Technology is not knowledge management
The need to capture knowledge and to store it for later access and use means that technology plays an important part within knowledge management processes. However, it should be noted that technology is not knowledge management.
Many technologies are being used to assist in the development of infrastructure for capturing explicit knowledge. Such technology includes the development of intranets, the use of electronic work tools such as groupware and the development of database structures for data warehousing. These technologies must be seen as being support technologies that form part of the knowledge management process and not the total solution to knowledge management.
Communities of practice
Communities of practice are increasingly recognised as an important aspect of knowledge management for industry and enterprises. Consider the example of a community of practice among winegrowers.
Within a single organisational setting, the acknowledgement of communities of practice is important, although they can often be difficult to establish. A community of practice is usually an informal process that establishes itself on the need to share knowledge, not necessarily as a means to reach a particular goal or outcome. An example of this could be different researchers meeting regularly across a university. This regular meeting would be based on similarities of their research interest. The meeting could be a formal or informal process, but it allows them to discuss their interests and share ideas or current research findings. The outcome of the community of practice is the actual knowledge sharing. This knowledge sharing can then be brought back to their individual faculties or research centres and incorporated into their ongoing research. More formal outcomes could be the establishing of a new team to address a specific research question or research submission.