At Documation '99, a sparse attendance raised concern for how to make document and content management a hot topic again in the eyes of IT management, line-of-business executives and, equally important, Wall Street. The show was held Feb. 9 to 11 in Santa Clara, CA, and put on by CAP Ventures (www.capv.com) and AIIM International (www.aiim.org).
A keynote session was typical of the problem users face--confusion over technology convergence. Titled "Industry Analysts Tell It Like It Is," Pete Lamb from Andersen Consulting (www.ac .com), Gerry Murray from IDC (www.idc.com) and Mike Maziarka from CAP Ventures commented on the growth of E-commerce; how XML will become a pervasive technology in document management, EDI and application integration; and how communications, content and computing providers are converging on the battleground known as "context." Interesting stuff, but what does someone do with those numerous factoids?
The session called "Content Creation, Document Management and Delivery--How Do They Converge?" helped put things in perspective. As a nuts-and-bolts consultant, Russ Edelman of Corridor Consulting (www.corridorconsulting .com) does a good job of laying out the big picture to simplify a technology and then explaining how multiple technologies play together (or don't).
For those confused by the many overlapping products in those areas, Edelman lays it out as a three-step, time-based flow process:
- 1. Create my stuff (documents and other content).
- 2. Organize/manage my stuff.
- 3. Deliver my stuff dynamically (via the Web, CD and/or print) to create "the Experience."
Edelman's advice: Radically different products can solve the same business problem with different approaches. You need to remain flexible and try everything. (You can get Edelman's presentation at his Web site or at CAP Ventures' site.)
The session "Choosing KM Technology" was a bit like having a multiple course meal. First, Bo Newman from the Knowledge Management Forum (www.km-forum.org) presented its General Knowledge Model (GKM). The framework for organizing and classifying knowledge is the result of work the KM Forum has been doing for several months.
GKM is an intuitive way of thinking about knowledge flows in an organization and determining where different product solutions might fit. The GKM framework consists of four elements: knowledge creation, knowledge retention, knowledge transfer and knowledge utilization.
Greg Laney, Western Region director for Open Text (www.opentext.com) then gave a somewhat sales-oriented presentation of the business case for KM, Open Text itself and the latest release of its Livelink product.
Livelink fills a need in collaborative computing requirements using intranets and extranets that few other vendors can approach today. Open Text just needs to refine its message, make it more relevant for the different audiences it encounters and make a lot more noise about itself.
Steve Bernstein from Inxight Software (www.inxight.com) presented several quick, impressive demos. Inxight is a Xerox New Enterprise Company, operating as a totally separate entity. Bernstein espoused three guiding principles he believes should control the world of KM products:
- 1. Statistics and linguistics
- 2. You are what you read, you are what you write
- 3. If it doesn't scale, it's gonna fail.
Lastly came case studies on KM applications presented by Documentum (www.documentum.com) and Instinctive Technology (www.instinctive.com). Are those KM applications? Or document management applications? Or content management applications? Depends on your taste.
So, that must be the convergence everyone talks about. Document management certainly seems to be morphing into content management and the product differentiation is blurring. KM seems to become an umbrella over all this--not really a solution, but a collection of products, practices, disciplines and services.