Knowledge Management (KM) refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge. KM focuses on processes such as acquiring, creating and sharing knowledge and the cultural and technical foundations that support them.

KM is a framework for designing an organization’s strategy, structures, and processes so that the organization can use what it knows to learn and to create economic and social value for its customers and community.

Learn about: 1. What is Knowledge Management 2. Definition of Knowledge Management 3. Characteristics 4. Need and Value 5. Elements 6. Process and Steps 7. Stages 8. Concept Analysis Approach

9. Layers 10. Characteristics of Knowledge Based Organization 11. Knowledge Generation 12. Requirements for Successful Management of Knowledge 13. External Factors and Internal Factors 14. Tools Used


15. Km Cycle 16. Role of Information Technology 17. Examples of Processing Knowledge 18. Strategies 19. Motivations that Lead Organisations to Undertake KM 20. Challenges 21. Benefits 22. Obstacles 23. Technologies 24. Knowledge Management in Indian Companies.

Knowledge Management: What is, Definition, Process, Tools, Importance, Concept, Strategies, Benefits, Challenges and More…

What is Knowledge Management ?

Knowledge refers to the fluid mix of contextual information, experience, values and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. Knowledge originates and resides in the minds of people. Thus, knowledge is information combined with context, experience, interpretation and reflection.

Knowledge can be of different kinds-tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is highly invisible and confined in the mind of a person. It is hard to formulate and, therefore, difficult to communicate to others. Tacit knowledge is essentially personal in nature. It is difficult to explain with the help of language.

Individual skills intuition, Intelligence and knowledge constitute tacit knowledge. On the other hand, explicit knowledge is visible information available in the form literature, reports, etc. It can be embedded in objects, rules, systems, etc. It can be communicated through language and other forms of communication.


Knowledge Management (KM) may be defined as the process of generating, accumulating, sharing and using knowledge to create and restore value in organizations. Knowledge management is also a process of creating an interactive learning environment where people transfer and share what they know, internalize it and apply it to create new knowledge. The essence of knowledge management is to leverage and reuse the learning’s that already exist in the organization so that people will seek out and apply best practices rather than reinvent the wheel.

Knowledge management may be defined as the process of creating new skills, capabilities, competence and expertise, developing and improving the existing ones, and sharing use of knowledge by the members of an organisation. As a continuous process knowledge management involves creativity, innovation and learning.

These activities lead to creation of new knowledge and improvement of existing knowledge management process consists of three sub-processes:

(i) Organisational Learning – This is the process through which the organisation acquires information.


(ii) Knowledge Production – This involves transforming information into knowledge.

(iii) Knowledge Distribution – Members of the organisation access and use the collective knowledge to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Knowledge management should not be confused with information technology which only provides as infrastructure for free play and development of human creativity and innovation without which knowledge cannot be created and applied.

Thus, knowledge management is a process that continuously and systematically transfers knowledge from individuals and teams who generate them to the brain of the organization for the benefit of the organization as a whole.

Knowledge Management – Definition and Concept

Knowledge Management is one of the hottest topics today in both the industry world and information research world. In our daily life, we deal with huge amount of data and information. Data and information is not knowledge until we know how to dig the value out of it. This is the reason we need knowledge management. Unfortunately, there’s no universal definition of knowledge management, just as there’s no agreement as to what constitutes knowledge in the first place. We chose the following definition for knowledge management for its simplicity and broad context.


Simple Definition:

Knowledge Management (KM) refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge. KM focuses on processes such as acquiring, creating and sharing knowledge and the cultural and technical foundations that support them.

KM is a framework for designing an organization’s strategy, structures, and processes so that the organization can use what it knows to learn and to create economic and social value for its customers and community.


Management experts have defined the concept of knowledge management as follows:

“Knowledge management is about obsolete what you know before others obsolete it profit by creating the challenges and opportunities others have not even thought about.” – More.

Knowledge management caters to the critical issues of organisational adaptation, survival and excellence in competitive environment Essentially it embodies organisational process to seek synergistic effect by combining information, technology, creative and innovative capacity of human beings. Goal of knowledge management is to sustain individual and business performance through learning and adaptation process, Knowledge management is too help not only to survive but also to thrive.

“Knowledge management is an emerging set of processes, organisational structures, applications and technologies that air to leverage the ability of capable, responsible and autonomous individuals to act quickly and effectively.” – Gartner


Knowledge Management may be viewed in terms of:

1. People – How do you increase the ability of an individual in the organisation to influence others with their knowledge.

2. Processes – Its approach varies from organization to organization. There is no limit on the number of processes.

3. Technology – It needs to be chosen only after all the requirements of a knowledge management initiative have been established.



1. Culture -The biggest enabler of successful knowledge-driven organizations is the establishment of a knowledge-focused culture.

2. Structure – The business processes and organisational structures that facilitate knowledge sharing.

3. Technology – A crucial enabler rather than the solution.

Knowledge Management can be defined as the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge—and its associated processes of creation, organisation, diffusion, use and exploitation—in pursuit of business objectives. It is the process through which organisations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. It comprises of a range of strategies and practices used in an organisation to identify, create, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences.

Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practice. People with the highest knowledge have the potential for high levels of value creation. But this knowledge can only create value if it is placed in the hands of those who must execute on it. Knowledge is usually difficult to access, it leaves when the knowledge professional resigns.


Knowledge can be categorised into two types:

i. Tacit knowledge – This is the knowledge that is inside people’s brains and not organised. It is intuitive, experimental and judgemental in nature, it is difficult to articulate.

ii. Explicit knowledge – This knowledge is properly organised and is codified. It is in form of documents, procedures and databases.

An efficient knowledge management system identifies and transfers both these types of knowledge. Many programmes focus on sharing of existing knowledge in a better way, but it has been proven that creation and conversion of new knowledge through innovative ideation processes contributes more towards the long term objectives.

Top 5 Characteristics of Knowledge Management

Characteristics of Knowledge Management:

1. Knowledge Management is Related to People- Knowledge management is a people based concept. It is what people know and how they can support organisational objectives with their knowledge that forms the base of this idea. Human competency, idea and motivations are the key driving forces. Even though technology supports knowledge management, it is not a technology based concept.


2. Dynamic Nature of Knowledge Management- Knowledge is never static, it is ever changing. It is a continuing and on-going process. Knowledge is constantly updated, revised and sometimes even becomes obsolete. For e.g. Pluto, which was once supposed to be a planet in the solar system is no longer considered a ‘planet’. This fact has become obsolete.

3. Goal Directed Concept- Knowledge management is not concerned with knowledge for knowledge sake, but for its utility in achievement of organisational goals. Only the information that is meaningful and can be used for the enterprise’s objectives is considered by the managers.

4. Knowledge Management is Value Added- Organisations can encourage two way exchanges of ideas by contacting experts from various fields to educate managers about recent trends. It adds value to the enterprise by making use of pooled expertise, experiences and wisdom accumulated by individuals over the years.

5. Complements Other Learning Initiatives- Knowledge management can be integrated with other organisational learning initiatives like Total Quality Management (TQM). The progress of the learning team should be measured both in short term and long term. The achievement of the short term goals should be in conformance with long term objectives.

Importance of Knowledge Management (Need and Value)

In past, land, labour and capital were considered main resources of the production. But with the changing environment it is not working out today. To create value and improve the effectiveness of the people, systems and organisation the need for knowledge and knowledge management is felt strongly. Knowledge is considered as a value creator and knowledge management is a competitive tool. Knowledge management has become the latest tool in the management circle.

