Professor Stephan Kudyba
Alfred Lombardi (AL43)
Gordon Yeung (GY5)
Shamiullah Mustafa (SM444)
Rajat Shetty (RSS33)
IBM began serious measures to incorporate Knowledge Management in their business
model in 1994. Since that time, they have employed managers devoted sole to KM, in their
IBM Collaboration and Knowledge services. The result has been a great deal of IT initiatives
for the purpose of sharing knowledge. IBM has software that can be divided into 4
categories: Asset Management, Expertise Location, Collaboration, and On-Demand
According to Karen Ughetta (Director, IBM Collaboration and Knowledge) the Asset
Management systems, including KnowledgeView and Xtreme Leverage introduces “the
concept of a community of knowledge workers sharing knowledge and collaborating within
that Software group. This initiative is a wiki interface where knowledge sellers collaborate to
finalize a document that is then added to more sophisticated KM system.
It is also important to IBM to ensure the availability of direct knowledge sharing.
This is accommodated through the initiative of Expertise Location. IBM makes use of
various software including BluePages, Dogear, Sametime, Tommy! and BlogCentral. These
programs allow employees to easily find and access the knowledge seller they require among
the countless employees of IBM.
The IBM Expertise Location systems allow for collaboration, but employees are also
able to make use of informative Podcasts, and Activity Centric Computing which allows
knowledge codifying to organize data and colleagues into the activities they are associated
with. Finally, online meetings are accommodated through the IBM Lotus Sametime Web
IBM brings this all together in On-Demand Learning an effective knowledge transfer
tool. Learning@IBM is a system which includes wikis, databases, Podcasts and directories of
knowledge sellers. This streamlines all KM initiatives into a system that is easy to use and
understand. Great effort is made to prevent the knowledge repository from becoming
overwhelming and reducing redundancy.
KnowledgeView is a formal KM system created by IBM to help transfer knowledge
throughout their Global Business Services among over 125,000 registered users. The primary
goal of the system is to share intellectual capital that can be leveraged into GBS sales. The
system is leveraged from documents, and contains mostly explicit knowledge materials such
as proposals, marketing materials, deliverables, practice aides, and specifications.
KnowledgeView also provides some tacit knowledge through more informal
documents such as reactions to engagement experiences. All of this information and data is
codified through search engines and filters. If the knowledge seeker is unable to find what
they are looking for using these expert system tools, the IBM Practitioner Support Network
will provide a knowledge broker to help. This network includes formal corporate librarians
with the sole purpose of locating necessary information and assisting in collaborative efforts.
The system can be used collaboratively as well, allowing not only documents to be
shared, but also your own research of these documents. Over 500 project teams are connected
through KnowledgeView so that the experiences of one team may benefit the other. If there
is an overlap in relevant content between projects, a collaborative research portal can be
created in the system to enhance the efficiency of both teams.
With over 75,000 pieces of intellectual capital worldwide, KnowledgeView provides
relevant knowledge on most any subject. However, like any KM system, there can be
asymmetry on the knowledge available. If information on a specific product or service is
sparse or unavailable in KnowledgeView, the IBM Practitioner Support Network can direct
the knowledge seeker to special interest communities that can be contacted for help.
In the earliest implementations of KnowledgeView, the system was not widely used
due the commonly know problems of outdated materials, lack of support for collaborative
research, and inability to find relevant content. IBM has responded to feedback and
addressed these issues to create the system in place today. Now, KnowledgeView has a
turnover of over 30,000 documents each year with a content rating system that regulates the
flow. The IBM Practitioner Support Network is able to create an environment for
collaborative research, along with shared search and shared compilation functions. They also
ensure that if a knowledge seeker is unable to find relevant content using standard tools and
filters, a corporate librarian will direct the user to someone who can help.
Additionally, training for the updated KnowledgeView is available to all members of
the GBS division at IBM. Use of the system was publicized through a series of videos based
on the popular Lost series, along with a contest within the system itself.
