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Blogging and more with Toronto's Lucas McDonnell

A few weeks ago, we directed your attention to an article that Lucas McDonnell wrote on his blog, Lucas had some interesting thoughts on whether knowledge management can pull your company through the recession, and I left a comment for him. But our conversation didn't end there.

Janelle recently invited Lucas to a Info Pro-file Q&A to learn more about his professional background, blog, and other thoughts and theories on KM. Like most of our e-mail Q&As, they are a little lengthy because we always have so many things to talk about. ;) So, we're breaking up Lucas's interview into two posts, so it's more digestible.

Check out the first half below, where we learn Lucas's unusual story for landing in KM, where he finds inspiration for his blog, and more. Then check back soon to get Lucas's take on trends in KM and social technologies, his idea for what will come after RSS, and tips for staying productive.

JK: Introduce us to Lucas McDonnell. Tell us about who you are and what you do.

LM: Well, first off, I've lived in Toronto, Canada for around the past four years. (I've made my way around eastern Canada in the past ten years -- I guess I find it exciting to move to new cities.)

I currently work for a global professional services firm in knowledge management, where I've started to hone in more specifically on enterprise search. I've been involved in information and knowledge management in one way or another for around the past eight years.

JK: What interested you in knowledge management? Give us a nutshell of your story.

LM: It's kind of a funny story. I was working for a government library as a library technician, mainly shelving and copying books (for electronic document delivery to clients). Being a large library, we were using the Library of Congress classification system -- and part of the section I was responsible for shelving was the "Z" section (which includes library and information science).

As I was already quite intrigued by information and knowledge management after working in several libraries, I started to read articles. After consuming just about everything I could in the library, I decided I should probably venture out and pursue a graduate degree in knowledge management. Who knows -- if I had been assigned a different section, maybe I'd have a completely different job.

JK: You also have a blog, What do you like to write about, and why?

LM: Mainly I write about knowledge management. I also talk about blogging and technology quite a bit (as I'm personally very interested in a wide variety of technologies), as well as related topics, like content and information management. I've also been known to stray into pretty much whatever comes into my head -- part of the benefit of having your own blog.

JK: You take some great photos and post them to your blog too. Is photography just a hobby, or do you do it professionally?

LM: Definitely a hobby. While I've learned a great deal from books and friends who are also interested in photography, I'm still very much on the amateur side of things. I was actually posting photos to Flickr, and then it occurred to me one day that I had my own space on the Web, so why not post my photos there.

You could name NASA's next space module

As regular readers know, NASA is one our clients, and we like to follow goings-on at the organization and share them with you. This time, NASA is offering a unique opportunity to the public.

It's asking Americans for help naming the International Space Station's next module, Node 3. It's a control tower for robotics in space.

You have until March 20 vote on one of NASA's suggested names, or come up with your own. The winning name will be announced at the module's unveiling on April 28 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

More details on the contest, submission guidelines, and pictures of the module can be found on NASA's Web site.

Socialize for savings

Having the right information when you need it is crucial to increasing productivity. But it is worth the technology investment? We believe the answer is yes, with social knowledge networks.

In today's post on How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs, I'll back that up with some numbers.

Technology solutions that enable companies to reduce the amount of time it takes to find or "discover" knowledge in their organizational repositories are key investments. They can ultimately lead to a lowering in costs, and an increase in individual and organizational efficiency

When taken in the context of overall Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). however, discovery is just one aspect of organizational information flow. Solutions that assist in enhancing the complete lifecycle, from organizing to collecting, curating, and collaborating, all lead to faster and more efficient information discovery.

In particular, systems that provide community feedback mechanisms have shown to be most effective. By improving these capabilities, organizations can achieve the individual productivity benefits I'll outline here.

In the example from our previous post, the average costs of implementing a solution of this type can vary significantly based on a number of factors. These include total cost of server software, server hardware, annual maintenance, IT admin overhead, content subscription fees, software subscription fees, and so on.