In today’s competitive scenario, an organization needs knowledge to establish its own personality, which is known as brand. An organization requires skilled workforce specializing in their areas of interest to build the organizational brand. In addition, it needs to focus on acquiring and utilizing knowledge to build its brand.


If the employees of an organization possess better and higher order of knowledge, it would be easier for them to solve problems related to their work. Therefore, it can be said that knowledge provides the solutions to complex problems and converts a simple organization into a learning organization. The term learning organization refers to the organization that uses knowledge as a tool for innovation and change.

However, knowledge in itself is incomplete when it is not put to any productive use. Knowledge becomes complete when it is utilized to understand practical situations and solve real-life problems. In addition, knowledge is not just received, it can also be created. The creation of knowledge is termed as innovation that further depends on a person’s ability to perceive the given information.

Value of Knowledge Management:

The growing importance of organizational knowledge, in today’s time, is a known fact. Organizations are sensing the need to increase the available knowledge exponentially. They are concerned over how to deal with the exponential increases in the amount of available knowledge accompanied with the recognition of the growing importance of organizational knowledge. Knowledge is essential for the increasingly complex products and processes.

Some of the tasks related to knowledge management are the following:

1. Mobilize the hidden knowledge.


2. Trace, transfer, and integrate internal and external knowledge.

3. Develop new knowledge and make it available.

4. Establish the culture of experimenting and learning in the organization.

5. Reflect and evaluate knowledge processes.

Knowledge management manifests its importance for certain reasons:

1. The world is changing at a faster rate.


2. Markets are increasingly competitive and the rate of innovation is rising.

3. There is diminution and depletion in manpower.

4. Reductions in staffing create a need to replace informal knowledge with formal methods.

5. Competitive pressures reduce the size of the work force that holds valuable business knowledge.

6. The amount of time available for experiencing and acquiring knowledge has diminished.

7. Early retirements and increasing mobility of the work force lead to loss of knowledge.

8. There is a need to manage increasing complexity, as small operating companies are trans-national sourcing operations.

9. Changes in strategic direction may result in the loss of knowledge in a specific.

Knowledge management, in simple terms, refers to transferring knowledge of every employee to a pool from which the entire organization will be benefited. If this is done in the new knowledge economy, the organization will win. Knowledge management provides the answer to the question, ‘how can the organization update and use its knowledge more effectively?’

Knowledge management is nothing new, but needs application to key areas of focus in organizations. Many organizations intend and endeavour to make knowledge management a participative, enjoyable, and integral part of their culture. These organizations believe in deriving strategic advantage in the ‘but­terfly effect’.

This effect emphasizes that organizational knowledge and innovation on one side helps to attract good customers, provides challenging projects, provides learning opportunities, and promotes innovation. On the other side, the intelligent workforce attracts corporate image, which, in turn, helps building the organizational knowledge.

Knowledge management is the answer to all organizational problems. It can cure all organizational ailments such as manpower attrition, cultural contrast, failing to achieve organizational objectives, lack of growth, and innovation stagnation. Knowledge managers were earlier trying and testing only one measurement system.

However, now they are utilizing a whole range, combining different measures, and developing newer and better methods for measuring intangible assets. Periodic review enables the knowledge managers to analyse the successes and failures of knowledge management implementation within the organization.

3 Basic Elements of Knowledge Management – Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Utilization

Knowledge management is creation, sharing, and use of knowledge organization-wide. Thus, in knowledge management, there are three basic elements- knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, and knowledge utilization. Let us discuss these elements.

1. Knowledge Creation:

Knowledge creation involves generating facts, information, and techniques that are relevant to an organization and those associated with it. Knowledge creation uncovers new knowledge through several avenues — research and development, experimentation, creative thinking and automated knowledge discovery, benchmarking best- in-class practices, process improvement projects, feedback from customers, observing customers, and so on.

A basic feature of knowledge creation is that it is a never-ending process; it keeps on accumulating (but discarding the obsolete one), changing, and regenerating to suit the times.

2. Knowledge Sharing:

Knowledge sharing involves communication and distribution of knowledge organization-wide. When a new knowledge is created in the organization, it is stored in organization’s database for its wider dissemination.

3. Knowledge Utilization:

The third element in knowledge management is knowledge utilization that is, using knowledge to solve problem for which it has been acquired. Unlike other resources that deplete when used, knowledge can be shared and used and grows through this process. “Knowledge perishes when it is not used; it increases when it is used; knowledge is essentially ‘self-regenerative’ and ‘feeds on itself.

Knowledge Management Process and Steps – Identification, Knowledge Generation, Storage, Utilisation and Sharing 

Knowledge management process consists of the following steps:

Step # 1. Identification:

The first stage involves identifying the nature, kinds and more of knowledge required for the effective functioning of the organisation. Such identification can be done by listing the knowledge assets of the organisation. Knowledge assets generally include knowledge about the markets, products, processes and technologies of the company.

It is also necessary for the organisation to understand the kind of knowledge (tacit or explicit) that it uses and how to manage the knowledge assets for best results. An organisation should also take into account its future needs for knowledge.

Step # 2. Knowledge Generation:

As an ongoing process, knowledge generation involves acquisition and synthesis of knowledge. Acquisition includes mapping and capturing knowledge. Mapping the existing and available knowledge in terms of its context, relevance and location is very helpful in knowledge generation. Preparation of knowledge maps, enables and employee to find out ‘who’ knows ‘what’. Synthesis of knowledge requires putting different kinds of knowledge together to evolve new patterns and approaches.

Step # 3. Knowledge Storage:

The generated and acquired knowledge needs to be preserved in properly indexed form. The knowledge topology relevant to the organisation is determined and interlinked knowledge repositories are created. Maintaining a knowledge base is essential for use in future.

A knowledge repository is an online computer-based storehouse of organised information, expertise, experience, knowledge and documents about a particular domain such as business intelligence, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and so on. It serves as a source of knowledge for problem-solving, decision making and performance improvement.

Step # 4. Knowledge Utilisation:

This phase involves transferring and sharing across the organisation the stored knowledge. Automatic access to knowledge and its distribution to the users on the basis of their needs facilitates utilisation of knowledge.

The sub-processes of knowledge generation, knowledge storage and knowledge utilisation are inter-linked. Once existing knowledge is stored, applied and shared, next phase of enhancing existing knowledge and acquiring new knowledge begins.

Step # 5. Sharing Knowledge:

Knowledge-sharing involves transfer and diffusion of best practiced. Tacit knowledge can, however, be shared only through interpersonal interactions.

Knowledge Management – Stages Involved

To maintain a valuable stock of knowledge (intellectual capacity) organizations depend on their capability to acquire, share and use knowledge. This process is known as organizational learning as companies must continuously learn about their various environments to survive and succeed.

1. Knowledge Acquisition:

It includes the process of extracting information and ideas from the external and internal sources. One of the fastest and most powerful ways of acquiring knowledge is hiring individuals or acquiring entire companies. Knowledge also enters through suppliers, dealers and clients. Companies acquire knowledge through research and creative processes.

2. Knowledge Sharing:

Many organizations effectively spread the knowledge acquired among the employees for better understanding and utility. It can be spread by creating digital repositories of knowledge. Knowledge can be shared by giving employees more opportunities for informal online or face-to-face communication.

3. Knowledge Use:

Acquiring and sharing knowledge are waste unless it is effectively put to use. Employees must realize that knowledge is available and that they have enough freedom to apply it. This requires a culture that supports experiential learning.

Beckmans has proposed an eight stage knowledge management process.

