Knowledge management comes with its own challenges, such as identifying information that meet the “valuable” criteria. Not all information can be classified as knowledge, nor can all knowledge be considered valuable. Put simply, the secret is to separate the wheat from the chaff.
People are at the core of what knowledge management is all about. It is directly related to people’s knowledge and how that knowledge can support business and organizational goals. It draws heavily on human creativity, innovation, motivation, intuition, ideas and competence. It is not technology-based, although technology is used to support knowledge management drives.
Knowledge management is very organized and goal-oriented, and has a direct link to the strategic goals of the business. It employs knowledge that is relevant, meaningful and practical. Knowledge management is not static but ongoing, not the least because knowledge keeps changing and needs to be updated, revised and sometimes done away with.
If a business needs an application to create, manage and share business knowledge, or if it needs to manage its business intelligence more efficiently, then knowledge management software may be just the thing for that business. Although knowledge sharing is a relatively old concept, it is only now that it is becoming a formalized business practice. Knowledge management software assists the process of managing and propping up the storehouse of knowledge by accessing human and organizational capital.
Knowledge management software uses an organization’s intellectual capital to present an effective way to excavate, manage and share these resources. Knowledge management software also allows for the efficient management of self-service customer support, FAQ management, help desk knowledge foundation, document and project management. This software supports the sharing of the best practices in business, directing educated business decisions, and can also serve as the principal means of internal communication.
Some of the benefits of using knowledge management software include greater employee efficiency and productivity, improved customer satisfaction, competitive advantages and pioneering self-service giving rise to increased satisfaction. Knowledge management software is easily available. Therefore, it is always good to identify your requirements and install a trial version before settling for the final software solution.
Knowledge management may refer to the ways organizations collect, manage, and use the knowledge that they obtain. Knowledge management is a term applied to techniques utilized for the methodical compilation, transfer, security and management of information in organizations, along with schemes designed to aid in making best use of that knowledge.
Specifically, it refers to tools and techniques intended to safeguard the availability of information that is held by key persons and make decision-making easy. It also has a role to play in reducing risk. It is both a software market as well as an area in consultancy practice, associated with disciplines such as competitive aptitude.
Knowledge management moreover designates an approach towards enhancing organizational results and organizational learning. This is achieved with the introduction of a collection of particular processes and practices for categorizing and capturing knowledge, experience, expertise and other intellectual resources. It also implies making such knowledge assets are accessible for transfer and are able to be used across the organization.
Knowledge management programs are, in general, tied to definite organizational goals and are projected to lead to the achievement of particular targeted results such as superior performance, competitive advantage, or higher levels of modernization.
Knowledge transfer, an aspect of knowledge management, has constantly existed in one form or another, such as through on-the-job discussions with peers, officially through apprenticeship, specialized training and mentoring programs, and recently technically through knowledge bases, professional systems, and other knowledge repositories. Knowledge management programs seek to intentionally appraise and manage the process of growth and application of intellectual capital.
Although knowledge management programs are quite similar to organizational learning initiatives, knowledge management may be differentiated from organizational learning due to its greater focus on the management of particular knowledge assets.
In this day and age, everyone is looking for an edge, either personally or corporately, to succeed. And although there are many ways to do this, the foundation needs to be knowledge before action. Much like laying the mortar before you slap on the bricks and let them set.
Knowledge management is critical to many organizations, and has been the preferred method of creating, representing, and distributing knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning for hundreds of businesses world wide since at least 1995 or earlier.
Personal knowledge management (whose focus is to find, connect, learn explore and grow) grew out of a combination of knowledge management and personal information management. Just to focus this a bit more, personal knowledge management is supposed to help an individual be more effective and to work better.
Are knowledge management and personal knowledge management the same or diametrically opposed to each other? They are the same in one aspect as they both deal with knowledge management. Where they differ is who or what it is for. But, does that really matter? It would seem not, as the ultimate goal for both is the betterment of something.
For instance, the end goal of knowledge management for an organization is to better its performance. Most often knowledge management programs are tied into what the company wants to achieve as its objectives. To that end the outcomes sought are usually in the realm of shared knowledge, improved execution, competitive advantage or a better record of introducing new things. A company cannot reach its goals if it does not effectively manage and utilize what information it collects.
Compare this with personal knowledge management whose end goal is to better the person’s performance. Personal knowledge management programs are tied into what the person wants to achieve as their objectives. To that end the outcomes they seek are usually also in the realm of shared knowledge from others to better the “self”, to improve the execution of their work (job) and a better record of introducing new ideas, concepts or projects.
As you can see, they are not so different in execution and perhaps not even that different in end results either, since both are for the betterment of something. And both still start with knowledge management.
Let’s just get back to knowledge management as a foundational starting point for many other areas in the technological field. There isn’t one area that does not start and finish with knowledge as its core building block. Take knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer involves the very practical problem of getting knowledge from one part of an organization to all parts of an organization. Information Technology (IT) is processing information by computer and that information is built on knowledge management.
The key elements of human resource management are first and foremost, workforce management (aka workforce planning)- the nuts and bolts of your organization. Basically a process that gives managers a framework to make staffing decisions based on four criteria: your mission as an organization, your overall strategic plan, budget, and what you want to see in your workforce. These functions are driven by knowledge management.
Considering the dimensions of Knowledge Management within an organization – it is not surprising at all to read of different ways of defining Knowledge Management or KM as it is referred to.
