Judith Meskilled came across an article in Fortune's Fast Forward colum in which David Kirkpatrick talks about knowledge management as something new to the enterprise content management market. Fortune.com - Fast Forward - Document Overload: Managing the Digital Paper Chase:
The latest hot area in ECM is what's called Knowledge Managementâ€” KM to those in the know, of course. What that's about is figuring out how or why something happened in an organization. Government investigators, for instance, may need to know exactly what decision-making process a company went through before launching a drug or building an aircraft part in a certain way. Says Jenkins: "This becomes, in a catch phrase our industry uses, the 'corporate memory.' Knowing how things were decided is absolutely critical." He describes knowledge management as "like a Google search that comes with a video of how the document you found was actually created."
While I don't think KM is new to ECM, this is an interesting perspective on the goals of KM. Rather than capturing what people know or recording everything that is known in the company, this idea focuses on capturing a trail through history within a company. Having come out of the pharma world, this aim is quite high on the radar from the aspects of intellectual property (where did an idea orginate) and for tracing the trail of information through long sequences of clinical and laboratory trials.
But having the capability to see through an organization and through its history is an important aspect of governing. The more a company can see these paths and learn from them the better. As the article suggests, not only does it require massive amounts of information, but also the ability to tie it together and make sense of the resulting knot.
I'm not sure enterprise content management, as I understand it, can achieve this aim.