KM past and present:
The focus is on integration, scope and analytics
The trend toward integration of the different elements that comprise knowledge management has been ongoing, but seems to be coming to fruition in a more powerful way. Functions that formerly were presented as separate applications are now integrated into one interface that allows users to work from whatever familiar environment they choose. Traditional KM solutions such as enterprise content management (ECM) and more recently developed products such as customer experience management (CEM) software are expanding their reach.
Another and equally powerful trend is to incorporate analytics into nearly every application, whether the longstanding Web analytics, more recent usage analytics for enterprise documents or text analytics being incorporated into search. Finally, many knowledge management solutions that formerly were only accessible to large corporations are now available to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), largely but not exclusively because so many solutions are now cloud-based.
One example of integration in the ECM market is provided by the new OpenText (DOWNLOAD CHART or see page 10, January KMWorld, Vol. 26, Issue 1) Cloud 16 and OpenText Suite 16, deployed on-premises, in the cloud and on hybrid environments. Both offerings combine ECM, business process management (BPM), CEM and analytics. A new connected workspace includes a virtual area inside the content server that can be accessed from SAP, Microsoft Word and Exchange, or Gmail.
“In the Process Suite, customers can build applications in the library and wrap them with rules and workflow,” says Muhi Majzoub, senior VP of engineering for OpenText. “The new user interface for the Content Suite is adaptive and responsive to different platforms including mobile, and many social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are built in.”
The Experience Suite also has a new user interface and a new design tool for multichannel management between OpenText Media Management (OTMM), which holds rich media objects, and SAP’s Hybris for e-commerce. In addition to e-commerce, OTMM is used for marketing, branding, video and global distribution of media.
The analytics capability is based on technology from Actuate, which OpenText acquired at the beginning of 2015. Actuate provides analytics for both structured and unstructured data, as well as visualization and big data capability. Often embedded in other applications, Actuate will continue to serve the embedded market but has been integrated into OpenText’s suites to provide powerful analytics in any of its applications.
Four forces drive ECM
According to Cheryl McKinnon, principal analyst at Forrester, four primary forces are driving change in the ECM market: transforming the customer experience, turning big data into business insights, embracing the mobile mind shift and accelerating digital business. All of those missions require tight integration among multiple applications.
In a survey conducted by Forrester that asked about priorities for business initiatives, two of the top three responses (from a group of more than 14,000 business and technology decision-makers) were customer-oriented. One priority was to improve the customer experience, and another was to respond to rising customer expectations. In another survey, two-thirds of ECM decision makers reported that they wanted extended participation for customers and partners. What this means for ECM is that the boundaries for access to information need to be extended. “Customers/citizens are part of the ecosystem,” McKinnon points out.
The need for extended access requires greater integration of functions, but also brings some concerns, such as licensing and governance issues, but they will be overcome. “Content is what supports customer communication,” McKinnon says, “and clearly it is vital to knowledge-based businesses.”
Analytics is another trend that Forrester identifies for ECM in coming years, because it can be used for so many purposes. “At the most basic level,” McKinnon explains, “analytics provides information on what content is most used.” In addition, the challenging task of categorizing can be automated through analytics. Both of those uses offer an indication of what content can be dispensed with, which takes some pressure off storage requirements.
At a more sophisticated level, text analytics can be used to look for a variety of risks, violations or fraudulent behavior. Analysis of which users are accessing the same content can provide insights that aid in establishing project teams or in locating expertise. It has been some time since enterprise content management was only about storing and retrieving documents, but now the vision for its potential has become broader than most people would have imagined.
Many functions in the customer experience sector that used to be point solutions are now being integrated into a single platform. SDL, which has its roots in translation services and technology, acquired Web content management (WCM) and enterprise content management technology, allowing it to manage the entire customer lifecycle. “Our Customer Experience Cloud brings together WCM, campaign management, social analytics, e-commerce, language translation services and documentation with a unified user interface,” says Jeff Kirk, VP, product management, SDL Social Intelligence.
“Many aspects of social listening are now commoditized,” Kirk says, “so we developed SDL Social Topics, which uses unsupervised learning to extract themes from thousands or millions of conversations.” Those themes can be validated via human curation. Additionally, SDL developed Customer Journey Analytics to help identify barriers and enablers in the customer journey that need to be fixed in order to accelerate the journey. “One of our key performance indicators calculates a product commitment score,” he adds, “a metric that is at the forefront of the buying journey.”