“Initiatives, Implementation Strategies and Models of Knowledge Management in Indian Industry”
1. Executive Summary
Knowledge Management is a rapid growing field that covers diverse disciplines. KM is organization learning, organization memory and expertise management. In order to attain competitive advantage which includes cost reduction and cost leadership too, companies are implementing KM. Various KM initiatives are taken by the organizations through KM programmes in order to enhance productivity, efficiency and innovation. The KM initiatives can be measured through business performance of the organization and usefulness of its KM initiatives.
Organization uses KM as a tool for sustaining and improving their business performance .Thus for any of the KM programme to be successful it must be aligned with the organization vision, goals, mission and with the corporate strategy. If KM fails to add value to the organization, it is only cost intensive, useless, or even counter productive.
The purpose of this research was
i) To establish the extent to which organisations are aware of knowledge management, take it seriously and are pursuing initiatives to implement it and benefit from it.
ii) To find out the various implementation strategies of Knowledge management.
iii) To study the various models adopted by the companies for the Knowledge Management
iv) To study the relationship between the Business and the knowledge management strategy and the success of Knowledge Management initiative.
v) To derive potential sustainability of the organizational impact “Is the KM system used and can it survive without strong support by top management?”
A survey based research in 100 companies combined with a case based research study was conducted in 9 Indian companies (having global operations) and 3 foreign companies having operation in India in order to gain a deeper insight about the nature of the relationship between business strategy, knowledge strategy and KM strategy within a company.
The findings suggest that organisations need to be effective at managing the realisation of financial benefits. The findings also strongly suggest a relationship between the success of KM in terms of improving business performance of the organization or business unit and the alignment of KM strategy and business strategy. The findings show a matching fit between KM strategy and business strategy. An organization whose business strategy requires efficiency of processes should rely primarily on a codification strategy. The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation. An organization whose business strategy requires product or process innovation should rely primarily on a personalization strategy. In short, the KM initiative should support the objective of the business strategy and should be initiated by the top management or specific to that business unit.
Knowledge management, tactical knowledge, explicit knowledge, knowledge management models, Management strategy
Knowledge management is a dazzling, multi-faceted, and controversially discussed concept. Philosophers and representatives of a variety of different disciplines are debating the meaning, definitions, and dimensions of knowledge and knowledge management. Knowledge is the greatest asset today not just knowledge but leveraging it and applying it to attain organizational objectives and to attain competitive advantage. Management gurus and academicians from last two decades are treating KM as a tool for achieving innovation and competitive advantage.
In today's business scenario where there is lot of competition, only source of lasting is Knowledge. The importance and attention given to the acquisition of knowledge in literature as well as practice increased in the past years. It is argued that knowledge management is a necessity due to changes in the environment such as increasing globalization of competition, speed of information and knowledge aging, dynamics of both product and process innovations, and competition through buyer markets. Knowledge management promises to help companies to be faster, more efficient, or more innovative than the competition. Also, the term ‘‘management'' implies that knowledge management deals with the interactions between the organization and the environment and the ability of the organization to react and act
Various researchers then gave the various definitions on Knowledge Management and still it's the buzzword today. “Knowledge management is the process through which we can manage human centered assets efficiently and effectively.” The function of knowledge management is to guard and grow knowledge owned by individuals, and where possible, transfer the asset into a form where it can be more readily shared by other employees in the company. KM refers to activities aimed at enhancing knowledge processing. These activities are interventions designed to affect how knowledge processing is done. The tools, techniques, and strategies to retain, analyze, organize, improve, and share business expertise. Knowledge management promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, retrieving, sharing and evaluating enterprise information assets. These information assets may include database, policies, procedures and documents and as well as uncaptured tacit expertise and experience stored in the heads of individual workers.
Knowledge management is the information having some intent that can be interpreted and made available. Knowledge management is the concept rather than a technology as commonly misunderstood by the C.E.O of most of the companies. KM addresses the need for information that is used for making effective decisions. For example, comments posted over discussion boards that can be converted into useful FAQs. Knowledge Management gives us the ability to leverage and combine the collective abilities of our knowledge workers. KM helps share knowledge amongst employees irrespective of their geographical locations and helps build competitive advantage by improving productivity and capability to innovate. KM is nothing but having customized information tailored to the needs of each user. As a KM practice provides a structured way of capturing knowledge that exists within the organization, it gives an organization the ability to improve the productivity and knowledge of its employees by means of knowledge sharing. Thus knowledge management can be defined as something which can be shared by the people acting as the organizational assets that can be used to define the best practices in the business environment and used to enhance productivity and efficiency of the organization by making the best use of knowledge available in the organization. Knowledge Management (KM) involves aligning processes, people, and information technology to continuously capture, maintain, and reuse the key information and judgments that improve business performance. In simple term it is said Knowledge management seeks to make best use of knowledge available in the organization and helps in creating a new knowledge in the process. Thus benefits of well designed Knowledge management systems are: Awareness, Accessibility, Availability and Timeliness. According to Steve Offsey, Director, Knowledge Management Products, Dataware Technologies, Inc.,“Knowledge sharing is becoming the central driver of the 21stcentury”
3. Literature Review
It is helpful to make a clear distinction between the knowledge and information/data.
