The IT industry seems to have a habit of creating a new technology, over-marketing it and then spending several years making it work. Often, by the time the technology becomes viable and offers true business benefits, it has gained such a bad reputation that vendors face an uphill battle to sell it. Either the technology then fails or a new term must be created in order to sell it. Past examples here include artificial intelligence, expert systems, computer-aided software engineering, business process reengineering and, the focus of this column, knowledge management.

I decided to write this column because at a recent conference, I commented that knowledge management is at last practical, but we may have to find a new term to market it. Several people came up to me afterward and said they agreed with me that knowledge management is now viable, but they dare not use this term in their organizations because of its past false promises. Should we, therefore, try to correct the current misconceptions about knowledge management (KM)? Or, should we invent a new term for it? If so, what is the best term to use? Regardless, how does business intelligence (BI) relate to KM, and how do we use BI and KM together for the benefit of business users? These are some of the questions I want to address here.

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