What is the main focus of knowledge management in 2003? Essay

Introduction

Globalization is getting more and more important, new technologies and changes in workplace organization are generating new skill requirement profiles. To face this challenge, citizens and companies must not only be prepared to engage in lifelong learning but also require a more highly developed and demand-oriented counseling network. The ability to draw on all possible information channels and instruments is skill of the future. At the same time, the expected increases in transnational mobility call for transferable skills in initial vocational training and an easily accessible continuing training system.

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What are the current challenges of KM?

We must use technology to meet organizational goals and challenges. One of the central challenges that all managers face is how to manage organizational knowledge. Knowledge workers are specialists ranging from HR and marketing professionals to software engineers, project managers and business analysts. Knowledge is the key component of their work, so they consume and generate it on a daily basis. Because they are involved with the design of mechanical or logical products using informational systems, they are expected to take in knowledge, process it and disseminate it to other members of the organization.

For an organization to remain dynamic, successful management of this knowledge is key. Knowledge management includes all activities involved with the generation, dissemination and maintenance of knowledge to meet organizational goals. Just as humans must create knowledge, they also consume it. Moreover, their interactions with other humans is a mechanism for knowledge transfer, so when they leave an organization (voluntarily or involuntarily), they take their knowledge-both professional and social-with them. [1]

Basis in 2003

The tendency we’ve seen about knowledge management often encompasses identifying and mapping intellectual assets within the organization, generating new knowledge for competitive advantage within the organization, making vast amounts of corporate information accessible, sharing of best practices, and technology that enables all of the above, including groupware and intranets. Knowledge management is now well established as a management discipline, but it is also subject to continual development and improvement. [1]

In today’s information-driven economy, companies uncover the most opportunities from intellectual rather than physical assets. To get the most value from a company’s intellectual assets, KM practitioners maintain that knowledge must be shared and serve as the foundation for collaboration. Yet better collaboration is not an end in itself; without an overarching business context, KM is meaningless at best and harmful at worst. [1]

At organizations

Organizations during the last years are failing to grasp the fundamental changes to their day-to-day operations and culture that successful KM implementation requires. They are also failing to raise their sights and recognize the impact on profit, share price and employee retention and development that KM can deliver. However, a number of developments are driving these issues. Technological improvements are helping knowledge workers, not least in combating information overload: the emergence of KM tools in areas such as content management, user needs profiling and intelligent Internet searching that is making their jobs easier. Even it is not a current fully deployed application, knowledge workers will be able to work remotely through the development of universal mobile telephone systems (UMTS) that will enable broadband communication (TV, intranet, videoconferencing, multimedia, as well as voice and data) on a new generation of hand-held mobile devices. [2]

Across organizational Boundaries

Online services such as dialup bulletin boards and Web communities have helped network communities of interest across the globe for years. For example The World Bank has leveraged a strategy of “global knowledge, local adaptation” for brokering global knowledge exchanges. This includes Web-based resources like case studies, Webcasts and videoclips from experts, world development indicators, knowledge toolkits (on topics like business climate and corruption), distance learning services, knowledge assessment methodology, and forums like Development Gateway.

The Latin American Urban Network is a good example of knowledge partnerships for better policy formulation between client communities of practice in urban municipal staff in 10 cities of Latin America and the Caribbean, said Bruno Laporte, manager of knowledge and learning services at the World Bank. [3]

From Experience management

In the scientist field or expertise sharing, there are some tendencies related with more experience management in order to exchange valuable knowledge between each other based on the experience of each individual involved. Whereas knowledge management generally deals with the concepts described already structuring, documenting, refinement/improvement, evaluation and distribution of knowledge and its objectives, the relatively new field of Experience Management focuses, in particular, on exemplary and also looks at the methods and technologies that are suitable for that. The main focus is the usage of intelligent systems for Experience Management and the necessary processes.

The “ingredients” or elements for Experience Management come from various areas such as Experience Factory (e.g. embedding an EM system into the knowledge-relevant processes in a company), ontologies (e.g., as a basis for the domain model vocabulary), data mining and text mining (e.g., on the analysis of existing data and documents), as well as particularly case-based reasoning suitable as a principle, methodology, and technology for supporting many of these activities. [4]

Summarizing experience management is a special form of knowledge management, which deals with task-based and experiential knowledge that is both gained and applied when carrying out business-related tasks

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Trends

During the last year and the course of 2003, knowledge management market has fared better than many other areas. Organizations continue to see knowledge and information management as key areas for investment. However, there has been some shift in priorities. The most significant trend in 2002 has been the level of acquisition activity. While the onus in 2002 may have been on survival, the importance of innovation in the knowledge management market has not changed. Further acquisitions and mergers have now also characterized the market through 2003. Other key trends have emerged in 2002 that we see dominating the knowledge management technology agenda in 2003 according to Erick Woods is going toward a integrated knowledge management suites, collaboration, expertise location, real time consideration, and an semantic enterprise conceptualization. [5]

