Knowledge Management Modernized
The latest issue of Business 2.0 contains an interesting article on knowledge management systems mirroring some of the concepts of social network (or vice versa). The article, The Matchmaker in the Machine, discusses three solutions: ActiveNet (Tacit Knowledge Systems), Collaboration and Expertise Networks (Autonomy), and Verity K2 Enterprise (Verity).
While I do not have first-hand experience with any of these applications, I am very familiar with the concepts driving them (my own former startup Qoses, Inc was in this space). Basically, they capture profiles of their users and keywords from every artifact created by them, so that when a new user or project comes online and needs to find certain skills or artifacts to reuse, the system can make recommendations. Some feel these systems are intrusive, but when you’re dealing with IP behind a firewall, its not much of an issue for the individual – although security should be a major concern of the companies who employ them. The difference here is that the users ultimately have control over the metadata captured against their profiles.
One thing is for certain – these solutions are a huge step up from the remedial searching available to email systems and collaboration tools such as Lotus Notes and eRoom, where finding relevant data can be like finding a needle in a haystack. The key to making knowledge management work is finding data. The added benefit here is that you can take it a step further and tap into the individuals who create the data – and plug into their networks. This is an important distinction with most of the solutions on the market today.