Knowledge Management: Filtering Out Business Infoglut

Drowning in an ocean of information is one of the unfortunate side effects of being connected to the expansive data residing on the World Wide Web. Seeking out relevant knowledge can be a time consuming and futile task without a little help.

The Internet is a powerful tool for businesses — enabling lightning speed communication and access to a cast research resource. But that resource and communication tool can produce an overwhelming stream information — sometimes burying important facts in a heap of useless or unrelated data.

“Every time they clean out their in-box, business people are reminded of the high cost ‘infoglut’ is exacting against productivity and effectiveness,” says Hadley Reynolds, director of research at the Delphi Group [].

Drowning in a sea of information, many businesses find themselves hiring — or wishing they could hire — research assistants to navigate through the useless data and fish out essential and relevant information. In the end, it would enable business people to focus on the important tasks and information at hand, without having to waste time on useless information.

“A ground level contribution of knowledge management tools is to transform infoglut into actionable, contextualized information,” says Reynolds. Instead of hiring a research assistant, why not harness computers to do the information filtering?

Realizing the need for automated research agents, Open Text Corporation [] created a programmable set of virtual research assistants. These agents could be programmed by the user to scour internal and external knowledge sources, including corporate intranets, the Internet, email and news channels, to look for timely and germane information while blocking out the miscellaneous data that causes infoglut.

“LiveLink Prospectors takes an important step in providing a filtering mechanism for the connected desktop. [It] allows users to maintain access to a breadth of knowledge sources while leveraging intelligence about their specific work world to personalize the information space,” explains Reynolds.

The LiveLink Prospectors allow users to create and manage numerous research agents from within collaborative or personal workspaces in LiveLink. These agents constantly exhaust all selected knowledge sources for relevant information and send results to a pager or to an email address that includes a summary of the content and a link to the original source.

But the program may not be as cheap as hiring after-school help to perform the same information filtering. LiveLink Prospectors is an additional cost added to the price of the LiveLink collaborative knowledge management application. The LiveLink knowledge management program generally costs $70,000 per server — with an additional $40,000 for the LiveLink Prospectors, per server. That adds up to $110,000 per 50 users per server. The price then increases based on user volume after a company exceeds the 50-user limit.

For large corporations involved in a significant amount of information gathering, the high price tag may justify the results. “By reducing the time, effort and cost associated with researching and retrieving knowledge from multiple sources,” says Steve Larbig, manager of business systems at QUALCOMM. “LiveLink Prospectors allows us to make faster and better decisions, be more competitive and speed product cycles. Our engineers [can] stay up to date on business critical competitive intelligence and monitor new trends as they work on the development of new products. No longer will they have to go out and wade through thousands of documents to find useful information.”

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