Immaterial capital

Is there still an interest in managing your knowledge?

By 10 April 2019August 18th, 2020No Comments

In this article, we will address the first point “Is there still an interest in managing your knowledge? ». A way to do this will be proposed in a future article.

1 – An evolving context


The need for a company or organization to manage its knowledge in the best possible way in order to ensure efficiency, sustainability, etc. is well known. Knowledge Management, as a profession, is still something quite new. The emergence of standards is a phenomenon that generally accompanies any activity that reaches a certain level of maturity. This is what is happening today for Knowledge Management.

The ISO9001 Standard already included requirements for Knowledge Management activities. The ISO30401 Standard, published very recently, is entirely dedicated to the Knowledge Management activity. It is a topical event that may lead a larger number of stakeholders to ask themselves the question of the state of Knowledge Management in their organizations or companies and their ability to meet the requirements of these Standards.

2 – Some reflections


Before going into more detail on how to improve Knowledge Management in an organization, it is useful to clarify what we are talking about and to make some comments on the impact of Big Data and A.I.

Indeed, with the continuous production of an ever-increasing amount of data through connected objects, with the development of artificial intelligence, which increases the capacity of machines to exploit this data, we can ask ourselves the question of the need for us as humans to continue to be concerned about the management of our knowledge. Will the A.I. learn it for us?

2 – 1 When can we start talking about Knowledge?


A first approach consists of identifying three levels: Data; Information; Knowledge.

A temperature of 28° is a given. To say that it is 28° in Marseille, or to say that it is 28° in Marseille and Lyon, is news. Knowledge appears with context information when the question “why?” is answered. For example, “it’s summer in June”. The answer to others “why?” will enrich the knowledge with explanations of physical and meteorological phenomena. It is in this way that young children acquire their first knowledge of the world around them through the famous “Why?”…” Why?”… etc.

Note: KM (Knowledge Management) is often used to refer to “Knowledge Management”. Knowledge” is a set of information and data, which is given meaning and validity in its explained context.

2 – 2 Thanks to big data, is it enough to accumulate and process data in tools to generate knowledge?


The starting point of Big Data is the automatic collection of data produced during a growing number of our activities. These become accessible due to the development of connected objects, an essential aspect of digital transformation. This data is stored, thanks to the almost infinite storage possibilities, at least perceived as such today. They are then processed by increasingly powerful algorithms to identify data, make correlations, classifications and turn them into information.

At this point can we really talk about “Knowledge”? Can an automatic assembly of information constitute knowledge?

Let us take the case of historical knowledge. Extracting, categorizing, assembling the major dates in history, the main events, the names of the more or less illustrious protagonists, cross-checking and correlating them is easy with the “new” digital tools. This provides a factual description of what happened. As it stands and without an explanation of the context that prevailed at the time, it is difficult for us to understand why things are happening and it would be dangerous to make a judgment on these events.

The explanation of the context (cultural, political, beliefs, etc.) in which these events took place, the reasons for their occurrence and their consequences are provided by the historian through a cognitive activity of analysis and synthesis. A process in which he also uses his intuition and perception to guide him through the mass of information at his disposal.

It is this combination of “the description of the events themselves, the explanations of the context, the perspective, the affiliation with other events…” that constitutes knowledge on the subject or event concerned.

It is therefore not only a matter of collecting and then processing information automatically, but also the result of cognitive work based on the possibilities and power of digital tools. Big Data is, therefore, a powerful tool to help create knowledge.

2 – 3 When the A.I. exempt us from learning and will the robots do it for us?


A robot is a formidable machine for processing information from its increasingly sophisticated sensors. Thanks to rules and the power of its recognition algorithms, a robot is able to learn from situations “experienced” by itself. Does this mean that it will replace the human being, that it will acquire knowledge and implement it autonomously?

Microsoft’s experience with Tay is quite significant. He was a chatbot supposed to chat with teenagers on social networks. It had been programmed to learn by interacting with Internet users. From these interactions, the robot “learned” and independently evolved its answers to the questions asked. Not having the historical and cultural background of a human being of our time, his answers got out of control and he had to be silenced after only 8 hours.

Let’s make the analogy with ourselves as humans. Our learning from an early age is guided, I would even say framed by an educational system. The application of our knowledge through our actions, our writings, and our words is constrained by society: by rules, laws and tacit practices. Not everything is formalized. In some cases, it is our intuition that guides us, a notion that is difficult to ” instill ” in a robot.

The learning of robots and the consequences that will result in their behavior will have to be controlled. This will require from us a level of knowledge that allows us to master the actions of these robots in all circumstances and to answer questions such as: is what has been learned valid, what consequences, why…)

Can we, for example, imagine an A.I. robot pilot who would change his ways of doing things on his own initiative according to his learning? obviously not.

Humans will continue to need to learn and manage their knowledge, including that acquired with the help of the A.I.

The Knowledge Management Club brings together companies and organizations from all sectors to develop knowledge management (KM) attitudes, culture, and actions. The relationship between A.I. and Knowledge Management is one of the themes addressed by the Club.

Knowledge Management Club website:

Source: “Is there still an interest in managing your knowledge and how to do it?“, Patrick Coustillere, 21/03/2019