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Headlines Published on 08 December 2004

Title MILKing a firm’s intellectual assets

Building on a previous EU-funded project, CREAM is a new knowledge-management system that allows workers in modern companies to tap into and share intellectual assets wherever they might be in today’s fluid work environment.

This diagram shows the concept behind the MILK knowledge management system. © MILK
This diagram shows the concept behind the MILK knowledge management system.
Europe is quickly becoming a knowledge-based economy and many companies and entire sectors of our economy are dedicated to the production and distribution of information and knowledge. But since knowledge is essentially intangible, many people have been liberated from the traditional physical confines of office or shop floor. Through modern communications technologies, many of us can now work at home or on the move, in a plane, train or automobile.

Although this is liberating in many ways liberating, there is a downside – you might not be able to communicate your ideas or tap into the intellectual assets of your firm efficiently. “Traditional knowledge-management systems have been created with only one way of interaction between users and information in mind,” explains Maurizo Mesenzani of Butera e Partners in Italy.

“In reality, there is much more involved in someone’s working day, such as travelling, holding conferences with colleagues or meeting with clients… Knowledge and information produced and shared in these situations usually gets lost.”

To overcome this difficulty, MILK (Multimedia Interaction for Learning and Knowing), which Mesenzani coordinates, has devised a knowledge-management system that can be accessed in multiple formats. Workers on the move can access the system from a mobile phone or hand-held computers, while in social situations – for example around the proverbial water cooler – the platform can be accessed communally through wall-mounted interfaces.

“Communication, innovation and productivity is perhaps the best way to describe the goals of MILK,” he notes.

The power of seduction
MILK employed what its creators call a “seductive design” process in which end-users, designers and system developers collaborate to cover every angle. “It’s a complex method of system development because you have multiple actors all speaking a different language… In the end, you have an attractive and easy-to-use system that is the result of a negotiating process between many actors with different interests.”

The MILK system is based on a previous platform created by Klee&Co (Knowledge and Learning Environments for European and Creative Organisations), a project funded by the Esprit scheme under the EU’s Fourth Research Framework Programme (FP4).

Klee&Co designed a knowledge-management support system for design centres to help them improve their learning and performance capabilities, as well as their relations with the supply chain. It included a collaborative environment and a set of knowledge-management tools.

Support for information society technologies is continuing under FP6, the current €17.5 billion EU Research Framework Programme. More than €3.5 billion have been earmarked for IST research.

Source:  EU and external sources

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