Information is a message that has sender and receiver while data is in the form of a structure but has not yet interpreted. Information can be stored in the computer but, knowledge is in the head of the people. Knowledge is the information to which intent are attached. Knowledge has been defined as the power to act and make decisions with information in context coupled with an understanding of how to use it by professional expertise appropriate for the domain defining things that are held to be true and drive people to action justifying personal belief that increases an individual's capacity to take effective action, an information that has been authenticated and thought to be true, integrated information in context with information made actionable in a way that adds value to the enterprise .Some even contend that knowledge exists only in a human mind (Nonaka, 1994), which is similar to the concept expressed by Churchman(1972) that ‘‘knowledge resides in the user and not in the collection.''
Knowledge has various properties like Context specificity- the extent to which knowledge is contextualized and dependent on the environment, Dispersion- how widely held is the knowledge, Tacitness- the extent to which the knowledge is codifiable, Transferability- transfer between and within firms, Reception or absorption - ability to absorb knowledge and Complexity- difficulty in comprehending .
According to the Industries, Tacit knowledge is the knowledge about Insights and context from the inner i.e what the knower “knows” and is difficult to articulate and represent. Embedded knowledge is the Organization understanding manifested in process manual etc that are stored and made available through the KM system. Explicit Knowledge is defined as the Knowledge made available through articulates like documents, books etc. Tacit knowledge is possessed by experts, that is difficult to capture, yet repeatedly demonstrated in contexts as varied as factory floors, research laboratories, army basis and corporate board rooms. Another major distinction in knowledge is cultural knowledge which is defined as the assumptions, beliefs, and values of people.
A better understanding is possible by looking at Blackler's (1995) study in which he identifies five classifications of knowledge, which are embrained, embodied, encultured, embedded and encoded: Embrained knowledge is knowledge that is dependent on conceptual skills and cognitive abilities. Cognition is the human capacity to perceive, interpret, and reason about environmental and conceptual environmental or organizational stimuli and meta-cognition is the capacity to think about thinking .This is the abstract knowledge or personal insight, models, systems thinking, and shared visions in a general account of organisation thinking. Embodied knowledge is likely to be only partly explicit and partially oriented in nature which is acquired by doing and is rooted in specific contexts. Encultured knowledge is defined as the procedure of achieving shared understandings and heavily dependent upon language thus to be socially constructed and open to negotiation. Embedded knowledge is defined as knowledge that resides in systemic routines analyzable in systems terms such as technologies, roles, formal procedures, and emergent routines. Encoded knowledge is information conveyed by signs and symbols. However, information encoded by decontextualised, abstract symbols is inevitably highly selective in the representations it can convey. There are five pillars of knowledge management that have technical as well as non technical solutions as defined by the industries
* Business intelligence using concept of data mining
* Collaboration: Groupware, working with people
* Knowledge Transfer: distance learning and computer education training
* Knowledge discovery and mapping: Document management and categorization of essential prerequisite
* Expertise: Expert networks, like the knowledge networks
Why Knowledge Management ?
Main Objective of implementing the Knowledge Management is value creation. The ease to access the information and using it to improve business processes and to achieve competitive advantage are the major challenges faced by the modern day organizations. In order to create, develop and extract value from knowledge and information, the right operational and strategic processes are needed to put into place. Knowledge management leads to structure and management methods based upon idea sharing thus giving voice to customers, workers and partners. From the organizational perspective, the objectives of exploiting information and knowledge resources should aim to support the effective utilization of knowledge in every company. Generate new knowledge, access valuable knowledge from outside sources, use knowledge in decision making, embed knowledge in processes, products, and services; represent knowledge in documents, databases, and software; facilitate knowledge growth through culture and intensives, transfer existing knowledge into other parts of the organization, and measure the value of knowledge assets and/or the impact of knowledge management. The aim that organizations should support knowing - the generation of meaning - amongst their employees. Knowledge creation, knowledge discovery, knowledge acquisition, knowledge storing, and identification of knowledge needs.
KM Models and Methods
Many models of KM can be found in the KM literature, the most widely quoted among them are the ones developed by Wiig (1993), Nonaka (1994), Edvinsson and Sullivan (1996), Carayannis (1999) and Despres and Chauvel (2000).
Wigg's KM framework represents the major functions needed to manage knowledge through three pillars. In practice, consists of formal methodologies and informal approaches. The three pillars are: explore knowledge and its adequacy; assess value of knowledge; and manage knowledge activity. The model says ‘‘handle, use and control knowledge'', it does not say why or how to control the knowledge.
Nonaka's SECI model, one of the mostly discussed theories in KM literature, is based on the assumption that knowledge is created through conversion between tacit and explicit knowledge. From this, Nonaka proposed four different modes of knowledge conversion :
1. Tacit knowledge to Tacit knowledge;
2. Explicit knowledge to Explicit knowledge;
3. Tacit knowledge to Explicit knowledge; and
4. Explicit knowledge to Tacit knowledge.
Nonaka explained that the first is the result of socialization, second is the result of combination, third is the result of externalization and fourth is the result of internalization.
