Knowledge networking within complex business systems

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Within the last few decades, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have transformed business, prompting the evolution of a more complex and dynamic digital environment. Today, organisations exist within a networked, diverse and e1J1ergent ecology; a transformative landscape demanding continuous adaptation and innovation. While many businesses are still coming to terms with the impacts of the first Internet revolution, a new collective breed of interactive, online social ICTs called Web2.0 threatens to again alter the rules of engagement. No longer serving functions of mere utility, the new Internet platform is now being employed to extract more value out of everyday human interactions. It promises to improve personal networking and relationships, stimulate the exchange of ideas and values, amplify personal opinions, build reputations and catalyse the development of new products and services. By fostering the socialisation of experience and the exchange of user-generated content deeply seeded within personal judgements and contexts, Web2.0 is stimulating what could be argued as knowledge (and not just information) transfer. Subsequently, online social ICTs are transforming members of general society into active participants in the genesis of new value, a usage pattern employing tightly-coupled interactive technologies to promote purposive business progression in structure (form), function and behaviour. However, the interactive Internet platform is in its infancy, with little in the way of a tailored theoretical framework available for directing such complex digital business systems' design. Consequently, knowing what, where and how to employ new Internet technologies to assist business development and innovation is an ambiguous endeavour. Many Web2.0 technologies and approaches are somewhat new and most are employed in close correlation to business models and modes of operation. To help comprehend the intricacies of this participative organisational reality, this thesis adopts an exploratory and reviewing approach, synthesising the multidisciplinary complexity sciences literature to produce the theoretical framework of Complex Business Systems (CBS). Offering an alternative ontological perspective for business systems development, this framework accommodates the relative interconnection and influence of self-reflective human agents within the ever-construction of organisational and market outcomes. Finally, preliminary steps toward a demonstration of the suitability of the CBS framework as a heuristic guideline underpinning the analysis, design and development of complex digital business systems is performed, by employing it toward an online knowledge networking application within the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) space. Early indications are that the CBS framework offers tremendous insight into both requirements selection and the design of interactive, online social ICTs.
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