I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
Special Edition, December 1999. Updated January 2000.
iqport.com - The Online Knowledge Market
The original edition, in fact, was never emailed to our subscribers. The reason was problems with iqport which were subsequently explained by an announcement in January 2000. However, we felt it important to place our findings on record as guidance to others. Also this page will be updated with any further developments on iqport.
David J. Skyrme
Update - January 2000
iqport.com: The Online Knowledge Market
Knowledge Trading: How iqport Stacks Up
Guilds: Communities of Knowledge
- What Can Be Done to Encoourage Individuals to Share Their Knowledge
- Global Momentum of Knowledge Strategy and Knowledge Concert
- Making Sense of Knowledge Management
- Seven Ways to Create Value through Knowledge
- The Economics of Intangible Value
- Virtual Knowledge Teams
Time To Take The Plunge?
Update - January 2000
The future of iqport is unclear. However, the ideas were, we feel, excellent. It was let down by implementation. The guilds (communities) may well contniue to thrive eslewhere, and we are currently investigating other outlets for sale of our featured assets. We have removed these and other iqport URLs. We will keep you updated. In the meantime, here is an extract from I3 UPDATE No. 36 announcing the status of iqport:
You may recall that we had promised a special edition on knowledge trading. In fact, it was ready to go in early December, but since we featured iqport heavily and had some concerns about status and usability, we awaited (in vain) for formal responses to our questions. Now the reasons for obfurscation seems clear. NatWest (the main backers of iqport) have decided to end the trial at the end of January: "In the context of NatWest's wider e-commerce strategy, a decision has been made not to proceed to full scale commercial trading with iqport.com." It is not clear whether other backers (who include Lotus and Oracle) will find other ways to keep iqport alive. We ourselves are looking for other outlets for our knowledge assets. A suitably edited version of our special edition will be put for the record into the I3 UPDATE archive. In the meantime I3 UPDATE will keep you informed of developments in the knowledge markets arena.
What follows below is the original draft of December 1999, with iqport URLs removed.
Debra M. Amidon and David J. Skyrme
If you have ever thought about the "value" of the knowledge that you have gained in relation to your business, industry or profession you should consider visiting http://www.iqport.com - the world's first on-line knowledge system for intellectual assets. Built to operate solely on the Internet, iqport.com provides an on-line, real-time market for knowledge trading.
We have been following the evolution of online knowledge markets since the first forays into this field by KnowInc's KnowledgeShop in late 1997 (http://www.knowinc.com), which now seems dormant. More recently we have seen the major management consultancies, such as Ernst and Young with their ERNIE offering, offer a variety of paid for knowledge services online. However, the main consultancies only sell their own knowledge assets and often only in the form of a subscription to a whole collection, rather than individual assets. For the smaller company or the individual with useful ideas and knowledge to share, what markets exist for them where the cost of entry is low, and the reward reasonable? As anyone who has information for sale knows, you typically have to invest in marketing, developing an ecommerce web site or rely on publishers and other channels to reach your potential customers. The easiest is to go via a publisher, but that takes time and you are lucky if you get back as royalties any more than ten per cent of the selling price. Enter the concept of a knowledge trading platform, where individuals can submit knowledge assets and get a reasonable return. One such platform is iqport, which describes itself as "the place where you can buy and sell knowledge". Describing itself as "modeled on the US stock market, the iqport.com system allows members to leverage intellectual capital as an asset to be bought, sold, and/or exchanged for shares". In its case the shares are tokens with a value of US$1 each. If you sell more than you buy you can 'cash in' your tokens for real money. Conversely if you buy more than you sell, you will have to provide credit card details to boost your account.
iqport.com is not the only new knowledge trading platform around. For example, ematter at http://www.fatbrain.com/ematter gives sellers the opportunity to offer information for sale. However, to our mind iqport.com is the most developed of the pioneers and despite its ongoing teething problems is the one that we are using in the near term as the primary platform for selling our knowledge assets.
