Thursday, August 20, 2009

Software Choices for the Information Manager

Does the image above overwhelm you? Well, the choice of software for the Information manager can indeed be overwhelming.

The collage contains a selection of software apps that are IMO worth the investigation. They are important enough to be termed the leading pack of the mind, visual and knowledge management software arena. Simply Google the names in the collage and you’ll get more info.

If you’re a consultant who uses and infuses graphical tools to enhance your client’s business environments: you’ll then certainly understand the positioning of the products expressed within the collage. I use most of the products mentioned in the collage, so this may give you an understanding of the need of the consultant to be informed of the leading software applications for their Mind, Visual and Knowledge mapping clients.

I believe we have to categorize the products to inform of their capabilities. The following is certainly not prescriptive, and is merely my professional opinion based on my knowledge of the products within the collage.
In my experience, there are three software categories that correspond with the type of user:

1. Mind mapping: traditional Buzan type mappers who express maps using the laws of Buzan mapping. The genesis of personal productivity is realized within this category. This is the natural introduction for many users, and I certainly recognize; we wouldn’t be where we are today, if it were not for Tony Buzan formalizing Mind mapping.

2. Visual mapping: Information managers who have moved beyond Buzan Mind mapping. They understand Visual mapping includes, but is not limited to; Mind, Concept, Flow and argument mapping and other graphical tools. This is where Data management is effectively expressed.

3. Knowledge mapping: The evolution of the Visual mapper is expressed within the tools and techniques used, enveloped within a mindset that infuses process and systems thinking. The Knowledge mapper understands the Data, Information, knowledge processes that are integral within system. Database capabilities are the focus of the knowledge mapper.

Some products and users belong to one or all of the three categories above.
Careful consideration should be taken when choosing the software that may best suit your environment of use and expected outcomes.

As a consultant to Academia and corporate business, I am often called upon to give my professional opinion regarding the best software products available to date. The collage contains what I firmly believe to be the most relevant software products available to date that shall impact your personal, academic and business arenas.

Most of the applications are desktop PC and Mac oriented, while a growing number of recent newcomers are now offering corresponding editions that capitalize on the exponential growth of web 2.0 (Cloud computing). This arena is worth the investigation if you are indifferent to information security issues. Desktop computing however shall be IMO, the most secure and preferred medium for the Visual/knowledge mapping arena.

Some are clones of the leader (Mindjet), while a couple of applications should be scaring the leader. MindGenius has always been my preferred software for information management, yet Matchware MindView is IMO, a leader in the making.

Not to forget the excellent ConceptDraw Mind map, the extremely flexible Mindmapper and of course the very powerful Visual Mind. NovaMind and also Buzan's iMindMap are excellent Mind mapping products too. All of the products you view in the collage are excellent software products that can be adopted into your personal, academic and professional business environments with relative ease.

One product to keep an eye on is DropMind; they have successfully released their desktop and web edition in sync, in fact both editions effectively synchronize with each other. DropMind while harvesting the look and feel of Mindjet Mind manager, have pulled off an extremely affordable software product for the masses.

Another new and extremely interesting arena has been developed and introduced recently, and it’s called “Method Neutral”. The developer is MindSystems and their software product is called “Amode”, a very powerful knowledge management product offering a most stable information database, process and project management environment.

If at all the knowledge mapper wishes to apply heavy duty database functions to their environment, The Personal Brain and TopicScape lead the user into multi dimensional knowledge mapping.

Last but not least, I can't miss out Xmind, users have an amazingly user friendly product that packs a big information management punch.

The forward thinking Information Manager of this century realizes the importance of graphical communication formats, that enable a whole brained and flexible approach to business management.

Wallace Tait (Visualmapper)


Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D said...

Hi Wallace

Well done and great way to think about the various mind mapping programs. We are certainty very fortunate to have so many wonderful programs in the this market space.


Alex said...

This is an excellent example of the type of realistic categorization that should be applied, when assessing the value of the myriad of visual management software applications out there.

My company, Mindsystems, has been in the market for over 15 years as a genuine solution provider. We bundle and offer many of these applications, because they are great software. In plainer terms it means we (as business owners and users ourselves) recognise that all of these applications handle their respective areas excellently, but no single application does it all. There are, however, a great many functional overlaps. The ideal knowledge workers arsenal would consist of a variety of these applications that would be used without bias toward a particular method, but instead a bias toward the quality of the result.

It is articles such as these that help users clearly define and understand the conceptual and real world differences available. Thanks Wallace. Alex – Mindsystems.

Kyle McFarlin said...


Okay, that was heavy duty reading for a Friday that feels lazy. Nevertheless, it was good reading so I harbor no grudge.

Looks like people better measure twice and cut once before selecting a piece of software and throwing a ton into it because they may come along later and find they picked wrong.

Decisions decisions. Now what kind of tool could help me with making a decision ;)?