Those studies led to insights into some of the ways
in which knowledge flows and organizational routines develop, both
within individual companies and within supply chains. Perhaps more
interestingly, they suggest that knowledge that is in scarce supply,
such as the knowledge of leading designers, can be used within a
community of practice to raise awareness of best practice and to
then augment the capabilities of others. In this way, even modestly-trained
staff can set more valued targets for themselves and can reach them.
Larger, follow-through projects are envisaged at the
European level. Such ventures offer the prospect that entire segments
of manufacturing industry could make use of shared libraries of
expertise in key areas such as computer-aided design and manufacture,
coupled with shared facilities for describing their capabilities,
their products, and even individual components in sector-wide databases.
Every part of this initiative requires consideration of the details
as well as the vision. There has to be agreement about the sharing
of knowledge and about the technical details of how knowledge will
be described so that it can be updated, shared, and accessed via
wide-area networks to be used both by computers and by human users.
The role of standards is crucial here.
Todays high-wage economies, such as high-technology
manufacturing, will not be sustainable unless they can make better
use of knowledge about best practice and can meet global performance
levels for the time and costs of operations. Agreement about the
details of knowledge-sharing, and in particular the standards to
be used to describe and share knowledge, is now seen as a key element
in the success of knowledge-intensive organizations that work with
other enterprises to develop products and services.
Making e-Government Work
As pervasive computing begins to impact all societies
and economies, it enables not just new learning and knowledge management
capabilities, but it also triggers the growth of government services.
For example, Michigan.gov, the State of Michigans
government services portal, has been widely acclaimed as raising
the bar in terms of e-government. It has achieved this through delivering
integrated access and clear benefits to all stakeholdersgovernment
departments, businesses, and citizens of the state. It has also
achieved this through vision, leadership, and a willingness to transform
the business processes of government by closely aligning the expertise
required (at all organizational levels) with a strategic plan for
service delivery. Giving customers what they want has been key,
and so has recognition that transformation is an ongoing process.
With cost-savings and benefits to the customer in
terms of timeliness and trusted information, Michigan.gov delivers
everything from fishing licenses and camping ground reservations
to schedules of legal hearings to comprehensive schooling directories,
the granting of e-scholarships and personalized portals.
e-Government is integrating services delivery,
thereby creating new experiences for citizens such as one-stop shopping
for information and services. But even greater strides are being
made in developing knowledge communities that enable government
departments to resolve cross-cutting issues and engage with other
departments and customers/citizens in formulating policies and services.
Meanwhile, and on a much grander scale, the UK Government
is now consolidating a knowledge management framework that spans
all levels of government and recognizes knowledge communities
as the key to moving forward. The framework is building upon the
earlier success of its e-Envoys Knowledge Network. Launched
in late 2000, the Knowledge Network has achieved a significant milestone
in delivering real-time knowledge sharing between government departments.
Efficiencies are not just being delivered in terms of timeliness
but also in the handling of issues that require cross-departmental
input and rationalization. Importantly, key industry players such
as IBM, Cable and Wireless, and Lotus have also supported this initiative.
In a similar way to the UKs e-Envoy, the Australian
National Office for the Information Economy is leading the introduction
of integrated government service delivery. After launching a comprehensive
Government Online Strategy in early 2000, it is now concerned with
moving to the next phase of online services development. The issue
is no longer about establishing government agency presence online
but in delivering a return on investment through ensuring all stakeholders
derive benefit from interoperable services.