I recently asked a friend what he thought was meant by "knowledge management". The reply I got was: "Sounds like a fancy title for something a bit less fancy. Like when customer services became client liaison".
Unfortunately, to the cynical 21st century ear, knowledge management does sound like the product of a marriage twixt boss-speak and buzzword, which hardly gives it the credence that it merits in the contemporary business sphere.
Given the worldwide scope of the oil and gas sector, the volume and complexity of the data coming out of it, and its exposure to what could potentially be the most crippling skills shortage in global industry, knowledge management could not be more crucial. But what exactly does it mean?
Knowledge /n./ from Middle English cnawlece
In a nutshell - that nut obviously having fallen from the Tree of Knowledge - knowledge is information or data put into context, which effectively counts as an individual company's entire portfolio of operational know-how and intellectual capital.
Management /n./ from Italian maneggiare "to handle"
In this case we can simply go with the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of: "the process of dealing with or controlling things or people". In a commercial context, the "things" in question will be the business-critical processes, tools, software and hardware that facilitate smooth operational running.
So with a definition ascribed to the phrase, why is knowledge management so vital for oil and gas?
Continuity of Knowledge and Corporate Amnesia
No, not the title of the latest Bond film and a the follow up to Wall Street 2, but a situation that would be equally nightmarish to those in both the intelligence or stock-broking fraternities.
Mergers and acquisitions, third-party outsourcing and employee turnover are all potential enemies of knowledge retention in an ageing industry. Those in the...