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KPMG shares data in a new world

Accounting and consulting firm KPMG launches its global knowledge management system in an effort to strengthen the way its employees conduct business worldwide.

Accounting and consulting firm KPMG International today launched its global knowledge management system in an effort to strengthen the way its employees conduct business worldwide.

New York-based KPMG said in a statement that its new computer system, dubbed KWorld, is a Web-based knowledge management system that will help the way KPMG employees serve their clients by having the ability to share business data on a global scale.

The firm said that it's committed to spending approximately $100 million on knowledge management software applications and integrating its computer systems.

The company's intranet currently serves about 40,000 users. KPMG said KWorld is being rolled out next month to four of its largest national practices--the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. Soon after, KWorld will be deployed in Canada, Australia, Sweden, and Switzerland, followed by all remaining KPMG practices, the firm said.

"Our international executive team acknowledged last year that we needed to create a single, dynamic, and universally accessible knowledge environment," KPMG international chief executive Paul Reilly said in a statement.

The KWorld project is partly in response to some complaints made by KPMG partners and employees who have, in the past, said it was difficult serving multinational clients using nonintegrated computer systems. Last month, top partners at KPMG Canada threatened to defect to competitor Arthur Andersen, the The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The KWorld project started in March 1998 and the challenge was to give us a whole new KPMG network that also has knowledge management capabilities," KPMG chief information officer Chas White told CNET News.com.

White said that the KWorld system is more than just a KPMG company intranet for employees. He offered the example of KWorld's client collaboration application K-client, which is capable of real-time business presentations conducted over the Internet.

In addition, creating KWorld, built on Microsoft software and applications, has given KPMG the ability to assist their clients in developing and implementing their own knowledge management system based on Microsoft's Exchange server and other applications, the firm said.

A KPMG employee can use the site to access messaging and email systems, retrieve KPMG news, both local and global, as well as receive current news feeds from outside sources and compare them to KPMG documents, said White. He also said that employees can customize their content.

Separately, the firm also announced today that Massachusetts-based NewsEdge will deliver global news services, including global and multi-language content through KWorld. NewsEdge provides a combination of customized content, editorial capabilities, client support, and consulting services.