Intelledgement, L.L.C.

Intelligent knowledge management

Knowledge Architecture: Seer Technologies

“Intelligent knowledge management is a critical success factor for organizations that excel.”

— Gene Bedell, Seer CEO

Who is the customer?

Seer Technologies is a multi-national systems development technology and services provider. Their business is helping organizations manage complex information systems projects via a combination of development tools and consulting services. Such projects typically involve multiple platforms in scattered locations and mission-critical data processing requirements.

What needed to be done?

Seer had a panoply of sophisticated information distribution needs. The company had offices which supported sales reps and consultants in the field on five continents. Most customer service support—aside from some simple level 1 issues handled by subcontractors in EMEA and Asia-Pacific—was centralized in their US HQ, but both customers and Seer staff in the field need constant access to problem status updates. Most of their initial sales were $1MM-plus deals with long cycles that could engender custom requirements that needed the attention of management at any point. Sales staff in the field also needed current intellligence on the competition and other pertinent marketing data.

Hundreds of developers were constantly working on the product set, and providing current information on updates to customers and Seer field staff was a constant challenge. Additionally, the software development tool product set itself was quite complex—comprising as it did components on different platforms—with many options that affected each other and had pricing implications. For example, both tool users (developers) and endusers (who ran the software built by the customer’s developers) required licensed software, so the number of users affected the price significantly. Communicating these choices effectively to customers—even to Seer sales staff—was not elementary.

The company was also cognizant of the advantages of building an esprit de corps among all employees throughout the world. Even people who rarely if ever met face to face typically found themselves thrown into solving sophisticated problems together under stressful time pressure, and across multiple time zones. It was important in order to optimize both their job satisfaction and performance that, despite inevitable language and cultural differences, employees meld effectively as a team and share a common corporate identity.

Seer customers typically “bet their careers” on the capability of Seer tools and services to cope with mission critical informations systems requirements. Thus the existence of an effective communications link between customers and Seer management and among customers themselves with respect to ongoing requirements was critical to success. Typically, customers spent a lot of attention on determining what enhancements they needed. When they had an opportunity to compare notes, it helped everyone to prioritize these requirements to get the most bang out of the large but still finite capacity of the Seer developers.

Why choose Intelledgement?

“The concept of ‘intelligent knowledge management’ is very appealing,” stated Seer Technologies VP-Marketing, Gig Graham. “But the proof is in the pudding. We liked their approach well enough to ask them to put together a proposal and they came up with an ‘information broker’ and an architecture that addressed our needs, so then we went forward with the implementation, piece by piece.”

What was Intelledgment’s solution?

Intelledgment recommended a three-layer information architecture to address Seer’s knowledge management requirements:


The purpose of the architecture is to provide a structure whereby the right information can be made available for each audience, but by the same token to limit access to more sensitive information as appropriate.

The top level is intended for public information and is primarily distributed via Seer’s internet website with some electronic and paper supplements. There are sections tailored to address the needs of potential customers, investors and potential investors, media personnel, potential employees, and potential vendors. For example, the section for potential customers includes high-level information on Seer’s software and consulting product offerings, case studies organized by industry, links to more technically detailed white papers, and a “next-step” mechanism for contacting the geographically appropriate sales office.

The middle level is intended primarily for existing customers and includes both a secure extranet website (dubbed “SeerTalk”) and limited access to Seer’s helpdesk system—a hybrid Vantive and custom-built application. The extranet facilities include a series of topical message boards which customers can use to pose questions, share techniques, and discuss possible product enhancements. Customers can upload small utilities and applications built with Seer*HPS tools to share with each other. The heldesk access (also available to Seer consultants working onsite at customer facilities) enables customers to track the progress of problem reports and update them with new information as appropriate.

