Re: Hierarchy Wisdom...Data LO3734

Gordon Housworth (
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 06:40:27 -0500

Replying to LO3709 --

At 01:05 15/11/1995 +0000, you wrote:
>Replying to LO3652 -- On the issue of wisdom:

I was interested to see your citing of Staudinger, Smith, and Baltes. We
included them in an advisory on the commercial "Knowledge" window of
opportunity, i.e., the window for personalized, immediate coaching and
knowledge gaining -- call it what education must increasingly become.
While I've watched the discussion as to what is wisdom, I'd like to offer
a view on how to get it.

Corporate and individual buyers will pay increasingly greater sums for the
ability to secure "point-sensitive" knowledge and immediate assistance.
This window is growing and will become gaping -- and there will be a
gaping opportunity for agile providers. I'll touch briefly on the current
players, their weaknesses, the general opportunity, and some
product/services ideas. The opportunity will only become more stark, and
all the more appealing for agile providers.

In our examination of trends of selected industries, we've found that many
of the things that we were brainstorming were already being used here and
there, though not integrated into a single envelope -- but where the
pieces are, soon will the whole appear. We believe that tailored, time
sensitive "knowledge dispensers" are no longer a moonshot but a necessity
for individuals and corporations to gain, and maintain, a competitive

The following would look better in a Mind map but think of the players:

1. Individuals within firms
2. Firms hiring the individuals
3. Fledgling personalized tools/assistants
4. The Opportunity
5. Community colleges
6. "Academia"

The individuals (1) are being exhorted, perhaps extorted, by their
employers (2) to improve their skills so as to retain their competency but
the employers are really not giving their employees the tools or the time
to gain and maintain that competency.

At the far end of the spectrum is academia (6) which is effectively remote
from the immediate needs of the individual. The academic model is a
come-to-a-place (often and for a long time), receive a long, pre-planned
syllabus, which the individual must then adapt and apply. The academic
drivers of research and publishing are remote from the drivers for the
consumer -- it's no wonder that the products on offer are increasingly
irrelevant in the decreasing timeframes the consumer needs. Monies are
extracted from government and industry without accountability,
deliverables, or a timeframe for those deliverables.

In the middle have been the junior/community colleges (5) which have
(recently) been better in touch with both the consumer and their employer.
They have offered shorter courses with more immediate applicability than
the academic model, but they remain largely inflexible, highly unionized,
and wedded to providing most of their offerings during the workday. They
provide much of their offerings via matching Federal and State grants
which are going to decrease as the Republican effort proceeds to disengage
the national government out of such things. The "two for one" hit as
Federal retrenchment doubles its impact by removing an equal amount of
State aid will hit the community and regional colleges first, and hard,
and will work their way up to larger schools.

We're already seeing the growth of fledgling personalized tools/assistants
(3) either as brief (one to three day) seminars and self-help courses,
coaching, and personalized training. Much of this is still a
to-be-scheduled future event which requires the consumer to go to a place,
is often of irregular quality, and costs too much to be widely propagated.
In the short term (two to four years), this segment will expand as
consumers seek personal solutions that can't be obtained from other
venues, but it misses the real opportunity.

We see a whole spectrum of products and services emerging for
business-to-business and business-to consumer applications. EDS, for
example, launched a personal electronic mentor at Comdex 1995.
Subscribers can dial in, make an inquiry, and get a response from a
skilled technician/advisor within 24 hours. Suddenly, the assistance is
point specific, delivered to the customer, when the customer needs it. If
it's well executed, the service will become nothing short of habit forming
to consumers, individual and corporate. We can see consumers pressing
their employers to offer this as a perk if nothing else and we'd expect
consumers to try to take the service with them when they move to a new

EDS already has the experience in building large, searchable knowledge
bases to assist their advisors and reduce the cost of servicing an
inquiry. (As an aside, EDS could attract good staff who could then elect
to live where they want and dial-in their consulting.) Equivalent data
banks from any source could be licensed for similar services.

Another example, KeySoft, is making two major acquisitions of
"edutainment" software providers and feels that the next great wave of
consumer discretionary buying will be tailored, specific software for
how-to-do, or learn, or immediately enjoy this and that. They're out to
capture that market and are worthy of a strategic relationship to resell
their products.

We feel that there are all manner of products and services like these that
save consumers time and provide relief by bringing a point solution to the
consumer, when the consumer needs it. All the other models are faulty in
addressing this need and its timeliness.

As government funding falls and private industry begins shouldering the
majority of the costs of the "products" of the community colleges and,
increasingly, academia, private industry is going to become much more
demanding in the products it (and its employees) receive. We don't
believe that either of the "classical" models will be able to adapt fast
enough and that leaves a big opportunity for other providers.

The retrenchment of academic research and course offerings in the face of
declining Federal/State grants will strike business in another area, R&D.
Business has been downsizing its R&D activities under the assumption that
it could gain low cost replacements from academia. The diminished
capacity for academia to fulfill that role will task industry's ability to
develop new products, will drive even greater growth in pan-industry
development, and will create opportunities for knowledge-bank services and
information providers a la EDS.

Agile suppliers will integrate and sell entire families of these knowledge
products and services. New business ventures will be spawned to produce
and deliver them. Consumers are increasingly desperate for wisdom but are
currently served up loose data or "differentiated data," all under the
guise of "information" which grows in such volume as to be unmanageable.

And what should the these services provide in the way of wisdom? We feel
that Staudinger, Smith, and Baltes best defined the qualities of the wise
person -- and by extension -- the wise knowledge provider as one having
general knowledge, procedural knowledge, understanding of the relativity
of values and the contextual nature of "meaning," and, of course, the
acceptance of change. The providers of the above will get our vote and,
we believe, the votes of many, many consumers.

Best regards, Gordon

Gordon Housworth
Intellectual Capital Group
CompuServe:  [72110,1666]
Tel: 810-626-1310
Fax: 810-626-1226