When information becomes knowledge

Publisher's Note

By Gerard Knapp

When information becomes knowledge

In producing the first issue of 1998, Image & Data Manager welcomes back leading consultant Tom Koulopoulos, who wrote the lead series of articles in the first issues of this magazine back in 1994.

In an interview on page 27, Tom describes the evolution of IT systems into "knowledge management", a concept which relies very much on the integration of various information systems.

In keeping with this theme, this issue looks at the integration of image databases and EDM solutions with new call centre technologies, a combination which should generate even greater efficiences and effectiveness for those organisations which use both applications.

It may be that SMEs are just using their computers to do the same thing more efficiently, rather than re-designing their business processes to take advantage of the new tools.

Reduced call holding times and better customer service are two of the major advantages to be gained from having scanned documents on-line to call centre operators.

So far, however, instances in Australia of this kind of integration are very rare. The one organisation we know that has done it (Jerry Seinfeld's favourite credit card company) must be on to something, because they don't want to reveal how they achieved it.

Vendors aren't so shy, and expect to see major announcements in the coming months between leading call centre suppliers and imaging and workflow vendors (FileNet and Pegasystems are already working together).

They've realised that they're complementary technologies. The companies with document scanning and imaging databases that don't have them linked to a call centre for speedier customer service are not fully realising the benefits of their imaging and workflow systems.

Similarly, companies with call centres may realise that without access to databases and scanned correspondence from customers, all their operators can do is take less time to tell callers to ring back tomorrow after someone's located their files.

It may not be the case for every company, but how many organisations still don't rely on written or faxed correspondence, particularly when the customer is so connected with the company that they've taken the time to write or receive documents?

In this issue, we look at how the integration of these technologies should lead to improved information management. Going one step further, the evolution of information in all its forms into "knowledge" has become a favoured term among some consulting firms and vendors.

It's a concept one could easily dismiss as yet another buzzword or sales pitch, but as we show in our preview to the Delphi Consulting conference in this issue, there's some serious players willing to support it.

Elsewhere in this issue, we find the small to medium enterprise remains a vastly untapped market for many software applications, despite their investments in computing infrastructure. It may be that SMEs are just using their computers to do the same thing more efficiently, rather than re-designing their business processes to take advantage of the new tools.

It could be that the cost of redesigning and implementing these tools remains outside their reach. Meanwhile, hardware prices continue to fall. It's never been cheaper to install a scanner and a CD storage device, and prices will only continue to fall, so perhaps a low-end boom is just around the corner.

Perhaps all it needs is for consultants and integrators to similarly lower their prices.