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BUZZ: KM success not without flops

This article appears in the issue February 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 2]

According to Meta Group analyst Stan Lepeak, knowledge management is faring better departmentally than it is on an enterprisewide basis. Actually, the word "departmentally" is a little misleading, because one success he noted is the development half of Astra Merck's research and development organization. That's more like a division than a department. Other successful KM users include Shell and J.D. Edwards.

Lepeak also pointed out the inevitable fact that there have been some significant KM flops. Although he understandably declined to name names, he did reveal that most KM failures are attributable to--surprise--human nature. A lot of people don't like sharing stuff with their colleagues. Many of them equate sharing with relinquishing power. And what would we poor humans have left without our power?

"Knowledge management is a lot of work," Lepeak said. "You really have to convince people to do it."

From the Blue Sky Speculation Dept.: Now that FileNet has a successful new boss (Lee Roberts) and a new product line (Panagon), what's next? If the company wants to become a $500 million or $1 billion company, it might be well advised to get bought by an Oracle or an HP. That could help both FileNet and the overall document management industry by mainlining products that are still widely viewed as niche-oriented. Just in case anybody was wondering, there is no such word as "Panagon."

Recently, Eastman Software's Mike Loria told me that his firm was not impacted by the massive layoffs at parent Eastman Kodak. Those comments seem to be supported by the fact that they've brought on four new VPs. Bill Voltmer is the new VP of Field Operations for the Americas, Jane Forman is the new VP and general manager of Eastman's Federal Division, Gerry Sutton is the new VP and general manager of the Asia-Pacific region, and Bill O'Brien is the new VP of U.S. Field Sales.

Speaking of FileNet and Eastman Software, those two fierce competitors are joining with Xerox on an AIIM-sponsored press tour designed to extol the virtues of the seemingly beleaguered DMA.

It's very unlikely that such a tour would have been mounted if DMA was not suddenly looking so passe in the face of Internet expansion.

Optika chief Mark Ruport said he was going outside the imaging industry to find his new VP of marketing, and he did, but not very far. In choosing Jeanne Logozzo, he tapped the former senior director of marketing at Open Text. During her tenure, Logozzo was responsible for developing the market plan for Open Text's Livelink Intranet collaborative product suite. Prior to Open Text, she worked at R.R. Donnelley & Sons, where she implemented the marketing strategy to launch a multimedia publishing product. Logozzo also worked at Interleaf, managing and launching the firm's electronic publishing and document management products.

I received an interesting, thoughtful note about business process engineering from Pat Shediack, senior consultant-program manager with Excel Management Systems in Columbus, Ohio. He noted, "BPR is viewed by users as a 'tool,' not a universal solvent which will unstick any and all jams in their organization gears. Sometimes BPR is the right tool, and sometimes not."

Shediack explained that users need to better understand their processes--many of which were designed haphazardly--if they want to make them work properly. He also said users want their BPR project implementation times reduced so they only run from five to nine months. Obviously, many users take more than a year to re-engineer business processes


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