The bottom level contains information needed by Seer employees and consists of a secure intranet website. The intranet site started out primarily as a sales and consulting field support tool, and as such offered a compendium of proprietary sales and technical information about Seer products as well as intelligence about competitive offerings, proposal templates and a library of RFP responses, contract templates, and the like. Gradually, it expanded to include development project information, message boards that served all employees world-wide, H/R information, and other more general interest information.

Another key element of the Intelledgement solution was the creation of a corporate “information broker” whose responsibility it was to coordinate between different departments to maintain and update the information archtecture as needed to keep pace with changing requirements. The information broker also recruited and managed content experts to ensure the quality of the information and reconcile inconsistencies. 

How did the solution work?

Seer Technologies became one of the first companies in the world of any size to develop three websites—intranet/extranet/internet—that featured content that was integrated by design. Thus links on the intranet site connected users seamlessly to content on the extranet and internet sites and links on the extranet site connected to the internet site (but not vice versa as the extranet and intranet sites were secure and required user IDs and passwords to access).

The public website was built first. The benefits of the company’s intricate system development toolsets and concomittant services were explained on both a business and technical level and leads generated from the website were automatically e-mailed to the appropriate sales office. Seer was also one of the first public companies to post audio replays of quarterly conference calls on their internet website, which they did themselves starting in 1996 (because back then there weren’t services to do it for you).

The intranet website was built second. Seer’s information broker was key to ensuring that content experts were recruited and that content was reviewed for accuracy and consistency with the internet site. While this integration work slowed the process of posting content, the overall accuracy of the content for both sites improved markedly. The message boards on which employees world-wide could post were also helpful in ensuring that company policies were understood with respect to anything from vacation scheduling to customer problem reporting.

When the extranet site went live, so did a whole new series of message boards targeted to key product and services related issues. Customers could post to these boards and an experienced Seer employee—usually a consultant but occasionally a developer—was assigned to monitor each board and post responses as appropriate. Not every employee had access to the extranet, but the intranet site had a set of mirror image boards on which every customer post appeared. Seer employees worldwide could discuss the customer posts discretely on the intranet message board (as the mirroring only worked one way), and when the discussion had resulted in a considered response to the customer-raised issue, the content expert—who had access to SeerTalk of course—could post it there for the customers’ benefit.

Intelledgement worked mostly with internal Seer marketing staff to effect the solution, and with outside designers engaged to produce the look-and-feel of the internet site. Seer ran their website off of Microsoft servers using Cold Fusion for content management.

Bottom line: is the customer satisfied?

“Organizations that excel often do it by finding people each with extraordinary ability in a narrow area of competence and providing a supportive environment where such people can thrive” stated CEO Gene Bedell. “Intelligent knowledge management is a critical success factor in making such a delicate balancing act work.”

“The Seer story is compelling, but complex and nuanced,” commented Creative Director Michael Bourke. “What we ended up with here is a sophisticated communications vehicle capable of reliably and effectively delivering the right messages to the right audiences, as well as a process and knowledgable people to work and maintain the information.”

And VP/Consulting Services Tom Lewis said, “Brad Hessel and his team achieved outstanding and amazing results!”



Founded in 1990 as a spinoff of First Boston with a major investment from IBM, Seer Technologies within five years grew from zero to $100MM in annual revenues and became a leading systems development tools and consulting services vendor. Seer Technologies-built systems were used to build multi-platform mission critical applications at Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, Sun Trust, Rabobank, Charles Schwab, Banca Commerciale Italiana, and Sparekassernes Datacentral among others. The company went public in 1995. In 1998, Seer Technologies was acquired by Level 8 Systems; currently successor technology to Seer*HPS is marketed by Magic Software Enterprises as “AppBuilder.”

Founded in 1999, Intelledgement, LLC is a knowledge management consulting business with extensive experience in the design and development of information collation, organization, and distribution solutions. Intelledgement has helped organizations select and implement marketing information systems, sales tracking systems, pricing configurators, employee intranets, customer extranets and much more. For more information, please visit