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Portblue Knowledge Management Tool

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Knowledge Management Tool


What PortBlue Does

PortBlue provides a highly innovative system for building web-based expert systems, systems that capture and convey the rules experts use in their thought processes. Traditionally, expert systems have been very expensive to develop, normally taking years of effort, and have been very difficult to modify once built. PortBlue's founding purpose was to provide its customers with highvalue expert systems that could be built and modified faster, more flexibly and more economically, by orders of magnitude. Our corporate mission is the mass customization of expert systems.

PortBlue's technology and knowledge engineering techniques have been designed specifically for eliciting, structuring and conveying the practical know-how of recognized experts and embedding it in key work processes. PortBlue conveys this expertise in the form of interactive Web-based applications accessible 24/7.

PortBlue is a leading developer of expert systems offering the capture and dissemination of know-how in the form of modules with its patent pending Knowledge Capture Tool

Capturing Knowledge in Software

Most presentations and articles on the subject of knowledge management (KM) emphasize the fact that successful KM strategies involve a combination of people, process, technology, and culture. There is no product, managerial technique or knowledge transfer approach that can single-handedly enable a large, global organization to disseminate the many kinds of expertise required to build a high-performing business. Therefore, most sophisticated organizations use a portfolio of techniques for transferring knowledge.

Knowledge management techniques vary based on the mode of knowledge transfer and the degree of formality in the transfer process. The basic building blocks of a knowledge management strategy usually include:

* Live Knowledge Transfer

Many organizations make substantial investments to encourage live knowledge transfer. The most common methods include informal interaction between experts and practitioners through a sustained mentoring or apprentice relationship or through brief discussions by phone or videoconference. These interactions are most likely to happen in corporate cultures that encourage senior people to take time to mentor more junior staff members, and they are often enabled by online or printed expertise directories that help people find experts on specific subjects.

In addition to these informal interactions, many companies in knowledge-intensive industries provide opportunities for formal knowledge transfer. The most common formats are internal conferences, training programs, and meetings of senior people within specific disciplines.

Such settings enable an organization to recognize and reward experts who take the time to codify and transmit their knowledge. They also promote the development of material (such as presentations, articles, and training courses) that can be disseminated electronically and thereby serve as a permanent repository of the firm's intellectual property. The relationships that develop among experts and practitioners in these formal settings are also likely to spur further informal interaction (in the form of phone calls) as people try to apply their knowledge to their day-to-day work.

Live knowledge transfer is highly effective, but it is often expensive especially it if involves travel. Therefore, most organizations also use electronic means of knowledge transfer that are more scalable.

* Electronic Knowledge Transfer

Much of the knowledge management technology available today focuses on using electronic media to transfer knowledge. The most technology-intensive aspects of knowledge management involve "informal" knowledge transfer (i.e., searching, sorting, filtering, and delivering pieces of documents, e-mail, Web content, and data to many different types of users). The theory behind these products is that the freshest and most dynamic source of knowledge within an organization is the stream of documents, e-mails, and data produced as a normal by-product of conducting business. By filtering, sorting, and re-combining this information, electronic tools can provide access to an organization's intellectual capital with little or no incremental effort by the experts producing this material. Most professional service firms and corporations with significant knowledge management programs have invested in powerful search engines, content management systems, and personalization tools to mine the vast sea of unstructured information available within the organization and on the Web.

While search engines and other electronic tools are very effective in finding "what's out there" in a given subject area, they don't contain the structure, rigor and conciseness characteristic of an expert's thought process. In addition, there is no way to control or predict what a search engine or e-mail filter will turn up in response to a request, so an organization cannot use these techniques to promote specific ideas or methodologies. Therefore, most organizations with substantial knowledge management initiatives develop more formal or highly engineered methods of knowledge transfer as well. These more formal approaches include:

- Codifying official methodologies and recommended procedures

- Creating primers and other documents to explain important concepts and techniques

- Building intranet sites to deliver the "official" version of sales material, white papers, and other important documents

- Creating simple software applications to lead people through business processes and produce a consistent form of output (e.g., financial advisory software that produces draft trust documents)

- Building expert systems to capture and apply an expert's rule set.

While these more highly engineered approaches tend to be expensive, they are worth applying when an organization is working on high-value business problems and can reduce cost or risk (or improve quality) by using an expert's methodology rather than the ad hoc approaches of more junior practitioners.

Where PortBlue Fits In

By capturing knowledge in software, PortBlue offers a powerful new approach to knowledge



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