A place to share ideas, thoughts,
best practices, and questions about KM in
a government environment
Knowledge Management on the web?
April 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm #98877
How close are we to having knowledge management as a service on the web? How advanced are the delivery models, the mashups for example, are they useful in a business setting or still too much in their infancy?
One of our speakers, Michel Desbois (Dept of Agriculture), at the upcoming Knowledge Management Conference (http://events.1105govinfo.com/events/knowledge-management-conference-2010/home.aspx) raised this question, and I thought it would create an interesting discussion. I would love to hear your thoughts!
April 26, 2010 at 2:40 pm #98893
My first thought is “KM isn’t just technology,” but I suspect we are in agreement there. I think this overlaps with SaaS versus enterprise computing questions – do I set up a portal/wiki/collab site on my hardware or contract with 37Signals, Google, PBWorks, etc.?
When you mention mashups, I think of the platforms that rely on mashups (iPhone, Android), or Tim O’Reilly’s latest piece on the “Internet operating system.” I also think of connecting services – AIM, Skype, etc. The Google docs collaborative authoring tools.
I think the question is broader, and the enabling technology for KM is caught up in the swirl of services-based computing. This sounds like a cop-out, but I’m struggling to understand the question outside of the IM/IT technology trends that are written about everyday.
It may be that I am missing the meaning when you say “KM on the web.” Is there something more specific in mind – such as SNA/ONA tools, data mining tools, “facebook for the enterprise” ideas?
Apologies if this sounds like another ‘first define your terms’ response. I’m trying to be more helpful than that.
April 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm #98891
I think the question needs to be recast. If you agree that knowledge is a human process that occurs in collaboration with data/information/context/experience/wisdom. . ., then the Web is a fantastic knowledge enabler. But you can not have KM as a service.
April 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm #98889
D. Scott CobeenParticipant
Just my 10 cents…and from within the DoD environment:
IT/IM/IS is not KM…and KM is not one of them, hence KM is not a service provider to anything.
Fact is if KM is looked at and our leveraged, KM is defend by the environment/situation…KM if leveraged (Principles) can influence all others.
It’s like the weather (changes but constants)…KM principles…When it rains…the environment changes and we adjust accordingly…”Use the right principle for the right outcome” , what we wear, how we drive, if we leverage the (principles of Knowledge) we then flex properly to the environment(situation).
Or go to Wal-Mart and buy KM…It’s not a thing, so you’ll never find it…the point being how could any entity, gov or else wise say let’s have a KM…(Thing) vs. let’s be influenced by the principles there of.
When one buys Girl Scout cookies, are they really Girl Scout cookies or just cookies sold by the Girl Scouts…and NO, this is not a play on words…rather the understanding of what is the thing called KM. It is no thing, but can influence the outcome of things.
So when you all finally create that KM service, I for one want to see the KM thing… and oh by the way, yes we can call anything what we elect on any day, doesn’t make it right.
We have that problem here; at my work area…every time someone uses the letters KM in front of any one item, it is then construed/badly referred to as the KM…(Server, Portal, SharePoint Site, Content, Web site, etc.,) which means only a hand full of people owns, creates and does KM…Which is so wrong, we are all KMers, if we apply/live by the rules/KM principles then a KM affect can have occurred.
Best example I have….what is a speed limit? Is it a thing? Nope, it’s a rule…, but it does have an affect…Yes! The speed limit is KM…rules/principles that, if we follow them generally we all get along on the roads(environment) and the mass flows(us) well, but what happens when few do not follow the speed limit/rules/KM principles…….the point is this, KM is not a service.
Just my opinion…and I know some will not agree, so feel free.
April 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm #98887
Do you know of any examples? I am starting a project that is looking to develop a KM system that can serve multiple community organizations, and would be interested in looking at current examples….
April 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm #98885
As time marches on, useful things that are hard get productized so that they can be re-used with ease. In the early days of email it was a bit of a challenge to configure your “stack” so that you could get online. Now email is so productized that you hardly think about it.
Content Management, the other facets of Knowledge Management, and IT as a whole are headed in that direction. Over time the IT that we know today will become more and more of a commodity on which we can build interesting business models and functions.
However, I do not believe there is a discrete moment when we will be able to say “Now KM is a service”. Over time more and more elements of KM will become easier to implement and integrate to accomplish any particular business goal.
