In response to my recent post, “Innovation Lesson From Ratatouille”, Bill Bennett replied indicating that I had made a compelling case for unfettered access to the internet. I think Bill is on the right track with his comment, but the need for information access is much too important to simply throw the internet at your knowledge workers. The internet is too vast, too unstructured, too noisy, and too limited to be the primary tool innovation workers use to empower their research.
Fundamental to innovation is the need to conduct secondary research. However, data has become far too plentiful to be useful. Innovation workers searching for answers are inundated by an indistinguishable flood of data. Awash in such a swirl of data, workers are finding this data is becoming an impediment to innovation. Data is transformed into actionable knowledge only when it’s made available to knowledge workers in the context of their need, at the moment of need, in a form which is compatible with the researcher’s thought templates.
For this reason, Innovation & IT managers involved in creating the organizational infrastructure to enable efficient innovation must focus on three key items.
- Provide knowledge workers with design intent based research technologies – this means providing workers with a way to access knowledge seamlessly without the need leave the context of their innovation work to search for information.
- Reorganize knowledge networks around the knowledge worker – that is to say that the traditional models of topical or architectural taxonomies of navigation have failed as effective paths for broad worker communities to discover knowledge efficiently. A system that is organized around workers’ use models is far more effective as the combination of use intent and data meaning defines a dynamic virtual taxonomy which is tailored to the needs of the individual knowledge worker.
- Tap into the full Innovation Information Ecosystem – There are many sources of important input in the innovation process and all these sources must be brought together for knowledge workers to have the holistic view needed to ensure that they are optimally positioned at the confluence of information in order to allow them to see the connections that lead to new knowledge and innovation breakthroughs.
Here is a quick list of the types of content sources that you need to consider when you are mapping out your Innovation Information Ecosystem:
Internal sources - Organizational knowledge is often the rich source of immediately actionable knowledge. You will want to consider how to integrate information from your PDM repositories, document management systems, shared drives, and your corporate library (if you have one). When looking at internal knowledge, don’t forget to include CRM data such as warrantee and service data. Also, process data and metric can also contain important insights for internal facing innovations.
Personal information – Individual knowledge workers will need to integrate their locally stored information into the global view of information that is provided at the corporate level. This will include documents stored on their work station as well as e-mail and other captured communications.
Informal knowledge capture – When thinking about captured communications, remember to include informal worker-to-worker information channels. These are highly valuable stores of otherwise undocumented corporate wisdom. These may include internal Web 2.0 class applications such as discussion forums, electronic communities of practice, technical wikis, internal blogs, and internal Twitter-like messaging systems.
External sources – The best way to think outside the box, is to redefine your box. So, embrace eternal knowledge sources and integrate them into your knowledge delivery framework. This can include a number of classes of external sources such as:
Other divisions – If you can establish a network to share knowledge with other divisions of your enterprise, you have access to extremely rich and reliable information.
Content publishers – This can include commercial content aggregators, professional associations, patent authorities, and universities.
Value network – The foundation of open innovation is to create a flow of content from you customers and the partners in your value chain.
General web – Yes, there is some valuable information available on the publicly accessible web. However, don’t forget that much of the rich technical and scientific content is in what has been termed the deep-web where documents are stored behind a front end retrieval engine.
As you can see the Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem has many elements. Make sure you are considering it broadly so that your knowledge workers have the right information at their disposal, and make sure you are providing the most effective model of access. When you enable innovation workers to easily tap into the richness of the Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem, you begin to unlock their potential for value creation through innovation.