Mining email to leverage knowledge networks in organizations

There is nothing new about the notion that in today‟s knowledge driven economy, knowledge is the key strategic asset for competitive advantage in an organization. Also, we have learned that knowledge is residing in the organization‟s informal network. Hence, to leverage business performance from a knowledge management perspective, focus should be on the informal network. A means to analyze and develop the informal network is by applying Social Network Analysis (SNA). By capturing network data in an organization, bottlenecks in knowledge processes can be identified and managed. But where network data can easily be captured by means of a survey in small organizations, in larger organizations this process is too complex and time-intensive. Mining e-mail data is more and more regarded as a suitable alternative as it automates the data capturing process and enables longitudinal research possibilities. An increasing amount of tools for mining e-mail data into social networks is available, but the question remains to what extent these tools are also capable of conducting knowledge network analysis: the analysis of networks from a knowledge perspective. It is argued that in order to perform knowledge network analysis, a tool is required that is capable of analyzing both the header data and the body data of e-mail messages. In this paper two e-mail mining tools are elaborated. One focuses on the analysis of e-mail header data and the other focuses on the analysis of e-mail body data. Both tools are embedded in their theoretical background and compared to other e-mail mining tools that address e-mail header data or e-mail body data. The aim of this paper is two-fold. The paper primarily aims at providing a detailed discussion of both tools. Continuing, from the in-depth review, the integration of both tools is proposed, concluding towards a single new tool that is capable of analyzing both e-mail header and body data. It is argued how this new tool nurtures the application of knowledge network analysis.