Big data systems: knowledge transfer or intelligence insights?

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Purpose: This paper aims to bring together the existing theory from knowledge management (KM), competitive intelligence (CI) and big data analytics to develop a more comprehensive view of the full range of intangible assets (data, information, knowledge and intelligence). By doing so, the interactions of the intangibles are better understood and recommendations can be made for the appropriate structure of big data systems in different circumstances. Metrics are also applied to illustrate how one can identify and understand what these different circumstances might look like. Design/methodology/approach: The approach is chiefly conceptual, combining theory from multiple disciplines enhanced with practical applications. Illustrative data drawn from other empirical work are applied to illustrate some concepts. Findings: Theory suggests that the KM theory is particularly useful in guiding big data system installations that focus primarily on the transfer of data/information. For big data systems focused on analytical insights, the CI theory might be a better match, as the system structures are actually quite similar. Practical implications: Though the guidelines are general, practitioners should be able to evaluate their own situations and perhaps make better decisions about the direction of their big data systems. One can make the case that all the disciplines have something to add to improving how intangibles are deployed and applied and that improving coordination between KM and analytics/intelligence functions will help all intangibles systems to work more effectively. Originality/value: To the authors’ knowledge, very few scholars work in this area, at the intersection of multiple types of intangible assets. The metrics are unique, especially in their scale and attachment to theory, allowing insights that provide more clarity to scholars and practical direction to industry.

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Journal of Knowledge Management

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