All knowledge is not equally useful all the time. Any particular piece of knowledge gets more valuable as you move closer to its application and diminishes more or less quickly thereafter. If you graph the value of the knowledge as a curve -- with utility along the y-axis and time along the x-axis, the change in direction of the slope from positive to negative might be considered the knowledge inflection point.
When we speak about Knowledge as a Service℠ (KaaS) we are really talking about moving the point of knowledge acquisition as close as possible to the knowledge inflection point — without going beyond. This is what distinguishes KaaS as a field as opposed to other kinds of knowledge services such as classroom teaching or scientific research. The fact that KaaS is modeled after SaaS is no accident, since a running software process might be considered a particular kind of knowledge, as discussed recently by Forrester analyst Holger Kisker. The fact that software is not self-aware is not the critical distinction. What is critical though -- for both KaaS and SaaS -- is this idea that getting close to, but not going beyond, the knowledge inflection point is what counts.
There are lots of interesting observations to be made about knowledge inflection points. One is that any real world process -- like implementing an IT system -- can be viewed as a series of multiple knowledge inflection points. As you solve one problem, another emerges on the horizon -- and your knowledge acquisition must rise to the occasion in time. Until the process lifecycle is complete, you must ride these successive “waves” successfully without falling off.
For more on the knowledge inflection point, and to see an example from the world of SAP customer support, check out our recent white paper here.