Knowledge only becomes useful if a company or organisation can find a way of effectively applying it to drive their mission forward. That is why knowledge integration – the ability to process and utilise the information and ideas that are available to achieve specific tasks – is becoming increasingly crucial to innovators in today’s world of fast-paced technological developments.

Swedish professor Fredrik Tell is a leading expert on knowledge integration and will deliver a keynote speech on the topic at the TECHNIA (formally TechniaTranscat) Executive Advisory Board meeting in September. Ahead of the meeting, we interviewed Fredrik to get his views on why this is something companies must master in order to thrive.

Why will knowledge integration become increasingly important for companies in the future?

Fredrik Tell: We live in a world that is becoming more and more specialised, where knowledge will be distributed throughout more countries than in the past. That’s not a bad thing in itself since we need to be more specialised to drive development and innovation forward. But it does create new boundaries and bigger distances that companies will have to overcome if they want to develop something new. You often have several companies working together on big projects today, and they have to find ways of overcoming boundaries for both geographical areas and knowledge areas. Especially in situations when a company from a growth economy needs to be integrated into the value chain, or when you need to acquire local knowledge in a new market.

What are some of the solutions that can help companies make this work?

FT: One option is to work with open innovation, where companies use things like open sourcing and innovation contests as a way of integrating new ideas. Collaborating on projects with other companies is another strategy. But then it’s important to understand how to think about a collaboration when you have a value chain alliance where one company is the system integrator and wants to sell a service, while its suppliers must find ways of making the partnership work effectively.

Who would benefit from listening to your keynote speech or learning more about knowledge integration?

FT: This is a key topic for anyone who is involved in organising a company’s operations and wants to find inspiration about how to think differently and find new ideas.

Whenever a company is involved in a strategy discussion, knowledge integration is a key corner stone that must be included. It’s something that should be studied by anyone from project leaders who are trying to make projects work at an operational level, to CEOs and policy makers.