However, a reasonable estimation of average software expenses in the first year of implementing a social knowledge management solution of this size is around $60,000. Ongoing subscription fees are estimated at $30,000. The costs of a fully loaded employee are assumed to be $100,000, and the average time wasted per employee on ineffective information search is 30 percent.

The table below illustrates the return on investment (ROI), timing of the return, and total cost savings based on a number of factors. These include the ramp-up period for realizing increases in productivity, total year one expenses, and ongoing expenses. (Click image to enlarge.)

These numbers are consistent with the ROI values found in a study by leading consulting firm, Accenture. The study, entitled "Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management (KM)," was presented at the KMWorld conference in September 2008.

It found an average ROI of $25/$1. This was based purely on individual productivity increases due to faster information discovery times, after implementing a knowledge management solution.

In the above analysis, the additional costs associated with hardware, content subscriptions, IT overhead, etc., are not taken into consideration. However, a reasonable assessment of these costs might conservatively produce a net result of a halving the above ROI to $14/$1. This would still represent a very significant return.

Of course, a deeper analysis on a case-by-case basis would have to be conducted to properly assess its ROI.

SKN Value Prop: Productivity gained from implementing a SKN results in savings that outweigh the technology expense.

Bucking the economic trend

Many companies are not fairing well during these economic times, and the news probably just makes you more depressed. But there are bright spots amid the storm clouds, and we're fortunate to be one of them.

2008 was a break-out year for Inmagic, and we announced our sales growth and other numbers in a press release today. Even though times are tough, I think these numbers prove we are onto something great.

Inmagic Bucks the Economic Trend with Record Revenues and 25% Growth in 2008

Inmagic Leads the Shift to Socialization of Knowledge Management and Development of the Industry’s First Social Library Solution

WOBURN, Mass. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Inmagic’s launch of Social Knowledge Networks and the first integrated Social Library has sparked strong demand for Inmagic solutions, resulting in record revenue performance and significant new customer acquisition. Proven leadership in knowledge management and special libraries has led information and special library professionals at companies such as the ACLU, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, and USAID -- in addition to the largest deal in company history -- to rely on Inmagic.

Inmagic® Presto and recently launched Inmagic® Presto for Social Libraries continue to expand at a rapid rate, despite a challenging economy because they can transform libraries from cost centers into productivity hubs -- increasing productivity up to 40 percent in many cases. Fueled by capital investments at the end of 2007, Inmagic continues to expand its information publishing, library, and Social Knowledge Management solutions across all channels and product lines.

Over 25 years of leadership in special libraries and an active customer base of more than 5,000 organizations across a range of industries, has positioned Inmagic for continued success as organizations seek to connect top-down, vetted information with bottom-up opinion provided by individuals within the organization. Other achievements from a breakout year for Inmagic include:

* 25% year-over-year total company growth
* 40% year-over-year direct sales growth
* 20% partner growth in indirect channel sales
* 187% growth in sales for the Inmagic Presto Social Knowledge Management platform
* 309% growth in multi-year subscriptions

“We’re hitting an industry hotspot,” says Paul Puzzanghera, President and CEO of Inmagic. “Despite the lagging economy, our 2008 growth shows businesses today want more than what traditional knowledge management platforms can provide. They want to make the most of their current investments in people and information, while achieving both ROI and organizational objectives.”

Contributing to the successful year was the launch of the Inmagic blog and adoption of Presto 3.0 by industry leaders including NASA, Newsweek, The National Endowment for Democracy, R.V. Anderson Associates, and The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Interest in the socialization of enterprise knowledge management was further validated when more than 1,150 info pros registered for the Social Knowledge Network webinar hosted by Inmagic, The Gilbane Group, and KMWorld Magazine. The webinar, dubbed “New Generation Knowledge Management: Social Knowledge Networks,” showcased trends in social media for businesses, what social knowledge networks are, why they matter, and how they will change corporate libraries and the information professional’s role in the enterprise.