In the establishment phase of KnowledgeView, millions were spent to design and
launch the system. Now that the established KnowledgeView system is estimated, it will save
the GBS unit over $160 million each year. The system’s costs are only that of the Practitioner
Support Network and maintenance and updates to the system through the IT division. The
cost of some dozens of employees weighed against $160 million in time saved makes the
initial investment in the system very much worthwhile. There is a sustainable cost added
value to the system.
With a strong Goal and Value in mind IBM made a KM initiative by introducing On-
Demand learning, Learning@IBM which drives and encourages learning where the
knowledge worker is in control of their own learning process
Acquisition of technology and concept become a major part of Learning@IBM.
Concept of Wiki, Databases, Podcasts, Cloudmark, WriteBoard, Blogger, Tagging etc are
incorporated into Learning@IBM which made the learning experience more efficient. By
acquiring these new concepts and being more innovative Learning@IBM took a step forward
by becoming eLearning 2.0 and kept itself on the top self
Teamwork & Collaboration in eLearning 2.0 has opened the door beyond one-way
communication (trainer -> learner) or even two-way (trainer <-> learner) and consider many-
to-many communication schemes that involve training, SMEs, coaches, peers, managers and
others who are involved in fostering the performance at the end of the day.
As part of On-Demand learning, Data from user are collected, categorized, calculated,
corrected and condensed and formed its way up to information, as information it is
compared, connected and conversed to become a valuable piece of knowledge. This piece of
knowledge is then available for learners to search, affregation and tagging Learning@IBM
also focused on Knowledge Generation, Learning@IBM played as a portal to connect other
IBM KM initiatives such as Extreme Leverage, BluePages, ThinkPlace, Sametime etc., and
helped build a strong Knowledge Network causing fusion by bringing together people with
different perspectives to work on problem or project
On-Demand learning played as a big source of Knowledge Market in IBM, eLearning
2.0 acted as a Knowledge broker with information about trusted sellers which made the
buyers feel more reliable on knowledge source. This whole infrastructure caused the
Knowledge transfer and exchange more efficient, effective, and guaranteed the richness
“Viscosity” of the knowledge been transferred
On-Demand learning had a strong Feedback and tracking mechanism in place to track
who’s accessing the reference material and overall hits, follow-on test, survey the manger etc
Motivation and Empowerment was targeted in On-Demand learning as it ensures
employees are focused on learning that is related to their specific job role by offering
learning recommendation and resources based on the job role, geography and business unit.
At the same time incentives was not given priority caused a weak side to the KM initiative,
which also led to no Velocity in determining how quickly and widely the knowledge become
aware to the people
The KM initiative was focused primarily on explicit knowledge and codifying
explicit knowledge as opposed to a more balanced approach between explicit and tacit
knowledge. It also focused more on internet, web technologies and virtualization etc., and
failed to create bond between people by bringing them together by live meeting, physical
interaction etc. Other systems are necessary to facilitate tacit knowledge exchange.
IBM BlogCentral is an intranet blogging platform which allows IBM employees
around the world to exchange opinions and ideas on different topics. BlogCentral was a part
of the IBM’s social media strategy whose goals and values where to gain insights into new
technologies and business communications, which can be put to work for the benefit of the
organization and its customers. IBM has thus re-positioned itself by adopting a knowledge
sharing model over the traditional knowledge management model thereby empowering its
communities and individuals to network as openly and efficiently as possible.
BlogCentral was introduced to cater such a model which allows for users to discuss
on various topics ranging from personal stories to sharing information or expertise. It is
based on the Apache Roller Project intended on open source development of a blogging
mechanism that uses a blogging engine along with a search agent.This blogging mechanism
allows better utilization of IBM’s IT resources by its end users allowing IBM to gain a
knowledge advantage over its competitors. The fact that the CEO of IBM supported
BlogCentral proves that the management hierarchy was keen of the implementation which
points towards an environment of trust towards the initiative.
BlogCentral enables access to tacit knowledge and gaining expertise knowledge from
experts in different subject matters leading to knowledge generation through the fusion of
ideas. They behave like knowledge exchanges or informal internal knowledge repositories
whereby employees exchange thoughts, experiences and gain insights on different topics.
Authors in BlogCentral are usually considered by users as trusted information sources as
readers can check the author’s profile that describes their role and experience in IBM and this
assists the process of corporate knowledge transfer. Identifying informal knowledge
networks is essential for creating knowledge markets and BlogCentral has helped discover
many such informal knowledge networks within IBM.
