Making knowledge accidents happen

Knowledge management is seen as a Holy Grail for the federal information

technology community because it enables a worker's expertise to be accessible

throughout an organization at any time, even after the person has moved

on. In other words, it's not an easy task.

But knowledge management is as simple as applying technology to "knowledge

accidents," according to Al Zollar, president and chief executive officer

of Lotus Development Corp.

"Knowledge accidents happen when people run into each other at places

like this or at the water cooler, exchange information, and realize an opportunity

for collaboration and a synergy between the projects they're working on,"

Zollar said during his keynote address June 21 at the GovTech 2000 conference

in Washington, D.C. "We need to make knowledge accidents happen on purpose,

regularly and, most importantly, with intent."

Lotus' knowledge management solution is its Raven software, which is in

beta testing and will be available by the end of the year, Zollar said.

Raven uses profiling and discovery engines to collect personnel data,

including work experience and documents that employees have authored. This

is all stored in a database and refined to produce expert profiles. Communication

is handled in real time through instant messaging technology.

Lotus knowledge management tools have already been applied by the military.

"In the military, knowing more than the forces you're competing against

is critical, and that's the ultimate in knowledge management," he said.

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