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Aligning KM investments with critical business initiatives

2. Collaboration, DAM and customer- and supplier-facing portals are the biggest areas of planned investment.

Companies have already made significant investments in focused KM applications and indicate that they’re concentrating new investments on external deployments. Internal-facing portals, document management and internal search capabilities show strong penetration and relatively smaller potential for growth. Technologies and applications ripe for future investment include external portals—both supplier- and customer-facing—and customer-facing search. DAM, a subcategory of content management that accommodates rich media assets, also indicates attention on customer-facing issues, because it’s often associated with marketing and branding efforts. (See Figure 5. Page 14, KMWorld, Vol 17, Issue #5)

The most marked differences between U.S. and European technology investments are in DAM, where 9 percent more U.S. companies expect to invest in the technology in the next 12 months. In the meantime, 10 percent more European companies are expecting to make investments in external search than in the United States, and 11 percent more are likely to invest inWeb content management in the next year.

3. Customer-facing KM efforts, branding and records management now reach strategic significance.

KM software is also reaching strategic importance at more companies, as enterprises begin to associate the KM capabilities with critical business initiatives. Moreover, technologies regarded as strategic tend to work across the established software categories of content management, NSR, portals and collaboration. For example, customer-facing search and customer-facing portals are regarded as the most strategically important investments overall, as they’re critical in engaging and retaining customers. Records management is increasingly regarded as strategic, especially in the United States, where amended rules of civil procedure and other regulatory efforts bring to light the high risk of tactical, piecemeal or isolated approaches. (See Figure 6, Page 14, KMWorld, Vol 17, Issue #5)

4. Enterprises place the highest priority on process efficiency, customer loyalty, and agility and growth.

Examining business priorities through a business lens, companies associate KM efforts most often with process improvements,customer loyalty/satisfaction, improving agility and growth, and enabling innovation. Surprisingly few companies regard work force issues as apriority for their KM investments. U.K. respondents place the highest value on process efficiency, while German respondents place the highest on customer loyalty/satisfaction. (See Figure 7, Page 26, KMWorld, Vol. 17, Issue #5.) That paradox likely indicates a recognized need for process improvement among U.K. audiences, where they’ve concentrated on customer loyalty in the past,and a converse need for customer loyalty among Germans, where they’ve concentrated on process efficiency.

5. KM technology must go further to satisfy strategic needs.

A detailed look at the importance of various business issues against performance indicates significant unmet need in a wide range of areas. While respondents don’t always recognize "work force issues" as business priorities relative to process efficiency and customer satisfaction, they do see "worker productivity and general knowledge management" as important and regard their performance addressing it as relatively lacking. The performance gaps are also largest where issues center on people, rather than automatable processes. For example, companies appear to see solidified financial processes, procurement and sourcing, as well as governance, risk management and compliance (GRC),as more readily addressed. Issues relying more heavily on people andideas, like customers, salespeople, researchers and analysts, require considerable more work to reach a satisfactory state.

Another interesting paradox is the idea that of all the areas that KM technologies tend to serve, the largest, multimillion-dollar deals are most frequently in document management to support financial processes,which ranks lowest in importance with the smallest performance gap onour list. That may be a result of maturity in that segment of the market and a low-hanging-fruit mentality, where KM in the context ofprocess offers a reasonable place to start and tangible return.Moreover, the large deal size is often a matter of document volume,with large financial services, insurance and government firms mostoften making those investments.

6. Preferred KM purchasing models show a shift from traditional licensing to software as a service (SaaS) and open source.

Customers acquiring KM are shifting away from traditional licensing and application service provider (ASP) models, but not universally toward SaaS, as many have predicted. In fact, many indicate a preference toward open source KM alternatives. Many of the core capabilities of KM infrastructure have become commoditized, such as repository services incontent management and crawling and indexing in search, and developer support for open source products like Lucene is more readily available.In some cases, new KM mechanisms like wikis and social networking already have their origins as open source. Numerous companies countopen source wiki among  their important KM providers. (See Figure 8, Page 26, KMWorld, Vol. 17, Issue #5.)

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