After Action Review (AAR). A systematic process to extract the learning from an event or activity. The process addresses the questions: What should have happened? What actually happened? What lessons are there for the future?
Answernet. A service provided by a network of experts who answer questions posed online.
Artificial Intelligence (AI). A set of computer techniques that make the computer appear to behave with a degree of human intelligence. Rather than the procedural way of programming, it draws on inferences and rules to guide its actions. Expert systems, intelligent agents and natural language search are examples of the use of AI techniques in knowledge management.
BBS. See Balanced Business Scorecard. Now a less common abbreviation than BSC.
Balanced Scorecard. A performance measurement system that incorporates a balanced set of measures, both financial and non-financial. It adds customer, internal processes and innovation and learning indicators to financial ones to provide a more balanced view. Contrast with the more specific intellectual capital measurement methods.
Benchlearning. A structured approach whose focus is on learning from others to create distinctive improvements. Developed by Bengt Karlof and colleagues, it overcomes the often narrow focus of benchmarking on quantitative comparisons, which downplays the key role of knowledge transfer. See also the Benchlearning® website.
Benchmarking. A systematic process for comparing the performance of an activity or process across a range of organizations or departments. Identifying gaps in performance leads to on to benchlearning and learning good practice from high performers.
Benefits Tree. A diagrammatic depiction of cause-effect relationships from knowledge processes to business outcomes. Helpful in making the business case for knowledge management. See also the Benefits Tree tool.
Best Practice. The distillation of accumulated wisdom about the most effective way to carry out a business activity or process. Since 'best' is highly subjective and context dependent, as well as implying that no further improvements are possible, many people now prefer the term good practices. See also the article: Are Your Best Practices Really The Best?
BSC. See Balanced Business Scorecard.
Blog (originally Web log). A string of thoughts of an individual shown in chronological sequence on a Web page, often with hyperlinks to sources that have stimulated his or her thinking. A well established KM blog can be seen at David Gurteen's website, while the AOK website lists a selection of KM blogs. Although often dismissed as a gimmick some people see blogging as grass-roots KM, alongside storytelling. Others suggest that it perpetuates knowledge silos and that a Wiki is more appropriate. See also K-log and weblog
Bulletin Board. See Message Board
Case Based Reasoning (CBR). An application of AI techniques, where solutions to a given problem are sought through a reasoning process that draws analogies with similar problems whose solution is already known.
Caves and Commons. Denotes two main types of physical working area: a cave is a private area for concentrated thinking; commons are open areas for socialization and meeting rooms for team discussions. Design of working space can significantly enhance the productivity of knowledge workers.
Chat. See Instant Messaging.
Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO). A senior executive, often at board level with responsibility for an organization's knowledge agenda. Unlike other officers, they may not manage a knowledge 'function', although they may directly manage a small knowledge team, and hold budget responsibilities. See also Do You Need A CKO?
Classification. A key process in the knowledge sharing cycle. Documents are classified and indexed according to their core terms and concepts. Increasingly computer systems provide a level of automation of this process, using natural language or statistical methods. This topic is covered in some depth in our report: Taxonomies: A Framework for Corporate Knowledge?.
CKO. See Chief Knowledge Officer.
CMS. See Content Management System.
Codification. See Knowledge Codification.
CoI. See Community of Interest.
Combination. One of four basic knowledge conversion processes described by Nonaka and Takeuchi. Combination is the bringing together of different sources of explicit knowledge, and reconfiguring it into new explicit knowledge. Contrast this with Externalization, Internalization and Socialization.
Community. A community of interest or practice. The focus of a community is usually part of a website that typically provides message boards and other conversational facilities (such as discussion lists and instant messaging as well as a library of online resources. Some people also refer to communities of purpose or communities of commitment.
Community of Practice (CoP). A group of people who share and develop their knowledge in pursuit of a common purpose or task, even though they do not necessarily work in the same department or organization. John Seely Brown of Xerox calls them "peers in the execution of real work". See the article: Knowledge Communities: Helping Them Thrive and the K-Guide: Creating Successful Communities.
