It was inspiring to be in the auditorium, walking among various KM exhibits from all divisions of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) surrounded by huge rocket engines and pumps from various rockets - they even had a Space Shuttle Main Engine on display.
This KM share fair is not run by vendors, it's put on and presented by users. That's right. Groups within PWR that are involved in any aspect of KM are encouraged to come and set up a table and show what they are doing to identify, collect and share knowledge within their group and across the organization. While much of this was over my head, it's literally rocket science, it was fascinating to see an organization that is embracing key concepts of KM and innovation.
In one corner, there were several displays of various KM tools, also presented by users - no vendors trying to sell you something, just users showing you what they did and how.
I was able to get my first hands-on user demo of AskMe. (Think of it like an internal FaceBook for the organization or an enterprise expertise locator.) AskMe differs from a conventional search engine in that it returns structured search results based on expertise. What stood out to me was how the search results returned were organized from explicit to tacit:
The other product I was able to experience is Goldfire Researcher by Invention-machine, a semantic search engine. The initial search screen looks like a Google search or a portal search with the check boxes to search either corporate knowledge or personal knowledge (or both). The powerful part of the semantic search is that Goldfire understands (well, mostly) the meaning of words and uses thesaurus references to help find relevant answers. So, if I type in a search for dirt in fuel cell, it may also return results referencing fuel cell contamination, fuel cell debris, damaged fuel cells, etc. Another powerful tool for any enterprise KM toolkit.
The knowledge management team at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne hosts a number of KM events and speakers on a regular basis and I'm grateful for the opportunity to return and attend again.