The DIKW model for Knowledge Management

Following on from last week’s article about the advantages of Knowledge Management and how to get started, let’s look at the process in more detail. When I’m running ITIL foundation courses I generally hit Knowledge Management as part of the Service Transition stage of the lifecycle towards the end of day 2. Put yourselves in the shoes of the poor delegate for a second and think after 2 solid days learning about 20 odd processes and 4 functions even the brightest person in the room is starting to get a bit tired of all the terminology. To try and fix that; here’s my handy guide to Data Information Knowledge and Wisdom aka the Dick Whittington model for Knowledge Management.



First up we have Data. No, not the character from Star Trek TNG (although – spoiler alert – I’m still heartbroken by the ending of Nemesis) but the facts and figures which relay something specific. ITIL describes data as a discrete series of facts about events. When we talk about data; it’s raw in format, not organised in any way and providing no further information regarding patterns, structure or context. Data represents singular facts or numbers but by themselves, data items have little meaning.

The key Knowledge Management activities include:

  • Capturing accurate data
  • Reviewing data and adding context so that it can be transformed into information
  • Ensuring only relevant data that adds value is being captured as lets face it, anything else is just noise.


Data becomes Information when it can be viewed in a specific context. According to ITIL, for data to become information it must be contextualised, categorised, calculated and condensed. If data is a series of facts, information is generally stored in some sort of structure for example, e-mails, documents or spreadsheets.

The key Knowledge Management process around information is managing the content in a way that adds value. In other words, ensuing information is easy to capture, query, find, reuse and re learn from experiences so we don’t keep making the same mistakes and duplication is reduced.


For information to become knowledge it must be processed organised or structured in some way, or else as being applied or put into action. Knowledge combines information with experience and can be used as a basis for decision-making or taking an action. Knowledge is made up of the experiences, ideas, insights, values and judgements of your people. When we introducing formal Knowledge Management; creating the right culture is absolutely critical so that people feel comfortable adding to Knowledge Bases and articles ensuring the right knowledge is captured. Done well, Knowledge Management will engage and up skill your people so it really is worth focusing on.


Wisdom is the trickiest stage to explain. ITIL defines wisdom as being the ultimate discernment of the material and having the application and contextual awareness to provide a strong, common sense judgement. I’ve been in IT long enough to realise that you can’t teach common sense but by having the right training and support in place goes a long way to avoid a herding cats situation.

My favourite way of explaining Wisdom to ITIL foundation delegates is this example from Irish legend Paul Howard (author of the Ross O’Carroll Kelly books)

In all seriousness though, by applying Wisdom, you have the ability to increase effectiveness. It’s the value add based on being able to improve accuracy, drive efficiency and support CSI.

So that’s the basics to the Data Information Knowledge Wisdom model, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!


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Protecting our Data; a quick guide to password management

So here it is. I think we can safely say that it hasn’t been a great few weeks for security or protecting people’s personal information. At the time of press both Vodafone and Talk Talk had been hit by security breaches and there are lots of anxious customers worried if their personal data has been compromised.

In the case of Vodafone, the data breach was external to Vodafone i.e. the data had been found elsewhere and the hackers were trying their luck on the Vodafone corporate site from some other breach to see how many customers has reused their passwords.

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Password Management Best Practice

In a digital age, how do we keep our data safe? Here are our top tips for password management best practice (and no, we don’t recommend you try squirrel noises!).


– Do NOT use the same password for everything. I know, I know it’s a pain in the hoop having to remember multiple passwords but research shows that if your credentials are compromised, hackers will often try the same login details on Amazon, Ebay, Pay Pal etc. Nothing is bullet proof 100% of the time so let’s at least apply some damage limitation to the situation.


I had a real “ah here” moment a few months ago. I was given access to a corporate system for an organisation that will remain nameless. The system in question gave me access to the corporate e-mail & SharePoint systems as well as some key competitor & market trend analysis. What was the password? Wecome1. Come on people, we can do better than that!

A few simple hints and tips are:

  • Use long, complex passwords. Use multiple cases (i.e. capital & small letters), numbers & symbols / special characters.
  • Don’t use words that can be found in a dictionary. There are password cracking tools freely available on the internet which can crack passwords using what’s known as a “brute force” attack.
  • Don’t use your e-mail address, network id or personal information such as your National Insurance number or date of birth.
  • Don’t use common passwords such as “password” (and yes, people still do this) or “welcome”.
  • Don’t use sequential passwords such as 1 2 3 4 or QWERTY. No, just no!
  • Try using part of a saying to make a complex password easy to remember. One example we all know is Money Makes The World Go Round – so how do we make a secure password? Abbreviate, mix the cases up & substitute letters with characters and add in some numbers – suddenly you have a password that’s much harder to guess for example 20mMtw9R*15
  • You could also consider using a password manager. Password managers are software applications that securely store all your passwords so you only have to remember one password. The stored passwords are encrypted so you have to create one strong, master password that will give you access to the rest of your saved passwords. There are lots of password managers available online; Roboform, Dashlane and Password box are some examples the have been recommended by c|net, Infoworld, and PC Mag.

So there you have it. It’s a jungle out there so stay safe people! One last thought though, it’s not all doom and gloom. Check out Vodafone Ireland’s latest TV ad if you need cheering up if you’re an anxious Vodafone UK or Talk Talk customer. Guaranteed to make you smile, promise.

That’s all folks.

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