Why Should Organizations Care About Knowledge Management?
In this article, see why organizations should care about knowledge management.
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There is a popular Latin phrase, "scientia potentia est." which means "knowledge is power."
Knowledge is intangible, and it is something that is accrued over time with learning and practicing a particular skill. Applying knowledge at the right time to achieve/perform a task is popularly known as intelligence. From this perspective, what you call intelligence is a certain amount of information accumulated. Such acquired knowledge is vital if you want to cook a meal, manufacture a car, create a great computer, or build a house.
When you don't use the information gained, the wheel will be reinvented every day. Information reuse is a smart way of learning from the past. To make the information readily available knowledge management comes into the equation, especially in industries driven by information technology, where remote teams and co-located teams are a norm.
Unorganized information may lead to an "infodemic," which creates chaos rather than paving the way for knowledge acquisition. Many companies are unable to handle their knowledge, as knowledge is siloed or inaccessible. This creates inefficiencies and hinders people from getting their jobs done to the fullest extent possible.
Sharing knowledge improves social engagement on the job, contributes to an improvement in innovative problem solving, and retains established expertise. Knowledge sharing allows for easy access to the information, which results in speeding up response times. Emphasize that each team member has something important to contribute. Here are a few ideas to encourage the free flow of information:
- For all employees who excel in face-to-face environments, allocate time to share ideas on a weekly basis or at periodic schedules. This practice will encourage even the shy and introverted team members to open up and share their thoughts.
- Schedule conferences and meetings off-site. It's about changing the scene. Often all that is needed is a refreshing new space to start collaboration.
- For individuals, promote the concept of content creation which can lead to effective sharing. For example, reserve an hour every week to sit down and write something or create a monthly quota of content contributions, this approach ensures the sharing and recording of useful information so that it can be regularly curated.
Impact of Information and Knowledge
Information is now considered to be the most valuable strategic tool for organizations and management of this information is necessary for an organization's success. If organizations are to focus on managing their knowledge, they need to understand how information in the organization is created, exchanged, and used. Knowledge management is the process by which information is obtained, developed, compiled and used to support the business. It enables the organization to gain a competitive advantage for survival, growth, and prosperity in a globalized competitive economy.
Knowledge management consists of structured procedures for information acquisition, storage, distribution, and usage. The purpose of knowledge management is to make appropriate information accessible at the right time to the right people. Let us take a look at the types of knowledge that needs to be managed.
Need for Managing Different Types of Knowledge
There are two forms of knowledge — Explicit and Implicit.
- Explicit knowledge is specific information found in books, records, patents, technical requirements, consumer contacts, manufacturers, rivals, etc. This is meant to create awareness. This may be found in the organization's rules, processes, policies, and procedures, etc.
- Implicit knowledge exists in the minds of individuals. It is a product of their personal beliefs, values, perceptions, and experience. A learning organization is required to improve, exchange, and use tacit knowledge.
Since the global economy is complex and challenging, both these knowledge types need to be well managed for sustained growth. The goal of knowledge management is to increase the organization's efficiency and enable the business to acquire, sharpen, and use its competitive advantage to thrive and develop in today's global economy. Therefore, knowledge management should be an ongoing process. Continuous growth and strengthening of established skills and capacities is a must for the longevity of an organization.
Knowledge management initiatives should happen with the full support of the top management, in order to develop and incorporate knowledge management activities on a cultural and technological basis.
Information Technology and Knowledge Management
Knowledge management isn't an Information Technology outgrowth. Alternatively, knowledge management needs human intelligence, imagination, and creative skills, which are the pillars of Knowledge management. However, there are Information Technology tools like Intranets, Lotus Notes, MS-Exchange, etc., which provide infrastructure in a competitive global environment for the free play of human imagination and creative forces for corporate strategy formulation.
Knowledge Management Process
The first step in Knowledge management is to define the type of expertise that is needed to plan and execute the initiative. Let us see how knowledge can be effectively managed.