This would make a great topic on the weekly http://KMers.org Let me know if you are interested in moderating sometime.
May 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm #98883
Interesting discussion Megan, thanks for starting it.
Is KM a web service? No. Will KM be buoyed upward from web-based social technologies? Absolutely.
It’s really what’s at the core of the Gov2.0 and Enterprise2.0 paradigms. I see it this way. KM has long advocated “communities of practice” which, in the enterprise context, gave workers a place (f2f or using online tools) to come together & share insights, expand knowledge, and advance internal practices for a specific space/domain.
What’s happened with Web 2.0 (aka ‘social media’ or ‘new media’) is an explosion of the same phenomenon outside the firewall, in the public realm. Whether it’s still KM or CoP’s could be debated, but I take the positive view and argue that KM will be given a tremendous surge of new life, fueled by web-based, often no-cost social media tools. The ability for KM principles to be realized is now greater.
KM is a practice, not a technology, so I agree, the question needs to be fine tuned. But the thought process is important, and the implications significant.
May 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm #98881
KM should be considered an idea or a methodology, not a product. And, the purpose for implementing KM should be to allow people to get their questions answered. Notice that I didn’t say that the purpose of KM is to serve up all of the information you have so users can search through it. The best KM projects provide a way (or several) for users to easily get their questions answered so they can “self-serve”. This is true whether you are doing the project for your web users or internally for employees. And once you go to all of the effort of creating your knowledge base, why limit it to the web? Why not extend it to Mobile, SMS Txt messaging, Social Media, Kiosks, IVR, etc?
The problem with traditional KM systems is that users often don’t know how to ask for what they need. They don’t know the “right” terms to search on. That is why many of them are more comfortable talking on the phone. If they engage with a person, they can state their problem and the customer service rep will engage in dialog with the user until they have clarified what the user really needs and then the CSR will answer the question. It is very hard for KM system to do this. However, there are other tools out there like virtual experts that can help. http://www.goarmy.com/ChatWithStar.do These systems can be trained to be more interactive than search. The good ones can engage in dialog with the user much like a CSR would. This adds a third dimension to KM which makes it much more effective. In addition, you are able to keep the user data to show the questions they ask. It is almost like you are running a 24x7x365 focus group of your users. You get constant feedback on what they are really looking for and can adjust your efforts to focus on the things that are most valuable which can be a big time saver.
June 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm #98879
I think there are a number of ways that web technologies can support knowledge management. I think we have to understand and practice it a lot better before we are close to having it as “a service on the web” whatever that means.
When I think about knowledge management, I tend to think separately about explicit and tacit knowledge, as my means of managing the two can be quite different.
The web can be very good at providing systematic access to explicit knowledge. There are examples like Wikipedia (what are encyclopedias but attempts to organize and provide systematic access to humankind’s knowledge?). There are the early attempts to bring together various data sets into something like knowledge (both emerging tools like WolframAlpha and the mashups and visualizations we’re seeing out of groups like the Sunshine Foundation).
What’s harder is managing the tacit knowledge. Residing in people’s heads as opposed to being explicitly written down, it is harder to get at. Yet we are seeing that emerging web technologies are helping leverage this knowledge, too. And they are doing it in two different ways.
One is pretty straightforward. One way you can help people make use of tacit knowledge is show them where the experts are. Then they can ask their questions and help convert the knowledge from tacit to explicit. Social networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and, of course, Govloop, are great for this. People often list interests and experience in their profiles, which can be searched. In addition, there are groups that bring together people with similar interests for kowledge sharing.
The other way is, I think, a little more interesting. People’s tacit knowledge, while not written down, will nevertheless influence their actions. Analysis of the actions can often reveal the underlying knowledge and leverage it. The first (and perhaps most successful) example of this was the breakthrough that was the original Google search algorithm. Rather than look for keywords on the page to determine what the page was about and how relevant it is (explicit knowledge) the algorithm looked at behavior (who was linking to it, from where, using what link text) to get at web authors tacit knowledge of what was relevant and what wasn’t.
Increasingly, we’re seeing computer programs that assist in the analysis of user behavior (be it paths through a site, shopping patterns, social network analysis) to help make explicit the underlying tacit knowledge of the crowd.
Anyway, those are my thoughts off the top of my head.
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