Innovation, Knowledge Management and Research: the ... - Unesco

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Nov 6, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Research,
Innovation

and

Knowledge Management: the ICT Factor

Submitted to
UNESCO,
July
20
, 2007

Diem Ho



Abstract

We define the knowledge cycle with its processes and outcome. We look
in detail
at
how
innovation comes about
,

how ICT plays
a

role
in
innov
ation

and what impact higher
education has
o
n the whole process.


A. Background

The Information
Communication

Technology

(ICT)

is considered the driving force
behind
the
long
unpre
ced
ented
economic
growth period

of the
last decade
. It
provided the
infrastr
ucture for economic development,
helped creat
e

the knowledge society,
contributed to innovation and created value for the economy.

More important
ly
, it
br
ought

the world closer together by
improving the

disseminati
o
n of knowledge,
accelerating research, st
imulating innovation

and facilitating collaboration.


As we
have
all witnessed, the a
dvent

of
the
internet, broadband communication, open
source collaboration
,

and the rapidly improving computing capacity has changed the
world economy drastically

[1]
.

T
he
knowledge economy and the globally integrated
enterprise
have
become a reality

[2]
.
The competitive playing field between industrialized
and emerging markets
is

levelling.

The econom
ies

of industrialized countries
are

moving
into services.
B
usiness models
and processes are globalized. ICT is changing quickly,
shorten
ing

its life cycle and speed
ing

up its obsoleteness.

Innovation
has
become the battle cry for many countries look
ing

for job creation

and

better living conditions
.


Research is
needed to
use

ex
isting knowledge and to
create

new
knowledge
. It is

the
means for maintaining intellectual leadership
. K
nowledge management is
the solution for
sustaining
a
competitive edge

in a knowledge economy
.



Higher
e
ducation plays a major role in all these
process
es
by preparing and providing the
required human capacity through education
,
creating and disseminating knowledge to
society
,

and directly contributing to economic development.


We shall
explore

the ICT factor
i
n research, innovation and knowledge mana
gement.
The
whole question will be how and where value

is
created and what ICT contribut
e
s
to

this
value creation process.

Lastly

what
role does
higher education role
play

and how
does
it
adapt

to th
is

quickly changing environment
.









B. Definition
s

Before going into more discussion, let

u
s agree on a number of definitions.

The knowledge cycle can be seen in the graph below:








Figure 1: Knowledge cycle consists of knowledge acquisition, assimilation and
development.
Knowledge

development may lead to creating or discovering new
knowledge
/technology

or creating new value by applying knowledge
/technology
to
societal or business challenges. The knowledge development

stage

is
where value is
created, in other words, innovat
ion.


The knowledge cycle con
s
ists of three pillars: the knowledge
/technology

acquisition, the
knowledge
/technology

assimilation, and
knowledge

development

(Figure 1)
.

K
nowledge management is in fact the process of managing the knowledge cycle.
However,
in

common us
a
ge, knowledge management is more associated with
business
organization objectives focussing on
the
re
-
use, awareness
,

learning

of experiences and
knowledge in the enterprise.


Innovation

is
doing something better or new
. Th
is

is knowledge
deve
lopment
,

shown

above, where
new knowledge or technology can be created or discovered or new
applications of technology can be found. These applications can provide
the
solutions or
meet the needs of our society or businesses.

In order to do so, a deep und
erstanding of
business or societal challenges is a must
. I
n other words, innovation requires a fusion of


New Technologies /

Knowledge



Society/Businesses


Develop values



Assimilate


Acquire

Create

Di
scover




Understand
business
challenges


Knowledge Cycle


knowledge between ICT and business
/
society problems or a multi
-
disciplined
collaboration.


The creation of new knowledge or technology is also known
as
discovery or
invention
.


Research

is the

scholarly
work
needed
to arrive at finding

new things or new knowledge.
This is the process of creating value for knowledge.
Critical success factors

for research
are

quality
,
pertinence
to

societal or

business
needs or economic growth
,

and
sustainability
.


We
determine

quality

by its

degree of excellence
,

superior to existing
knowledge or products
. P
ertinence

is defined
by its

degree of relevanc
e

to meet a
business need
, economic development

or a soc
iet
al challe
nge
; i
ts nature can be
in the
form of
knowledge, technology or
a
solution.

Q
uality and pertinence are among the
attributes

that define the value of
the
research
outcome.

S
ustainability

is determined by the research’s

ability to survive and grow.
W
ithout th
is, there is no future for research or activity of research.
S
ustainability can be
achieved if the research
’s results

or innovations can
be used
effectively

or profitably
.

