Information Gathering and Knowledge Management

When converting an idea into a profitable innovation, you will generally be faced with problems – and often these are technical in nature. The first approach to find solution for such problems is to search for information in the same or similar fields. Thus, you aim at collecting information and at turning this information into knowledge to apply when looking for solutions of your problems.

In one way or the other, knowledge management is happening any time at any place - often it is not realized as such and practiced unconsciously. Obviously, effective use of knowledge requires information accumulation and dissemination, but often also requires "translation" - it is not good enough, that one expert knows everything, it is not good enough if s/he tells everybody what s/he knows - it is also necessary, that the listeners understand what the expert tells them - not only with regard to language (or cultural) barriers, but also with regard to "layman - expert" barriers, or businessman - technologist misunderstandings, or - not the least barrier - legal language.

Patents represent a particular set of information sources - there is a wealth of technical information and knowledge, but also commercial information (the competitor is spending effort on a certain field), or even organizational information (Inventor X has moved from technology sector A to sector B). When entering a new field, patent art can often tell a lot about how crowded this business field is - if there is "white space" (where you can file patent applications) or if there is "dark space" (where third parties have "staked their claim"). Thus, this wealth of information can be turned into knowledge, which further can be turned into solutions to your problems.