Concept Mapping. A visual representation of core concepts showing the relationships between them. A typical concept map comprises a set of nodes or bubbles (the concepts) with arrowed links between them (the causal relationships). One of the several types of knowledge mapping.
Content Analysis. Analysis of a body of content (text) into its key concepts. As well as a method of discerning trends, this technique is used to generate keywords and thesaurus terms to improve subsequent text search and retrieval. The latter result is increasingly achieved through the use of automated classification systems.
CoP. See Community of Practice.
Content Management System (CMS). A computer system that makes it easier to develop enterprise portals and websites, by separating the management of content from its presentation (display). Blocks of content are tagged with metadata and other attributes and held in a content database. Web pages are generated (often 'on-the-fly') by accessing content from the database and inserting it into the relevant 'placeholders' on Web page templates. Since a single block of content may appear on many Web pages, the task of maintenance and updating is simplified. Compared to document management systems the focus of a CMS is individual content blocks. See also the article: Is Content King?
CRM. See Customer Relationship Management.
Customer Capital. A measure of the intangible value that accrues through customer relationships, including size of customer bases, knowledge of customers and their needs, and related intellectual property such as brands. A component of intellectual capital.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM). An approach that gathers and uses knowledge of customers' buying habits and preferences in order to strengthen the ongoing relationship for mutual benefit. Customer knowledge comes out as the most important knowledge to manage in many KM surveys. See also the article Customer Knowledge is NOT Knowledge of the Customer and Customers: A New Twist on Knowledge Management.
Data Mining. A computer technique for extracting meaningful knowledge from masses of data. Using artificial intelligence methods it identifies unanticipated patterns by considering the interaction of many more variables than is achievable by humans. Contrast with text mining.
Decision Diary. A diary in which decisions are recorded, together with the assumptions and reasoning behind them. They are used to derive lessons and record knowledge that will help future decision-making.
Digital Rights. The rights and conditions of use for a piece of digital content. These rights may be part of the product's wrapper, or may be embedded in the product as part of a watermark to reduce illegal copying.
Discussion List. A mechanism used by to share information and knowledge using a single email address to communicate to all members of a given list. Typically all messages generated during one day are grouped together and sent as a single email in a 'digest'.
Desktop Conferencing. Videoconferencing using a desktop PC. A small camera (webcam) is usually mounted on top of the user's display screen. Evidence suggests that this often transfers expertise better than simply using email or documents.
Document Management System. A computer-based system for storing and retrieving documents held in a variety of formats, including scanned images of paper documents. Many provide version control and audit trails of changes and usage. The distinctions between document management, content management and records management systems are increasingly blurring.
EDRMS. Electronic (sometime Enterprise) Document and Records Management System. See Document Management System.
EIP. See Enterprise Information Portal.
Enterprise Information Portal (EIP). Strictly, an entry point (home page) into an organization's intranet, although the term now often refers to the intranet itself and its content. Users have a personalized starting page that gives them a single point of access to enterprise information, wherever it is held. See also Portal and the articles Personal Portals: Still the Panacea? and Portals: Panacea or Pig?.
Expert System. A common class of AI computer system that applies the logic and domain knowledge it has acquired from a human 'expert'. A typical expert system has three main parts - a knowledge base (that contains the rules), an inference engine (that interprets the situation against the rules) and a human interface.
Externalization. One of four basic knowledge conversion processes described by Nonaka and Takeuchi. It is the conversion of tacit to explicit knowledge, articulating thoughts through language or diagrams. Contrast with Internalization, Combination and Socialization.
Expertise Directory. A database of personnel and their skills that allows users to search for people with specific skills or relevant project experience. Often referred to as 'Yellow Pages'.