In order to arrive at these critical success factors, t
he university research commun
ity
should align their interest
s

with

the strategic objectives of industries and government
in
order
to tackle

societal and business challenges

and get funding and resources from them.
The
se

resources can also help universit
ies

improve their infrastructure
. By working
closely with industries, the governance and processes can be more realistic and efficient.
R
esearch and innovation

can

therefore

be

useful to the

government
,

sponsor
ing

industries
or society at large.
These

groups

will contribute to the
resear
ch
pertinence and
,

eventual
ly,

the
sustainability of the research.


However, by working together with government and industries, more attention should be
paid
on how to improve intellectual property practices to foster innovation. Some
milestones were ach
ieved in the US with the open collaboration principles, where
research results
from industry
-
university collaboration
s

can be made available for free

[
3
]
.

That is the eco
-
system for innovation

as
shown
i
n Figure 2
.

It require
s

a concerted effort
of governm
ent, business
es
,

industries and education
to synchronize and establish the
appropriate

pacing

for different economic and educational activities
for
the process
to
work. Any isolated effort will not assure the quality, the pertinence
,

and the
sustainabilit
y of the research activity or
the progress of its
value creation process.

Social
displacement (brain drain) and social misplacement (unemployment and wrong jobs) are
example
s

of
a
lack of synchronization of the eco
-
system.



Fi
gure 2: Innovation eco
-
system
that

creates an appropriate environment for
interactivities, synergy and utilization to provide sustainability to research
, to assure
quality
and
to
demonstrate the pertinence

and values to businesses or society
.



C. The role

of ICT

ICT can be both the means and the end in research, innovation and knowledge
management.

As the end by itself, the advent of ICT
emerged through

intensive efforts

in Research and
Development (R&D) and it can demonstrate its value to businesses and
society
;

it was the
main cause
for

the unprecedented
economic
growth of the last decade.

As for the means, ICT
has been the driver of
innovation
. I
f

we accept
the

definition

of
innovation
as the application of technology/knowledge to

societal business

cha
llenges
then we shall see how ICT

helps create value as seen
in the value matrix
on Table 1

below
.


Business/societal challenges or problematic areas can be grouped into 5 categories:
customers/citizens, products and services, market and competitors,
oper
ations/processes/resources, and business integrity (ethics for government).

B
usiness

objectives
are
usually measured

by
4
key performance indicators (KPIs)
:

revenue growth, market share, profit
,

and
productivit
y.

G
overnment objectives can be
measured throu
gh:
targeting
the
population served, economic growth,
balanced
budget
,

and productivity
.
The government objective
s

of people served and economic growth can

also

be measured by the unemployment rate.

I
nnovation can target the

above

challenges. For
example,
ICT
can
create value by
contribut
ing

to innovation in customer intimacy and product leadership by doing
customer profiling, based on customer data
while respecting people’s

privacy (
business
integrity
)
. Then by

using advanced technology in
data mining
, dat
a

warehousing
,

and

cu
stomer relationship
management
software
we can
generate accurate profiles of
Governance

Challenges:

-

society

-

business



Constraints

-

Processes

-

Infrastructures

-

Human Capacity

-

Funding

-

Resources

Achievable goals:

-

Innovation

-

Research outputs

Eco
-
system:

-

Government

-

Industry/Businesses

-

Universities

customers to provide tailored products/services that meet
the
needs and wants. This can
help in
the
optimized mass customization to
increase

market share, thu
s
improving
operations and obtaining a
competitive edge.

ICT contributes to resources/infrastructure and tools/assets for innovation, but
,

at the
same time
,

requires a higher level of human capacity to fully exploit ICT capabilities
.
Th
is

means synchron
ization

with
h
igher
e
ducation development

is necessary
.



ICT in Research:

ICT

-

provide
s

the infrastructure

(computers, broadband, wireless, etc)
, data collection and
storage, pr
oc
essing, computing power,
visualization, simulations.

-

help
s

convert data into

useful information then
business
knowledge
, presumably
profitable knowledge.

-

help
s

reap
collective wisdom

through communit
y

collaboration
s

such as Open
S
ources and
community software
, wiki
s
,
and
blog
s

to enhance
quantity, quality
,

and
thoroughness
. Howeve
r, the collaboration needs to be structured and
have

well
defined orientation to be effective.

-

helps
accelerate research and innovation with Open

Sources

and Open
Standards

For e
xample
, t
he Blue Brain project is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse
-
engineer the mammalian brain,
a discipline of
computational neuroscience,
in order
to try

to understand brain function and dysfunction through detailed simulations

with a
H
igh
P
erformance
C
omputer
, HPC

[
4
]
.
Without ICT this would be impossible

(
see also

[
5
]).


