Knowledge assets in enterprise architecture

Joubert, Francois (2010-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Knowledge assets can be defined as anything that affects a business’s disposition to act on data received from the environment. Knowledge assets are embedded in the objects within an organisation and are the source of an organisation’s competitive advantage, by being closely linked to what the organisation knows and by allowing the organisation to act and to be innovative. Knowledge assets evolve over time as knowledge agents, through a process of sense making, substitute physical resources for informational resources by codifying and abstracting knowledge assets, in the process increasing their value and ability to be diffused to wider audiences. These knowledge assets are internalised in an organisation and impact on the organisation when they are applied to concrete problems. Knowledge assets play an important role in the creation of information assets in an organisation. Information assets are created when a knowledge agent makes use of his or her knowledge to make sense of data received from sources in the environment. The creation of information through the sense making process creates new knowledge which is added to the agent’s knowledge base. Enterprise architecture is the process of designing future states for an organisation and then planning, leading and governing the organisation towards that future state. Enterprise architecture focuses mostly on the organisational process, on information and technology. Enterprise architects make use of enterprise architecture frameworks such as TOGAF or the Zachman framework, which are primarily concerned with the domains of business, information and technology architecture, yet none of these mainstream frameworks used by enterprise architects takes knowledge assets into account, despite the obviously important role that they play in the organisation and especially in the information creation process. This research proposes to show that knowledge assets have an important role to play in enterprise architecture by allowing enterprise architects to • identify or facilitate the creation of knowledge assets pertaining to a specific problem; • understand whether information assets are located in the ordered and complex or the chaotic regimes and what would be the implication of moving them between regimes; • plot knowledge assets movements and relationships to each other on the social learning cycle path, which would enable enterprise architects to balance the types of learning that the organisation employs; • define the level of codification, abstraction and diffusion of knowledge assets, based on the intended audiences and to understand where knowledge assets could be developed to improve quality and when outdated knowledge should be destroyed in favour of new knowledge. Knowledge assets are related to Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA) through the specific knowledge domains that exist within an organisation. Understanding whether knowledge assets exist in the ordered, complex or chaotic regimes will provide a more complete view of the organisation. Architecture of knowledge assets in this space will provide a better understanding of an organisation’s culture: this understanding can compensate for differences in knowledge agents’ spatio-temporal positions, how and when they receive data and their particular cognitive styles. The importance of knowledge assets in the creation of information links it emphatically with Enterprise Information Architecture (EIA). Knowledge asset architecture provides a better understanding of how information is created and flows through an organisation, taking into account the meaning of the information to the organisation, which compensates for that oversight in information theory, which regards the accuracy of data that is communicated as the only concern. Information technology has exponentially increased mankind’s ability to codify, abstract and diffuse knowledge assets. Enterprise Technical Architecture (ETA) is mainly concerned with the technology infrastructure implemented within an organisation. Enterprise architects can apply knowledge asset architecture to decide whether the technology should be used to enhance the codification and abstraction of information, allowing more efficient diffusion of information to a larger audience, or whether more concrete information should be diffused to a more closely-knit audience. This research will argue that the use of knowledge assets as a domain within enterprise architecture will greatly enhance the enterprise architect’s ability to understand and lead the organisation to a more desirable future state.