by Andrea Potgieter, University of Johannesburg
Northern Ireland’s Ulster University hosted the 17th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM) on 1 & 2 September this year. The event was held at Belfast’s W5 Science Centre, situated in the city’s Titanic Quarter.
The two-day conference catered to many fields of interest, with conference streams including ‘University-Industry Knowledge Transfer’, ‘Knowledge Management of Shared Cognition’, ‘Research Methods in Knowledge Management’, and ‘Innovation’.
Andrea Potgieter from the Department of Information and Knowledge Management at the University of Johannesburg presented co-authored papers in three of the conference streams:
- A paper on digitisation in knowledge and content management in ‘Software Issues’;
- A paper on knowledge sharing within the project environment in ‘Intellectual Capital’;
- A paper on Business Intelligence applied towards integrated reporting in ‘Business Intelligence’ (BI). Also presenting during the BI stream was Professor Helen Rothberg from Marist College, who stressed the fact that if your Competitive Intelligence is not linking to strategy, you are “adding to the library that no one is reading”.
(See Abstracts below. Click here to download the Abstract booklet.)
An interesting keynote presentation was delivered by Major Barry Byrne from the Irish Defense Forces. Major Byrne spoke on the implementation of IKON (Information and Knowledge Online) delivered via SharePoint 2013 by the Defense Forces, and shared successes and lessons learned throughout that process. Two big lessons learned, according to Major Byrne, was the absolute importance of change management when rolling out a new technology, and the necessity to have management’s support in such an endeavour.
Alistair Fee, a specialist in design thinking and innovation, reminded delegates during his keynote address that there will be no innovation without experimentation. He warned that “it can’t be done” is something that you will hear often, but stressed that leaders in any field can never sit back and be complacent. Mr Fee encouraged the KM-focused delegates to be exceptional in what they do, solidifying this notion by quoting the poem ‘Ode’ by Arthur O’Shaughnessy:
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
ECKM was a successful academic and industry-focused networking event, with many delegates showing interest in attending the next ECKM conference to be hosted in Spain in September 2017. Details of this conference are available on the ECKM website.
Knowledge Sharing as Means of Enhancing Intellectual Capital Within the Project Environment
Happy Maake and Andrea Potgieter
Abstract: Knowledge Sharing (KS) enables valuable Knowledge Management (KM) initiatives within an organisation and for that reason, it is regarded as a vital KM process. Through the flow of knowledge between individuals within an organisation, intangible assets known as Intellectual Capital (IC) are created and ultimately enhanced. IC is regarded as a unique and therefore competitive advantage for an organisation, mainly due to the fact that it is not imitable. In the context of the project environment, IC plays an integral role in improving Project Management (PM) capability and competency, while creating a knowledge base which is critical for building a Project Management Centre of Excellence (PMCoE). The main objective of this research was to investigate the role of KS as a means of enhancing IC within the project environment of a South African Power Utility (SAPU). The SAPU was, at the time of the research, involved a number of construction projects across South Africa, which awarded it the opportunity to enhance its IC through the use of KM processes such as KS. Although there were existent KS practices within the SAPU’s project environment, certain major challenges were hindering this process, which resulted in lost opportunities to enhance IC and build sufficient capacity to improve on project execution. In this case study, qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews with project managers within the SAPU and the data was analysed by means of descriptive coding. The findings indicated that, although KM is confronted with major challenges within the SAPU’s project environment, KS was regarded as a valuable process towards improved project definition, planning and execution. Respondents indicated that effective KS can play a fundamental part in enhancing IC within this environment and gave insight into how KS may be promoted within the PM setting. A surprising finding was that the majority of respondents were of the opinion that KM should be enforced through governance and also by including KS activities as key performance indicators (KPIs).
The Role of Digitisation in Knowledge and Content Management
Ivornatte Chitambo, Kagiso Mabe and Andrea Potgieter
The value gained from the preservation of human knowledge lies not with the preservation of the past but rather with the way in which this information can be accessed by individuals today. The management of knowledge through the use of Knowledge Management systems plays an important role in the preservation of such human knowledge. Through the implementation of digitisation as an essential Knowledge Management tool, organisations can achieve not only the preservation of human knowledge but also provide adequate access to this knowledge. This research aimed at highlighting the importance of digitisation within an archive, for Knowledge Management purposes, through the use of content management systems. A secondary goal for this research was discussing the importance of access to and preservation of collections through digitisation. The role of content management for the achievement of enhanced access and preservation to knowledge, was also explored. Both semi-structured as well as non-standardised interviews were conducted within a small South African archive institute. Purposive sampling was the chosen sampling technique for this research, as the sample size was small and respondents were selected based on their expertise in the field being researched. Four individuals were interviewed as the heritage museum only employs a limited number of individuals and consults externally for technical issues. The data collected through these interviews was analysed and presented in a narrative manner. Based on the study’s findings, digitisation was recommended as an important process of knowledge management systems within the small archival institution. It was through digitisation that this organisation was aiming to achieve the preservation of their collections; the organisation’s attempts at providing support for access to these digitised, centralised collections, were also revealed. An important finding to note was the discovery that there were substantial costs and legal barriers that hindered the implementation of digitisation processes within the sample population.
Business Intelligence Applied Towards Facilitating Integrated and Sustainability Reports
Gregory James, Nqobile Sibiya and Andrea Potgieter
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has gone to the extent of registering the term “<IR>” as an official trademark. Modern day organisations are often required to report on Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability issues, over and above presenting financial information. These expanded reports are intended to provide a comprehensive overview to stakeholders and the public regarding organisational performance and the ability to meet or exceed compliance requirements. The research theme was based on the premise that business intelligence (BI) is potentially well suited to support and facilitate both <IR> and sustainability reporting (SR) given that BI is in many cases already established to provide information for business operations and organisational improvement. The range of information required for such reports is diverse while the collection process can be challenging. The use of BI could potentially be adapted and expanded to facilitate the information collection and reporting requirements for <IR> and SR. The research question was posed regarding the potential use of BI in its application as a platform that can support the production of <IR> and SR, with the primary research objective being to determine the relative readiness of organisations to implement reporting of this nature. The research process undertaken was guided by an empirical and qualitative approach that made use of in-depth interviews to obtain direct insight into the circumstances and experience of the application of BI for SR purposes within each organisation. A subsequent thematic evaluation of the interview data was undertaken to develop a comprehensive perspective of the research material and findings. The small respondent set was comprised of subject matter experts and representing a cross-section of organisations that ranged from a small consultancy firm to larger organisations. The location of the organisations is primarily that of the Gauteng sub-region of South Africa, with one of the respondents located in Cape Town, South Africa. This research paper discusses the research process beginning with the background and rationale supporting the line of enquiry with a brief review of existing literature and the development of the related research problem. The research design and methodology provide detail on how the study was undertaken, sampling size and data collection techniques and include the limitations applicable to the study. The research questions and related discussion of findings are presented according to key themes. The study found that the awareness of BI was high while that of <IR> and SR was dependent on the particular organisational reporting requirements. The ability to report on sustainability exceeded expectations. The findings of the research may be of value in assisting organisations with the development of greater awareness regarding the value and use of BI in this role, and the appreciation that for technology to be effective it must be implemented and managed in combination with suitably skilled and knowledgeable people. The paper would be of interest to BI practitioners and sustainability specialists in an organisational context who are engaged in developing <IR> and SR.