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What do vocal assistants have to do with Knowledge Management?

1 May 2018
amazons alexa

A few weeks ago, I watched a piece on vocal assistants (such as SIRI). They said vocal assistance was the next global trend; tens of millions of people around the globe command their assistants vocally, asking: what's the time? What's the weather in London? When's my next appointment? You can speak to it rudely; vocal assistance responds just the same. People seem enthusiastic towards this phenomenon: One of six Americas uses a vocal assistance.


So, how does it work?


Vocal assistants are constantly connected to the internet and uses search engines such as Google. This enables us to ask "her" questions. "She" also has a microphone which enables "her" to speak, and in some cases has a camera that allows "her" to see.


The vocal assistant is mostly useful in smart houses- you can ask her to turn on the lights or the TV. This is possible when all electronic devices are connected to the web.

While this sounds dreamy (as do all descriptions of a reality devoid of any need to invest effort) the first thing I thought when viewing this news piece was: this assistant is in my living room or even bedroom and is constantly watching. And listening. To everything. Dreamy? Sounds stressful! I'd rather get up and turn on the lights myself.

A few days later, I began pondering on the connection between this issue and my work in Knowledge Management. A vocal assistance is a fine example of IOT- "the internet of things".


The "internet of things" is an array of physical objects all connected to the same network. These objects all "surf" on the same web, communicating with each other and with the network itself.

This is far from science fiction; there are currently several examples of common use of "internets of things"; we just don't identify them as such. We all operate devices connected to our home wireless network. If you have a smart TV, streamer or converter, smart watch or robotic vacuum cleaner connected to the web- the internet of things is happening right in your house.


Where else is this happening?

Smart Cities: Smart Cities have sensors scattered throughout them, collecting data regarding infrastructure management including water, electricity, security cameras, smart parking services, public transportation, etc. These are all based on objects connected to the network and generate communication in order to improve civil service and perform more efficiently, saving resources and providing civilians with security.Smart Transportation: Smart streets are lined with cameras and sensors collecting, processing and analyzing data thus detecting patterns eventually being able to forecast events and provide real-time reports.Health and medicine services: Many sensors and devices are attached to patients to monitor and track the various health indices, sensors that monitor the medicine supply and medical technology such as smart inhalers that provide continuous data and ultimately enable the doctors an in-depth and reliable analysis as well as greater involvement in patients' state.

Smart Security: Managing entrances and exits, infrastructures such as sensors placed on the electric cabinet, a smart fridge that can notify your Smartphone when the milk is finished, etc.The internet's basic conception of matters exceeds this technological discussion. Theoreticians of this field describe a new world that will affect us all and includes many fields all currently managed by humans yet will soon be run mechanically via sensor networks. These networks will constantly monitor certain aspects of reality and will respond to changes logically.


For example, a network of sensors can monitor a street's moisture level and if the street is found to be wet and therefore dangerous it can immediately command all smart vehicles to slow down.

A report by Ericson Communications assesses that by the year 2022 approximately eighteen-billion devices will be connected to a global network. Honestly, all "Big Brother" fears put aside, this sounds amazing. This is merely the beginning, imagine what could be next!


What does this have to do with Knowledge Management?

As the internet of things has developed, so have our systems' ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data accumulated in real time by Big Data technology. This improves our ability to respond to data, plan and warn. This trend will have an unprecedented effect on organizational KM as well as the way organizations process data into knowledge.


The advantages of connecting objects to each other and to the network are obvious: Learning relies on data; with such an enormous amount of data, learning experiences will surely improve significantly.


Collecting data in such large sums enables an in-depth analysis according to various aspects. The wider our data basis, the better learning we can derive from it as well as automatic processes and earlier forecasts of events.

In the age of the internet of things, the data is everywhere. This is our time to shine: someone needs to sort and analyze this data before turning it into knowledge.


While some debate whether robots are here to replace human beings, we KM personnel must view the internet of things as part of our job. It contains incredible amounts of data and might be chaotic if not managed correctly. We must learn how to use data received via these devices quickly in real-time as well as improve out analysis skills. We should also enhance our cooperation with Big Data managers to learn of new data analysis technologies and adapt old technology to new settings.


Remember the vocal assistant from the beginning of this article? The one sitting and listening to everything? The internet of things indeed creates a vast amount of data on people down to their most mundane routines. True, professionals are indeed warning of a breach of our privacy when discussing the internet of things. But that's for them to discuss; we as Knowledge Managers must utilize any chances this wide world has to offer us.

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