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kennisbates is vasgelê in die konkrete en abstrakte voorwerpe in die organisasie. Hierdie voorwerpe omsluit alle voorwerpe wat ‘n effek het op hoe die organisasie reageer op data wat vanaf die omgewing ontvang word. Kennisbates is ‘n bron vir die kompeterende voordeel wat ‘n organisasie geniet omdat dit verband hou met wat die organisasie weet en dit die organisasie in staat stel om te innoveer. Kennisbates sal aangaande evolueer soos wat kennisdraers, deur die sinmaak proses, fisiese hulpbronne vervang met inligtings hulpbronne gedurende die proses van kodifisering en abstraksie en sodoende die kennisbates se waarde vir die organisasie te verhoog en beskikbaar te stel vir groter gehore. Die kennisbates word dan vasgelê in die organisasie wanneer die kennis toegepas word op konkrete probleme. Kennisbates speel ‘n belangrike rol in die skepping van inligtingsbates in die organisasie. Inligting word slegs geskep wanneer die kennisdraer gebruik maak van sy kennis om sin te maak van data onvang vanuit die omgewing. Die nuwe inligting word dan intern vasgelê in die kennisdraer as nuwe kennis. Ondernemingsargitektuur is ‘n proses waardeur die toekomstige staat van ‘n organisasie ontwerp word deur beplanning, en daar verder leiding gegee word ter uitvoering daarvan. Ondernemingsargitektuur fokus meestal op die organisasie se prosesse, inligting en tegnologie. Ondernemingsargitekte maak gebruik van ondernemingsargitektuurraamwerke soos TOGAF en die Zachmanraamwerk as riglyne vir hulle werk. Hierdie raamwerke fokus primêr op die besigheid, inligting en tegniese domeine van argitektuur. Nie een van die hoofstroom ondernemingsargitektuurraamwerke neem kennisbates in ag nie, ten spyte van die voordiehandliggende belangrike rol wat kennisbates in die organisasie se inligtingskeppingsproses speel. Hierdie navorsing stel voor dat kennisbates deel kan vorm van ondernemingsargitektuur deur ondernemingsargitekte toe te laat om • kennisbates aangaande ‘n spesifieke probleem te identifiseer of die skepping daarvan die fasiliteer, • te bepaal of die kennisbates in die geordende, komplekse of chaotiese regime bestaan en wat die implikasie sou wees om hulle na ‘n ander regime te skuif, en • die kennisbates op die sosiale leersiklus aan te stip, wat die ondernemingsargitek in staat sal stel om die leerbenaderings van die organisasie te balanseer, die vlak van kodifisering, abstraksie en verspreiding te definieer, gebaseer op die voornemende gehoor vir die spesifieke inligting. • beter begrip te hê daarvoor of die kennisbate na ‘n beter kwaliteit ontwikkel moet word of vernietig moet word om plek te maak vir nuwe kennisbates. Daar bestaan ‘n verwantskap tussen OBA (Ondernemingsbesigheidsargitektuur) deur die spesifieke kennisdomein wat reeds in die organisasie bestaan. Deur te verstaan of die kennisbates binne die geordende, komplekse of chaotiese regimes val sal beter begrip bied van die organisasie as geheel. Al hierdie gesigshoeke word in die geordende domein beskryf. Kennisbateargitektuur sal ‘n beter begrip van die organisasie se kultuur bewerkstellig. Die kultuur in ‘n organisasie word gebruik om te vergoed vir die verskille in die kennisdraer se tyd-ruimtelike ligging tydens die ontvangs van data asook hulle kognitiewe styl. Daar bestaan ‘n daadwerklike verwantskap tussen kennisbateargitektuur en Ondernemingsinligtingsargitektuur (OIA). Kennisbateargitektuur sal bydra tot die begrip van hoe inligting geskep word en vloei deur die organisasie. Dit sal die betekenis van inligting in ag neem en daardeur vergoed vir die tekortkoming van inligtingteorie wat slegs die korrektheid van die data wat vervoer word in ag neem. Inligtingstegnologie het die mens se vermoë om inligting te kodifiseer, abstraksie toe te pas en te versprei eksponensieël verbeter. Ondernemingstegnieseargitektuur (OTA) is hoofsaaklik verantwoordelik vir die tegnologiese infrastruktuur wat geïmplimenteer word binne die organisasie. Ondernemingsargitekte kan kennisbates gebruik om te besluit of tegnologie gebruik moet word om beter inligting te skep deur hoër kodifisering en abstraksie toe te pas, om daardeur die vermoë te skep om die inligting vir ‘n wyer gehoor beskikbaar te stel, of om meer konkrete inligting vir ‘n meer intieme gehoor beskikbaar te stel. Hierdie navorsing stel voor dat kennisbates as ‘n domein binne die ondernemingsargitektuur vervat word. Dit sal die ondernemingsargitek in staat stel om die organisasie beter te lei na ‘n wenslike toekomstige staat.

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