J.D. Edwards Embraces Knowledge Management

Document management is increasingly becoming part of core business applications, shifting its role from workflow to that of purveyor of knowledge management. Adding Web-enablement and ERP integration extends this capability to all corners of the enterprise. That's the goal of J.D. Edwards' (JDE; Denver) in its latest alliance, which integrates technology from Open Text Corp. (Waterloo, Ontario), a Web-based document management vendor, with its OneWorld and WorldSoftware packages.

About a year ago, JDE partnered with Lava Systems Inc. (Toronto, Ontario) to build document management capabilities into its ERP software. Lava went bankrupt, however, and its product line was acquired by Open Text in January 1999. In need of a knowledge management partner and looking to protect their customer base that had already invested in Lava, JDE turned their attention to Open Text. "We got more interested when we discovered that their products centered around the Web," says Keith Hiatt, product-marketing manager for manufacturing with JDE. "Web enablement with Open Text was a bonus, something we weren't really looking for."

Through the alliance, JDE customers will be able to integrate Open Text's Livelink, a knowledge application for intranets and extranets, using middleware called Livelink Enterprise Activator. Livelink will enable JDE customers to integrate unstructured knowledge and external information into core business processes. Such data types are not usually available within enterprise business software.

Livelink Enterprise Activator searches and retrieves information directly from OneWorld and WorldSoftware and enables users to participate in business processes that may originate from outside the enterprise system. Livelink's Web ability will be particularly useful in the area of sub-manufacturing, a growing trend in the market where a company hires sub-contractors to do standard assemblies, according to Hiatt. "The Web-enabled architecture of Open Text will allow documents to be utilized by sub-contractors," he says. "Without Open Text, the only way sub-contractors could see the documents would be to mail or fax them over."

Open Text's knowledge management capabilities will be a major benefit to OneWorld and WorldSoftware customers, Hiatt adds. "Time to market is becoming a big issue in the market," he says. "Every day [a company] loses is a day they can't get back. Electronic documents speed up the time to deliver for companies."

Along with the alliance with Open Text, JDE has also formed a knowledge management partnership with FileNET (Costa Mesa, Calif.), whose products are also Web-enabled. "We don't like to have single partners, because that way our customers don't have options," says Hiatt. "If a customer wants knowledge management capabilities, we refer them to both Open Text and FileNET. From there, it's up to a customer to choose which company they want to go with."

Although many companies are still focusing on Y2K readiness, Hiatt expects knowledge management to become a major factor in the ERP market in 2000 and beyond. "More and more companies are discovering that time loss with paper is affecting them," he says. "Once Y2K problems are over I think a lot of people will start looking at knowledge management. It's one of those things companies are going to need, regardless of what ERP software they have."