Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 6 Issue 6
Inside knowledge: KM in the energy industry
The energy sector is a complex environment, incorporating a variety of organisations, operational frameworks, and internal and external pressures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, some of the biggest players in the sector were among the earliest adopters of knowledge management, notably oil and gas giants Shell and BP. In fact, there is a convincing argument to suggest that these firms have given as much to the knowledge-management world as KM has to them; our online archive, for instance, is full of case studies detailing examples of good practice from the energy industry that the rest of us have benefited from hugely, while case studies this month from Woodside Energy, Electricité de France and British Energy are similarly instructive.
Yet the sector is now facing a number of challenges that could well count among the toughest it has ever encountered. Deregulation, liberalisation, geopolitical upheaval (particularly in the Middle East) and mounting environmental pressures (as this magazine goes to press, for instance, the UK government is on the verge of announcing radical plans to overhaul renewable-energy targets) all present their own specific operational difficulties. At the same time, the sector urgently needs to address the impending knowledge-worker crisis: by 2010, say some experts, up to 50 per cent of the industry’s workforce will simply walk out of the door, leaving behind a shortfall in expertise of immense proportions.
As David Lecore from Schlumberger points out in this month’s Your Say, it is those companies that are addressing this problem right now that will emerge as industry leaders further down the line. Knowledge management may not be a magic bullet, but it can certainly offer energy firms a means of dealing with this issue, and indeed many of the other challenges they are facing, in a coherent, effectual way. Our investigation into the role of KM in the energy sector begins on page ten.
On a final note, you may already have seen details of Knowledge Management’s enhanced newsletter service, which goes live this month. Every fortnight, each edition will include details of the latest news and industry developments, together with bonus articles, practitioner interviews and cherry-picked case studies and features from the Knowledge Management library. This service is free to subscribers, so if you have already opted in to receive our newsletter, you need do nothing except wait for the first edition to arrive. If you have not yet done so, you can request your copy by visiting www.kmmagazine.com/newsletter.
Your Say: KM in the energy industry
Many firms in the energy industry were early adopters of knowledge management, and have since led the way in terms of KM implementation. Simon Lelic talks to some of the leading practitioners in the field to gauge the current state of the art, and to highlight the ongoing challenges for the industry.
The power of people
Woodside Energy recently embarked on a programme to embed its knowledge-management processes into employees daily routines. Khaled Chiri details the steps the company has taken to create an environment that is conducive to learning, sharing and collaborating, and reveals the progress Woodside has made to date.
Benchmarking KM at British Energy
Shortly after the publication of the British Standard Guide to Good Practice in Knowledge Management PAS 2001 last year, it was used to benchmark the KM activities of British Energy Power and Energy Trading as part of the research for an MSc dissertation. Simon Carpenter and Sarah Rudge describe the process and the lessons learnt.
The percolator effect
Since companies first began experimenting with KM in the 1990s, the discipline has entered a more mature age. Using the experiences of Electricité de France as an example, Jean-François Ballay describes how knowledge management has evolved and reveals how the companys percolation strategy has helped to instil a culture conducive to knowledge sharing throughout the organisation as a whole.
Strength in numbers
Created through the merger of several large organisations, Fortis has since grown rapidly in size, in part thanks to its own acquisition programme. As such, the company as a whole is well versed in the pitfalls and possibilities the M&A process presents. Anita Creyghton and Wido Bosch describe how knowledge management, and in particular the creation of a virtual community, has helped the firm realise the benefits M&A expansion has to offer.
The knowledge: Leif Edvinsson
Leif Edvinssons reputation in the field of intellectual capital is unsurpassed. The first person in the world to hold the title of director of intellectual capital, Edvinsson is credited with transforming how organisations perceive and value their intangible assets. He talks to Simon Lelic about his career and what he regards as a growing need to apply knowledge-management principles on a societal level.
On the web: Towards a global stream
With employees sat at around 13,000 desktops all over the world, Reuters needed to find a way to reach them all to communicate important company messages in an efficient and direct way. Steve Clarke explains how, after some initial teething problems, the company developed a live streaming and video service that now represents a powerful means of communication.
Country focus: Spain
Simon Lelic talks to Manon van Leeuwen and Raúl de Tena from the Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology in Extremadura about how knowledge management has impacted upon economic activity in Spain.
Five minutes with
Jacquie Bran, project manager for the Knowledge Management events team, talks to Bert Vandenbos, head of Vodafone Group R&D in the Netherlands, about his experiences implementing a knowledge-management programme.
Book review: The Next Big Idea
Manjiri Virginkar-Papproth reviews Carol Kennedys The Next Big Idea