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|
If KM varies from organisation to organisation and sector to sector then specific applications such as content management, digital rights management, knowledge capture, knowledge organisation and presentation, will not be satisfied with generic tools in a standard form. Rather, generic methodologies will need to be embedded in different tools supporting a variety of interfaces and styles of working. Key factors are interoperability and personalisation (whether community or individual), which translate to standards and usability.
The K-value chain involves
Acquisition > Refining > Storage > Distribution > Presentation > Use
It is clear that the process steps and their implementation will differ markedly between, for example, a newspaper publisher and a chemical research company. And will be even greater when we include organisations that include artists, police, schools and hospitals.
KM is concerned with delivering 'the right information, at the right time, to the right person, in the right way (for him or her)'.
KM is still at an early stage both in regard to technical skills and organisational change. Over the last 40 years manufacturing and some other sectors have learnt how to integrate IT for marketing, sales, supply, production, distribution, and maintenance. We have a come a long way from magnetic tapes with simple financial files to online order processing and CRM systems, and are still on the way to electronic bill payment and presentation. KM now proposes to merge into these relatively simple processes, support for the human knowledge and human knowledge makers that direct these processes from outside.
The depth of the problem may be appreciated if we reflect that 'best practice' is one important form of knowledge.
- What tools do we have to collect 'best practice'? People with clipboards and tape recorders, perhaps video recorders.
- How do we measure 'best practice'? Good question!
- How do we store 'best practice'? In papers, books and presentations.
- How do we present 'best practice'? At workshops and training sessions.
- How do we use 'best practice'? Managers listen to the presentations, talk to other managers and change work patterns, in imitation of what they have learnt (or buy in people who have been in teams using 'best practice' or employ consultants).
Not very effective, not very systematic, often not very successful.
A further KM question might be, how can we bottle and sell 'best practice'? Are patents and copyright relevant to 'best practice'? Or are they inconsistent with the very idea of 'knowledge sharing'?
RTD to support KM development needs to address these sorts of concerns.
At present one might split the KM scene into three fairly independent areas of activity.
- First there is work around the formal setting down of knowledge and its management in a legal sense. This includes the creation of patents and copyrights, and the exploitation of the IPR that is generated through licensing, publication, etc. and protection against theft and misuse.
- Second, there is the enterprise wide introduction of KM through organisational change and the introduction of new work practices. This leads on to the systematic exploitation of KM to create added-value.
- Third, there is the study and development of KM tools at the level of individuals and small groups. This covers aspects of CSCW, taxonomy / ontology, user interface design, search engines, visualisation and similar low-level tools.
In the longer term these cannot be considered separate activities, but at present different organisations (even sectors) lead in these areas. Key actors exist in each of the three areas.
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