KMWorld 2011 & Making SharePoint ‘Do’ Knowledge Management

I just got back from KMWorld 2011 and I'm amazed at how many people can be crammed into hotel ballrooms!  As an enthusiastic exhibitor, I'm always impressed by throngs of exhibit-goers jostling elbow-to-elbow while balancing coffee, cocktails, and tchotchkes (it is the season for trick-or-treaters after all).  So impressed, in fact, that I'm already filling out the 2012 re-up application as we eagerly anticipate next year's venue, rumored to be a single NYC subway car.

But seriously, Bamboo's first foray into the annual Knowledge Management (KM) event was, I think, a great success.  There were enough "SharePoint people" to make our brand somewhat recognizable in the space, but there were also some raised eyebrows from folks that "didn't know Bamboo did KM."  So here's the thing: KM is one of the most generic terms every invented.  The "purists" will tell you it's used to define a rigorous methodology (like RM) that's steeped in arcane principles like metadata management and content categorization.  The more casual KM adherents will tell you that the term can be used to describe management of knowledge/data/content in any context using any platform available.  This, of course, makes KMWorld happy since they collect booth money from vendors that provide capture, search, ECM, RM, WCM, and all your other favorite "xM's."  So where does Bamboo fit in this mix?  I'm really glad you asked.

First of all, Bamboo believes that KM is an automated method for answering questions – questions from users, management, constituents, customers, and anyone else that needs guidance of some sort.  If a KM method or system doesn't "answer the question," it doesn't matter how much metadata management, categorization, or collaboration you throw at it.  It also doesn't matter that you've "promoted" someone in your organization to the role of CKO and that they're right this minute combing back issues of KMWorld and AIIM publications to figure out what sort of punishment they've been served.  Second of all, Bamboo believes (like a lot of others) that SharePoint is a good platform for KM – and it's got document management, workflow, metadata, collaboration and a host of other features that support this argument.  As all of you longtime Bamboo users know, our goal is to take SharePoint out-of-the-box and add rapid-deployment capabilities.  On the KM side, we created our Knowledge Base Solution Accelerator (KBSA) years ago to help organizations leverage SharePoint to build a usable knowledge base with unstructured (rich) content, metadata, and categories.  Users can query the knowledge base and rate answers they receive.  This feedback, combined with internal tracking of questions and answers adds a "self-improving" aspect to the system.

Bamboo SharePoint Panda at SPC 2011More recently, customers have asked us to propose a collaborative method of answering questions that aren't served up immediately from the Knowledge Base.  For instance, Lindsay Lohan connects to the Celebrity Knowledge Base (underpinned by KBSA) and wants to find out how to schedule photo-ops with the cute and always-cuddly Bamboo Panda to improve her image with kids and their parents.  If she's not satisfied with the answer she gets, what are her options?  To satisfy this requirement, Bamboo plugged our flexible Workflow Conductor component into KBSA so that Ms. Lohan can submit her query to a designated subject matter expert (SME in business parlance) based on a question's category.  From that point, Conductor tracks the process like a FedEx package – Did someone get the question?  Are they working on it?  Where is it in the process?  Moreover, our alerting features continuously ping the SME until they respond, and our charting, display, and reporting features allow managers to show how much faster their office or department is responding with fewer resources than before.

So to recap – Bamboo's KM Suite allows SharePoint to collect the question, answer the question if possible, route unanswered questions to SMEs, collaborate among themselves if necessary, gather content required to answer the query, deliver data to the requestor, and  – best of all – track the questions, answers, SMEs, and the end-to-end process.

So by our original definition we "answer the question."  Is that what you call KM?  Well that's what we call KM – no frills, no unneeded complexities, no multi-year projects, no multi-million dollar expenditures.  Pure KM – accurate, out-of-the-box and "on time."

Sorry for the shameless sales pitch but this story just had to be told.  Next time – nothing but celebrity gossip and movie reviews, I promise.

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