Synergy knowledge oriented collaboration

SYNERGY, a new 3-year European-funded Seventh Framework Research Project which commenced in February 2008, researches the knowledge sharing and collaboration support needs of stakeholders working collaboratively within partnerships based on Virtual Organisation (VO) business models. The project offers end user organisations an opportunity to participate in leading-edge research to address their unique requirements, to undergo a knowledge assessment of their collaboration needs, and the potential to pilot and test utility-based services developed during the project.

With the increase of knowledge and inherent higher need to work together in complex projects, accelerating adequate knowledge flows between partnering organizations has become critical. Today?s business environment has become not only more complex and dynamic, it needs to act and react faster than ever before. Despite IT system efficiency improvements, the knowledge that resides with people is often not well connected, and systems are too static and not interoperable. Current systems are limiting since they do not provide services to allow the usage of up-to-date information that is available within teams or multiple organizational groups for faster or better decision-making and response to new business situations.

For example:

  • How fast can you assemble and align partners to respond to a new tender?
  • How fast can you initiate a new project involving multiple partners?
  • How often does your team need to make a decision regarding a client or a new business opportunity, but the information needed is not in your system or is inconsistent or outdated?
  • Have you had a recent failure where you could have reduced your risk levels if you had only been able to share your knowledge better and earlier?
  • What knowledge are you allowed to share without harming the company?s intellectual property or competitiveness?
  • How do you know who has which connections with other partners or companies in a virtual organisation setting?
These questions all represent common business situations that are often encountered, but for which there is often no proper answer or system yet. From the conversations or meetings that take place regularly, new knowledge and insights are gained, but these are often not captured or shared effectively. Most often, such tacit knowledge gained from conversations and know-how remains in individuals? heads. The challenge here is how to search, combine, and select the right information using all these sources to collaborate better and to come to faster and better decision making to improve overall performance. For this, a more dynamic, adaptable knowledge management system for initiating, operating and terminating collaborative projects is sorely needed.

Moreover, with the high variability in knowledge work, the collaboration needs of knowledge workers vary per function or group. Who needs what type of information and by when? How does knowledge sharing currently take place and how is this knowledge applied? Assessing current knowledge sharing practices and knowledge workers? collaboration needs is a prerequisite. Current user requirements need to be assessed to build an infrastructure and services to make future knowledge sharing and collaboration more efficient, able to evolve as new situations arise, and to meet real-time requirements with a dynamic and highly adaptive service-based support system.

The SYNERGY project aims to enhance effective knowledge sharing between organisations and to stimulate collaboration by developing a highly intelligent technological system based on collaboration patterns and knowledge flows. The goal is to enhance support of the networked enterprise in the successful, timely creation of, and participation in collaborative VO?s by providing an infrastructure and services to discover, capture, deliver and apply knowledge relevant to collaboration creation and operation.
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