Verity pumps up knowledge management

Offering hope for enterprises struggling under the weight of their own information, Verity Inc. on Monday rolled out a new version of its K2 Enterprise software designed to streamline KM (knowledge management) and information retrieval.

K2E 4.5 adds a slew of new capabilities such as improved content organization, development tools for creating links with applications, and thematic mapping technology designed to discover concepts in collections of documents.

The technology aims to automate the process of finding and making use of the growing amount of unstructured corporate information, according to Hadley Reynolds, director of research at Delphi Consulting Group Inc., in Boston.

"In the absence of these kinds of automated tools the only way to make sense of large collections of electronic documents is to manually tag, annotate, or put them in categories," he said. "It takes a lot of manual effort."

Unlike structured information in databases, unstructured content does not have metadata associated with it to provide clues to its meaning, Reynolds said.

Varyingly referred to as KM, content intelligence, and information retrieval, "these technologies are about providing an overlay of structure on the unstructured information collection that makes them accessible for business use," Reynolds said.

Many of the improvements in K2E Version 4.5 focus on ease of use and administration.

"You don't have to be an API programmer to run a lot of this now," said Reynolds.

K2E's auto-initialization feature provides a way to "jump start KM" within an organization, according to Rajat Mukerjee, principal architect at Verity, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"You can use XML to import important customer information from existing internal resources," he said. These resources include LDAP-based systems and content management systems, according to Verity officials.

Thematic mapping, meanwhile, allows workers to identify the concepts that are addressed in a collection of documents. In a large enterprise this feature could be invaluable to simplify the process of extracting relevant information from hundreds of thousands of electronic documents.

Another tool within K2E is the LexisNexis Content Organizer, which provides businesses with pre-built taxonomies to automate information classification. Rather than building taxonomies from scratch, customers can tap the classification expertise of LexisNexis in order to get up and running quickly, according to Verity officials. The tool also allows users to combine their own enterprise-specific rules to organize information to fit their business processes, officials said.

The Relational Taxonomies feature is designed to allow simultaneous search of two or more taxonomies, which can improve discovery power, officials said. Other information finding capabilities include federated search, for returning results from multiple sources to a single query; parametric search, designed to find single documents with specific attributes; and category drill-down, to narrow the focus of a search, according to Verity.

K2E also includes the Verity Gateway Development Kit, which allows developers to create customized links to enterprise applications such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management). Additionally, the software contains application aware indexing to improve information discovery.

The goal of KM and information retrieval is to help organizations achieve a better return on knowledge assets, according to Mukerjee.

"It is all about making better business decisions," he said. "A better return on assets means better return on investment."

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