In addition to the company’s flagship product, Presto, demand for Inmagic’s newly bundled Inmagic DB/Text® Library Suite demonstrated steady growth as well. DB/Text® Library Suite is a comprehensive Web-based integrated library system (ILS) for smaller libraries on a budget. It’s built on the company’s popular family of library and information management tools, Inmagic® Genie, DB/Text® Works, and Web Publisher Pro.


Inmagic, Inc. has been the industry leader in knowledge management and library automation applications for over 25 years. Today, Inmagic is at the forefront of the move to new generation knowledge management, creating Social Knowledge Networks that combine top-down, vetted information with bottom-up, social “wisdom of the community” to address critical research and business objectives. Over 5,000 companies in 100 countries use Inmagic solutions, including Inmagic® Presto, Inmagic® Presto for Social Libraries, and the DB/Text product family, to gain unprecedented insight into customers, markets, competitors, research, intellectual properties, and more. Find out how much your organization really knows. Visit Inmagic at

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.


Press contacts: Kate Ritchie, 610-642-8253 ext. 162,

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Press only:
Gregory FCA
Kate Ritchie
610-642-8253 ext. 162
Inmagic, Inc.
Mike Cassettari

Platform migration. Jean Billingham feels your pain.

Platform migration. Uggg.

That's a typical reaction from just about everyone --especially execs and IT -- at companies considering implementing a new app. But Jean Billingham ensures us it doesn't have to be that way.

We recently talked to our resident Consulting Manager as part of our Meet the Team series, following the Q&A we posted last week. Our podcast is below for you to listen in.

Every day, Jean gets down into the guts of customers' KM platforms, and helps transition them to DB/Text Library Suite.

In our podcast, Jean provides unvarnished insight into exactly what that transition is like, depending on what program customers are transitioning from. She touches upon complexity of the data, time required, and more.

When it comes to platform migration, another major concern customers have is, Will my business be offline during the transition? Jean takes us through Inmagic's development and implementation process, and the steps she puts in place to ensure customers are not offline, and their business can continue as usual.

What's also interesting about Jean is her background. We probably couldn't have found a better fit for her position. She used to be a mainframe programmer and a public library supervisor before coming to Inmagic. They're crucial experiences she draws upon in her day-to-day duties at Inmagic.

Learn about Jean, DB/Text Library Suite migration, and more, by clicking play below.

Hold on to your library; we're in for a bumpy ride

The Wall Street Journal recently eliminated the position of its research librarian, Leslie A. Norman, and there have been a lot of mixed feelings.

In my view, this is an unfortunate hit for librarians and knowledge professionals across many types of organizations and sectors. As Leslie says, “… Reporters will probably spend 10 times our compensation trying to do their own research."

This is also known as biting off your nose to spite your face, and I’m telling you, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Timely access to high-quality information is no longer an organizational "nice to have," but a necessity that can impact productivity by up to 40 percent in many cases. The social library is one way organizations can do more with less.

In cases like The Wall Street Journal, social libraries can fill knowledge retention gaps and foster better organizational workflow to help weather workforce shortages. It might even prevent workforce reductions in the first place, because it turns libraries from cost centers into productivity hubs -- with the librarian as an effective mediator and manager of those resources.

In economic environments like this, a critical element to any organization’s viability is managing the risk associated with diminished revenues and reductions in workforces. Preserving the organization’s collective knowledge and critical IP to make sure that remaining employees are more productive and that knowledge doesn’t leave the organization will be a true test to one’s survival.

On a (blog) roll

The SLA recently blogged about, well, blogging, on its Information Center Connections blog. Specifically, it talked about habits that people have when subscribing to and reading blogs.

Like many people, I have a vast number of feeds, and many pile up and end up getting deleted (guilty as charged). But the few that truly stand out, I read religiously, and those are the ones that consistently offer interesting tidbits of information and insight.

In an effort to do our part, we've recently updated our blog roll with the addition of Information Center Connections, and started our next series, How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs. We hope this helps keeps us on your radar, but more importantly, we hope it keeps you informed and ahead of the Social Knowledge Network and Social Library curves.