These stages include:

i. Identify stage – This stage includes identification of competencies necessary for organizational success.

ii. Collect stage – This stage includes acquiring existing knowledge, skills, experience etc. to possess the competencies.

iii. Select stage – This stage deals with the assessment of value of collected knowledge against the standard requirements for success.

iv. Store stage – This stage takes the nuggets of knowledge, classifies them and includes them in the organizational existing knowledge.

v. Share stage – This stage makes the new and existing organizational knowledge accessible for employees.

vi. Apply stage – This stage enables employees to apply knowledge in organizational activities/ operations, decision-making, problem-solving, exploiting opportunities etc.

vii. Customer acceptance – This stage involves obtaining customers’ acceptance/clients approval for the products/services produced/developed based on the knowledge.

viii. Create stage – This stage involves development of new knowledge through observation, feedback, brain storming, failures in the previous events etc.

Knowledge Management – Concept Analysis Approach

Concept analysis is an established technique used in the social sciences, such as philosophy and education, in order to derive a “formula” that in turn can be used to generate definitions and descriptive phrases for highly complex terms.

We still lack a consensus on knowledge management-related terms, even though these terms do appear to be complex enough to merit the concept analysis approach. Much of the reason of this lack of consensus lies in the fact that a word such as “knowledge” is necessarily subjective, not to mention value laden in interpretation.

The concept analysis approach rests on obtaining consensus on three major dimensions of a given concept:

1. A list of key attributes that must be present in the definition, vision, or mission statement.

2. A list of illustrative examples.

3. A list of illustrative non examples.

This approach is particularly useful in tackling multidisciplinary domains such as intellectual capital, for clear criteria can be developed to enable sorting into categories such as knowledge versus information, document management versus knowledge management, and tangible versus intangible assets.

In addition, valuable contributions to the organization’s intellectual capital are derived through production of ontologies (semantic maps of key concepts), identification of core competencies, and identification of knowledge, knowhow, and know-why at risk of being lost through human capital attrition.

Concept analysis can be used to visually map out conceptual information in the process of defining a word. This technique is derived from the fields of philosophy and science education and is typically used in clearly defining complex, value-laden terms such as democracy or religion. It is a graphical approach to help develop a rich, in-depth understanding of a concept.

Davenport and Prusak (1998) decry the inability to provide a definitive account of knowledge management since “epistemologists have spent their lives trying to understand what it means to know something.” Owing to this ongoing lack of clarity and lack of consensus on a definition, knowledge management presents itself as a good candidate for this approach. In visioning workshops, this is the first activity that participants are asked to undertake.

The objective is to agree upon a list of key attributes that are both necessary and sufficient in order for a definition of knowledge management to be acceptable. This task is completed by a list of examples and non-examples, with justifications as to why a particular item was included on the example or non-example list. Semantic mapping is the visual technique used to extend the definition by displaying words related to it.

Popular terms to distinguish clearly from knowledge management include document management, content management, portal, and knowledge repository. Together, the concept and semantic maps visually depict a model-based definition of knowledge management and its closely related terms.

In some cases, participants are given lists of definitions of knowledge management from a variety of sources so that they can “try out” their concept map of knowledge management by analyzing these existing definitions. Definitions are typically drawn both from the knowledge management literature and, internally, from their own organization.

The use of concept definition through concept and semantic mapping techniques can help participants rapidly reach a consensus on a “formulaic” definition of knowledge management—that is, one that focuses less on the actual text or words used and more on which key concepts need to be present, what comprises a necessary and sufficient (complete) set of concepts, and rules of thumb to use in discerning what constitutes an illustrative example of knowledge management.

Ruggles and Holtshouse (1999) identified the following key attributes of knowledge management:

1. Generating new knowledge.

2. Accessing valuable knowledge from outside sources.

3. Using accessible knowledge in decision making.

4. Embedding knowledge in processes, products, and/or services.

5. Representing knowledge in documents, databases, and software.

6. Facilitating knowledge growth through culture and incentives.

7. Transferring existing knowledge into other parts of the organization.

8. Measuring the value of knowledge assets and/or impact of knowledge management.

Some key knowledge management attributes that continue to recur include the following:

1. Both tacit and explicit knowledge forms are addressed; tacit knowledge is knowledge that often resides only within individuals; and knowledge that is difficult to articulate such as expertise, know-how, and tricks of the trade.

2. There is a notion of added value (the “so what?” of KM).

3. There is the notion of application or use of the knowledge that has been captured, codified, and disseminated (the impact of KM).

A “good enough” or satisficing definition of knowledge has been shown to be effective (i.e., settling for “good enough” as opposed to optimizing; when 80% is done because the incremental cost of completing the remaining 20% is disproportionately expensive and/or time-consuming in relation to the expected additional benefits). Norman noted that knowledge may reside in two places – in the heads of people and in the world. It is easy to show the faulty nature of human knowledge and memory.

For example, when typists were given caps for typewriter keys, they could not arrange them in proper configuration yet they all could type rapidly and accurately. Why the apparent discrepancy between the precision of behavior and the imprecision of knowledge? The answer is that not all of the knowledge required for precise behavior has to be in the head.

It can be distributed partly in the head, partly in the world, and partly in the constraints of the world. Precise behavior can emerge from imprecise knowledge. For this reason once a satisfactory working or operational definition of knowledge management has been formulated, then knowledge management strategy can be confidently tackled.

It is highly recommended that each organization undertake the concept analysis exercise to clarify its understanding of what KM means in its own organization’s context. The best way to do so would be to work as a group, enabling them to achieve a shared understanding at the same time that they develop a clearer conceptualization of the KM concept. Each participant can take a turn contributing one good example of what KM is and another example of what KM is not.

The entire group can then discuss this example- non-example pair in order to identify one (or several) key Knowledge Management attributes. Once the group members feel they have covered as much ground as they are likely to, the key attributes can be summarized in the form of a Knowledge Management concept “formula” such as – “In our organization, knowledge management must include the following – both tacit and explicit knowledge; a framework to measure the value of knowledge assets; a process for managing knowledge assets. . . .”

7 Layers in Knowledge Management – Customer knowledge, Knowledge in relationships, Knowledge in products and services, Knowledge in people and More…

There are seven layers in knowledge management:

1. Customer knowledge – Knowledge about the existing customers, the target market and the potential customers.

2. Knowledge in relationships – Forming deep and gainful knowledge about stakeholders in the company for successful collaborations.

3. Knowledge in products and services – Knowledge regarding how superior products and services can be designed for better customer satisfaction through customisation.

4. Knowledge in people – Dealing with human resources, nurturing and developing their brainpower.

5. Knowledge in processes – Applying the best techniques while performing essential tasks.

6. Organisational memory – Learning from the past experiences of the organisation and utilising it for the future.

7. Knowledge assets – Measuring and managing the knowledge resources, i.e. the intellectual capital.

Knowledge Management – 4 Main Characteristics of Knowledge Based Organization

The main characteristics of the knowledge based organization are:

Characteristic # 1. Process:

The process deals with the all activities that are directly or indirectly related to the manufacturing of a product. Since the knowledge based organization doesn’t deal with using machineries to product a product, the process refers to knowledge creation and sharing them among the knowledge workers. The goal of knowledge based organization is the effective application of existing knowledge.

The other goals are that the knowledge is shared from one part of the organization to the other part of the company. They also ensures that they learn from their past experiences and also to make knowledge workers to collaborative with each other thereby sharing and developing their knowledge which benefit them personally and organization.

Holcim’s one of the world largest company with respect to manufacturing cement which has presence more than 65 countries. They also have 100 cement manufacturing plants across the world. The management found that then knowledge management is the glue that binds the organization united. In 1996 the Holcim management and consulting which is now changed to Holcim group support decides to develop, identify and transfer and apply knowledge across the organization.