It has helped generate knowledge within IBM through teamwork and collaboration by
allowing users to locate people and resources with the required expertise and form teams
which has an open and a fluid membership to accomplish certain tasks or to achieve goals
related to an organizational initiative. BlogCentral allows users to browse through a large
number of ever-increasing blogs, thereby encouraging users to adopt new ideas and
technologies which lead to learning and the ability to post reciprocal feedbacks by the users
promotes appreciation and understanding the needs of the users. BlogCentral helps authors
create credibility for themselves within the organization through useful and information posts
that identifies them as having expertise knowledge on issues, which motivates them to further
contribute to this initiative. It has also helped empower their employees to think of
themselves as innovative contributors to an ongoing and transparent endeavor.
BlogCentral uses custom IBM software such as the IBM Websphere Application
Server and the IBM Universal DB2 database. Hence, its initial implementation costs were
within budget limits for an open source program but its potential benefits outweigh its
investment. BlogCentral as a part of the social media system has offered IBM substantial cost
savings along with helping it employees over the globe gain new perspective and share their
experiences and knowledge towards the development of knowledge sharing system.
There are drawbacks to the system as well. Although BlogCentral has over 34,000
bloggers with around 11,000 blogs, only 13% are active since its inception. The reason we
believe is the interface that lacks interactive multimedia features. Employees now rather use
other knowledge management tools like podcasts, beehive profiling and various widgets that
are rich in multimedia content. To overcome this drawback, along with introducing new
features IBM we believe should start offering incentives to authors for the most number of
useful posts based on the rating of the users and this should increase the participation level of
the employees within the BlogCentral.
IBM Blue Pages
IBM has nearly 42% of employees as mobile workers. To help encourage staff to
work with each other across business units and geographic boundaries, IBM has put in place
its enterprise portal On Demand Workplace, a central repository of information that is
receiving one million hits per day on its home page. The portal contains what IBM calls Blue
Pages Online, a directory of all of the company’s staff, not only listing their contact details,
but their background, their experience, which IBM customers they’ve worked with. Using
this tool, IBM employees can even search for other employees based on their areas of
expertise. Each employee has a page with information about their job, location, background,
picture, organization, and more. It provides a place to run searches for people based on those
attributes, helping IBM employees identify those who might be interested in their work,
people who could help with their projects, and teams working on similar projects from across
There are over 360,000 IBM employees and over 150,000 more related people on
Blue Pages, including consultants and partners creating a fusion which involves interaction
of people with different backgrounds to generate creative and unbiased solutions.
Originally designed to replace the company's phone directory, the tool has become an
authoritative source on how to find the right people to get the job done. Once the correct
source of knowledge is acquired, communication can be established between the two
employees through e-mail and Sametime. The IBM Blue Pages thus not establishes a
knowledge map but also helps in easy and faster transfer of the explicit as well as the tacit
knowledge required by the employees. This interaction also helps in increasing the
knowledge stock of the organization. Plus the electronic information can be more easily
revised to update the information. Hence any update in any employee skills or experience can
be easily recognized by the other employees and hence the knowledge stock of the
organization is easily updated.
IBM is changing the mix of its IT expenditure. Previously, the company spent about
90 percent of its internal IT budget on maintaining its traditional IT infrastructure and 10
percent on IT innovation. That mix is more like 70/30 now.
Future plans call for IBM to take the existing Blue Pages application and leverage new
technologies, such as the Lotus Knowledge Discovery Server, to access additional relevant
There have been reported probelms with the system. If the profiles on Blue Pages are
recognized as a status symbol, there may be power issues and coercion for some employees.
There is a possibility that some individuals may take false pride by overstating their expertise
and knowledge. There is also a possibility that some of the employees may not take this form
of interaction seriously and understate their knowledge. However, considering the number of
profiles on the Blue Pages, it is very hard to believe that knowledge acquisition will be
hampered at IBM. Lotus Sametime
Lotus Sametime is an enterprise instant messaging and web conferencing application,
developed by Lotus Corporation and brought out by IBM with over 8 million users. It is the
market leading instant messaging and web conferencing solution for business. Lotus
Sametime can also be integrated with e-mail applications such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft
Office. It can run on Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X. The goals and values
of this application is to enable the whole company to be more responsive and get work done
faster. Where ever the employees are located in the world, they can communicate more
effectively and have immediate access to information that can help close more sales faster.
