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I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
No. 22: August 1998


China - Accepting the Knowledge Challenge - Debra M. Amidon
Online Collaboration Berlin - Converging To The Future - David J. Skyrme
Y2K Bulletin: Facing Prudence - Jan Wyllie


Welcome to this edition of I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News, a free briefing analysing developments and key issues in the networked knowledge economy. This month features developments in China - an interesting country to watch as it takes its rightful place in the knowledge economy. You will find other contrasting features about the Far East in our report on Online Collaboration Berlin 1998. And there is our usual coverage of Y2K trends and forthcoming knowledge events.

This Web version is posted at http://www.skyrme.com/updates/u22.htm, where previous editions can also be found. Archived ENTOVATION International News can be found at http://www.entovation.com.

I3 UPDATE is also available by email. See the administrative information page.

David J. Skyrme
Managing Editor

China - Accepting the Knowledge Challenge

Debra M Amidon, Entovation International

Although the country represents a developing matrix moving swiftly from an agricultural to an industrial society, government and academic leaders are studying - systematically - the implications of the knowledge economy challenge.

In May, ENTOVATION Global Liaison Professor, Zhouying Jin, Director, Center for Technology Innovation and Strategy Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), organized a ten-day series of seminars to introduce the concepts and examples of practice to a variety of Chinese leaders. The tour was sponsored by Zou Zuye, Chairman of the Beijing Science and Technology Commission and hosted by Li-Wan, Secretary General of the Beijing Science and Technology Consultative Industry Association and Zhouying Jin.

Several organizations hosted various events, including: Dr Wang Tongsan, Deputy Director, Institute of Quanti-Economics and Techno-Economics of CASS; Madam Zhang Yuzhen, Deputy Director, High-Technology Department of State Science and Technology Commission; Zhang Xiu Ying, Office of Foreign Affairs for the Beijing Special Zone for Development of New Technology Industries; Niwei-Dou, Vice President, Tsinghua University; Yin Zhi-he, Executive Chairman of Beijing Software Industry Association; and Peng Shutang, Deputy Secretary General, China Non-Governmental S & T Enterprise Association.

In the new book 'Drucker on Asia' (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997), Peter F. Drucker suggests the imperative:

"The short-term future of China and the critical decisions will be made within the next five or ten years - probably the most important issue for the world economy and world politics. A prosperous China that at the same time has a modicum of social peace, would be the greatest market opportunity since the tremendous recovery of defeated Europe and defeated Japan in the years following the Pacific War. A China in collapse, a China perhaps even in Civil War, may be the greatest danger we face."

Therefore, the world depends upon a strong China - economically, politically and socially. Given the scope of its geographic and demographic influence, it will have an extraordinary influence on how the future unfolds. Indeed, how well China emerges in the next millennium will have implications for other developing and industrialized nations. The broad representation of companies, universities and government agencies participating in the dialogue indicate that China is up to the task.

For example, Zhao Mulan, Director, Research Section for Reformation and Development of BEZ - presented an example of a major research study: "The Knowledge Economy in ZGC (Zhong Guan Cun) Area". The content of the Report outlines the basic concepts of the Knowledge Economy, an analysis of the area, information about further developments and the value of this approach. It suggests that "The Knowledge Economy is about the present, not the future"!

  1. Human Resources: Dealing with a high density of highly qualified resources; value of the knowledge asset - not one of consumption, core competence leveraging the capabilities of human power, fluidity of manpower inside the company and across other companies.

  2. Emerging Companies: Role of the entrepreneur combining knowledge of technology and market to create new knowledge; uncertainties of technologies and non-linearity of the process seeking indicators of sustainability.

  3. Venture Capital: Leveraging investments becoming a knowledge industry itself; role not just transfer of capital; activities must be long lasting.

  4. Knowledge Company: Knowledge Innovation i.e. creation, transfer and application; need for interfaces with traditional industries; new management structures; boundaries fading; focus on networked knowledge flow.