Expertise Profiling. The identification and classification of personal knowledge and skills. This may be done through manual completion of data forms or by computer systems that infer people expertise according to what they write in emails and documents. The output of the process may be an expertise directory or a database that is used in automated question and answer systems.
Extensible Markup Language. See XML.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). A list of questions that are most frequently asked or are anticipated by website or intranet users, together with their answers. Information providers use this technique to minimize the number of recurring queries and calls. Some organizations use the term AAQs - actually asked questions - since many writers of FAQs anticipate what might be asked or what questions their content answers.
Fuzzy logic. A technique used in artificial intelligence that works on a balance of probabilities for rules, rather than precise matching of data or patterns. Examples of its use are found in text mining and case based reasoning applications.
Groupware. Computer software tools that support collaborative working. Lotus Notes was the archetypal groupware software, but many groupware facilities are now provided on the Internet e.g. bulletin boards, discussion forums, instant messaging. The term is generally falling into disuse compared to 'collaboration software'. See also Getting To Grips With Groupware.
Human Capital. The competencies, know-how, capabilities and experience possessed by individuals. One of the three main components of Intellectual Capital. The others are Structural Capital and Customer Capital.
Information Resources Management (IRM). The techniques of managing information as an organizational resources. They include the identification of information, its classification and ways of valuing and exploiting it. See the Insight: Information Resources Management (IRM) .
IAM. Intellectual asset management or Intangible Assets Monitor.
IC. See Intellectual Capital.
IC Measurement. The measurement of the Intellectual Capital of an organization. Over the last few years there have been significant developments in IC measurement methods to help managers focus on knowledge and other intangible sources of wealth creation. See the Insight Measuring Intellectual Capital and the article Models For metrics.
IC Multiplier. The ratio of Structural Capital / Human Capital. It indicates how well an organization leverages its human capital through it structural capital. A higher ratio indicates good leverage and minimizes the loss of knowledge when people leave.
IC Reporting. The reporting of an organization's intellectual capital in a similar way that financial results are reported. Typically this is done as an annual IC supplement to the formal accounts. See also IC Measurement.
Implicit knowledge. Knowledge that is not explicitly identified but can be inferred from its context or packaging. An example is the knowledge held in software that can be deduced by reverse engineering. Contrast with explicit and tacit knowledge.
Information Audit. See Knowledge Audit.
Instant Messaging. An Internet or intranet facility in which users type messages into a window that is simultaneously viewed by other participants in that chat room or area. While commonly associated with informal social groups, the tool is a useful adjunct for synchronous knowledge exchange in a corporate context, for example as a way of interaction during a 'webinar'.
Intangible Assets. Assets that are not physical or tangible in nature. They are therefore more difficult to identify and count as discrete entities. Knowledge is one type of intangible asset.
Intangible Assets Monitor (IAM). A method of IC Measurement developed by Karl Erik Sveiby for recording intangible assets. It divides intangible assets into three main categories - competencies, external structure and internal structure. Indicators are divided into four distinctive groups - growth, renewal, efficiency and stability.
Intellectual Capital (IC). The intangible assets of a company not normally valued on the balance sheet. It is roughly - but not exactly - the difference between the market and book value of a company. It is often divided into the categories of human capital, customer capital and structural capital. Some schemes separate out intellectual property, while others use the broader term relationship capital instead of customer capital.
Intellectual Agent. An autonomous piece of computer code that carries out background tasks according to its rules on behalf of the user. A typical example is providing pop-up alerts for the user pointing them to related documents or people when a given phrase is entered into their computer.
Internalization. One of four basic knowledge conversion processes described by Nonaka and Takeuchi. Internalization is conversion of explicit to tacit, for example through applying explicit knowledge and learning from the experience. Contrast with Externalization, Combination and Socialization.
Intranet. An internal internet. In other words an internal computer network that runs the Internet protocol (TCP/IP). Most intranets have a computer 'gateway' to the wider (external) Internet and deploy a 'firewall' to prevent unauthorized access to a company's information. See the Insight: Intranets - Sharing Organizational Knowledge. See also Portal and Extranet.
