Re: Recommendation for KMS with specific features #tools

Matt Moore


Asking a question on an email list isn't easy so good on Tami for
starting the discussion. The responses have lots of good points in
them. Here is my response to this discussion and others like it. We
are all coming to this with the best of intentions and what follows is
not a criticism of anyone but an attempt to change the kind of
conversations we have.

Every few months on SIKM or KM4Dev, someone posts a question about
what systems are available that meet a list of requirements. I
generally don't respond because the information provided by posters is
rarely enough to give them a good answer. The requirements are often
very general (content management, search, video conferencing, etc) and
there is little organisational context around what users are trying to
do (in the form of a classic user story "As an X, I want to do Y, to
achieve Z"). There is also rarely much context about the existing
technology landscape within the organisation (e.g. are they a
Microsoft shop) and the organisation's capability to implement
solutions (e.g. "we want a system that requires 10 PhDs in data
science to manage but we have half a COBOL dev on staff"). As someone
who has worked on both sides of technology procurement, I also have a
particular axe to grind against vague requirements - "easy to use"
being my most hated (easy to use for what? by who? etc)

While people often ask "what" they should acquire, they rarely ask
"how" they should acquire it. There is a good book called "The Right
Way To Select Technology": -
which is useful, cheap, and short. Its authors try to move people away
from the traditional approach - where different groups in an
organisation specify random requirements into a big list and then ask
vendors "yes or no" against each one - to a more thorough and rigorous

There is lots of content out there. Gartner Magic Quadrants and
Forrester Waves will give you lists of standard features and common
vendors for a market (and can be obtained for the price of your email
from vendors that appear in the top right hand corner of their
charts). Real Story Group used to do very thorough reports on
KM-related areas but now focus solely on martech. Deep Analysis
provide some good industry analysis on content management, there is
CMSWire, and many consultants who publish comparison papers, etc.
Others can probably chip in with their own suggestions. Where I think
that this group can provide value is in helping requestors work
through the specifics of their situation rather than simply firing out
three vendor names.

The general answer to any technology question is:
- Microsoft probably have a solution that will cover 60-80% of your
needs and maybe integrate with the rest of their stack if you are
- There are a plethora of small vendors (whose names either lack
important vowels or were invented by a 6 year old) with nicely
designed, niche solutions who will have vigorous advocates in your
- There are a few others solutions from big vendors (e.g. Cisco,
Atlassian, OpenText) that may be right for you depending on your
technical legacy.

I would invite people who post technology requests to provide as much
context as they can on what they are trying to achieve in terms of
user stories, organisation and technological context. I would invite
them to ask about the "how" as well as the "what".


Matt Moore

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