Edvinsson and Sullivan using innovation management theory, developed the “Intellectual Capital Model” (ICM) of a firm which suggests that the intellectual capital of a firm has four major elements, namely human capital, structural capital, complementary business assets, and intellectual property. The ICM model facilitates innovation in organizations to achieve competitive advantage.
Carayannis has contributed the “Organizational Cognition Spiral” (OCS) and “Organizational Knowledge Network” (OK Net) models to the KM literature. The OCS model defines different knowledge states that are a function of two dimensions - knowledge (K) and meta-knowledge (MK) and it consists of successive ‘‘knowledge cycles'' where an individual or organization can transit and traverse four stages of awareness or ignorance. The OK Net model is used for designing and testing KM network for the support, monitoring, capturing, measurement, and enrichment of organizational cognition in an eight-stage process. The eight-stage process of KM i.e identify, capture, select, store, share, apply, create and sell.(refer to table).
Develop and market knowledge-based products and services
Despres and Chauvel developed a meta-model that is based on four dimensions of KM, namely time, type, level and context. Based on time dimension, an event chain of linear and structural perspective can be specified. While this simplifies the interconnected and multiple-causal nature of cognition, it fit many of the issues addressed. Three levels of social aggregation to knowledge suggested by them are: individuals, groups and organizations.
According to Steve Offsey, Director, Knowledge Management Products, Dataware Technologies, Inc. Intranets, Document management system, information retrieval engines, relational and object database, electronic publishing systems, group ware and workflow system, push technologies and agents, help desk applications; brain storming applications, data mining and data ware housing tools are some of the technologies used for enabling Knowledge Management.
MaKE means ‘‘Manage Knowledge Effectively''.(Knowledge Management method). It consist of three main components. First is main component. It is a collaborative process for creating a definition of knowledge for an organisation. During this process the domain in the organisation to which the definition and the rest of MaKE applies is defined. The second main component, MaKE Next Steps, helps employees articulate requirements, prioritise them and suggest ways to change the organisation. MaKE Measures is the third component . This component is designed to help employees select appropriate measures to monitor changes implemented in the organisation.
Knowledge Management Strategies
There are five basic knowledge based strategies according to Karl M. Wiig, Chairman, Knowledge Research Institute, Inc.: Knowledge strategy as business strategy - a focus on knowledge creation, capture, organization, renewal, sharing and used to have the best possible knowledge available - and used - at each point of action. Intellectual asset management strategy - a focus on knowledge enterprise-level management of specific intellectual assets such as patents, technologies, operational and management practices, customer relations, organizational arrangements and other structural knowledge assets. Personal knowledge asset responsibility strategy - a focus on personal knowledge responsibility for knowledge-related investments, innovations and the competitive state, renewal, effective use, and availability to others of the knowledge assets within each employee's area of accountability to being able to apply the most competitive knowledge to the enterprise's work. Knowledge creation strategy - a focus on knowledge learning, basic and applied research and development, and motivation of employees to innovate and capture lessons learned to obtain new and better knowledge that will lead to improved competitiveness. Knowledge transfer strategy- a focus on knowledge systematic approaches to transfer - obtain, organize, restructure, warehouse or memorize, repackage for deployment and distribute - knowledge to points of action where it will be used to perform work.
Though Knowledge strategies and Knowledge management strategy are different, but are interlinked concepts. Knowledge strategy in common addresses the organization's aims to exploit its knowledge resources in order to gain competitive advantage. Two alternative knowledge strategies can be chosen by organizations. These are the explorative strategy which aims at creating new knowledge and the exploitative strategy which aims at reusing existing knowledge. The exploration strategy is generally more innovation-oriented, while the exploitation strategy aims at efficiency. Focusing solely on exploration can mean that the organization never gains from its investments in exploration of new knowledge, and focusing solely on exploitation may lead to knowledge obsolescence or even to the destruction of the organization. Thus explorative strategies are referred to be the creation of new knowledge while exploitative strategy are referred to be reuse and interorganizational transfer of existing knowledge.
There are two alternative approaches to implementing a knowledge strategy which suggest that organizations may choose either a codification strategy (C) or a personalization strategy (P) for managing knowledge. The personalization strategy is associated with the human interaction approach and the codification strategy with the technology based approach. The codification strategy means that an organization attempts to codify its knowledge, and employees are expected to reuse existing knowledge instead of creating new knowledge. The personalization strategy means that an organization relies more on tacit and non-codified knowledge. Here it is employed for interactive communication and finding people and expertise. An organization using the personalization strategy produces new knowledge and unique solutions for its customers. Thus codification strategy involves storing into database where it can be accessed and used by anyone in the organization while personalization strategy is the one which is tied to the person who posses it and shared by direct person to person contacts. To achieve competitive advantages both of these strategies were used depending upon the business need and its requirement.
