Self-service Information Management for Knowledge Workers
Though I have alluded to it numerous times in my past writings, I think one of the most pervasive and important benefits from semantic technologies in the enterprise will come from the democratization of information. These benefits will arise mostly from a fundamental change in how we manage and consume information. A new “system” of semantic technologies is now largely available that can put the collection, assembly, organization, analysis and presentation of information directly in the hands of those who need it most — the consumers of information.
The idea of “democratizing information” has been around for a couple of decades, and has accelerated in incidence since the dominance of the Internet. Most commonly, the idea is associated with developments and notions in such areas ascitizen journalism,crowdsourcing, thewisdom of the crowd,social bookmarking (or collaborative tagging), and the democratic (small “d”) access to publishing via new channels such asblogs,microblogs (e.g., Twitter) andwikis. To be sure, these kinds of democratic information will (and are) benefiting from the use and application of semantics.
But the trend I’m focusing on here is much different and quite new. It is the idea that enterprise knowledge workers can now take ownership and control of their knowledge management functions. In the process, prior bottlenecks due to IT can be relieved and massive new benefits can open up to the enterprise.
Decades-long Mismatches Between KM and IT
It is no secret that IT has not served the enterprise knowledge management function well for decades. Transaction systems and database systems geared to fast indexing and access to datum have not proved well suited to information orknowledge management. KM includes such applications asbusiness intelligence,data warehousing,data integration andfederation,enterprise information integration andmanagement,competitive intelligence,knowledge representation, and so forth.Information management is a bit broader category, and adds such functions asdocument management,data management,enterprise content management, enterprise orcontrolled vocabularies,systems analysis,information standards and information assets management to the basic functions of KM. Since the purpose of this piece is not to get into the epistemological differences between information and knowledge, I use these terms more-or-less interchangeably herein.