Client issues for the knowledge workplace

By James Lundy, Debra Logan, Regina Casonato, Mark R. Gilbert, Lou Latham and French Caldwell

Gartner Inc.

Many of the diverse technologies that comprise the knowledge workplace are emerging or converging even as enterprise requirements change. Gartner’s research will help you with the complex calculus of decisions.

CIOs and their direct reports who want to get more value from their knowledge workplace investments face a number of typical dilemmas:

– Should I buy new products or make the ones I have work better?

– This new technology sounds like something I can really use, but is it mature enough for me to invest in?

– Would a combination of technologies work better for me; if so, which combination?

– How can I convince my bosses to spend the money?

– I’m trying to standardize my environment; how much should that influence me when I buy e-workplace products?

– I bought this great software, but we’re not getting as much out of it as I thought we would – what are we doing wrong?

The answers lie not so much in choosing the right technology as in addressing the underlying business issues. As we have noted previously, fewer than 50 per cent of enterprises have successful workplace initiatives. Four interrelated problems explain many projects’ lack of success:

– Financial returns and other value on investments can’t be demonstrated. By 2005, 20 per cent of the Fortune 1,000 will incorporate internal practices to systematically measure and value the return on intellectual assets (0.6 probability).

– Application use is lower than expected. E-workplace applications change the way people work, so workers don’t immediately understand the value of using them.

– Integration with core business processes or other workplace applications is limited or cumbersome. That occurs because business application vendors often don’t provide strong integration, and it is difficult to integrate e-workplace technologies, which often have idiosyncratic workflows.

– Few people understand how to build processes that really work. Sophisticated knowledge management, content management, e-learning and collaboration technologies require strong processes to exploit the power of the technology and volumes of well-designed metadata.

For the rest of 2003 and all of 2004, we will research this range of issues to guide you through your dilemmas and decisions. Our research will fall into four areas:

Knowledge workplace technologies: Research in this area will explore trends in messaging, collaboration, knowledge management and content management. These trends include perennial topics such as vendor viability and the convergence of technologies, along with new forces shaping buying decisions within the e-workplace – perhaps most strikingly, the requirements of the U.S. Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 (aka the Sarbanes-Oxley Act). We’ll show you how to implement products to get the best return on your investments.

Knowledge workplace management: These issues are often hard to define, but they can be more fundamental to making good decisions than technology issues are. Anybody can purchase “knowledge management” products, but actually managing knowledge within the enterprise requires knowing its purpose, organizing workers around knowledge and setting up processes to make the most of the knowledge. We’ll tackle other tough management challenges, including cost justifying e-workplace projects, creating enterprise-wide content management, and addressing strict new reporting requirements and other corporate responsibilities.

Messaging: Workers drove the adoption of e-mail and instant messaging because they will use any tool that helps them collaborate more quickly and easily. Enterprises can only struggle to catch up. The big vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Novell continue to add collaborative functions to their messaging products. However, you also have more choices – for example, if you want to move away from Microsoft Exchange server.

Spam and a growing number of viruses also challenge those who manage e-mail systems. Instant messaging continues to generate many questions from our clients as they start to migrate from public instant messaging networks to enterprise systems.

Finally, Web conferencing offers more benefits than many enterprises are aware of, and this technology will improve substantially through 2008. The question today is whether to install Web conferencing products or use a service provider.

E-learning: Because this technology has just become mainstream, its promise and the numerous questions it poses are coming to the forefront. You can benefit from e-learning in many ways – from reducing employee turnover in sales and other key areas to helping new products roll out with fewer problems and less expense. You must know how to build a good business case for it, however, and you should prioritize the business functions that e-learning will support. Although e-learning will give the best return in certain functional areas (for example, sales, management and support), implementing an enterprise-wide infrastructure for e-learning works best. Also, you must decide how to source your technology – from a major software vendor, from pure-play vendors or from application service providers.


“Client Issues for E-Mail and Real-Time Collaboration” – Keeping disparate discussion threads as closely knit as transactional processing should be the goal of enterprises seeking to implement e-mail and real-time collaboration technologies and business processes. By Maurene Grey, Lou Latham and David M. Smith

“Client Issues for Knowledge Management” – Developing a knowledge management strategy requires first understanding where aligning intellectual assets can help your enterprise execute its strategic plans. By French Caldwell, Debra Logan, Mark Gilbert and James Lundy

“Client Issues for E-Learning” – Implementing e-learning improves employee retention rates and facilitates the training of large numbers of people. By James Lundy, Waldir Arevolo and Hams El-Gabri

“Client Issues for Knowledge Workplace Technologies” – Messaging, collaboration, and knowledge and content management are workplace tools that employees are using to become more productive. By Mark Gilbert, Rita Knox, French Caldwell, James Lundy, Lou Latham and Maurene Grey

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