Knowledge management: Leverage enterprise resource

By : |May 30, 2002 0



As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’, enterprises off late have realized
how important is the information that are scattered randomly in the organization
and be able to make maximum use of that knowledge. Often, one part of an
enterprise repeats work of another part simply because it is impossible to keep
track of, and make use of, information existing in other parts. Precisely for
this reason, enterprises need to know:

  • what their knowledge assets are;
  • how to manage and make use of these assets to get maximum return.

This knowledge could be existing in many different places such as: databases,
knowledge bases, filing cabinets and the employees themselves could be power
house of knowledge and are distributed right across the enterprise. Most
traditional companies focus only on some of the tangible assets of the company
and ignore their important knowledge assets.

According to a white paper, knowledge management essentially involves the
identification and analysis of available and required information called as
knowledge assets and their related processes. Knowledge assets are the info or
knowledge regarding markets, products, technologies and organizations that a
business owns or needs to own and which enable its business processes to
generate profits, add value, etc.

Knowledge management is not only about managing these knowledge assets but
managing the processes that act upon the assets. These processes include:
developing knowledge; preserving knowledge; using and sharing knowledge.

Need for knowledge management

Success in an increasingly competitive marketplace depends critically on the
quality of knowledge that organizations apply to their key business processes.
For instance, the supply chain depends on knowledge of diverse areas including
raw materials, planning, manufacturing and distribution.

According to the industry experts, some of the key drivers for adopting
knowledge management are:

  • The marketplace is increasingly competitive and the rate of innovation is
    rising, so that knowledge must evolve and be assimilated at a faster rate.

  • Corporations are organizing their businesses to be focused on creating
    customer value. Staff functions are being reduced as are management
    structures. There is a need to replace the informal knowledge management of
    the staff function with formal methods in customer aligned business
    processes.

  • Competitive pressures are reducing the size of the workforce that holds
    this knowledge.

  • Knowledge takes time to experience and acquire. Employees have less and
    less time for this.

  • There are trends for employees to retire earlier and for increasing
    mobility, leading to loss of knowledge.

  • There is a need to manage increasing complexity as small operating
    companies are transnational sourcing operations.

  • A change in strategic direction may result in the loss of knowledge in a
    specific area. A subsequent reversal in policy may then lead to a renewed
    requirement for this knowledge, but the employees with that knowledge may no
    longer be there.

What to look for?

Easier said than done, there are many problems and challenges associated with
identifying what these knowledge assets constitute of and being able to use and
manage them in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Enterprises need:

  • to have an enterprise-wide vocabulary to ensure that the knowledge is
    correctly understood;

  • to be able to identify, model and explicitly represent their knowledge;
  • to share and re-use their knowledge among differing applications for
    various types of users; this implies being able to share existing knowledge
    sources and also future ones;

  • to create a culture that encourages knowledge sharing.

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