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KM Complexity – Multiple File Formats and Storage Locations

This was originally published on 16 July 2004 as a blog post called “KM Complexity”.  The text and table were not together, so I have combined them here as an article.

Most of us working on knowledge management say that KM is 80% culture and process and only 20% technology. That is true, but sometimes the technology can be a challenge.

I was looking through some of my files and came across a grid I developed a while back. Click here for grid. It illustrates, for common types of explicit (written) and tacit (unwritten) knowledge, the possible computer file formats and computer storage locations. I have indicated primary and secondary file types and locations using a solid and empty block. The many file types and locations illustrate the potential challenges of gathering knowledge artifacts into a single system. Perhaps the complexity of this grid explains what appears to be a growing interest in “federated search,” that is, the ability to search multiple repositories of information simultaneously.

Viewing the grid also helps explain the challenges of dealing with tacit know-how. The relative sparseness of the lower half of the grid illustrates that tacit data, unlike the explicit, cannot merely be copied or searched. It often has to be created from scratch.

Summary of Data File Formats and Storage Locations

                         

Common Computer File Formats

    Word

Out-

look

Excel

Power-

Point

PDF

TIFF Data-

base

HTML

EXPLICIT
Documents

Contacts

Firm financial info

Lawyer + staff info

Info from/about clients

TACIT
Profile data

Contextual info

Best practices

Expertise

Relationship info

 

                                                Common Computer Storage Locations
 

DocMngt

E-mail Server

Lit Supp

Disk

Drive

Doc.

Assmbly

Practice

Systems

Portal – Intranet

Mktg

DB

Acctg

Sys

HR

Sys

EXPLICIT
Documents

Contacts

Firm financial info

Lawyer + staff info

Info from/about clients

TACIT
Profile data

Contextual info

Best practices

Expertise

Relationship info

 

 

 

KEY
Primary file type or storage location

Secondary file type or storage location