Making knowledge accidents happen
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Jun 22, 2000
Knowledge management is seen as a Holy Grail for the federal IT community
because it enables a person's expertise to be accessible throughout an organization
at any time, even after the person has moved on. In other words, it's not
an easy task.
But knowledge management is as simple as applying technology to "knowledge
accidents," according to Al Zollar, president and chief executive officer
of Lotus Development Corp.
"Knowledge accidents happen when people run into each other at places
like this or at the water cooler, exchange information, and realize an opportunity
for collaboration and a synergy between the projects they're working on,"
Zollar said during his keynote address Wednesday at the GovTech conference
in Washington, D.C. "We need to make knowledge accidents happen on purpose,
regularly and, most importantly, with intent."
Lotus' knowledge management solution is its Raven software, which is
in beta testing and will be available by the end of the year, Zollar said.
Raven uses profiling and discovery engines to collect personnel data,
including work experience and documents that employees have authored. This
is all stored in a database and refined to produce expert profiles. Communication
is handled in real time through instant messaging technology.
"Other companies bring a piece of the knowledge management puzzle to
an agency," Zollar told FCW in an exclusive interview. "[Their philosophy
is], just get a portal up and you've got knowledge management. Or the discovery
of knowledge and expert profiling is knowledge management. Or instant messaging
with access to people on a network in real time is project management. But
we do all of this with Raven."
Lotus knowledge management tools already have been applied in the military,
"In the military, knowing more than the forces you're competing against
is critical, and that's the ultimate in knowledge management," he said.
"The J.C. Stennis Battle Group is using it to connect thousands of people
on aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines with rapid communication
through low-bandwidth pipes [to link] the expertise of command and control
with the deployed fleet."
Zollar said knowledge management can help ease the burden of the IT
worker shortage. "Knowledge management and e-learning give government agencies
the ability to more effectively manage the know-how of the existing population,
which can mitigate the impact of the work force aging and retention," he