The KM process discovers, selects, organizes, purifies, shares, develops and uses information within a social context. The objective is to improve organizational effectiveness. In combination with information management, it establishes an organizational framework with which to gather, produce and spread actionable knowledge. It obtains information, sets business rules for sifting and formulating it, frames it within a comprehensible context, evaluates and then presents it to organization's leaders in rendering or enhancing a decision (Snook and Wilker).
Although most companies viewed KM as strange and difficult to implement, more and more have come to recognize its value in providing real, verifiable and significant end-results (Craig 2000). It is a composite of software products and business practices, which assist an organization in obtaining, analyzing and distilling information it needs for learning. Obstacles to the successful implementation of a KM solution are organizational and cultural, rather than technical. It requires heavy investment in training and employee participation in the commitment. It is a demanding and long-time investment. A typical company in 2000 would spend $2.7 million. Furthermore, it requires in-house expertise to implement the procedure (Craig).
Experts also discovered the significance of the face-to-face aspect of managing knowledge in addition to technology (Overman 2003). Scott Beaty of Shell commented that a million data transpire among those who come face-to-face. This was why Harvard Business Review editor Thomas a. Stewart suggested asking employees attending sessions about what they learned and would do with their new learning. He and other experts also recommended the search for custodians of gathered knowledge they called knowledge intermediaries. These intermediaries would understand what knowledge is and who would "bond, bridge, collect, capture, stir" and "provoke" the flow of the KM process (Overman).
Surveyed U.S. firms in the Gallup database considered top management leadership and commitment critical to the success of KM (Choi, et al. 2004). These companies, which have already been implementing KM, viewed leadership and commitment as the enabling tools for KM success. This finding was consistent with earlier ones. The participating companies' responses were gathered from 1,000 questionnaires (Choi et al.).
They regarded KM as capable of understanding the market, accurately appraising customer requirements, and deriving products and services from these by integrating the resources of the organization (Choi et al. 2004). The first objective of the study was to identify differences between the perceived importance and the actual importance attributes of a successful KM implementation. The second objective was to develop and empirically test human resource factors affecting its success. The study found that attributes with a lower degree of perceived importance were less often implemented and that top management support was critical for KM success (Choi et al.).
Business intelligence is part of KM and among the day-to-day efforts of the corporate knowledge worker (Walker and Millington 2003). A case study of LINC Berlex Laboratories illustrates this. Gathering or capturing knowledge and information in the pharmaceutical industry traverses different areas of medicine. While expanding, the company found it increasingly hard to locate varied sources of information stored in different places. There was need to develop a single and integrated repository. The company realized that its management decisions and initiatives depended on its customer base and thus developed a useful tool, which would contain current business information taken from many sources into a portal of overall information gathered. In order to do this, the company needed to know its users and how they use it, its current usage and the gaps and potentials for personalization. Its purpose is to find new and better ways of presenting its carefully gathered and stored information to its users (Walker and Millington).
While e-business revolutionized business operations, it has not blended well with internal knowledge management (Fahey et al. 2001). By developing e-business focused knowledge, an organization can evaluate its type of work within the e-business environment, understand its way of doing the work, and find out why certain practices and companies will likely change in the foreseeable future. KM, thus, is a framework, which helps in comprehending and guiding the e-business change of operating processes. KM methods forge electronic human connections, which in turn, enable insights to form and intelligence develop. These are germane to hard decisions about adopting or changing to e-business operating processes (Fahey).
A recent study was conducted on the differences between the perceived success and the actual success of KM in organizations (Choi et al. 2005). Using the responses of executives and managers as primary subjects to 1000 questionnaires, it discovered that the greatest differences lie in benchmarking and knowledge sharing capability. On the other hand, the least differences were in organizations with KM-supportive culture and those with top-management leadership and commitment to KM. It found that information system attributes were not used as to signify their importance. It suggested that it was hard to recognize the importance and impact of information systems on KM if one's job was unrelated to information technology. Furthermore, only a third of the respondents' organizations were either just starting to develop or implement KM. These meant that information systems could not assume a vital role if the organization was not prepared to implement KM. Most of the respondents could not grasp the difference between perceived and actual KM success because most of their organizations had not begun establishing or implementing KM. On the other hand, attributes related to KM organizational environment, human resource activity support and top management commitment to KM raised the perception of their importance. Other studies suggested that cultural and top management support with the suitable training and teamwork promotion were the best enhancements for success all the way from initiation to implementation (Choi et al.).
Summary and Conclusion
Business success necessarily draws from the organization's store of profitable knowledge. Knowledge is a basic and indispensable input to decision-making and to steering the course of business. A manager is the captain of that ship, which is the organization through its collection of know-how (Pollock 2001). Know-how is measured by the organization's customer capital, human capital, intellectual capital, relationships capital, and systems performance (Rylatt 2003). It works both as an internal strategy in disseminating knowledge within the organization and as an external strategy by acquiring it from and transmitting it to clients (Woods 2001). It consists of software products and gathered business practices needed for learning. It requires big investment in training and employee commitment and in-house experts, valued at $2.7 million (Craig 2000). These experts are special custodians who will handle the learning and direct the course and flow of knowledge (Overman 2003). Within the sphere of KM is business intelligence as a basic component. It requires an efficient customer database, consisting of current business information from appropriate sources and directed to a portal (Walker and Millington 2007). Today's organization also needs to acquire an e-business-focused knowledge in order to evaluate the work it does and to determine what practices to change in the future (Fahey et al. 2001). This is best done within the KM framework, which through electronic-human connection, induce the development of insights and intelligence (Fahey et al.).
Success in knowledge management, therefore, redounds to business success. It circulates much-needed knowledge for decision-making on the part of managers and performance on the part of employees. But KM requires no less than top management leadership and commitment to work and make a difference (Choi et al. 2004). A study also found that KM was less implemented in organizations with a lower degree of its importance and that top management support was critical to KM success (Choi et al.).
Taken together, the sum total of all productive know-how and knowledge in the organization is indispensable to the success of a business and that of the business community itself. Gathering, processing and disseminating knowledge is the function of KM. But it needs top management leadership and commitment and employee support to work and achieve the purpose. #
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