What is Knowledge Management (KM)?
The basic definition of knowledge management from the business perspective states that it is the vital set of methods that manage the conception, distribution, and exploitation of knowledge. In today’s Information Age era, with the technological advancements in communication, Knowledge management techniques have an intense effect on each and every decisions made by a business and the actions taken in response to market situations.
Knowledge management in business networks aids in recognizing and understanding the methods that affect decision making and protective actions. Also, knowledge management tools help to improve the quality of the decision making process and in turn bring overall benefit to the business.
The business or corporate knowledge also helps in identifying and preserving business experience and understanding of the methods used to tackle unplanned and planed situations. Knowledge management also aids the businesses to revise and constantly regenerate managerial and business knowledge base. The key business aspects such as design of suitable managerial hierarchy, assisting teamwork and dissemination of timely business knowledge are part of knowledge management strategies.
Business Information Analysis and Information Planning are the other aspects of knowledge management. The Business Knowledge is accumulated in the human brain or in business processes, documentation, company products, user services, amenities and organizations vision and focus. Knowledge management helps to identify the unique information and knowledge sources, decisive business tasks and probable bottle necks that affect knowledge dissemination to certain levels in the organisation.
Knowledge management also helps businesses to protect and preserve their intellectual property, aids in creating opportunities to enhance decision making process, business services and products. Businesses gain the advantages of increasing their value in the competitive environment as well as benefit in sustaining their business with continuous growth and flexibility in decision making. Knowledge management goes together and boosts other aspects of business like total quality management (TQM). It also aids in business learning in order to maintain a competitive position in the marker.
Need for Knowledge Management
Customers are very vital to any business enterprise. In order to provide good services to the customers and to retain them, the businesses have to improve their production and cycle times, posses adequate human resources, inventory and facilities, provide good customer service, innovate new ideas and develop quality products, gain important market information, develop a knowledge base, provide valuable consultancy and focus on continuous learning.
The knowledge management addresses these issues. It helps to organize the information and knowledge flow inside and organisation to aid the employees and also helps in dissemination of this information to the customers in order to gain reputation and stay competitive in the market. Over a period of time the accumulated expertise and knowledge base will become vital intellectual property of the business domain with immense value to the employees and the customers as well.
Identifying Knowledge in Business Network
The important elements of knowledge in a business network environment are the Knowledge sources and the analysis and utilization of the knowledge gathered from such sources. Methods for information flow from the business network must be developed, conserved, and made available to both the employees and managers.
For improving the business processes such as customer services, production lines, product quality etc. careful analysis of the information should be performed to derive solutions and identify key result areas.
Knowledge related to investment opportunities, technological strategies, innovative products and services, reliable alliances, mergers and acquisitions, or advertising must be captured for thorough analysis and vital business decision making. Some of the most important information sources are given below.
Employees Expertise: The dynamic nature of the employees in an organisation requires that the expertise and knowledge gained by the employees be preserved within the organisation. When an employee leaves an organisation, this knowledge will aid in training and helping the new recruits.
Customer Reviews: The review and ratings about product and services provided by the customers is considered most vital information in a business network. This information helps to ascertain the competitiveness of a business as well as maintaining a consistent customer base. This information can be instrumental in finding out the market trend and understand the customer requirements to enable future product designs and enhancements.
Product and Services statistics: The product and services statistics help to determine the overall progress of the business. Information pertaining to amount of sales and orders, production information and past performances of the products will help to analyze the profitability aspects of the businesses and its alliances in the network.
Important Aspects of Knowledge Management
Knowledge Gathering: This aspect addresses the methods and tools for gathering knowledge for establishing a knowledge base specific to a business domain. The experience gained by the organisation and its employees, experience of alliances and affiliates, need to be captured and preserved. New technological advancements in the field of communication, data mining and cognitive data capture should be adopted by the businesses to gather and preserve core business knowledge information.
Knowledge Analysis: After gathering adequate knowledge about the core business domain, careful analysis is vital in order to effectively utilize the knowledge. The analysis should be able to provide the advantages, weak links, problem areas and key result areas with statistical performance measures of the business. This aspect also brings out further knowledge acquisition methods and techniques in order to improve the effectiveness of knowledge gathering process.
Knowledge Planning: The statistical and analytical reports generated by the analysis of the gathered knowledge can be utilized for planning and forecasting effective business strategies. Planning related to future products, improving customer services, training the employees, solutions for problem areas and future business objectives can be very effectively done using the analysis outputs of the business data gathered.
Knowledge Organizing: The knowledge gathered from the various sources and the analytical reports have to be organized in an orderly way. The grouping of knowledge about the business domain specific to its interdependent fields of operation is a key requirement to maintain its integrity and effectiveness. The organized and grouped data can be used to perform pattern analysis, relativity analysis, root cause analysis and efficient search algorithms.