Knowledge as an Asset

e as an Asset.

What constitutes the knowledge asset?

"Unlike information, knowledge is less tangible and depends on human cognition and awareness. There are several types of knowledge - 'knowing' a fact is little different from 'information', but 'knowing' a skill, or 'knowing' that something might affect market conditions is something, that despite attempts of knowledge engineers to codify such knowledge, has an important human dimension. It is some combination of context sensing, personal memory and cognitive processes. Measuring the knowledge asset, therefore, means putting a value on people, both as individuals and more importantly on their collective capability, and other factors such as the embedded intelligence in an organisation's computer systems."  (

Delving into the realm of knowledge is a formidable task, particularly for technologists. Knowledge Engineering emerged as a field in the early 1980s, coinciding with the dawn of affordable personal computing ( Since then, it has catalyzed a profound paradigm shift across all facets of business and technology. The era of seat-of-the-pants management has faded into obsolescence, paving the way for a new era where data-driven insights reign supreme. As a result of this transformation, employees have experienced a revolutionary empowerment that has fundamentally reshaped the workplace.

Nonetheless, as we venture into the intricate terrain of knowledge acquisition, we encounter a series of significant challenges (source:

  • Expertise Resides in Minds: A substantial portion of knowledge resides within the minds of experts who possess vast amounts of both explicit and tacit knowledge.
  • Tacit Knowledge Complexity: Tacit knowledge, which often constitutes a critical component of expertise, is notoriously difficult (if not impossible) to articulate or document in a systematic manner.
  • Expert Time Constraints: Experts, the custodians of valuable knowledge, are usually occupied with pressing responsibilities, making it challenging to tap into their wisdom on-demand.
  • Knowledge Diversity: No single expert possesses a monopoly on all knowledge; thus, knowledge diversity within an organization is a valuable asset.
  • Knowledge Shelf Life: Knowledge isn't static; it evolves and can have a limited shelf life, necessitating continuous learning and adaptation

In the corporate landscape, one of the most intricate challenges is effectively transferring knowledge. Knowledge hand-off must occur both laterally, by sharing knowledge across teams, and temporally, ensuring a smooth transition during shift changes (applicable to 24/7 operations and global setups). However, the ability to employ technology for seamless knowledge sharing often lags behind the need. Hand-off notes, though widely used, are highly inefficient. Recently, tools like SharePoint sites and Wikis have gained popularity for inter-departmental information and knowledge sharing, bridging this gap to some extent.

In his essay "Knowledge as a Corporate Asset," Jerome J. Peloquin aptly highlights the universal challenge faced by businesses worldwide: "Maintenance of their competitive edge through the application and formation of knowledge." (source: "Knowledge as a Corporate Asset") In his conclusion, he emphasizes two critical points that encapsulate the essence of this essay:

  • Transforming Information into Knowledge: Information is invaluable only when it can be transformed into knowledge – a process essential for informed decision-making.
  • Objective Criteria for Knowledge Assets: Knowledge assets combine several factors, each of which can be objectively validated through specific criteria.

Enter Knowledge Information Management. Gene Bellinger writes that

"In an organizational context, data represents facts or values of results, and relations between data and other relations have the capacity to represent information. Patterns of relations of data and information and other patterns have the capacity to represent knowledge. For the representation to be of any utility it must be understood, and when understood the representation is information or knowledge to the one that understands. Yet, what is the real value of information and knowledge, and what does it mean to manage it?"

If knowledge is indeed an asset, it must be managed, safeguarded, maintained, and made readily accessible to employees, just like any other corporate asset. Information forms the core of a business, while the resulting knowledge represents the business's intrinsic value. Ultimately, wisdom, stemming from deep understanding, serves as the driving force behind business profitability. While the industry may chant "smaller, faster, cheaper," knowledge remains the enduring asset that fuels progress and success in the technologist's world.