Can anyone say "no" to knowledge management? To stay competitive, IT managers now insist on mining their companies' internal data to discern end-user behavior patterns. But 44% of managers surveyed by Ernst & Young admitted they have KM solutions that are incomplete or nonexistent. Corporate brass are not yet convinced that the need for KM is serious, and workers are afraid that KM tools could be used to violate their privacy. (For an overview of the Ernst & Young survey and other KM market studies, read Wally Bock's KM briefing at: http://www.bockinfo.com/docs/kmbasics.htm ).
But KM can help employees to learn skills and work together more quickly and effectively. Lotus' KM suite, Raven, should be able to create expertise profiles based on the documents that users submit to shared collections. Managers can then use the profiles to build better teams and route documents to the right people. "[Raven may be] the best way to make sensible automated guesses at who might find a document relevant," writes Gregory Smith, in a January 31, 2000 InformationWeek column .
In a recent white paper , Lotus breaks out KM into five underlying technologies: business intelligence, collaboration, knowledge transfer, knowledge discovery and expertise location. The paper's authors then point toward portal applications as "the technological linchpins to these technologies. They bind them together and provide and entry to the knowledge that exists both within and beyond organizational boundaries."
Lotus announced its own KM portal, K-station, this fall. Its users can collaborate on data from disparate sources through a single, drag-and-drop interface. While the portal works as a stand-alone application, Lotus also plans to integrate it into future Raven offerings. The portal itself combines a number of new technologies with Lotus' collaborative tools, Sametime and QuickPlace. For more about the portal, read Lotus' K-station overview (Adobe Acrobat required).
Note that Lotus is having difficulty putting the Raven package together. While the developer has already made K- station available, Raven's Discovery Engine, which analyzes and catalogs content, is still mired in the development process. (Read this November 27 ZDNet story about Lotus' troubled Raven pipeline.)
To find out more about Knowledge Management systems and how to deploy them, check out the following Web sites:
http://www.km-review.com/index.htm . Feature articles and case studies demystify KM; see how BP Amoco, Southwest Airlines and General Motors are managing their "intangible" assets. The publisher of Knowledge Management Review also offers a free 12-page trial issue in Adobe PDF format (registration required).http://www.icasit.org/km/index.htm . A group of MBA students at George Mason University has assembled one of the most comprehensive KM sites on the Web; the site features a KM glossary, case studies and links to KM resources worldwide.
http://www.icasit.org/km/index.htm . Link to articles, white papers and other resources from Lotus' KM homepage. also contains a concise, persuasive argument for adopting any KM strategy.
http://www.abuzz.com . To get a sense of KM in action, check out Abuzz, a knowledge-based community that channels questions of all kinds to the appropriate experts, based on their user profiles.
Find SearchDomino.com's favorite KM links for Domino professionals, including some noted in this article.
Mark Baard is a contributing writer in Milton, Mass.
This was first published in December 2000