The sections below give a review of the main features of iqport.com, an overview of some of the guilds (communities) and pointers to our assets on knowledge management, intellectual capital and virtual teams. Although generally positive about iqport.com we have been critical of them in some areas. iqport.com were invited to reply to these criticisms, but at the time of going to press have failed to do so.
David J. Skyrme
In I3 UPDATE No. 26 several kinds of knowledge market were reviewed, and a set of desirable features for an online knowledge trading platform were suggested. The list is repeated below with comments on how iqport.com meets these criteria.
- A well organized knowledge schema - so you can quickly visualize the context and find what you need. It can be backed up by search engines, but these should allow search on field such as date, owner, subject.
iqport.com assets are categorized with user-defined keywords and categories such as intended audience. You can do a search on different classes of assets e.g. assets that are branded with a star rating. An advanced searching box allows to narrow your searches to defined industry, discipline and other categories - in fact, parameters in any field that is in the wrapper (see below).
- Good descriptions of knowledge content - to quickly qualify whether what is found is what you really want
This is the function of the asset wrapper. Each asset has a 'wrapper' that describes it, so that potential customers can gain a good idea of what is included before they buy. The wrapper provides an abstract of the content, its format (e.g. Word document, presentation, video etc.), author details, price, content structure (e.g. number of pages) etc. Where the asset is branded its guild and star rating are shown. The rating criteria differ from guild to guild. Typically a one star asset offers generic advice and meets minimum standards of readability, two star means validated by subject matter experts and may be based on real cases and research, while three star is "cutting edge", "thought leadership", and endorsed as original. One guild (O2 Solutions) rates according to the degree of multimedia content , with one star being predominantly text, and three star being rich in multimedia.
One slight problem is that if you go straight to an asset description as a guest (e.g. from the assets promoted on iqport's home page) you only get a subset of the wrapper information - excluding price. As in most trading system the potential buyer relies on the honesty of the wrapper and the objectivity and integrity of the branding process.
- A sampler (try-before-you-buy) or validation mechanism. This can be incremental pricing (starting with free samples) or some quality criteria by an accreditation authority (this is especially needed where the knowledge is more tacit), or credible testimonials.
Unfortunately iqport.com seems to have no obvious way of doing this. But as we know with knowledge assets, knowledge is not like a commodity that leaves the seller and arrives at the buyer. Once you have downloaded and read it, you already have the knowledge, even if you then want to give it back! Even so, iqport.com could benefit from some form of consumer satisfaction 'guarantee', perhaps by monitoring user feedback for certain assets and guilds. One feature they do offer and encourage is that buyers comment on their purchases and this information is made available alongside the wrapper for future purchasers.
- A fair and transparent pricing mechanism.
Pricing of knowledge assets is difficult and you will find items on iqport.com from $2 to over $200. Often, very similar item will vary in price by a factor of five or more. But that is true in any market. What the Internet and iqport allows is these comparisons to be made quickly and easily, though you cannot touch and feel and compare as in a real market. If you are planning to sell assets, the guilds have good guidelines on how to set your price based on factors such as originality, relevance, uniqueness, and size.
A key feature of iqport.com is that the value of an asset is divided into 100 shares. Obviously iqport.com take their cut, but the rest can be apportioned between guilds, assessors (who provide the star rating) and any other people in the supply chain. Thus you may have an 'interest' in assets that you do now directly own or authored.
- Simple and easy payment, including micro-payments for small value items (e.g. for the $1 sampler)
This is where iqport scores highly. It has a secure trading platform. Once you have registered your credit card details, your account is maintained. You can view summaries of your transactions, for example seeing which assets are selling the best and who is buying them. One niggle on the accounting summaries is that you can only look at the log month by month and report by report (e.g. summary, assets, buyers) rather than a cumulative list or for a period you choose such as one quarter.
