Can Knowledge Management be solved in the Cloud?

Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) (ITILv3): [Service Transition] A set of tools and databases that are used to manage knowledge and information. The SKMS includes the Configuration Management System, as well as other tools and database. The SKMS stores, manages, updates, and presents all information that an IT Service Provider needs to manage the full Lifecycle of IT Services.

One of the most vexing problems facing organisations for years has been knowledge management. In the past, the task of capturing, organising and disseminating valuable information so it could be properly utilised by end-users and business executives was an herculean effort that produced limited results. Today’s cloud computing movement offers exciting opportunities to remedy those age-old challenges.

While the ideal of effective knowledge management has been high on most organisations’ priority lists for years, the pressure to successfully address this issue has never been more acute. Today’s economic uncertainties, escalating competition, declining customer loyalties, and an increasingly dispersed workforce are all driving organisations of all sizes across nearly every industry to seek new ways to address their knowledge management requirements.
Compounding this challenge is the limited success many organisations have achieved implementing business intelligence (BI) and analytic tools to guide their day-to-day activities and long-range initiatives.

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Troublesome Trio

Past efforts to address the knowledge management problem were stymied by technological, financial and organisational obstacles.

On the technology side, traditional on-premise content management and database access products were often too complex and complicated to deploy and administer, and they were too inflexible to meet the fluctuating needs of corporate end-users and executives.

The technological challenges translated into significant planning, design, implementation and operational costs which created financial hurdles that were too high and derailed many knowledge management projects.

More importantly, many organisations found that their people didn’t want to share information they thought was essential to protect their jobs or too time-consuming to funnel into a corporate database. No matter how powerful a knowledge management solution an organisation sought to deploy, this behavioural problem was often too much to overcome.

Now, people share everything via today’s social networks. Information-sharing has become second-nature in our personal and professional lives via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Yet the use of these online services as business tools has typically evolved outside the realm of traditional enterprise applications. As a result, many organisations are still grappling with how to integrate the information and harness the insight being generated by these services into their corporate operations. They are also trying to develop the appropriate policies and procedures to protect their proprietary interests and adhere to the compliance requirements within their industries.

Today’s cloud computing alternatives are beginning to untangle these issues.

Different Strokes

First, they are reducing the technical challenges by eliminating many of the system requirements. Second, they are offering more scalable and secure solutions packaged in a more elastic and economical form. But most importantly, knowledge management is becoming an embedded “feature” within other primary enterprise applications. So, knowledge management isn’t a separate entity, but an added capability within an enterprise application.

Salesforce.com’s Chatter capability is the clearest example of this new approach to knowledge management. It applies the Facebook motif to an enterprise application. It takes a familiar user interface and functionality and embeds it into a corporate system. As a result, end-users are given a tool they enjoy using, and corporate executives are able to leverage the information that is gathered to make better decisions.

The obvious benefits of this approach will be tempered in the near term by a series of practical issues. Data migration and integration will remain a key challenge. However, the “lines between the dots” are much closer together in a cloud computing environment than in the legacy, on-premise world, making this task more manageable.

As the challenge of capturing and disseminating corporate data is overcome, another question will confront IT and business decision makers: Which BI/analytic tool(s) will enable corporate executives and end-users to quickly and easily manipulate information to generate the right insights to make better decisions and improve their operational effectiveness?

Lunch with Malala – a reminder of how privileged we are!

I had lunch with Malala Yousafzai on Sunday – the Pakistani teenager who was shot by Taliban for promoting girl’s right to education. It was a combined charity- and business lunch, which turned out to be a very fine and moving experience. In this blog post I’ll try to share some of my impressions with you:

Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai (a name I wouldn’t even try to pronounce….) started off with a “saying” in his own language, then translated to English: “The closest you can be to God without being in a church or a mosque is to make a child smile”. Then he told us about the work he was doing in Pakistan to let poor children go to school, the school also Malala went to when she was shot by Taliban. He explained how their local society evaluates girls compared with boys (i.e. as nobody), and ended it by saying with a little smile that he was one of the few persons in the Swot District of Pakistan that would use the expression “Like Father – like daughter” instead of “Like father – like son”. He was also telling us about the moment when he all of a sudden realized that his 5 sisters lacked identity, simply because they had no education; he had actually never seen their names spelled until he was almost a grown up…

He was bursting with pride over his daughter! Here they are, fresh from my iPhone:

Malala and her father (2)

Malala was an amazing person. 16 years old! Her visit to Norway had to be in the weekend, because she didn’t want to miss any of her school lessons. She conveyed with a silent passion her affliction for the 57 million children on Earth that still don’t have the opportunity to get any education, for the 200 school girls in custody in Nigeria and for refugees in the uneasy areas around the world, – as well as her care and worries for her fellow schoolmates back home in Swot. All this without a hint of sentimentality or self-pity. She stated that she had dedicated her life to this case, and emphasized the right of all human beings to have a dream for their lives, and to be allowed to work for this dream.

She also took the opportunity to have a girls-chat with some very Nordic youngsters, of which one happens to be my stepdaughter.

Teenagers

I must say I was struck by the contrasts; most of all by the extreme differences in the opportunities these girls are given. I don’t think any of the two will ever complain again about how boring it is to go to school!

Well, not easy to transfer moods and feelings, but I must say this made a deep impression on me, and I’m again somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of how lucky I am to be born in our part of the world and in our time of the history!

It seems so obvious to me that no country can develop optimally as long as half of the population is excluded from the right to participate. But as we say in Basefarm: Systematic work always works! Malala’s dream is to be nothing less than the president of Pakistan, and she has already done a great deal of efficient fighting with a pen and her voice as weapons! PS. We donate some money to the Malala Fund. You can read about it here: http://malalafund.org/ DS.