By Hugh McKellar, KMWorld editor in chief
With the drumbeat of consolidation growing ever louder since we first put this list together in 2000, you'd think identifying a hundred companies that matter in knowledge management would be increasingly easier to assemble, right? Heck, it simply follows that with fewer companies to choose from, it would be simpler to pick 100, right? Not at all.
As you'll see in our Spring Buyers' Guide, our knowledge management community consists of more than 1,500 companies, whose offerings range from forms processing to social networking, content management to collaboration, imaging to, well, you name it. And, no, we're not trying to be everything for everybody, but we are firmly committed to knowledge management as an attitude, not an application. So, those of us who put the list together—KM practitioners, theorists, vendors, their customers, analysts and editors—had a hell of a time agreeing on the companies we selected. Just as we did last year, we "cheated" a little by adding a separate category--consultants and analysts (and, this year, integrators).
Obviously, it's impossible to know precisely what each of the 1,500 companies has done—or thought about doing—in the past year. So, each of us had to bring to our brainstorming sessions information about those firms that, for one reason or another, had the most compelling story to tell--or at least made the effort to tell its story to us. Surely, we made mistakes.
In past years--especially 2000 (when some mind-boggling technology was appearing), we found the sheer "gee-whiz" factor of the software compelling enough to deserve mention, that the promise was there for some real breakthroughs. Certainly, the promise was there, but it was frequently unfulfilled because of a number of reasons--hype, funding, cashing out, consolidation and, all too often, the failure of developers and marketeers to complete their assignments. This year, we avoided what could appear to be flash-in-the-pan offerings. Instead, we've focused on those technologies and companies that provide—in our opinion, anyway—true business solutions, not thin veneers of technology.
At the risk of being repetitive, just as in previous years, the list was conceived as a way to identify some of the organizations leading the way in the knowledge economy. It was compiled to encourage the broader discussion of knowledge management. Criteria for inclusion varied, but all companies have things in common. Each has either helped to create a market, redefine one or enhance one, and they all share one thing—velocity of innovation.
Any list such as ours is a work in progress, and so it is with this one. We're always on the lookout for groundbreaking solutions or elegant modifications to existing ones. As we move through 2004, we'll likely add a few companies and make any necessary changes due to mergers or acquisitions. The companies listed will be linked to their home pages, and we encourage you to spend time on their sites to get to know them and their solutions better. Throughout the year, the organizations and products we find most interesting will be showcased on our site and in our magazine.
We should emphasize again that the list is really a marker in time for the evolving and expanding knowledge management universe. We invite discussion and encourage you to contact us regarding KM tools and services you find especially valuable. Vendors: Ask your customers to tell us how your solutions have benefited their business. Analysts, consultants and integrators: Give us a heads-up when you discover especially interesting software and emerging trends.
Remember, the purpose of the list is to generate interest and discussion about knowledge management tools and services—it's not an award program. Send your comments to: email@example.com.
80-20 Software Adobe
Fast Search & Transfer
Inxight Software, Inc.
ISYS Search Software
Open Text Corp.
Primus Knowledge Solutions, Inc.
RedDot Solutions Corp.
SER Solutions, Inc.
ServiceWare Technologies, Inc.
TheBrain Technologies Corp.
TripleHop Technologies, Inc
West Group/ Thomson Elite
Consultants, analysts and integrators that made a difference in 2003
Cap Gemini Ernst & Young
IBM Global Services
The 451 Group