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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Exact role of Knowledge Manager

Exact role of Knowledge Manager @ Forums - KnowledgeBoard

comments and questions include topics, such as:
Exact role of Knowledge Manager
KM roles
Role of CKO's
Do you really need a Knowledge Manager?
Needing a knowledge manager
Who are the Knowledge Managers? ........ continue reading the list and the comments on each topic

NB. You may not find what you want: i. e., whatever concerns a Librarian.
The moral is you have to go and leave your comments as a librarian, as a library professional, as a librarian who is now a knowledge manager.


dgrey said...

Greetings Mohamed,

I'm afraid my take on librarians as knowledge managers is not too favorable.

Mostly I see them consumed with 'collection management', ignoring tacit knowledge, way too protective of personal privacy (e.g. afraid to implement recommender systems), shy away from community building, slow to implement knowledge sharing tools and help (e.g. web2.0) and operate from a fixed model of the librarian as the necessary intermediary.

Perhaps my sampling has been biased, my exposure to library culture one-sided, and my experience of librarians way off base?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Taher,
It's a pleasure to meet you ("virtually)!

When you speak of a "librarian," I have to assume you mean the person in a modern enterprise that is accountable for Information Management at it's highest level. To me and many other enterprises out there, this is the role of the CIO and his/her staff. Since, in this day and age, there really is no formal "librarian" that manages a library of books, periodicals, etc., it is typically the role of the CIO to coordinate an enterprise's critical information. This means many things, for example (but not limited to):

- Addressing the Collection of Information
- Addressing the Cataloguing of Information
- Addressing the Storing information
- Addressing the Rendering of Information
- Addressing the Sharing Information
- Addressing the Cusomization of Information
- Etc.

Usually, the CIO will have one or more dedicated Iinformation Architects that help create strategies around this. This is the closest thing I have actually found to a dedicated KM role that makes financial sense, as Information Management is critical to many operations.

However, if you think about this, even handling Information can be broken down into two distinct areas:

1) Vertical Information that aligns, specifically, with your vertical market and,
2) Horizontal Information that is common to all enterprises.

Example of vertical: Medical, Financial, Education, Retail, Government, Automotive, etc. They can even be broken down further within each domain. Medical Instrumentation, Medical Pharma, Medical Services, etc.

Example of horizontal: Project, Products, Services, Incidents, Problems, Risks, Releases, Changes, etc.

Since, in this world of exponentially growing information, it becomes impossible for CIOs to "do it all," we've created a business that focuses on being the information librarian for the horizontal space so that the CIOs can focus more effectively on their vertical domains.

FYI: I just wanted to be clear that what follows is specific to what "we" (TraverseIT) do and that the material I provide does not imply that there are no other options available. I figured that I'd simply throw it in to give you an idea of where the world is moving to, with respect to advanced Information Management and, ultimatley, Knowledge Management.

The way we commercialize the horizontal domains is very interesting and focuses on the KM "Community of Practice" set of theories. We believe in the statement "United We Stand. Divided We Fall." In other words, One COP is good... but many COPs are much better!

If you view each "horizontal" information domain as its own COP (for Example: Project Management is a COP, Change Management is a COP, etc.), you will see that a tremendous amount of "knowledge" (both tacit and explicit) gets generated within any one community. However, when you buy tools to address a domain, they typically only address that "one domain" and typically result in a non-sharing silo of information, that focuses only on that one COP. This means you have purchased a Card Catalog that has only one topic and which points to books that only follow that one topic. For example: If you purchase a Project Management system, it acts as a catalog of all Project related information and only Project related information. The down side to domain-specific tools is that you build information silos, which are the opposite of what you want for your enterprise, as a practicing Knowledge expert. Also, they're very expensive and when it comes time to share information among multiple other systems, it's down right impossible to do it completely and correctly.

What we do is to acknowledge that each operational horizontal domain is a topic within a master card catalog (i.e. Each COP = one topic in the catalog). We then devised a highly repeatable and commercially viable architecture and framework that collapses all operational domains down into one platform that we offer as a centralized and fully hosted Information Management solution. If you will, all "topics"/COPs are now in one common library, accessible through one common catalog that can see across all COPs, all sections of the library, all shelves, all books, etc. regardless of their topic. The end result is that we eliminate the need for many different domain-specific systems. All information is collapsed down into one system. All information is naturally correlated between horizontal domains. All users have access to all information, regardless of their geographic location. Etc. And, to boot, costs are far lower and the solution is repeatable, ensuring consistency across all enterprises and industries that use it. The best part of it is that it is fully hosted and available throught the web, making it so that all global stakeholders of an enterprise can create, manage, track, and share information.

Because the amount of global information is getting out of control, having your own librarians and libraries is becoming extremely expensive and counterproductive. Therefore, we're in the business of selling complete out-of-the-box and ready to use libraries. It's cheaper than building your own library. It's standard. It has a higher quality, since we're in the business of buiding libraries, and it is complete, from day one, with it's own professional Librarians, Card Catalog, Shelves for storage, Tracking Solutions, Revolving Doors, etc.

So, to address your question about a "librarian" in the modern enterprise, we are becoming that librarian for horizontal information, while the CIO of the enterprise is typically the librarian for the vertical information (leveraging us as his/her partner for the horizontal info.). The CIO builds, buys, and/or integrates vertical sollutions and they simply "turn on" our horizontal library as a connected wing to their own vertical library.

Anyhow, I hope this helps. If you'd like to discuss the topic further, please always feel free to reach out to me and I'll gladly do what I can to help.

Best Regards,

Frank Guerino
CEO & Founder
On-Demand Knowledge Management

Mohamed Taher said...

Thanks Dgrey
You do have a point on the overall outlook of the profession with regards to sharing and KM practices. And, I also agree with you on the way in which some behave, or perform.

The library profession has its own story to tell. I will be happy to discuss this topic.

Your kind gesture to go into so many details, is really a pleasure for me, and all the professionals who like to join be on the learning curve.

Your comments are realistic, and to the point--worth consideration by all.

You did a great job of explaining the issues, despite my question being brief--I had no intention to lead any one who would respond. You have given me great insight from the insiders point of view.

You seem to be on the same wave length as myself. Because, vertical and horrizontal, are my favorites categories for knowledge classification. See my blog post: Vertical and tacit: Multifaith and Knowledge Management in Perspective


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