I like knowing stuff. I kind of make it my job to know stuff, I mean we all do in a way, that is why people pay us, to know stuff; but I take it to the extreme. I read a lot; magazines, books, blogs, sites, whatever, just reading… My dad used to tell me that I was loaded with knowledge about minutia, but even that pays off. Today there is more information being created on a daily basis than ever before, the only real issue is how do we digest it and keep it on hand so that we can retrieve it when we need it. Actually, most of the time I need information that I might not even know I have on hand in the first place.
So I was thinking about Knowledge Management this morning, and how it is changing rapidly. For instance, everyone thinks about Google as a search engine, but it is more than that; Google is also mapping knowledge at an incredible speed. Every day Google News reads, indexes and associates information from around the world via news agencies, magazines and blogs. Granted, I can make a pretty decent personalized front page with iGoogle, but it would not be too taxing on the system for Google to give me more information on the search engine if there is timely or important information on the News side about a particular keyword or phrase. You might wonder how Google would determine the importance of something, but that is in essence what Google already does, determine the importance of information by the number of people who are either searching for it or visiting sites about it or where it comes from.
I think DayLife is ahead of the curve on this one, which means someone like Google might try to buy them. They have done a lot of work to get DayLife.com to where it is approaching what a really smart assistant could do for you, given that he never slept. If you are looking for information and the links that connects it all something tangible, then DayLife offers something that approximates that for you.
On the personal information front I have been using Xobni for about three months now, and I am not sure how I used Outlook before it. It has added a lot of value to my Outlook experience; threaded emails, a very accurate search mechanism, analytics that shows me very powerful information that beforehand I had to guess about, and most importantly Xobni shows me all of the attachments I have ever sent and received from someone. But I am still looking for more.
ClearContext‘s Information Management System, which I have not actually played with yet, purports to be closer to what I would like to see from Outlook. I did watch the Flash demo they have on the site and I am going to look into getting a copy to see how it might change the enterprise at my office. ClearContext’s IMS solution is to wrap Outlook in a suite that automates many of the things we already do all day long. If you have some very important client, IMS learns that and displays emails from them with importance. If you decided to check out of a conversation that no longer needs your attention, IMS stops putting them in the inbox. Get an email that needs to be a task, click a button and voilà, it’s a task.
So ClearContext and Xobni are doing good things with my Outlook email, but I want to have all of my information in one place, no matter where it is generated; web, email, office documents or photos I send myself. Evernote is showing an awful lot of promise for that. I can clip any document I want, email myself information, take a picture of a book in the store and have it in my Evernote notebook, indexed and searchable. I have snapped pictures with my Blackberry, emailed the pic to my personalized Evernote email account and then searched for words in that picture and found them right away. That is cool.
This is a list of what Evernote does (I grabbed it from the website):
- Type notes, to-dos, brainstorms, and reminders
- Snap photos of anything from whiteboards to wine labels then email or sync them
- Clip web pages and have them stored and accessible in their entirety, even offline
- Write handwritten notes using digital ink or take snapshots of regular ink notes
- Record audio clips and memos to listen to later
- Email or MMS notes from your cell phone to your personalized Evernote address
I have done all of these things and I was happily surprised to find Evernote is very fast and accurate. I took a picture of a magazine article about Intranets, sent it to my Evernote account and then re-synced my Mac client. Seconds later I could read or search the article, that was nice.
I have been more impressed with the feel on the Mac version from the UI perspective, but the Windows version is does all of it as well. If Evernote could tie into my Gmail accounts, if it could access my Outlook real-time like Xobni does, if it could grab an audio or video stream and index the audio real-time; just imagine the power you would have at your finger tips. The fact that Evernote has clients for Windows, Mac and web makes it even more powerful. The mobile version isn’t what I want yet, but given time and more WiMax, it might be my new best friend.
Before I let you go, let me share some information I found on the web at Metrics2.com:
- Most companies spend 90% of time in gathering data, and only 10% analyzing it. Research shows that many organizations lack coherent systems for managing information.
- Middle managers spend up to 2 hours a day searching for information to do their jobs, and more than 50% of the information they obtain has no value to them, according to results of a recent Accenture survey of 1,009 managers in the U.S. and Britain.
As we move deeper into the WiMax age of untethered Internet access, we will see knowledge management tools jump off the desktop and into our hands. As these tools grow up around us the scene will change, and the need for sitting at the desk to understand what our business is doing will evaporate around us.
I, for one, welcome our new Data Overlords.