Knowledge Management Systems
TABLE OF CONTENT
TABLE OF CONTENT ii
WHAT IS A KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 1
WHY USE IT2
SAMPLE PRODUCT 3
WINCITE 5.0 3
INTRASPECT 1.5 4
BACKWEB 4.0 5
In today's information based society, knowledge is power. By knowing their
customers a business will have the ability to build products coveted by their customers.
If a company is to get ahead in business today, they need to have a firm grasp on how to
get the best production out of their employees. One way to help employees be all they
can be is to provide them with the tools necessary to do their job. With the explosion of
the service industry, today more than ever what employees need to do their job is
information. Information about warehouse and store inventories, hot and cold selling
merchandise and most importantly information about the customers they service.
Software developers have heeded the call of the corporate leaders and are creating
technology to help managers collect the data they need and put it in a useful form. This
paper will discuss the emerging knowledge management systems being used today, in an
attempt to take advantage of the enormous databases which have been created.
WHAT IS A KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Knowledge management is at various stages of development in American
businesses. Some companies are just taking their first steps toward identifying and
organizing the components of their information systems. Others have already recruited
knowledge managers and are looking to revamp and improve established system. The
tools a majority of these companies are using in the renovation efforts are knowledge
A knowledge management system is a software tool that is intended to assist,
through knowledge processing functions, users who desire to retrieve and manipulate
information for different applications. The various tools of such a framework should help
users to originate and organize ideas or understand and communicate ideas more easily
and accurately than can be done with most current tools. A knowledge management
systems is an integrated multifunctional system that can support all main knowledge
management and knowledge processing activities.
Knowledge management systems are difficult to understand because the business
processes it strives to computerize doesn't exist in the real world for most organizations.
Unlike replacing a machine such as a typewriter or an office procedure such as document
control, businesses have been trying unsuccessfully throughout the 20th century to make
knowledge management a reality. Excluding those companies whose entire business is
knowledge management, there's no obvious, proven model to follow. However,
knowledge management can be described by stepping back from technologies and
products and taking a high-level view of the business issues before jumping into
A Knowledge management system is a program that provides companies the ability
to gather its collective expertise. Valued at $1.5 billion in 1996 and slated to increase to
$5 billion annually by 2000, the development of knowledge management systems is big
business. The appeal of knowledge management reaches all types of firms, including
automakers and consulting firms. With the decentralization of many businesses the focus
on knowledge management has increased. Many of today's managers fear that corporate
knowledge is being wasted because no one knows what vast knowledge exists.
Knowledge Management software helps support its users in their efforts to collect
information, to organize it, to collaborate around it, thus allowing a means to search and
discover knowledge contained in the group memory, so that it can be reapplied or
extended, and reused. It does this by using a server to capture information from various
electronic information sources This allows individuals and groups to capture information,
together with its context, into the group memory from which it can be accessed from the
user's desktop and across the enterprise.
A knowledge management systems are composed of a variety of technologies
including; intranets, data warehousing, decision-support tools, and groupware to name a
few. About half of the companies recently surveyed by Delphi Consulting are creating
systems which intranet technology to improve their knowledge management, while
another 25 percent plan to do so in the near future. Similarly, one-third of developers
surveyed by Delphi are creating data warehouses, while nearly 25 percent plan in
progress to incorporate data warehouses. Also, one-third are implementing
decision-support tools, while 20 percent plan to.
Why Use It
The issue of handling the difficulties of managing information is one which any
company trying to advance in this age of information will have to deal with. Collecting
and organizing information just to do your own job can be monumental burden. While the
process of gathering information can be a great challenge for some organizations. The
enormous growth of information sources makes it even more difficult now for companies
to find the information they need, and once found there's no easy way to capture and
organize it into a business solution and share it among workers.
The types of problems knowledge management systems are designed to solve
involve issues of knowledge acquired through experience which doesn't get reused
because it isn't shared in a formal way. Whether it's how to avoid duplicating errors, to
improve the distribution of proven best practices, or simply to harness what employees
have learned about suppliers, customers, or competitors, knowledge management
systems employ a concept under which information is turned into actionable knowledge
and made available effortlessly in a usable form to the people who can apply it.
Knowledge management is a way of doing business. The software is used to facilitate the
practice of knowledge management or at least specific facets of it, with the appropriate
use of technology.
Knowledge management systems offer a flexible, user-driven approach to
organizing data in a way that makes it more useful to the company using it. New
methods for organizing cabinets, folders, discussions, can be easily created and placed in
the information hierarchy, along with the other documents, Web pages, e-mail messages,
comments or resources to which the folder is linked. Automatic full-text indexing creates
information linkages and tracks the "who, what, when, where and why," preserving
information for its users.
Knowledge management systems allow users to easily collaborate with each other
across time and distance, discussing common tasks or interests contained in the group
memory. Easily created, threaded discussions and comments, together with shared
access, allows for users to focus on the tasks at hand. The collaborative interactions and
the information sources of interest are automatically captured and preserved within the
context of the task. Notifications from subscription agents update users of relevant
changes to information important to themselves and/or the organization.
