DSS News
                  D. J. Power, Editor
           January 1, 2006 -- Vol. 7, No. 1

     A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 
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 Happy Holidays from the DSS News and team
         Dan, Carol, Alex, Ben and Greg Power



* Ask Dan! - What is the status of Knowledge Management (KM)?
* DSS Conferences 
* DSS News Releases 


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Ask Dan!

What is the status of Knowledge Management (KM)?

by Dan Power

 In 1997, Rebecca Barclay and Philip Murray at Knowledge Praxis
posted an article titled "What is knowledge management?". The article
is still on the Web, but much has happened since then related to KM.
They defined KM as "a business activity with two primary aspects: 1)
Treating the knowledge component of business activities as an
explicit concern of business reflected in strategy, policy, and
practice at all levels of the organization; 2) Making a direct
connection between an organization's intellectual assets, both
explicit  and tacit [personal know-how], and positive
business results." Knowledge Praxis and @Knowledge are apparently no
longer operating.

 Barclay and Murray quoted extensively from a pre-publication version
of Karl Wiig's article "Knowledge Management: Where Did It Come From,
and Where Will It Go?" Wiig noted "By 1990, a number of management
consulting firms had begun in-house knowledge management programs,
and several well known U.S., European, and Japanese firms had
instituted focused knowledge management programs. Knowledge
management was introduced in the popular press in 1991, when Tom
Stewart published "Brainpower" in Fortune magazine. Perhaps the most
widely read work to date is Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi's
book The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create
the Dynamics of Innovation (1995). By the mid-1990s, knowledge
management initiatives were flourishing, thanks in part to the
Internet." Wiig worked with applied Artificial Intelligence at Arthur
D. Little and was a management consulting partner with Coopers &
Lybrand. Wiig is still active with the Knowledge Research Institute
( that he and his wife operate. 

 Barclay and Murray noted "Knowledge management draws from a wide
range of disciplines and technologies." They even mentioned DSS
Research Resources. They concluded that Decision Support Systems
"sounds a lot like knowledge management, but in practice the emphasis
has been on quantitative analysis rather than qualitative analysis,
and on tools for managers rather than everyone in the organization."
They misconstrued some of what was happening in DSS in 1997, but they
were correct that the target audience for KM was much larger than what
had been the goal of DSS developers. The scope of KM was and is very
broad and they identify two "tracks" of knowledge management: 1)
"Management of Information. To researchers in this track, according
to Sveiby, 'knowledge = objects that can be identified and handled in
information systems.'" 2) "Management of People. For researchers and
practitioners in this field, knowledge consists of 'processes, a
complex set of dynamic skills, know-how, etc., that is constantly
changing.'" Find out more about Karl-Erik Sveiby's ideas at Sveiby
Knowledge Associates (

 The IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4, from 2001 focuses on
Knowledge Management. The special issue had 12 articles ranging from
Prusak "Where did knowledge management come from?" to Gongla and
Rizzuto "Evolving communities of practice: IBM Global Services
experience". If you want a broad view, all of the articles in IBM
Systems Journal are free and on the Web. Larry Prusak noted
"Knowledge management seems likely to follow one of two future paths.
The better one is the direction taken by the quality movement. ... A
less appealing path would be similar to the one taken by

 By 2002 some of the "bloom" had died on the Knowledge Management
flower. T.D. Wilson, a retired Information Systems Professor at
University of Sheffield, published an article titled "The nonsense of
'knowledge management'" in his Web-based, e-journal Information
Research. He concluded "'knowledge management' is an umbrella term
for a variety of organizational activities, none of which are
concerned with the management of knowledge. Those activities that are
not concerned with the management of information are concerned with
the management of work practices, in the expectation that changes in
such areas as communication practice will enable information
sharing." Wilson makes many good points, but he misses the
contributions of the knowledge management movement as well. In my Ask
Dan! column of July 1, 2001, I discussed "What is the difference
between knowledge management and decision support?". Certainly I was
a skeptic about KM and still am. KM is and was "fuzzy" with too much
"hype" and inadequate agreement on substance. BUT Knowledge
Management encouraged firms to experiment with groupware, company
Intranets, expert systems, web-based directories and various decision
support systems. I noted "'knowledge management technologies' are an
important delivery component in what I am calling document-driven
DSS." My conclusion was "Decision support is a much more modest and
much less grandiose concept that knowledge management."

