Knowledge is what we all possess as we go about doing our work in enterprises. One of the key challenges facing enterprises is how to extract knowledge which is embedded within the employees and “institutionalise” it. There have been many approaches to knowledge management. The simplest approach is to send an email to various people in a group. At the other extreme are applications like Lotus Notes and more recently, Groove. Many of the bigger enterprises can afford the expense of the knowledge management applications. What is the option for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs)?
Sharing knowledge involves writing one’s thoughts, ideas and experiences and sharing it with others in a group. So far, the options for writing have been very limited – we either write in an email window or in a word processor. Both approaches make it difficult to search, archive and share what we have written. The Web has been largely a read-only medium so far, with publishing being limited to people with some technical knowledge.
Weblogs are changing this: they are making the Web two-way. Just as the Net helped connect computers together which made it easier for people to communicate, Weblogs are helping connect people together by making it easier to share knowledge. What we have seen in the past year are the public face of weblogs as nearly a million of these personal diaries and journals have made their way on the web, powered by software tools which is making personal publishing easier.
There are only so many people who are interested in what I did today, whom I met, what I learnt during the course of my meetings. This set of interested people can be divided into two: family and friends who form my social network, and colleagues at work, who form my professional network. Most of the public weblogs that we are seeing today are of interest to the social network – people who know me and are interested in what I did and learnt. Some of these webloggers, who are “domain warriors” (specialists in a certain field), are attracting attention and traffic far beyond family and friends.
What is invisible and where one of the core strengths of weblogs can be leveraged is within the enterprise. We spend most of our workday interacting with people, making decisions, learning and sharing. Weblogs can help in taking the accumulated knowledge and sharing it with a wider group of people within the company. A corporate weblog (or knowledge weblog) can be created by anyone – or everyone – in a company. Think of it as a daily diary maintained to explain decisions or share thoughts and ideas. If only a handful of people do it, there isn’t much to it. But if everyone in the enterprise can be encouraged to do it, then knowledge sharing “tips over” creating a base which is far greater than just the sum of its parts.