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Knowledge Management, Collaboration & Content


What is Knowledge Management?

Unfortunately, there's no universal definition of KM, just as there's no agreement as to what constitutes knowledge in the first place. For this reason, it's best to think of KM in the broadest context. Succinctly put, KM is the process through KM 1which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Most often, generating value from such assets involves sharing them among employees, departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices. It's important to note that the definition says nothing about technology; while KM is often facilitated by IT, technology by itself is not KM.


Specialists in KM meet

Paul Ormonde-James KM conferenceA number of Knowledge Management specialists met in Annapolis the 11th and 12th June to discuss the concepts of Communities of practice. This concept is becoming very popular with international organisations that need to connect staff with broad skills in geographically diverse business areas. The ability to define the scope and boundaries of a community was a key discussion point for the group and saw debate on the process and methodology to support the effort.

Paul Ormonde-james, a specialist in Buisness intelligence and Knowledge management stated “Communities of practice are now enabling people to participate and learn without actually knowing the individuals. Both active and passive participation still shares valuable knowledge from the field which is invaluable. Too many organisations are HQ centric, when the value is in the field”. When asked if technology can deliver the solution he stated “ Technology is only an enabler. If multinationals expect the solution is a platform, they will be disappointed. It takes champions of change and a structured strategy with tactics that build maturity. It is a journey over years”

The many participants also gave specific examples from their experience in the formation and delivery of the Cof P concept. All agreed they had gained greater insight and understanding of the journey forward.


History of Knowledge Management

KM efforts have a long history, to include on-the-job discussions, formal apprenticeship, discussion forums, corporate libraries, professional training and mentoring programs. More recently, with increased use of computers in the second half of the 20th century, specific adaptations of technologies such as knowledge bases, expert systems, knowledge repositories, group decision support systems, intranets, and computer supported cooperative work have been introduced to further enhance such efforts.[1]

In 1999, the term personal knowledge management was introduced which refers to the management of knowledge at the individual level (Wright 2005).

In terms of the enterprise, early collections of case studies recognized the importance of knowledge management dimensions of strategy, process, and measurement (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002). Key lessons learned included: people, and the cultures that influence their behaviors, are the single most critical resource for successful knowledge creation, dissemination, and application; cognitive, social, and organizational learning processes are essential to the success of a knowledge management strategy; and measurement, benchmarking, and incentives are essential to accelerate the learning process and to drive cultural change. In short, knowledge management programs can yield impressive benefits to individuals and organizations if they are purposeful, concrete, and action-oriented.

More recently with the advent of the Web 2.0, the concept of knowledge management has evolved towards a vision more based on people participation and emergence. This line of evolution is termed Enterprise 2.0 (McAfee 2006). However, there is an ongoing debate and discussions (Lakhani & McAfee 2007) as to whether Enterprise 2.0 is just a fad that does not bring anything new or useful or whether it is, indeed, the future of knowledge management (Davenport 2008).

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