- Knowledge acquisition: This is done by acquiring information assets e.g. information of emerging products (competitors), new technologies, social, economic, and political shifts. It also requires raw information to be turned into expertise, which is useful in solving business problems.
- Collection of information: It involves the storage of current and gained knowledge in knowledge repositories. (A knowledge repository is a store of structured information on an online computer about a specific knowledge domain).
- Distribution of information: This mechanism enables members of the group to have access to the organization's common knowledge.
- Usage of knowledge: This includes the incorporation of knowledge in the organization's products, systems, procedures, etc. The best use happens when managers use expertise in organizational decision-making. A learning organization provides conditions for information exchange and use in organizational contexts.
- Feedback loop: It is a method to assess the value of knowledge assets. This also covers Knowledge management’s effect on organizational success and the implementation of strategies to enhance Knowledge management's potential success.
Importance of Knowledge Management
- Knowledge management enables a business to develop and improve its competitive advantage in the dynamic globalized economy for survival and growth. Knowledge management supported by IT services helps an organization to create and execute the most effective organizational strategies.
- Knowledge management is focused fundamentally on information produced, exchanged, and used by a learning organization. A learning organization that promotes contact between people in the organization can strengthen interpersonal relations. It is a very significant permanent benefit that an organization can boast about.
- Knowledge management provides information that can be incorporated into organizational processes. This offers information for decision-making purposes and boosts operational efficiencies, which leads to improved outcomes.
- Knowledge management's principles and activities empower people to increase their analytical abilities, which results in new abilities, develop existing skills, etc. Knowledge management not only enhances people's intellectual elements but also implicitly avoids the depletion of human resources.
- By implementing knowledge management, an organization can improve its reputation in the market.
The Way Forward: Building a Strong Knowledge Management Framework
Some still find the management of knowledge to be an option. Those who do not understand the value of knowledge management consider it as "extra effort." Those who liberally contribute towards knowledge management and make use of the existing knowledge are now considered exceptional. It is not just an internal measure to retain and repurpose the acquired intelligence, it goes a long way in building customer relationships too.
The continued growth of connected devices technology has inevitably created a gap in managing knowledge and has become a serious problem for companies and service providers. The multi-channel and smart self-care systems have also provided an impetus to the need for mobility and self-service in customer support, which is again tied back to efficient knowledge management.
The success of a knowledge management program relies on the company's Culture, People, Process, and Technology. TSIA defines four phases of maturity levels in a typical knowledge management model. and explains how a company's culture, people, process, and technology fit into knowledge management. Use the table given below to identify your organizational maturity level:
Stage of Recognition
Stage of instantiation
• Share information and take credit to others.
• Recognized and paid workers for knowledge
• Managers understand the ability to improve efficiency and increased costs by increasing the exchange of information.
• Managers see ROI for KM programs.
• Extends the program outside funding.
• Managers lead by example and encourage the exchange of information.
• Managers receive daily KM systems updates.
• Appointed a cross-company awareness czar.
• Experts identified by topic.
• No benefits or incentives for information sharing.
introduced for KM
• Dedicated editing
• Employee: impacts
to core productivity
metrics, such as
time, cost per
• Customer: rise in
• Long-term funding
• No formal
tracked in support
cases and by
• Publishing process
service to involve
PS, ES, and MS.
• KM processes
priorities tied to
• No unified search
index or strategy.
• Unified search
strategy in place
• Analytics identify
• Infrastructure to
bots) and formats
• Long-term funding
committed for KM
Source: TSIA Research
Efficient and extraordinary knowledge management at all levels can inevitably become the key and normal way for the individual, company, organization, and global community to evolve and grow effectively in the future. It is important to have a comprehensive knowledge management strategy and start investing in the right talent and infrastructure. This will enable long-term benefits and a successful outcome, even in times of crisis, where working from home becomes inevitable.
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