I concluded on June 18 that knowledge is something of value to someone somewhere. It takes on even more meaning when we discuss Knowledge Management. I’ll address some of the questions posed by “JK” on June 23rd. Thanks JK.
From Data to Knowledge
When does data turn into knowledge? It is the IT journey that starts with the raw data, gets processed into information, and is utilized as knowledge to address challenges or problems facing us. When we talk knowledge management we are talking value and value comes in part from its relevancy to the entity using the knowledge. This means that the information must be selective and therefore useful, and it also needs to be current or of a timeframe we need. When data moves to knowledge, it becomes something that management can act upon and use in decision making.
If we look at KMS Cycle we see the following flow:
Create & Store –> Viability –> Availability
This process is on-going and resembles a living process that grows and ages. I guess we could think of our knowledge as a part of us or our organizations. We can invest in it and care for it, or neglect it. The amount of data is going to get unwieldy without KM process, and it can become out-of-date if not kept current.
Origin of Knowledge
Where does knowledge come from? In the context of our Knowledge Management topic we are likely looking at system or human generated information, and often both. JK, you mentioned research or experience, and I presume you had both in mind. Both can input into this process and both become valuable pieces of the process.
“Collective knowledge (whether or not documented) of the individuals in an organization or society. This knowledge can be used to produce wealth, multiply output of physical assets, gain competitive advantage, and/or to enhance value of other types of capital. Intellectual capital is now beginning to be classified as a true capital cost because (1) investment in (and replacement of) people tantamount to investment in machines and plants, and (2) expenses incurred in education and training (to maintain the shelf life of intellectual assets) are equivalent to depreciation costs of physical assets.” (Phoenix)
So we can see where value comes into play. Knowledge coming from either technical sources or from human experience can amount to considerable value to the organization. The question of cost vs. value is a good one. Even if we are talking knowledge coming from the experiences of employees, it can often take planning to harvest it.
Psychology of Knowledge
Not all employees will see the value in knowledge sharing and they might instead feel that knowledge they possess brings them a certain level of job stability. This is commonly known and nothing new. The challenge for competitive companies of today needing this knowledge is to find ways to bring employees on board with the proper mission and goals. Perhaps incentives, perhaps education, perhaps realization of how this benefits the company they work for will help bring motivation to the knowledge sharing process.
Accessibility – Availability – Viability
For Knowledge Management to flourish it must have not only the willing cooperation but the ability for employees to share. This means providing an easy to access collaboration system, and giving them adequate time to perform needed sharing and documentation tasks. There are risks that will always be present which the KMS can help with. There will have to be support to foster knowledge sharing, and a system put into place for efficient collaboration. As knowledge repositories grow they must be accessible and they must be kept current so they are meaningful and relevant to the needs of the organization.
Phoenix, U. o. (n.d.). Intellectual Capital. Retrieved 25 2011, June, from BusinessDictionary.Com: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/intellectual-capital.html