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Basics of Knowledge Management Architecture

In today's information world, knowledge is the most important factor in the long-term success of both an individual and an organization. In the future, the only source of competitive advantage will be the knowledge that an organization contains and the ability of an organization to learn faster than the competition. As the importance of knowledge increases with every passing day, there is an increasing need to effectively manage its storage and use. An effective Knowledge Management Architecture creates competitive advantage by bringing appropriate knowledge to the point of action during the moment of need. The use of the Knowledge Management Architecture greatly reduces employee turnover of an organization, as a large portion of the knowledge and expertise acquired by the employee is captured in the knowledge base.

A Knowledge Management Architecture is successful only when it satisfies the following requirements. The Knowledge Management Architecture should be available to store the existing knowledge available in the organization, should be accurate in retrieval, should be effective so that the knowledge that is retrieved is useful and correct, and accessible so that the knowledge is available whenever needed. The knowledge that exists in an organization should be made available to the employee whenever needed. This knowledge includes both the knowledge that exists external to the organization and the knowledge that exists internal to the organization.

External knowledge is an area that falls under the purview of traditional library services. Successful Knowledge Management Architecture must leverage these services. Knowledge resources from outside the organization need to be evaluated and tapped. Irrespective of the way or method in which the external sources are tapped, an easy-to-use search engine that queries all free and strategic fee external knowledge sources need to be developed. The engine search helps in bringing back the knowledge in an effective, integrated fashion. To achieve this, technology can be used to convert legacy information into a digital, searchable form and to provide an integrated, effective search engine. As the knowledge available within the organization is not in the form of a finished product, making the knowledge available to the employees within the organization (internal) becomes a tedious task. Use of advanced technology can help simplify the task of making the knowledge available within the organization. A pervasive sharing infrastructure and culture need to be created, to solve the problem of making knowledge existing in the heads of individual knowledge workers available to an organization.

A simple method to capture knowledge is to make the knowledge easily sharable by making that knowledge a part of the infrastructure. Organizations usually create a knowledge base using a word processing application. The application can be set to replace the standard Save command with an applet that can automatically prompt the user to add the document to the knowledge base. When the employees decides to add, the document is saved both on the local computer and the knowledge base at the click of a button. Other knowledge collections (if any) such as slides, log files, electronic mail, and capture routines should be seamlessly built into the infrastructure. Knowledge must be captured at the point of creation.

A pervasive sharing infrastructure helps in simplifying the process of knowledge sharing, but without a sharing culture the process of capturing knowledge becomes a tedious task. The usual impetus for sharing information is prestige, recognition, and the notion that the individual’s thoughts and ideas might make a difference. Technology can be used to encourage and build on these natural reasons for sharing. During the initial days of the knowledge base, employees do not want to search the knowledge base as only a very little information can be obtained. At the same time, if no one searches the knowledge base, the impetus for adding knowledge to the knowledge base is decreased, as the perception is that no recognition will come from populating the knowledge base. To overcome this problem, the knowledge base needs to be filled with external knowledge sources.

The knowledge base can be simply filled with external knowledge sources. You need to create an integrated knowledge query engine that returns information from both the internal knowledge base and external knowledge sources in an easy-to-use and effective split-screen view. The same keywords or phrases used to search the knowledge base are also sent to external knowledge sources. The results are displayed in a hypertext format with a clear demarcation between the links as either internal or external-based. A critical mass of knowledge and perception will develop to create a virtuous cycle, with the increased use of the internal knowledge base for searching. Successful searches of the knowledge base increases the impetus for adding knowledge. The higher level of knowledge in the knowledge base results in the higher the chance for a successful search.

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