At present, large companies tend to have knowledge management strategies, because they can be integrated into information management strategies. IT and other technological companies have KM strategies, but so do many other firms. Creative firms such as advertising agencies, research firms such as pharmaceutical companies and firms whose business is based on acquired knowledge such as legal firms all place strong emphasis of knowledge management. In future, as more firms understand that knowledge is a crucial source of sustainable competitive advantage, all firms will see knowledge management as being important.
There are only limited amounts of education opportunities to acquire KM skills, although the subject does receive some coverage in business school now. KM programs are attractive because of the value of knowledge in today's business world and because of the increasing recognition that knowledge is one of few legitimate sources of sustainable competitive advantage. There will be more academic attention on the subject, which in turn will lead to more courses. The discipline will become more refined over time, which will help to expand the educational opportunities for KM and the number of different approaches to KM that are promoted in academia.
6. Wasserstein's ideas are promising, particularly in terms of his views on knowledge management. He views knowledge as being the ability to combine information in ways that create value. From a knowledge management perspective, his idea that the bankers do not know more than the CEOs is a good one. Knowledge management often focuses on making use of information that has been acquired, yet Wasserstein's philosophy offers that knowledge management also includes setting strategies for the acquisition of knowledge. The company's agents probe CEOs in order to gather the information that they need. The agent acts as the driver of knowledge acquisition, but does not supply that knowledge himself or herself. Instead, the company guides the process of knowledge acquisition and then applies the new knowledge to find the best deals for the clients.
Wasserstein's view is in some ways a chicken-and-egg argument. In order to ask the right questions, the agent must have a fairly strong knowledge level initially. Thus, it takes knowledge to gain knowledge. Wasserstein solves this at Lazard through his human resources practices, but that approach may not be reasonable in the short run for companies that have an entrenched employee base, or for companies that struggle to attract and retain the best talent. This leads to the view that a key to successful knowledge management is to build the best talent base, but not every firm can do that. The weakness in Wasserstein's view, then, is that this view is not universally applicable -- but this only highlights further the notion that knowledge management is one of the few true sources of sustainable competitive advantage.
7. In five years, the field of knowledge management will be more developed and more integrated into mainstream business thought. The emphasis in the past couple of decades has been on information management yet to a large extent information is not a source of sustainable competitive advantage. It can be acquired by other organizations.
Knowledge, however, derives from the application of information and that is something that can provide sustainable competitive advantage. The more companies and business schools that recognize this, the more academics who study KM, the more developed the field will be. KM systems will be implemented in more companies, perhaps even beyond those that currently emphasize knowledge management. The concept of knowledge management represents a shift in mindset in business, so this transition will see a number of competing theories but the most successful theories and concepts will be proven over time. Increasingly, knowledge management will be seen as a separate discipline from information management and will be regarded as a critical component of long-term strategy for most firms.
The result of this will be that firms begin to have VPs for knowledge management, starting in the firms that are most oriented to knowledge. Such practices will trickle down through the rest of the business world, although this process could take well beyond five years. Knowledge management will also become more refined, the discipline more perfected and new theories will be developed that will replace the old theories as seminal. The pace of change in knowledge management should increase in the next five years, facilitating…