In cement manufacturing the energy cost is the most expensive cost while producing the cement, the management and the consulting firm helps the manufacturing plant to improve their efficiency by sharing knowledge about how to manufacture cement less expensive. Thereby it became the repository of knowledge and expertise and followed best practices in the knowledge management.

The management of the Holcim used knowledge management to solve their problems and now they are one of the leading innovative organizations in the world. The process in the knowledge based organization refers to the creation and sharing of the knowledge among the knowledge workers and other departments in the company.

Characteristic # 2. Place:

This characteristics of knowledge based organization deals with the knowledge boundaries. The sharing and creation of knowledge is not bound by the boundaries of the organization or the nation. In above case of Holcim it is understood that they share the knowledge form various manufacturing plants across the world. Hence it is evident that boundaries of knowledge based organization are not clearly limited by the physical boundary if the nation and they are dynamic and it has virtual boundary.

The people can gain knowledge form their customers, peers, vendors and their alliances. For example the employees of Buckman Labs spend more time with their customers than in the office.

At point the knowledge based organization stopped to worry about who works for whom. Rather they start to concentrate on who needs to work with whom. The P & G started a new supply chain management with the retail giant Walmart. This helps to share information between both the companies so that they understand the visions of other company. This has benefited mutually to both the companies.

The knowledge based organization knows that by not able to share the knowledge it will become a potential hinder in the growth of the organization.

Characteristic # 3. Purpose:

The purpose deals with the strategy of the organization. Even though the process is directly linked with knowledge based organization we can’t ensure that it will result in the success or perform better than the competitors.

The managing knowledge is far important than the managing the right knowledge. The strategy helps us to manage the right knowledge. This results your organization to be always a step ahead of your competitors. If your organization didn’t think of aligning their knowledge with strategy then it can be a dearth sentence of your organization. The organization must think the ways for competing and surviving over the long term in terms of knowledge as a key strategic resource.

The following questions must be asked before the integrating the knowledge along with the strategy:

i. What do we need to know to formulate and to execute our desired strategy?

ii. What do we currently know?

iii. What strategies can we successfully execute given what we do know?

iv. What do our competitors know?

If an organization carries out knowledge SWOT analysis there will be two gaps namely internal knowledge gap and external knowledge gap. The gap between what an organization knows and needs is called as an internal knowledge gap. Is gap represents the strength and weakness of an organization.

The gap between what it knows and what its competitors know is called as an external knowledge gap. This gap represents the opportunities and the threats for an organization. They must focus on the ways to eliminate the gap by making organization as a learning organization thereby making it far more effective than their competitors.

Characteristic # 4. Perspective:

The character deals with the knowledge point of view i.e., examining the organization’s fundamental point of view regarding knowledge. If an organization utilizes the knowledge in every aspect of its operation then it is known as true knowledge based operation.

It evaluates the strategy of the company on the basis of knowledge and every activity as a potentially knowledge and learning from every situation is one of the primary characteristics of a knowledge based organization. The other characters for evaluating are how the company organizes who it hires, how customers are related, what it makes and nature of the competitors.

The companies like Buckman labs who produce chemical microbicides realized that their products were becoming commodities in the minds of customers. In order to survive in the long run they realized they need to deliver knowledge based services.

Therefore they implemented process, strategy and training that supports and solves customer’s problems. The Buckman company direct all its strategy to learn about the customers about their operations, the economies of their business. They made this by possible by training the employees and having alliance with different companies.

For example the Buckman Company rewarded their sales men based upon number of chemical products they sold but now they were rewarded based how much they have minimized the utilization of chemicals.

Many of the knowledge based organization made a significant transition in perspective by redefining their mission from more traditional products and services to products and services based on knowledge.

The international institute for sustainable development in the year 1997 suggested that the knowledge management comprises of 5 activities namely:

i. Knowledge creation,

ii. Knowledge acquisition,

iii. Knowledge assimilation,

iv. Knowledge use,

v. Knowledge dissemination.

The knowledge creation is very important for any knowledge based organization. The knowledge acquisition means acquiring the knowledge from various resources like research articles, from competitors and from knowledge workers. The knowledge assimilation means the information or the techniques which we learn them or adapt ourselves according to them.

This is not easy as the traditional workers resist from adapting the management from new technology. Once the knowledge has been learned by the knowledge workers the knowledge is utilized in the every operations related to the product manufacturing or the services. The knowledge dissemination means the sharing the knowledge among the knowledge workers across the departments. By sharing the knowledge with others the products or services can be produced effectively.

The knowledge based organization lives and breathes knowledge. From day-to-day operations to long-term strategy, Creating and applying knowledge is always in the forefront for the organization can be Knowledge-based and ensuring the application of knowledge it in all operations.

Knowledge Management – Knowledge Generation: Meaning, Process and Modes

Knowledge generation is, in fact, a part of knowledge management, considered in a broad perspective.

Knowledge generation is a pre-requisite for widening and deepening the knowledge horizon. There cannot be sustainable knowledge expansion without more or less constant generation of new knowledge.

Meaning of Knowledge Generation:

Knowledge generation is the process of obtaining the required knowledge by an individual/ organisation or community. Knowledge may be acquired/sourced externally or created internally. Knowledge generation process also encompasses establishing facilities/systems for accessing knowledge, like that for accessing internet, EBSCO, etc.

Process of Knowledge Generation:

According to Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, knowledge creation is a spiraling process of interactions between explicit and tacit knowledge. The interactions between the explicit and tacit knowledge lead to the creation of new knowledge.

Nonaka and Takeuchi developed the model of the various ways in which organisations create knowledge. Organisational knowledge creation is seen as a capability of the organisation. They postulate that the organisation creates new knowledge through interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge, and through the dynamic conversion of knowledge between these two dimensions.

Through this ‘social conversion’ process, tacit and explicit knowledge expands in terms of both quality and quantity. Knowledge is transferred from individuals to the larger group in a spiralling process. This follows from the proposition that although tacit knowledge is initially locked up in the heads of the individuals, shared experiences allows individuals to project themselves into each other’s thinking processes.

This ‘SECI’ (socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation) perspective suggests that organisational knowledge creation takes place between three levels – individual, team and organisation. The spiral represents the dynamic process, starting at the individual level and expanding as it moves through communities of interaction that transcend sectional, departmental, divisional and even organisational boundaries.

Cook and Brown have presented a different model for organisational knowledge creation albeit based on a different view of the types of knowledge. They argue that tacit and explicit knowledge are two different forms of knowledge which complement each other but cannot convert into each other.

They propose that individuals and groups can each possess explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge, giving four different categories of knowledge. However, all four knowledge types can be mutually enabling in the pursuit of purposeful activity or ‘active process of knowing’. New knowledge is generated as different knowledge types ‘dance’ together in course of doing something.

Continuing with different types of knowledge and ways of knowing, Spender has sketched a theory of the firm as a system processing different kinds of knowledge and generating common knowledge. He has suggested that knowledge, learning and memory form the interdependent parts of organisational systems which are influenced by particular types of knowledge.

Firms comprise four distinct types of knowledge – conscious (explicit knowledge held by the individual), objectified (explicit knowledge held by the organisation), automatic (pre-conscious individual knowledge) and collective (highly context-dependent knowledge which is manifested in the practice of an organisation).

Each implies different learning and memory processes. These different types of knowledge interact dialectically to form an organic system with knowledge both at the level of system and at the level of the individuals it embraces.

