Posted on August 31st, 2010 at 10:16 PM by Wan
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Last month, I had the chance to site visit Thomson Reuters office, in Sydney, Australia. It’s an intriguing experience for me as I had the opportunity to see how they harnessed social networking tools and used state-of-an-art technologies in their organisation.  Special thanks to Edward Davies, a specialist editor of Reuters News, who was willing to show me around their work flow process environment. Generally, Thomson Reuters is an information company where it provides world news express services to financial and government sectors including broadcasters like RTB.

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A visit to Thomson Reuters from Wan Harris on Vimeo.

Thomson Reuters uses a dynamic mashups referred as “Badges” embedded in their website.  It were developed using the Presto product from vendor JackBe. It includes user’s published research and demographic citation views. In addition, ResearcherID Badges were designed to be easily embedded in a user’s personal blog or Web site and to be emailed to peers. Each Badge, when embedded in a personal blog, provides a dynamic preview of the researcher’s data to the community. Clicking on the Badge takes the visitor directly to that researcher’s page within the ResearcherID site. Thomson Reuters also included two other mashup-based widgets for the members of ResearcherID: the Collaboration Network, a graphical cross-reference of the researcher’s professional collaborators, and the Citing Articles Network, a map-based view of independent references to the researcher’s publications. The mashups were a successful addition to the ResearcherID community. Within weeks and with little direct promotion or advertising to its community, hundreds of independent professional blogs and Web sites had Badges in them, all linking back to ResearcherID. The mashup-driven Badges allowed the community members to become the extended “sales team” that pushed the community’s reach well beyond the formal boundaries of the community portal.  Moreover, Thomson Reuters recently has been using twitter, a micro blogging as part of their social networks tool for posting up-to-date news on the Australian politics agenda. Not to mention others like Skype! (If you manage to hear that oblivious unique melody from the video shown above.)

Some of the benefits gained by Thomson Reuters are such as:

  • The mashup-driven “Badges” allowed the community members to become the extended “sales team” that pushed the community’s reach well beyond the formal boundaries of the community portal.  Within weeks and with little direct promotion or advertising to its community, hundreds of independent professional blogs and Web sites had Badges in them, all linking back to ResearcherID.
  • The news messages  reach everybody globally. By using social media, it allows addressing those segments that are difficult to reach with traditional media (e.g. the journal), as for the Gen-Y generations.
  • Its also allows reaching segmented groups with specific, direct messages (e.g. companies, political leaderships and its followers, etc.)
  • Social media brings everyone “where the people are” together. It involves the citizens in the city projects and makes talking to the government less intimidating. Consequently, the public’s interest in politics, making the decision-making process itself a part of the public arena and letting citizens interact.
  • Social media such as twitter; costs less. Hence, it can be used to create a good vibe during a specific events.

Despite these findings, there are also some pitfalls that might trigger such as:

  • Using social media broadens its communication toolbox. Hence, it requires Thomson Reuters to plan ahead, thinking about its goals, target audience and tone of voice.
  • One of its biggest challenges is probably maintaining a consistent online corporate identity as Thomson Reuters is allowed to speak for the city, how and at any given time?
  • Lastly, social media is not the only tool use for communication. There are still a lot of people who have no computers and/or internet access, and thus rely on the traditional media to receive information. Consequently, Thomson Reuters needs to consider other kind of platforms to leverage its long tail.


JackBe (2007). Case Studies:Thomson Scientific Expands their Research Community through Mashups. Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Spoelders, S. (2010). Government & Social Media : « Government 2.0 ». Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Thomson Reuters (2010). ReutersOz. Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Thomson Reuters (2010). Thomson Reuters Australia – Legal, Tax & Accounting – Lawbook Co, cvMail, PowerTax, Sweet & Maxwell, and more… Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Wikipedia (2010). Thomson Reuters. Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Posted on August 31st, 2010 at 11:03 AM by Wan
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The term “Gov 2.0” is also known as e-Government (Wikipedia, 2010).  According to the Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce (2010), “Government 2.0 may be understood as the application of tools and approaches associated with collaborative web or ‘Web 2.0’ as it has been dubbed. These tools are potentially transformative of the way governments operate”.  Meanwhile, Australia’s Google Group states “Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology.  It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government – toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially [just] an enabler in this process”.  Overall, Gov 2.0 is all about engagement!

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Gov 2.0 is the prime mover for Information Communication Technology (ICT) development for government sectors.  It has been realised that providing citizen-centric services means a lot more than just creating a websites.  Simultaneously, improving business process is equally important, if not a pre-requisite before making services online.  Considering the ever increasing dependency of ICT in our daily lives, we believe passionately that citizen-centric services should be a driver of change, not only for the civil service but also for all social community.  That being said, it is imperative for the government to study ways and means of effecting changes in organisational culture and business processes as well as the desired transition of attitude and mindset amongst the community as a whole.  The success of the e-Government initiative is largely dependent on the positive interaction amongst stakeholders, namely Government, industry and people.  Therefore, stakeholders must adopt a forward-looking and problem-solving mindset to achieve the goal of providing meaningful services for all (Ismail, 2009).

