PC DOCS focuses on knowledge management

Veteran NASA astronaut and Apollo 13 pilot Fred Haise opened the PC DOCS/Fulcrum PowerSummit ’99 in Orlando, Fla., with the message that knowledge is paramount.

“If some of the data management capabilities, information and availability being discussed here had been around back in 1970, I may have been introduced today as having been the sixth human being to walk on the moon,” said the American hero, who in 1970 survived the legendary space flight that saw a powerful oxygen tank explosion.

Here on earth, PC DOCS Group International Inc. embraced the theme that knowledge is power to describe its own strategic direction for 1999 and beyond. This includes the organization’s sharp re-focus on providing business solutions to vertical markets, including legal, financial service, manufacturing, government, OEM and ISO markets.

“I think we have to continually re-examine the way we run our business, how we’re doing things, what the market is looking for, and where the market is going, and we’ve got to be able to react fairly quickly,” said Ruby Osten, president and chief executive officer, PC DOCS Group International. “We’re doing that right now. The verticalization is a bold step. I don’t know anybody else who’s done it.”

Osten said the move is something the company has considered for some time. “Customers want to be able to talk to salespeople who understand their business. They want products that relate specifically to their business. In order to do that, you’ve got to have people who are focused on a specific vertical market,” he said.

In an attempt to facilitate the day-to-day business of these markets, PC DOCS/Fulcrum has brought knowledge management to the forefront of their strategic direction.

“Fulcrum has been pitching knowledge management software for quite awhile…and it’s all about searching and deploying in one place, bringing it to one desktop, making it possible to do research in your corporation in one place…but what’s become very apparent is that there’s way more to a knowledge management solution than just software,” said Gwyn Fisher, chief technology officer and vice-president of research and development for Ottawa-based PC DOCS/Fulcrum.

Fisher said knowledge management involves “making people want to share knowledge and making people want to believe they can make their lives better by doing so.”

At the heart of this process lies the corporate intangibles or intellectual property of an organization, he explained. “Intangible value means a function of the time you have to do your job and the productivity you exude while you’re doing that job.” To drive that productivity up, Fisher continued, people need to be more effective for more critical periods during the day.

To this end, PC DOCS/Fulcrum has developed a knowledge management tool called Enterprise Table of Contents (ETOC) that Linda Myers-Tierney, industry analyst and consultant in document and knowledge management at Carlisle, Mass.-based Myers-Tierney & Associates, said could “catalyze the uptake of knowledge management.”

A new component to be featured in an upcoming version of the DOCS/Fulcrum enterprise knowledge management system, due in Q2 this year, ETOC allows users to browse a hierarchy of all information available in an enterprise by employing neural network-based content analysis technology to automatically classify information from different sources and repositories.

Information is pulled from file systems, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, databases, document indexes and other systems available to DOCS/Fulcrum. Using advanced categorization technology, ETOC analyses the content of documents and organizes it into a table of contents.

“A system that watches what you’re doing when you’re doing it can begin to learn what you’re interested in,” said Tom Bartley, vice-president of strategic technologies at PC DOCS/Fulcrum.

“One of the exciting things about Enterprise Table of Contents is that it is self-descriptive in that if information in a category doesn’t exist, the category doesn’t exist…it’s not about a category at the site level, it’s a category at the document level,” he said.

Craig Wallace, president of PC DOCS/Fulcrum, said behind this kind of knowledge management is the company’s desire to improve the user’s day at work. At a corporate level, that means leveraging the information base in a more meaningful way. At a user level, it simply means making the day easier.

“In effect, creating a hierarchy of content that users can navigate and summarize and categorize in a very simple, straightforward way is saving hours, days and in many cases weeks of what has traditionally been manual, quasi-automated processes,” Wallace said.

According to Myers-Tierney, the ability to automatically search both search terms and context is significant.

“By opening up all the documents across the enterprise, the organization is truly able to leverage its information assets, and using ETOC allows effective searching without being overloaded with erroneous search results. This information plus context is what knowledge management is all about,” she said.