Mobile Portals for Knowledge Management
Hans Lehmann (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Ulrich Remus (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany) and Stefan Berger (Detecon International GmbH, Germany)
Copyright: © 2009
More and more people leave their fixed working environment in order to perform their knowledgeintensive tasks at changing locations or while they are on the move. Mobile knowledge workers are often separated from their colleagues, and they have no access to up-to-date knowledge they would have in their offices. Instead, they rely on faxes and messenger services to receive materials from their home bases (Schulte, 1999). In case of time-critical data, this way of communication with their home office is insufficient. Mobile knowledge management (KM) has been introduced to overcome some of the problems knowledge workers are faced when handling knowledge in a mobile work environment (e.g., Berger, 2004; Grimm, Tazari, & Balfanz, 2002,). The main goal of mKM is to provide mobile access to knowledge management systems (KMS) and other information resources, to generate awareness between mobile and stationary workers by linking them to each other, and to realize mobile KM services that support knowledge workers in dealing with their tasks (see chapter, “A Mobile Portal for Academe: The Example of a German University” in the same book). So far, most of the off-the-shelf KMS are intended for the use on stationary desktop PCs or laptops with stable network access, and provide just simple access from mobile devices. As KMS are generally handling a huge amount of information (e.g., documents in various formats, multimedia content, etc.) the limitations of (mobile) information and communication technologies (ICTs), like mobile devices such as PDAs and mobile phones, becomes even more crucial (Hansmann, Merk, Niklous, & Stober, 2001). Mobile devices are usually not equipped with the amount of memory and computational power found in desktop computers; they often provide small displays and limited input capabilities, in comparison to wired networks, wireless networks generally have a lower bandwidth restricting the transfer of large data volumes and due to fading, lost radio coverage, or deficient capacity, wireless networks are often inaccessible for periods of time. Today, many KMS are implemented as knowledge portals, providing a single point of access to many different information and knowledge sources on the desktop together with a bundle of KM services. In order to realize mobile access to knowledge portals, portal components have to be implemented as mobile portlets. That means that they have to be adapted according to technical restrictions of mobile devices and the user’s context. This contribution identifies requirements for mobile knowledge portals. In particular, it reviews the main characteristics of mobile knowledge portals, which are considered to be the main ICT to support mobile KM. In addition, it outlines an important future issue in mobile knowledge portals: The consideration of location-based information in mobile knowledge portals.