New England Area Chapter Newsletter

Vol. 1 No. 2





Fall 2003  

Table of Contents:

From the President

The New England Chapter of KMPro has become one of the most active chapters in North America. When we hold our December breakfast meeting on Dec. 19th, we will have sponsored nine Breakfast KM Topics meetings, since our first organizing meeting in February 2003. In addition, we have cosponsored three substantive knowledge management meetings with Boston KM Forum at Bentley College. Our relationship with Bentley has evolved; in exchange for their assistance in providing meeting space, we invite some students and faculty from their Management Program to our meetings. We welcome this opportunity to forge a relationship in the academic world with a school that has recognized the importance of knowledge management.

Our cooperative relationship with Boston KM Forum, a three-year-old KM society, benefits us both as we collaborate on program planning. Their monthly meetings in Needham give our members access to notable speakers in the KM field. Boston KM Forum's President Larry Chait and I were pleased to be on the Advisory Committee for KMPro's Annual Summit, held this year in Boston in conjunction with the ARMA annual meeting. This gave us an opportunity to highlight several members of our local community as speakers, all of whom were extremely well received.

From an initial mailing list of about 80 individuals who had registered for information with KMPro headquarters in Washington by late 2002, we have built a list of over 170 who have participated by attending programs or have asked to be kept informed about our activities. Many have paid the $50 to join the international society, which entitles them to international news, discounts on KM meetings in other forums, and (soon) access to select member-only pages on the upcoming revitalized Web site. While the New England Chapter does not participate directly in the dues structure, we do receive some benefits from headquarters in the form of nonprofit status for conducting our business affairs.

If you have not yet participated in a meeting, I hope to welcome you at our 2003 wrap-up Dec. 19 at Rebecca's in Burlington, or in the coming year. If you have needs that we are not meeting or suggestions for programming, please give me a call.

Thanks to all enthusiastic participants and best wishes for a rewarding and happy ending for 2003. - Lynda Moulton

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Your Chapter Leadership

We are pleased to have the following members in place as Officers for the 2003-2004-Program year.

We are still seeking participation in program planning and support, and a leader for monthly breakfast meetings in Boston or Cambridge. Please contact Lynda Moulton or Allan Lewis if you might be interested.

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Meeting Summaries

One of the most productive and beneficial aspects of our KM community is the diversity of organizations and professions represented. We are truly multidisciplinary if you consider the backgrounds of our participants; the organizations we represent range from software to pharmaceutical/biotech, from engineering to consulting and law.

Knowledge work defines us all; where we each are in the knowledge mix gives context to our interest for being part of this community. We represent the best of a professional society, a place where we all learn and all have the opportunity to share and teach. Best of all, we reflect the ways in which we can collaborate in a heterogeneously defined work environment. The connections, intellectual and personal, that we make at our gatherings open opportunities for more learning and collaboration. The diversity of meeting topics is reflected in the very brief summaries below. For each, a bibliography with links to other pertinent content is provided.

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Establishing the ROI of Investments in KM Initiatives: Predicting & Measuring Success, Joint Meeting of KMPro New England and Boston KM Forum, June 25, 2003, Bentley College

Thirty-five KM managers from over 20 local businesses and government agencies engaged in a learning workshop on methods for measuring ROI in a KM initiative. We were fortunate to have Lori Wizdo, VP of Kamoon, as the lead presenter and workshop moderator. Don Oppenheimer, CKO of Goodwin Procter LLP shared his three-year KM initiative at the firm, and finally Joanne Archambault, staff scientist at Wyeth Research and KM champion, shared her aspirations for KM and more collaboration at Wyeth. Based on the model presented by Wizdo, her earlier experiences at UNISYS and Oppenheimer's at Goodwin Procter, the attendees and speakers worked through ideas for "selling" a KM initiative at Wyeth.

Nuggets from the meeting speakers and participants:

The interactive workshop format was a welcomed change for the attendees. Everyone participated in talking about Dr. Archambault's challenge beginning a KM initiative; the group benefited from insights from the excellent speakers, as well as expert attendees. Additional readings on KM and ROI.

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Accelerating Innovation by Leveraging Intellectual Capital, Joint Meeting of KMPro New England and Boston KM Forum, November 4, 2003, Bentley College

We were pleased to welcome George Morris, Executive Dir., Informatics and Knowledge Management at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge who spoke on how his group has structured information technology to contribute directly to speeding discovery in Biotechnology. His talk entitled: Using IP competitively: Accelerating the Drug Discovery Process via Informatics, presented a continuum of professional activities that lead to results in gene-based drug discovery from gene discovery to the knowledge management phase with the Informatics Group making contributions at every stage by leveraging their specific competencies in all computational areas. In the early stages one of their contributions might be providing a system to inventory genes, while at the next stage, Qualifying and Prioritizing Genes, informatics would provide computational evaluation, which is less expensive than "wet evaluation." Managing Studies is achieved through workflow systems and electronic notebooks, which are being maintained concurrently with bound paper versions. At the KM end, once scientific results are available, the Informatics Group provides publishing and presentation tools for disseminating the knowledge derived from research, all with a goal of stimulating and supporting future studies. The Informatics program has the full and enthusiastic support of Mark Fishman, the Global Head of this Division of Novartis. It was clear from George's presentation how integral Informatics work is to the Institute, insuring that no stage of intellectual capital development is wasted.

