Posted by: Derek Weeks on: February 24, 2010
But what exactly is knowledge? How can a company manage its knowledge?
Let’s pretend I don’t know anything about Major League Baseball—
If I heard a statistic – a piece of data – like, “Player X has a .298 batting average,” it wouldn’t really mean anything to me. Actually, .300 – if I were rounding up – would sound pretty low. Without understanding batting averages, or knowing anything about Player X, I would think he was a terrible batter.
Or, if somebody told me that a particular MLB team won 64 games in the 2009 season, I would probably think, “Wow, that team is great! They won a ton of games last year!” –totally missing the point that winning only 64 games is very bad. That team had the worst record in the entire league.
My point is that data without context is useless, and can be easily misunderstood.
For businesses, data is relatively easy to collect and store, but without knowledge, it really isn’t very valuable.
One very important type of knowledge that businesses must manage is the knowledge from their people. The type of knowledge that organizations rely on comes from experience and is often referred to as intellectual capital. It provides human insight and know-how to teach organizations how their best people do their jobs – how work gets done, and the best way to do it.
Unfortunately, this type of knowledge is fleeting – no employee is going to stay at a company forever, and a new, less experienced worker may very well take his or her place – and this knowledge, which is often abstract – is difficult to collect.
Collaborative technologies are the solution to this problem. By getting knowledge workers involved in documenting day-to-day activities now, companies can capture, and even expand, their intellectual capital, and provide new workers with the context to understand data and business processes and how to do their jobs more effectively.
Enterprise/business architecture (EA) and modeling software like Metastorm ProVision® and business process management (BPM) software like Metastorm BPM® provide this functionality. Using these tools, you can document existing business processes, understand how your best people do their jobs, and capture those best practices in process models that can then be automated and deployed as operating business processes. And with data capture tools like Metastorm Discovery™, it’s easy to get knowledge workers involved in the process so that you don’t miss out on their valuable insights.
Leveraging these software technologies will provide your next generation of workers with the valuable knowledge of their predecessors, as well as with a means to put data – price fluctuations, costs, market changes, etc. – into context while enabling them to better understand the environment in which they are operating. It will also shorten the learning curve, and enable new workers to avoid costly mistakes. This new generation will also be able to leverage the collaborative technology platform that these solutions provide to share ideas and find ways to improve the business.
With technologies like Metastorm ProVision, Metastorm ProVision for BPA and Metastorm BPM, companies can truly go beyond managing, and truly expand their human knowledge to ensure that they continue to move forward without forgetting the lessons learned from past generations.
Perhaps this is why Metastorm ranks as one of the Top 100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management.
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