Thanks for the opportunity to answer this question. I want to preface
my answer by saying that my opinions are, of course, subjective.
Knowledge management initiatives in a company of HP's size should
definitely be an organization-wide priority, even with a decentralized
organization structure. The "why" is simple - having all the
knowledge resources only within teams, locations, or business units
doesn't help bringing knowledge benefits to the remainder of the
organization. Time spent for an individual or group to research an
issue may be exponentially more in that sort of environment (without
KM interconnects) than it would be with those interconnects. It
follows that they should definitely coordinate and control knowledge
management at the corporate level. There are a number of reasons for
this - first and foremost, the number of individual business units,
locations, and "organizational partitions" mean that the biggest
challenge is not necessarily building frameworks for sharing the
knowledge within the team, but keeping different business units
synchronized with the leading edge of thinking and information within
Of deep interest to me are the comments by Tony Carrozza. Metadata is
an important challenge and opportunity in any knowledge management
initiative. It's generally easy to make documentation and knowledge
production a "habit" - e.g., make documentation a step of any research
or thinking process - and for many of HP's organizational units I
can't imagine this would be a hard practice to adopt. But with so
much information, classifying the data appropriately and keeping it
indexed for easy knowledge, retrieval, and update will be a huge
challenge. Such a metadata initiative has to be approached with kid
gloves, because you don't want the structure to become an impediment
to the free flow of knowledge, or make it hard to use.
Knowledge needs to flow freely in north/south and east/west directions
within the organization. In addition, a strong searching capability
is necessary. A point of potential interest for you is that these
challenges are very similar, if not identical, to the challenges
facing DHS and the Intelligence Community right now in the U.S.
Government. It's not so much a challenge to get the information into
the system as it is to find it when it's necessary. Smart agent
technology and bubbling new and random information to the top will
certainly assist the process of brainstorming and the use of knowledge
resources within HP's organization.
HP also will have some issues with language boundaries, culture, and
idea presentation - as any large international firm would face.
You're talking about an organization with tens or hundreds of offices
and a lot of people teleworking - a highly distributed (but
interconnected) system will be essential. Developing the links on
this system to other IS and KM resources will be a significant
I hope my statements here have helped. If I can be of further
assistance, please don't hesitate to request clarification of my
answer. You may want to price similar questions higher in the future
to attract more attention.