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KM Tools
In this section, I present an overview of the IT-based tools and systems that can help
knowledge management (KM) fulfill its goals.
The scope of this section is to provide the reader with an overview of the types of KM
tools available on the market today and to gain an understanding of what their role is in
the KM process. This is the most important step, since there are literally thousands of
options to choose from. However, in the future, I intend to also take a look at some
actual KM tools and present a few reviews.
To recap, I have dealt with KM tools throughout the section on tactical management
initiatives, outlining its role in knowledge discovery, organization, sharing, etc. In the
section on knowledge management strategy , I presented an article on knowledge
management systems implementation, where I stated that IT based tools, for the most
part, fall into one of the following categories (adapted from Gupta and Sharma 2005, in
Bali et al 2009):
Groupware systems
The intranet and extranet
Data warehousing,data mining, & OLAP
Decision Support Systems
Content management systems
Document management systems
Artificial intelligence tools
Simulation tools
Semantic networks
For now, in the subsections that follow, I will discuss the first six KM tool categories
on this list, as they are usually what people refer to when speaking of KM tools.
Simulation tools is too broad a category for the scope of this site, and artificial
intelligence systems are of questionable usefulness and are outside my area of
expertise. However, in the (not too near) future, I do plan to add a segment on semantic
networks and artificial intelligence.
A quick note on artificial intelligence: While there was much excitement about this a few
years ago, to my understanding, it has not lived up to its expectations (yet). Expert
systems for example, designed to capture human decision-making and to make the
correct decisions in certain circumstances, have not been so successful due to
constantly changing requirements (Botha et al 2008). For more on this, research topics
such as neural networks, intelligent decision support systems, and expert systems.
Again, I would like to remind the reader that KM is not a technological discipline; it is
more about managing people, culture, and organizational practices & structures.
Effective KM initiatives are therefore never technology driven, and one should never
seek a total KM "solution". In fact, I would caution against any system that lays claims to
that title. Doing so implies that either the developers have no issue promising far more
than they can deliver, or they have no idea what a KM tool can and cannot do. Neither
is a good scenario.
However, if IT is used right - as a supporting and enhancing mechanism for sound,
existing KM practices - it can be a very valuable tool indeed.