IRM. See Information Resources Management.
Just-in-time Knowledge. The concept of delivering knowledge to an individual just at the time that they need it to carry out a task. This overcomes the problem of information overload, where knowledge not immediately needed may be forgotten or ignored. Mechanisms that help are alerting systems linked to computerized procedures or what a knowledge worker is typing into their computer and natural language retrieval.
KM. See Knowledge Management.
KM Assessment. An assessment of the quality and capabilities of knowledge management within an organization. A typical assessment tool will have a set of questions against which employees score the level of actual and desired capabilities. See for example the Know-10 Assessment Tool.
KM Maturity. The level of adoption of KM within an organization. This is gauged by reference to a KM maturity model that looks at stages of maturity from ad-hoc to fully embedded and integrated into the organization's core activities.
Knowledge Archaeology. The process of rediscovering an organization's historical knowledge that has become lost.
Knowledge Asset. An identifiable piece of knowledge that has some intrinsic or extrinsic value.
Knowledge Audit. The systematic analysis of an organization's information and knowledge entities and their key attributes, such as ownership, usage and flows, mapped against user and organizational knowledge needs. The terms information audit, knowledge audit, knowledge inventory and knowledge mapping are often used synonymously.
Knowledge Base. A computer held database that record knowledge in an appropriate format for later extraction. It may take various forms depending on whether it supports an expert system or contains documents and textual information for human retrieval.
Knowledge Broker. An intermediary that connects knowledge seekers to knowledge providers. It may involve brokering a deal and retaining anonymity between buyer and seller until a suitable stage of negotiation. Some overlap with a knowledge analyst.
Knowledge Business. A business whose primary outputs are knowledge products and services.
Knowledge Café. Informal meeting area for the exchange of knowledge. Caf´s can be virtual meeting rooms as well as real ones.
Knowledge Capital. The capital of an organization that is not physical or financial. Similar to intellectual capital, this is the term used by Paul Strassmann and Baruch Lev to describe the results of their methods that start with the capital reported in a company's balance sheet.
Knowledge Centre. A central function for managing knowledge resources. Often developed around a corporate library, a typical knowledge centre will manage both physical and virtual resources - documents, databases, intranet content, expertise directories etc. See the article:Knowledge Centers - Aggregating Dispersed Knowledge.
Knowledge Codification. The process of articulating knowledge in a more structured way. It typically involves eliciting tacit knowledge from an expert, making it explicit and putting it into a template and format that aids dissemination and understanding. High levels of codification are found in computer software and mathematical formulae.
Knowledge Cycle. A sequence of core knowledge processes that results in new knowledge. There are two main cycles - the innovation cycle and the knowledge sharing cycle.
Knowledge Economy. An economy in which knowledge is one of the main factors of production and constitutes the major component of economic output. This may occur directly through knowledge products and services or indirectly where knowledge is an added-value part of other products and services. Contrast with agricultural and industrial economies. See the Insight: The Global Knowledge Economy.
Knowledge Management (KM). The explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusion, use and exploitation in pursuit of organizational objectives.
Knowledge Mapping. The process of identifying core knowledge and the relationship between knowledge elements. A map may be portrayed in many visual formats, such as a hierarchical tree or a node and link diagram. It is typically a task carried out as part of a knowledge audit. See also social network analysis.
Knowledge Market. A marketplace for the buying and selling of knowledge. Online knowledge markets are sometimes referred to as knowledge e-marketplaces. They commonly allow the posting of knowledge needs and knowledge offers, and may conduct sales by auction. See the Insight: Online Knowledge Markets.
Knowledge Narrative. The articulation of value of and organization's products and services to customers and how knowledge resources are used to achieve this value. It derives from the organization's vision and strategy and describes its KM ambitions. It often forms part of an IC report.
