With recent development in Internet technology and its wider acceptance and popularity there are many products available today to facilitate knowledge sharing and coloration using web technologies. The main advantage of web-based technology is it can be deployed in Internet or in intranet within the organization. Internet is also used to create a VPN ( virtual private network) using internet as medium of data transmission. We will discuss more about web based KM system here. Organizations have used different platforms to deploy a KM system but in all most all cases a web browser is used as client end tool to access the KM system.
Advantages of web based knowledge management system
This is easy to maintain as development requirements are limited to the server side. Changes can be done to the system easily and continues improvement can be done to the system.
The client side any web browser can be used to access the server. From the users point of view they are comfortable with a web browser ( thanks to internet ) and they know the common system of login / logout , form entry etc so using a browser at client end is always advantages than using any custom maid front end tool. This is one of the main reasons to go for a web based KM system. Any new employee joining the organization can use the system with out any formal training on portal.
Up gradation is also easy as one end at server the up gradation is to be done.
The reach of the portal is not limited as any one can access from any part of the intranet or internet. The access area of the portal increases with the expansion of the network.
Easy to get technical staff as common features are used.
Requirements of a Web based KM system
The hardware of the web server is to be decided based on the traffic, network configuration etc. Web server operating system is the part of the system which delivers the required files to the client browser after required processing. Web server is to be selected based on the scripting (programming) language, database supports etc. There are many web servers available in the market today and Microsoft's windows® server is a major player in the corporate market today. Windows 2003 server is the most recent one. In the other hand the Linux server is of great demand as a part of open source community. Window server usually runs IIS ( internet information server) as the web server and in the same way Linux server runs APACHE as the web server.
Programming Language and database
Depending on the server support the programming language can be selected. Some of the languages popularly used for scripting are Java Server Pages( JSP), ASP or ASP dot Net, PHP, Cold fusion, Perl, etc. Database support is a common requirement in such cases as details of files, members, system tracking etc are to be stored. Popular database for web applications are MySQL, MSSQL, Oracle etc.
In the client side any web browser can be used to access the server. Popular browsers are MS internet explorer, Netscape Navigator, FireFox etc.
An existing network can be used to develop a web based KM system. Internet also can be used for this with required access limitations. Organizations with offices in scattered geographical locations can use VPN (virtual private network) which uses internet to create a private network. In such a system organization can keep its web server inside its premises and through VPN outside offices can access the server.
One web portal can be developed using any internet hosting solutions and access can be restricted by login systems. Users with different levels of permission can access contributions / articles of different authors. This type of system helps in sharing best practices, experiments, innovations, failure stories etc. KM portals are developed with database support to keep the records of authors, members, access levels, visitor tracking and many other requirements. Usually all contributions of members passes through a veteran approval system before it goes to the public view or the member view. Members posting to the author, rating system, feedback of users members management, admin area etc are some of the features generally used in KM portal.
Web Based discussion board or forum
A virtual community can be created by using Web based discussion boards. Different sections or areas can be created to create different sections for discussions. Here the discussions are available for all in the organization to view / post / reply to the topics. This is an ideal solution for branch offices, communities located in different geographical areas but having common area of interest. They can share there common problems, areas of concerns, experience and help each other in building a strong bond of networking. Little help from organization in creating trust among members by organizing face to face interactive sessions will encourage the members to actively participate in the forums.
There are many ready made scripts available in the market and one such system can be developed in house keeping in mind the requirements of the organization. Under open source community some scripts are popular for web application like PHPBB,
Web blogs are popular now days and companies have utilized this tool to create awareness and evolve opinions on different issues. Blogs can be hosted in the company intranet or popular blog sites like blogspot.com can be used to give a platform to the employees to post their views. Many companies have their blogging policy also.
Many organizations don't know what they know. By encouraging employees posting their problems or difficulties to an expert system organization can save time and money in finding best solutions to the problems. Experts database with profile updating can be kept for the public view and queries can be posted to specific experts based on the areas of domain and expertise of the exports. This helps in creating innovation and learning culture in an organization.