These perspectives all propose that organisations have different types of knowledge and that identifying and examining these will lead to more effective means of generating, sharing and managing knowledge in organisations. However, Tsouskas has characterised such perspectives as ‘taxonomic’ and argues that typologies of knowledge are marked by ‘formistic’ type of thinking as typologies are based on the assumption that observable systematic similarities and differences exist between objects of study.

He has further explained that as tacit and explicit knowledge are mutually constituted – they should not be viewed as separate types of knowledge. Tacit knowledge is a necessary component of all knowledge.

Networking has become an important and common source of knowledge sharing and development. There are both formal and informal networking’s. The advent of the internet has given a big boost to networking.

Modes of Knowledge Generation:

Knowledge generation may be autonomous or conscious and intentional.

A lot of knowledge emerges or gets generated autonomously, i.e., without deliberate effort such as out of experience, thinking process, intuition, unplanned listening, casual conversation, etc.

The substantial part of the knowledge generated today, however, is the result of planned or conscious effort.

There are five important modes of strategic or intentional knowledge generation, viz., Acquisition, Dedicated Resources, Adaptation, Data Mining and Knowledge Networking.

4 Main Requirements for Successful Management of Knowledge

If we take the view that knowledge management is primarily tacit and resides in the minds of people, knowledge management requires management of knowledge workers. In this view, knowledge management is not limited to collecting information from various domain experts and creating databases.

The main requirements for successful management of knowledge are as follows:

Requirement # 1. Knowledge Culture:

First of all an organizational culture in which creative thinking is permitted and encouraged must be related and nurtured. Since knowledge is generated, absorbed and used by humans, cultural issues are most important in knowledge management. Often employees are reluctant to share knowledge for fear of losing control and power or for other reasons.

Therefore, appropriate incentives and rewards systems need to be developed and used to motivate employees to share knowledge. Barriers to knowledge sharing should be removed by linking promotion and other benefits to contributions made towards creation, sharing and use of knowledge for the benefit of the organization.

Requirement # 2. Knowledge Strategy:

Every organization should develop a knowledge strategy focusing on different aspects of creating, sharing and using knowledge. The knowledge strategy should identify the knowledge gap, i.e., what an organization must know for achieving its goals and what it knows at present. The knowledge requirements of various parts of an organization should be listed and solutions to them should be provided.

Requirement # 3. Technology:

Technology is a key enabler for any knowledge management system. It provides the foundation for solutions, which automate, and centralized the sharing of knowledge. KM technology can be broken down into various stages—knowledge generation, codification, storage, transfer and application. Information and communication technology (OCT) can be used in all stages of KM lifecycle.

Requirement # 4. Knowledge Team:

It is necessary to create a key team for continuous generation and sharing of knowledge. Companies should also create valued knowledge manager positions. A knowledge center is required to capture personal expertise into organizational knowledge allow people access to such knowledge and increase responsiveness. It would serve as a repository of business solutions.

The new knowledge in an organization is generally created through following five modes:

1. Acquisition – The most direct and often most effective way to acquire new knowledge is to buy it, e.g., to buy an organization or hire individuals that have it.

2. Adaptation – New products from competitors, new technologies, and social and economic change drive knowledge generations because firms that do not change in response to changing conditions will fail.

3. Fusion – It bring us together people with different perspectives to work on a problem or project, forcing them to come up with a joint answer.

4. Dedicated resources – It is customary to generate knowledge in an organisation is to establish units or groups especially for that purpose, R &D departments are the standard example.

5. Networks – Communities brought together by common interest usually talk together in person, on telephone and via-e-mail and group to share expertise and solve problems together.

Knowledge Management – External Factors and Internal Factors

With the fast development in the environment it was difficult to carry-out the business effectively. It was a matter of survival and growth for the organisation. So the need for knowledge and knowledge management was felt. Need to manage knowledge was not a luxury but it was a necessity. It was driven by forces of competition; marketplace demand was new operating and management practices and introduction of information technology. These factors are classified in three groups.

These are:

(a) External Factors:

These factors are of the external environment and these are not within the control of the management of the organisation. These cannot be managed by the organisation. These factors are globalisation, international competition, sophisticated customers, high calibre competitors and suppliers. These factors compelled the management to adjust with the changing needs and do the business.

(b) Internal Factors:

With the fast developing economy there were a lot of challenges and opportunities. To avail the opportunities it was need to develop the internal resources. So important changes took place in the organisation. These sources are such as problems in production, increased technological capability and understanding human behaviour and practices.

Organisations faced a lot of difficulty to do the business properly. It was felt to match the internal factors with the external factors. To do so the requirement of knowledge and knowledge management was strongly felt. It can be said in nutshell that all these factors more or less in combination were the driving forces for development of knowledge management.

Knowledge Management Tools – Document Management System, Enterprise Portal, Knowledge Map and Skills Management and More…

There are a great variety of knowledge management tools available in the market comprising many different features that are suitable for a number of different applications. Some of the typical tools that are used in knowledge management solutions will be discussed here.

These include:

1. Document management system;

2. Enterprise portal;

3. Knowledge map and skills management;

4. Information database and lessons learned system;

5. Collaboration tool; and

6. Communities of practice.

Tool # 1. Document Management System:

Documents are the most common repository of information and knowledge in any organization. Documents are produced for almost everything – a project proposal, a contract or agreement, a technical report, a scientific paper, and others.

Because of the great variety of the types and lengths of documents that an organization can produce, the systematic and organized management of these documents can save the organization considerable effort and money. And for many organizations such an effort to systematize and organize document management is the starting point of knowledge management. However, knowledge management actually involves much more.

Document management has two key functions – first, it provides content; and second, it facilitates content management and access. These two functions have significant positive impacts on the efficiency of the organization. Depending on the nature and size of the organization, the inefficiencies related to document accessibility can cost the enterprise millions of pesos annually as employees waste many hours just looking for the needed information.

Document management has four basic elements – first, it records discussions and emails and archives documents; second, it organizes these electronic documents in a hierarchical or network framework; third, it provides search engines for the retrieval of the desired documents; and fourth, it enhances content security by allocating appropriate levels of access to each document.

Most search engines are able to analyse content and search for synonyms. This feature allows users to find keywords or phrases not only in document names but also in document bodies. Many search engines can also manage different document versions, historical documents and archives. This feature ensures that the retrieved version always contains the most recently updated information.

Search engines can also have features that allow users to retrieve any document in any desired format and can be used with the preferred software. Such features obviate the need to have all applications installed in the corporate personal computer, which would be expensive and inefficient.

As technological development proceeds at rapid pace, it will be possible, in the near future, to retrieve documents in any chosen language, once they have been automatically translated, and to handle voice and video with the same ease as the handling of plain texts today.

Tool # 2. Enterprise Portal:

Portals can be defined as single points of access that provide easy and timely access to knowledge. Portals are important tools for knowledge management since they make it easier to share knowledge in an organization. In essence, knowledge portals serve as the central point for sharing knowledge.

Through this portal, users can contribute information to the corporate pool of knowledge, access information, and collaborate with other experts and their peers. Since one of the goals of portals is to enhance corporate performance, it is essential to populate the portal with information of the highest quality in order to ensure its successful use in a knowledge management system.

The complete cycle of knowledge includes a series of episodes. A knowledge worker seeks and retrieves knowledge from the portal and then organizes and analyses it so that it may be used to make decisions or take action. Finally, the outcome is shared and disseminated as lessons learned. This knowledge is then stored in a place that can be accessed by other colleagues.

The user can obtain knowledge from people with the required expertise or from documents and other artifacts, thus capitalizing on past experiences. In order to make them more useful, documents and artifacts accessed through a portal include a summary, authorship, type, date and other contextual data. An employee portal provides a single entrance point through which employees can find all the information they need.

