Archive for February 2011

Knowledge as an Asset

February 23, 2011

This is the information age. So we are deluged with information (and sometimes just data). Organizations are only now beginning to grasp the fundamental concept of Knowledge as an Asset.

What constitutes the knowledge asset?

“Unlike information, knowledge is less tangible and depends on human cognition and awareness. There are several types of knowledge – ‘knowing’ a fact is little different from ‘information’, but ‘knowing’ a skill, or ‘knowing’ that something might affect market conditions is something, that despite attempts of knowledge engineers to codify such knowledge, has an important human dimension. It is some combination of context sensing, personal memory and cognitive processes. Measuring the knowledge asset, therefore, means putting a value on people, both as individuals and more importantly on their collective capability, and other factors such as the embedded intelligence in an organisation’s computer systems.”  (

Tackling the concept of knowledge is challenging. Knowledge Engineering was first conceptualized in the early 1980s ( – coincident with the advent of the inexpensive personal computer. Since that time, the paradigm has shifted for all aspects of business. Seat-of-the-pants management is no longer suitable. And the requisite empowering of employees resulting from this transformation has completely changed the workplace.

Having said that, some of the most important issues in knowledge acquisition are as follows: (

  • Most knowledge is in the heads of experts
  • Experts have vast amounts of knowledge
  • Experts have a lot of tacit knowledge
    • They don’t know all that they know and use
    • Tacit knowledge is hard (impossible) to describe
  • Experts are very busy and valuable people
  • Each expert doesn’t know everything
  • Knowledge has a “shelf life”

Moving knowledge within the organization is perhaps the most challenging aspect of corporate knowledge. Knowledge handoff must occur laterally and temporally. Laterally in that the knowledge must be shared in order to convey the necessary understanding that is required; When a critical mass of users gain the understanding, then the corporate wisdom will result. Temporally in that knowledge must be handed off to the shift change (this is true for 24/7 operations as well as global operations).

But the ability to use technology to share the results of technology is lagging. Frequently, the hand-off notes are the only tool at anyones disposal – very inefficient. Recently, Sharepoint sites and Wikis have become popular for inter-departmental information and knowledge sharing.

Jerome J. Peloquin wrote an interesting essay (“Knowledge as a Corporate Asset”) in which he opens with “Virtually every business in the world faces the same fundamental problem: Maintenance
of their competitive edge through the application and formation of knowledge.” He make two statements in his conclusion which serve well to wrap-up the premise of this essay (Knowledge as an Asset):

  • Information is useless unless we can act upon it, and that implies that it must first be transformed
    into knowledge.
  • The knowledge asset combines a number of factors which can be objectively proven by
    the observation and accomplishment of a specific set of criteria.

Enter Knowledge Information Management. Gene Bellinger writes that

“In an organizational context, data represents facts or values of results, and relations between data and other relations have the capacity to represent information. Patterns of relations of data and information and other patterns have the capacity to represent knowledge. For the representation to be of any utility it must be understood, and when understood the representation is information or knowledge to the one that understands. Yet, what is the real value of information and knowledge, and what does it mean to manage it?”

If Knowledge is an Asset, then, like any corporate asset, it must be managed, secured, maintained, and made available as a tool to the employees. If information is the core of business, then the resulting knowledge is the value of the business. And the wisdom (coming from the understanding) is the driving force and the profitability of the business. Smaller, faster, cheaper may be the mantra; knowledge is the asset.


The Data-Information Hierarcy, Part 2

February 11, 2011

Data, as has been established is the organic, elemental source quantities. Data, by itself, does not produce cognitive information and decision-making ability. But without it, the chain Data –> Information –> Knowledge –> Understanding –> Wisdom is broken before it starts. Data is recognized for its discrete characteristics.

Information is the logic grouping and presentation of the data. Information, in a more general sense, is the structure and encoded explanation of phenomena. It answers the who, what, when, where questions ( but does not explain these answer, nor instill a wisdom necessary to act on the information. “Information is sometimes associated with the idea of knowledge through its popular use rather than with uncertainty and the resolution of uncertainty.” (An Introduction to Information Theory, John R. Pierce)

The leap from Information through Knowledge and Understanding into Wisdom is the objective sought be data / information analysis, data / information mining, and knowledge systems.

What knowledge is gleaned from the information; how can we understand the interactions (particularly at a system level); and how is this understanding used to create correct decisions and navigate a course to a desired end point.

Wisdom is the key. What good is the historical volumes of data unless informed decisions result? (a definition of Wisdom)

How do informed decisions (Wisdom) result if the data and process are not Understood?

How do we achieve understanding without the knowledge?

How do we achieve the Knowledge without the Information?

But in a very real sense, Information is not the who, what, when, where answers to the questions assimilating data. Quantified, Information is the measure of the order of the system; or conversely the measure of the lack of disorder, the measure of the entropy of the system.

Taken together, information is composed of the informational context, the informational content, and the informational propositions. Knowledge, then, is the informed assimilation of the information. And the cognitive conclusion is the understanding.

Thus Data –> Information –> Knowledge –> Understanding –> Wisdom through the judicious use of:

  • data acquisition,
  • data retention,
  • data transition,
  • knowledge mining,
  • cognitive processing, and
  • the application of this combined set into a proactive and forward action plan.

The Internet and Social Networks – Good and Bad

February 1, 2011

So Egypt decided to shutdown the internet. Apparently they have some type of kill switch.

But could it happen here? How has Web 2.0 affected our lives, politics, humanity?

Apparently, the there is kill-switch legislation before congress. This legislation would empower the president to pull the plug during ‘national emergency’. What is the first rule when taking over a country – either invasion or upheaval? Take over communications! That is why the founding fathers made press a 1st amendment right! This is not a republican / democrat issue. In fact, the proposal comes from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

In fairness, the US condemned Egypt’s action in a tweet. How poetic! But Twitter has been front and center to politics and natural disasters before. Just as news from Egypt began flowing through tweets, much of Haiti’s earthquake news and information was tweeted last year.

But good is not the only result of the new social media. High school linebacker C. J. Johnson quit Facebook after much bad press resulted. 13 year old Hope Witsell committed suicide because of social media (originating from Sexting).

Studies are mixed whether Facebook and MySpace are positive or negative in relationships. Some studies say positive. But there is a growing backlash – possibly the most serious accusation being the impact on marriage.

What of blogging (for example, this blog)? Within the business / commercial community, blogging has many positive benefits. There are negatives to blogging – mostly the constant maintenance required.

Politics has been permanently changed by the social media. Candidate Obama made full use of the social media, McCain did not. Obama has learned how to put his talking points before the people – just look at the White Houses use of social media after the last State of the Union (and simultaneous to the Republican response – sly). Clearly future political campains will learn the benefits of social media.

What of other social networking sites? Classmates, Match, LinkedIn, DiggIt, StumbleUpon and others. (A couple fairly good lists are found at and

For more information, see an excellent article by Brent Leary on Social Media’s Good, Bad, Ugly and Unexpected.

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