Knowledge Management and Business strategy
An organization's strategy of knowledge management is not arbitrary but depends of the ‘‘way the company serves its clients, the economics of its business, and the people it hires''. KM should be tightly related to objectives and business strategies of the organization or subunit of the organization. If KM fails to add value to the organization, it is only cost intensive, useless, or even counterproductive. Porter distinguishes between three generic business strategies - differentiation, cost leadership, and focus - in order to counter the five forces of competition within an industry - supplier power, buyer power, threat of substitutes, industry competitors, and barriers to entry. The meaning of differentiation is to generate some uniqueness in the product in order to attain competitive advantage which includes cost reduction and cost leadership too. The competitive advantage would be achieved through efficient product development (COP's) or innovation excellence (COE's) while in some of the markets, production and efficiency would help in attaining competitive advantage. Hence two main objectives of KM would be efficiency and innovation. Thus here discussion is used to produce a fit model between KM strategy, knowledge strategy and business strategy. Fit as matching would means that only theoretically defined combinations of variables leads to a favourable outcome whereas the absence of match leads to an unfavourable outcome.
The objectives of this research are:
1. To establish the extent to which organisations are aware of knowledge management, take it seriously and are pursuing initiatives to implement it and benefit from it.
2. To find out the various implementation strategies of Knowledge management.
3. To study the various models adopted by the companies for the Knowledge Management
4. To study the relationship between the Business and the knowledge management strategy and the success of Knowledge Management initiative.
5. To derive potential sustainability of the organizational impact “Is the KM system used and can it survive without strong support by top management?”
For the first objective a survey of 100 companies from various sectors was conducted across India. For the remaining four objectives, a case based research study was conducted in 9 Indian companies (having global operations) and 3 foreign companies having operations in India in order to gain a deeper insight about the nature of the relationship between business strategy, knowledge strategy and KM strategy within a company.
The KM initiatives were evaluated and categorized by six criteria:
KM objectives, processes, problems, content, strategy, and type of knowledge.
KM initiatives were organized into four combinations of KM strategy and business strategy:
Efficiency and Codification, Efficiency and Personalization, Innovation and Codification, Innovation and Personalization.
4. Research Methodology
This research was based on both primary and secondary sources. As mentioned earlier a survey was conducted in companies across India along with unstructured case based interviews. There has been very little research undertaken on knowledge management models and strategies in India. Consequently, research involves the unstructured case based interviews of the KM head or employees of the 11 best of the Fortune 500 companies currently operating in India. The research was conducted with cooperation of leading Indian companies. The companies were interested in knowing how it could use KM to increase its competitive strength. One of the important question for them was what KM strategy would best fit their business strategy and be most successful. The goal was to derive conclusions by analyzing and comparing the differences and similarities of KM activities of different companies and to study various implementation strategies and models organizations are using.
A case study design was developed and the case study research was conducted. Case study research does provide rich and contextual data that can be helpful to gain a deeper understanding of a phenomenon. After an extensive literature review, a conceptual framework for designing the interviewer guidelines was developed. The framework includes the KM processes that are supported by people, technology, organization, and culture and are directed towards the company's/business unit's KM objectives. This framework assured that all relevant aspects of the KM activity were studied.
The primary criteria for selecting companies were similarities in size, knowledge intensity of the industry, and heterogeneity of business areas. Interviews with one or two people of each company were held .The length of each interview was between 1-2 hours. A two to four page summary based on the interviews and further documentations (company web site, documents received from the companies) were created for each company.
Gathering primary data on KM was difficult at board level. Firstly, organizations were reluctant to share information with individuals from outside the company. Secondly, senior managers were unwilling to spend valuable time for a research project that may not provide sufficient benefits to them. As a result, it is difficult to get large number of subjects, therefore Primary data was gathered through the employees working in the organization and mailing senior managers.
Secondary data was collected by going through various journals and websites of the respective companies. Also articles were studied at length about the KM initiatives at these companies.
5. Analysis and Results
This sample of 100 was chosen because companies of this size have the greatest need to implement knowledge management initiatives, have possibly the greatest capability and resources to do so and potentially can reap the greatest benefits. The subject focus was the collective knowledge of their organisations' employees and their own use of information.
In this report, ‘largest companies' means those with more than 2000 employees or more than six sites. ‘Other Services' includes business services, communications, holding companies and miscellaneous.
Awareness of knowledge management
Attitudes to knowledge management have changed. Only 2% of respondents considered knowledge management to be a fad that would soon be forgotten.
Knowledge management is growing rapidly in importance and has gained great impetus. 10% of respondents said knowledge management was clearly transforming the way their organisation did business. This is a high proportion given the significance of any organisational transformation. Awareness of knowledge management increased with the size of organisation. All respondents from the largest companies had heard of knowledge management while just under a fifth from other companies had not.
Knowledge management initiative in place
43% of respondents considered their organisation to have a knowledge management initiative in place. Two-thirds of the largest companies had a knowledge management initiative in place against just over a quarter of the rest.
However, as the remainder of this report shows, few organizations are reaping the full benefits of knowledge management in terms of:
• providing employees with the necessary resources to contribute to the organisation's knowledge;
• establishing a strategy for knowledge management;
• identifying the expected benefits and managing their realisation; and
• making the most of existing technology to store and disseminate information which is most critical to an organisation's success.
With all of the changes that are required a company needs to have a good change management programme in place to engender support from employees.