In addition, it provides tools where employees can update certain data that concern themselves, like home address, bank account, etc. Major benefits of such a portal are that the human resource department is relieved of several administrative tasks (and can therefore focus on other relevant tasks), and it gives employees a sense of being in control over their own information.

The concept of an enterprise portal encompasses the various tools, technologies and practices that make knowledge available to all the staff of the organization and other authorized outside users.

They serve to support the collaborative work of groups of knowledge workers in communities of practice and can serve various purposes including academic, business, nongovernmental and government-based organizations. Portals are frequently Web-based, allowing creation of distributed documents and making possible to search online information.

As information and communication technologies become more powerful and widely available, portals are becoming broader structures that support numerous different knowledge-based activities. A good example of a single entry point of access to broad-based and wide-ranging types of information is google(dot)com.

However, majority of portals are usually limited to a number of persons who belong to an organization, government agency or civil society institution or who share a common knowledge area although belonging to different organizations. Another type of portal is organized around the knowledge of a particular sector in a country or group of countries. This type is usually referred to as a “vertical portal”.

From a technical perspective, the two main features of portals are taxonomies and crawlers. Organizational taxonomies and advanced search engines are essential elements of portals that facilitate navigation. In addition, most portals include a web-crawling function the primary objective of which is research and analysis of information.

After documents are submitted to portal repositories, these can be accessed by crawlers that browse and extract text and meta-data from sets of documents, which can be in multiple repositories over networks.

Since the essential purpose of a portal is to facilitate the sharing of high quality knowledge that has been captured electronically, it is important that the portal content be relevant. The organization that makes use of a particular portal must assess and evaluate the quality of the contribution being submitted and assign meta-data according to its particular features. This enables the creation of structures and categories.

Once receipt of documents and other artifacts is authorized, workflow systems deliver the contents to involved or interested persons. This can be done via electronic mail, with appropriate attachments. Policies and guidelines need to be established in order to ensure that quality is high. For this purpose an organization may implement a policy of incentives to promote contributions and use.

Automation helps to count the number of times a piece of knowledge is used by other members and assess its relevance. Users can also rate documents in terms of importance and quality. Documents that are not useful, such as those written in poor style or containing inaccurate information, should not be kept in the repository.

A critical balance must be achieved for the dynamic and rapid retrieval of quality information. Some organizations opt for “convergent” information, meaning that every piece of knowledge received must be validated by the organization and so create a body of high-quality correct knowledge.

Others adopt a “divergent” approach, allowing users to contribute at their own risk. The divergent approach is similar to brainstorming and needs careful management. In order to obtain optimum results, both approaches need to be integrated into a combined set of knowledge habits.

In order to support knowledge workers and communities of practice, portals offer additional functionality for distributed meetings, shared workspaces, telephone and video conferencing and dissemination or exchange of artifacts such as presentations or text documents used in meetings. Moreover, an agenda could allow members graphic access to events and happenings. Collaborating members can also use real-time chat applications.

Open topics, formed groups, the identity of discussion participants and events in real time can be browsed graphically with hypertext and visual maps. Also, instant messaging is a well-known and powerful collaboration tool for real time meeting support. Call centers provide an illustration of the use of portal systems as they rely very heavily on the tools that such systems provide. Call centers need to access information at high speed while solving the technical problems of clients during a telephone conversation.

These systems can provide mining and browsing of key information in a visual way that allows users to understand the implications of the information that they see and discover new facts. In this sense, portals are more than virtual libraries as they integrate all the tools needed to support the sharing of best practices and the functioning of communities of practice.

The implementation of portals requires customization in order to revise the specific environment, analyze functional needs and add personal and social considerations. This is done with an implementation tool that allows – using powerful algorithms – a high-level programming interface to assist customizing applications and the manipulation of data for specific needs and queries from users. It is typically installed in web infrastructures in order to standardize further access.

It generates web pages with dynamic data that are presented in any Internet browser without compatibility problems. It also controls access, security and registration in forums. It is not necessary for knowledge workers to be aware of such implementation and maintenance techniques, although such awareness would enhance their performance.

“Out of the box” portals do not exist. Various communities of practice and different organizations have multifarious needs making it necessary to customize and personalize the portals that they utilize. Although the acquisition of the latest and most reliable information and communication technologies need to be considered in the development of enterprise portals, operational issues are even more important.

The success of a portal is ensured through the identification of the practices and answers appropriate to the issues faced by the knowledge workers who use it. It is anticipated that in the not-too-distant future, knowledge workers will have access to an electronic desktop containing intelligent and highly task-oriented tools, rather than common standardized portals.

Tool # 3. Knowledge Map and Skills Management:

Knowledge management tools deal not only with documents but, also, with information about living experts who provide advice and share their expertise with colleagues. The system is an efficient way of making the “localization of experts” easy and quick.

In an organization where people are the most important assets, managing their skills, capabilities, interests and experience is critical. A skills management system is a web-based tool that supports this in a distributed way, spreading the workload over the whole organization. All employees can update their own skills (adding new skills or changing skill levels) and interests, and use the tool to locate people with particular skills.

Such tools include a back office tool where the HRM department (or equivalent) can define skills and their levels, i.e., what does it mean to have level 4 (or 5) on skill ‘web servers’, as well as profiles, e.g., what are the skills required for a senior programmer or a junior business consultant.

Available software such as Skillman includes a matching function, which enables people (or HRM, depending on permissions) to see how close they are to a particular profile, e.g., a person need one more year of experience to be a senior consultant.

Projects can be defined along with the skills required for successful execution. For example, an online marketplace project requires as skills Ariba, payment gateways, auctions, etc. Given the project requirements, the matching algorithm can suggest suitable persons and teams, as well as calculate the overage of the project needs.

Having stored all skills along with their history, the system can generate a knowledge map of the company, which gives insight in the strong and weak points of the company, as well as in emerging trends. A knowledge map helps navigate through documents, versions, authors, experts and external users of information, which could be partners, customers, suppliers and competitors. Knowledge maps are the standard tools employed in order to control crawling, portal access to repositories and categorization of documents and experts.

Tool # 4. Information Database and Lessons Learned System:

In each organization people learn every day and improve their work constantly based on the experiences gained. Apart from the fact that this is positive for the employee (who is incrementing his knowledge and skills) it is also beneficial for the company as a whole in the sense that individuals perform better, and thus the organization as a whole.

However, the organization can also learn on itself by capturing relevant experiences and distributing them through the organization. This ensures that the appropriate persons consult the right knowledge at the right time.

The Lessons Learned knowledge base forms the memory of the company. At the same time the Lessons Learned system supports the process of capturing and diffusing the knowledge. Lessons Learned systems are very important in organizations where mistakes can be very costly and avoiding them in the future provides significant savings.

These systems are also extremely useful in organizations where best practices need to be repeated and disseminated as much as possible. This is true, for example, among technology consultancy companies that are project-based or among development banks that provide funds for projects since during the execution of the projects many lessons are learned.

Apart from a supporting system, the processes that define what knowledge have to be captured and when knowledge has to be diffused are critical factors for the success of a Lessons Learned system. Experience has shown that a properly functioning Lessons Learned system can provide many of the required functionalities to turn a company into a learning organization.

Knowledge Management Cycle – Strategic Implications, Practical Considerations for Managing Knowledge and Stages

Effective knowledge management requires an organization to identify, generate, acquire, diffuse, and capture the benefits of knowledge that provide a strategic advantage to that organization. A clear distinction must be made between information—which is digitizable—and true knowledge assets—which can only exist within the context of an intelligent system. As we are still far from the creation of artificial intelligence systems, this means that knowledge assets reside within the human knowers and not the organization per se.

