Knowledge Work System

1 January 2017

Knowledge work systems (KWS) serve the information needs at the knowledge level of the organization. Knowledge work systems aid knowledge workers. In general, knowledge workers are people who hold formal university degrees and who are often members of a recognized profession, like engineers, doctors, lawyers, and science. Their jobs consist primarily of creating new information and knowledge.

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Knowledge work systems, such as scientific or engineering design workstations, promote the creation of new knowledge and ensure that new knowledge and technical expertise are properly integrated into the business. One example of a KWS is the computer-design system used by Odense Shipyards described in the Window on Management. Good examples include firms of lawyers, accountants and management consultants. Knowledge workers, who create, produce and share knowledge, have traditionally utilized office automation technology as well.

Now, however, they also have new technologies available to support their role in the firm. Powerful desktop computers called workstations with graphic, analytic, document management, and communications capabilities can pool together information from diverse perspectives and sources both inside and outside the firm. Lawyers, in turn, may want to scan thousands of legal finding on their desktop before recommending a strategy. The productivity of individual firms and the entire economy increasingly depends on knowledge-level systems.

This is one reason knowledge-level systems have been the fastest-growing applications over the last decade and are likely to grow in the future. Knowledge-level systems also have become tied in more closely with the other systems in the firm. The Knowledge Worker System (KWS) is a computer application designed to help “knowledge workers” (professionals who use information as their primary input and whose major products are distillations of that information) to capture and organize work activity information, and to learn, prioritize, and execute their tasks more efficiently and effectively.

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