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How to move up ITIL’s Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom DIKW structure

itil_v3_whiteIn my earlier ITIL articles I’ve talked a little about Configuration Management, CMDBs, discovery tools and the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).

Knowledge Management may not be one of the processes that immediately spring to mind when you think about ITIL, but it’s actually pretty important when it comes to improving the quality of your Service Delivery organisation.

Of course Event, Incident, and Problem management are the disciplines that most people think of as giving immediate improvements in Service reliability and quality, but by focussing on these areas we can often confine Knowledge Management to being left in their shadows.

But Knowledge Management is critical to being able to deal with the fallout from Incidents and Problems; it is the process by which we pull together information based on past experience to help us fix the issues and restore service. Why rack our brains with thoughts like “I’m sure we saw something like this a few months ago, but how on earth did we fix it last time” when it should be possible to go straight to a well documented solution?

Of course that’s a rhetorical question, as the answer is pretty obvious; Firstly it’s because we probably didn’t document the fix last time, and secondly because even if we did, we can’t find the document in the heat of the current outage!

So what does ITIL recommend in a good Knowledge Management process, and how can we use applied technology to help us get there?

The evolution of Knowledge Management is based on 4 levels of maturity;

  1. Data; Discrete facts which are commonly collected and available in organisations.
  2. Information; Which comes from adding context to the data
  3. Knowledge; Information enhanced with experience, ideas, and insights
  4. Wisdom; Uses Knowledge to create value through well informed decisions

All of these phases of the DIKW structure can be enabled and supported by the right kind of technology, and this is something that we have experience of introducing to organisations at Orb Data.

Data can be collected for events by monitoring tools, for CIs using discovery tools, or from Application logfiles. All of this can be stored in a Data Warehouse for analysis and reporting.

Information can be provided by combining detected data with other sources to give it context. For example by using a tool such as NetCool/Impact to look up business information pertinent to incoming event data.

Knowledge is readily to hand where issues and resolutions are documented structured in such a way as to make retrieval easy, for example by  Using a Message Catalogue

Wisdom is all about using knowledge to make the right kind of decisions and, as your Granny used to say, this is something that really only comes with experience!

So Wisdom is unfortunately not something that we can easily provide you with in a bottle, but if you’d like to know more about how we’ve helped with the other 3 components give me a call at Orb Data on +44 (0)1628 550450 or email me at steve.lawrence@orb-data.com.

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