- Mechanisms for tacit knowledge exchange between buyers and sellers AND different buyers. This could be through Web conferencing, but also parallel Internet phone channels (e.g. talk with a representative over the next while viewing their page).
- There is nothing inherently in the design of iqport to stop the selling of online training, consultancy or other tacit knowledge. The nearest example I found was a senior consultant priced at $75 (is that per hour?!!) but the wrapper gave no description, no author, in fact no information other than a 2 star rating, so who would buy that? I'm sure someone will, whether intentionally or not! However, several of the guilds provide chat rooms and discussion forums, either using the facilities provided by the iqport platform or using their own. Few of these (with on Bright exception!) seem well used at the moment.
Back to Basics
Of course, it should go without saying that a good knowledge market site will require the basic attributes of a good Internet site and a good ecommerce site. Here iqport.com has a mixed record.
On the plus side the design has improved significantly since its early Beta release. The sections are generally clear, and a top menu of 'home', 'search and buy', 'wrap and sell', 'communities' and 'help' is always visible. However, its use of frames often means that you cannot simply hit 'Back' on your browser to get back to your search list. In fact, there are many instances where you cannot move as easily as you want but have to back up and and drill down again e.g. there is no 'next' or 'previous' month to check your trading history. Other niggles in the look and feel field are the display of raw html code while pages are waiting to load and slow searches (relative to other trading sites).
There are also some very bad omissions. When you first sign on you read the terms and conditions, but you cannot find them for reference later! Likewise, an ecommerce site should inspire confidence by letting you know who is involved, and making it easy to contact them, by non electronic means if necessary. You do see the sponsors names (NatWest bank, Oracle, Lotus) on the home page, but there is no simple 'Contact Us'. The various links that you would expect to lead to an email form lead to a single technical help form (even from a link that said 'email us'!). There was no separate form for customer liaison or account queries, and when I completed my query the submit button came back with a DNS error!! A recent change of domain server also means that many of the links come back with 404 errors. Hopefully by the time you read this many of these basic problems will have been sorted. It is no way to run a professional trading platform!!
Debra M. Amidon
While many other sites have their communities, those on iqport are guilds - communities with a difference. Whereas many ordinary communities just provide discussion facilities (something noted above that not all guilds offer), the iqport communities act as the focal points for specialized knowledge areas. They help sellers 'wrap' their knowledge, advise on pricing and give accreditation (star ratings). They act as a focal point for buyers, offering related services. Thus a typical community page, as well as featuring their main assets, will have links to community search, library, chat room, interest groups. Some also have voting facilities, and special facilities for people wanting to collaborate on developing knowledge assets.Many of these are only available to members, including (unfortunately) the ability to search for their assets (you would have thought that their marketing would have encouraged this). To join you have to agree the conditions. Some communities automatically accept you after you submit the basic details requested. Others go through a human validation or vetting process. Here is an overview of the main guilds of interest to the knowledge community (and us!).
Futurizing.com and ICUniverse.com
These two closely related guilds (http://www.futurizing.com and http://www.ICUniverse.com) are the inspiration of Leif Edvinsson (formerly of Skandia) and his colleagues. Futurizing.com "facilitates Global Minds in shaping the future of Knowledge Wealth". Its membership is by invitation only and it discerns emerging intellectual capital opportunities. In contrast ICUniverse.com is the corresponding open community that develops just in time knowledge businesses. In the Futurzing.com library a short Powerpont presentation shows how these two guilds have the whole IC commercialization process mapped from posting a research topic, through knowledge networking, to gaining investors to developing and trading assets. Two key parts of this process are the Knowledge Cafe and Knowledge Bazaar. The former is a creative environment where new ideas and opportunities are floated. The latter allows you to view the goings on in the knowledge cafe and lets you make investments in potential knowledge assets and businesses. Again he stock market analogy is used: "So just like you can invest in futures in the stock market, you can invest in knowledge being created in the knowledge bazaar. For your investment you will get shares in the asset. If the asset is as good as you believe then the price will go up and you will get a good return on your investment."