Lastly, if you have any blogs that you follow and think we should too, let us know! You’re part of our community, let’s share the wisdom.

13 how-to questions about social libraries, answered

We field questions every day about social libraries. Some we get more frequently than others, and these are usually about implementation.

Many of these commonly asked questions were also raised during our last webinar, The Social Library: Beyond the Traditional OPAC. So we compiled these questions and their answers in this document for you to peruse. There's information about deploying our new Presto for Social Libraries platform, how it compares to SharePoint, upgrading from Genie, and more.

Want to know if your question is included in this roundup? Here's a list of the questions we answered. If your question isn't answered here, or you want more information, feel free to drop us a line at 781-938-4442 or
  • Our organization is a Sharepoint shop. Can Sharepoint be used to build social libraries? How does Inmagic Presto for Social Libraries compare?

  • What about the control and security of social tools in the enterprise? How does your solution differ from Facebook, MySpace, and other well-known social networking tools?

  • I'm currently using Inmagic's Genie ILS. Is it possible to upgrade to Presto for Social Libraries?

  • I'm currently using EOSI's Web library application. Is it possible to upgrade to Presto for Social Libraries?

  • Is Presto for Social Libraries an ILS?

  • Any thoughts you can share on how to secure senior management interest and support?

  • Do you offer a hosted solution? Could you talk about Z39.50 features/functions?

  • Is Presto installed and run as an internal/local application?

  • Could your system handle e-journals and e-books that many libraries subscribe to from e-resources vendors?

  • Can taxonomy be integrated into the social library?

  • Can you create more than one social library page for different departments in your organization with one license, or is each social network page a separate purchase?

  • I work at a college which is part of a large university system comprised of about 23 institutions. Would we be able to set up SOPAC so that there are a variety of different views from local levels to other associative levels on the fly, or is this a product that is not designed for such complex structures that are more decentralized?

  • Do you see the SOPAC as useful for a non-profit specialized historical collection? Could the SOPAC accommodate records for non-print materials like artifacts?

Increase productivity by socializing more

Today we're going to be open and honest about one word that crosses the lips of many an employee: The "P" word. That's right, productivity. It's the subject of our first installment of our How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs series.

If your company is like most, social strategies are on the back burner. As Phil Green wrote in a previous post, the rationale might sound like this: "Social tools make sense on the Internet for sites like Amazon, but not behind the firewall at my firm."

Not so. Studies show that people are most effective when they have immediate access to the right information at the right time. A Workplace Productivity Study by information provider LexisNexis found that 62 percent of knowledge worker professionals spend a "lot of time" sifting through irrelevant information to find what they need.

The same study shows that 85 percent of white collar workers agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a "huge time waster."

For a typical knowledge worker, access to information that helps them execute their jobs faster and with more accuracy can dramatically improve efficiency. It allows them to focus their time on their own core competencies and the business objective at hand, rather than wasting time searching for and validating information.

Productivity studies of professional services firms where human expertise and capital is the most critical asset illustrate this requirement most dramatically.

For instance, we recently worked with a large engineering firm. Prior to creating a social knowledge management environment, their engineers were wasting 30 percent of their time searching for information, rather than actually solving technical problems or spending time interfacing with client organizations.

Below is an actual example of productivity improvements and cost savings when implementing an effective social knowledge management solution. (Click the image to see it enlarged.)

If knowledge workers are freed from unproductive time spent searching for information and validating the veracity of content, and instead spend their time on their unique competencies and "customer facing" activities, they become vastly more effective and productive.

SKN Value Prop: Workers are most productive and effective when they have immediate access to the right information at the right time.

Strawberry Fields forever for Jean Billingham

That's Strawberry Fields, Jamaica. True, they don't have much to do with social libraries or social knowledge networks, but it is one of Jean Billingham's choice places to be -- that is when she isn't hard at work as Inmagic's Consulting Manager.

We learned more about Jean for our Meet the Team series. Check out her vital stats below, and stay tuned for our podcast with her where we find out how she entered the biz, what she does at Inmagic, and more.

