Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Personal Knowledge Management Tools Ready For Enterprise Use

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Personal knowledge management is making strong inroads into enterprise environments where individual users can be motivated to publish quality (commercial) information effectively and with the ease that "bloggers" enjoy.

Photo credit: Dusan Jankovic

The recent SIIA Brown Bag Lunch Series panel on personal knowledge management highlighted tools from leading suppliers that support collaborative publishing by individuals in and beyond major enterprises who create collective knowledge quickly and easily.

Be it wikis, weblogs, messaging systems or new forms of publishing, personal knowledge management has taken content into new enterprise environments that attract people who want to share information effectively for profit with the ease that people doing it for fun on the Web enjoy. When anyone from any enterprise could be a part of this collaborative publishing environment it's time for publishers to examine more closely how their content can be central to these highly productive user/publishers.
What is personal knowledge management and why should you care?

Photo credit: Mikael Damkier

Well, if you had come to the SIIA Brown Bag Lunch Series panel that I moderated at the McGraw-Hill building last week you'd already know that individuals in collaborative environments are using today's highly flexible and affordable user-oriented publishing technologies to share collective and personal insights far more efficiently than ever before with their peers and colleagues.

Personal knowledge management tools such as weblogs, wikis and online messaging systems are creating easily accessed knowledge on the fly with simple features and rapidly implemented structure to get communities of peers surfacing answers and collective insights for critical issues.

It is a trend that is changing enterprise publishing as much as it has changed the Web as we know it today.

While personal knowledge management tools are now familiar to many Web surfers, these tools take on a whole new light when they are applied to the needs of major enterprises, their clients and suppliers - especially as they present new challenges for commercial publishers trying to get their content into the right contexts in today's business environment.

Many publishers and aggregators focus on devising big-ticket workflow solutions for enterprises that use technology-intensive tools to put their premium content in the most valuable context.

But personal knowledge management tools allow users to devise their own workflow solutions on an as-needed basis - solutions that may come together long before a publisher or aggregator has been able to engineer their value equation into the user-driven publishing mix.

As demonstrated by the panelists for this session personal knowledge management is really about eliminating the IT gibberish that hangs up so many collaborative efforts and getting to the important thing: passionate professionals communicating effectively with peers through flexible, easy-to-use publishing tools.


For Bob Serr, CTO of Parlano, personal knowledge management means using enterprise-ready group messaging to get both teams and entire enterprises in on critical live and well-archived online conversations that can move both small teams and entire organizations in the right direction for critical functions such as big deals with clients and disaster recovery efforts. In a world in which human conversations still drive most business decisions, being able to use conversations as they key to knowledge building is fundamental.


For Matthew Mahoney of Socialtext, it means using wikis as a core tool that uses and feeds content from emails, RSS feeds, mobile devices to move from little personal islands of content to an environment in which people can collaborate to link together key content and insights in the most efficient manner possible. From each person's small contributions develops a powerful sum far greater than the parts, and which can effectively leverage both new and existing publishing tools and outlets.


For Greg Lloyd, President and Founder of Traction Software, personal knowledge management means using weblog publishing tools that provide inline text commenting to attract contextualized conversations on critical topics and to allow teams to categorize, filter, personalize and permission views of this collaborative content. These spaces provide the ability for build "bottom-up" knowledge systems within and beyond the increasingly permeable boundaries of major organizations.


For Ben Elowitz, CEO of, it's all about the content and developing tools that make it as easy as possible for people contributing to personal knowledge management systems to want to adopt them as their own and to develop dialogs with other contributors. Wetpaint takes wiki-like tools and boils them down to very friendly and familiar interfaces that users on the Web and in enterprises can use to add their voices to key topics in a way that makes collaborative publishing both intuitive and fun.

These personal knowledge management tools are no longer on the periphery of major organizations but are instead beginning to become mission-critical sources of information and communication.

In some places they are supplanting inefficient email distribution and storage; in other places they are complementing or displacing file sharing systems, portals and project management tools that have formed the foundation of enterprise IT installations for years.

But in whatever implementation they find themselves personal knowledge management tools are becoming the center of user-driven publishing efforts that need to be an important part of publishers' plans for adding value to enterprise content venues.

Doing so can be complicated in an era in which "the" enterprise is a quantity that's increasingly hard to define.

Greg Lloyd pointed to an IBM report on global innovation that highlights enterprises becoming increasingly porous organizations, with workers who are moving more towards supporting collective goals with other individuals and institutions than internal-only goals.

Personal knowledge management tools are an important component of this movement, allowing information and communications to flow easily from rapidly assembled collaborative teams with a minimum of forethought required from IT personnel once the fundamental technologies are in place.

In this fluid collaborative environment traditional content packaging and licensing schemes will be challenged to keep up with the pace of publishing innovation being championed by organizations using personal knowledge management tools such as those highlighted in this panel.

Be it wikis, weblogs, group messaging or other emerging technologies the context in which content must prove its value is increasingly in the hands of peers communicating with peers.

To many publishers, though, collaborative publishing still echoes with the negativity associated with early file sharing services that sloshed unlicensed music around the world. But instead of rebellious teens we find in these personal knowledge management services, qualified professionals with high levels of accountability trying to communicate effectively.

Whether working at building multi-million dollar deals or breakthrough scientific discoveries, individual publishers inside large organizations need to accelerate rapidly their efforts to make their content both highly relevant and highly accessible in enterprise environments using these collaborative tools.

It will take more flexible controls to manage licensing, services that can adapt quickly to the needs of hands-on user/publishers and content packaging that is ready to have users create content's most valuable context. A tall order for some, but it's the order of the day when users are our leading enterprise publishers.

About the author
John Blossom's career spans more than twenty years of marketing, research, product management and development in advanced information and media venues, including major financial publishers and financial services companies, as well as earlier experience in broadcast media. Mr. Blossom founded Shore Communications Inc. in 1997, specializing in research and advisory services and strategic marketing consulting for publishers and consumers of content services.

Content Industry Outlook 2006: Investing in Users
If 2005 was the year that forced publishers, aggregators and content technology companies to come to grips with thriving new business models for content, 2006 is going to be the year in which these new models will need far greater investment in infrastructure and in new ways of publishing and marketing to tailor their services to increasingly sophisticated users untethered from many traditional content sources, distribution channels and platforms. Shore sees four key areas where investing in users will be most active: packaging, platform, premium and personalization. You can download the complimentary ShoreViews report, which provides an overview of Shore's major themes for the content industry in 2006 from Shore President John Blossom and other senior analysts in the Shore network.

John Blossom -
Reference: Shore [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2007-02-01 16:12:40


When talking about Enterprise Wiki software, it's impossible to ignore Confluence, from Atlassian. Check and see it in

posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, April 26 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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