 Well, what about Knowledge Management today? I rarely monitor the KM
blogs and I focus primarily on the IT/DSS related KM articles so my
perspective is biased toward an explicit knowledge, technology
supported view of knowledge management. Also, I still receive an
occasional KM e-newsletter.

 As far as research, the empirical KM literature is weak. Few studies
have really examined the KM social phenomenon and KM activities are
hard to measure. In general, KM activities, especially those
supported by IT seem to have been successful in many companies over
the past 10 years. Some managers perceived and reported initial
performance gains, but the KM activities were rapidly imitated and it
appears many KM technology supported activities are now basic business
requirements needed to operate effectively across a broad spectrum of
industries. The days of gaining competitive advantage from KM may
have passed for all but a few companies in more traditional
manufacturing industries. Culture, leadership, organization structure
and technology are enablers of KM processes.

 As far as practice, let's turn to the blogs. Start with Knowledge
Jolt ( with Jack Vinson. Jack has a Ph.D.
in Chemical Engineering and worked as a knowledge manager for the
biotechnology unit at Pharmacia/Pfizer. He started his own KM
consulting business in 2004. In a recent post, Jack mentions a
software product MindManager for tapping into corporate knowledge
( His most recent entry is on "Knowledge Loss in
Organizations" and social network analysis. The Human Resources
people have been telling us about this major problem my entire
academic career. 

 Mopsos, the Knowledge Management blog of Martin Dugage
( has more news and views. "Yahoo just launched a
blogging service for small businesses." The "Les Blogs 2.0
conference" and the "Ark Conference" occurred recently. An especially
interesting post is dated December 1, 2005 titled "KM programs are
dead. Long live KM!" Dugage attended and presented at the Ark Group
conference ( Ark Group focuses on improving
information management. Let me quote from Dugage's post:

 "If I were to give the main lesson learned for me, I would say that
the days of big corporate KM programs are gone. There is no more
money for corporate KM programs, which are by and large considered by
top managers as 'nice to have' but not essential. Today, knowledge
management has been delegated to line managers. Corporate support to
KM initiatives has shifted from developing and deploying large IT
infrastructures and collaborative portals to management education,
consulting and much simpler and focused collaborative IT systems."

 "Business models for KM are changing. We are moving away from
monolithic enterprise systems and towards a collection of smart,
simple and focused social applications that interact with one
another. As Beat Knechtli, Knowledge manager of ABB sees it, we
should no longer be talking about knowledge management, but much more
simply about good management and thus educate managers to the power of
knowledge sharing in the 21st century."

 Martin Dugage works with KM for Schneider Electric, a global
enterprise in automation and electricity management with 85,000
employees and revenues of more than 10 billion euros. Schneider
Electric defines Knowledge Management as "A systematic approach
towards learning and intelligence so as to leverage the collective
knowledge of the entire company to better
serve each and every customer."

 For more KM blogs check Colabria ( or Knowledge-at-work
( Also check and Also, there is some buzz on CoP 2.0. Communities of
practice seem here to stay and the technologies for supporting CoP
are improving. How to get a CoP set up, funded and maintained is
still a problem. Our community of practice is still
growing despite meager resources. Our bulletin board has not however
really worked since spammers started posting viagra and pornography
links. Email questions and suggestions keep me in the loop about
what's happening.

 So where are KM and DSS headed in 2006? First, we need to better
understand how knowledge management activities and decision support
systems can impact individual, group and enterprise performance. I
manage knowledge at every day and it is not easy.
Organizing knowledge and information so another person can retrieve
it is a long standing challenge. Writers, librarians and professors
have faced the difficulty and somewhat overcome it. The growing
amounts of information make the challenge that much greater.