A knowledge information cycle can be envisaged as the route information follows in order to become transformed into a valuable strategic asset for the organization via a knowledge management cycle.

One of the major KM processes aims at identifying and locating knowledge and knowledge sources within the organization. Valuable knowledge is then translated into explicit form, often referred to as codification of knowledge, in order to facilitate more widespread dissemination.

Networks, practices, and incentives are instituted to facilitate person-to-person knowledge transfer as well as person-knowledge content connections in order to solve problems, make decisions, or otherwise act based on the best possible knowledge foundation. Once this valuable, field-tested knowledge and know-how is transferred to an organizational knowledge repository, it is said to become part of “corporate memory.” This is sometimes also referred to as “ground truth.”

As was the case with a generally accepted definition of KM, a similar lack of consensus exists with respect to the terms used to describe the major steps in the KM cycle.

Upon closer inspection, however, the differences are not really that great. The terms used differ, but there does appear to be some overlap in the different types of steps involved in a KM cycle.

To this end, four models were selected based on their ability to meet the following criteria:

i. They are implemented and validated in real-world settings.

ii. They are comprehensive with respect to the different types of steps found in the KM literature.

iii. They include detailed descriptions of the KM processes involved in each step.

Strategic Implications of the KM Cycle:

Knowledge represents the decisive basis for intelligent, competent behavior at the individual, group, and organization level. Only a conscious and organized reflection of lessons learned and best practices discovered will allow companies to leverage their hard-won knowledge assets.

Knowledge architecture needs to be designed and implemented in order to enable the staged processing and transformation of knowledge, much like information products are processed, and to ensure that the knowledge objects reach intended end users and are put to good use. The objective is to retain and share knowledge with a wider audience. Information and communication technologies such as groupware, intranets, and knowledge bases or repositories provide the necessary infrastructure to do so.

Business processes and cultural enablers offer the necessary incentives and opportunities for all knowledge workers to become active participants throughout the knowledge management cycle.

Practical Considerations for Managing Knowledge:

Understanding the different stages of managing knowledge throughout the KM cycle is important, though not enough. From a practical perspective, managing knowledge requires an organizing principle—a framework—that will help us classify the different types of activities and functions needed to deal with all knowledge-related work within and between organizations. This framework is often encapsulated in the form of a KM theory or model.

An Integrated Knowledge Management Cycle:

Some major approaches to KM cycles, we can distill an integrated KM cycle.

The three major stages are:

1. Knowledge capture and/or creation.

2. Knowledge sharing and dissemination.

3. Knowledge acquisition and application.

In the transition from knowledge capture/creation to knowledge sharing and dissemination, knowledge content is assessed. Knowledge is then contextualized in order to be understood (“acquisition”) and used (“application”). This stage then feeds back into the first one in order to update the knowledge content. The integrated KM cycle is outlined in.

Knowledge capture refers to the identification and subsequent codification of existing (usually previously unnoticed) internal knowledge and know-how within the organization and/or external knowledge from the environment. Knowledge creation is the development of new knowledge and know-how— innovations that did not have a previous existence within the company.

When knowledge is inventoried in this manner, the next critical step is to present an assessment against selection criteria that will follow closely the organizational goals. Is this content valid? Is it new or better? That is, is it of sufficient value to the organization such that it should be added to the store of intellectual capital?

Once it has been decided that the new or newly identified content is of sufficient value, the next step is to contextualize this content. This involves maintaining a link between the knowledge and those knowledgeable about that content – the author or originator of the idea and subject matter experts, as well as those who have garnered significant experience in making use of this content.

Contextualization also implies identifying the key attributes of the content in order to better match to a variety of users—for example, personalization to translate the content into one preferred by the end user or creation of a short executive summary to better accommodate the time constraints of a senior manager. Finally, contextualization will often succeed when the new content is firmly, yet seamlessly, embedded in the business processes of the organization.

The knowledge management cycle is then reiterated as users understand and decide to make use of content. The users will validate usefulness, and they will signal when it becomes out of date or when this knowledge is not applicable. Users will help validate the scope of the content or how generalizable the best practices and lessons learned can be. They will also, quite often, come up with new content, which they can then contribute to the next cycle iteration.

Role of Information Technology in Knowledge Management

Information technology plays a vital role in knowledge management.

The information technology infrastructure provides a seamless pipeline for the flow of explicit knowledge through the following four stages:

1. Capturing knowledge

2. Defining, storing, categorizing, indexing, and linking digital objects corresponding to knowledge units

3. Searching for (pulling) and subscribing to (pushing) relevant content

4. Presenting content with sufficient flexibility to render it meaningful and applicable across multiple contexts of uses.

Information technology provides a very useful environment within which a multimedia repository for rich and explicit knowledge can be built. One needs to capture inputs in different forms to assign various labels, categories, and indices to each unit of knowledge. The structure must be flexible enough and reflect the composition of contextual knowledge and the content of factual knowledge of the orga­nization.

To use information technology to communicate knowledge, an organization requires sharing of interactive context. When communicators share similar knowledge, background, and experience to a greater extent, more knowledge can be communicated effectively through the electronic media.

At one point of time, the dissemination of explicit and factual knowledge within a stable community includes a high degree of shared contextual knowledge. The process can be accelerated with access to a central electronic repository.

Many companies have identified the use of information technology as an inevitable means to manage and share organizational knowledge to improve business performance. Tapping the knowledge and experience of individuals within an organization and sharing that expertise across a company has long been one of the most strategic goals of IT and business managers.

Knowledge Management – Examples of Processing Knowledge

Traditionally, knowledge processing included ‘creation, dissemination, and utilization’. Raman (2003) argues that there are a number of other ways and a considerable variety of formats for processing knowledge in stark contrast to the traditional classification.

Raman gives some examples of processing knowledge:

1. Identification of knowledge that may be useful

2. Capturing or retrieval of knowledge

3. Altering the format, for example, codifying knowledge by transferring onto paper of IT systems, and having various other formats ranging from fields to hypertext

4. Validation of knowledge by way of discussion with peers within or outside the organization

5. Contextualizing or re-contextualizing—for example, looking for common aspects and differences between the original context of the knowledge and the intended context

6. Achieving closure—for example, agreeing on the common definitions, as for instance between research and development practitioners and patent attorneys, or between different project disciplines.

Knowledge management is a process that starts with identifying the knowledge assets in possession of an organization, followed by analysing the knowledge assets capable to add value, specifying necessary actions to promote the value addition, periodically reviewing the use of the knowledge assets, and finally to convert the organization into a learning one that would interact with the environment to gather feedback. Interrogations help one to identify the action plan in each area.

All knowledge management systems involve a common process model— identifying, capturing, retrieving, sharing, and evaluating data. From this standpoint, the checklist facilitates a methodical approach to knowledge management implementation.

Though it is a known fact that knowledge management is a popular and useful concept for organization, there still lies a few myths associated with it.

Knowledge Management Strategies

Knowledge may be accessed at three stages- Before, during, or after KM-related activities. Different organisations have tried various knowledge capture incentives, including making content submission mandatory and incorporating rewards into performance measurement plans. Considerable controversy exists over whether incentives work or not in this field and no consensus has emerged.

One strategy to KM involves actively managing knowledge. In such an instance, individuals strive to explicitly encode their knowledge into a shared knowledge repository, such as a database, as well as retrieving knowledge they need that other individuals have provided to the repository.

