KM World/Enterprise Search Summit/SharePoint Symposium

After a number of years in the San Francisco area the KMWorld conference moved to Washington this year, and doubled the attendance over 2009. As well as KMWorld there were parallel Enterprise Search Summit, SharePoint Symposium and Taxonomy Bootcamp events. Since KMWorld had three tracks of its own the first challenge was to work out where you wanted to be, knowing that almost certainly you wanted to be in three other places at the same time. Presentations on intranets were sprinkled on to all four events. There was a buzz about the event that has been lacking in San Jose over the last few years, and the exhibition area was quite full. The Renaissance Hotel, on 9th St, Washington DC, was a disaster as regards wifi access, whether it be in the guest rooms or in the conference area. If you are planning to stay there take semaphore flags.

Fortunately the quality of the papers made up for the terrible wifi. The opening keynote was Thomas Stewart, who ran over time, spoke through his hands, and had possibly the most boring set of slides I have ever seen. The opening was passible, but then it degenerated into something quite unintelligible. On the second day Peter Morville talked about search patterns, and even though I”ve heard him speak on this subject twice before I was still fascinated by his analysis. He was followed by Major Sanchez from the US Airforce who gave one of the best papers on KM I have heard for a long time. The lack of a hairdrier cost the US Airforce $1.2B. The keynote on the final day was David Snowden, who continues to entertain and educate in equal proportion. Unfortunately he too ran over time and had to rush the end of his presentation, which contained some really interesting material.

Many individual papers were quite superb, and a few were a disaster. One speaker talked about mobile access to information for 40 minutes with no reference to the location-specific benefits of the technology. There were some good intranet papers because the StepTwo Designs Intranet Innovation Awards were presented by James Robertson, with some minimal help from myself. The Enterprise Search track suffered from too many vendor presentations, a result of the fact that they all wanted to be sponsors and so had a speaking slot. Some of the best papers were in the SharePoint Symposium, and I learned much as well as being reassured that my views on SharePoint were in line with the concensus.

There was quite a bit of twittering on #kmw10 if you want to have a look. Overall it was an excellent conference, and I made many new friends. I ran workshops on search benchmarking and on user requirements for intranets, and as always I seem to learn more from these workshops than I give. The conference will be in Washington DC next year, though at a different and as yet undisclosed hotel. Well worth adding it to your diary and budget, even if you are based outside the USA.