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In addition to serving as the catalyst of greater acceleration of the Five C. Model, Web 2.0 design requirements are making knowledge management more closely align with the precise needs of users. This is significant as a development in knowledge management systems, as in previous-generation architectures this type of alignment would take multiple iterations, or changes; to a given knowledge management system to achieve the level of alignment of system design to user needs (Baldi, Heier, 2009). The uses of XML as an integration technology and AJAX as a rapid prototyping application and thin Web-based client have further served as catalysts to the rapid increases in performance of knowledge management systems. In addition to all of these factors the rapid adoption of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform which supports multi-tenancy and the ability to scale to support thousands of users of knowledge management systems, and the full implications of Web 2.0 and its many development, design and performance gains can be seen.
Evaluating the Types of Knowledge and Knowledge Management Systems
Knowledge management systems have historically excelled in the areas of structured content that emanates from the traditional enterprise content management (ECM) and in some companies, their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (Ardichvili, Yoon, 2009). The use of structured content in the context of traditional knowledge management systems led to the development of structured, often rigidly defined reports that over time became irrelevant in their use as business' need for knowledge shifted drastically over time. These initial knowledge management systems were more hierarchical, structured with silos of databases and integrated through the use of Search functions and on high-end systems, a reliance on Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) approaches to bridging the gaps between systems. Report writing software and knowledge-based analytics applications became increasingly in demand to meet the changing requirements for users of these systems to gain new insights from the knowledge included within them.
As these systems over time began to prove to be too rigid to meet the needs of users, a shift was occurring in the structure of knowledge management systems as well (Ardichvili, Yoon, 2009). More efficient, streamlined integration technologies including XML and its many variants, the growth of AJAX as a thin-client-based programming language, the development of relational databases, and the growth of the SOA platform in conjunction with Web Services have all come together to create more agile knowledge management systems (Baldi, Heier, 2009). All of these factors have also been accelerated by the importance of collaboration as a design objective for Web 2.0 (O'Reilly, 2006) which has had a corresponding effect on all applications, knowledge management being one of the most influenced due to the many users of these systems (Ardichvili, Yoon, 2009).
Due to the rapid development of Web 2.0-based knowledge management systems, there also has been a corresponding increase in their importance within organizations as well. From the many tactical roles that knowledge management fulfilled within organizations across all industries, given how collaboration and new technologies are acting as accelerators, knowledge management as a strategic resource has arrived, especially in highly regulated industries where advanced knowledge are critical to process execution (Sicilia, Sicilia, Sanchez-Alonso, Garcia-Barriocanal, Pontikaki, 2009). The strategic role of knowledge management has also been augmented by the roles- and process-based approach that companies can now use to selectively deliver the most relevant knowledge to those that need it. The strategic role of knowledge management to transform organizations is proven as companies are able today to construct learning ecosystems throughout their entire supply chains (Dyer, Nobeoka, 2000)
Power of Knowledge to Transform Organizations
The global economic recession has shown that to the extent there is integration between the knowledge management systems throughout an organization is the extent to which they can gain greater insights into how to compete more effectively (Kiessling, Richey, Meng, Dabic, 2009). Having progressed from being focused purely on knowledge that was easily captured and therefore rigid and difficult to use in a multitude of scenarios, knowledge management systems have rapidly progressed to a strategic asset. The use of knowledge management specifically in the area of pricing management and optimization is a case in point. The impact of knowledge management in pricing systems continues to provide consumer packaged goods companies including food producers with much greater levels of insight into price elasticity (Massa, Testa, 2009). This has given many food companies the ability to stay financially viable in the midst of the current recession.
Knowledge management's contributions continue to accelerate based on the rapid growth of Web 2.0 design principles (O'Reilly, 2006) applied to enterprise-level knowledge needs, creating the foundation of Enterprise 2.0 (McAfee, 2006). Social networking's impact on knowledge management continues (Parise, 2009) as the design objectives of greater collaboration and sharing of information across processes and roles accelerates. Compounding this is the growth of XML and AJAX as strategic technologies in the development of knowledge management systems (Ardichvili, Yoon, 2009). All of these factors are combining to create a more strategic role for knowledge management within organizations which will only accelerate over the coming years.
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