Autonomy jump-starts enterprise portals

For IT managers, the problem with enterprise information portals is that no matter how usable or personalized they are, users must still be persuaded to visit the portal in order to find valuable information.

With new technology from Autonomy, relevant content is automatically delivered to users as they work, helping to ensure that the investment made in building a knowledge management solution actually pays off.

Autonomy’s ActiveKnowledge technology automatically analyses the content in the user’s active window — whether that is a word processing program, spreadsheet, browser, e-mail client, or other application — and simultaneously displays related content in a separate window.

The ActiveKnowledge window is continually updated with content relevant to whatever the user is working on at the moment, thus eliminating the need to enter a query through a portal site or knowledge management application.

Sources of related information can include news feeds, Web sites, Lotus Notes databases, e-mail messages, or other information sources.

According to Hadley Reynolds, director of research at the Delphi Group, a market analysis company in Boston, ActiveKnowledge’s integration of knowledge management into desktop applications has wide-ranging potential.

“ActiveKnowledge is really a breakthrough product in knowledge management because it incorporates knowledge features into the day-to-day activities of people working on office documents,” Reynolds said.

According to Mike Lynch, managing director and CEO of Autonomy, the ActiveKnowledge technology supplements, rather than supplants, portals.

“ActiveKnowledge is a fundamentally different way to do knowledge management, because instead of you having to go to the information, information actually comes to you,” Lynch said.

“Portals will always have their place. But there’s a whole host of everyday work that’s better served by this model than the portal model,” Lynch added.

Delphi’s Reynolds expects Autonomy’s approach to be emulated by other knowledge management vendors. Ultimately, according to Reynolds, similar technology may be incorporated into the operating system.

“What Windows offers is a really siloed environment, and what ActiveKnowledge does is break through those silos to bring in all this information from other domains,” Reynolds said.

“Five years from now, we’ll all laugh at the fact that once you were in Word, you were stuck in Word. We’ll be accustomed to the kind of function ActiveKnowledge is providing,” Reynolds added.

ActiveKnowledge ( will be included in Autonomy’s Knowledge Management Suite 2.0, which is scheduled to ship in late spring. The product runs on Windows NT and Unix. Pricing is expected to start at US$25,000, plus $50 to $250 per user seat.

Autonomy Inc., in San Francisco is (415) 243-9955.