You are on page 1of 2

August, 1998

http://www.montague.com/ le/le898.html

Whos minding your knowledge assets?


For a growing number of companies, managing the firms intellectual assets is becoming just as important as managing its financial and physical assets. The Internet is a key tool in these endeavors because it is a global networking standard, capable of linking both internal and external information on different brands of Communities of Practice are one of the new idioms for knowledge base editors. This one computers. at National Semiconductor helps engineers share information and avoid re-inventing But as more com- the wheel. information from internal documents and panies deploy the Internet, some C.E.O.s are beginning to ask databases, newspapers and magazines, and on-line discussions. The real issue is the need embarrassing questions: Why cant I get a one-stop-shop for a new role which combines the functions menu of information about our top 20 cli- of database administrator, reference librarents that combines internal invoicing data ian, journalist, and project manager. Companies in the vanguard of improvwith news stories and links to their Web ing the management of their intellectual assites? Why cant our sales force get compre- sets are recruiting for this new role. For exhensive background information on their top ample: Monsanto recently advertised for a prospects? knowledge editor a librarian responsible Why dont all our engineers and customer service staff have access to a lessons for identifying, classifying, organizing, and learned database that combines internal summarizing information relevant to the know-how with case histories of other firms? firms business objectives. See our article Monsantos Knowledge Editor. McKinsey and Co. has set up a Rapid Need for a new role: knowledge base Response team, a group of librarians and editor The problem is neither lack of informa- researchers who answer questions from contion nor technology. With the latest genera- sultants. Their job is to suggest possible retion of Web publishing and database tools, search strategies, scour the firm's library of it is possible to import, integrate, and index continued on page 2
1

Related articles on the Society Web site*


Monsanto's knowledge editor -- the what and why of Monsantos recent job announcement for a knowledge editor and a knowledge consultant. Judith Sayrs: Knowledge Consultant -- interview with a librarian who has taken on parts of the editor role at A. O. Smith, a diversified technologybased manufacturing company . Knowledge Base Editor Roundtable -summary of roundtable discussion held in Dallas February, 1998. Knowledge Base Editor Roundtable -description of a forthcoming roundtable discussion in Enfield, CT. *Membership in the Society of Knowlege Base Publishers is required to access this Web site. See http:// www.montague.com/ society.html

About the publisher

LIMITED EDITION is published by Limited Edition Publishing. Editorial and subscription inquiries should be directed to: Editor Limited Edition 55 Main Street P. O. Box A-16 Montague, MA 01351 (413) 367-0245 editor@montague.com copyright Jean L. Graef. All rights reserved. 19921998

print and electronic sources, and put the caller in touch with an internal expert who has agreed to help answer questions. Andersen Consulting has appointed a knowledge integrator for its industrial products practice. This person is responsible for administering a knowledge base, classifying and formatting documents, deleting obsolete documents, promoting the system to Andersen consultants, and identifying topics that should be research projects. Ernst and Young recently advertised for a Manufacturing Content Coordinator, who will evaluate and develop services and products to support the firms manufacturing practice. Information guides at Hallmark are developing an information map that crossreferences a variety of information sources and databases. The goal is an enterprise virtual library with an index as familiar and easy to use as an old-fashioned library card catalog. In 1994 AFS, a division of Skandia insurance, appointed an Intellectual Capital Controller, whose job is to develop intellectual capital information and accounting systems, which can then be integrated into the traditional financial accounting system. Editor characteristics Although companies call knowledge editors different names, they have similar characteristics: comfortable with a variety of electronic information formats; trained or experienced in classifying and organizing information for business decision making; good listeners (McKinseys Phillip Brook Manville calls them intelligent interrogators); good at marketing knowledge base services and educating employees in their use. organizationally multilingual (i.e. they speak the languages of computer science, library science, journalism, business management, and often one or more scientific or technical specialties).
2

Where to find knowledge editors Knowledge editors are found almost everywhere in the organization. Some support a particular corporate function (e.g. legal services or marketing), while others work in a strategic business unit (e.g. the agribusiness division). In some very large companies, knowledge editors may be attached to a formal Knowledge Management function and report to a Chief Knowledge Officer or be aligned with the corporate information center and report to a Chief Information Officer. Ideally, editors should have training and/ or experience in at least two of the following disciplines: Librarians (Master in Library/Information Science) know sources of information or how to find them, how to develop a research strategy and organize (classify) documents for easy retrieval. Journalists (journalism or communications major) are good at identifying a good story, interviewing experts, authoring documents, and selling content to specific audiences. Business analysts (M.B.A.) can identify business issues as well as massage operating data and competitive intelligence into executive briefings. Information analysts (Master in Computer Science, software project manager, or user support analyst) can assess user needs, integrate multiple computer applications, make desktop information tools easier to use, and recommend and install knowledge base publishing software tools. Editors toolkit Unfortunately, the tools currently available are specialized for a single function -e.g. organizing a library collection, collaborating with colleagues, compiling a competitive intelligence report, or publishing a manual. Editors can spend a lot of time evaluating software, developing customized programs, or finding work-arounds. Even so, most practitioners in the role say that technology is not their major problem -- it is getting people to use what information is available and to share their own insights.