You might be asking how we go about selecting products we consider to be “trend-setting” out of the sometimes dozens of individual offerings from the roughly 300 vendors we consider to be in our “space”—combined, nearly 1,500 products were considered this year. I wish I could tell you that since we first started this list four years ago, we’ve been refining an elaborate, proprietary algorithm identifying key market indicators, economic forecasts and user behavior that has been drawn from sophisticated blog and Wiki analysis, as well as selective monitoring of e-mail and phone conversations around the world. I wish I could say that we feed this data into the KMWorld quantum computer and voila!, out pops the list.
If that were the case, things would be a lot easier–especially for me, but also for the entire, informal panel of colleagues and analysts, who gather information from vendors themselves and, especially, their customers. It is precisely that group that distinguishes the 2006 list, because, after all, customers are the most important participants of any trend. Despite the brilliant components of these offerings, they are, with a few exceptions, evolutionary, not revolutionary. Gone are the days when software developers find market success simply by introducing products because they are capable of doing so. Those companies–and their products–are long gone. For the past couple of years I’ve been hearing vendors say that input from customers has prompted changes to their products. I admit to being pretty skeptical early on, believing they were merely empty words from “marketeers.” So for the past 12 months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to verify those assertions. And for the companies on this list, anyway, the claims are true. Customers, by definition, define the market, and today, more than ever before, they are driving product development because they often deploy the tools in a manner unanticipated by the developers themselves.
We believe the products listed here represent some of the very best thinking about, and development of, solutions for nearly every vertical industry and every organization, public or private. Compilation of the list is an ongoing project, so we want to hear directly from vendors and their customer (not PR people, please) about products we may have missed that deserve consideration—please direct your comments to me. I can’t reply to all, but all will receive genuine consideration. We take this stuff seriously.
You’ll obviously note that some of the products have appeared on the list before—sometimes the market needs a little nudge. Nevertheless, the products and their developers share a focus on addressing customer needs. It’s always good to know that customers at every level of the value chain are the true benefactors of knowledge management. The way life should be.