I have been an employee at Inmagic for

almost 9 years.

The most interesting book I've read recently is

The Messenger, by Jan Burke.

The last movie I saw was

The Yacoubian Building.

My favorite gadget is

Krups Espresso Machine.

My secret vice is

True Blood on HBO.

My favorite social tool is

E-mail and Instant Messaging. I also find reviews and ratings on different sites (Amazon or eBay for example) very helpful.

My sports team of choice is

Don't have one.

The first song on my favorite playlist is

I don't have a playlist, but if I did, it would be "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse.

If I could be anywhere right now, I'd be

On the beach in Strawberry Fields, Jamaica.

My defining Inmagic moment:

Getting hugged by Pratt and Whitney at the SLA conference in Baltimore. Affection is better than a punch in the nose!

What digital divide?

When it comes to all things digital, generational gaps have been steadily closing. But recently, so are the gaps between digital asset management, content management, and knowledge management.

I got to thinking about this after reading Conrad De Aenlle's piece in The New York Times about the growing profession of digital archivists. With this career path emerging, it seems there is a blurring of the lines, or perhaps a convergence of function, surrounding roles that involve digital asset management, content management, and knowledge management.

As Jacob Nadal states in the article, "'If you want to work in a library, you have to deal in electronic resources.'"

And I think that's true in reverse as well. If you want to work with electronic resources, chances are you’ll be involved in some kind of library function -- be it cataloging, archiving, preserving, or disseminating those resources.

It's encouraging to see a field that is doing well these days. The broad scope of digital assets in both the public and private sectors is sure to increase its reach into other organizational areas as more content goes online and requires mediation and management.

Information Today shares news of our SKN cost justification series

I subscribe to the Weekly News Digest e-mail from Information Today, and I found a nice little surprise in this morning's edition. The editors included news of our How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs series in their NewsBreaks round up. Great to see the interest! Thanks for mentioning us!

Building the business case for social knowledge networks

The fact that times are tough is not news to anyone these days. From the boardroom to the mailroom, people from all walks of life are impacted by current conditions. Specifically, CIOs and other information professionals must make difficult choices about spending priorities.

In most cases, the only projects that get consideration are those that affect the top line (or revenues), directly reduce costs and improve organizational efficiencies, or address risk management.

In Gartner's Information Management Survey, published in March 2008, CIOs and information professionals identified their top three decision factors when considering IT spending in reduced budgetary environments:

1. Improving operational efficiency
2. More effective information sharing/collaboration
3. Cost reduction

Because Inmagic works hand-in-hand with social champions in a variety of industries to help shape and guide their social strategy, we thought we'd share our experience to help you showcase the benefits of socializing enterprise content to upper management.

And so, we bring you a nine-part series: How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs. Our article line-up will go like this:

Part 1: Increase productivity by socializing more. How this counter-intuitive thinking can make workers more effective.

Part 2: Socialize for savings. Examining the ROI of implementing social knowledge networks.

Part 3: When good organizations use bad content. The importance of weeding out poor-quality content to reduce operational costs.

Part 4: The community will set you free. How tapping community wisdom speeds knowledge discovery.

Part 5: Losing the man, not the manpower. Using SKNs to keep knowledge retention and productivity levels high when weathering workforce shortages.

Part 6: Productivity is power. A deeper ROI analysis, based on productivity gains.

Part 7: Dude, where's my data? SKNs can consolidate and organize it all in one place.

Part 8: Knowledge, a more perfect union. Centralizing knowledge is one for all, and all for one.

Part 9: The SKN evangelist's checklist. The most important points to make when advocating SKNs.

Now that '09 is upon us, we all have to batten down the hatches and hang on to our hats. But it's also time to look closely at processes and areas that cost-effectively improve the bottom line. Those that proactively streamline efficiencies and make improvements with a solid ROI will prevail when we see this storm pass.

In this series, you'll see how the unique implementation of social technologies with a knowledge management solution can result in measurable cost reductions, increased operational efficiencies, and improved collaboration. Watch for our first installment next week.

