Knowledge Management Systems

These days, organizations are often faced with challenges of circulating and retaining knowledge. Staff training has become costly than ever before and existing information sharing techniques are not as effective as expected. Organizations have encountered the need to harness knowledge not only to stay competitive but also to become innovative (Babita et al. 2000).

In my other post, Smarter Businesses, I discussed how businesses and organizations use business intelligence and analytics to retain and mostly gain organizational knowledge from big data collection and manipulation processes. Business intelligence is often confused with knowledge management systems as they both focus on acquiring data for business decision making. However, they do have several differences.

Instead of further investigating such differences, this post will focus on identifying the key aspects of knowledge management systems within organizations and how it relates to information and communications technology (ICT).

Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)

A knowledge management system is defined as an information system used to capture, organize, and create knowledge to improve organizational processes. Ruggles (2009), described that knowledge management systems are technologies that support knowledge management (KM) in organizations, specifically knowledge generation, codification, and transfer. Think of KMS as an information system that is dedicated to improving organizational knowledge. Its purpose is to facilitate knowledge flow within an organization, enabling employees to have access to the right information for the right need. With employees learning and sharing their knowledge, it leads to more effective problem-solving techniques and development opportunities.

But do not take this the wrong way. A knowledge management system is different from an information management system (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Knowledge Management System and Technology (Ezendu, 2014, p. 8)

Importance of KMS

So, should someone ask why knowledge management system is an important asset to an organization, here are several reasons why:

Organizations can (Jain, 2014)

  • sustain knowledge regarding their products and services
  • provide accessible knowledge to employees
  • encourage innovation
  • perform better decision making

Relation to ICT

According to Maier and Hadrich (2011), a knowledge management system is an information and communication technology (ICT) system which combines and integrates functions for handling both explicit and tacit knowledge throughout an organization that is targeted by a knowledge management initiative. An ICT system refers to any device or system which allows storage, retrieval, manipulation, transmission, and receipt of digital information. It is where the outputs from a system go directly to a human being or into another ICT system. ICT systems are usually composed of 6 components which include hardware, software, people, data, procedures, and information. Organizations use ICT systems to assist with collating and analyzing data from other systems.

Tacit ActiveNet

Tacit AvticeNet is an example of how organizations seek out effective solutions for knowledge management systems.

Tacit ActiveNet, an enterprise software solution that proactively drives interactions among employees across other divisions, was developed to solve the problem organizations were facing due to a lack of knowledge sharing and collaboration. Employees were duplicating tasks, making mistakes, or simply missing opportunities to develop due to a huge collaboration gap within organizations. Even with other collaboration tools in place, employees are simply not drawn to use them. Tacit ActiveNet took a different approach by automatically selecting who should be working with who to ensure that quality training and knowledge exchange is achieved through interactions. It is the new technology for any organization that depends on collaboration for success.

So, through effective KMS, an organization can bring its entire organizational learning and knowledge to bear on any problem.

 

References:

Babita Gupta, Lakshmi S. Iyer, Jay E. Aronson, (2000) “Knowledge management: practices and challenges”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 100 Issue: 1, pp.17-21, doi: 10.1108/02635570010273018

Ezendu, E. (2014). Knowledge Management System and Technology. [Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/ezendu/knowledge-management-system-technology

Jain, P. (2014). Knowledge Management Systems. [Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/PRIYANKJAIN23/knowledge-management-system

Maier, R., & Hädrich, T. (2011). Knowledge Management Systems.

Ruggles, R. (2009). Knowledge management tools. Routledge.

 

Smarter Businesses

Data Collection

Have you ever wondered how businesses get so good at pushing our buttons? Every now and then, I keep receiving product promotions or limited-time sales on things that interest me as a buyer/ consumer. Most of the time these emails would urge me to buy, even though I’m aware that it’s a want, not a need. But how? I don’t recall answering a survey about my shopping list. How was this possible? These days, businesses have become very competitive that they’ve adopted intelligence systems that help them collect data, analyze it, predict market trends. According to Chen et al. (2012), business intelligence and business analytics, along with the related field of big data analytics have become increasingly important in both academic and business communities over the past two decades.

Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, & Big Data

Business Intelligence (BI) is defined as a set of tools or systems that help in organizational strategic planning processes. It is about delivering relevant and reliable information to the right people at the right time, with the goal of achieving better decisions faster (Hitachi Solutions Canada, 2014). Business intelligence deals with situations where questions such as what occurred, how many, how often, where, the root of the problem, and what actions are required occurs.

Business Analytics (BA) on the other hand, refers to the skills, technologies, applications, and practices for iterative exploration and investigation of past business data to gain insight and drive business planning (Weinschenk, 2013). It involves using tools and techniques to turn data into meaningful business insights. Such data could be from several sources including spreadsheets, databases, social media platforms, and others. Business analytics commonly investigates what is currently happening, what is expected to happen if a certain trend continues, and what will be the possible outcome.

