Knowledge Management: A Game Changer
– K. Murugesan
Era of Information
Businesses today are witnessing global integration in areas of Supply Chains, Financial Markets, Technology and Human resources among others, which make them susceptible to the winds of global forces. Global integration opens up both, challenges and prospects for organizations.
Thanks to the revolution in information and communication technologies in the last decade, we are now living in a world of information explosion. Information is being organized and analyzed in ways like never before in the history of mankind. This organized information is a source of knowledge that helps manage businesses better by introducing efficiencies in the business processes. Knowledge has emerged as the most sought-after asset for businesses to thrive in the “Knowledge Economy”.
Business Imperatives for Knowledge Management
Organizations, in general, pursue three competitive strategies, cost leadership, differentiation and focus, based on their core competency. To successfully implement these strategies, it is imperative that the “Organizational Knowledge” is effectively tapped and optimally used. In the era of shrinking product life cycles, innovation has become the order of the day. Organizations have to constantly innovate to have an edge over their competitors. A correctly integrated Knowledge Management plan greatly reduces the need for reinventing the wheel each time while developing new products and services. It promotes the culture of a learning organization within the company and helps break the islands of knowledge that promote one-upmanship.
Tapping the Knowledge Capital
The knowledge capital of an organization can be tapped by harnessing three
resources — People, Processes and Platforms (Technology). Information emanates mainly from the following sources.
Internal Environment – Products, Processes and Technology
External environment – Competitors and customers
People working on a project over years acquire considerable technical and managerial knowledge. The knowledge acquired remains as a tacit knowledge that has a great potential to provide businesses a much-needed competitive advantage. Organizations that have been existing for a long time can reap rich dividends by exploiting the learning curve advantage. However, it requires establishing a suitable Knowledge Management system, i.e., hardware and software systems, technology and processes within an organization.
Strategy for Implementation: Knowledge Repositories
Knowledge repositories can be created by identifying, capturing and documenting the organizational knowledge (also called as “Knowledge database”). It can be in the form of best practices, case studies, lessons learnt diaries or success stories. Organizations can introduce the concept of ‘Knowledge Managers’, whose role would be to spearhead the Knowledge Management processes within the organization by guiding and motivating people. It is also a good idea to establish a suitable incentive system to encourage employees to contribute effectively. Knowledge database can be established as a database and stored in a centralized network system with sufficient security protocols to enable fast and easy retrieval across the company.
The culture of the organization plays a critical role in the Knowledge Management process. If the culture does not encourage sharing, learning and continuous improvement, the process can’t succeed. With fast changing technology, implementing the right technology platforms for disseminating and accessing knowledge is crucial. Motivating people to be active partners in the Knowledge Management process and ensuring the shared knowledge is accurate, relevant and latest is paramount. So is the security of the information to ensure sensitive information does not reach the unintended.
The benefits of Knowledge Management greatly outweighs the challenges. Hence, it is a boon for the leaders to transform their business into a knowledge-driven enterprise.