Monday, April 28, 2014

Is IT Part of KM or KM Part of IT

The greatest advancements in the KM  are "all" tied to advancements in technologies and how they're used in the last half century. 

Digital means the abundance of information, information can be refined into the knowledge which is one of the most valuable, but intangible assets in business today. Thus, Information Management and Knowledge Management are two important management disciplines. However, the two terms are interchanged and the exact meaning becomes clouded sometimes, are they distinct or the same? Or the interesting question might actually be: "What about Knowledge Management exists or has value without Information Technology”?

IT is the foundation of data, information, and modern knowledgeThe definition of IT has four parts. 1) the things; 2) the industry; 3) the organization; 4) the professional discipline or practice area. The biggest misnomer regarding IT is that it is "just technology." This is the pigeon-hole that most KM professionals try to paint IT people into. However, the fact is that a huge percentage of IT is about the identification and advancement of Knowledge for the enterprise and its people. In fact, most experienced people would debate that, in this digital information age, there isn't really much of an enterprise without the massive oceans of Data & Information that flow through the enterprise, at any given split second. IT is the foundation for massive volumes of Data & Information that is collected, persisted, categorized, mapped, sliced, diced, reordered, related, transformed, and made meaning of... without which knowledge would be minimal in the modern day.

IT is critical KM Enabler: IT is generally the tools (hardware, software) that are used to enable Knowledge Management. Think of the large volumes of data & Information captured within areas of the enterprise (Marketing, Sales, Product, Support, Legal, Finance, HR, etc.); think of all the collection, coordination, categorization, mappings, and meaning that is all derived from modern IT; think of the persistence, recollection, and constant movement of large volumes of what people know, in all directions. The greatest advancements in the KM profession, in the last half century, are "all" tied to advancements in technologies and how they're used.

Ideally, IT is an innovation engine for business; and KM is more like a living thing having ‘consciousness.’ More often, technology becomes the game changer for business growth, but IT is the means to the end, not the end; and KM as an entity of technology, process of learning and talent management (Culture + Value) is a living thing to directly influence corporate culture and behaviors. Culture is mainly in the HR domain. It includes hiring policy and business rules. The process is a blend between Administrative and Engineering and involves a logical cause and effect analysis to identify and rectify bottlenecks. The technology is mostly IT but also involves Engineering to assure proper bandwidth, the right applications to support the process, maintenance and management of the system. And KM = KM Tools + KM Process + KM Standard = having consciousness.

KM and IT need to work together seamlessly, but they are distinct. The technology (as in a thing) is just a thing and, by itself, is not knowledge or Knowledge Management. However, most of what Information Technologists do, as part of their daily responsibilities, is very much tied to what the KM profession claims to be their unique value add. IT plays more significant role in orchestrating business strategy execution, driving the culture of data-based decision-making; on the other side, Information Technology is a huge part of Knowledge Management as it pertains to organizations/ enterprises, because when the business wants the Data & Information, it needs technology; and when it wants to view the data in ways that they can understand, it is Information; and when they further refine information into the knowledge, which becomes the invaluable asset of digital business.

IT is the foundation of knowledge nowadays, and KM is not all about IT; information is the lifeblood of business, and knowledge is the invaluable asset of the organization; Information is often available in data, and knowledge is often inside the minds of employees/ experts. IT and KM are interdependent disciplines which need to be practiced by today’s digital workforce more seamlessly in order to manage Eco-Information Life Cycle Management (Data-Information-Knowledge-Insight-Wisdom) more coherently.


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