Knowledge Management

Introduction

The information revolution has brought a significant change in the way knowledge is managed. Companies are increasing looking inwards for competitive advantages. Companies realized the need for awareness and sharing ideas and innovation is the key for success. This can be achieved by managing the knowledge, existing within the company. In modern economic activities knowledge is the major factor in producing value added economic activities.

In the knowledge economy, the physical assets of production, distribution and consumption are replaced by knowledge and information. The key to growth in the emerging environment is in innovation which is an outcome of development of knowledge. Organizations understood that they need to do a better job of capturing, distributing, sharing, preserving, securing, and valuing their precious knowledge in order to stay ahead of their competition (Liebowitz & Beckman, 1998). The ability of companies to exploit their intangible assets has become far more decisive than their ability to invest and manage their physical assets (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Enterprises can increase their chances of success by improving competitiveness and adaptability; this can be achieved only by effectively managing its knowledge assets. Today managing knowledge is on the top of the strategic agendas of almost all the companies. All the industries across all sectors realized the crucial role knowledge management plays in their success. Almost all the big and small companies have knowledge management programs in one capacity or other.

KM has enormously benefitted from the huge investment in information technology (IT) in the recent years. IT for knowledge management has become affordable for most organizations. Search engines have enhanced their capabilities and do a much better job than the library system. Library system provides the information in a coded way but search engines provide information in a user perspective. Rise of knowledge management tools which manage portals and documents have led to branding the organizations by using IT tools like Documentum, IBM File Net, Vignette and open source Alfresco.

Information systems that enable KM are complex systems require sufficient planning, energy and finances to implement and sustain. IT's help to build knowledge management into work processes – from project management to product development to selling. The main IT initiatives in KM are driven by the importance of making people connect to each other; it is signified by the increase in usage of social sites like Orkut, Facebook and Twitter.

Key Problem

Globalization, liberalization and technological development have also changed business environment in India. Indian business organizations realized the need for new competitive advantages in the new knowledge economy. Knowledge management is a necessity that can make all the difference between survival and an early demise. The increased usage of IT in day to day operations has made organizations to take the initiative of having a knowledge management program. If one studies the literature available literature and models available in KM domain, we inescapably arrive at the conclusion that they are all heavily relied on experiences and developments in the developed western world.

Indian societies are radically different and the KM models and frameworks from western countries cannot be adopted as they are and demand further research. Currently the available frameworks are based on the research and implementation done in the organizations of western countries. KM frameworks, that are designed from the experience and the interpretation of cases from Western developed countries, need to be tested in Indian context for their suitability. There is an urgent need for exhaustive KM research of Indian organizations to develop such a framework.

Currently there is not a framework or architecture to support knowledge management in Indian organization. In order to realize the benefits of this relatively new “competency” or “discipline”, a framework is needed. This literature review is an attempt in that direction. It is not that there is no work done by Indians on the knowledge management approach. But the work is limited to articles in journals and there is no systematic way of research being done into this area. This literature review studies the available frameworks and their suitability for Indian scenario. This review can also be used to extend research and produce a new framework for Indian organizations.

KM Implementation Frameworks

Like knowledge, knowledge management is also lofty concept – debated by academics and managers over a decade. The following definitions of knowledge management illustrate the varying views of many researchers and practitioners. Knowledge Management is processes of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge (Davenport, 1994). KM is the capability of a company to create new knowledge, disseminate it throughout the organisation and embody it in products, services and systems (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1994) . Knowledge Management is systematic approach to find, understand and use knowledge to create value (O'Dell, 1996). Knowledge management is the process of increasing the efficiency of knowledge markets by generating, codifying, coordinating, and transferring knowledge (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Different view can be that knowledge management is the systematic, explicit and deliberate creation, reuse, and application of the existing knowledge to enhance the organization's knowledge related effectiveness. From all the definitions mentioned above, it can be inferred that knowledge management is a systematic management of organizational knowledge which involves the taking steps that uses the existing knowledge for creating a competitive advantage for organizations.

Knowledge Spiral Model Nonaka & Taukeuchi (1994)

Without understanding the knowledge cycle it is difficult to design models. Nonaka & Takeuchi (1994) model the process of "organisational knowledge creation" as a spiral in which knowledge is "amplified" through these four modes of knowledge conversion. \the knowledge is first crystallized It is also considered that the knowledge becomes "crystallised" within the organisation at higher levels moving from the individual through the group to organisational and even inter-organisational levelsIt is essential that we understand the knowledge cycle to understand the knowledge management.