The effect of a key employee leaving the organisation
Much of an organisation's knowledge is personal. It is and remains in employees' minds. Our survey showed there is little provision for capturing, sharing and disseminating it. When individuals leave, their knowledge is lost to the organisation. Respondents confirmed they realise the value of this human knowledge, in that their organisations had suffered in various ways when individuals left, from loss of knowledge of best practice through to damage to key client and supplier relationships and, ultimately, significant financial loss. Respondents acknowledged the cost of failing to look after their organisation's intellectual capital - in other words, of failing to convert individual knowledge and know-how into corporate knowledge.
Loss of knowledge of best practice
Half of all respondents said that they had lost knowledge of best practice in a specific area of operations as a result of a key employee's departure.
Damage to a key client or supplier relationship
43% of all respondents said that a relationship with a key client or supplier had been damaged by the departure of a key individual. This figure increased with the size of the organisation.
Loss of significant income
More than 10% of respondents said their organisation had lost significant income as the result of a key employee's departure. This was felt more in larger companies with one in five affected.
Types of knowledge important to an organisation
Respondents were asked which types of knowledge they considered important to their company.
Clearly, organisations valued most highly their knowledge about their customers, markets and their own products and services. The largest companies regarded knowledge of competitors as more important than other companies did (91% against 69%). However, the others regarded knowledge of their own methods and processes as more important than the largest companies did (76% against 66%). This may be because they recognize the need to have the right methods and processes in place in order to grow, or potentially because they are failing to focus sufficiently on the external environment.
Methods of storing important knowledge
Having established which types of knowledge companies prize the most, we asked them how they held that knowledge. If held electronically, we asked whether it was available to everyone in the organisation who might need it. The most effective way to store knowledge is in people's heads - the human mind is still more powerful than any computer at storing, sorting and retrieving the sort of knowledge which is most valuable to companies. Transferring such knowledge between individuals is usually best done verbally to capture details and nuances
Over a third stored knowledge of customers in non-technology based formats (such as people's heads or on paper). Only a third stored it in an electronic format accessible to all who needed it. In the case of markets, over a third kept relevant knowledge on paper. Only 10% of respondents made knowledge of competitors available electronically to all who needed it and only 9% did the same for knowledge of employees' skills.
However, the tendency is to load information about the organisation - products & services and methods & processes - rather than the external environment - knowledge their organisations considered to be more important. For example - almost a third of respondents said that knowledge of their methods and processes was available electronically to all who needed it but this was the area of knowledge considered to be of least importance.
There are a wide variety of technologies and applications that can be used - indeed most have a knowledge management angle to them. We asked about some of the key types of technology in use and why they were implemented. The IT infrastructure needed for knowledge management has often been put in place for other reasons.
While 90% of respondents had implemented Internet access only half of that number had done so with knowledge management as the primary focus.
Two-thirds of respondents used document management systems, 46% with knowledge management as the primary focus and two-thirds had implemented intranets, 41% with knowledge management as the primary focus. Taken with the previous section's findings, these figures show that companies are not exploiting the full potential of the technology they have.
Much of the technology is new and has been implemented as organisations have begun to experiment with new ways of using it. Having implemented the necessary technology, organisations need to populate it with data to make it worth using and to add real benefit. This in turn means that companies must focus on keeping the information up-to-date on an on-going basis, removing out of date information and committing resources to this task.
However, in order to obtain the full benefits, organisations need to take a fresh look at technology from a knowledge management perspective to see the potential.
Responsibilities for organisations' knowledge management initiative
Allocating responsibility for an activity is a signal that the organisation is taking it seriously. However, when asked, 40% of respondents whose organisations had a knowledge management initiative said there was no one at board level responsible for the initiative. In the case of organisations that had allocated responsibility to a named person, over a third said it was someone in an existing position. Heaping an additional responsibility on an existing function is unlikely to produce the best results. It may also lead to a slanted view of knowledge management.
This may be because companies are unsure of the extent to which knowledge management will benefit them. However, those which are taking it seriously -5% of respondents with a knowledge management initiative said their organisation had a chief knowledge officer - are likely to be the first to benefit. They are able to develop a coherent strategy which is consistent across the whole organisation. Those 5% all came from the largest companies.
Importance of reasons and benefits gained for setting up a knowledge management initiative
We asked respondents whose organisations had a knowledge management initiative to assess the reasons for embarking upon the initiative and whether their expectations had been fulfilled. Better decision-making was the single, overwhelming reason. 86% cited it as a reason and the same percentage said their organisation had achieved it as a result. 86% also cited faster response time to key issues and two-thirds said they had achieved it. These - and the findings for improved productivity and reduced costs - are high levels of attainment, which confirm that those organisations pursuing a knowledge management initiative believe they are gaining benefits from it.
The most important issues driving the need for knowledge management
Benefits were also realised in other areas such as creating new business opportunities (50%), sharing best practice (60%) and better staff retention (42%). Of those with a knowledge management initiative 23% had achieved an increase in share price. These results indicate the potential is there for the full range of benefits promised by early proponents of knowledge management.
Designing the KM implementation, would be the first step towards the implementation of KM. For successful KM policies and initiatives, proper objectives, goals and implementation strategy should be defined. People, processes and technologies are the three core elements in preparing a KM strategy. Different companies have different implementation strategies.