Further evidence of librarians' shifting role

We're not the only ones saying the role of the librarian is shifting. We've featured several thought leaders on the blog who are also seeing this trend. And the latest evidence we've come across is this piece in KMWorld by Art Murray and Ken Wheaton.

Art and Ken are seeing the rise of the "knowledge librarian." For traditional corporate librarians to take on this new position, they must shift into three new roles: being a "content czar," understanding the strategic information needed by the organization, and leading new community-focused KM initiatives.

We think this is spot-on with what we're seeing in the marketplace. As I wrote in my comment, librarians are ideally suited for taking organizations into the new KM era. They stand to transform libraries from cost centers to productivity centers by leveraging both content and engaging the user community.

Social libraries hitting a sweet spot

We had another successful webinar the other week, with 230 people registering for "The Social Library -- Beyond the Traditional OPEC" presentation. The concept of socializing special libraries appears to be on the radar of a growing number of info pros. Thank you to all who attended!

We had a lot of active participation during the Q&A session too. Some great questions were raised, and we thought they would be of interest to people who couldn't make the webinar. We covered primary areas of implementing social libraries, such as budget considerations, getting executive buy-in, and understanding how other technologies compare to Presto for Social Libraries.

We'll be posting these questions and answers over the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled!

Watch where you step, info pros

I recently penned an article for Information Outlook about social libraries, and the steps to take (and not to take) to get there. It appeared in the magazine's December 08 issue, but in case you missed it, Information Outlook was generous to allow us to post a PDF of the article here on the blog. Thank you!

In the piece, titled "Social Libraries: The Next Generation of Knowledge Management," I flesh out many of the points I made throughout our Road to Social Knowledge Networks series, and apply them to a special library environment.

Point your mouse to the article to read about the “five missteps to a social library,” the librarian’s new and more important role in social library management, and some other trend analysis in this space.

A thought on KM's omnipresence

Is knowledge management a business saver, or business buster? That's the questions Lucas McDonnell ponders in this piece on his blog. (It's also on Social Computing Magazine.) From his perspective, the answer seems to boil down to this: KM isn't for everyone. But when used properly, companies can achieve the gains desired.

Beyond this, I was also intrigued by this remark: "Knowledge management also rarely sits in the same place in any two organizations."

As you can read in my comment, I think that speaks to KM's omnipresence. Ask someone what knowledge management is, and you'll get a certain answer. Ask the same question to another person, and you'll probably get a different response.

Why? Because knowledge management can be anything to anyone. It can be used by a broad range of people in an organization, and in different ways. As such, I think improvements to KM have the unique ability to make the biggest impact to a company's bottom line. Like Lucas said, however, it must be the right tool for the job.

Google as a librarian?

It seems Google does and is just about everything. Search. E-mail. Documents. Maps. Pictures. And now, it just might be the latest digital librarian. Its vehicle: Google Book Search, which allows users to search the full text of 7 million books online.

Three years ago, the Authors Guild, Association of American Publishers, and several other authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Book Search.

Although that lawsuit was settled in October, the settlement must still be approved. If it goes through, Google will gain control of digitizing of virtually all copyrighted books in America.

This recent New York Times article by Noam Cohen lays out the current situation. According to the article, it seems Google is trying to wield its power to determine "who gets access to [those] books; how access will be [sold and] attained."

This is a very interesting crossroads for books, libraries, and digital content. Right now, Google has the money and the means to play librarian for a while -- something that most organizations don't.

But unlike librarians in public and special libraries, there's a question about whether we can trust Google to have our best interests at heart.

I will throw my hat in the ring on one point and disagree with Daniel J. Clancy, the engineering director for Google Book Search, who says, " … search and discovery improves with more content."

Not necessarily. In social knowledge networks, as in many other aspects of research and discovery, context is everything. And when you have relevant content, people can begin to extract the true value of the information at hand.

We do know that the road to digitalization is happening in both public and special libraries. As the patrons of this digital content, we must continue to demand fair distribution of and access to these materials as Google's role plays out.


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