ICT in Innovation

Innovation as described above is knowledge development
:

in particular the application of
knowledge or technologies to business or societal challenges, or the i
ntersection between
technologies and business or societal challenges

as w
e see in the Global Innovation
Outlook

[6].



Societal Challenges

Our current societal needs in industrialized economies are more and more sophisticated,
the
societal challenges

are more numerous and complex,

we can

not cover the
m all fairly
and

exhaustive
ly. However, a number of challenges will
be
briefed here to show how
ICT
has played dominant roles in
these applications
:


-

Government
:
the objective of the government is to serve the people better
, effectively

and efficiently. The main KPIs
should be

pop
ulation served, economic growth,
balanced
budget and productivity
.

Again here, ICT can create values
by bringing the services
closer to the people and
to
more people by
better
identifying
the needs of citizens
,

and

providing better (
mass
customiz
ation)

pr
oducts and services
with more efficient
operations

(optimization)
,
and
user
-
friendly processes

(simplification)

with appropriate
resources

(on demand)
.

E
-
go
v
ernment
, for
example
, is one area

where ICT can help
improve and
transform public services to be m
ore responsive to citizen’s needs
(f
or
example,
[
7
]
)
.



-

H
ealthcare and social security
: most of healthcare and social security services are
government
-
run and
,

therefore
,

not much different from the above description on how
IC
T

can help innovating govern
ment services. Recent distinguished work
i
n this field
,

acknowledged by Computerworld Honors program

[
8
]
,

is the Danish national e
-
Health
Portal which allows citizens, healthcare professionals
,

and government facilities to
communicate and collaborate via a

single web
-
based interface [
9]
.
It drives the
optimization of the healthcare system by enhancing collaboration
,
and is

more patient
-
centric and cost effective
.


Lots of

research

is

being
carried o
ut

in universities to take advantage of the ICT factor to
i
mprove healthcare

treatments and drug discoveries.
F
or example,
the
University

of
Aarhus,
the municipality of A
a
rhus, Denmark, and IBM collaborated on a project to
assess how the municipality could use remote monitoring technology to empower and
assist the

self
-
care of elderly citizens who lived in their homes or in assisted
-
living
facilities [
10
].


T
he
University Medical Center of the Ruprecht
-
Karls
-
University of Heidelber
g, a
Germany's leading university hospital,
and IBM have implemented a state
-
of
-
the
-
art,
open, pervasive health
-
care solution to monitor
the
weight and blood pressure
of

pediatric
nephrology

patients during the

dialysis and post
-
transplantation recovery

[1
1
].

There are

also
many
other applications

in

Computational
Systems
B
iology

which
f
ocus
on
genomics, proteomics, and related analyses
.

Th
is

data reveals
a lot
about the
functioning of living systems. The large volume of data and the complexity of living
systems ensure that computing plays a central role in analyzing, modeling, and simula
ting
these systems [1
2
]


-

E
nergy
/
E
nvironment
:

There are many examples of innovation in this field. High
P
erformance Computing

(HPC)

has been the driving force behind
o
il exploration and
reservoir simulation
s
.

A report of the US Department of Energy
on His
tory of Innovation
in Oil and Gas Industry
affirmed that advanced technology such as high speed computer,
remote sensing and imaging, geologic interpretation and visualization technology have
help
ed

oil and gas

exploration and production smarter, farther,
deeper and cleaner [1
3
].


At the
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), an HPC is used for
reservoir simulation
s

to optimize oil production in the North Sea
[1
4
]
.

A s
imilar effort is
also being carried out at the University of Liverpool [1
5
].
At

IBM,
software

tools
are
used to

simulate realistically how oil is generated,
as well as,
how it migrates through
sediment and accumulates in oil fields
. The software

can reduce the costs of oil
exploration and production

[1
6
].


ICT can
also
play a v
ital role in energy conservation. The European Union

(EU)

is
committed

to taking
the
lead
in

a
Sustainable Development Strategy

using

ICT
-
enabled
energy efficiency through intelligent solutions to achieve the objective
of saving

20% of
the EU’s
energy cons
umption by 2020 [1
7
].

In

environment

issues
, the
climate

change

has been the buzz word in recent days.

University of California in Irvine
uses a HPC, to run a simulation of the Earth's ocean,
land, atmosphere and sea ice. The system will be used to examine

issues such as how
sensitive the climate is to

different pollutants

such as soot from car exhaust settling on
snowfields. It will

also

be used to test the models themselves by comparing what the

s
y
stem

forecast
s

with what actually takes place in the real
world

[1
8
]
. At the National
Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
, Colorado,
scientists

using powerful HPC, can

address capability problems in turbulence, nested regional climate modeling, and ocean
modeling, as well as in near real
-
time numerical weather

forecasting. They

wi
ll be able to
scale their codes into larger problem sizes or increase the complexity of the physics in
their simulations

[1
9
]
.



