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Delphi research shows explosive KM market growth

As the IKMS event in San Diego rolls on, the Delphi Group has released more results from its ongoing research program on the size and makeup of the market for knowledge management technologies. Some quick hits from the research presented in San Diego: overall revenue for 1997 totaled $146 million, with $94 million of that coming from software product license revenue. "Over the course of 1997, the number of software developers focusing on the issues of knowledge management increased dramatically," explained Hadley Reynolds, Delphi's Director of Research. "We've moved from tracking a handful of companies who began to speak of knowledge-supporting technologies in mid '96, to a group of over 50 suppliers today."

Also, on a revenue basis, 22% of the market's currently available software represents application offerings, while 78% is made up of tools. "We expect the application-oriented software to become the high growth segment over the next several years," said Delphi president Tom Koulopoulos. "Products will emerge to take on the challenge of masking the complexity of knowledge management in specific work environments."

The research studied products with a baseline capability to handle unstructured information in a variety of electronic formats. Those products were then gauged against a schematic developed to characterize the cycle of knowledge processing, including: capture, categorization, deployment, inquiry, discovery, communication, qualification, contextualization, action, and renewal. The market revenue total excludes knowledge application services, including system design and integration, application implementation consulting, or training which is not directly associated with a software acquisition.

The analysis also excludes a number of technologies which Delphi views as "a step removed from the knowledge application." Those include databases and data analysis/decision support, due to their structured data restriction. Email and Web site/content management utilities likewise missed the cut. Interestingly, groupware systems were also excluded, due to the perceived absence of any specific knowledge application functionality in the collaborative platform.

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