The re-birth of KM in knowledge engineered networks

By Vikram Mengi, Co-Founder & CEO, Latize Pte Ltd

At its core, knowledge management is a process that everyone uses. It is the system of managing information – gathering it, deciding how and where it should be kept, analysing, sharing and using it.

In its simplest form, individuals use knowledge management regularly. For example, every time someone picks up a newspaper to learn what is happening in the world, thinks about the significance of the information and determines what is or isn't important is the start of the knowledge management process.

Finally, the action of deciding how to apply that recently acquired knowledge from the newspaper at work or in their personal lives and knowing just the right person to share part of it with is exactly how a knowledge management system and network operates.

For organisations, the process is much more complex. Everything, from the information stored in databases to the experience individual workers possess, are forms of knowledge that must be managed in order to be used efficiently and effectively. Where an individual uses their brain to manage the knowledge they gather, companies use software as a tool to capture, evaluate, share and apply knowledge in the most effective way possible.

Furthermore, the practice of knowledge management itself is becoming more sophisticated; but it is a process that is still evolving. The transformation of knowledge management is being spurred on by advances in technology as well as by the current trend in greater business collaboration.

Managers and other key players understand that the strength of a network adds an entirely new dimension of possibility to how data can be used. As a result, businesses are becoming even more connected and knowledge management is taking on a new form: the knowledge engineered network.

The Strength of the Network

The value behind knowledge networks is their ability to deliver accurate and relevant information to decision makers quickly and efficiently. This is true across industries from manufacturing to education.

For example, when looking at secondary school teachers in Hong Kong, researchers found that when knowledge was readily accessible and shared amongst staff and other schools, teachers and educational organisations as a whole, were capable of learning more, improving their skills, and becoming more effective educators.

With knowledge networks, the quality, reach, and scope of data intelligence and sharing grows, empowering those who need access to information in order to do their job, run their business, and improve their own products or services.

Consider, for example, a construction specialist working for the U.S Federal Highway Administration, the FHWA. When this specialist needs to know the most effective procedures for mixing asphalt, but only have access to the FHWA database, then they are limited to what they can find out and use.

However, by tapping into the knowledge network that the FHWA is connected to, which may include civil engineers, construction companies, and other organisations, they are more likely to quickly learn about the latest innovations and the most advanced technology. In the case of knowledge engineered networks, organisations can benefit from access to complementary datasets and pooled information resources as well as shape industry-wide standards and reduce risk.

More Dynamic Knowledge Management

With the holistic view offered by a knowledge engineered network, researchers and analysts are able to produce more reliable, dynamic results.

For example, the task of collecting data and understanding data relationships to attempt to measure the size and importance of Zimbabwe’s food economy has faced many challenges including a huge informal economy and rapid change. Coinciding with a shift in consumer habits due to a growing population and a change in urban lifestyle habits have created expansive knowledge gaps, leaving policy makers, development organisations, and related industries, such as farming tool and fertiliser manufacturers, without the accurate information that was necessary to make appropriate decisions.

Through expanding beyond basic data churning and taking a broader approach, consultancy firm eMKambo was able to create a more thorough and accurate picture of the evolving economy in Zimbabwe.

eMKambo formed a knowledge network in order to look at a variety of data insights and data relationships, from household food expenditures to the rise of urban food production and changing dietary habits, ensuring that this information was available to stakeholders and decision makers.

With access and the easy flow of reliable information, agriculture in Zimbabwe is now more diversified with important changes to reflect what the data was indicating. Without eMKambo creating and utilising a knowledge network, the collective pool of data may have been left untapped and leaving out vital information would have reduced the effectiveness of policy, developmental, and agricultural decisions for the nation.

At Latize, we have been actively working towards identifying the potential that a more integrated view of data intelligence will create an empowered organisation with a ‘360 degree’ view of information with our intelligent linked data software solution Ulysses.

Through Ulysses, knowledge management as a process can become a more inclusive, dynamic, and a collaborative system. From not needing to re-invent the wheel when having to prepare information, to being able to have access to lessons learned from past mistakes, to being confident that all relevant information is available for decision-making: Ulysses is enabling better business outcomes.

The implications of this are profound for all, from small businesses trying to better tailor their products for their target market, to government organisations who need better information in order to serve their populations. The tangible benefits of knowledge networks are set to inspire the next phase of our digital era as more people, from consumers to business owners, understand just how acutely data is shaping our world.

While the data revolution changes society, the movement itself must constantly evolve to keep pushing forward with the increasingly complex world it is creating. The days of heavy reliance on outside data scientists to gain insights and the practice of capturing and interpreting data in a vacuum are becoming obsolete. How we approach knowledge management and data sharing is changing.

As businesses recognise that everyone benefits when all players along the supply chain have greater access to data intelligence presented in a way which business users can understand, the idea of actively forming networks is catching on.

Knowledge engineered networks, and the promise they carry for facilitating faster innovation, more empowered decision-making, and improved efficiency across industries, from education to finance, may be the next phase in the evolution of knowledge management. It is becoming clearer to everyone that a knowledge engineered network has the ability to be much greater than the sum of its parts.