[Note: Before I go on, let me state that in this blog post, I'm not judging Microsoft or IBM/Lotus for the effectiveness of their respective products. This post is about the positioning and promotion of their products.]
In the mid 1990s many of us thought of and promoted products (e.g. Lotus Notes) as Knowledge Management (KM) "solutions", rather than "tools".
For organizations that did not develop an underlying methodology or knowledge sharing culture, they blamed the "solutions" [read: tool] for failing to transform the organization, while other organizations that did develop a knowledge sharing and collaborative culture thrived with these same tools.
In the late 1990's, the KM and collaboration tool that was often promoted was Lotus Notes, and for good reason: companies were then and continue now to achieve dramatic rates of return on their KM and collaborative initiatives supported by Lotus Notes as a tool.
Now, in the 21st century, as I read and study about KM tools and technology, I see some very successful case studies for Lotus Notes as a knowledge sharing tool (from the 1990s) but much of what I see being touted as the "KM solution" is not Lotus Notes but Microsoft SharePoint.
I see a few problems here:
First, I think some CIO's and CTO's and CKO's may have not learned from the past - they still want to buy "solutions" rather than tools. In the field of Knowledge Management, there are no "Solutions" only successful implementations, involving, people, process, culture, and yes, tools. Yet, many companies are happy to repackage their tools as "solutions" to sell customers whatever they want to buy -- regardless of whether or not the proposed tool can ever deliver the results claimed by the "solution."
Second I think Microsoft is repeating the mistake of past vendors by representing SharePoint as a KM "Solution" when, like Lotus Notes, it's a powerful tool for information sharing but not the end-all "solution". I have no doubt that SharePoint sales will do great, but long term, I can't help but wonder if they are setting themselves (and their customers) up for disappointment.
Finally, I believe that IBM/Lotus has an opportunity to remind the KM community of the successful history of Lotus Notes as a KM support tool.
I know that many organizations are successfully using Lotus Notes and Microsoft SharePoint to support their Knowledge Management Initiatives.
I see many current write-ups about SharePoint. Can someone point me to current KM information from IBM/Lotus?