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Elegance in information

This article appears in the issue October 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 11]

Two forces drive the global economy, computing and networking. All else pales. Moore's Law holds: Performance doubles every 18 months. Computational power, software to harness it and networks to communicate it are what we mean by information technology.

One result of the sea change wrought by IT's advance is that the means to create and distribute information has far outstripped society's apparent capacity to cope with it. (Not you and me, of course; I mean those other people over there.) Telecommunications and the Internet only serve to increase capacity of information distribution.

All this information. All this choice. What to do?

At least in our work lives and our enterprises, we can now bring to bear practices-and along with them a cast of unique, specialized tools-to help give order to the information maelstrom.

Who can doubt that if access to the highest value information is easy if not automatic, we will make better decisions faster and with greater impact on subsequent actions? That we will attract new (and take better care of) customers and partners? That we can shorten and improve product development and time-to-market cycles? That we can invent new products faster and more frequently that come ever closer to meeting and anticipating customer needs?

If we have new tools to search for, create, capture, share and distribute highly relevant information, can't we gain control over our information-overloaded work lives? Much of today's work life ennui is rooted in the sense that we're constantly missing the boat-that we're stymied by our inability to get our hands on what's truly useful in making us faster and smarter and measurably more successful?

Precisely because of these new tools and methods, we can now aggregate the best information, practices, processes and people/teams around a problem or an opportunity. Some of it can be done with little conscious effort, if not automatically. And once we've solved the problem or acted upon the opportunity, we can capture it all, again easily if not transparently, for reuse as both organizational knowledge and intellectual assets.

The constant demand is to work faster and smarter. To collaborate more effectively. To identify changes in markets and customer needs. To improve bottom-line performance by adding new value. To innovate predictively and ahead of the curve. Why? Because if we don't, someone else will, and they, in turn, will take our position in whatever niche or sector we were trying to carve out and defend for ourselves.

Information technology drives the global economy, but our own dissatisfaction with our inability to get our hands on information we need when we need it to make better decisions and take higher value actions has caused a state of high friction in our business and work lives.

Knowledge management tools and methods reduce this friction and anxiety by simplifying and improving the quality of our work. As in mathematics, software development and baseball, solutions to business problems should ultimately be simple, cunning and elegant.

Knowledge management will make you elegant. Spam me if you disagree, (bruce_taylor@kmworld.com).


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