Enterprise architecture is a major contributor to knowledge management.
- EA documents and communicates the baseline, target, and transition plan for the organization.
- User-centric EA categorizes, analyzes, and visualizes the information to make it useful and usable.
- Further, User-centric EA develops information products to enable better decision making, and it makes these readily accessible to end-users.
The Wall Street Journal, 10 March 2008, reports that “knowledge management [KM] can make a difference—but it needs to be more pragmatic.”
What is KM?
“A concerted effort to improve how knowledge is created, delivered, and used.”
“Over the past 15 years or so, many large organizations have embraced the idea that they could become more productive and competitive by better managing knowledge—the ideas and expertise that originate in the human mind.”
But many KM programs have failed miserably or just gone nowhere—why?
“Some firms stumbled by focusing their knowledge management efforts on technology at the expense of everything else, while others failed to tie knowledge programs to overall business goals or the organization’s other activities.”
Here’s how to do KM right:
- Creation—Organizations “define in advance the type of information they need and why they need it—say to improve customer service or to develop easier to use products. They solicit ideas, insights, and innovations from rank-and-file workers, customers, and business partners, rather than relying solely on R&D staff to come up with the ideas.” Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis, and collaborative websites encourage broader participation.
- Dissemination—“the focus is on putting in one place all the content a specific group of workers need, regardless of its source. To that end, many organizations are using Web portals, or intranet sites as one stop information shops.”
- Application—“obtaining and sharing knowledge is beneficial only if employees use it to get better at what they do—that is, they learn from it.” Creating communities of interest (COIs) helps foster social learning that occurs when people with a common interest in some subject or problem are brought together to collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, solutions, and innovations.”
EA contributes to all three areas:
- EA identifies information needs by the business and IT areas and captures, processes, and serves up this information to stakeholders.
- EA disseminates information products through the EA website, handbook, EA repository, and other media to make it accessible to end-users.
- EA that is User-centric focuses on providing information that is actionable—useful and usable by the business and IT executives and staffs. Only products with clear uses and users are developed, maintained, and shared. EA is focused on delivering value (shelfware is a dirty word in User-centric EA).
EA can be a shining example of KM, when it is User-centric!