(Editor's Note:Each year, KMWorld presents two awards—one to a vendor for KM Promise and one to a practitioner for KM Reality. This article focuses on the 2002 KM Promise Award winner, Kamoon.)
By Judith Lamont, KMWorld senior writer
Effective human capital management (HCM) is one of the most elusive goals in enterprise management today. Equally difficult—and closely related—is the successful exploitation of tacit knowledge. Kamoon has taken on the challenge of making inroads into both domains. The company won KMWorld's Promise Award in 2002 based on its ability to provide an innovative technology solution for implementing and integrating knowledge management practices into its business processes. Its Kamoon Connect series of products are designed to manage the human side of information exchange. They allow users to locate experts and share knowledge, as well as support the development of a repository that captures tacit knowledge.
Few would argue that enterprise management of corporate information in databases and document repositories has surged far ahead of its ability to leverage its human capital. Great benefits have been derived from analysis and improvement of business processes. However, much of the potential from doing so has already been achieved. Tapping directly into the “human layer” although more difficult, also holds the promise of improvements that have not been attainable through other avenues.
Forrester Research points out that HR will not be considered strategic until it bridges the gap between managing people and operations. Kamoon’s Connect products, which help pinpoint areas of expertise, can help link human resources utilization to strategic objectives. It ties together knowledge management, which often resides in the strategic camp, with the practical ability to solve day-to-day problems.
Kamoon offers several options for expertise location and management, including a new ability to locate experts by tracking tasks and action items in project management software:
- Connect Experts is for expertise profiling and expert location. Initial profiles are set up by analyzing reports, e-mails and other unstructured information to determine each employee’s areas of expertise. Employees can modify their profile directly or can submit content, which is analyzed automatically to update the profile. When a user places an inquiry, Connect Experts produces a list of experts who can be contacted.;
- Connect Enterprise includes the capability of Connect Experts to profile and locate expertise, and adds a Q&A process and a knowledgebase. Users submit their question, which is then routed according to a set of predefined business rules. In addition, Connect Enterprise provides a knowledge capture process for building a repository based on those questions and answers. ;
- Connect Mail combines expertise location and managed Q&A using an e-mail interface. It is designed to provide a streamlined process for benefiting from Kamoon Connect when employees are likely to use the system infrequently or may be working through wireless devices. ;
- Connect Application Builder allows modification and extension of Connect Experts or Connect Enterprise. Through the Application Builder, the rules and logic that drive the matching process and workflow can be customized to accommodate new or unique knowledge exchanges. ;
- Connect Actions, a new product, results from Kamoon’s acquisition in March of ActionBase, which produces project and process execution management software. Connect Actions creates virtual communities around projects, meetings or other business activities. Through the integration of Kamoon’s expertise location capabilities, Connect Actions will be able to identify experts based on what they have done, rather than rely on what they have written.;
The ability to build a knowledgebase from questions and answers allows analysis of the content that can be used to manage human resources better. For example, looking at who is answering questions most frequently might help identify someone who could serve as a project director. If many people are asking questions about a certain topic, and answers are not forthcoming, the company can then proceed with bringing in new information. That may be in the form of written resources, training or new hires. The profiles also can be used to manage human resources, such as by making adjustments in tasking. For example, a worker might have entered an area of interest into his or her profile that was not being currently applied by the company. That could allow the company to become aware of a capability that it would not have known about in the absence of the profile, and use it productively.
One of the attractive aspects of Kamoon’s approach is that it does not require users to do additional tasks, but structures a process they are likely to be using already—asking questions of colleagues. The key difference is that Kamoon Connect reaches out to everyone in the enterprise, not just the colleagues with which an employee might already be familiar. It's well-suited to enterprises that are geographically dispersed or newly integrated through an acquisition or merger.
TesCom Software Testing Systems provides software testing and quality assurance services for a variety of software developers in finance, retail, life sciences and other industries. With offices in 14 countries throughout the world, TesCom needed a way to access specialists regardless of their location. The company uses Connect Enterprise to create a knowledge network to find experts who can fix software bugs or other problems. Connect Enterprise allows TesCom workers to function as an integrated group of resources despite their geographic separation. TesCom has reported improvements in key operational metrics as well as in customer satisfaction.
The ability to also track expertise by accessing employee’s work on project tasks will be a great asset, believes Yali Harari, CEO of Kamoon. “During project work, people don’t always write about what they do,” says Harari. “Yet other workers may want to find out who has solved a similar problem.” While the previous expertise location products focused on locating experts through analyzing profiles using a set of defined business rules, Connect Actions allows ad hoc location of experts based on their activities.
Expertise location and management remain fertile ground for enhancing performance by using resources that are already available more productively. Linking to other enterprise systems will further improve human capital management and move it into the strategic realm.
Judith Lamont is a research analyst with Zentek Corp., e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.