Enterprise 2.0 revisiting fundamentals of General Management (9/16) – IS are about access to information (as much as stock)

When it comes to defining knowledge, it really is easy to have a hard time, because there are different ways of understanding it.


There is a natural confusion between data, information and knowledge.

Data is
1) a factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation;
2) an information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful; and
3) an information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed.

Information is
1) knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction;
2) intelligence, news;
3) a) facts, data; b) the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects; c) (1): a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2): something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct; d) a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed.

Knowledge is
1) the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association;
2) a) acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique; b) (1): the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one’s information or understanding; c) the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning: cognition; d) the fact or condition of having information or of being learned;
3) the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind.

(Definitions from Merriam Webster)

In organisations, we hardly refer to knowledge when we talk of knowledge management. We refer to information management and in many cases we refer to data management.
This is due to the fact that there is a basic dominant assumption about what is knowledge.


When it comes to defining knowledge, one can distinguishes three dialectics: Explicit vs Tacit, Ontological vs Contextual and Private vs Public. The first one is based on the physical status of knowledge, the second one on its epistemological status and the third one on its economical status.





In a corporation it is very likely that the ‘Explicit – Ontological – Private’ understanding prevails. That is the reason why there are many processes (explicitation), data (ontology) and egoist ‘knowledge is Power’ behaviours.
Social computing is based on a radically different ground i.e. ‘tacit, contextual and public’; and Stowe Boyd one of its prominent spokesperson.
In an organisation, existing implementations show that social computing is altered in explicitable, contextual and collective to be compatible and successful.


What does that imply? Simply that social computing enriches the organisation by complementing the dominant perspective, by helping it move away from the data conception. It helps organisations have a more comprehensive approach of knowledge management. Information and knowledge are gaining ground on data and documents. It helps organisation make the cultural shift on IT: it’s not about storage, it is about access.


We all know that. The difficulty is not to store information because there are loads of techniques, tools and money for this and for ages. The difficulty is to access information because the later has contributed over the years to information overload, if not pollution. At this stage we need some serious focus on finding the ways to improve access to relevant information. Search engines are a solution but not the only one, especially in multilingual environments. Folksonomy and Tagging help people appropriating information. Social Bookmarking is a basic group feature for benefiting from like-minded people search and selection efforts. Filters such as RSS feeds, reputation and notation tools help gain a qualitative perception of content without burning time going thru (even not reading) it.

I am at the junction of management, technology & culture, to maximize knowledge work & make organizations more competitive. I'm passionate about knowledge management, communities of practice, enterprise social computing (aka enterprise 2.0) and corporate governance in a knowledge economy. I fancy designing collaboration and knowledge sharing related digital tools. I am currently the Director, Collaborative Development at the Ops Division of L'Oreal and based in Paris. I was previously in Singapore and Hyderabad as Director Asia at Revevol, an international cloud computing broker specialised in Google Enterprise products and related services, Associate Director of the Digital Division of the National Library Board of Singapore and before a consultant at Headshift, a social business design consultancy now part of the Dachis Group. I have been working on international network and community management, designing and implementing CRM, reporting and community tools. I have given some lectures around KM at EM Lyon, a European leading Management School, and talks at both KM Singapore and KM Asia. I participated in the we are smarter than me initiative as chapter moderator. I have been a member of the Executive Committee of the Information & Knowledge Management Society of Singapore (IKMS) for two years. I graduated a PhD in Management, while working in a full-time position and with the kind support of Claude Roche (France Telecom, previously at ENST), Jean-Claude Moisdon (CGS Mines) and Philippe Lorino (ESSEC). When not working, I can be found back-packing mostly in Latin America and Asia. The shift from muscle sweat to brain juice as the main factor of performance creates some fundamental changes in the way management is to be taught and practised. Topics like knowledge management (KM), communities of practice (CoP), enterprise social computing (Enterprise 2.0) are the ones that participate in crafting the new required management practices. But they only are one part of the solution. Topics like measurement and metrics, behaviours and authority, representation and organisation of the group also have to be questioned and rejuvenated. This blog is about all this and we can summarise this as 'managing in a knowledge economy'. It displays ideas of my own and not the ones of my employers, past and present.

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