IT Forecaster January 16, 2001 - No. 885

By Geoffrey Dutton, ITworld |  News

Corporate knowledge management systems are ill-prepared to contain
the rising tide of peer-to-peer collaboration technology, but they
won't be able to ignore it forever.

Peer-based workgroup interactions can be efficient and productive,
but they may fail to leverage and replenish process and content
knowledge held in central repositories. From an enterprise
perspective, is peer-centered knowledge management oxygen or
oxymoron?

Figure 1
Worldwide Knowledge Management Infrastructure and Access Software
Revenues, 1999-2004
http://www.idc.com/itforecaster/images/issues/itf20010116g1.gif

Ray Ozzie might know. As the principal peer behind both Lotus Notes
and the recently launched Groove Network, Ozzie continues to shape
the evolution of collaborative computing. Tasks will increasingly
be carried out on peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, such as Groove, he
says, and this will revolutionize how, where, and when we work (and
play).

Whether or not Ozzie is right, knowledge management software has a
groovy future, as Figure 1 illustrates.

Corporate Knowledge Management

Knowledge management (KM) involves using software and services to
improve productivity by collecting and sharing the right knowledge
with the right people at the right time.

Corporate KM capabilities rest on an infrastructure of data
repositories, groupware, and messaging software, 1999 revenues for
which are depicted in Figure 2. KM also encompasses knowledge
access software that may manage intellectual capital, erect KM
portals, and profile and exchange information about business
processes, rules, and results. As Figure 1 shows, growth of KM
access software will exceed that of KM infrastructure software.

Figure 2
Worldwide Knowledge Management Infrastructure Software License and
Maintenance Revenue Market Segment Shares, 1999
http://www.idc.com/itforecaster/images/issues/itf20010116g2.gif

KM involves complex solutions generally fielded by IS departments
rather than by user groups. Introducing peer-driven processes into
such contexts runs the risk of breaking feedback loops that
companies have established to update knowledge bases and ways of
accessing them.

Can Peer Computing Safeguard Institutional Knowledge?

Few collaborative applications are pure P2P (there's usually a
server or database lurking somewhere, as at napster.com and
groove.net). However, by minimizing dependence on centralized
facilities, the P2P paradigm evades common risks of system-wide
failure (unless networks crash). However, individual users are left
vulnerable to destruction and loss of PCs and project files.

Groove claims that any such hiccups are unlikely to compromise
projects because its desktop "transceivers" continuously save data
and replicate it across workgroups. User authentication, data
encryption, and routing data streams directly between peers
maintain security.

IT managers remain suspicious.

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