It turns out that my speculations about org charts that convey much more information already has a working prototype (See my post of March 22, 2006: perk up org charts.). For IBM’s 400,000 employees software called SaNDVis “does this by showing a web of relationships around a search term to reveal who within IBM has expertise on a topic.” Employees don’t have to laboriously enter their capabilities and experience into a database, a sure show-stopper for knowledge management. Instead, the IBM software “uses writings, meetings attended, personal profile information and previous work experience to map these connections with lines showing who is closest to whom.” It compiles support from reports, internal wikis, instant messages, and communities of excellence.
The software assembles information from multiple sources – for law departments think also of time records, e-mail messages, memberships on online networks – to create a network of knowledge that it portrays visually. All this was spawned by an article in the NY Times, Dec. 20, 2010, at B3.
A large law department could deploy a software tool such as this. Eventually, tools like it will troll outside the company to add additional connections and resources such as with preferred law firms and service providers. Let search and visualization software unlock the value of disparate information. The key to knowledge management is finding the right person; this kind of software will make it much easier.