Before proceeding, it would be imperative to define the word “knowledge” within itself. Knowledge basically refers to “a collection/ or a body of information”. This could mean that the information is embedded in the form of theories, processes, and systems, or it could be voiced in form of opinions, theories and analysis.
When discussing Knowledge Management within an organizational context – it would mean managing the collective information expertise in the form of employees and the organizational processes. This would encompass knowledge as an explicit business activity that reflects in the organization’s business strategy, policy and practice at all the levels.
Keeping in view the aforementioned, we define Knowledge Management as business activity that attempts to build a direct connection between an organization’s intellectual assets – be they in the form of employees (tacit) or in the form of record (explicit). Thus, Knowledge Management caters to the critical issues of an organization trying to adapt itself, survive and competence in face of increasingly sporadic environmental changes. Essentially, it means encompassing organizational processes that seek a synergy among a combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies (http://www.eitpa.org/ ), and the creative and innovative capacity of it employees.
Hence in practice, Knowledge Management covers identifying and mapping intellectual assets within an organization, generating up-to-date expertise for competitive advantage, making vast amounts of corporate information accessible, sharing of best practices, and technology that enables managing all of the above including groupware and intranets. All this is crucial, because one of the most integral business activities is that of applying knowledge management at work.
There seems to be a common thread among these and many other recent business strategies and an acknowledgment that information and knowledge are corporate assets, and that the businesses need strategies, policies, and tools to manage those assets. The need to manage knowledge is obvious, as discussions on intellectual capital have burgeoned.
Because knowledge has become the single most important factor of production and survival, managing intellectual assets has become the single most important task of business.
Knowledge Management: An Organizational Necessity
Knowledge management is a framework within which an organization views all its processes as knowledge processes. In this view, all business processes involve creating, disseminating, renewing, and applying knowledge toward organizational sustenance and survival. In essence, it means that Knowledge management focuses on ‘doing the right thing’ instead of ‘doing things right’. The underlying premise is that ‘best practices’ of yesterday may not be taken for granted as ‘best practices’ of today or tomorrow. Hence, double loop learning, unlearning and relearning processes need to be designed into the organizational business processes Knowledge management is necessary for companies because what worked yesterday may or may not work tomorrow. To remain aligned with the dynamically changing needs of the business environment, organizations need to continuously re-assess their internal procedures of business for ongoing effectiveness.
Importance of Knowledge Management
Considering the management dynamics today – the onus of managing knowledge requires utmost focus as most of the work is information based. Secondly, it is an undisputed fact that organizations compete on the basis of knowledge, since products and services are becoming increasingly complex.
In today’s economy, knowledge management has moved from being one of the resources of competitive advantage to being the most important resource. All attention has been turned toward knowledge and methods to manage it. Nonaka (1991) states that knowledge and its strategic use is one sure source of sustained competitive advantage for organizations. Thus, the processes used to retain and transfer knowledge is becoming the main objective of organizations. For that, knowledge management systems are created based on organizational needs in order to efficiently create and share knowledge.
However, few knowledge management systems have been able to deal with the human capital. The reason for that is two-fold; there are various definitions of knowledge and so what constitutes exactly knowledge management. At this point, many knowledge management (KM) practitioners have stated the weak capacity of the knowledge management systems (KMSs) in managing tacit knowledge. Yet, some made research trying to find solutions to the externalization of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to the knowledge that cannot be easily articulated and thus only exists in people’s hands and minds. This was first mentioned by Polanyi (1966) who created this interest for tacit knowledge.
The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) improved a bit the tacit knowledge management. Some KM practitioners stated the great contribution of ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge (Cohen and Bacdayan, 1994; Scott, 1998). Others concluded the useless function of these KMSs, even the negative effect of them on tacit knowledge management attempts (Blackler, 1995; Hansen et al., 1999). Those two opposite point of views concerning the effectiveness of the ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge urges the need to present the real role played by those KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge.
Knowledge and its Management:
Most organizations are nowadays realizing that knowledge management (KM) is one of the key success factors in today’s economy, and all are moving toward the knowledge-based economy. All the KM view practitioners are aware that their success depends on the way they use their knowledge in order to get competitive advantage and create new knowledge. Various organizations strive for continuous innovation and for that KM plays a key role in differentiating one organization from the other.
One of the most relevant discussions about knowledge management was made by Nonaka (1991) and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) when they showed how the Japanese companies were and are still -after 10 years- able to develop fast and to innovate in the new product development. Their success was mainly the result of their capacities to transfer and share the tacit and explicit knowledge across their organizations. It is important to mention that one of the firsts to distinguish between tacit and explicit knowledge was Polanyi (1966) when saying that `We can know more than we can tell´.
Also, Davenport and Prusak (1998) defined KM as a process for the collection, distribution and efficient use of the knowledge resource. At that time, the slogan ‘efficient use of knowledge’ was already used showing the new emerging trend and interest for KM. In fact, even before that, Drucker (1993) stated that in order to meet market challenges, a company has to be prepared to create efficient means to manage its knowledge and create new one according to its performance needs.
Knowledge, this mixture of information, experience, skills and capacities is not only located in documents, journals or books, but above all in people’s minds. It is important to understand that the primary sources of the tangible knowledge repositories are the human brains that are thinking and questioning. The human capital, as we call it, comprises the most important knowledge of all times which is the tacit knowledge. This knowledge is the know-how, and skills hidden in each individual- described as the knower. In order to manage the tacit knowledge, all interest is toward the knower- the individual carrying this knowledge. This focus has created a knower-centered (K-C) view for the KM experts.