In this chapter, we update earlier research on the state of the art Knowledge Management (KM) tools and present key evaluation criteria that can be used by organizations to select the applications that best meet their specific KM needs. We briefly describe tools currently available in the software industry to support different aspects of knowledge management and offer a framework for understanding how these tools are clustered based on the functionality they support.
KM applications need to be designed to sustain knowledge management implementations within organizations. This includes the process of managing existing knowledge and supporting the creation of new knowledge. This process is embedded and thrives on information that is transferred from individuals to groups with a continuous transformation of information into knowledge through contextualization and knowledge-discovery. Figure 1 presents roles and actors linked to knowledge management tools in enterprises, and highlights their functions.
KM tools support the management of existing knowledge and new knowledge creation by individuals and groups by focusing on:
Management of explicit knowledge [EKM] with a specific focus on the compilation, organization, replenishment, and use of the knowledge base. Compilation and capture of knowledge include facilitating the creation and publication of information in shared areas. Organization requires structuring information based on specific taxonomies and ontology that facilitate document mapping. Replenishment and use (and re-use) can be supported by providing users with tools to add comments on how the information was used and contribute to future uses.
Knowledge discovery [KD] through the uncovering of unexploited information stored in large databases. This include text analysis and mining; knowledge extraction and automatic classification and visualization of patterns; and use of semantic mapping to link documents.
Expertise management [EM] tools to link people and facilitate knowledge exchanges within the enterprise. These tools go well beyond smoothing the progress of finding the right resources (as in employees’ directories) because they dynamically ease contacts, follow ups and communication.
Collaboration tools [COL] for the production of knowledge, coordination and communication. The knowledge production activities provide a static view of the results of team interactions and lessons learned after the exchange. The collaboration activities are more dynamic and support the definition of actors and roles, activities and tasks throughout the duration of a project. Lastly, communication areas facilitate direct exchanges among users and, therefore, are important new knowledge creation areas.