  5. Regional Innovation Network: Characteristics of self-organizing, balancing and harmonizing based upon local conditions; utilizing resources worldwide; economic globalization requiring both competition and collaboration.

  6. Knowledge Industry: Variety and diversity of companies (e.g. R & D, Information Management, Education companies etc.); the zone is the distribution base for knowledge products and services, not conventional services; highly condensed S & T resources and market information; complicated development structures.

Another example is the report produced by the State Science and Technology Commission (SSTC) outlining a decade of research funded through the 863 program. 70 per cent investments in R & D and 30 per cent on the transfer of research results. Breakthroughs in Applied Research on key technologies has led to commercialization and industrialization - the transformation of traditional enterprises and the formation of new enterprises.

Dozens of studies, like the ones outlined above, are providing a solid foundation upon which the country is building its "High-Technology R & D Strategy for 21st Century of China" under the leadership of State Science and Technology Commission.

Shao Xinping, Deputy Director of the Beijing Haidian Experimental Zone (HEZ) provided a summary of the ten year history and vision of the 100 square kilometre corridor of the city. It includes 5000+ new technology enterprises, 73 universities and colleges, 232 scientific research institutions creating a 'knowledge galaxy of talent'. The annual growth rate is more than 30% over the ten year history. 24% are state-owned, 25% collective, 17% foreign and 26% owned by stockholders. Investment comes from 60+ US Companies including General Electric, HP, National Semiconductor and Microsoft. The target of gross sales of BEZ in 2010 will be $25B.

The Beijing visit was covered by the China Light Industry Press, China Economic Times, The Beijing Science and Technology News and live television broadcasts. New additions to the ENTOVATION Network include representatives from: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, The Research Academy for 21st Century Development of Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Stone Group Corporation, ETV, BEZ, China Harbour Engineering Company, Information Analysis and Research Center, Sinotime Marketing Investigation Company, China Institute of Intelligence Intensive Zone, China Power Engineering Consulting Corporation, Hi Sense Computer Company, Peking University, MEI United Inc, Great Dragon Telecom Group, Beijing Caistar Consulting Company and the Great Wall Enterprise Institute.

This tour was in anticipation of the soon-to-be-released Chinese version of 'Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening' which was translated by Zhouying Jin and Jin Chin. It will be available in September 1998. For details contact Zhouying Jin at e-mail: zhouy@moon.bjnet.edu.cn

Online Collaboration Berlin - Converging to the Future

David J. Skyrme

This conference, from June 9-10, 1998, was unique in that it brought together for the first time three complementary strands - Teleworking and Collaboration, Electronic Commerce and Electronic Markets, and Knowledge Management. Supporting strands were on telecentres, virtual organizations and the wider context of key issues for Society, Economy and Business.

The opening keynote Work and Trade in a Changing World by Maarten Botterman from the European Commission (DG XIII) described the challenge for Europe as "developing a society that Europeans want, whilst staying in the game in an ever more global economy". He stressed the need for continual updating of skills in order to remain employable and that skill shortage was an important factor in limiting growth in micro-enterprises (companies of less than 10 employees) that had created twice as more new jobs in the period 1993-7 as did large enterprises. He concluded with an outline and status update of the 5th Framework Programme. A key element was that 'new ways of working' and 'electronic commerce' have been brought together as one key action, whose priority topics are:

  • Flexible, mobile and remote working methods and tools
  • Management systems including systems to support mass customization and interoperable and secure payment mechanisms
  • Information and network security, including the protection of intellectual property and 'privacy enhancing technologies'.

Other talks in the plenary session set the scene for the parallel sessions. David Skyrme outlined the growing importance of knowledge as a component of corporate strategy; Scott Welch described factors that help create successful electronic communities, using conferencing software; Sharad Gandhi outlined key technological components for building an e-business; Horace Mitchell stressed the need for active participation in online collaboration to gain the necessary skills, exhorting that Europe needs to "move at a faster pace".

