Whether you're grappling with customer issues or trying to distill institutional knowledge about your organization, aggregate knowledge is a valuable resource. If cultivated properly, knowledge can also create an incredible competitive advantage for your company, as it's a resource that cannot be easily imitated by a competitor.
I’m talking about knowledge management (KM), which while not new, is a tool that’s only getting better with age. Enterprises are learning that facilitating knowledge exchange among workers means less time and money lost on "reinventing the wheel" efforts. Organizations with effective KM infrastructures can efficiently conduct business, and this can make a big difference in both competitive marketplaces and today’s economy, where clients are taking more time to make vendor and partnership decisions.
In this article, I’ll provide a review of several KM sites that can help today’s IT leaders stay updated on new KM developments, issues, and hurdles, and a few that CIOs shouldn’t rely too heavily on for information.
Paradigm Shift International
Parshift.com is hosted by consulting firm Paradigm Shift International. The site provides a collection of resources, short articles, and white papers on a variety of KM topics. Most of the content, however, is a bit dated and longer on theory than on practical advice. But the site is updated monthly with new essays written by guest speakers, some news, and occasionally, book reviews. Road warriors will appreciate that parshift.com eschews heavy site elements like graphics, which helps shorten the site's load time over a modem connection.
Parshift.com hosts two regular features: the monthly "Real-Time Chronicles" column, which focuses on new trends and ideas in the areas of enterprise agility and knowledge management, and the "Guest Speaker" column, which features a different guest columnist (usually an author) each month. The site's Library section archives past editions of each column, going back to 1995. There are also a few white papers on topics such as building adaptive business systems, a model structure for building an agile enterprise capable of adapting easily to change, and an introduction to "RealSearch," a collaborative learning technique.
Although parshift.com also includes information on a variety of KM seminars and workshops, it's not clear how current the information is. Some items make reference to events scheduled to occur in 1999, while others appear to have no dates.
KM Information Resource Center
Another source is the Knowledge Management Information Resource Center. Although this site doesn't host much original content, it is a nice repository of KM news and resources. That makes it worth spending some time with, even if the site itself is a little clunky. Along with links to case studies, interviews, and articles from all over the Web, the site has links to software vendors and education resources.
Knowledge Management Resource Center
Very similar in name and mission is the Knowledge Management Resource Center, which houses a large collection of links to KM articles and essays, although some links are dead. The link library is divided into 17 departments, including introductory articles, case studies, periodicals, conferences, knowledge markets, and professional organizations. Each link has been reviewed by the site's staff and is accompanied by a short description of its content. The links database is also searchable by keyword. There's also a recommended reading list with a link to buy at Amazon.com.
The BRINT Institute
Brint.com's Knowledge Management channel bills itself as "The Premier Knowledge Management Portal and Global Virtual Community of Practice for the New World of Business." The site is as cluttered as its billing, and at times, it's even downright ugly. Still, it has a lot to offer, including links to analysis and commentary articles, news, and even discussion boards, which are very active and searchable.
There's an online book in publication on the site, called BRINT Institute's Book on Knowledge Management, which is a series of articles. Sixteen of the book's 20 chapters have been published thus far, with each chapter devoted to a different aspect of KM. The early chapters deal with general topics, like introductory KM principles and dispelling common myths. Subsequent chapters deal with the challenges of developing a KM strategy, discussing how to build systems to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, and exploring common pitfalls involved in implementing those systems. While it's not particularly scintillating reading, it does provide a lot of information and advice.
The Knowledge Management Alliance
The Knowledge Management Alliance is a group of organizations that work together to promote KM. On the site, the group has assembled a set of resources, including the following:
- Knowledge Navigator, an online KM seminar based on the experiences of the group's 15-month KM project. The site offers a trial version of the first section of the seminar, although the final version has obviously fallen behind in its expected availability date of Fall 2001.
- KMAlive is a collection of new items relevant to KM.
- KMAbounds is a listing of vendors offering KM-related products and services.
- KMAboard is the site's message board. It includes an open discussion forum and news on upcoming events, although it doesn't appear to be very active.
- Both a members-only and a free article library (KMA4free) are also available. The members-only section is updated monthly, with articles selected from the Harvard Business Review, while the KMA4free library contains links to syndicated articles from all over the Web.
- KMARecommends is a recommended reading list.
Have a favorite?
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