Another strategy to KM involves individuals making knowledge requests of experts associated with a particular subject on an ad hoc basis. In such an instance, expert individual(s) can provide their insights to the particular person or people needing this.

Motivations that Lead Organisations to Undertake Knowledge Management

A number of claims exist as to the motivations leading organisations to undertake a KM effort.

Typical considerations driving a KM effort include:

i. Making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services

ii. Achieving shorter new product development cycles

iii. Facilitating and managing innovation and organisational learning

iv. Leveraging the expertise of people across the organisation

v. Increasing network connectivity between internal and external individuals

vi. Managing business environments and allowing employees to obtain relevant insights and ideas appropriate to their work

vii. Solving intractable or wicked problems

viii. Managing intellectual capital and intellectual assets in the workforce (such as the expertise and know-how possessed by key individuals).

Knowledge ManagementChallenges Faced: Ignorance of People and Cultural Issues, Technology and More…

There have been many roadblocks to the adoption of formal knowledge management activities. Man­aging knowledge very often emerges as an unmanageable problem—an implicitly human, individual activity. Cultural resistance, technological immaturity, cost of technology and process, social impedi­ments, and certain human attributes cause hindrances to knowledge management.

However, it is not necessary to throw up one’s hands in despair. There is nothing that is unmanageable. Problems will arise and employees will be able to manage the problems. We do know a lot about how people learn and the steps taken by organizations to develop and use knowledge.

It must be kept in mind that the nature of business itself has changed and knowledge-intensive work is fundamentally different in character from physical labour. The knowledge worker is almost completely immersed in a computing (PC, laptop, palmtop, etc.) environment. This new reality has dramatically altered the methods by which we must manage, learn, and represent knowledge, interact and solve problems, and act accordingly.

People come into the organization from a variety of cultural backgrounds, social structures, work practices, and environmental factors. This leads to cultural resistance. Though not all, some environ­mental factors affect the industry, and the economic and social pressures on the organizations. Added to this, the historical, personal, and social perspectives of the owner or group of owners also affect the func­tioning of the organization. All these factors taken together emerge as the source of cultural resistance.

Practically, the cost of technology also prohibits many organizations from implementing knowledge management. These organizations cannot go ahead due to non-availability of adequate funds. In addi­tion, the workforce comprises employees from different social and economic backgrounds that emerge as social impediments in knowledge management practices in an organization.

Development of knowledge management was not an easy task. Lot of difficulties were faced by the management to develop knowledge.

The following challenges were faced:

(a) Ignorance of People and Cultural Issues – It was difficult for the management to take the people together because they were not treated properly. They were not motivated to surrender the knowledge and experience. Incentive programmes were not used.

(b) Technology – Technology was to support the management to develop knowledge but technology started dictating terms in functioning of management. Therefore, knowledge management found difficult to work and develop.

(c) Knowledge Management is not Static – Knowledge is not static like the physical assets. The knowledge diminishes with the time so it should be generated, stored, shared and upgraded with the time. If not so it will be out-dated and useless. So management found it difficult to work.

(d) Lack of Expertise – Knowledge management people were not expat in their job in the beginning. They themselves were not sure what to do and what to develop. This was the problem in the beginning. These difficulties made the situation unfavourable for the development of knowledge and knowledge management.

But it was a necessity for the organisation to survive and grow in the competitive situation. It could overcome the difficulties and developed further. At present the situation of knowledge management is highly satisfactory.

After understanding the concept of knowledge, different forms and levers of knowledge, and its relationship with data, information, and wisdom, one should now study how knowledge management has developed in the last four decades and its importance in today’s business scenario.

Benefits of Knowledge Management

1. Maximise the value of available organisational knowledge.

2. Better decision making as more information is available.

3. Increase efficiency and productivity.

4. Retain explicit knowledge of employees even after they leave the organisation.

5. Superior business sense and competitive intelligence.

6. Enhance team collaboration.

7. Build profound and long lasting relationship with customers and other stakeholders.

8. Better human resource management.

9. Deeper understanding of the market place.

Knowledge management is a relatively new field of management where knowledge and experiences are shared for the continuous improvement of the enterprise. The focus is generally on organisational objectives such as improved performance, innovation and gaining competitive advantage over rival companies. Management of knowledge is a strategic tool that is imperative for sustenance and growth of the organisation in the long run.

Some Other Benefits:

Companies derive the benefits from knowledge management.

These benefits include:

i. Companies discover the opportunities provided by the environment and exploit them with the help of knowledge created and developed.

ii. Companies can reduce the threats created by the environment.

iii. Derive more value and competencies from the intellectual property.

iv. Increased productivity, profits etc.

v. Learn continuously and retain competencies.

vi. Ability to change and to become change agent.

vii. Getting maximum from the people and information technology.

Significant Obstacles of Knowledge Management

It has been mentioned that one of the factors that affects the quality of human resource is knowledge, but it doesn’t mean that knowledge management is a subfield of human resource management. It would be an oversimplification to state this since both fields of management complement and partly overlap each other with in the area of their interest.

There are many obstacles, which may hinder or hamper implementation of knowledge management processes and result in decreased effectiveness of these processes.

Below the most significant obstacles of knowledge management have been identified insufficient knowledge resources within an organization:

i. Lack of benefits connected with the realization of knowledge management processes,

ii. Perceiving knowledge as property or/and as a source of power,

iii. Lack of conditions for the realization of knowledge management processes,

iv. Lack of superiors’ support in the realization of processes relating to knowledge management,

v. Lack of purpose understanding, for which knowledge management serves,

vi. Lack of access to knowledge sources,

vii. Lack of skills at knowledge management,

viii. Lack of knowledge, how to manage knowledge.

Every activity of human resources department, which enable organization to overcome mentioned obstacles will result in increasing effectiveness of knowledge management.

Knowledge Management Technologies

Early KM technologies included online corporate yellow pages as expertise locators and document management systems. Combined with the early development of collaborative technologies (in particular Lotus Notes), KM technologies expanded in the mid-1990s. Subsequent KM efforts leveraged semantic technologies for search and retrieval and the development of e-learning tools for communities of practice.

More recently, development of social computing tools (such as blogs and wikis) have allowed more unstructured, self-governing or ecosystem approaches to the transfer, capture and creation of knowledge, including the development of new forms of communities, networks, or matrixed organisations.

However such tools for the most part are still based on text and code, and thus represent explicit knowledge transfer. These tools face challenges in distilling meaningful re-usable knowledge and ensuring that their content is transmissible through diverse channels.

Knowledge Management in Indian Companies

Indian companies are increasingly using knowledge management after knowing the experience of western companies. Growing competition in the market place and information technology are the driving forces behind KM in Indian industry.

In recent years, Hindustan Lever, Larsen and Toubro, Goodlass Nerolac, Ogilvy and Mather, Tata Engineering have announced KM initiatives. This is because Indian companies have realised that KM can substantially enhance productivity, reduce costs, and improve competitiveness. But the success in KM largely depends upon an organization’s ability to learn.

While the initial results are heartening, nobody can guarantee long-term success with KM. The focus-of KM should be on organizational -learning rather than on technology and systems. The companies that will succeed in the decades that lie ahead are those that allow their people to learn faster and better. This requires giving employees the freedom to experiment with new ideas, rewarding people who are willing to learn, penalizing knowledge hoarders and so on.

1. Given normal work pressures, employees need convincing that KM is worth doing.

2. Employees are sometimes unsure whether the learning’s they contribute are already well- known.

3. To ensure regular postings of knowledge, the tools have to be more user-friendly.

4. The lack of any immediate reward for participation is a dampener.

5. Not all employees are comfortable with typing out insights and learnings.