Future KM initiatives will focus on high-payoff areas such as operations, R;D, sales and marketing, according to Carla O’Dell, president of APQC (American Productivity and Quality Center), and co-author of If Only We Knew What We Know. Value proposition, vision, strategy and a commitment of resources are key to avoidng low RoI, lack of leverage, lost credibility and a sense of frustration with launched KM initiatives. [5]

KM approaches like collaboration, content management, expertise locators, and integrated learning systems will become increasingly institutionalized into KM applied to business processes, predicted O’Dell, which is linked with Shelia Corral mentions about KM requires a mix of technical, organizational and interpersonal skills development. Then there’s a strong tendency about this statements for organizations.

KM challenges can arise for companies that grow rapidly or expand globally, thus diluting some of the early close-knit communities and informal face-to-face nature of communication. Interventions are needed at the level of the organization (eg. team cooperation) and technology (IT support, push/pull flows, high-quality information and usable systems). [2]

KM never ends

The tasks of knowledge management are never-ending. Like human resource management or financial management, there is never a time when knowledge has been fully managed.

One reason that knowledge management never ends is that the categories of required knowledge are always changing. New technologies, management approaches, regulatory issues, and customer concerns are always emerging. Companies change their strategies, organizational structures, and product and service emphases. New managers and professionals have new needs for knowledge. [6]

This rapid change in knowledge environments means that firms should not focus on considerable time to mapping or modeling a particular knowledge environment. By the time they finished, the environment would no longer exist. Instead, descriptions of knowledge environments should be “quick ” and only as extensive as usage warrants. [6]

Conclusion

As Sheila Corral wore in her article, we can still assess a continuous holistic point of view of information, internal and external information, with strategic focus contributing to the performance of every company. Convert this information to a formal systematic organizational knowledge is the main purpose. The experienced knowledge as well implies in new forms to get and share knowledge.

Connecting people with people, as well as information, is still the main task to develop within an organizational culture learning scheme, perhaps from the technical point of view, there have been improving and emerging some new and more advanced techniques to gather, process, administrate and share information and knowledge between people and organizations. Knowledge Management is an evolving discipline that can be affected by new technologies and best practices, but as mentioned before, it must not drive the KM process or limit it.

I think it is inevitable that knowledge management will have a high adoption rate in the next few years. Over time to remain competitive it will be essential to be “knowledge-enabled.” Just a few years ago e-mail was not a common method for seeking customer service; now customers demand the ability to contact you through channels other than the phone. Going forward, as customers deal with companies that are knowledge-enabled and can quickly and efficiently answer their questions, they are going to expect a greater level of service in all of their support interactions.

The goal is to make it easier for a knowledge worker to create and share unique results. Instead of specifying a standard output to be created and the standardized steps to create that output, leading the company to a strategy of coaching knowledge workers toward improving their ability to perform, instead of training them to a set standard of performance. I think the best target is in between; real teamwork, internal and external, linked with technology is the focus.

What is real is that knowledge management is no longer a new idea. However, it hasn’t yet become ubiquitous in industry. And in the current economy, businesses may not be ready to invest in programs that aren’t part of their core products. KM is a particularly valuable strategy for industries that especially focus on information.

As Thomas Davenport says KM “came of age at a time of unprecedented boom in many leading economies. To persist on the business scene, however, it needs to survive the current bust. It needs to become mainstream, pervasive, and common.” [7] Knowledge Management will keep moving forward with new ideas and innovations. It’s designed to help believers and practitioners continue advance as a vital part of the business world.

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REFERENCES

[1]The ABC of KM, Megan Santosus ; Jon Surmacz, Dated: March 12, 2003 [2] Nov 2002, KPMG, the UK member firm of KPMG International)

[3] KM in the European Context IN DEPTH: Knowledge Management: Concepts and Best Practices, edited by Kai Mertins, Peter Heisig and Jens Vorbeck by Madanmohan Rao Monday, October 06, 2003

[4] How Experience Management Can Benefit from Relationships among Different Types of Knowledge

Markus Nick, Klaus-Dieter Althoff, Thomas Avieny, Bj�rn Decker Berlin, Germany. Lecture Notes in Informatics, P-10. Mar 2003.

[5] Knowledge management 2002-2003: The end of the beginning Eric Woods. KM World. Camden: Jan 2003. Vol. 12, Iss. 1; pg. 8

[6] (Some Principles of Knowledge Management by Thomas H. Davenport, PhD) Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, 2002

[7] Moving knowledge management along Gwen M Gregory. Information Today. Medford: Sep 2003. Vol. 20, Iss. 8; pg. 48

Note: Some personal comments, analysis and opinion in this paper were influenced by webloging discussion:http://www.voght.com/cgi-bin/pywiki?KmWiki ; http://denham.typepad.com/km/2003/11/km_fundamentals.html

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