A Group Memory System for Corporate Knowledge Management: An Ontological Approach

Abstract

Organisations are increasingly recognising the importance of managing what they consider their most valuable asset: knowledge. This work is a contribution towards that end, proposing a system for representing, recording, using, retrieving, and managing individual and group knowledge: a group memory system. This paper describes the high-level objective of this research: the design and implementation of a group memory system to manage heterogeneous and distributed knowledge embedded in business process activities. This paper also discusses the role that ontologies may play in corporate competence management. It has always been true that a significant part of an organisation's knowledge resides in the minds of the people that make it up. However, in the current organisational environment, where downsizing, reengineering, restructuring and high rates of organisational turnover are common, enterprises are beginning to find that it is easy to loose a vital element of their intellectual property: corporate knowledge. Put simply, organisations are beginning to recognise that they can suffer a failure of their collective corporate memory. Unsurprisingly, one solution that is put forward to this problem is that of an Organisational Memory system (Abecker et al. 1998), (Dieng 2000). An organisational (or corporate) memory system enables the integration of dispersed and unstructured organisational knowledge by enhancing its access, dissemination and reuse among an organisation's members and information systems. Following (Kuhn & Abecker 1997) we use the term organisational memory to mean a comprehensive computer system which captures a company's accumulated know-how, business activities, the related core competencies, and other forms of knowledge assets, and makes them available to enhance the efficiency of knowledge-intensive work processes. The central topic of this paper is the design and implementation of a particular instance of an organisational memory system: a Group Memory System (GMS). We define a GMS as a system to manage heterogeneous and distributed knowledge embedded in business process activities. More specifically, the heterogeneous and distributed knowledge that is managed is knowledge related to the corporate competencies. The system described focuses on internal competencies, in particular human knowledge sources, their competencies, as well more straightforward project experiences and related heuristics. The objective is the definition of a

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