Microsoft outlines knowledge management strategy

DALLAS -- Microsoft Corp. outlined a far-reaching knowledge management strategy here on the second day of the KM World conference.

DALLAS -- Microsoft Corp. outlined a far-reaching knowledge management strategy here on the second day of the KM World conference.

"Every worker is a knowledge worker," asserted Charles Stevens, vice president of the company's business solutions group, in a keynote address. "Knowledge shouldn't just be for protection by senior managers and executives."

Stevens said that while knowledge management means different things to different people, Microsoft believes it is a new management discipline that can be enabled by technology. He said the software giant is working with partners and customers to implement technologies that make workers more productive and protect corporate knowledge assets.

In his speech, called "Knowledge Workers without Limits," Stevens identified Microsoft's four key initiatives in knowledge management: the Digital Dashboard, the WebStore file-management capabilities in the upcoming version of Exchange, mobility and wireless activities, and intelligent interface research such as voice recognition.

A dashboard demo

Stevens gave an overview of Microsoft's new Digital Dashboard Starter Kit, which was announced Monday. He demonstrated the customization that is possible with the kit by making Outlook 2000 into a desktop information portal, showing a financial executive's preferences in an Outlook Dashboard, including e-mail, a calendar, sales reports and commonly accessed Web pages.

As Stevens demonstrated the Outlook Dashboard pulling information from other Microsoft applications such as Exchange and SQL Server, attendees questioned its ability to tie into other systems. Stevens said it can access other applications through open Internet standards, although its tightest integration is with Microsoft offerings.

The Digital Dashboard "is the best tool we have to sell all of the computing applications we have there on the back end," he said.

Stevens was then joined onstage by Andy Sakalian, president of systems integrator ECMS, to highlight a Web-based knowledge management system that ECMS developed for Texaco using Microsoft technologies. The oil company's TeamSpace system uses Outlook as its interface and consists of eight modules for sharing information and collaborating among teams through Exchange and NetMeeting.

Looking forward, Stevens said Microsoft will offer "knowledge management enabling technologies" in the upcoming Windows 2000 that will help with its increased scalability and Active Directory capabilities. He said that previously announced WebStore functionality in the next version of Exchange will enable users to collect structured and unstructured data as well as do XML-based categorization.

In response to questions from the audience about Microsoft's reliance on the Outlook 2000 client instead of its Internet Explorer 5.0 browser, Stevens emphasized the Redmond, Wash., company's continued support of desktop tools.

"We believe that rich clients are very valuable to users," he said, "especially knowledge workers."