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KMWorld Conference 2017-KM strategies, insights and innovations

This article appears in the issue January/February 2018 [Volume 27, Issue 1]


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There was a hum in the ballroom on the last day of the conference, as attendees clustered around tables to participate in the Mentoring Café at KMWorld 2017 in early November. Among the dozens of topics was “The Math of KM,” in which participants discussed the value of KM. “It was a rollicking conversation,” reported Katrina Pugh, academic director at the Columbia University Information and Knowledge Strategy Master’s Program and facilitator of the session. “First we talked about value, such as revenue, growth and societal impact. We then discussed models, including knowledge asset reuse valuation, benchmarking and case studies.” The group had participants from nonprofits, manufacturing, high tech, insurance companies and the chemical industry, to name a few.

The encounter was a microcosm of the conference as a whole—a rich array of topics, insights and industries. The week began with the traditional day of workshops, which covered topics ranging from KM 101 to building a text analytics platform. Several workshops covered the use of interactive games to help employees learn about the concepts of KM and to promote its adoption.

KMWorld 2017 offered conference sessions over three days on three tracks that focused on KM strategies, the digital workplace and collaboration. Several sessions looked at the impact of cognitive computing and AI on KM. The role of KM in enabling innovation was also a theme in several sessions. Developing a culture of learning, harnessing organizational knowledge and capturing lessons learned were discussed as ways of creating smarter organizations.

The Text Analytics Forum was a new feature of KMWorld 2017. The two-day event had two tracks, a technical and a business/applications track. Attendees seemed particularly interested in the technical side, wanting to learn the nuts and bolts of how to develop and use text analytics. “Because text analytics can do so many different things, it can be confusing,” said Tom Reamy, manager of the Text Analytics Forum and chief knowledge architect at the KAPS Group. “The attendees were very motivated to learn both about the practical side and the more advanced aspects such as AI and graph databases.”

Fake news and other topics

The use of text analytics for some applications is relatively mature and well known, but other innovative uses are emerging. In “Fake News and Bad Ad Placement,” Lipika Dey, principal scientist for Innovation Labs, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), described a service that collects news from a wide range of sources and analyzes it to provide contextual intelligence about events. The service uses text analytics to validate content and eliminate false stories. In the follow-on presentation, Heiko Beier, CEO of moresophy (moresophy.com/en), discussed his company’s solution to prevent the placement of online ads that are unfortunate given the content on the landing page. That exercise requires the text analytics application to have a semantic understanding of the web page content and its actual connotations based on machine learning.

Taxonomy Boot Camp continued its tradition of engaging attendees with a spectrum of sessions from the basic level through advanced topics such as how to leverage taxonomy management with machine learning. Case studies provided insights into the many different ways that taxonomy can support business objectives. Travis Hicks, associate director of digital content at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), attended the Taxonomy Boot Camp two years ago to learn about taxonomy and returned this year to describe the advances his organization had made. ASCO developed a taxonomy to categorize hundreds of thousands of pieces of content into six major categories for the purpose of improving search and automating curation of content for various websites and services.

Another application based on the taxonomy was designed for attendees at ASCO’s annual meeting. The taxonomy was used to create a session recommender that matched conference attendees’ interests with session content, based on a brief questionnaire and attendee profiles. The recommender provided attendees with personalized recommendations from more than 200 sessions offered during the 5-day meeting. Users of the application responded positively and provided feedback that will improve usability in future versions.

In Enterprise Search and Discovery, more than a dozen sessions focused on such topics as making search effective and scalable, cloud search and applying cognitive computing to search. Grant Ingersoll, co-founder and CTO of Lucidworks, and Marc Berman, head of search for Onix, teamed up to discuss the evolution of bots and AI. One piece of advice from Ingersoll was that if your organization can’t make search work, it will not be able to get to more advanced levels. “The key point is to learn the user’s intent,” Ingersoll advised. “Find out what they care about and scale the answers to meet the user’s needs.” Berman provided a set of guidelines for building the business case for search, including defining the current state and major gaps, and then building a prototype that has a measurable impact to help develop support within the organization.

The SharePoint Symposium sessions addressed ways to collaborate in Office 365, how to create a knowledge management strategy using the Office 365 platform, and how to comply with federally mandated records management requirements, among many other topics. In the popular Stump the Gurus session, attendees asked about user interfaces, accessibility and important pitfalls to avoid in records management (the worst one being to do nothing about it).

As with the conference program, vendors covered a wide range of perspectives. Search software vendors were well represented, as were those offering SharePoint-compatible solutions. Others represented such areas as customer engagement, governance and process automation. Vendors commented on the increasing sophistication of individuals who are investigating their products and services as the technologies used in knowledge management have become more familiar.


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