Knowledge Management System (KM System) refers to a (generally IT based) system for managing knowledge in organizations, supporting creation, capture, storage and dissemination of information. It can comprise a part (neither necessary or sufficient) of a Knowledge Management initiative.
The idea of a KM system is to enable employees to have ready access to the organization's based documented of facts, sources of information, and solutions. For example a typical claim justifying the creation of a KM system might run something like this: an engineer could know the metallurgical composition of an alloy that reduces sound in gear systems. Sharing this information organization wide can lead to more effective engine design and it could also lead to ideas for new or improved equipment.
A KM system could be any of the following:
- Document based i.e. any technology that permits creation/management/sharing of formatted documents such as Lotus Notes, web, distributed databases etc.
- Ontology/Taxonomy based: these are similar to document technologies in the sense that a system of terminologies (i.e. ontology) are used to summarize the document e.g. Author, Subj, Organization etc. as in DAML & other XML based ontologies
- Based on AI technologies which use a customized representation scheme to represent the problem domain.
- Provide network maps of the organization showing the flow of communication between entities and individuals
- Increasingly social computing tools are being deployed to provide a more organic approach to creation of a KM system.
KMS systems deal with information (although Knowledge Management as a discipline may extend beyond the information centric aspect of any system) so they are a class of information system and may build on, or utilize other information sources. Distinguishing features of a KMS can include:
- Purpose: a KMS will have an explicit Knowledge Management objective of some type such as collaboration, sharing good practice or the like.
- Context: One perspective on KMS would see knowledge is information that is meaningfully organized, accumulated and embedded in a context of creation and application.
- Processes: KMS are developed to support and enhance knowledge-intensive processes, tasks or projects of e.g., creation, construction, identification, capturing, acquisition, selection, valuation, organization, linking, structuring, formalization, visualization, transfer, distribution, retention, maintenance, refinement, revision, evolution, accessing, retrieval and last but not least the application of knowledge, also called the knowledge life cycle.
- Participants: Users can play the roles of active, involved participants in knowledge networks and communities fostered by KMS, although this is not necessarily the case. KMS designs are held to reflect that knowledge is developed collectively and that the “distribution” of knowledge leads to its continuous change, reconstruction and application in different contexts, by different participants with differing backgrounds and experiences.
- Instruments: KMS support KM instruments, e.g., the capture, creation and sharing of the codifiable aspects of experience, the creation of corporate knowledge directories, taxonomies or ontologies, expertise locators, skill management systems, collaborative filtering and handling of interests used to connect people, the creation and fostering of communities or knowledge networks.
A KMS offers integrated services to deploy KM instruments for networks of participants, i.e. active knowledge workers, in knowledge-intensive business processes along the entire knowledge life cycle. KMS can be used for a wide range of cooperative, collaborative, adhocracy and hierarchy communities, virtual organizations, societies and other virtual networks, to manage media contents; activities, interactions and work-flows purposes; projects; works, networks, departments, privileges, roles, participants and other active users in order to extract and generate new knowledge and to enhance, leverage and transfer in new outcomes of knowledge providing new services using new formats and interfaces and different communication channels.
The term KMS can be associated to Open Source Software, and Open Standards, Open Protocols and Open Knowledge licenses, initiatives and policies.
Benefits of KM Systems
Some of the advantages claimed for KM systems are:
- Sharing of valuable organizational information.
- Can avoid re-inventing the wheel, reducing redundant work.
- May reduce training time for new employees
- Retention of Intellectual Property after the employee leaves if such knowledge can be codified.
- Akscyn, Robert M., Donald L. McCracken and Elise A. Yoder (1988). "KMS: A distributed hypermedia system for managing knowledge in organizations". Communications of the ACM 31 (7): 820-835.
- Benbya, H (2008). Knowledge Management Systems Implementation: Lessons from the Silicon Valley. Oxford, Chandos Publishing.
- Langton, N & Robbins, S. (2006). Organizational Behaviour (Fourth Canadian Edition). Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Prentice Hall.
- Maier, R (2007): Knowledge Management Systems: Information And Communication Technologies for Knowledge Management. 3rd edition, Berlin: Springer.
- Rhetorical Structure Theory (assumed from the reference of RST Theory above) http://acl.ldc.upenn.edu/W/W01/W01-1605.pdf
- Rosner, D.., Grote, B., Hartman, K, Hofling, B, Guericke, O. (1998) From natural language documents to sharable product knowledge: a knowledge engineering approach. in Borghoff Uwe M., and Pareschi, Remo (Eds.). Information technology for knowledge management. Springer Verlag, pp 35-51.
- The RST site at http://www.sfu.ca/rst/ run by Bill Mann