Our second speaker was Gregory Butler, PhD, Esq., Counsel in the Patent and Intellectual Property Practice Group, Edwards & Angell LLP, in Boston, and a former scientist himself. Greg's remarks were focused on Electronic Notebooks: Legal Uncertainty Remains an Impediment to Adoption. He provided the audience with details on the rules and reasons for maintaining laboratory notebooks as a precursor to any patent filing. The United States is the only major country for which patents are issued based upon the date of discovery rather than the date a patent application arrives at the patent office door. This creates the need for companies to document their research work so they can defend their claims of date of discovery. Companies lax in the discipline risk loosing the ability to secure legal protection for their intellectual property. Greg then went on to describe the slowness of organizations to adopt electronic methods for maintaining the same type of audit trail for scientific and technical research and development. The principal barrier, he noted, is the lack of existing case law defining electronic notebooks as sufficient backup when seeking patents. At the heart of the technical issues that might arise is concern for authority control over the contents; security must be assured that nothing has been altered from time of original entry to time of submission. During discussion, it was brought out that Pfizer might be the first major corporation to stake its IP protection on the use of electronic notebooks. However, until a case is tried and it is demonstrated that the Patent & Trademark Office will recognize e-notebook validity, the move to embrace this new technology will be slow to adoption. Additional Readings on Intellectual Capital & Intellectual Property Management.

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KMPro Breakfast Meeting Summaries

April 18, 2003 - Collaboration We summarized this meeting in the previous newsletter. Since then, Larry Chait, has shared a file with us containing a case study: Collaboration - Requirements for Success. It illustrates the type of initiative that serves as a learning case for our members and we benefit when an individual from the group share an experience of this magnitude with us.

May 16th - Measures - How do You Demonstrate that Your New KM Initiative Has Benefits? This was a follow up to the previous meeting in which collaboration was the focus. Consensus is that knowledge creators (or generators) have to be convinced that measurable benefits will accrue to themselves and/or others to be persuaded to share. This means quantifying (measuring) problems and their consequences before beginning an improvement initiative. Because there is great variation in the use of knowledge resources and types of information from one industry to another, situation and context is very important. Using only one method to identify business problems and business value does not fit all situations. Six Sigma was referenced as one methodology. Anecdotal feedback has a place in some analysis. Additional readings.

June 20th - Taxonomy. The group comprised a number of experts in taxonomy development, theory and application, plus a few who came because they are currently challenged with leading a taxonomy development initiative in their current situations. Phil Murray shared many of the difficulties organizations face in maintaining and improving taxonomies, citing his own Web site maintenance as an ongoing work in progress. The group touched on uses of taxonomy application and agreed that the focus must be on improving the search experience. Beth Phillips of MIT Lincoln Labs had comments about a taxonomy development project she is organizing and had questions for others with previous experience. Lynda Moulton shared a recent white paper she had written on the subject, including a bibliography.

July 18th - Web Search. This came up as a topic that needed attention as a result of the previous meeting on Taxonomy development. The group shared examples of their favorite search engines, with stories of successes and frustrations. Among the search engines described were: the popular Google, plus in no particular order, Dealtime, Frugle, Yahoo, DogPile, and Teoma. The meeting would have been a great focus group for vendors seeking to understand the market of expert searchers because many "wishes" and "wants" were expressed. Everyone present agreed to the next meeting topic, "enterprise search." More readings on Web search.

August 15th - Enterprise Search. The topic evoked much variation in what organizations use and have used with a surprising number of legacy-type technologies still in play. Since the group included several people who work for or have worked in the software industry we learned about some old and some new products. However, we didn't hear any examples of a ubiquitous search engine that was being used across the enterprise; instead the consensus was that this is still in the future of most organizations. Products like Verity full-text search still have holes and shortcomings; with a lot of players currently in niche search markets, the biggest need expressed is for natural language (semantically enabled) search across all document types, structured and unstructured content in a scalable and distributed environment. Some products mentioned that have been on the Web for free searching and were subsequently licensed for in-house use, Northern Light and Alta Vista. Application or data domain specific products mentioned were Power Steering, Copernic, The Brain, PlumDesign, SiteScape, Lotus Notes, Primus, and integrated library systems like BiblioTech PRO. There is still use of relatively old technology like VMS search and TextPipe for brute force string searching. More readings are found here.

October 8th - Informatics. We were pleased to try a new location, thanks to the generosity of the Bose Corp. in Framingham. Attendance was good and we hope to have other meetings there in the future. The topic also was a draw and we benefited from the comments of Clarence Wang from Genzyme who has been working in this area for several years. He pointed out that his group's focus is bioinformatics where they work to help the scientists view their data in the context of other groups. (E.g. linking scientific and legal information to protect intellectual property). The bioinformatics staff reviews information technologies that might be applicable to bio-scientific research. (E.g. If there is a new opportunity to solve a disease problem when a new molecule is found, they will build databases to help do decision-support, coalescing all non-scientific information needed to move to the research level.) In addition to the many questions the attendees posed to Clarence, we engaged in some discussion of social informatics with its focus on the "doing business" aspects of information technology. More readings are found here.

November 21st - Regulatory Content Resources. Back to Rebecca's in Burlington we drew a diverse group from law, biotech and pharma, insurance, engineering, government contracting, finance and general business. The overwhelming consensus was the amount of regulatory information in all disciplines with which to stay abreast. From a multi-practice corporate law firm describing the need to stay on top of regulations for most industries, to a specialist helping biotech firms with the Federal Regulatory Agency (FDA) approval process, we learned that every industry has a vast quantity of ever expanding information that it must absorb to stay compliant. Who would have known, outside of an expert, that clinical trial patients for biomedical products must be tracked for 50 years? The implications for managing the types and amount of information in this niche alone are staggering. Because the discussion was so concentrated on content resources, we did not have time to pursue the other aspect on everyone's mind - what technologies are available or being used to access, find, and manage all the content? With that question we wrapped up the meeting to continue the discussion on December 19th. Please join us. More readings are found here.

December 19th - IT Infrastructure and Applications for Managing Regulatory Information. Rebecca's in Burlington, 7:30 a.m.

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