To achieve order-of-magnitude leaps in their capacity
to share and use knowledge, enterprises must transform their technology,
infrastructures, processes, and cultures. These changes will be
shaped by attitudinal differences between individuals who find Internet
culture congenial versus those who are uncomfortable with it.
The story of the creation and development
of the Internet is one of an extraordinary human adventure. It highlights
peoples capacity to transcend institutional goals, overcome
bureaucratic barriers, and subvert established values in the process
of ushering in a new world. It also lends support to the view that
cooperation and freedom of information may be more conducive to
innovation than competition and proprietary rights.
Manuel Castells, The Internet Galaxy
This transformation should begin with an appraisal
of the ways in which new and old knowledge competes in an organization;
and with an assessment of the processes and participants (individuals
and groups) that sustain knowledge flow and knowledge use in that
organization. Such appraisals are guided by a powerful metaphor:
each organization is a knowledge ecosystem supported by technology
infrastructures, business processes, formal organizational structures,
communities of practice, the beliefs and practices that define the
organizations knowledge culture, and the capabilities and
perspectives of staff, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
To prepare for success in the Knowledge Age, enterprises of all
kinds must ensure that they make it easy for useful knowledge to
be recognized and utilized constructively.
Critically examining every aspect of their knowledge
ecosystems as part of every planning process is essential to achieving
Tinkering Rather than Transforming
Over the past decade, enterprises have been tinkering
with technical aspects of their knowledge ecosystem. They have not
yet focused on making it easier to handle knowledge. They have been
using their ICT infrastructures to enhance productivity and to change
some of the processes through which they have conducted their businesses.
This has enabled some leading-edge users to experience the first
generation of Web-based applications, processes for sharing digital
knowledge, and technology-enabled reinvention of organizational
processes. Even these proof-of-concept applications have generated
excitement about the future. Farsighted users have sensed the potential
for creating genuinely user-centric experiences, sharing all kinds
of knowledge and engaging the products and services offered by colleges
and universities, corporations, associations, and other non-profit
On the Verge of Major Infrastructure Advances.
Over the next few years, many enterprises continue to develop their
infrastructures but with some significant differences. Advances
in technologies and standards are facilitating the revolutionizing
of organizational infrastructures. Proprietary applications software
enterprise portals, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems,
Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Learning Management Systems
(LMS), community software, and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)
are being succeeded by open system architectures and protocols,
albeit at a judicious pace.