Teleworking and Collaboration

Four sessions in this stream provided a useful mix of research results and case studies. The various sessions indicated the growing sophistication of teleworking. Michael Sonntag, for example, described intelligent agents as 'inevitable tools' for teleworkers in that they could help automate their email, personalize World Wide Web resources, seek out information and carry out transactions online. In the organizational dimension, Paul Jackson outline the growing benefits of virtual organizations in closing the 'innovation gap' and spelt out the issues faced by SMEs and others in making them work. In a separate session on virtual organizations, the various speakers showed how the virtual approach could expand markets and opportunities for their participants. Recurring themes were the need for effective coordination, trust and clarity on contractual matters such as intellectual property rights.

Some interesting research carried out by Fasbian Von Scheele and Kjell Ohlsson at the University of Lund, revealed large perceptual differences about work between office based employees and teleworkers in the same firm (Siemens). Siemens also featured in another presentation given by Herwig Stöckl from their Vienna office. From the experience of teleworkers with a new generation of communications technology, a number of critical success factors emerged, including the design of the work environment, and attention to organizational and social factors.

The session on telecentres and remote offices gave practical insights into the setting up and running of several telecentres, including the 'Roma Nexus' centre in Italy, a new project TELWEB - a transnational telecentre network whose hub is in Germany, and an update on the telecentre scene in Sweden. A common theme was that the social dynamics of working in a telecentre as compared to at home were different, and that success factors included up to date networking and computer technology coupled to good information, marketing and training. However, distinct national differences were apparent in the type of telecentres and their focus, whether business services or rural economic development and employment.

E-Commerce and E-markets

Four separate sessions covered a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from connecting legacy systems to the Internet and the logistics chain, from virtual call centres to online banking. The plethora of topics and viewpoints was aptly illustrated by the comments of Armin Lange who said that "there is not a single best suited approach to electronic commerce that can be universally applied as some popular publications might suggest". Commonly cited benefits were reduced timescales e.g. time from order to delivery, information exchange e.g. better customer information, and lower costs e.g. through customer self service. The biggest change was that of the customer relationship. More pro-active approaches actively engage the customer in dialogue and use technology to match their preferences to the products and services available. Jack Mark reminded the audience that whatever the technology used, it must "deliver solutions to ordinary people"; therefore, he added, "low key but functional applications" were preferable to "impressive technical solutions".

Knowledge Management

A new theme at this conference, as at many others, was provided by two sessions on knowledge management. These were a mix of technological biased presentations and user experiences. One of the technologies that is making its mark is 'push' technology i.e. the provision of information via Internet 'channels', pushed to the user, either as alerts or in background mode while they are working on other things. Another is intelligent agents, already mentioned in the teleworking context, but for the knowledge worker they discern concepts rather than using simple keyword searches.

The case studies were of organizations who had adopted a structured approach to knowledge management, in one case through mapping key areas in a way that easily lent itself to multilingual use, and another through use of knowledge related performance indicators for a virtual company. Even more so than the electronic commerce theme, this topic seems so new that coherent themes have yet to emerge, with each talk representing a quite distinctive aspect of knowledge management.

Closing Plenary and Review

Just as the audience thought that things were progressing well in Europe, along came Dr Andrew Crilly of the Open Enterprise, Singapore to deliver the closing address Asia: Millions Click into Gear. Using multimedia and video coverage he portrayed vividly how two contrasting Far Eastern countries were determined not to be left behind in the race towards the Information Society.

The case of Singapore is, perhaps, well known, but every time you hear more, it seems that progress continues unabated. Singapore ONE, "the network for everybody", started in June 1997 with 50 broad band services in a trial with 400 users. One year later there were 123 services and 10,000 users, a number that should increase 10-fold by year end. The services include shopping, entertainment, public services, information and learning. You can even look after virtual pets online! Singapore seems well on its way to achieve its aim of being the first totally wired nation on earth.