Knowledge Management Process Framework Bukowitz and Williams (1999)

A model that considers the short term as well as long term perspectives of the knowledge managementis presented by Bukowitz and Williams (1999), which is depicted in figure 2. They divided the knowledge managemet provcess into tactical and strategic ones. Tactical part of the model is concerned with collecting and disbursing the information required for facilitating day to day work. The tactical part also helps in creating value through collaboration and learning from the KM systems. The strategic part of the model deals with identifying the knowledge that can be used to be a part of the corporate strategy. The information, people are increasingly using digital photography, is missed by Kodak. Kodak entered late into digital photography and lost its position to competitors like Canon and Sony.

10 Step KM Roadmap Tiwana (2000)

Tiwana (2000) suggests a 10-step knowledge management road map for KM implementation. These steps and their sequence are described in Figure 3. All ten steps can be explained in the four phases of the road map. These comprise: Phase -I. Infrastructural evaluation , Phase – II KM system analysis, design, and development, Phase – III System deployment , Phase – IV Evaluation.

The 10-step road map develop by Tiwana (2002) can help organisation to create a link between business strategy and knowledge management. It can help organisation to design, develop, and deploy a knowledge management system that delivers actual business results. It is a road map that will help organisation to implement a knowledge management strategy and a knowledge management system

Technology in Knowledge Management:
Some Key Technologies

The impact of technology varies from time to time. Several knowledge management technologies are available which perform the basic function of a search to intelligent systems. The main technologies starting from old to new are described below.

Intranet, Internet

Internet is everywhere and it made us the possibility of getting information anytime, anywhere and anytime. The internet browsing tools like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome help to manage and view different types of content. They act is first level of information search and view agents. They support multiple formats of files. They also serve as tools for many document management and decision support systems. The impact created by the tools like email and discussion group cannot ignored.

Now a days all the companies have their own intranet sites that allow interaction among its employees. Employees can share their best practices with other employees to enhance overall knowledge base of the organization. Some provide the services by following a subscription model where only the subscribed people can view the content.

Groupware

Groupware are defunct products that served like information sharing tools before the new generation of tools like web 2.0 and other come into picture. Groupware served the same purpose as a knowledge management tool, but the breadth and reach was limited. The scope was limited to sharing emails and archiving and retrieval of organizational information. Some groupware like Lotus notes added additional functionalities like database but could not do beyond that.

Intelligent Agents

The problems faced by yester year professionals was lack of information for decision making but today's professional face an entirely opposite problem, the problem is that of information over load. Today's internet has more than 25 billion pages and every day more than 7 million pages and 0.1 \Tera bites of information is added. This makes it impossible to find the relevant information. Intelligent agents help in identifying the right information in a reasonable amount of time. Search engines perform the task on the internet but companies have buit in proprietary intelligent agents for their information. These agents are not without their limitations, they are as intelligent as the person who designs it.

A new technology is being developed by British Telecom that can summarize large documents retaining over 90% of the relevant information with less than a quarter of original text.

Mapping Tools

Mapping tools are another way of communication the ideas among the teams. The tools are XMIND, COPE, Mind Manager and IDONS they help people to develop cognitive maps. They are used by companies like HP, WebEx, Aon Aisa and RadioShack. These help companies in developing scenarios for product development, resolve conflicts relating to requirements.

Document Management

There has an massive increase in the amount of unstructured data handled by companies. The structured data was easily manageable, but there was a need for separate tools for managing the unstructured data. Allowing people to work on the same file and managing the latest versions without losing the content updated by each other is the main task of the document management softwares.

The latest document management tools comes with a very powerful functionalities. Some of the functions being version controlling, running the business rules on the files, and integration with popular word processors like MS Word.

Wikis, Blogs and Collaborative

Now a days most of the knowledge is in unstructured format. Knowledge is spread across multiple formats of files and in multiple ways.

Companies have found that informal knowledge sharing is more productive than formal and structured knowledge sharing. Companies encourage wikis and blogs in their intranets for collaborative purposes.

IT tools like Microsoft Share Point are used to achieve the objective of collaboration.

Conclusion

The models so far discussed are all western in nature. India needs a slightly different picture. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. India currently caters to 40 % of the world IT and ITES are offered from India.

Almost all the global companies have presence in India. There is an enormous amount of knowledge inflow from all over the world to India. Indian has emerged a centre for world wide software development. Indian companies develop systems that support the activities of many organizations in the world.

All the frameworks discussed focus mainly on creating and using the knowledge in such a way knowledge is created, shared and transferred across the organization at individual, department and at whole organizational level. These frameworks do not take in to account importance of human aspects in knowledge management as well as the latest updates in technologies.

Based on literature review, a new framework needs to be developed. A new framework should give proper emphasis on providing training to the employees, providing incentives and rewards to share their tacit knowledge and importance of information technology. The major constituents and the missing links of the framework can be.

