Technology Trends in Knowledge Management Tools

Technology Trends in Knowledge Management Tools

Gilles Balmisse (KnowledgeConsult, France), Denis Meingan (KnowledgeConsult, France) and Katia Passerini (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-092-9.ch026
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

A large number of tools are available in the software industry to support different aspects of knowledge management (KM). Some comprehensive applications and vendors try to offer global solutions to KM needs; other tools are highly specialized. In this paper, state-of-theart KM tools grouped by specific classification areas and functionalities are described. Trends and integration efforts are detailed with a focus on identifying current and future software and market evolution.
Chapter Preview
Top

Background And Definitions: A Focus On People And Context

This paper focuses on presenting the variety of tools currently available to support KM initiatives and discusses trends in the vendors’ arena. However, there are many definitions of knowledge (financial, human resources, information systems, organizational behavior, and strategic management-based definitions) (Alavi & Leidner, 1999) that have resulted in equally many definitions of KM (Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Jennex, 2005). There are many definitions of knowledge (financial, human resources, information systems, organizational behavior, and strategic management-based definitions) (Alavi and Leidner, 1999) that have resulted in equally many definitions of knowledge management (KM) (Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Jennex, 2005). This paper focuses on presenting the variety of tools currently available to support KM initiatives and discusses trends in the vendors’ arena. To place the discussion and classification of the tools within the specific framework and organizational view embraced by the authors, an operationa To place the discussion and classification of the tools within the specific framework and organizational view embraced by the authors, an operational definition of knowledge as information accumulated and assimilated to implement a specific action is used. Information is data within a specific context and data is the raw facts, without context (Binney, 2001; Cohen, 1998; Davenport & Harris, 2001). Figure 1 summarizes the relationships among the definitions and provides a practical example to illustrate the link between data, information, and knowledge.

Figure 1.

Knowledge and context relationships

The example in Figure 1 embeds a clear distinction: information is not transformed into knowledge unless it is accumulated, learned, and internalized by individuals. In addition, it needs to be translated into specific actions. The transformation of information into knowledge is mediated by the “individual actor,” who adds value to information by creating knowledge (Davenport & De Long, 1998; Kwan & Cheung, 2006). Thus, knowledge is strictly linked and connected to the individual (or group) who creates it, which may cast doubts on the ability of information systems tools to effectively support KM and perhaps explain some of the failures of the early tools (Biloslavo, 2005; Chua & Lam, 2005).

It follows that the “visible” part of knowledge—what the literature calls explicit as opposed to the tacit dimension of knowledge (Polanyi, 1966)—is only information regardless of the amount of other individual or project knowledge embedded into it. Therefore, the tools to collect, catalogue, organize, and share knowledge can only transfer information (the explicit knowledge) embedded in various forms and types of documents and media. When the transferred information is put back in the context of the individual recipient, its re-transformation occurs when the object of the transfer is put into action.

Figure 2 diagrams this distinction, giving to information systems a specific transfer or transportation role, rather than a substantial knowledge creation capability. Based on the definitions presented in Figure 1, the roles of information management and KM are clearly distinct, even if interconnected. The tools for information management are focused on data and information transfer; the tools for KM are focused on assimilation, comprehension, and learning of the information by individuals who will, then, transform data and information into knowledge.

Figure 2.

Information systems and knowledge transfer

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset