«Knowledge Management (KM) and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)» - Free Essay Paper

Knowledge Management (KM) and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)

Modern day organizations are under the influence of globalization and competition, and it is inevitable for them to have excellent efficiency knowledge management. The asset of knowledge has been viewed as an important source of wealth in today’s economy. There is an increasing interest from the private and public sector in understanding and setting up of policies to improve knowledge management. This has raised a thought that the more knowledge available in an organization, the more valuable that organization becomes. However, knowledge itself has characteristics that are very different from other commodities of value. They include:

  • Knowledge is not consumed even when it is used.
  • Knowledge is never lost during the process of its transfer.
  • The ability to use knowledge is scarce despite its abundance.
  • The most valuable knowledge of an organization is embedded in individuals who walk out of the door at the end of the day.

The introduction of the Internet and the World Wide Web have given rise to unlimited knowledge becoming available to all people. For instance, there has been an increase in knowledge based workers in the industrial sector in the past 40 years, giving rise to knowledge based organizations in the industrial sector. This is where the need for knowledge management comes in. Knowledge management creates systems and processes that are able to acquire the asset of knowledge and share it. Therefore, it facilitates the creation of meaningful information that is useful and actionable seeking to increase both personal and long term learning. It also increases the value of an organization’s knowledge foundation across a wide variety of functions and in varied locations. KM maintains that the success of a business is a function of its diverse knowledge foundation and not its product collection. This capital of knowledge is the basis of a company’s competitive advantage among its customers. KM seeks to accumulate this knowledge capital that will uniquely create competency and produce excellent results (Rigby, 2009).

In the industrial set up, there are two types of knowledge namely academic knowledge and organizational knowledge. The knowledge that is gained from institutions of higher learning, which include colleges and universities, is known as academic knowledge. The cumulative knowledge about an institution is known as organizational knowledge. Organizational knowledge involves an understanding of the market an organization serves with regard to its strength and shortcomings (Farashahian & Abbasi, 2011). The scope of academic knowledge revolves around making knowledge accessible, cultivating a culture of knowledge, setting up the infrastructure for knowledge implementation, and intensification of the knowledge itself. On the other hand, the scope of organizational knowledge involves institutional leadership, development of a culture, advancement of technology, and competition strategies. In organizations, culture is built on the development of its staff and their training with involvement with communities. It is the role of an organization to set up platforms that improve sharing of knowledge within the organization (Farashahian & Abbasi, 2011). Many KM system building professionals prefer a combination of the two knowledge frameworks.

The assets and tools that are integrated to enhance effective knowledge management are collectively referred to as knowledge management systems (KMS). These systems that make up a KMS are majorly based on information technology (IT) or information and communication technology (ICT) (McInerney & Koening, 2011). This paper considers both frameworks with emphasis on the organizational knowledge.

The History of Knowledge Management

Although the term knowledge management gained popularity and was used in the late 1980s, its principles have been in use for many decades earlier. Traditional teachers, writers, and philosophers have been applying KM and KMS techniques in their professions. Senge (1990) discussed how from time immemorial, the elder, the traditional healer, and the midwife have always left series of their experiences in a community as a memorial.

People in the old age had ways of sharing knowledge built from past experiences to avoid the consequences and costs of repeating the same mistakes. Knowledge would be shared in informal or formal gatherings with the primary vessels of knowledge transfer being human beings. This information would be passed down from generation to generation using KMS systems like narratives. In fact, some of the legacies of the present day have their origin in the old age and have been passed on to become what they are. The example of such legacies is the world-wide web which originated from Wells’ vision “world brain” of 1938 that would mean “a universal organization and clarification of knowledge and ideas” (Senge, 1990).

Senge (1990) observes that in the early 1960s, Drucker was able to formulate the name “knowledge worker” through his book published in 1964. Senge emphasised on learning organizations that would be able to learn from past experiences stored up in cooperate memories. Remenyi (2001) was able to document Chapparal Steel as a success story of knowledge management. The chain of studies was followed by many other scholars that studied KM and whose theories about KM have had a significant contribution to KM evlution. The computer age has the latest platform of KM and establishment of KM

The Stages of KM Development

The development of KM over time through practice and professional description and discussion has gone through three stages.

Stage One

The factor that drove KM into its first stage was information technology. The large international consulting agencies that operate globally realized that their largest stock in trade was knowledge and information. They also realized that they had a great challenge with their own internal ICT. If knowledge coordination was made efficient, then the business output would increase. The emergence of the internet provided them with a platform and tools to ensure efficiency in knowledge sharing that deployed KM. This invention was then named “Knowledge Management” with the theme “intellectual capital.” The discovery was later shared to their customers who had similar problems to theirs.

Stage Two

The stage’s major focus was on the incorporation of the relevance of man and his culture. This stage majored on the inclusion of human factors into the KM to enhance and ensure its relevance to man. As this stage unfolded, it included the two major factors that drove it to the third stage. These factors entail the art as well as practice as are operational in a learning organization and mechanisms of discovery and cultivation of tacit knowledge (Senge, 1990).

SStage Three

The third stage majored on ensuring that the significance of the available content is emphasised. At this point, the major concern was the retrieval ability. The stage is vital to the manner in which the content was to be arranged, described, and structured. This stage ensured the accessibility of knowledge to man and its utilization in the knowledge development.

There is a new trend emerging that may become the fourth stage of KM. This trend addresses the inclusion of information and knowledge that is not within the organization. The basis of the fourth stage is not yet clear to be fully categorized.