KM Implementation strategy for Wipro
There are three phases of implementation of KM in Wipro
a) Pre implementation phase: This includes identification and analysis of the current system and then finding out the areas of collaboration.
b) Implementation Phase: It involves creating awareness and designing the KM portals
c) Post implementation Phase: It involves evaluating performance of the system and enhancement of the system to sustain the initiative.
KM implementation strategy for Patni
It is the 5 step model with the continuous improvement at each step. It involves understanding requirements and defining KM framework, then Mapping Knowledge through various tools. Next step involves the designing of the system, choosing cost effective hardware, which is well supported and easy to maintain. After the system has been built, it involves deploying the system with defining the access methods. Monitoring of the system is essential for performance and compatibility issues to be dealt with.
KM Implementation strategy for Accenture
Implementation strategy at Accenture depends upon type of conversion and is developed through spiral model that involves continuous improvement by evaluating its performance at each stage.
Types of conversion:
1. tacit knowledge to tacit knowledge;
2. explicit knowledge to explicit knowledge;
3. tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge; and
4. explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge.
The first is the result of socialization, second is the result of combination, third is the result of externalization and fourth is the result of internalization.
KM implementation strategy for Infosys
Basic KM infrastructure
Knowledge creation & sharing
Robust KM infrastructure
Self-managing KM infrastructure
1)Expertise Integration 2)Knowledge Leverage3)Innovation Management
Implementation strategy for KM in Infosys is totally based upon the three pillars of Knowledge Management i.e People, process and technology. It has been defined at each level.
KM implementation Methodology of HCL
HCL follows a four-phased approach (as shown in Figure) for preparing the KM strategy of an organization. The KATS methodology provides a framework for assessing customer's current environment and paves the path for a complete KMS implementation in line with overall business needs.
The finding shows some similarity in the implementation strategy of KM. Basis of the KM strategy is same where it is considering the three basic pillars of KM i.e people, process and technology. It is also dependent upon type of conversion as shown in case of Accenture.
KM Implementation strategy of TCS
KM implementation is the five stage process in TCS. It involves Knowledge creation, capturing and organizing Knowledge then storing it with the purpose of reuse and use. Five stages are Creation, Capture, Organization, Storage and Use/reuse. It wants to convert tacit to explicit and make use of it.
There are predefined models of KM. But companies use their own model while 7 companies do not make use of any of the model; instead they follow KM methodologies to make their organization effective.
Measurable productivity benefits through knowledge sharing,High ability to leverage internal and external sources of expertise,Ability to sense and respond proactively to changes in technological and business environment
Ability to manage organizational competences quantitatively,Streamlined process for leveraging new ideas for business advantage,Ability to shape technological and business environment
Infosys's KM implementation was guided by the KM Maturity Model (KMM). To attain level 2 of KMM, Infosys has to improve the knowledge awareness of its employees, the knowledge capture processes should be at least implemented at this level, and develop basic technical infrastructure to support KM. Similarly for each level there are some key capabilities defined. KM Maturity Model of Infosys consist of five levels each defining organizational capability at each level.
KM models of Accenture
Knowledge management framework begins by assessing and categorizing the way work is done in the core process. It is evaluated along two dimensions. First is the level of interdependence involved i.e., the degree to which individuals and organizations need to collaborate and interact. Second is the complexity of work involved—the degree to which employees needs to apply their judgment and interpret a variety of information. Using these two factors, they have defined four models: In Transaction model, there is a low degree of both interdependence and complexity. Work is typically routine, highly reliant on formal rules, procedures and training, and depends on a workforce that exercises little discretion. In Integration model, there is a high degree of interdependence and a low degree of complexity. Work is systematic and repeatable, relies on formal processes, methodologies and standards, and depends on tight integration across functional boundaries. In Expert model, there is low interdependence and high complexity. Work requires judgment and is dependent on "star performers." In Collaboration model, there is a high degree of both interdependence and complexity. Work involves improvisation and learning by doing, and relies on deep expertise across functions and the use of flexible teams.
KM Process Model of Wipro
Wipro knowledge management initiatives are developed on the line of its process models which involves assessing the current situation, recommending by reviewing KM strategy, implementing and then sustaining. It has been using Microsoft SharePoint Server 2003.
5i KM3 Model of TCS
TCS believes that the stage of maturity can be achieved through three basic pillars of knowledge i.e. People, Process and Technology
People and culture - these addresses the mindset and relates to attribute of people and culture.
Process, Policy and Strategy - these facilitates and guides the effort to capture and use knowledge for improving business performance and achieve business benefits.
technology and infrastructure - enablers that help people harness the maximum out of the KM initiative.
To benchmark the Knowledge management maturity, five stages of KM have been defined.
Organization has no formal process for using Knowledge management efficiently
Organization realizes the potential in harnessing its organizational knowledge for business benefits.
Organizations have knowledge-enabled their business processes and are observing its benefits and business impact.
Organization has matured collaboration and sharing throughout the business processes those results into collective and collaborative organizational intelligence.
Organizational knowledge leads to consistent and continuous process optimization giving it a business edge.
