Knowledge Management in the Information Age

Knowledge Management Systems and the Internet

We are living in an information age that is characterized by increasing information about everything and anything available anywhere and everywhere. In this context, knowledge management has to be done in a structured and organized manner if redundancies and information overload are to be avoided. The point here is that the internet has placed information at everyone’s disposal by the click of a mouse. Therefore, the key imperative is to ensure that the vast amount of information is used in a meaningful and organized manner. Otherwise, the risk of being stuck with unnecessary data and redundant information is high. This is the reason why many companies use the internet in a judicious and responsible manner. For instance, it is common for organizations like 3M (the pioneer in KM) and Infosys to lay down clear and coherent policies about what information can be used from the internet and which information has to be sourced from specialized databases. This means that many of these organizations articulate how the internet can be used as a source of data. The other reason why many companies are wary of using the internet for information is because of potential copyright issues that might result from using information that is not sourced from holders of the copyright.

How the Internet can be used and misused

This is also the reason why many American and European universities prohibit the use of sites like Wikipedia as sources of information and instead, ask the students to reference the knowledge from premier and academic databases like EBSCO, Emerald Insight, and JSTOR. Similarly, many investment banks and consultancies subscribe to the business databases like Reuters, Bloomberg, and Financial Times store, as these are valid and established sources of information. The point here is that the internet is like a vast ocean where finding accurate data is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is the reason why many KM systems of consultancies, investment banks, and corporates explicitly prohibit their employees from relying too much on the internet for their data and knowledge needs. By subscribing to premier databases like those that the ones listed above, these companies ensure that the data and the knowledge that they are using is reliable and accurate. Moreover, the internet has also spawned file sharing and data sharing that is sometimes outside the purview of the existing laws. Therefore, apart from copyright issues, sourcing data from the open internet can also cause piracy charges to be leveled against the companies.

Some Advantages of using the Internet for KM systems

Having said that, it must be remembered that the internet has been a game changer for businesses and individuals as far as knowledge management is concerned. This can be seen in the way major media networks and newspapers often rely on the internet for information. Of course, media houses have dedicated fact checkers who verify the veracity of the information. The case of individuals is different, as they might not know that the statistics they quote and the data they use might not be reliable in the absence of validation and confirmation from independent fact checkers. Further, even media-persons have been found to use data that is not reliable or inaccurate. The point we are trying to make here is that having a store of knowledge by itself is not enough. One needs to watch out for accuracy and reliability. Especially when corporates have established KM systems, it is important to have gatekeepers who can vet the inflow of information and ensure that only reliable and accurate information is let into the KM system.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, the issue of plagiarism is another factor why big companies hesitate to use the internet as a data source for their KM systems. In other words, if the material taken from the internet is not cited and referenced properly, the charge of plagiarism can be leveled against whomever is using the data and this is something that any big corporate would like to avoid because of the potential for scandals.


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