Or, why companies are evolving beyond the Google Search Appliance

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at KMWorld 2013, one of the leading events for knowledge management professionals, and I’m happy to say that it was by far the best KMWorld event I’ve attended. The level of discussions – the collaborative sharing of information and the sophistication with which attendees are approaching the challenge of better leveraging knowledge within their organizations – were all truly outstanding.

If there’s one main key impression I took away from this year’s show, it’s that companies have matured in how they look at knowledge management and access. They’ve implemented knowledge bases and enterprise search tools—the iconic Google Search Appliance, in many cases – in the past and they’ve found that these tools are not sufficient to leverage the collective knowledge available to most organizations. They are still drowning in information but unable to leverage collective knowledge.

Many of the conversations I had with attendees and other speakers, touched on various approaches to handing this problem, described in terms like Big Data, human data, and structured, fragmented and unstructured data. In each discussion the “ah-ha” moment came when we talked about relevance.

It’s the missing ingredient (well, along with ubiquitous connectivity and a unified index – check out our graphic on Search & Relevance technology). Relevance is defined as how “pertinent, connected or applicable some information is to a given manner.” In other words, knowledge, information and data may be useful – but only to the extent it is relevant to the individual user. Curated knowledge, for example, may be accurate – but it may not be relevant.

Because we cannot predict the needs of the future – that is, all questions to be asked, where the answers will come from, all the challenges everyone will face – we cannot solve these challenges with systems of record and commodity enterprise search engines such as the Google Search Appliance that returns long lists of potentially, somewhat related information. In our experience (and that of our customers), commoditized tools like the Google Search Appliance actually discourage the use of information sharing tools and the contribution of knowledge because once it doesn’t work, users stop using it. They may even stop creating content if they feel it cannot be found after created.

Search & relevance technology moves beyond simple enterprise search to help companies leverage their collective knowledge – wherever it resides – by providing each employee and each customer contextually relevant information to help them accomplish their goals: helping a customer, developing the next innovation, purchasing a product, or just making more informed decisions, faster.

For more information about how relevance plays into the knowledge management discussion, visit the KMWorld site to download my presentation from the show. Thank you to everyone we met this week for the great discussions, and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

Did you attend KMWorld? Were you energized and inspired, by the relevant conversations and content?