El.pub Analytic Issue Number 9
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|Introduction | KM development | KM in practice | Implications for RTD - measurement and focus | Implications for RTD - technology | Conclusion | Comment on this issue | Annex: Knowledge management|
In Analytic 8 we promised to produce a series of notes on RTD perspectives for different aspects of digital content. The first of these is on knowledge management.
Knowledge management is rather a buzz-phrase at present and for those who would like a better idea of what we are talking about in this note there are a set of quotes and links from leading experts on what knowledge management is, different types of knowledge, knowledge management systems and technologies, in an Annex on Knowledge management.
Much of the prominent R&D in KM is at present directed at AI based tools for individual knowledge workers. We will argue that while this is necessary there are other aspects that are not being addressed fully.
The essential point from the quotes (in the annex) is that they are all saying essentially the same thing - KM is the next link in the chain. Since about 1990 we have been developing and introducing successively, business re-engineering, enterprise resource planning, flat-management structures, networked enterprises, etc. The reason we will have a knowledge economy is that organisations see KM as an inevitable consequence of the changes that have already taken place and the new business philosophy that is behind them.
The philosophy has been progressively applied in many different types of organisations that are not normally described as 'enterprises'. So that it is now being applied in government, education, health care, entertainment and all the other sectors that were once considered to be (at least partially) outside the commercial sector. The KM requirements in these organisations, whether commercial or non-commercial, are not homogeneous.
Many of the themes in ICT RTD programmes in the past ten years are highly relevant to the needs of KM development. Interoperability, usability, integration, HCI, content security are even more important in the KM context than they were in the IT context.
A clear message in all the views expressed by organisations that have introduced more or less successful KM systems is the need for tailoring of the applications to the specific needs of the organisation and a degree of personalisation of the system to the individuals using it.
Two more quotes:
Andrew Michuda, the chief executive of Sopheon, which provides knowledge management software and manages a network of thousands of technical experts and analysts, perfectly describes how knowledge management goes wrong: "KM hits a wall when it is generically applied. You need the richness of human interaction with the efficiencies of technology, focused on a knowledge-intensive business application. Knowledge management is much more effective if it is not a stand-alone button on somebody's PC but is integrated into a key business process."
There's no such thing as generic knowledge management, and one company's knowledge management success can rarely serve as an exact model for others. Just as each organization's business processes are unique, the specific goals and reasons for knowledge management initiatives vary from company to company.
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