April 26, 2012

The Insight Economy

The knowledge pyramid, or DIKW hierarchy, is an oft-cited framework that conveys a relationship between data, information and knowledge (and possibly wisdom) as a hierarchy of increasing value, in which data is assembled to form information elements, and information is combined to create captured knowledge. These are the building blocks of understanding, and the basis for effective, intelligent engagement in the world..

Corresponding to these increasing dimensions of sophistication in understanding, there are discussions about the evolution of culture to first an “Information Society”, and then ultimately a “Knowledge Economy”, or a “knowledge-based economy”.

Knowledge Isn’t Enough

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
– T. S. Eliot

However they are defined, we are awash in content: data, information and knowledge. It’s clear that there is no lack of raw material from which to build the the information society or to drive the knowledge economy. And yet, because of the over-abundance of content, it has become commoditized.

Even the stand-alone value of “knowledge” is trending toward zero. One obvious example is the move by MIT, Stanford and over premier universities to host their course content online, available for free. However you define “knowledge”, the content of college courses is certain to be included.

It’s as if MIT and Stanford are implying that static knowledge is not in itself an education. To these august institutions, it’s the interpretation of that knowledge, the relational sense of meaning derived from that knowledge and the context in which it is applied that constitutes education and insight.

The Insight Economy
In other words, static knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for driving business value. That value is created by applying knowledge in a particle context, among specific relationships, at a particular point in time.  This implies a dimension beyond knowledge. Wisdom is sometimes tacked hopefully onto the end, as T. S. Eliot implied in the opening verses, but that may be more an indication of our collective recognition that “knowledge”, per se, does not correlate to meaningful, effective action and results.

Insight is a term we could use to refer to knowledge applied in a particular context and point in time, within specific relationships. As such, it would not be too much to say that the real value in all our endeavors is based on this applied knowledge, and that we are, in fact, in an “Insight Economy”.

Insight-Centered Technology
Technology itself has evolved to support this need to move beyond knowledge, which is static, to insights, which are dynamic, contextual and relational. Social platforms like Facebook went beyond simple content – say, in the forms of web links to static sites – to enable the interpretation of that knowledge via comments within the context of a community of friends.

Indeed the value of social platforms is that they provide human and organizational context to content. And it is that context that moves content from knowledge to relevant and actionable insight.

Content + Conversations = Insight
Social technology itself is quickly evolving to provide increasing value to organizations. Social business networks apply a natural organizational context to the sharing of knowledge-oriented content.

Most of the current wave of cloud-based knowledge tools – including the likes of Yammer, Socialcast, Box, Basecamp – are all about making knowledge artifacts available through file sharing and, in some cases, providing a separate place for commenting on that content.

The problem is that these tools separate the content from the conversation about the content, which is the source of insight.

The Evolution of Social Business
Convo is the natural next step in tools driving the evolution of social business and the insight economy. Like other social business platforms, Convo has the ability to share files and host conversations. But in an important shift, Convo enables and encourages the conversations within the knowledge context.

We think of this as bringing the subject directly into the conversation.

And that subject can be expressed in a wide range forms, from documents to images to PDFs to videos to web pages. However knowledge is captured, Convo enables insightful conversations directly within the knowledge context.

Convo Means Conversations That Drive Insight
So if Insight is the key to making knowledge relevant and actionable, and if providing contextual conversation is the key to adding meaningful value to that content, then there is no more effective platform to enable those conversations than Convo.

Convo is the next evolutionary step in deriving business value out of content. Give it a shot and stay ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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