Though formally launched earlier in the year, both are still fairly early in development, with minimal web-sites. However, Futurizing features some of ENTOVATION's assets (see below) as well as the popular asset 'Knowledge in the Bible' by ENTOVATION Colleague Edna Pasher.
Bright (www.bright-future.com) "the network for smarter networking" puts its emphasis on a range of topics such as virtual working and personal developments skills to help knowledge workers work and network more effectively. Among the various guilds it has probably developed its community discussion space the most. Using its own Bright Talk domain and O'Reilly's WebBoard software it has a number of active discussion groups open to its guild members including threads on knowledge management, organizing knowledge and ebusiness. It has also recruited some high profile management gurus as part of its guru and accreditation network. You will find David's assets on virtual working and knowledge management accredited by Bright.
O2 Solutions focus is management and human resources. Among their content providers are The Wall Street Journal and London School of Economics. Their associate company ICG organized a 'knowledge picnic' in September, some of which is reported in the interest groups in their community space. One of their star assets is the joint piece on knowledge sharing by Debra Amidon, Eileen Shapiro and Charles Savage (see below). Other assets include 'How to improve business performance by effectively managing knowledge' by Kent Greenes and Hubert St. Onge and How can a company become quicker to respond to demand and be more innovative in the Internet age? by Michael D. McMaster, John Macdonald and Allan R Cohen.
Here is a summary of the other guilds currently with a presence on iqport:
- Advantage Hiring - providing software and tools in the area of employee selection and assessment.
- Fount - community of business professionals committed to business improvement through learning development
- The Guild Managers Guild
- OSC Business Solutions - economic development involving small and medium sized enterprises
- Knowledge Guru - providing knowledge in law, business and management, travel and tourism
- Millennium Leadership Community - taking leadership into the next millennium.
- The Risk Guild - risk knowledge.
- Thought Force - managing through change
- World Trade Centre Guild - assets from the members of the World Trade Centres Association
Debra Amidon, Eileen Shapiro and Charles Savage
3-star: O2 Solutions; 10 tokens; Word (18 pages)
In this asset three of the worlds leading management thinkers address the question of how to encourage the sharing and application of knowledge within the organisation of the 21st century. According to Debra Amidon, Founder and Chief Strategist of Entovation International Ltd, a 'Community of Knowledge Practice' is emerging which is probably an evolution from the development of quality circles and networked learning organisations. These communities can become centres of expertise that can be highly leveraged to capitalize on economic change and new business opportunities. 's the Industrial Era painfully morphs into the Knowledge Era a new language is beginning to develop. It does not come easy, because old ways of thinking die hard and the implicit values and vocabulary of the Industrial Era are not about to roll over and play dead,' explains Dr Charles Savage, President of Knowledge Era Enterprises Inc and best-selling author of Fifth Generation Management, (Butterworth Heinemann, 1996). Eileen Shapiro is a consultant with The Hillcrest Group Inc in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and best-selling author of Fad Surfing in the Boardroom (published by Capstone 1995). She argues the case for straight talking and common sense to encourage participation in development of knowledge networks within organisations. 'The fundamental problem is discovering, encouraging and extracting the knowledge that already resides within organisations,' says Shapiro.
Debra M. Amidon
2-star: Futurizing,com; 75 tokens; PDF document (13 pages) plus VHS video
This asset represents a comprehensive, global overview of the Knowledge Strategy development. The ENTOVATION Network was the basis of the survey that is showing the edges of the approaching new common language and Knowledge Visions from experts in both industrialized and developing nations. Those featured are a subset of the Global Knowledge Leadership Map that now includes 80 professionals from 40 countries and growing. You will find many of the quotes in the assets more telling than many books! Along with the summary survey, you will get a one-hour video, entitled "Tour du Knowledge Monde" http://www.entovation.com/whatsnew/concert1.htm that was broadcast live on the Internet on July 20th 1999 from Skandia Futures Center, Vaxholm, Sweden. This presentation traces the evolution of the knowledge movement on the ENTOVATION Timeline and features several individuals on the Global Knowledge Leadership Map - copies of which are included in the asset. The Knowledge Concert performed with Silvard http://www.silvard.com - and international concert pianist of Dutch origin - is a unique performance featuring experts from around the world - both leaders and newcomers to the field - interested in furthering the knowledge agenda of their companies, universities, government, organisations and nations.