From Physical Asset to Knowledge Asset (Intellectual Property)

Intellectual property has gained more value than the physical assets over time and is now the most valuable asset. The software used to manage large organizations such as airline organizations have become the greatest assets owned by the airlines compared to the planes and other physical assets of the companies. The trend has shifted people’s attention to the usefulness of knowledge as an asset. This trend has led to the increasing need of knowledge management and the establishment of systems with capabilities to efficiently manage this knowledge.

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Importance of Knowledge Management Today

The advances in technology, globalization, increasing workload, and corporate amnesia have increased the complexity of the present day working environment. These complexities have raised the expectations of the workforce to ensure that they are on all the time.

KM presents one solution of establishing structures that have the capabilities to manage these complexities of overloaded work environments. This categorises KM as a science of complexity providing solutions to the modern day situations.

Knowledge Management Systems

The process of setting up a KMS is like a life cycle. It begins with a well-developed plan and justification and ends up with a well-structured system with the ability to carry out all the KM requirements of the whole organization. This process of the KMS development requires a team from the organization to present the thinking of the organization. It also requires an expert in knowledge development who captures, design, and implement a successful KMS.

The most challenging step in a KM system life cycle is the identification of present, intermediate, and future need of the desired system. This requires that the critical knowledge of employees is carefully analyzed to enhance the development of proper tools for the KM system. The overall economic benefit of the KM system must also be analyzed before its development.

The knowledge management system lifecycle (KMSLC) should give a solution to the problem being experienced by an organization. It should also consider the strategy of the development appropriate for a particular organization to address possible future developments. The process used to build this system should also be economical. The way a KMSLC is structured and ordered is the basis of success in the process of creation and maintenance of a KM in an organization.

Challenges in Building a KM System

The process of changing the culture of people from hiding knowledge to sharing their knowledge is a difficult task in the KM systems development. The challenge a KM system developer faces is changing beliefs and character of people to embrace knowledge sharing. The developer who successfully change the culture of the people in an organization, greatly gains in the setting up of a KM system.

The evaluation of an organization’s knowledge is a difficult processs in KM system building. This knowledge enables a developer to design a perfect system with high output. If the evaluation is done poorly, the KM system developed may fail to address some KM issues and increase the cost. The evaluation group needs to motivate the employees to be able to give the best evaluation of the organization. It is also difficult to evaluate the value worth of knowledge to give incentives.

Knowledge evaluation by the human beings in an organization is very crucial to the success of a KM system. Proper KM systems should also have techniques to distribute information but also allow employees to make decisions. Finally, the implementation of knowledge is also a challenge to any KM system (Awad & Ghaziri, 2011).

Case Study

A Visioncor Case Study on Knowledge Delivery Services at Cisco Systems Enterprise Delivery Services

Client

Cisco is a leading distributer of high-performance internetworking products. It has more than 40,000 employees with a record growth. A company’s ability when it comes to the way it accesses information is very important. Cisco is running many internal corporations via its intranet. This technology is critical in customer support (Awad & Ghaziri, 2011).

Challenge

The company’s top management is spending much of its time collecting feedback information as given directly by customers. The CEO then reviews every account the company view as being critical aech night (Awad & Ghaziri, 2011).

However, the firm has a challenge in maintaining a high quality services to its customers since it is a large company. The company is also divided into seven distinct groups in varied geographical locations.

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It has a secondary challenge of identity. Though the company got separated from its initial services group, their association remained over time since it still used the name. However, there was need for it to come up with its own identity as part of Cisco.

Objectives

  • To come up with a platform for the provision of solution for information and clarification of the newly established roles as well as contacts of the organization;
  • To ensure those employed enjoy efficiency when it comes to accessing solution and any information held by the organization;
  • To improve operational effectiveness;
  • To ensure better performance while providing efficiency the way knowledge is shared;
  • To motivate stakeholders to embrace constant communication;
  • To set up a new profile after being associated with the previous organization.

Establishment of the KM System

The Visioncor Company prepared a platform of interaction with the Cisco Company to gather information about Cisco. This process of information gathering is vital to the setting up of a KM system because it allows a proper management of the knowledge asset to be done. All the KM system building experts of Visioncor were actively involved to ensure that the system built becomes suitable (Award and Ghaziri, 2007).

First, the team conducted interviews with respondents being all the key stakeholders. This process allowed the experts of Visioncor to gather sufficient information about Cisco and analyze it accordingly. After the gathering and analysis of the information given, the Visioncor experts built an overall map of the site and a content plan that was converted to the web format. Visioncor then conducted a test on the usability of the created map. The key representatives of ESDS tested it and provided feedback on the site usability. After the initial stage and feedback provided, the site was redesigned and modified to suit the requirements (Award and Ghazii, 2007).

Result

The KM system built for Cisco by Visioncor was able to satisfy the customers and provided about 50% savings for the Cisco organization. This resource was able to efficiently manage knowledge for ESDS. It also enabled them to achieve their objectives and even have a new organizational brand.

 “As an organization,” said Sigrund Shoemaker, “we needed an easily accessible medium to keep our field-based team up-to-date on information, including news items, financial reporting, and processes. Our new web site gives us all that and more.”

Conclusion

KM is the mechanism by which knowledge from past experiences of making decisions is applied selectively to present today and future situations with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of an organization. Just like other innovations, the historical development of KM and the different stages of KM development can be clearly identified. This is an indication that it is a development that has passed through the test of time and gained much relevance with each stage. However, organizations that wish to gain from KNB must be ready to provide the requirements and go through the challenges of the development of KM system. Through the discussed case study, it is clear that the importance of KM cannot be questioned. Its relevance is evident through the improvement of efficiency and output by VisionCor due to establishment of an efficient KM system.

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