Storytelling time: an architect, an engineer, and a salesperson were hovering around the punchbowl at a recent trade show, debating the world's oldest profession. The architect proclaimed that the oldest profession was that of architect, for God took the materials of the chaos and structured a complete framework for a universe. The engineer nodded sagely, but stated that the oldest profession was surely an engineer, as God had studied the chaos, and using engineering techniques, determined the best way to create an ordered world. The brash salesperson, of course, immediately broke in to add that the oldest profession was that of a salesperson....who, after all, do you think created the chaos?
I received another thought provoking e-Newsletter from my friends at Basex today (they are not really friends, but I really enjoy their insights). I highly recommend their newsletters.
Jonathan Spira (CEO and chief analyst) was pointing out some interesting recent product announcements such as the following: "Lotus announced a new knowledge management suite that includes tools for content tracking and analysis, a knowledge portal to manage personal and community information and activity, and an application integration toolkit."
Spira reminds everyone that in 1999 this same offering was made by Lotus under the product name Raven (I remember that!) which evolved to be called K-station and then Lotus Discovery Server. All pretty much the same offering.
Another recent product offering: "Lycos received a patent for its WiseWire technology. WiseWire allows Internet users to read and rate documents, it then learns from their responses and automatically forwards dynamically changing content." This sounded vaguely familiar to 1998 according to Spira.
Another comment about Knowledge Management (and its many subcategories is), "people were simply not ready for these products; the concept of knowledge sharing was so new to managers, and the products themselves were – despite their descriptions extolling their robust capabilities – fairly rudimentary and didn't always scale well" (Spira).
I think the first part of this statement is quite true. Companies and knowledgeworkers were not ready for these technologies seven and eight years ago. But, I think the second part of the statement is even more true...broad statements of robust capabilities perhaps overstated what was actually possible at that time, and we're just now catching up to them...in both capabilities and need.
The technology is (in my opinion) finally catching up with the buzz, and knowledgeworkers are actually able to accomplish the results promised; and oddly enough, knowledgeworkers need and want these capabilities.