In contrast, Bangladesh, with less than one phone per 100 inhabitants, has been inspired by the activities of Dr Mahamad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and now branching out into the online world. The bank's micro-loans help village communities fund development in marketing their traditional crafts such as weaving. Modern telecommunications help connect them with the outside world. Even though there is often only one cellphone in a village, and the Internet is coming, the connections are being made and the population wants to be part of the global information society. It is this human element, as Yunus says that is the key: "the opportunity is created by human ingenuity, and that's the excitement of living".

Crilley gave four reasons why Asia could leapfrog Europe in what he calls the next wave: "heralding the Information Society and a new age of reason, one that will be based on knowledge that grows from information":

  • they are dynamic: most nations have moved from rural backwaters to industrial modernity in less than four decades
  • they are addicted to modernity and change
  • they are young demographically
  • they continually reinvent themselves.

This was a stimulating final paper to an interesting conference. In his concluding remarks, conference chairman Dick Davies noted that discussion of many of the topics at the conference had moved "beyond the technology", and related to the skills, organizational, social and policy context. He welcomed the new streams and looked forward to greater interaction between the various strands and even more case studies at the next conference.

Email: david@skyrme.com

Note: A version of this conference report will appear in ETHOS/ETD News, September 1998. ETHOS is an information dissemination service of the European Telematics Applications Programme http://www.tagish.co.uk/ethos/. ETD (European Telework Development) is a programme to stimulate the uptake of telework: http://www.eto.org.uk/etd/

The conference was supported by the European Commission, Directorates DGIII (Industry) and DGXIII (Telecommunications, Information Market and Exploitation of Results.

Y2K Bulletin: Understanding Prudence

Jan Wyllie, Trend Monitor International

Over the past four months, Trend Monitor has witnessed an increasing polarisation and bitterness between those who believe that the consequences of Y2K could be systemic breakdown and those who label them "Cultists". This breakdown has been happening in lists, conferences and newsgroups, as well as in our press sources. In our terms, we are looking at a trend: the temperature of conflicting views is rising as the date approaches. From our professional perspective, as disinterested observers, this breakdown was entirely predictable.

Permit me to share an explanation for this trend. An analysis of the statements on both sides suggests that people are making the mistake -- as they so often do -- of using ad hominem argument. That means that both sides attack each other, not so much on the facts, but by attacking each others motivation, trustworthiness, intelligence, hidden agendas, competence, sanity etc.

I wish to argue that this kind of labeling is what destroys any chance of productive communication. Ad hominem argument destroys communication and creates conflict when what is so sorely needed is consensus and alignment.

Nobody Knows the Future....

One conclusion after four years systematic research is that nobody can know what is going to happen. And our job is anticipating future! Those who claim to know are posturing. Yet, think about it. What does PRUDENCE mean when facing such radical uncertainty? Personally I am buying a house in a tiny Devon village with a huge garden. Does that mean that I am a Cultist? I am selling 65 acres of Vermont farmland / forest because although it would make a perfectly sustainable environment, I do not have the guts to face Amercian gun culture. (Anyone interested?)

... But Business Must Carry On

My Motto, however, is that whatever happens we must keep somehow doing business. There can be no running way. There can be increased self-sufficiency which must be a good thing whatever happens. Ask yourself who benefits from your dependence on industrial processes totally outside your control? And ask yourself what matters most to your survival and that of your business and how dependent are you on those things? It seems to me that, Y2K or not, these kinds of questions need to be asked by any human being who believes that he or she is more than a consumer.

This increasingly violent fracas on Y2K would be just amusing if it weren't for three things:

  1. it represents a trend;
  2. we are facing real trouble and we don't know how serious it will be;
  3. the ad hominem block to communication is preventing people from becoming effectively aligned.

These sort of divisions have now for years plagued communication between corporate management and IT personnel which is one reason why remedial action has been left so late.

... Despite Some Gloomy Economic Prospects

Another note which I would like to add -- Y2K is only one of the troubles we are in. We have been commissioned recently to do an intelligence report on the Global Economy. Well, content analysis of the English language business press indicates a worldwide depression which will hit America hardest and most suddenly of all. That should put Y2K in perspective.

