Knowledge management

We collect data every day but it can’t be considered information until we apply a context to it. The data needs to be organized and presented in a way that allows us to draw conclusions from it. Knowledge is created when the information is processed by the right people who bring their perspective and experience to the information.

In short, in order to manage knowledge you need to get the right information to the right people at the right time. You need to use tools that help you to organize information.

Unstructured Data

Unstructured data (information that lies outside of databases where business intelligence is usually stored) represents the largest, most current and fastest growing source of information available to businesses and governments worldwide.

Unstructured data – such as content on social media or Internet content - is growing at double the rate of structured data (information stored in databases where a structured query language can access it).

HP believes that 95% of valuable data resides in unstructured formats. Integrating unstructured data with structured data to create information and in turn knowledge is a huge challenge for enterprises.

“Valuable content is distributed across the enterprise, 95% of it in “unstructured” formats—that is, residing not in databases but in a variety of files that include email, documents, presentations, and much more.“ HP Research Labs

Information Fragmentation

The sources of data are growing every day. A typical office worker uses data coming from centrally controlled document repositories together with unstructured data coming through websites, emails, blogs, twitter feeds etc.

The data required to make decisions is scattered across multiple devices. Smart phones containing photos, text, videos, instant messages and contacts are combined with documents on home computers and emails on work laptops to create the overall view.

Even on the same computer the data is scattered across multiple folders, on the desktop and in cloud based storage.

Each person working on a project can obtain and value different pieces of data. The information from all of the people on the project has to be integrated together.

All of this data needs to be pulled together, organized and presented as information.

This information presented to the right audience at the right time can lead to knowledge that could be critical for analyzing and solving problems, detecting threats, realizing important trends and relationships, creating new opportunities or preventing disasters.

Information Explosion

It’s always been a major challenge to generate enough data from which to draw conclusions. Future generations will have the reverse problem; collecting data will be easy the hard part will be to decide which pieces are relevant and trustworthy.

Although it will be easy to find data it will be very hard to find the right data and once found it may not stay found! You may have to initiate a search to locate it all over again.

One answer to the data explosion is to create ever powerful search technologies. However, a number of studies have shown that people prefer “browsing” and “orienteering” styles of access to their information. People only resort to searching if these other preferred methods fail.

The reason for which the information was collected and placing it into context is also important to record and store as it can help the user locate the information again. For instance if the document was last accessed when the user was at home, or, the user remembers the weather on the day they last read the information can provide mental links back to the data.

The task we had in mind when we searched and generated the data is also important. If the reason you collected the data is no longer valid then it can be safely disposed, but if the person collecting the data hasn’t recorded the reason it was collected then it may be unsafe to dispose of it just in case it is still required. The lack of context stored with information is adding to the information explosion.

The secret is to store this context and reason data together with the data so that it can be easily processed.

If the data is organized and integrated so that the context and the reason for collecting the data is clear it’s much easier to manage the information and in turn get value out of the knowledge generated.

Two discs, one labelled with the year 2020 having an area 44 times that of the other labelled with the year 2009.
Data growth - IDC believes that the Digital Universe will grow by 44 times that of 2009 by 2020. IBM estimates that data and content is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 64% a year or more. (Zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes).
Source: IDC Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC, .
“IDC has estimated that the typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $2.5 million to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, or recreating information that can’t be found.” (Source: IDC)
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