Enterprises are realising how important it
is to "know what they know" and be able to make maximum use of the
knowledge. This knowledge resides in many different places such as:
databases, knowledge bases, filing cabinets and peoples' heads and are
distributed right across the enterprise. All too often one part of an
enterprise repeats work of another part simply because it is impossible
to keep track of, and make use of, knowledge in other parts.
Enterprises need to know:
Most traditional company policies and controls focus on the tangible
assets of the company and leave unmanaged their important knowledge
- what their knowledge assets are;
- how to manage and make use of these
assets to get maximum return.
Success in an increasingly competitive
marketplace depends critically on the quality of knowledge which
organisations apply to their key business processes. For example the
supply chain depends on knowledge of diverse areas including raw
materials, planning, manufacturing and distribution. Likewise product
development requires knowledge of consumer requirements, new science,
new technology, marketing etc.
The challenge of deploying the knowledge
assets of an organisation to create competitive advantage becomes more
- The marketplace is increasingly
competitive and the rate of innovation is rising, so that knowledge
must evolve and be assimilated at an ever faster rate.
- Corporations are organising their
businesses to be focused on creating customer value. Staff functions
are being reduced as are management structures. There is a need to
replace the informal knowledge management of the staff function with
formal methods in customer aligned business processes.
- Competitive pressures are reducing the
size of the workforce which holds this knowledge.
- Knowledge takes time to experience and
acquire. Employees have less and less time for this.
- There are trends for employees to retire
earlier and for increasing mobility, leading to loss of knowledge.
- There is a need to manage increasing
complexity as small operating companies a re trans-national sourcing
A change in strategic direction may result in the loss of knowledge in
a specific area. A subsequent reversal in policy may then lead to a
renewed requirement for this knowledge, but the employees with that
knowledge may no longer be there.
Knowledge assets are the knowledge
regarding markets, products, technologies and organisations, that a
business owns or needs to own and which enable its business processes
to generate profits, add value, etc.
Knowledge management is not only about
managing these knowledge assets but managing the processes that act
upon the assets. These processes include: developing knowledge;
preserving knowledge; using knowledge, and sharing knowledge.
Therefore, Knowledge management
involves the identification and analysis of available and required
knowledge assets and knowledge asset related processes, and the
subsequent planning and control of actions to develop both the assets
and the processes so as to fulfil organisational objectives.
There are many problems associated with
identifying these knowledge assets and being able to use them and
manage them in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Enterprises
Knowledge engineering methods and tools have come a long way towards
addressing the use of a company's knowledge assets. They provide
disciplined approaches to designing and building knowledge-based
applications. There are tools to support the capture, modelling,
validation, verification and maintenance of the knowledge in these
applications. However these tools do not extend to supporting the
processes for managing knowledge at all levels within the organisation.
- to have an enterprise-wide vocabulary to
ensure that the knowledge is correctly understood;
- to be able to identify, model and
explicitly represent their knowledge;
- to share and re-use their knowledge among
differing applications for various types of users; this implies being
able to share existing knowledge sources and also future ones;
- to create a culture that encourages
At the strategic level the organisation
needs to be able to analyse and plan its business in terms of the
knowledge it currently has and the knowledge it needs for future
business processes. At the tactical level the organisation is concerned
with identifying and formalising existing knowledge, acquiring new
knowledge for future use, archiving it in organisational memories and
creating systems that enable effective and efficient application of the
knowledge within the organisation. At the operational level knowledge
is used in everyday practice by professional personnel who need access
to the right knowledge, at the right time, in the right location.
The knowledge management framework we use
was originally based on work by van der Spek and de Hoog. It covers
- identifying what knowledge assets a
- Where is the knowledge asset?
- What does it contain?
- What is its use?
- What form is it in?
- How accessible is it?
- analysing how the knowledge can add value
- What are the opportunities for using
the knowledge asset?
- What would be the effect of its use?
- What are the current obstacles to its
- What would be its increased value to
- specifying what actions are necessary to
achieve better usability & added value
- How to plan the actions to use the
- How to enact actions?
- How to monitor actions?
- reviewing the use of the knowledge to
ensure added value
- Did the use of it produce the desired
- How can the knowledge asset be
maintained for this use?
- Did the use create new opportunities?
We believe that the knowledge modelling
techniques that exist to support the use of the knowledge, along with
traditional business management techniques, provide a starting point to
manage the knowledge assets within a company. Therefore the the
techniques we employ for managing knowledge within the organisation are
drawn from these two distinct areas:
Our recommended approach is a multi-perspective modelling
approach. Several models need to be developed, each of which
represents a different perspective on the organisation which can be
characterised as “How, What, Who, Where, When and Why”
- the techniques that have been used
previously from business management, for example, SWOT (Strengths
Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis, balanced scorecards,
modelling languages such as: IDEF (Process Flow and Object State
Description Capture Method) and RADs (Role Activity Diagrams);
- the knowledge techniques that have been
used previously for the disciplined development of knowledge-based
- How the organisation carries out its
business - modelling the business processes
- What the processes manipulate - modelling
- Who carries out the processes - modelling
capabilities, roles and authority
- Where a process is carried out -
modelling of the communication between agents
- When a process is carried out - this
specifies the control over processes
Knowledge Asset Road Maps highlight the
critical knowledge assets required by an organisation to meet market
needs five to ten years in the future. They are mechanisms enabling
organisations to visualise their critical knowledge assets, the
relationships between these and the skills, competencies and
technologies required to meet future market demands. They allow:
The Road Map is a living document regularly updated and serves as a
framework for the monitoring of the knowledge management programme. The
document reflects the current state of the interrelationships between
work in progress and proposed for the future and the overall milestones
and aims of the programme.
- individual knowledge management actions
to be defined and justified in terms of their contribution to the
- effective communication of the work and
progress on the programme to the participants and observers.
- management aids for those involved in
carrying out the programme and measuring its progress.
- more effective communication between
users, researchers, technicians, managers and directors involved in the
various aspects of the programme.
- sensible decisions to be taken on the
opportunities for further exploiting the results of the programme.
- the identification of knowledge gaps that
need to be filled.
AIAI is concerned with how specific aspects of AI, namely modelling,
ontologies and planning techniques can support knowledge management.
These techniques allow an integrated support framework to be developed
for knowledge management based on adaptive workflow techniques. AIAI
projects worth noting in the context of knowledge management are the
Bid Manager developed during the Enterprise project, a skills
management system described in the publications below, and the AKT