Knowledge Object. A piece of knowledge held in a well-defined and structured format, such that it is easy to replicate and disseminate. Although predominantly in the form of explicit knowledge, it may contain some element of human knowledge.
Knowledge Process. A broad knowledge activity often performed at an aggregated level. Examples are knowledge gathering, sharing and dissemination. Knowledge moves from one process to another as part of a knowledge cycle.
Knowledge Product. A product which consists almost entirely of information or knowledge.
Knowledge Refining. The process of filtering, aggregating and summarizing knowledge drawn from a wide range of resources.
Knowledge Repository. A store of knowledge. While the term typically refers to explicit forms of knowledge, such as documents and databases, it can also refer to human-held knowledge.
Knowledge Worker. An individual whose primary contribution is through the knowledge that they possess or process. This contrasts with workers whose work is predominantly manual or following highly specified procedures with little scope for individual thought.
Knowledge Wrapper. Information associated with a knowledge object that accurately describes the contents within. It holds metadata in a standard format and may hold encrypted digital rights information.
Learning Organization. An organization which has in place systems, mechanisms and processes that are used to continually enhance its capabilities and those who work with it or for it, to achieve sustainable objectives - for themselves and the communities in which they participate. See the Insight: The Learning Organization.
Message Board. An area on a website where messages can be exchanged and viewed by a workgroup or community. Sometimes referred to as a bulletin board. The conversational interaction via the Web is sometimes called Web conferencing. See also discussion lists.
Metadata. Data about data. A structured piece of data that describes the contents of a database record. One common metadata format is that of the Dublin core (page XXX) that defines metadata fields for bibliographic databases. See also knowledge wrapper.
Mind Mapping. A visual method of organizing ideas. In most mind mapping systems the ideas branch out from a central point. In turn, each branch can have additional branches or links to other mind maps. A specific form of concept mapping.
Natural Language Processing (NLP). The ability of a computer application, such as a search engine to accept ordinary language input rather than highly specified instructions. It processes text through analysis of syntax and semantics.
Neural Networks. An artificial intelligence technique that mimics the operation of the human brain. It consists of a network of individual neurons that are triggered according to the intensity of various inputs and their relative 'weights'. It adjusts these weights according to the quality of the outcome for a given set of inputs. In other words, a neural network learns from experience.
Ontology. An extension to a taxonomy that adds specifications of relationships between entities plus a set of automatic inference rules and associated actions. Typical relationships include "instance of" and "made of".
Organizational Learning. The processes by which an organization 'learns', so as to share best practice and avoid repeating mistakes. The learning may be embedded in individuals or in organizational systems and organizational memory. Closely related to the learning organization (an organization which has good organizational learning processes).Organizational Memory. A place, such as a database or a document, where organizational knowledge is stored, and is readily accessible for reuse. Without a systematic storing of such knowledge, it is easily lost as people move around or leave the organization.
Organizational Memory. The core knowledge of an organization's past, including project histories, important decisions and their rationale, key documents and customer relationships. Recalling into organizational memory avoids 'reinventing the wheel' and repeating mistakes.
Project History. The main activities and decisions taken during a project, recorded in a way that aids knowledge sharing and derives lessons for similar projects in the future.
Portal. The common term for Enterprise Information Portal. A portal is a single point of entry on the Web or an intranet to a wide range of information and knowledge resources and personal tools. c.f. common definition of "gateway".
RDF. See Resource Description Framework.
Relationship Capital. A measure of the intangible value that an organization has through its relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. It is now more widely used than the narrow term customer capital. A component of Intellectual Capital.
Richness. The depth of knowledge, such as contextual knowledge, that enhances a piece of core knowledge. Multimedia also adds richness by giving the viewer more visual information and cues. Contrast with Reach.
Richness. Resource Description Framework (RDF). A framework developed by W3C for developing metadata standards for WWW resources. It brings together in one place metadata activities for resources such as site maps, content ratings, search engine data collection and digital library collections. The resource descriptions use XML as the interchange language.
