The design of the InnovationWell workshop on Next Generation KM for R&D was to talk about that exact topic and what might be involved in creating the technology around supporting R&D activities. As I fly home, I wonder what new things I heard.
I heard about some interesting software developments that relate to this problem. I met people that I'd previously met online. And reconnected with a few from when I was more heavily involved in the Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) space. And we attempted to collaboratively create a wiki for the event (sorry private).
The longer-term goals for InnovationWell is to build these ideas into something workable: a proposed architecture, a system, ... something. There have been a few other workshops, which I have not attended, so this wasn't the only time they've talked about these ideas.
The thing is, it seems to me like the architecture for a Collaborative Electronic Notebook System has been discussed and described many times, most notably by the work of CENSA, in which I participated several years ago. I wonder if there wasn't too much emphasis on the electronic lab notebook as a specific type of application. I suspect the next phase is in helping businesses learn how to integrate these tools into their larger business processes. And maybe it is that some new tools need to arise that provide a connection between the business processes (pipeline management; project management; issue tracking; ...) and the activities that are being managed at the scientists' workbench level: experiments, data analysis, reporting, analysis, etc.
The big question that I never really felt was answered: What is new or better when an R&D business implements such a knowledge management system or a Collaborative Electronic Notebook System or even an ELN system? Is it "better decisions?" Is it shorter development time? Is it less reinvention of the wheel? Are companies missing opportunities due to the lack of these tools?