 Alavi and Leidner (2001) note "management reporting systems,
decision support systems, and executive support systems have all
focused on the collection and dissemination" of codified, explicit
organizational knowledge (p. 115). "Groupware enables organizations
to create intraorganizational memory in the form of both structured
and unstructured information and to share this memory across
time and space (p. 119)." We need to improve upon and better
understand the use of these technologies.

 Finally, we need to understand when it is most appropriate and
cost/effective to use Information Technology to help identify people
who have knowledge that is needed, when to share knowledge
electronically, when to store structured knowledge in expert systems
that make decisions and when to keep people as decision makers and
build knowledge-driven DSS, and when to build model, data and
document-driven DSS.

 So it seems the status of KM at the start of 2006 is tempered
acceptance, but not the mindless "hype" and "band wagon" of the past.
Knowledge Management is following the path of Quality Management.
According to Prusak (2001), the key ideas of Quality Management
"became so deeply embedded in practices and organizational routines
that they became more-or-less invisible. The quality movement can
boast considerable success, saving several firms and industries from
being replaced by more quality-conscious competitors and contributing
valuable and sustainable concepts, vocabularies, and work processes to
the pursuit of organizational effectiveness. Some commentators have
assumed that the absence of quality from center stage in management
discussion suggests its failure; in fact, the opposite is true.
People do not talk about it much because it is a given, an integral
element of organizational effectiveness. Knowledge management may
similarly be so thoroughly adopted¡Xso much a natural part of
how people organize work¡Xthat it eventually becomes invisible."

 DSS and KM have had many successes, but there remains much to be


Alavi, M. and D. E. Leidner, "Knowledge Management and Knowledge
Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues," MIS
Quarterly, Vol. 25, no. 1, March 2001, pp. 107-136.

Barclay, R. O. and P. C. Murray, "What is knowledge management?",
Knowledge Praxis, 1997, URL
accessed 1/1/2006.

Dugage, M., "KM programs are dead. Long live KM!," Mopsos, URL .

IBM Systems Journal special issue on Knowledge Management, Vol. 40,
No. 4, 2001 at URL .

Nonaka, I. and H. Takeuchi. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How
Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1995.

Power, D., "What is the difference between knowledge management and
decision support?", DSS News,Vol. 2, No. 14, July 1, 2001.

Prusak, L. "Where did knowledge management come from?", IBM Systems
Journal, 40(4), 2001, 1002-1007. Available at . 

Wiig, K., "Knowledge Management: Where Did It Come from, and Where
Will It Go?" in Journal of Expert Systems with Applications, 1997,
13, No. 1, pp. 1-14.

Wilson, T.D., "The nonsense of 'knowledge management'" Information
Research, 8(1), paper no. 144, 2002, Available at

Please note: Dan Power is visiting in the Information Systems
group at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan from
December 19-January 6, 2006. He is working on a Knowledge Management
research project with Professor T.P. Liang and Yen-Ching Ouyang.


          Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
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 DSS Conferences 

 1. ISCRAM2006, the Third International Conference on Information 
Systems for Crisis Response and Management, Newark, New Jersey, USA, 
at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from May 14-17, 2006.
Check .

 2. ICKEDS 2006, the Second International Conference on Knowledge
Engineering and Decision Support, Lisbon, Portugal, May 9-12, 2006.
Check .

 3. CIDMDS 2006, International Conference on Creativity and
Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support 
sponsored by IFIP WG 8.3, June 28th - July 1st 2006, London,
UK. Check .

 4. DEXA 2006, 17th International Conference on Database 
and Expert Systems Applications, September 4-8, 
2006, Krakow, Poland. Check .

 5. ICDSS 2007, 9th International Conference on DSS, Jan. 2-4, 2007, 
Calcutta, India. Theme: Decision Support for Global Enterprises.
Check . Papers due May 10, 2006.


 Call for Nominations: AIS SIG DSS Award for Best Journal 
 Article 2005, nominations due March 15, 2006. 
 Check .


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