Intro to Knowledge Mangement

What Is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge Management is one of the hottest topics today in both the industry world and information research world. In our daily life, we deal with huge amount of data and information. Data and information is not knowledge until we know how to dig the value out of of it. This is the reason we need knowledge management. Unfortunately, there's no universal definition of knowledge management, just as there's no agreement as to what constitutes knowledge in the first place. We chose the following definition for knowledge management for its simplicity and broad context.


What Is Knowledge Management Related To?

Knowledge management draws from a wide range of disciplines and technologies: Although around 20 kinds of disciplines and study areas were listed above, there is no way to include all of the related subjects to knowledge management.

The History of Knowledge Management

1. 70's, A number of management theorists have contributed to the evolution of knowledge management

The Value of Knowledge Management

Some benefits of KM correlate directly to bottom-line savings, while others are more difficult to quantify. In today's information-driven economy, companies uncover the most opportunities — and ultimately derive the most value — from intellectual rather than physical assets. To get the most value from a company's intellectual assets, KM practitioners maintain that knowledge must be shared and serve as the foundation for collaboration. Yet better collaboration is not an end in itself; without an overarching business context, KM is meaningless at best and harmful at worst. Consequently, an effective KM program should help a company do one or more of the following:

These are the most prevalent examples. A creative approach to KM can result in improved efficiency, higher productivity and increased revenues in practically any business function.

Knowledge Management Today

According to a recent IDC report, knowledge management is in a state of high growth, especially among the business and legal services industries.  As the performance metrics of early adopters are documenting the substantial benefits of knowledge management, more organizations are recognizing the value of leveraging organizational knowledge.  As a result, knowledge management consulting services and technologies are in high demand, and knowledge management software is rapidly evolving.
The main drivers behind knowledge management efforts are:
The graph below shows the results of a recent IDC study in which corporations cited various objectives for knowledge management efforts:


Activities related to these objectives include: creating knowledge sharing networks that facilitate a corporate knowledge culture, developing knowledge leaders, optimizing intellectual capital by producing knowledge management solutions such as codification strategies and knowledge bases, and estimating revenue and efficiency gains resulting from knowledge management in terms of  return on investment (ROI).
Although 65% of organizations that are currently implementing KM initiatives have not measured the impact of their performance, large revenue gains and efficiency improvements have been recorded by numerous major corporations.  For instance: Ford Motor Company accelerated its concept-to-production time from 36 months to 24 months. The flow on value of this has been estimated at US $1.25 billion, The Dow Chemical Company saved $40 million a year in the re-use of patents, Chase Manhattan, one of the largest banks in the US, used Customer relationship management KM initiatives to increase its annual revenue by 15%, and Pfizer credits KM practices for discovering the hidden benefits of the Viagra drug.
 The following diagram reflects the main technologies that currently support knowledge management systems.


These technologies roughly correlate to four main stages of the KM life cycle:
  1. Knowledge is acquired or captured using intranets, extranets, groupware, web conferencing, and document management systems.

  3. An organizational memory is formed by refining, organizing, and storing knowledge using structured repositories such as data warehouses. 

  5. Knowledge is distributed through education, training programs, automated knowledge based systems, expert networks.

  7. Knowledge is Applied or leveraged for further learning and innovation via mining of the organizational memory and the application of expert systems such as decision support systems.  
All of these stages are enhanced by effective workflow and project management.
Currently, communities of practice such as the Knowledge Management Network and the development of standards and best practices are in a mature stage of development.  KM curricula such as certification, corporate training and university graduate certificate programs are on the rise. Techniques such as data mining and text mining that use KM for competitive intelligence and innovation are in the early stages of development. Finally, organizations are investing heavily in ad hoc KM software that facilitates organizational knowledge.  The chart below estimates the state of their current and future KM activities.

present and future KM activities

The Future of Knowledge Management

In the next several years ad-hoc software will develop into comprehensive, knowledge aware enterprise management systems.  KM and E-learning will converge into knowledge collaboration portals that will efficiently transfer knowledge in an interdisciplinary and cross functional environment. Information systems will evolve into artificial intelligence systems that use intelligent agents to customize and filter relevant information.  New methods and tools will be developed for KM driven E-intelligence and innovation.

The Effect of Knowledge Management on Databases

Multiple corporate databases will merge into large, integrated, multidimensional knowledge bases that are designed to support competitive intelligence and organizational memory.   These centralized knowledge repositories will optimize information collection, organization, and retrieval. They will offer knowledge enriching features that support the seamless interoperability and flow of information and knowledge. These features may include: the incorporation of video and audio clips, links to external authoritative sources, content qualifiers in the form of source or reference metadata, and annotation capabilities to capture tacit knowledge.  Content will be in the form of small reusable learning objects and associated metadata that provides contextual information to assist KM reasoning and delivery systems.  

The Implications of Knowledge Management For...


Organizations are realizing that intellectual capital or corporate knowledge is a valuable asset that can be managed as effectively as physical assets in order to improve performance.  The focus of knowledge management is connecting people, processes and technology for the purpose of leveraging corporate knowledge.  The database professionals of today are the Knowledge Managers of the future, and they  will play an integral role in making these connections possible.