What is ‘Knowledge Capital’?
In today’s economy knowledge clearly counts and it’s going to count more and more. Organisations are increasingly realising the value of information and ‘knowledge capital’ in obtaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
So how do businesses ensure they get the most out of the information and technology resources they have, and at the same time protect those resources from detrimental use and disclosure?
There are different categories of knowledge capital. These range from exclusive patents and designs to ‘trade secrets’ like formulas and secret recipes, and include other less sensitive kinds of confidential information. At the bottom of the spectrum are the generalised ‘know-how’, systems and collations of information which assist in the day to day running of a business.
Businesses need to find ways to ‘own’ this brainpower even though they can’t actually own people. They need to adopt methods to protect that asset if it is put at risk.
Managing Confidential Information
If a company becomes aware that a former employee is using or disclosing its detriment information the company regards as confidential, it will want to take some action. There is a range of legal options in this regard. But the number one defence to any action like this is that the information is not in fact confidential and is already within the public domain.
Companies that want to protect their confidential information and trade secrets must themselves act in a way that reflects the sensitivity of those assets. For example, it is a good idea to send periodic reminders, reiterating to users the proprietary nature of the company’s information. IBM Global Service Consulting Group ensures each new employee signs a conduct agreement spelling out the intricacies of the knowledge base (do's and don'ts) and periodically a screen pops up over the knowledge application to remind users of the proprietary nature of the information.