Posted by: gavinstokes | July 11, 2011

Knowledge Management and Web 2.0 Technology

Knowledge and knowledge-based skills are the engine of economic growth and social development engaging in lifelong learning and development not only allows us to continuously keep pace with development, but it also helps keep the mind sharp and fosters innovation. Due to the fact that technology is no longer seen as a way of gaining competitive advantage, there has been a growing trend over the lat twenty years which has come to see collective knowledge of employees as the key factor in producing innovative and competitive products.

In past  attempts in knowledge management have resulted in many failures with knowledge management “platforms” and “repositories” that tend to quickly collapse under the weight of their own complexity. Most of these failed attempts have been nothing more than, still data silos where information is safe and organized but inconvenient to explore and share. What was once knowledge has become a fossilised information moment in time does not grow adapt or change through collaboration and sharing.

These large knowledge management platforms fail to make use of the key factor that defines effective information collaboration, quality of user participation. A firm’s knowledge is scoially embedded and evloves over time along unpredictable paths making it diffcult to share and organise. Once the kowledge has been removed or detached from the indvidual  and stored in a static system, it is no longer knowledge and becomes informatio.

In the past Western managers and organisations have tended to choose an IT-Centric Top-Down approach, but Nonaka [1998], Sveiby [2000b] and Takeuchi [1998] argue that what succeeds is a people-centric approach, from the bottom-up, but properly encouraged and supervised from top management.  In the other words, giving people with knowledge the space and freedom to correlate the knowledge without being encumbered by technology and preconceived ideas of knowledge structures.

Current web 2.0 technologies are promising to provide users with an open, shared, personalized, multi-dimensional interactive knowledge management platform.

The effort to make use of social media and to seamlessly integrate social media into users’ daily learning and working has turned out to be one of the key challenges for the design and development of many knowledge management systems.

Social media networks already support the aggregation and sharing of information in a fluid manner. It also encourages people to contribute and to feedback. All are important elements for getting knowledge management to work.

Most knowledge is human dependent which is what makes it knowledge which in turn makes it more difficult to detach from its source. It is based on personal understandings and collective construction. This makes knowledge’s roots social as each person is a social individual within a social environment, in this case the organisation. Organisations need to see content as a “social object” and not as static fossilized Information. It is instead a highly social artefact that takes on a life of its own based on its interaction with the communities around it. Knowledge increment occurs with honesty, trust, responsibility and openness .It endows knowledge with wider and deeper social values.  The current  social web 2.0 platform can already supply all of these requirements.

Social media is able to support knowledge evolution in two aspects.  Firstly social media is bottom-up supporting a personalized experience through customisation, publication, style of presentation, sharing etc, this deals with the problems experienced by early knowledge management systems which used a  down predefined hierarchical structures . Tools are already in place which allows users share knowledge in diverse meaningful ways, not only are these tools in place but the knowledge of how to use them effectively is also in place. The new skills barrier and resistance to one element of organisational change has already been overcome.

Secondly it allows social cues through additional information such as date published, views, author’s background and standing within the community, amount of posts etc. These can also work for the author as they can actively see how many people are viewing there content and where it is being distributed. This in turn encourages them to publish more content. It also allows the exchange of the two sides to establish a trust relationship for more effective knowledge sharing, which in turn prevents the knowledge from becoming static.

Social media platforms can be seen more as an active creation space whereas knowledge management systems desperately try to persuade participants to invest time and effort to contribute existing knowledge with the vague and long-term promise that they themselves might eventually derive value from the contributions of others. In contrast, creation spaces focus on providing immediate value to participants in terms of helping them tackle difficult performance challenges while at the same time reducing the effort required to capture and disseminate the knowledge created.


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