Even though some organizations have successfully developed software that work
for their single vertical market, no one has successfully created a reproducible system
that others can follow with a reasonable chance of success. The knowledge management
packages they use have been limited to use in departmental areas such as the help desk.
But the ultimate goal management system developers isn't to creating a departmental
island of success recycling. It's giving the companies the capacity to be more effective
with the gathering of institutional information and memory the way human beings have the
capacity to become more effective and mature every day with the accumulation of
thoughts and memories.
The goal of knowledge management systems is center on gaining the ability to tap
into employee knowledge and to gather data located in numerous databases located
throughout the world. The main objective is develop a system that will allow a company
to utilize the vast amounts of data collected in order the company stay ahead of
competitors. Knowledge management systems are composed of numerous
technologies, including decision support tools, data warehousing tools and intranets.
Of the knowledge management systems software in use, Wincite Systems' Wincite
5.0 is one of the most mature product. Developed over 10 years ago Wincite's product
is designed to manage a shared repository of structured data and deliver it in forms that
simplify data analysis. The package uses a group model allowing users to add notes with
new updates or other information.
Wincite is designed to manage a shared large collection of structured data and
deliver it in forms that easy to analysis and work. Wincite accomplishes this by using a
group model, where putting content into the knowledge base is the work of one or a
handful of managers, but users can suggest additions. Wincite users can add notes with
proposed updates or new information. The manager responsible for maintaining the
knowledge can easily see these notes and incorporate all or part of them. While this
model will be sensible for many organizations, the system's two-tier architecture makes it
difficult to break out of the model and create a universal full-client deployment approach.
Intraspect Software Inc.'s offers one of the best designs for
knowledge-management applications. Intraspect Software's Intraspect 1.5 is designed
for knowledge-management applications. This package develops a group memory by
gathering data in maps customized to each end users and communicated through
networked files, an intranet or e-mail.
The program's design presumes the majority of the people employing the system
are those who will both contribute to the group memory and consume information. It also
assumes that knowledge is based on the information made actionable by having an
appropriate context. The system's peer-to-peer model grants wide authority to
contribute and inform. The benefit of this approach are in it's ability to increase the
likelihood that an organization will collect more useful information and the decrease in
costs spent on collecting information that doesn't meet the needs of its users.
DataChannel's ChannelManager 2.0, currently in beta, is a utility suite designed to
gather content and data from internal and external sources. The product utilizes push
technology to get the data to the users. Created with the assumption that the traditional
executive information system provided too little, too late for too much money, and that
overloaded Webmasters couldn't compete with their existing schedule constrains,
DataChannel Inc. designed this tool set around two major ideas.
DataChannel's product presumes that users should not have to be responsible for
converting documents to HTML in order to be shared, thus saving lag time.
Secondly it presumes that all files to be shared, internal to the intranet or file system,
or external over the Internet, should share a common location description. In this case,
each has a URL, even if they're on the file system.
The goal of the ChannelManager 2.0 is not to store information in a central
repository for record-keeping or historical use, but to turn available sources into unique
channels and distribute information in a timely and efficient manner to users who need it.
BackWeb Technologies' BackWeb 4.0 main area of strength is its to push
channels of information to a wide range of desktop users. In its simplest form BackWeb
is a set of tools designed to gather information from any source, Internet news feeds,
internal users, the network file system, or customer surveys and broadcast it to the users
who need it. BackWeb uses "push" channel technology as the mechanism to deliver
emergent information in any file format. The goal of the product is to turn available
sources into channels and disseminate information on a timely basis to users who need it,
as opposed to storing information in a central repository for record keeping.
BackWeb incorporates a hierarchical delivery system. User access is controlled by
a group of managers and administrators. An administrator gathers channels for specific
users or workgroups and creates a prepackaged profile of channels for their use. After
this has been accomplished the administrator publishes these to the target users, creating
a program users execute on their local machines, although once installed, changes made
to the workgroup by the administrator are automatically reflected in each user's client
software. BackWeb comes with over 500 preconfigured channels including Internet
on-line journals and news feeds.
In this age of service driven industries, a companies most vital resource, in addition
to their employees, is the information they gather in an effort to do their job and in an
effort to make their companies successful. Once a company has located the required
information, they need a way to pull it out of various information repositories. Once they
have all the information in place, they need to have the ability to figure out how to retrieve
all the knowledge and discover relationships among various information they have
collected. To get knowledge and not just data, managers need to employ some sort of
knowledge management systems technology. This makes a knowledge management
system in invaluable tool for companies wishing to be competitive in this information age.
____, Knowledge Equals Power, InfoWorld, Vol 19, Issue 46, 17 Nov 97: 116-9
Jeff Angus, Knowledge Management: Great Concept...But What is it, Issue 673, 16
Mar 98: 58
Justin Hibbard, Knowing What We Know, Information Week, Issue 653, 20 Oct 97:
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