The ability to manage knowledge is relevant for millions of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate in high-tech environments. They strongly depend on external knowledge about customers, technologies, and competitors because, as opposed to large companies, they have limited internal knowledge resources and little power to control their business environments. Present KM literature, however, mainly focuses on large companies and therefore does not explain, how SMEs, for example, can successfully apply groupware, data mining, semantic networks, and knowledge maps. This book addresses this problem by introducing the concept of knowledge integration (KI) that places emphasis on the identification, acquisition and use of external knowledge. Drawing from this theoretical basis, the book presents concepts and instruments specifically designed for SMEs, as well as examples of their implementation and use in practice.
Imagine Measure & Co, a two-person company creating optical measurement instruments for the graphical industry. Mark, the owner and founder of Measure & Co has a thorough background in measurement technology and has worked for years on his own. Lately, he has found a partner, Susan, who is experienced in commercial and marketing activities and takes care of customer relations and sales.
Although Mark and Susan together possess much of the knowledge that is needed to run their company, it is by far not sufficient. They need to stay informed about new measurement technologies, changing customer demands, changes in the printing industry, and so on, and so on. Moreover, they have to make sure that this knowledge is kept within their company and that they can apply it as well; a job that is extremely challenging in their dynamic industry. Thus, for Mark and Susan, it is important to manage their knowledge.