Several government departments who have already started adopting social technologies are such as:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adopted the Geospatial Innovation

A website named, has been supported by USDA aimed at providing information about spending and impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This demanded thinking that was big and fast as the schedule to deliver a common language for nationwide change within two months.  It was considered critical to build confidence quickly in the economy by tracking spending from the very highest levels of government all they way through to the beneficiary, as well as enabling feedback.

No more than four people from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) of the Geospatial Service and Technology Center in Salt Lake City, looked at source data systems, “geocoded” that data, and used a Web-based mapping application to rapidly deploy base-map-enabled views of recovery spending by geographic locality, right down to the level of individual zip codes.  The Chief Information Officer’s office for the National Information Technology Center partnered with the USFS to host the solution on scalable infrastructure, and to connect different social media tools for constituent crowdsourcing collaboration.

In a shortest reporting period, the website and blog averaged more than 336,000 unique user interactions. This example shows how innovation in government is possible by taking very diverse needs from a variety of different stakeholders and quickly peeling back the layers of bureaucracy to reveal the public value chain — from policy decision, through government organizations to citizens.  After this first phase, an Enterprise Geospatial Management Office (EGMO) was created to extend, expand and enhance the use of geo-enabled business solutions and leverage this new model for place-based policy planning and programming. The EGMO exploits the ability to see the essential connections between policy, data and services and really understanding the relationship between context and problem and the proposed solutions, which is where the geo-dimensionality analysis excels.  The main driver was the urgency created by presidential administration commitments to make federal governance transparent, accountable and participatory to the public.

Natural Resources Canada go for Wiki to success

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) focuses on forestry, minerals and metals, energy, and earth sciences. These are actually managed by four very different organizations that were given the goal of integrating knowledge and working more collaboratively. There was a strong push for this from a deputy minister as well as a good deal of grassroots activity.  In response, two and a half years ago, NRCan started a wiki for its department internally, which has 5,200 employees across Canada. Today, the Wiki has about 3,000 active contributors and between eight million and nine million page views. It has become a very rich source of knowledge for natural resource information. So far, the wiki is purely internal-facing, and NRCan has not faced the challenge of letting Canadians contribute to it. However, it has become a foundational tool for the department and is used in many different ways, significantly changing the way NRCan works.

During the first year and a half, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) attended a number of meetings and presentations to market the wiki internally and to push people to use it. Shortly, it was recognized that there was no longer a need to push, as a growing internal community took over control of the wiki, ensuring that it would be used further within the department. Now, employees market it to each other and management is standing back and working on implementing additional tools. NRCan also actively uses blogs as a way to share information about ongoing work, and has launched its own version of Facebook and Twitter. It provides an effective knowledge sharing platform for science information and had considerable uptake within the first few days after launch. Employees also use SharePoint quite extensively and are about to extend the reach of an Autonomy search engine to search across the wiki, blogs and SharePoint implementations.

This has been a cultural shift, more than a technology change, to address a critical business. NRCan now uses communities of practice very effectively. For example, there is a Video Community of Practice in which about 60 employees with common interest in all aspects of video technology get together and share their expertise on departmental video initiatives. This is saving considerable money that would otherwise have been spent on contracting for video services.  So far, NRCan has not performed any formal measurements, besides keeping track of statistics.  However, it does not appear that there has been any dramatic decrease of e-mail use. A challenge with measurement is the lack of a baseline for comparison.

According to Ernst and Young (2010, p.10), “For 2010, regulation and compliance has resumed its place as the number 1 threat across a spectrum of sectors and remained one of the most prominent risk” (as shown in figure 1). These are the vital aspect that need to be considered by NRCan and USDA since it can be a pitfall for them if neglected.

Figure 1: The risk in Government and public sector

(Ernst & Young, 2010)


Alexander, P. (2009). Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0: Draft report for comment. Retrieved August 30, 2010.

Ernst & Young (2010). The Ernst & Young Business Risk Report 2010: The top 10 risks for global business, A sector-wide view of the risks facing business across the globe: Oxford Analytica.

Ismail, E. A. (2009). The E-Government Strategic Plan 2009-2014 Brunei Darussalam. Retrieved August 25, 2010, from

Maio, A. D. (2009). Five cases discussed by government panelists at the Gartner Orlando Symposium shed light on some critical success factors and provide useful hints to implement, develop or sustain innovation in government. Gartner Industry Research.

Wikipedia (2010). e-Government. Retrieved August 31, 2010.