KnowledgeTree: riding the information tsunami

By in cloud, general, management, mobile, products, strategy on 19 September 2010

You can never have too much information. Once upon a time, people used to believe that. But they clearly didn’t have access to the Internet – or email.

The truth is, you can’t have too much information. It provides the essential 360° view that’s always required to make a proper decision. But it must be managed and presented right. That’s something I experienced recently.

Like every strategy consultant, I’ve a mix of clients. Some are big, savvy corporates, some not too IT-focussed small businesses. Each have their own particular issues, but this time, it was a local SME client of mine that learned a hard lesson about information overload.

Let me tell you how they – and I got caught out. Big style…

A little business with a corporate-size headache

This SME company had come to me to design their IT infrastructure when they started out. I’ve watched them grow from those early days, saw them pass their £Million turnover point in less than three years. I’d tweaked some things here and there to keep their architecture in line with their rapidly expanding business.

But they operate in a conservative business sector. They have minimal internal IT support. They didn’t need, or want, IT systems. I guess you could say it added little value to them. But recently, they needed to change.

They’ve come through the recession OK. Sure, they’ve taken a hit and lost some revenue. But they’re moving into new markets. To make that happen, some things had to change. They knew their website had to reflect the new direction for the business.

Getting people on the same page, literally

This is where I came in. They’d had trouble with their web developer, a common problem. The business on one side, techies on the other. Something was getting lost in translation.

My role was to listen to what the business wanted and then communicate those changes to the web guys. Just a case of the business coming up with the content, get the business development team’s approval, I’d adjust things to fit and pass it to the web guys. Easy.

But any business has changing requirements. They may just remember something they’d missed, or a great idea is thrown late into the programme. Maybe something doesn’t look right after all, or someone changes roles halfway through.

Suddenly, that nice neat plan, that easy to follow to-do list is deluged in follow-up emails. And queries. And amendments. And mistakes start to happen. And I’m stuck in the middle.

OK, I could blame the web guys for not keeping track of the email I sent them, or for not making proper notes at the meetings.

Truth was, I simply underestimated the scale and speed of the information flow.

KnowledgeTree: Information management on demand

For big companies or even small ones dealing with a lot of customer data, knowledge or document management is vital. Many Microsoft houses look to Sharepoint to handle this. Now Sharepoint’s not a bad product. But its horrendously expensive to implement and presents a constant overhead to manage, patch and update.

And if you’re considering collaboration over the Internet with a partner using Sharepoint, well, you’d better have deep pockets. Very, very deep pockets!

So this is where a product like Knowledgetree comes in. It takes a people-approach to knowledge management, how people would choose to store and to share their information. This is the great thing about not being first to market.

Knowledgetree addresses user-learning issues by presenting an easy to use front-end. Sharepoint is just too entrenched in the “Microsoft way”. Its too tied to archaic Microsoft infrastructures to be really useful to non-techies.

But you know what’s really cool about KnowledgeTree? It’s available hosted, in the Cloud. You don’t need to hire an army of developers. You don’t need a CAPEX budget like the national debt. You can just buy what you need, when you need it. Like taking a bus, you buy a ride when you like, jump off when you want to.

Sure, you can buy the product yourself and install it on your own servers. But unless you have some reason to do so, maybe to stay within an internal security or compliance policy, then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense ever doing that.

On Demand by you, or when situations dictate

You can’t know when a Tsunami of information will hit you. You may feel you can deal with your day-to-day issues just fine. But come the day when that tidal wave hits, you’d better have something like a KnowledgeTree account ready, or you could suffer like I did!

Do yourself a favour. go open an account and try it. You’ll lose nothing trying it out and could save something else you can’t put a price on. Your information.