-

T
ransportation

and urban planning
:

or e
-
planning wh
ich

focuses on both
the
process
and
the
product
. This

is

supported by digital, communicative, analytic tools and
Geographical Information System (GIS), Data Warehouses, Business Intelligence,
Electronic Document Interchanges among other

s
ystems
. The government of Denmark,
for example, has invested 90 millio
n dollars for this kind of project for the North
Denmark region [
20
]. Other similar program
s

can be found
, for example,

in the
Intelligent Infrastructure t
o develop advanced methods and tools for the operation and
control of existing infrastructure in the

Netherlands

[2
1
]
.
In Stockholm, IBM helps the
city
,

by using ICT
,

to manage the city traffic

a
nd after
a
7 month
trial;

the traffic
congestion is reduced by 20%

[22]
.


-

Education
: ICT can empower teachers and learners, making significant contributions
to
learning and achievement. ICT changes education from institution
-
centric to learner
-

centric,
from
classroom
-
based to
being
pervasively connected
through

e
-
learning, and
wireless. New class
es

of learners are created: those who could not come to campus
,

or
could not afford
a
fixed time frame
, or

those who would want to have
a
tailored program
for their specific needs. ICT allows us to have the flexibility in
space,
time, and content.
As a result new course materials have be
en

created or adapted for th
is

n
ew delivery
channel
for

new clients (learners) and providers (professors, teachers, instructors or
tutors).

The
most

important impact of ICT is that the majority of the education
institutions have adapted a blended mode of training combining both distance
learning
with on
-
site learning. In addition, thanks to the evolution of technology, many
universities have decided to share their intellectual capital by putting their course
materials on line for mostly free access to everybody

(see for example, MIT open
courseware [23]

and others [24
]
)
.
UNESCO ha
s

driven further with the open educational
resources
movement
(oer
, first adopted at
the
UNESCO's 2002 Forum

on Open
Courseware for Higher Education

[25]
)
,

an Internet empowered worldwide community
effort to creat
e educational materials and resources, offered freely and openly for anyone
to use and
,

under some licenses
,

re
-
mix, improve and redistribute

[26]
.

IBM
also
provided free software and course materials to faculty members and students
for training and resear
ch purpose

in its Academic Initiative

[2
7
]
.


Business Challenges

As

briefly mentioned above,
ICT can create values in five categories:


-

customers,


-

products and services
,


-

market
/competition
,

Customer Intimacy

Products/Services Leadership

Market Dominance


Operations excellence

Regulation Compliance


-

operations
/
processes
/
resources
,


-

and
business integrity
,

by
targeting cost reduction, quality improvement, utility enhancement and
positive
client
perception.


The cost reduction and quality improvement are more
engineering

focused while the
utility and the
client
perception enhancement are m
ore services oriented. ICT can
be
se
e
n
as
widely used in both Engineering and Services.

The effectiveness of ICT in the value creation or innovation will show up clearly in the
key performance indicators represented by the
revenue growth,
market share,
pr
ofit, and

productivit
y
.


We can summarize the contribution of ICT in the business innovation by the value matrix
shown on Table 1.




Values


Challenges

Revenue Growth

Market Share

Profit

Productivit
y

Customers





Products/Services





Market/Competition





Operations/Processes

/Resources






Business Integrity








Table 1: Value matrix for business challenges. The challenges can be grouped into five
categories on the left hand side of the table (column 1). The value created b
y innovation
triggered by ICT should show up in the 4 key performance indicators

(KPIs)

of revenue,
market share, profit and productivit
y
. The objectives of innovation are shown at the
middle
of the table (see also
[
28
] and [
29
]
)
.



As mentione
d

above
, th
e
industrialized

economy is mostly services
oriented
. T
he
question often raised is how innovation
creat
es

jobs in services and growth in the
economy.

In the framework of the above challenges, the

role of innovation in services

should be in
:

-

enhanc
ing

produ
ct utility (product
s, customers
)

-

facilitat
ing

consumption
, up selling, cross
-
selling

(customer, market, regulations)

-

improv
ing

productivity (operations/processes)

-

optimizing resource deployment (resources)

-

optimizing
regulation
compliance (
business integri
ty and ethics)

-

lead
ing

to productization (new product

creation
)
.



