There is little doubt that we have entered a knowledge-based economy where what organizations know has become more important than the traditional sources of economic power which they command. The value attributed by stock markets to companies in sectors such as software development and biotechnology far outweighs their tangible assets. Even in industries as traditional as manufacturing, companies are obtaining competitive advantage through technological know-how, product design skills, problem-solving expertise, personal creativity and the ability to innovate. The most effective way to store knowledge is in people's heads--the human mind is still more powerful than any computer at storing, sorting and retrieving the sort of knowledge which is most valuable to companies. Transferring such knowledge between individuals is usually best done verbally to capture details and nuances. But relying on individuals can be fraught with risk. When individuals leave an organization, their knowledge is lost or goes to a competitor. Yet in many companies today there is little provision for capturing, sharing and disseminating critical knowledge assets.

This is where technology can help. Technology is not a panacea, and we are not suggesting that technology alone solves all the issues in knowledge management (KM). But storing knowledge in electronic formats means that, at the very least, it can be used for other applications. Searching for it becomes easier. And as certain technologies become more powerful, exploitation of knowledge becomes easier still.

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