Connecting formal and informal knowlegde to create business value.

If enterprise 2.0 is to develop informal networks and tacit knowledge formalization within the enterprise, there’s still one question to be answered : how does all the spent energy contributes to create business value ?

Actually, I consider it as a keypoint in every project I manage : the use of all this intangible patrimony for formal business needs has to be organized. Because value creation will always be something structured.

Saying that, I don’t think that the “spent energy” words are quite relevant. I think “recycled energy” would be better. In fact, social networks already exist but are not used except in a very small perimeter, tacit knowledge exists too but only at an individual scale, but there are not valuable at the organization scale.

Let go back to our purpose : using informal and tacit assets in a formal business context, whitout which everything that has to do with enterprise 2.0 is useless.

I found this interesting article about the future of Business Intelligence. Since it’s in french, here’s the translation of some keypoints.

• As relevance and qualiy of the results given by new tools, the weight of non structured datas will gradually increase in the decision making process to approach it’s real weight in the information system (80% non structured, 20% structured).  With a little distance, we’ll wonder why we wake so much effort to exploit only 20% of the available information.

• BI’s history looks like the story of the drunkard who’s searching his keys under a street light, not because he lost it there but because it’s the only illuminated place. Inital focus of BI’s editors on structured datas, more easy to aggregate, comes from the same logic.

• Since they’re not a part of the the reporting provided by BI tools, those qualitative elements were often relegated in annex of the main report, made of numbers and charts.

• Initiated years ago, the battle for structured datas is over in many companies although the battle for non structured datas is only beginning.

• The emergence of BI systems melting structured and unstructured datas is a real opportunity for both editors looking for a new battlefield and managers who are convinced that reality is often more complex than an spreadshit.

• This paradigm shift, leveraged by new tools, is like a revolution, it breaks the old frontier between BI and competitive intelligence into pieces for companies’ greatest benefit.

• This critical component (the search engine) will quickly become the only access point to enterprise information, allowing to aggregate all the available datas, structured or not. All futures add-ons and application will connect to this central point, whether they analyze or display information.

This inspires me some thoughts :

Before thinkings of using unstructured datas, that’s to say a form of tacit knowledge, they have to be captured in order to make them available. In this purpose, social software plateforms seems to be unavoidable. First because it’s an easy way to publish what we know. Secondly because those platforms live on interactions and discussions. If I’m asked to formalize what I know it will be impossible for me to give everything I have. On the other hand, in a discussion, if I’m asked something, I can digg into my memory and find things that only come to me when I receive the right stimulus, when I’m on situation. Don’t forget that discussion is the more accessible form of knowledge.

Secondly, connection will not be only technological. It will also be human, organizational. Re-injecting those knowledges is, for example, identifying a best practice somewhere and deploy it somewhere else. It’s identifying a weak signal and decide to do something. Even if tools will allow to point at some things, someone will have to decide, to use informal knowledge for formal needs. We also have to keep in mind that this kind of knowledge is highly contextualized, and only human can understant the value of context. As a conclusion I’m convinced that the human part in the human/machine duo will be more important than ever.

A last word about the critical nature of search engines. Considering the best search engine is people, giving an unique access point to information will also imply to give access to a network of people. Enterprise social software comes back in this discussion.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

Recent posts