We live in a data and knowledge intensive world, where citizens, companies and public organisations emphasise informed decision-making and the use of information in management. Knowledge management has become a key area of expertise in the operations of the university of applied sciences, in research work, and in the development of teaching and pedagogy.
Knowledge management is not a new phenomenon and has been studied in many specialist work situations, for example in social welfare and health care services. In principle, high-quality expert or specialist work is based on knowledge, critical thinking, data analysis, interpretation and thus the accumulation of knowledge. Today, increasing digitalisation and the related change in work and learning cultures challenge knowledge management to a new level.
Digitally driven processes facilitate data processing, but at the same time increase the need for human participation in data construction and the development of transparency and analytics. Only in this way will the data serve the work and the development of the work, the management of the work community and the service received by the customers as well as possible. We use different data models to find the best ways to use the data, which increases effectiveness and quality with the goal of a better user and customer experience. For example, we can use the feedback from staff or student surveys to find the areas in the school’s activities that we can invest in to promote students’ learning and the quality of education.
The starting point for the utilisation of data is the usability and transparency of the information. In the universities of applied sciences’ development work and ecosystem activities, many different solutions emerge that can be utilised and introduced widely in society and professional life. Good networks enable the rapid flow of the latest information and ideas, and thus potentially lead to commercial use. Many universities have practical experience of how collaboration with companies and different operators enhances the utilisation of knowledge and innovation in the development of new products or services. This will enable us to promote sustainable development and responsibility.
Openly available data makes it possible to utilise information in learning, research and development work and the production of innovations in different ways. This is very visible in the regional role of the universities of applied sciences, especially in cooperation with SMEs. Knowledge and competence are built together with the region’s businesses, and both students and staff are involved in the activities. Information is refined and developed in the interactions and acquires new meanings for its users. Openly available data or a data bank creates new opportunities for companies, students and researchers alike. But without expertise, the possibilities for utilising information remain insufficient.
In many tasks, the focus of competence shifts to the development of analysis, synthesis, and problem-solving skills. Every day, we do more and more work that requires careful consideration and experience in addition to knowledge. Knowledge management skills, and the ability to predict based on information are therefore needed. As a result, many work communities have developed knowledge management models, processes and indicators that are used to predict and seek, for example, better customer understanding and support for management decisions. However, in most cases, interactions between people and building knowledge together produces the most impressive results. Therefore, knowledge management is much more than just technology. It is learning, research, and development. This also applies to universities of applied sciences.
Riitta Rissanen, M.Sc. (Econ.), Rector, Executive Director, Lapland University of Applied Sciences