Finding also shows that 7 out of 11 KM initiatives are specific to business units. Therefore there are no such models being defined in these companies.
The success of the KM initiatives can be assessed using two criteria referring to organizational impact:
1. Usefulness of KM initiative
2. Business Performance
KM objectives are different for different companies, it was found out that 3 out of 11 companies are using KM for the purpose of reuse of sub process and best practices while 2 out of 11 are using it as the scalability, increasing efficiency and productivity, sustainability but it was also found out some of the objectives are overlapped. For example
In 2000, Wipro decided to create a centralized knowledge management portal to capture client, project and process knowledge. Wipro set up three key business concerns that knowledge management had to deliver: Decreased cycle time, Reduced time - to - market, Increased collaboration.
The main objective of Wipro in implementing KM was sustainability which is defined as characteristic of process and state that can be maintained at certain level therefore maintaining quality, increasing productivity and efficiency and innovating was the primary objective in implementation of its KM projects while Infosys defined scalability as it prime objective for implementation of its KM programmes. Scalability strategy envisioned Infosys as a learning organization that constantly utilize its knowledge assets to replenish its repertoire of resources and capabilities. Scalability would elude until Infosys knowledge resources were made accessible to every employee. Scalability demand 'learning ability'- the ability to extract knowledge from specific concepts and situations and apply it to other situations. Learnings require real-time access to firm's knowledge resources. It also required efficient capacity utilization .Infosys had to be ready for project opportunities in new functional and technical domains.
It was also noticed that the KM initiatives are sometimes applied to specific business unit such as in case of Aptech computer where it is applied only in customer care centre in order to attain COP's and expert guidance through which customer efficiency can be attained.
Research shows that companies having KM initiatives, 9 out of 11 are successful while two companies are still in pilot phase. It was not possible to judge all the KM initiatives clearly thus it may not be true to the whole of the organization as some of the interview show positive result while some does not as employees are unaware of the KM initiatives. KM initiatives in most of the companies are applied to whole of the organization thus it would be taken as the business strategy of whole of the company. If it is applied to a particular business unit then it was considered as the business strategy of that unit only. For example
Piyush Rakhecha, Noida Centre Leader, Xansa says that “the sales team with the help of KM, is enabled to create successful and customized propositions for prospective stakeholders. Whereas, the account (client specific) teams get key process/technical inputs from the KM team to continuously update solutions for their respective clients.”
Organizational Impact was also studied to know whether the KM initiatives are successful in the organizations or not .It was found out that most of the companies have implemented it successfully. Many of the companies were also awarded for its KM initiatives thus showing successful implementation of its KM programmes and its KM initiatives. Ironically it was also noticed that some of the employees interviewed working in these companies were unaware of the KM initiatives, thus showing gaps which may not be true.
It was found out that Companies who want to use knowledge management as a basis for their process of innovation encouraged the creation and the exchange of knowledge by enabling communication and collaboration in a person-to-person approach. Conversely, companies who use knowledge management in order to improve the efficiency of operational processes use databases and information systems to disseminate ‘‘best practices'' independently from the ‘‘human knowledge carrier''. The efficiency strategy relies primarily on the re-use of existing knowledge. Thus business strategy when combine with KM strategy would result into exploitation of Knowledge assets which would result into CoE's and CoP's. CoEs are virtual communities, volunteer to share their knowledge and skills with fellow colleagues across the company globally. CoEs provide their “expert opinion” to those executives who face the customers while Communities of Practice (CoPs) are groups of people who share something they know and interact on a regular basis to learn how to do it better.
In 1992, Infosys launched the “Excellence Initiative” to ensure organizational Process adhered to highest quality standards. The excellence statement declared:
“A commitment to strive relentlessly, to constantly improve ourselves, our services and products so as to become the best”.
Therefore, there is a relationship between the business strategy and the knowledge strategy. They may be specific to particular business unit or to whole of organization. It should be noticed that for successful KM initiatives business strategy should be in relation with knowledge strategy.
KM initiatives can be driven by Top down or bottom up approaches in an organization. It was found out that KM system used in 1 out of 11 companies was not driven through top management. CKO ensures that Knowledge Management should be implemented company wide and lead the Knowledge Management effort. But there is only 1 company which follow bottom up approach. For example, in Oracle, it is driven by the KM communities rather than a large, global KM organization. Each KM community has a small ‘KM Team' which consists of full-time KM professionals who define the scope, strategy and tactics for the divisional KM programme, coordinate KM projects/activities, and ensure the representation of all business units within the community .There are no KM job in the organization. Infact each department has to play the KM roles but since 9 companies support the fact that Top management is aware of the KM and actively promotes it. Therefore it shows that it is necessary that KM should be supported by top management.
6. Findings & Conclusion
The following points draw upon this survey's findings and indicate where developments are likely to lead:
• Knowledge management is here to stay - only 2% considered it to be a fad and 10% said it was transforming their organisations;
• More organisations will allocate responsibility and a budget for knowledge management;
• Bottom-up enthusiasm will be consolidated in top-down company-wide strategies;
• For the impetus to be sustained and the grass roots momentum captured, knowledge management will have to be a board level issue;
• The existing IT infrastructure will be built on and exploited to produce further benefits in the area of knowledge management;
• Early adopters of knowledge management will steal a march on competitors which the latter may find difficult to close;
For all this, the fact remains that basic problems experienced in the past can be overcome by effective implementation of knowledge management. We believe that knowledge and its management should be at the heart of business strategy. It will, undoubtedly, become a key resource of the future.
