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Monday, April 23, 2007

Decision Support using an Enterprise Wiki

Knowledge workers typically need information of the following four kinds to make informed decisions; the current status of things, exceptions, historical records and relevant knowledge. The first three are primarily for answering “what?” questions. What is going on? What has gone wrong? What has happened since XX? What is likely to happen in the future? The last type of information - relevant knowledge – can be used to answer not only “what?” but also for example “why?” and “how?” questions.

The first three types of information can usually be answered with queries to operational data stores or data warehouses, typically containing transactional data and data from other sources (business systems) that can tell something about how the business operates.

“Relevant knowledge” is a bit fuzzier. The knowledge needed can potentially be retrieved and extracted from content of any different kind such as documents, web pages and graphics, or directly from people. The findability of relevant knowledge is however suffering from content management problems – that the content is not formatted, aggregated, organized and described in a way that allows it to be found in the vast, over flooded and fragmented content landscape. In short, this means that the content management problems need to be addressed and resolved if knowledge workers are to be able to find relevant knowledge for making the right decisions.

An enterprise wiki is a powerful tool for collecting knowledge from every corner of the organization and making it accessible for everyone with the right to access it. Besides making knowledge explicit inarticles, links to related knowledge resources can be provides as well as links to the knowledge workers who have contributed to the article. Below is a simple interaction diagram illustrating a wiki that can provide access to knowledge resources, including access to other knowledge workers that might possess the relevant knowledge.


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