This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Outlook as KM platform?

Joy London points to Lisa Kellar's MS Outlook: KM Friend or Foe?

One of the more difficult questions to answer is where KM information should be stored and accessed. Because studies show that attorneys spend the largest amount of their workday in e-mail, doesn't it make sense that Outlook should become the KM platform? Is this even possible? What are the drawbacks? A variety of recent legal blogs, list-servers, articles, and webinars have focused on this issue. People tend to be much divided, falling into one of two camps: the Outlook as KM camp and the Portals Are Still the Best KM Tool camp.

The article succinctly covers the basic camps of Outlook vs. Portals as a KM platform.  In an even shorter version: Outlook is heavily used, why not embed into their current tool, rather than teaching people something new?  Portals are designed for flexibility and integrating many different information sources, while Outlook can only do this with a lot of work.

The answer to the question posed by the article isn't yes or no, it depends on what you want as a result.

I think the other underlying question is who is the beneficiary of KM?  I have always thought of portals as a tool for the collective that provides a consistency and familiarity for a large group of people, whereas personal information managers (PIM's), like Outlook, are really geared around managing personal information.  Portals can be connected to personal information management, and PIM's can link to the functionality of portals, so they don't so much compete in technical function as they do in how people are expected to interact and use the tools.

Of course, there are other technologies that support KM beyond PIM's and Portals, and the article mentions the world of search tools as obviating the need for an information integration point.  And when information is locked up in the expertise of other people, the best bet is still to walk down the hall or pick up the phone and talk.  Of course, there are many technologies that help identify expertise and support communities of people interested in a topic.

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