Humanity faces many troubles, such as global warming, horrendous species extinction, unsustainable lifestyles, economic and social disruption. My innocent hope was that people would be able to use Y2K as means of learning how to respond intelligently and cooperatively to these troubles, instead of fighting corners based on personal and sectoral interests. Forgive me, but my impression so far is that we are not succeeding.

Free Trend Analysis

So ... as a public service, Trend Monitor are giving away four year's worth of free intelligence -- the whole story on the widening implications of the Y2K Timebomb. The document is designed to give you a quick understanding of the key findings, trends and scenarios resulting from four years of professional, systematic and disinterested research into the matter. We will also give you our latest July 1998 Intelligence Update containing the latest news and developments. We will send you a 400K zipped standard HTML file which opens up as an elegant, intuitively usable knowledge container which runs at high speed on your hard disk. It will be yours to use and also to forward to your friends and colleagues to help them understand the nature of this phenomenon, absolutely free, no strings attached.

All you have to do is send an email saying who you are, entitled 'Y2K Free Intelligence' to jan@trendmonitor.com and we will send you your free Trend Report and Intelligence Update by return email.


13-16 September, 1998. 51st ESOMAR Congress, Berlin: "The Power Of Knowledge"
Email: congress@esomar.nl

17 - 19 September 1998. 3rd Chief Learning Officer Conference, Boston.

23-28 September 1998. Telework '98. Lisbon. Europe's main annual assembly on telework and related topics.

29 September 1998. Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy, Paris. Seminar by Debra M. Amidon.
Email: cml@hol.fr

13-15 October 1998. KM Expo '98, Chicago.

13-14 October 1998. Knowledge Management. Munich. Auf Deutsch und Englisch. ComMunic.
Tel: +49 89 74 11 7270

22-23 October, 1998. Third Annual Symposium on Knowledge Management "Lessons from the Leading Edge", Williamsburg, Virginia. AQPC.

28-30 October 1998. Corporate Innovation Management Conference, Amsterdam. Includes exhibition of solutions from Intranet and KM suppliers. First Conferences.

4-5 November, 1998. Measuring and Valuing Intellectual Capital. Supported by: The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). World Trade Conferences.
Tel: +44 171 613 7500 or Email: andrew@worldtradeconf.com

2-9 November, 1998. Fourth European Telework Week. Events across Europe.

For other telework events visit the events calendar at European Telework Online.


Online University to Help Knowledge Management Professionals

Knowledge Ecology UniversityTM, a venture of Community Intelligence Labs, claims to be the first educational institution dedicated to knowledge managers and other knowledge professionals who want to become more effective practitioners of knowledge ecology (see http://www.KnowledgeEcology.com/kenews/). The first course on offer is "Introduction to Communities of Practice", co-taught by Etienne Wenger and George Por. Details at http://www.KnowledgeEcology.com

New special issue of the International Journal of Technology Management

Volume 16 Nos 1/2/3 (1998) is entitled 'Creating New High-Performance Organization through People, Innovation and Technology'. The contents provide selected proceedings from the 18th McMaster Business Conference, including

  • 'Enabling innovative thinking: fostering the art of knowledge crafting' by Edward W. Rogers
  • 'The evolving community of knowledge practice' by Debra M. Amidon
  • 'Performance evaluation in the new economy' by Bernadette F. Lynn Contact Dr. M.A. Dorgham, Editor-in-Chief, Open University (Ijtm@inderscience.com) for more information.

© Copyright, 1998. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.

This newsletter is copyright material. In the interests of dissemination of information, forward circulation is permitted provided it is distributed in its entirety including these notices, that it is not posted to newsgroups or distribution lists and that it is not done for commercial gain or part of a commercial transaction. For other uses please contact the publisher.

I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News is a joint publication of David Skyrme Associates Limited and ENTOVATION International Limited - providers of trends analysis, strategic advice and workshops on knowledge management and knowledge innovation®

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