Day 1 of KMWorld and the Enterprise Search Summit under my belt. (Whew.) As the organizer of the Search Summit, the first day is particularly hectic. Opening day jitters, I suppose. Also exacerbated by the fact that the events are in a new venue and city—relocated from years in San Jose to Washington D.C.—so logistical issues dominated much of the day yesterday. That said, I did manage to pull out some themes from day one of our DC debut that surprised me a bit… in their familiarity.
The day kicked off with a keynote on “Knowledge-Driven Enterprises: Strategies & Future Focus” by Tom Stewart, chief marketing & knowledge officer of Booz & Company (and former editor of Harvard Business Review). The first half of his presentation was particularly strong, focusing on his four pillars for knowledge. However, he seems to have foreshadowed a key aspect of what I heard from attendees during the breaks when he said, “It’s good to be talking to this crowd, though it feels a bit like I’m preaching to the choir…. But sometimes the choir needs to get its nose out of the hymnal for a refresher.” Much of his talk did feel like a refresher, albeit a much needed one.
Stewart pointed out that “we’ve been talking about the knowledge economy since 1984… but that traditional organizations [still] don’t manage knowledge well.” The stakes for KM have never been higher, though, which may well explain the near-record attendance at this year’s event. As Stewart puts it, today “knowledge assets separate winners from losers.”
The stakes were made clear by the second kickoff keynote Manjula Ambur, Office of the CIO at NASA Langley Research Center who started her case study on “Exploring Search Frontiers at NASA Langley” by citing Outsell research that “Scientists and engineers spend 14 hours a week locating information… so that even an hour saved a week will save millions and millions of dollars.” Ambur offered a tour of the process her division of NASA took in undertaking to improve its research process, which began with the surprising study that its scientists and engineers often started their search process at Google.com. Given the organization’s investment in content resources, Ambur set out to enable them to have a similar experience inside the organization, while surfacing the best information quickly.
Both of these keynotes—as did many of the days sessions—clearly pointed out that despite our many advancements in technology and increasing investment in it, we continue to face many of the same hurdles and organizational stumbling blocks to maximize the knowledge and information resources in organizations. Undoubtedly, there’s a buzz here about a renewed interest in KM and the inevitable talk of Search and KM “2.0″. But we’ve heard that tune elsewhere and today I look forward to hearing some discussion of how organizations are leveraging this latest wave of enthusiasm and putting these concepts and tools to work.
[PS: our call for speakers for the 2011 NYC Enteprise Search Summit is up... join us!]