I3 UPDATE / Entovation International News

a free monthly briefing on the knowledge agenda

No. 42 July 2000





David J. Skyrme


David Skyrme Associates


Contents - Main Feature - Knowledge Digest


Knowledge Inside-Out

Are You Sitting on an Unexploited Goldmine?

David J. Skyrme

Many organizations are sitting on an unexploited goldmines. They have intellectual capital and knowledge assets that are by products of their main operations, are potentially have high external value. If you have already conducted a knowledge inventory (or information audit) as part of your knowledge management programme, then you have already identified such assets. The well publicized case of Dow Chemical, who took the proactive approach to managing its patent portfolio, and generated over $125 million in savings and licence revenues, is an example of what can be achieved.

Knowledge assets are of various types (e.g. know-how, customer databases, designs, processes) and may be packaged and sold in a variety of ways - as people's expertise in the form of consultancy and advisory services, as training courses, as on-line databases, as packaged content, such as of and Internet publication or website subscription service. For example, a car fleet leasing company, that handles all the repair and maintenance, gains information on car reliability and the service performance of different repair shops. This can be sold back to manufacturers.

Start close to home

What better place is there to start than by exploiting the knowledge assets of your knowledge programme? It of demonstrates to the rest of the organization what should be done. The listed below shows some common knowledge activities and projects down the left hand side, and ways in which the knowledge generated can be exploited on the right:

Internal practice External exploitation
Sharing best practices Best practice databases
Expertise directories Consultancy teams
Intellectual assets Licensing of IPR, copyrights, designs, patents etc.
Intranets Extranets
Domain know-how Expert systems (consultancy)
Communities (internal) Communities (external)
Customer knowledge Customer profiles, databases
Knowledge centres Advisory services

Naturally some extra work will be needed in order to generalize your assets and package them for external consumption. But the external market is potentially much larger than the internal market, and quite often more receptive. There are a growing number of examples of this happening:

  • The software templates and process behind BP Amoco’s Connect, an intranet expertise directory, is now used by a number of other organizations.
  • The software and methods behind BG Technology’s intranet is now being marketed externally as MAiNS (Managed Intranet Solution).
  • Ford repackaged and now licenses a 62 step methodology that it originally developed for its internal sharing of best practices.
  • Ernie®, Ernst & Young's online consulting service - subscribers email enquiries are routed to the relevant internal experts for advice (http://www.ernie.ey.com).
  • Arthur Andersen has extended some of its internal Global Best Practices® to paying clients (http://www.globalbestpractices.com).

Is It Worth It?

An important consideration is whether making such knowledge more widely available, where it may fall into the hands of competitors, may harm your own interests. On the other hand, there are many situations where deliberate exploitation has actually generated more profits than when used internally. Two classic examples are the cases of Pilkington Glass and American Airlines. Pilkington licenced its float glass process to competitors, thus generating far more revenues and profits than simply keeping it to itself. By separately selling reservation services, American Airlines has often generated more profit from its SABRE system, than in flying aircraft. Commercializing internal knowledge should be a core activity of any knowledge programme.

Revisit your knowledge inventory and start mining and marketing your golden nuggets - those valuable but unexploited knowledge assets. And if you have already done so, tell us what we can buy, so we don't reinvent the wheel!

Email: david@skyrme.com

Update (2003) - see also the article 'Knowledge Inside-Out' which gives an outline of conducting a knowledge audit.

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© Copyright, 2000. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.

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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® Knowledge Innovation is a registered trade mark of ENTOVATION International.



K-commerce: profiting from knowledge

Commercializing knowledge (presentation)

Knowledge Inside-Out (article)


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China: accepting the knowledge challenge

Innovation action for Europe