Schema. A taxonomy (classification) of knowledge or information. Common terms are used to describe an organization's knowledge domains which are categorized into hierarchies and related terms. See also Taxonomy and Thesaurus.
Search Engine. A piece of software or a service that indexes pages from the Web and lists those that match or closely match a user's search terms. Results are ranked by relevance or other factors and include items from sources all over the Web. One of the growing problems is the 'hidden' Web, content that is not indexed because it is generated on the fly or held in databases. It is estimated that over four fifths of Internet content is now hidden.
Share Fair. An event especially constructed to encourage the interchange of knowledge. Typically organized as a conference and exhibition with booths.
Semantic Network. A method of representing structured knowledge. It consists of nodes and links, where the nodes are concepts or entities and the links represent relationships and associations among the concepts. An ontology can be viewed as domain knowledge represented in the form of a semantic network.
Semantic Web. The addition of semantic constructs (ontological elements) to World Wide Web resources to create semantic networks accessible via the Internet. The Semantic Web is seen by some as the next evolution of the World Wide Web (the 'intelligent' Web).
Socialization. One of four basic knowledge conversion processes described by Nonaka and Takeuchi. Socialization is conversion of tacit knowledge to other tacit knowledge, typically by group processes where people learn together through a shared experience. Contrast with Externalization, Internalization and Combination.
Social Network Mapping. A technique to map the communication links of people in an organization and their wider networks. It unearths through questionnaires and/or analysis of email traffic, who is communicating with whom and why. The result is typically displayed visually as a network map.
Stickiness. A property of knowledge that is difficult to transfer, i.e. it is heavily dependent on personal knowledge and/or context. The term is also applied to a website that encourages visitors to spend significant time there and return repeatedly. Portal sites and search engines are very 'sticky'.
Storytelling. The use of stories in the organizational context, as a way of sharing knowledge and helping the process of learning.
Tacit knowledge. Knowledge that is not codified but held in people's heads. Intuitive, experiential, judgmental and context sensitive, it may be difficult to articulate. Contrast with explicit knowledge.
Tag. Instruction for an application or formatting tool, such as an Internet browser. Tags are used in markup languages (HTML and XML). Tagging content is a key activity in implementing Content Management Systems.
Taxonomy. A system of classification. A typical taxonomy is a hierarchy of terms (nodes), where lower level terms are more specific instances of higher level ones. Taxonomies in which a term can appear in more than one branch are called 'poly-hierarchical'. Contrast with Thesaurus and Ontology.
Thesaurus. A controlled vocabulary of terms for a corpus of information. An extension of a taxonomy that includes rules on vocabulary usage for document classification e.g. "preferred terms", "synonym of", "belongs to", "used for" etc. See the article Taxonomy-Enhanced Knowledge Publications.
Topic Map. An ISO standard (ISO 13250) for describing relationships of nodes in an ontology independent of its underlying resources. Associations and Occurrences are key constructs in the XTM (XML Topic Map) standard.
Text Mining. Extracting the essential concepts and meaning from large amounts of textual information. See also text summarizing (next entry).
Text summarizing. The result of text mining a single document and producing a summary which includes some of its key sentences. Typically, all the main concepts of a large document can be summarized in less than twenty per cent of its original size.
Videoconferencing. Communications over an electronic network using video. Systems range from desktop units on PCs (desktop conferencing) to dedicated systems that use cameras and monitors in a conference room setting.
Virtual Organization. An organization whose participants are geographically separated but who work together through online communications. Less commonly, the term refers to a temporary organization or network that is created for a specific purpose, but whose members remain independent.
XML (eXtensible Markup Language). A Web-based markup language that allows a wide range of user-defined tags. If a community uses a common XML schema, then structured information can be shared between computer applications.
XTM (XML Topic Map). See Topic Map.
© Copyright 2003. David J. Skyrme. All rights reserved.
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Last updated: 19th February 2011