What Is the Connection between Knowledge Engineering and Management?

Peter Hann

Knowledge engineering involves building knowledge-based systems that aim to achieve the same level of expertise as a person applying specialist knowledge and experience. The main difficulty in applying knowledge engineering tends to be in the acquisition of a sufficient quality and quantity of knowledge to enable a problem to be resolved by the system. These difficulties in classifying and archiving knowledge for retrieval when required are similar to the tasks faced by knowledge management in any organization. Knowledge management may therefore benefit from some of the analytical tools of knowledge engineering, such as the classification of knowledge-based operations into different types of tasks requiring particular techniques. Knowledge engineering and management therefore share similar objectives, and the tools used by knowledge engineering may be useful for knowledge management.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Knowledge engineering is related to computer science and artificial intelligence, aiming to equal human expertise in producing sophisticated answers to complicated situations. The objective is to produce a system that can analyze the essence of a problem and produce a solution by drawing on a body of detailed knowledge from organized databases. The structured knowledge can then be maintained and enhanced by feedback, leading to continuous assessment and improvement of the system. Each type of knowledge used by the system would require the use of particular techniques to ensure the knowledge is fully utilized. Knowledge engineering and management are linked by the need to acquire and organize knowledge to focus on solving problems and identifying opportunities.

The concepts used in some aspects of knowledge engineering may be relevant to knowledge management and can assist an enterprise in its knowledge management projects. Certain analytic tasks in knowledge engineering applications involve arrangement and manipulation of knowledge and may serve as a model for similar knowledge management activities. Methods used by knowledge engineering to perform tasks such as classification, assessment and planning on the basis of a structured knowledge base may be transferable for use in knowledge management. Knowledge engineering and management both need to classify tasks and organize knowledge to assist their analysis.

In practice, an approach drawn from knowledge engineering would try to identify problems and areas in an organization where opportunities may exist, using tools such as interviews and discussions with relevant staff. The results of this exercise would be matched against the objectives of the organization and its mission statement, taking into account the main drivers of value in the enterprise. The outcome of this analysis linking knowledge engineering and management would be an overview of the main challenges and opportunities that should be the focus of knowledge management in the enterprise.

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