Position Paper on
Knowledge Asset Management
Enterprises are realising how important it is to ``know what
they know'' and be able to make maximum use of the knowledge. This is
their corporate knowledge asset. These knowledge assets reside
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:
- what their corporate knowledge assets are;
- how to manage and make use of these assets to get maximum return.
Most traditional company policies and controls focus on the tangible
assets of the company and leave unmanaged their important knowledge assets.
Definition of Knowledge Management
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.
Knowledge management involves the identification and analysis of
available and required knowledge, and the subsequent planning and control of
actions to develop knowledge assets so as to fulfil organisational objectives.
Why is Knowledge Management Important
The success of businesses in the 1990's in an increasingly competitive
marketplace depends critically on the quality of knowledge which those
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 crucial as:
The marketplace is increasingly competitive and the rate of innovation is
rising, so that knowledge must evolve and be assimilated at an ever faster
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 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 operations.
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.
Why is Knowledge Management Difficult
There are many problems associated
with finding out these knowledge assets and being able to use them in
an efficient and cost-effective manner.
- to have an enterprise-wide vocabulary to ensure that the knowledge is
- 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.
Knowledge engineering methods and tools have come
a long way towards addressing the USE of a company's knowledge assets,
disciplined approaches to designing and building knowledge-based applications.
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 corporate knowledge.
However, we believe that the knowledge modelling techniques that exist to
support the use of the knowledge,
traditional physical assets management techniques, provide a starting
point to manage fully the knowledge assets within a company.
How to Manage Knowledge
Karl Wiig described three "pillars" for knowledge management:
survey and categorise knowledge; appraise and evaluate value of knowledge; and
synthesise knowledge related activities.
Recent work from the University of
Amsterdam (Robert van der Speck and Robert de Hoog) increased this to four,
focusing on the activities of conceptualising, reflecting, specifying and
Knowledge management covers the following:
- identifying what knowledge assets a company possesses
- 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 use?
- What would be its increased value to the company?
- specifying what actions are necessary to achieve better usability &
- How to plan the actions to use the knowledge asset?
- 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 added value?
- How can the knowledge asset be maintained for this use?
- Did the use create new opportunities?
Other Information and Contacts
Some useful/interesting knowledge management links can be found
AIAI Home Page