Overview of the Knowledge Aware Approach

The Knowledge Aware approach is a comprehensive approach to continuously collect, deliver, and actively apply trusted knowledge within the flow of work.

The nonprofit business research firm, APQC, recently surveyed its industry managers: “45 percent of respondents said that knowledge capture, reuse, and the transfer was their top priority for the year." The issues are particularly urgent in R&D departments and industries such as aerospace, automotive, chemicals, and oil and gas, given the high percentage of engineering and technical staff nearing retirement. Organizations need solid strategies to gather knowledge from their experts and long-tenured employees and make that knowledge available when, where, and how people need it.  To that end, top questions APQC is hearing from members and clients include:

    • What is the best way to capture knowledge so that it can be retrieved and reused easily?
    • How do we minimize the time employees spend sharing and searching for information?
    • How do we make sure the knowledge available to employees is accurate and up to date?
    • How do we motivate employees to participate in knowledge management (KM) and make knowledge reuse a natural, seamless way of performing work?

As described by APQC, most companies have recognized the imperative of better knowledge management.  Doing nothing is no longer an option. To this end, companies have attempted to establish knowledge management using default legacy documents and database technologies.  These attempts fail to recognize the emerging opportunity for a universally active and learning knowledge systems; ie. Knowledge Aware Systems.  These lesser attempts fall well short of the promise of Knowledge Aware.


A Metaphor for Knowledge Aware

The Knowledge Aware approach works similarly to the way a child learns after burning itself on a hot pot in a kitchen. For example, once the child burns itself, he effortlessly remembers to not touch the pot again every time the pot is in the kitchen and will even warn his sibling to also not touch it so they don't get burned. This is the same process with the Knowledge Aware approach. Employees will effortlessly and continuously recall knowledge that is shared throughout the entire organization without having to re-experience the same issues, setbacks, and experiences that previously happened in other departments or previous projects.

An Overview of the Knowledge Aware Approach


How Knowledge Aware Works

Knowledge Aware prescribes a methodology for managing knowledge directly as ‘smart’ units of knowledge, called Knowledge Packets.  These Knowledge Packets are intelligently provisioned into workflows precisely as needed without the need for end-user to search.  From within the flow-of-work, Knowledge Packets are activated to perform useful work like evaluations to adhere to standards, lessons, routines, process, etc. or to derive project parameters like ‘risk’.  The result is a closed-loop system where Knowledge Packets can flow and do work wherever and whenever they are needed.


Benefits of Knowledge Aware

Knowledge Aware is a fundamentally new approach to managing technical knowledge. This knowledge management system replaces the traditional, passive ‘reference shelf’ model with an integrated, active knowledge system that directly influences technical decision-making and analysis. Here are some of the benefits of the Knowledge Aware approach:

    • Eliminates Recurring Mistakes: The application of past knowledge can be used to help improve an outcome or prevent repeated mistakes.
    • Preserves and Shares Knowledge: The process to capture and share knowledge across individuals, languages, and time is efficient, effective, visible and continuous.
    • Improves Engineering Efficiency: Both Product Development and Manufacturing engineering cycle times can be reduced, increasing productivity (through faster and/or fewer design cycles).
    • Reduces Undesirable Engineering Variation: Reduced costly variation across people, projects, geography, and time for both products and processes.
    • Reduces the Enterprise IT Footprint: Existing engineering tools and systems can be unified, which significantly reduces the net IT footprint.


Knowledge Aware Approach Adopters

The Knowledge Aware approach was designed to help technical focused jobs be done more efficiently and effectively. Today, it is being used across many industries around the world and has nearly an unlimited set of uses across all departments. Providing value across the entire enterprise, the knowledge Aware approach allows knowledge from one department to be easily reused again in another department or geographic location. Knowledge can be easily included in the flow-of-work, ensuring important information is available when and where it’s needed.

Industries: Aerospace, Automotive, Consumer Products, Defense, Energy, Heavy Equipment, High-Tech & Electronics, Medical Equipment, Medical Services, Oil, Ship Building, etc.

Organizations: Although the Knowledge Aware approach is in the future for most organizations, it can only benefit organizations that have a desire to reduce their recurring mistakes, eliminate the variation between projects, or remove the uncertainty in knowledge use. This approach works best for organizations that have the vision to improve the overall effectiveness and quality of output. Some organizations that use the Knowledge Aware approach include Adient, Airbus, Auros, BorgWarner, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Kohler, Navistar, ZF, etc.

Departments: The Knowledge Aware approach can be used in every department, however, it's most popular in Discrete Manufacturing (Design, Engineering, Plant Operations, Product Development, Product Manufacturing, Quality), and Project Management.

Roles: The Knowledge Aware approach was developed to be benefited and used by every individual within an organization, from executives to plant workers.


How Knowledge Aware Compares to Other Common Solutions

The Knowledge Aware approach is a completely new technique for managing knowledge. The Knowledge Aware approach is specifically a knowledge management technology that attempts to directly manage and implement knowledge life-cycling; which is distinctly not document-centric, a PLM tool, or requirements management. There are many ways the Knowledge Aware approach is different than what is being used today. Four of the most significant capabilities the Knowledge Aware approach provides an organization are what makes it so different. These capabilities are not often shared among other comparable solutions, such as Document-Centric knowledge Management Systems, PLM, or Requirements Management solutions.

Significant Capabilities of the Knowledge Aware Approach:

  • Rules Process Engine and KaaS
  • Bottom Up (organic style) Knowledge Management
  • Assessment Control and Knowledge in the Flow
  • Knowledge Packets and Knowledge Lifecyling


The Knowledge Aware approach and PLM are fundamentally different in both intent and implementation. Two of the largest PLM using companies in the world also have enterprise-wide Knowledge Aware deployments. In fact, one of these manufacturing leaders has more Knowledge Aware users than PLM users. Global deployments at these two companies serve as evidence the Knowledge Aware approach represents a new, fundamental, and impactful capability existing beyond PLM.

Document-Centric Knowledge Management Systems (i.e. SharePoint)

The Knowledge Aware approach provides a rich feature set that allows knowledge to be collaboratively captured, refined, made actionable, and integrated directly into technical workflows in ways that efficiently influence engineering capability and outcomes. On the other hand, Document-Centric Knowledge Management Systems are highly customizable, collaborative content portals used by teams to efficiently manage and share documents and other forms of transient information. While it may be superficially attractive to use it in the pursuit of Knowledge Management, this approach has ultimately proven to be a counterproductive strategy; adding years and skepticism to most Knowledge Management efforts and making it even harder for companies to hit mission-critical objectives.

Requirements Management

The Knowledge Aware approach was designed to manage evolving and organic learnings, knowledge, and routines. Conversely, Requirements Management was designed to manage customer requirements, software requirements, and test configurations. These two solutions are fundamentally different; having differences in intent and in implementation.