, if you are so interested, there are a lot of open sources out there. What you need to focus on is to help ask better questions and help find the better answers, it’s not about asking and getting the answer anymore.

Prem Kumar – People need information to be able to take decisions

If we are taking about agility in terms of responding to the social customer, umm… What it means is two things, one is the speed, and the other is the ability to take decisions. And people take decisions not just based on gut feeling though it does help, especially once you are experienced enough, but people need information to be able to take decisions. So is the information, the right information reaching the right person at the right time? That’s something that we need to look at from an information systems standpoint. But, at the same time, even if the right information is reaching the right person at the right time, is the person empowered to take the decisions? Empowered not in terms of just, you know, giving him the powers to take a decision, but also enabling him to consult anybody if required, on the fly, in real time, to be able to take a decision, or at least be able to respond back to the customer even it not be able to take a decision immediately at least, respond to the customer that he would be definitely be able to come back.

So, it might mean that in addition to the information that is being provided by the systems, the person might also need a support system, which means that he should be able to consult with others in the organization. So, is the organization structure, is the team structure, modeled in a such a way, or designed in a such a way, that people can reach up to this kind of people who might be able to help? So, I am not necessarily talking about expert discovery services here. Umm… here I am talking about the immediate team. You know, somebody in the team might have already faced such a scenario, whereas this person who is addressing it might not, so can this person reach out to the team in real time, and figure out and let the customer know, so… I am having a video chat with you, but can I power up a window in my laptop right now and chat with somebody and get a response back and then I am able to tell you, okay, this is so, and so.

I have seen… in call centers, I have seen people actually use the chat system with their team members, they do that on the fly when they are speaking with the client, with the customer, over the phone. Right after the call, maybe they are just standing up across the desk, and they are just having a conversation, and continuing with that. So, there is a switch between the real life and the digital platform.