Organizational :

Technology: It is impossible to conceive knowledge management without an appropriate IT tool . Companies need information systems that help them in managing the existing knowledge and in creation of new knowledge from the collective knowledge. The ability to create knowledge about the future and learning to implement it quickly in the form of a technology is the core organisational competencies (Newman, 1997). Information systems are need to manage the knowledge systematically with proper rights in place. Many researchers and authors insisted that organizations need to have a effective information system infrastructure for successful implementation of knowledge management processes.

Culture: It I essential that a KM system should be backed by the appropriate organizational culture for its success. The organization culture should support, motivate and encourage the use of KM systems. The culture should also that help the individuals as well as groups to excel by using the KM systems. The order and structure for knowledge management activities is provided by the organizational culture. Koudsi, 2000 says that the biggest obstacle faced by companies is not a technical obstacle but a cultural obstacle.

Training: Training individuals and groups regarding contemporary knowledge management methodologies will enhance knowledge management program efficiency and effectiveness. Training will make organization a learning organization. There are number of studies that emphasize the need for training to employee before implementing and new system. The consumers are very demanding and they want superior quality goods and services at lowest possible cost. In order to meet these stringent demands organizations need to improve the performance of all the employees in all aspects.

System: Systems are the heart and soul of any organization. Companies need to study their formal and informal procedures that allow their smooth functioning. Systems and process are the things that create and use knowledge. Successful implementation of knowledge management may not be achievable if organisations cannot shift from systems that hold accountable for processes to systems that hold people accountable for results. One of the most important jobs for knowledge management success depends on elimination of organisational system constraints. Organizational system constraints lead to inefficiency, ineffectiveness.

Leadership: Leadership plays a crucial role in a successful implementation of knowledge management systems. It is the top management that should take a proactive lead in implementing the systems. Top management is also responsible studying the effectiveness of the implemented system. Management also needs to provide inputs to the KM system, so that it is aligned with the strategic goals conceived by them. Jager 1999 argues that it is leadership that defines the goals of the organization and leaders should ensure that KM assets are properly utilized to realize their goals.

Organizational knowledge management is influenced by Strategy, Structure, System, Culture and Leadership.

Personal :

Factors, which influence specifically individual knowledge management, are individual's personality and attitude. Individual's personality and attitude will determine his or her knowledge management requirement. Personal knowledge management strategies should keep in to consideration individual's personality and attitude. Tools and technology, which are used in personal knowledge management system, has to considered individual's personality and attitude. Organisations need to manage both organisational knowledge and individual knowledge for successful knowledge management implementation. For this, organisations need to focus on all the above mentioned aspects.Any knowledge management program has to deal with technology and behavioral issues

Any knowledge management program has to deal with technology and behavioral issues.

Further research is required to develop a model that uses latest technology as well as considers human aspects in Indian context.

References:

• Carneiro, A.(2001). The role of intelligent resources in knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 5(4), pp. 358 – 367.

• Davenport, T.H. and Prusak, L. (1998), Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

• Diedrich, A. and Targama, A (2000). Towards a Generic Theory of Knowledge and its Implications for Knowledge Management. Presented at the 7th Workshop on Managerial and Organisational Cognition ESADE, Barcelona.

• Goh, S. (1998). Toward a learning organisation: The strategic building blocks. Advanced Management Journal, 63(2), pp. 15 – 18.

• Hedlund, G. and Nonaka, I. (1993). Models of Knowledge Management in the West and Japan. In Lorange et al. (Eds.), Implementing Strategic Process: Change, Learning and Cooperation. Blackwell, Oxford.

• Holsapple, C. and Whinston A. (1988). The information Jungle: A Quasi-Novel Approach to Managing Corporate Knowledge. Dow Jones-Irwin, Homewood, IL.

• Lai H. and Chu T. H (2000). Knowledge management: A review of theoretical frameworks and industrial cases. In R. H. Sprague, Jr., editor, Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, HICSS-33, pages 925–934, Los Alamitos, CA, USA.

• Laudon K. C and Laudon J. P(2002) , Management Information Systems, 7th Edition, New Delhi, Prentice-Hall India,

• Newman, V. (1997). Redefining knowledge management to deliver competitive advantage. Journal of Knowledge Management, 1(2), pp. 123 – 128.

• Rubenstein-Montano, B., Liebowitz, J., Buchwalter, J., McCaw, D., Newman, B.,Rebeck, K., (2001). A Systems Thinking Framework for Knowledge Management. Decision Support Systems, 31(1), pp5-16

• Sena, J.A., & Shani, A.B. (1999). Intellectual capital and knowledge creation: Towards an alternative framework. Knowledge Management Handbook, Liebowitz, J., ed., Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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