posted 30 Sep 2000 in Volume 4 Issue 2
Knowledge management made in Europe (Web only article)
The European KM Forum is the latest knowledge management initiative to be supported by the European Commission. Anne Jubert discusses the project’s key aims and components, and reveals how portal technology will provide the central platform for the forum’s communication and collaboration activities.
The European Commission supports ‘KM made in Europe’ and acts as an integrator for KM activities at the European level. The IST (Information Society Technologies) Programme is part of Europe's 5th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, which runs from 1998-2002. This programme works towards overcoming technological barriers to the creation of a European information society, while at the same time supporting the development of the knowledge-based economy, and generating real added economic and social value at the European level.
Within Key Action II (New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce), the European Commission funds a growing portfolio of projects that research innovative KM solutions and applications in a shared risk, shared cost environment. Currently, the European Commission supports more than 30 active KM projects creating solutions for knowledge exchange and sharing of best practices in Europe. It disseminates results from European research projects through conferences and exhibitions and supports actively the establishment of a global European KM community.
Organisations that can contribute to advancing KM, either from a technological, methodological or socio-economic perspective can make a proposal for funding. Call 4 of the IST Programme includes a specific action line relating to Knowledge Management for eCommerce and eWork. The text of this action line is available at http://www.ispo.cec.be/istka2/all-2.html. The deadline for receipt of proposals in this area is 31 October 2000.
The European KM Forum
The European KM Forum will become the go-to site for access to KM resources in Europe. The European KM Forum is one of the most recent KM projects to be supported by the European Commission. It is a thematic network comprising many European KM projects and other major players in KM in Europe.
The founding members of the European KM Forum are the Bremen Institute of Industrial Technology and Applied Work Science, Frauenhofer Institute, Sift, British Telecom, Siemens, Atos, Gruppo Formula, Ibermatica, Boc Information, Knowledge Media Institute and the University of Nottingham. However, more than 30 other companies have already signed up as members of this emerging community.
The primary objective of the European KM Forum is to create a self-sustaining KM community with synergetic links between European KM centres of expertise. Together members will define standards and common approaches for European KM and ways to measure results. The forum will facilitate learning and knowledge transfer between members, and support collaboration and innovation in Europe. Over time, the forum will evolve into a B2B community, bringing users and suppliers, both intellectual and commercial, together on an everyday basis. Any supplier interested in building a relationship based on listening to the needs of the European KM community and acting to fulfil them is invited to join the forum.
Why is the European Knowledge Management Forum so exciting?
Knowledge is developed by individuals, then shared through interaction and interpretation in a social setting. Similarly, the European Knowledge Management Forum focuses on interactions and relationships, the keys to the development of a virtual community. In this community, for the first time, researchers from academic institutions, consultants and practitioners from industry will collaborate to define a common approach and framework for KM in Europe. From the beginning, European key players have been involved in giving direction and support to this community, a community that it will be open to all companies and people who want to take an active and constructive part in its shape, and its future. And admission will be free of cost.
The community will be hosted in a portal with ‘sticky’ content. The objective of this portal is to create user loyalty by offering highly targeted information and access to all relevant resources to a community sharing interest in KM. There will be opportunities to participate in online learning, discussions, build new European projects, aggregate demand and look for recruitment and business opportunities. The community will be funded through advertising, e-commerce (including consulting), and work referral programmes.
The portal will be the ‘home’ for the KM community - and for e-lancers
The collaborative capabilities of portals help to develop virtual communities. A portal connects users not only with all the information they need, but, more importantly, with all the people they need. It is a great relationship enabler. The European KM Forum will continuously learn about the user based on his interaction with the portal, and update users’ profiles in real-time.
Content is not designed according to a final master plan, but starts with a few underlying concepts, and a modular structure, which will allow for a flexible deployment. Later the community itself will evolve, adapting and modifying the framework according to its interests.
The portal will combine breaking news with analysis and the ‘inside scoop’, as well as knowledge maps and people pointers. Different applications will be accessible through the portal, including virtual meeting facilities, chat and discussion forums, and at a later stage different services may be added, for example, electronic shopping facilities, online training, virtual showrooms, clinics, a helpdesk and so on.
The critical success factors
Customer focus comes first. The community is designed for and by its members. A small core team of coordinators will act as facilitators and contributing members, and content will not be controlled or influenced by a single contributor or group of contributors. The membership will also constantly change as the community evolves and new goals arise.
External links to third-party resources are essential. These will allow companies to combine their special expertise with the competencies of other organisations. The Forum encourages collaboration with existing networks and interest groups; the intention is not to create just another ‘private club’ for KM.
The Forum is backed by professional support. In fact, to ensure success, the European KM Forum has from the very beginning involved companies with the right skills for the projects - for facilitation, marketing, content management, editorial work and technology support. Clear roles in the key functions are being defined and the working processes are agreed upon up-front.
Technology is naturally an important success factor. The portal is modular and constantly evolving, based on leading-edge technology components and common standards. And just as importantly, the community has been designed to have sufficient resources to reach a critical mass during the project’s lifetime (3 years). The European Commission is funding the initial phase, but only active user involvement will ensure a durable success for this very special community.
Where to find more information and/or get involved
The European Commission has a web site http://www.cordis.lu where you can find information concerning the 5th framework programme, open calls, procedures for submitting and so on. Specific information about the IST program can be found at: http://www.ispo.cec.be/istka2/all-2.html
The KM Rocket is our discussion forum that you might want to join at: http://www.topica.com/lists/km-rocket
The E-business and E-work conference is being held in Madrid on Oct 18th-20th 2000. Please visit http://www.ebew.net for more information.
The IST 2000 conference is taking place in Nice on Nov 6th-8th 2000. More information can be found at: http://istevent.cec.eu.int
KM Europe 2000 is Europe’s largest KM exhibition, and will take place in Brussels on Nov 20th-22nd 2000. The results of 15 European KM projects will be demonstrated at this exhibition. Please visit the http://www.kmeurope.com site for more details.
If you are interested in participating in the European Knowledge Management Forum, you can contact the project co-ordinator Dr Frithjof Weber at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And, finally, you are of course welcome to contact me: email@example.com
Anne Jubert is directorate general, Information Society, at the European Commission.