ICT in Knowledge Management

As mentioned above
k
nowledge management is the process of managing the knowledge
cycle.


I
CT provides a wide spectrum of tools and means to facilitate
value crea
tion
.

The
Intellectual

C
apital
M
anagement

(ICM)

system is an effective means to preserve and
disseminate
the
experience
s

and memory of
an
enterprise.
There are a

number of
collaborative software tools available on the market that can help mobilize collect
ive
wisdom and knowledge
to improve business performance.

For knowledge acquisition we have seen the popularity of the internet, Wikipedia, on
-
line
databases,
and

Intellectual Capital Management system with sophisticated database
system along with advanced

techniques in text mining and data mining. For value
development, we have the ICM and community software such as the wiki
s
, blog
s
,
Thinkplace

[30, 31]
, knowledge jam, etc
. F
or value retention we have the ICM, database
system
s
, etc.

Think
p
lace, for exampl
e, is a collaborative tool us
ed

at
IBM, to allow IBM
employees to surface opportunities to grow our business, identify solutions to critical
client business needs
,

and offer ideas for process improvements that will enhance IBM's
culture or make IBM more co
mpetitive in the marketplace.


D.
Higher Education in Research, Innovation and
K
nowledge
M
anagement


As we see above the
h
igher
e
ducation is a part of the innovation eco
-
system. Its roles
c
ons
ist of.

-

Disseminating knowledge

-

Creating new knowledge

To

be suc
cessful, the education process should generate value of the knowledge
disseminated or created. That introduces the third role:

-

Application of knowledge

Th
is

essential
ly covers

the knowledge cycle described above.

The
end
products of
universities are
knowl
edge and
the knowledge workers that society and businesses
need
.

As
a

result, the education system should be in tune with economic development, in
particular,
l
ocal economic development.

In the perspective of the above discussion
, university curricula and

the professorial body
have to be sure that some criteria should be observed
:


Education:


-

Employability:

this relates to the pertinence of the education program to the needs

of the economy
. Virtually all jobs now require

workers
to be

ICT literate
. The university
should assure that their students can hit the ground running. Collaboration with industry
and businesses are
highly recommended to gain real life
work

experience and industry
insight. Internship and traineeship should be part of degree re
quirements.



-

Versatility
: as innovation requires a fusion of
knowledge

in both technolog
y

and
business, university program
s

should allow students to have a wide spectrum of
discipline
s for their degrees

to prepare for innovation
.
J
ob
s are

now m
ore multi
-
disciplinary.



-

Adaptability:

as technolog
y

and its environment change so quickly, student
s

should
prepare to expect the unexpected. As
a
result, the
education

content should also be re
-
considered: more framework and methodology.
D
iffere
nt
content can be filled in as
required later.


Research:


-

Quality
:
I
n a competitive environment, selection of subjects
for

research

at
universities

has to be based on practical reasons, avoiding me
-
to
o

research. Universit
ies

should concentrate on
research areas
where

they excel

and

focus on what they do better
than others
rather
than
on
what they do best.


-
Pertinence:

B
e sure that the research outcome
s

can

provide value to some end
-
user
:

government or business
.
U
ser
s

of research or innovati
on
s

eventually will be the ones who
fund future research.
C
ollaboration
s

with government or business are essential not only
for research but
also
for student training as well. Applied research should
be
align
ed

with
the strategic objectives of government o
r industries to assure its pertinence to business or
society.


-
Sustainability:

if research cannot create value for some end
-
users or sponsors,
it

cannot be sustained.



E. Conclu
ding Remarks

We have discussed the knowledge/technology cycle con
sisting of acquisition,
assimilation and value development.
The
role of
ICT in the management of the cycle

(i.e.
knowledge management)

and its involvement in the value development process

(i.e.
research and
innovations
) are also illustrated
. The innovation

can be focussed on five
categories of challenges: customers, products, market
, processes
/operations/ resources
and business integrity

(ethics)
. Value can be created in these five domains
by targeting
cost reduction, quality improvement, utility enhanceme
nt and positive perception.

The
se

are the value creation pillars of any product or asset.

The outcome of innovation can be measured through the 4 main key performance
indicators
: revenue growth,
market share, profit

(or balance
d budget

in the case of
gover
nment)

and productivity (efficiency).



In the final part we discussed the role of higher education in
this

process, we emphasize
d

the fact
that
the role of education
is

not only disseminating and creating knowledge but
also appl
ying

knowledge to social an
d business challenges.

Furthermore,

research has to
be synchronized in an eco
-
system of innovation that can substantiate the three critical
success factors for research: quality, pertinence and sustainability. In all these processes
and outcomes, ICT plays

the determining factor.

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