Sunday, November 20, 2005

KMWorld 2005/Streaming Media West: Applying Strategies and Tools for Organizational Performance

The San Jose Convention Center was the new venue for this conference, reflecting a faster pace and bustle and appropriately enough, a city center rather than the technical complexes of Santa Clara. The KM World and Streaming Media conferences run concurrently, and have adjoining exhibitions. This year, there was significant traffic from the KM conferences and exhibits into Streaming Media, as business solutions now involve streaming media technologies.

Overall, this year's program emphasized the application of the theory from last year's show, translated into actual practice. Recognizing that KM comes in multiple flavors, Tom Davenport, the keynote speaker, focused on different categories of knowledge workers, and the strategies that can be applied within the categories for 1) process and measurement, 2) organizational technology, 3) personal technologies, 4) social networks and 5) physical workspaces. These theme carried through to the individual sessions.

Search strategies dominated both the conference sessions and the exhibit floor, with the greater understanding that content management builds the repositories for various types of search. The challenge of relevant search is delivering the right content to the right knowledge worker at the right time. Collecting the content involves integration into workflow processes, and collecting relationships, not just the text itself, the domain of social networking applications. RSS and blogs are part of the technology to enable this process. More details on those sessions can be found on the Shore Industry Events blog.

Just as knowledge management has many flavors, so does search technology. Deciphering the value of search companies is a major challenge, since their marketing messages all sound remarkably alike, equally incomprehensible. Hence the opportunities for the increase in consulting companies on the exhibit floor and preconferences (as well as the speaker/book authors on the program) to guide customers through the maze of competing "secret sauces". As another dimension, the luncheon panel hosted by Verity, focused on conveying the value of enterprise search to executive management differentiating between the consumer search engines (meaning Google/Yahoo) and the varieties of enterprise search, which require relevance, not popularity. The same challenge faces the fast growing world of business blogs, which have to be differentiated from the personal journalism public blogs.

Knowledge comes in more than just text formats, and that realization was woven through the sessions for both KM World and Streaming Media. Personal knowledge management is not just the desktop, but also mobile devices, which become a format for delivering earnings calls for public companies, and expanding communication with constituents for public agencies, as well as a disaster recovery backbone. Streaming media provides for educational events, such as the Live Webinar on search, as well as delivering healthcare information to consumers. More details are covered in the Shore Industry Events blog.

Overall, these conferences are an excellent snapshot of the current state of approaches and vendors in knowledge management. The case studies are particularly instructive in looking at the dimensions of real life situations. Enterprises are tasked with solving problems, not buying technology, and the multitude of "so-called" solutions actually fit best in specialized domains, where they can provide high value. As this process continues, look for more consolidation, such as the Verity and Autonomy merger, represented separately for the moment. On the other hand, other useful technologies will emerge, such as Grokker, a last minute addition to the exhibit floor, with their exciting visualization technology for traditional published content in aggregated databases. Stay tuned for next year's developments in this fast moving space!
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