The findings also strongly suggest a relationship between KM and the business performance of the organizations. The finding suggests a fit between business strategy, KM strategy and Knowledge strategy. An organization which focuses on efficiency, generally rely on codification and exploration. While conversely organization which focuses on innovation generally relies on personalization and exploitation. It was also found out that some companies use both the strategies i.e. exploitation and exploration, codification and personalization in order to achieve competitive advantage.
It was also found out that companies uses KM as a tool for sustaining and improving their business performance. Thus for any of the KM programme to be successful it must be aligned with the organization's vision, goals, mission and with the corporate strategy. It should add value to company's operations or business unit's operations. For example “Innovation is Wipro - Wipro is Innovation” is statement of purpose for Wipro.
The findings also suggest that for successful KM initiative it should be initiated by the Top Management. Top Management support and role is very important in the successful implementation of KM programmes. It was also found out that implementation strategies revolves around the three basic pillars of Knowledge i.e. people, process and technology. It was also noted that 7 companies have implemented KM, specific to their business units, therefore they do not have any defined model for KM.
One of the main limitations of the research was the awareness level of the employees about the knowledge management.
Most of the employees as well as C.E.Os felt knowledge management as a technology rather than a concept. Some of the employees interviewed were unaware of the KM initiatives of a particular company. Ironically the very same company was awarded the best award for its KM initiatives. Thus employee's unawareness was a common problem.
.8. Future research
a) Knowledge Management as a benchmark and as a quality tool?
b) Why Knowledge Management system fails?
c) Using Knowledge Management as a tool for innovation.
d) Importance of Knowledge Management in health care industry.
Professor Emeritus The nonsense of 'knowledge management', Information Research, Vol. 8 No. 1, October 2002
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Alavi, M. and Leidner, D. (1999) Knowledge Management Systems: Issues, Challenges, and Benefits, Communications of the AIS, Vol. 1.
Arthur Andersen. (1996). Knowledge sharing in international businesses, Andersen Worldwide
Garvin, D. A. (1993). Building a learning organization, Harvard Business Review, Vol.71
Jay, L. (Ed).(1999). Knowledge management handbook., CRC Press LLC.
Name of the Respondent _____________________________________
Name of Company___________________________________________
Industry in which your company is working (Please in the relevant box)
Utilities & Telecom
Annual Turnover of the company: Rs.____________________
No. of employees of the company (Please tick the relevant box/es)
More than 2000
What do you know about Knowledge Management? (Please tick the relevant box/es)
It could help my company organize information sources better
It is transforming the way my organisation does business
Something we do but we don't have a fancy name for
Never heard of knowledge management
Just a management fad which will be forgotten
Is there any kind of Knowledge Management system in place in your company? (Please tick the relevant box/es)
Not currently in place
Currently in place
What is the effect of a key employee leaving your organization?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
i) Lost knowledge of best practice in specific area
ii) Damaged relationship with key client/supplier
iii) Lost information vital to the running of the business
iv) Lost significant income
What is the type of knowledge important for the company?
(Rank each from 1-7 in the boxes)
Company's own markets
Company's own products & services
Methods & processes
What are the methods employed by your company for storing important knowledge?
(Put responses from the following choices against each:
b. Electronic not everyone
d. Electronic everyone
e. Don't know
Not stated )
ii) Company's own markets
iii) Company's own products & services
v) Employee skills
vi) Regulatory environments
vii) Methods & processes
What according to you are the most important issues driving the need for knowledge management?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
i) Improving profits
ii) Defending share against competitors
iii) Cost Reduction
iv) Growing revenue
v) Developing new products/services
vi) Regulatory/legislative changes
vii) Defending share against entrants
viii) Assess value of merger/acquistion
ix) Making globalisation decisions
What are the key types of technologies used in your organization?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
iii) Document management systems
v) Data warehousing/mining
vi) Decision support
Which of the following types of technologies, if in place are implemented for “Knowledge Management” in your organization?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
iii) Document management systems
v) Data warehousing/mining
vi) Decision support
What are the reasons that prompted your organization for setting up a knowledge management initiative?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
i) Better decision-making
ii) Faster response time to key issues
iii) Increasing profit
iv) Improving productivity
v) Creating new/additional
vi) Business opportunities
vii) Reducing costs
viii) Sharing best practice
ix) Increasing market share
x) Increased share price
xi) Better staff attraction/retention
What are the benefits your organization gained by setting up a knowledge management initiative?
(Please tick the relevant box/es)
i) Better decision-making
ii) Faster response time to key issues
iii) Increasing profit
iv) Improving productivity
v) Creating new/additional
vi) Business opportunities
vii) Reducing costs
viii) Sharing best practice
ix) Increasing market share
x) Increased share price
xi) Better staff attraction/retention