Knowledge management is defined as the leveraging of collective wisdom to increase responsiveness and innovation [Cobos, 2002]. To put it clear, knowledge management is the process of gathering or collecting information, from various sources, storing them and manipulating them to bring in better ideas. Knowledge when efficiently managed will ultimately lead to innovation.
Tacit knowledge is the knowledge that is in-built within a person. It is the way that a person makes use to handle and solve problems. Examples of tacit knowledge are:
- Thinking a solution.
- Problem solving skill.
- Working style.
- Intelligence of an individual.
These things are in-built with a person and can neither study nor understood by others easily. It is very difficult and in fact literally impossible to record or document tacit knowledge.
On the other hand, explicit knowledge as the name suggests is very clear cut and straight forward. It is possible of study, define and document explicit knowledge. Some examples of explicit knowledge include
- Predefined methodologies.
- Strategies and techniques.
- Systematic procedures.
These things could be easily transmitted since they are systematic and discrete. They are common to all and are not specific to any individual.
Important components of knowledge management
“Knowledge management is concerned with organizing knowledge repositories so as to allow for easy retrieval and exchange of the information stored therein. Important concepts in knowledge management include domains, fields of related concepts and terms, and ontologies, structures of interrelated terms for things, concepts, relationships, etc. in a given domain” (Rudy L. Ruggles, 1997, pp 45).
J.K Mishra (2009, P12) states that, Rudy Ruggles, leading KM thinker cum practitioner, has identified the following items as integral components of KM:
- Generating new knowledge.
- Accessing valuable knowledge from outside sources.
- Using accessible knowledge in decision making.
- Embedding knowledge in processes, products and/or services.
- Representing knowledge in documents, databases, and software.
- Facilitating knowledge growth through culture and incentives.
- Transferring existing knowledge into other parts of the organization.
- Measuring the value of knowledge assets and/or impact of knowledge management.
Importance of knowledge management
Knowledge Management is important in any organization for the following reasons:
- In any organization, the workforce is unstable. People keep on moving from one organization to another. It is therefore important to manage knowledge in order to preserve the knowledge of an outgoing employee and capture the knowledge of an incoming employee.
- For any organization, knowledge is the one and only valuable asset that does not decompose over a period of time. Hence, it is the responsibility of an organization to preserve knowledge for future use.
- Knowledge is continuous and evolves over a period of time. Any organization must manage Knowledge in order to track the changes in existing technologies.
- Knowledge is power. It adds additional value to an organization. Unlike other resource it cannot be easily captured. Hence an organization must manage knowledge efficiently.
- Knowledge Management leads to innovation. Innovations ultimately results in new inventions and discoveries in the organizations.
Robert E. Cole (2006, pp301) identifies eight key factors that have resulted in the growth of Knowledge Management:
- Accelerating the pace of change.
- Staff attrition (especially that resulting from years of downsizing and re-engineering).
- Growth in organizational scope.
- Geographic dispersion associated with globalization of markets.
- Global integration.
- Increase in networked organizations.
- Growing knowledge-intensity of goods and services.
- Revolution in information technology.
Applications of knowledge management
The applications of knowledge management are numerous. It is indispensable to any organization. It helps the organizations in:
- Capturing knowledge.
- Preserving knowledge.
- Applying knowledge captured in practical work.
- Enabling decision making.
- Spreading knowledge across the globe.
- Preventing intellectual property issues.
- Sharing of knowledge.
- Breaking geographical barriers.
- Collaborating across the globe.
- Preventing wastage of information.
- Enabling utilization of resources.
- Encouraging innovation.
- Preventing the re-invention of wheel.
- Eliminating wastage of time and energy in knowledge transition.
Information technology has changed the way the world operates. The whole world is now a single global market. People can now work from anywhere with offices situated at anywhere. Proper Knowledge Management strategies and procedures will eliminate the unnecessary wastage of resources and enable efficient knowledge transfer.
- Rudy L. Ruggles, Knowledge management tools, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997, p45.
- R. Cobos “KnowCat, a Web Application for Knowledge Organization”. Proceedings of the World-Wide Web and Conceptual Modeling, November, 2002.
- J.K. Mishra, Knowledge Management: Complexity, Learning & Sustainable Innovation, Global India Publications, 2009, pp 12.
- D. Hugh Whittaker, Robert E. Cole, Recovering from success: innovation and technology management in Japan, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp 301.