Sjoerd Vogt

Vice-President & General Manager – Dialog OnDisc/@Site Division

Knowledge is an Asset

There is an increasing appreciation in the value of shared information and knowledge – and hence in the technologies to make this sharing happen. The organisation that ignores the value of this capital does so at its peril! Productivity and profits are inexorably linked to the expertise of the workforce – and in particular to the learning and sharing of this expertise.

In a recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young, an audience of executives from 431 firms (300 US, 131 from Europe) were asked 20 questions on the use of knowledge in their organisation. One of the questions was ”What are the most strategically important issues?”


Data -> Information -> Knowledge

In trying to address these issues, there is now a common language developing. We start by defining the three words: data, information and knowledge.

Simply defined: Information is data that has been given structure, and knowledge is information that has been given meaning.

Furthermore: Information increases in value the more it is used; Information is self regenerative, it feeds on itself; A new piece of information creates the demand and conditions for the production of subsequent pieces; and information has different meaning at different points in time

Knowledge has an economic value only when used; Knowledge adds value to the balance sheet and can be measured; Knowledge-intensive goods are deemed more valuable if more users possess the same knowledge.

Context gives meaning to information and thus creates knowledge; Context enables different users to value the same piece of knowledge differently; Two people may associate different values to the same piece of information because one is ”smarter” than the other – either because of their skill set or their genetic endowment.

The Value of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is defined in many different ways. One way in which it can be visualised is the progression between data retrieval, data tracking and data interpretation. For the successful implementation of KM strategies, it is important that adequate resources are made available; from senior management down to department level; through workgroups down to individuals. It is now increasingly recognised how important the role played by information specialists is in the successful implementation of KM.

In a recent study conducted by Reuters, 54% of managers surveyed worry about making poor decisions in spite of all the information at their fingertips. When there is too much information:

There is also a growing appreciation of the costs of inefficient information gathering and sharing. In a recent case study:

Web Searches by Knowledge Workers 150

Knowledge Workers x 5,000

Total Searches 750,000

Length of Search x .40

Total Time 300,000

Cost/hour x $30

Total Cost of Web Searches $9,000,000

Not surprisiingly, there is now a rapidly rising investment in technologies that facilitate knowledge management. The U.S. intranet and extranet services market projected to grow from $7.4bn in 1998 to over $43bn in 2002 (IDC). And in a survey of IS administrators: 6% say they make ”heavy organizational use”of intranet today, but 39% plan to use it heavily within 24 months (AMA).

Driving KM

In driving the shift to better knowledge management, Dialog has identified three important areas where we have particular expertise:

Does Everyone Benefit from KM?


Information publishers and distributors

Together with our customers and suppliers, old and new, The Dialog Corporation will lead the way to the new information age!