In relation to both business intelligence and business analytics, big data is the term used to represent the vast amounts of data sets that are collected and analyzed computationally to determine patterns, trends, and associations. The more data collected, the more difficult it becomes to analyze and predict outcomes. However, with the use of BI and BA, it becomes extremely quick and efficient.

Scenario

Imagine you are the manager of an electronics brand that has both multiple stores and online shops. To keep track of your sales and customers, you set up customer loyalty cards, which customers swipe in the store every time they make a purchase or login into their online accounts when purchasing online. By using loyalty cards, information about a customer’s purchase, whether in store or online, are collected and stored in the company’s databases. Think of this as data being collected, which results in big data. Then using BI and BA, you as the manager can now generate reports, analyze sales, and determine which customers are loyal to your brand, what they usually buy, and which store do they prefer to buy from. You could also predict whether customers prefer to shop online or in store. This enables you as the manager of your business to predict needs, preferences, and habits of your customers so you can forecast and predict new sales opportunities, better customer services, or target market campaigns. On the business’s perspective, this educates the business as a team, providing the necessary skills and experiences based on techniques to delivering quality customer services. Here is a classic example showing the future of shopping involving the uses of big data, business intelligence, and analytics.

 

References:

Chen, H., Chiang, R. H. L., & Storey, V. C. (2012). Business intelligence and analytics: From big data to big impact. MIS Quarterly, 36(4), 1165–1188

Hitachi Solutions Canada. (2014, January 26). What is business intelligence [Video File]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDJdkcdG1iA

Weinschenk, V. (2013, September 8). Business Intelligence and Business Analytics Defined [Video file]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1dnZCHjOMQ

 

The Future Employee

The Future

It is a time of joy and celebration when someone finally graduates from an institution. The next step is to find and enroll into the workplace. Filled with knowledge and inspiration, the life of an employee is incomparable. Then after 5 years or so, comes a dull day, where your job is now being replicated by a system. The job does not feel as exciting as before. Daily tasks become more complex, and it felt like the skills are not enough anymore. Welcome to the new era, where managing knowledge is the ultimate survival tool for the future.

 

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) 

Personal Knowledge Management defines a way in which individuals, can seek out information and knowledge, make sense of it, and share it to increase learning, innovation, and productivity. PKM is personal, and it is not directed by external forces.  It involves connecting information to experience and completing tasks. Gorman and Pauleen (2011) described that PKM assists individuals to be more effective in certain aspects of their lives. The idea is that once an individual is used to working effectively in their everyday lives, they will easily do so within an organization. PKM is focused on personal inquiry (Clemente and Pollara, 2005), which means that individuals need to have the motivation for self-improvement.

 

Knowledge Management (KM)

Knowledge Management(KM), compared to PKM, is simply the process of creating, sharing, managing, and utilizing knowledge within an organization. It explores ways to encourage people to share knowledge, making it explicit, and supplying it to information systems.  Unlike PKM, knowledge management focuses very little on an individual’s perspectives.

 

Enhancing Personal Effectiveness 

As it was mentioned above, PKM is personal, and it is not directed by external forces. It is an individual’s own responsibility to maintain their knowledge currency. This requires motivation to improve and adapt changes. For PKM to enhance personal and organizational effectiveness, one needs to be effective in managing themselves first. Employers value personal effectiveness as they want employees to be reliable, willing to learn, make proper use of their time. White (2012) listed 8 elements which he believed can develop and maintain personal effectiveness in both the organization and their daily lives.

8 Elements of personal effectiveness:

  1. specifically decide what you want
  2. be honest  with yourself and others
  3. take personal responsibility 
  4. clearly express yourself
  5. take risks and exit your comfort zone
  6. participate 100% in your own life
  7. create partnerships to generate win-win relationships
  8. commit yourself

To utilize PKM and enhance personal and organizational effectiveness, an individual must first determine their status within each of the 8 elements listed above. From there, will one be able to choose the right path to take? Some might consider prolonged education or self-directed study. Others might try to utilize organizational training programs or networks of information sharing. It is obvious from how the world is rapidly changing that no career is guaranteed for life anymore. Therefore, individuals must forecast where their careers are headed and start making plans for the next step. With PKM, people can be assured that not only will they be prepared for the unexpected, but they will also be well equipped to keep up with the trends.

 

 

References:

Gorman, G. and Pauleen, D. (2011), “The Nature and Value of Personal Knowledge Management”.

Clemente, B. E., & Pollara, V. J. (2005). Mapping the course, marking the trail [personal knowledge management]. IT professional, 7(6), 10-15.

White, R. (2012). 8 elements of personal effectiveness [Video file]. Youtube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fj4e1rE1NI