Knowledge management is set to become one of the biggest growth areas in software next year, writes Steve Ranger. Pierre Van Beneden, the new VP of software sales for IBM Europe and Lotus, said large organisations are showing 'huge interest and investment' in knowledge management. 'The most mature companies know they need it,' he said. 'There are a number of projects underway and we will start to see deployments next year.' Knowledge management involves any tools, such as groupware and document management software, which can be used to control or manage information flow. Van Beneden revealed that Lotus plans to ship its Raven knowledge management suite in time for its Orlando Lotusphere conference in January. Raven includes tools for content tracking and analysis, user profiling and expertise location, a knowledge portal, and an application integration toolkit. Knowledge management is moving towards widespread acceptance because of the benefits, said Madan Sheina, an analyst at researcher Ovum. 'It addresses important questions about the management of intellectual resources inside the perceived corporation, and how you address this in the extended enterprise,' he said. Sheina said many companies are using the corporate intranet, often seen as a failure when used simply for publishing information, as the infrastructure for knowledge management projects. Vendors are attracted by lucrative contracts for managing the move to knowledge management. 'Both Lotus and Microsoft want to push Notes and Exchange up the value chain, and position them as collaborative tools,' said Sheina. However, Beneden said knowledge management projects must be linked directly to business targets. 'If you don't find the right reason to start the project, it won't survive,' he warned.
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