David J. Skyrme
2-star: Bright; 10 tokens; Word (6 pages)
This summary explains what Knowledge Management really means and what it entails. This briefing paper defines Knowledge Management, explains the reasons behind the strong current interest in the value of knowledge and outlines the steps that senior managers should take to leverage the knowledge in their organisation. This article is packed with information, case studies and examples of effective use of KM as well as details of relevant web-sites, books and magazines devoted to the subject.
Update (March 2000). This asset is now available from our K-Shop.
David J. Skyrme
2-star: Bright; Word (9 pages)
This asset explains how companies can formulate a successful knowledge management strategy that will transform individual knowledge into organisational knowledge, thus increasing the value of the business. The complex nature of knowledge, particularly of tacit knowledge, creates practical difficulties when developing knowledge strategies. The challenge is to turn individual knowledge into organisational knowledge and to lock both explicit and tacit knowledge into the organisation. But what are the key levers of a knowledge-based strategy that realise these benefits? Following and introduction to the knowledge dimension of strategy this briefing paper outlines several key levers that can be used to create value for the business: Customer knowledge, Knowledge in Products and Services, Knowledge in People, Knowledge in Processes, Organisational Memory, Knowledge in Relationships and Knowledge Assets.
Update (March 2000). This asset is now available from our K-Shop.
2-star: O2 Solutions; 45 tokens; PDF (13 pages of text and 64 Powerpoint slides)
This PowerPoint presentation and research paper describe this new planning context and the results of a systematic scan by TrendMonitor International http://www.trendmonitor.com of about 350+ documents published over the past three years with focus on trends related to managing intangible value in both profit and not-for-profit enterprises. The trends are organized into three categories:
1) Over the horizon (the most "far out")
2) Emerging (becoming acceptable)
3) Established (virtually uncontroversial).
Each category of trends have been subdivided into:
- Valuing (what is valued)
- Counting (how value is measured)
- Trading (how value is created)
The trends - provide a context for strategic planning with a wide range of the 38 trends as seen and perceived in the new world economy. This asset is designed for Chief Knowledge Officers, IC/Finance Practitioners, IC Academics, Knowledge Management Practitioners and Strategic Planning Managers. Based on your assessment, you get a very solid and best practice framework tool for planning your future business. The design of the documents allows you to use a new knowledge value proposition and trends as vehicles for further dialogue in your company.
David J. Skyrme
2-star: Bright; 10 tokens; Word (18 pages)
Teams are organizational units where most development and complex work takes place. In today's global knowledge-intensive business, these teams are often virtual, being created from talent that may reside anywhere in the world. This creates challenges both for the teams themselves and those that manage them. Every situation and every team is different, so the principles described in this briefing, will need to be adapted to the particular circumstances by each team. This briefing outlines 25 principles in five groups, based upon the writer's own experience of creating and managing virtual knowledge teams. It includes a further reading list and references to relevant web-sites.
Update (March 2000). This asset is now available from our K-Shop.
We hope you have found this special edition informative. Even though knowledge markets are still in their infancy and sites like iqport.com have had many start-up problems, now is a good time for you to consider what knowledge assets you could produce and sell. iqport.com founder Freddie McMahon believes that trading in knowledge will be big business ($bn+) within five years. Why not join in?
If you have views on knowledge trading or on services that offer comparable facilities to iqport,cim, then we would be delighted to feature them in future editions of I3 UPDATE.
David and Debra
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