This application also helps reduce travel expenses and communicate directly and securely
with customers that can give the company a competitive advantage.
To build a strong business strategy for a faster and more competent communication
tool to meet the business needs. First, there must be foundation based on awareness,
conversation, and shared objects. Through Lotus Sametime, it provides with an easy to use
tool that allows users to see who is online and to work together with them directly. This
application also allows users to create personalized lists of team members and control their
online accessibility through a privacy features. Then users can start using the instant
messages to start a discussion with one person or in a chat room session with multiple of
For a more robust teamwork and collaboration, users can utilize the web
conferencing. With the web conferencing, users can share their desktop, show presentation
etc. Any application like Microsoft word, Excel spreadsheets etc. can be used to share
through the web conferencing instantly and securely. If a user is having a problem with their
computer, a helpdesk personal can gain access to the computer with user’s approval through
Sametime web conferencing. This allows user to have their computer be repair faster and the
helpdesk support people do not have to be on site to fix the problem.
Even though, Lotus Sametime provides the instant messaging, web conferencing and
application sharing that help fulfill business needs. As a Lotus Sametime user, my personally
feedback of the application is that it is extremely inconvenient, difficult to use, and time
consuming. I actually consider all Lotus products not an outstanding system to use. At my
job, e-mail, Sametime, and other applications are integrated together. The best part about the
system is when logging into the system, all the applications are ready and open, but one
major issue with the system is that it takes a long time to load. While the application is
loading, it not simply slows my computer but have to wait until it is fully loaded before
performing other important task.
By combining the various IT systems, IBM has achieved a high level of knowledge transfer
throughout the company. KnowledgeView is the basis for KM efforts as a primary
repository for explicit knowledge. Beyond KnowledgeView, BlogCentral allows for tacit
knowledge to be exchanged in a more informal environment. Sametime along with other
applications allows an alternative to face-to-face meetings for traditional knowledge
exchange. This is an important measure for an international company. Failing all of these
measures, IBM has implemented a knowledge map with Blue Pages. This allows the
knowledge seeker to find the owner of currently unavailable knowledge.
The system has shown to be a cost reducing measure. In 2004 there would have been an
overall opportunity cost savings of $42 million if 15% of reads results in a one hour savings.
Today, as use of the KM systems is expanded, this cost reduction has been expanded to a
sustainable savings of nearly $200 million in lost time. Much of the initial costs have been
mitigated in comparison to KM initiatives of other firms. For example, Sametime has been
acquired with the merger of Lotus; for all intents and purposes, it is free.
KnowledgeView, BlogSpace, and the On-Demand Learning features are all
incorporated into the same web portal (Fig 1) in a cost efficient fashion. These systems can
be easily expanded and improves as needed since the framework is in place. IBM will be
able to respond to feedback and learning to improve the system.
IBM suffers from a common problem in KM implementations; there is a lack of
incentive to offer knowledge, tacit or explicit, into the system as a whole. Knowledge has
liquidity when passed in small groups; however the knowledge buyer must trudge through
the system to find information that is outside their division. It is necessary for IBM to create
a new incentive to ass knowledge to the global system.
Our recommendation is that IBM change their corporate culture to fit a well designed
IT system. Many projects, especially in the GBS division, are worked in teams within a
division. The leaders of these teams are likely chosen for their experience, under the
assumption that they will be able apply it to the group. Experience does not necessarily
translate into ability to transfer knowledge. Leadership positions for these teams should be
selected based on their ability to teach other groups members in their division. Instead of
determining leadership positions based on years of experience, we recommend rating
utilization of KM systems to find who is best able to act as a knowledge seller and help their
team and the company as a whole.
Alex Birman; John J. Ritsko; Knowledge Management: Technology, Process, and People,
IBM Systems Journal 40 #4