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edu/2010/08/knowledge-is-power/

Knowledge is Power…
But knowledge management requires organizational change.
By LINDSLEY G. BOINEY, PHD
1999 Volume 2 Issue 2

How could your organization more effectively warehouse and mine its information? Information systems have traditionally assisted managers and decision-makers by providing better data, quicker access, better models, or more optimal solutions. Information systems have been used to help us do tasks more quickly and cost-effectively, and have been most helpful to managers in information gathering and decision-making. This is no longer enough, however. Today’s information systems must truly add value to the organization through the creation, capture, distribution, application, and leveraging of knowledge – or knowledge management. The role of information technology is being transformed in four major ways… 1. The traditional emphasis on fast access to data, gathered in functional departments, is shifting toward more centralized access to integrated and coordinated data to support decision-making. 2. Information systems are focusing less on summarizing data in reports, and more on sifting through huge volumes of data for potential problems or opportunities, hidden patterns, and meanings. 3. There is increased need for technologies that support effective communication, document sharing, knowledge sharing, and decision-making among groups – particularly those separated by time and distance. 4. Systems are connected to the outside world via the Internet to facilitate communications, relationship building, and sharing of information and experiences with customers, clients, and industry partners. The globalization of the world’s industrial economies is one reason for the changing role of knowledge management. Globalization greatly enhances the value of information to the firm and presents new challenges and complexities in communicating, controlling, and coordinating information and operations across the far-flung corporation. More tasks are now done in a distributed environment by people scattered across different countries, cultures, and time zones. The relatively recent explosion of electronic commerce has further increased the pace of business transactions and made it even easier for customers to quickly identify and make comparisons of price and quality among global competitors. A second force changing the business environment is the transformation of major industrial economies into information-based service economies in which knowledge and information become the key ingredients in creating wealth. Knowledge and information work currently account for some 60 percent of the American gross national product, and nearly 55 percent of the labor force. The growing importance of knowledge management is evident in the changing roles of information systems in organizations.

Changing Roles of Information Systems Traditional Roles 1. Fast access to functional information. 2. Summarize data in reports. Emerging Roles Centralized access to integrated, coordinated information. Sift through data for patterns and relationships

3. Support centralized, individual decision- Support decentralized & group decision-making, making. 4. Internal communication. information sharing. Broad-based communication, external relationship building.

Information is a Critical Strategic Resource
Information and information technology have become critical strategic resources for businesses. In order to bring all the necessary information and expertise to bear on a task or decision, work must increasingly be done cross-functionally, and by teams rather than individuals. The greater availability and importance of information is resulting in more decentralized decision-making and information sharing. Technologies that gather, integrate, and facilitate centralized access to data are the foundation of many knowledge management activities. A relatively new and rapidly growing technology is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. An ERP is a business management system that integrates all facets of the organization including inventory planning, manufacturing, sales, payroll, and finance so that they can become more coordinated through information sharing. This integration is critical because it means that, as a transaction is processed in one area, such as receipt of an order, its impact is immediately reflected in all related areas such as accounting, production scheduling, and purchasing. The second crucial characteristic of an ERP system is that the modules are designed to reflect a particular way of doing business based on a value chain view in which functional departments coordinate their work. Many businesses are finding this coordinated approach far preferable to the old way of doing business (by separate functional departments) because it greatly facilitates data gathering, integration, information sharing, and decision-making. A data warehouse is another technology that supports centralized access to integrated information. Data warehousing is the creation and maintenance of a large special-purpose database containing current and unified data from all functional units, as well as easy-to-use query, analysis, and reporting tools. It pulls data from the various departmental systems, and sometimes from external sources as well, and puts them into a separate warehouse so that users can access and analyze the information without endangering the original systems. This centralization of data about a company’s business, products, and customers eliminates redundancies and errors. It also allows employees to draw upon a wide range of information without

interactive marketing (predicting what each individual accessing a Web site most wants to see). For example. and slide shows around central topics or tasks. Groupware Links People and Information Groupware is another application of information technology that has emerged to support the needs of global organizations and virtual teams. and reporting tools can now be used across the board greatly facilitates the transformation of data into useful information. Groupware such as Lotus Notes offers e-mail.. another might provide a searchable set of names and contacts. The fact that one standardized set of analytical. and market basket analysis (understanding what products or services are commonly purchased together. retirement. managers must find ways to turn all that data into useful information. correlations. resignation. one discussion database might summarize daily activities on a client project. beer and pretzels). neural nets are used by BankAmerica to evaluate commercial loan applications. that organize such things as e-mail discussion threads. e. Artificial intelligence tools can also help draw meaning from data. Neural networks are a different and more flexible form of artificial intelligence useful in knowledge management. Neural networks attempt to tease out meaningful patterns from vast amounts of data. another .g. In a corporate setting. and information management in a relatively easy-to-use and customizable environment. They use statistical analysis to recognize relationships and can actually adapt as new information is received – a process called adaptive learning. Many people associate the term ―artificial intelligence‖ with expert systems designed to capture the expertise of humans in a rule-based computer program. Data Analysis Separates Gold from Dross As the amount of available data increases. query. Virtual teams working from different locations can set up discussion ―databases. calendaring. or trends in massive amounts of data. Web access. Data mining is an advanced analytical technique for uncovering small nuggets of information within vast quantities of data. customer churn (predicting which of your customers are likely to defect to a competitor).having to make multiple requests of different departments. American Express uses neural nets to read handwriting on credit card slips while Arco and Texaco use it to locate oil and gas deposits below the earth’s surface. Neural networks enhance the organization’s knowledge base by suggesting solutions to specific problems that are too massive and complex for efficient analysis by human beings. Data mining has many valuable applications such as market segmentation (identifying the common characteristics of customers who buy the same products from your company). group scheduling. spreadsheet files. or death of an acknowledged expert.‖ accessible remotely over the Internet. Expert systems can help businesses with knowledge management by capturing andcodifying knowledge that might otherwise be lost due to the absence. fraud detection (identifying which transactions are most likely to be fraudulent). Data mining actually involves using a variety of analytical techniques to identify patterns.

ideally creating more efficient customer response systems as well. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems may also be extended outside the firm to increase coordination with supply chain partners. Each computer-based activity is followed by facilitated discussion. prioritizing ideas (voting. and submit work. Databases can be customized to admit or restrict specific users as appropriate. and policy development such as stakeholder identification.might include company ―best practices‖ or guidelines. Another type of groupware is designed specifically to facilitate group meetings. and overhead costs at only 15 percent of sales revenue. More recent versions of these tools can be used in a ―different time. as could faculty committees or research teams who find it difficult to meet face to face. Students in the course could use their virtual workspace to ask questions. different place‖ environment with members participating remotely with the help of videoconferencing systems and the web. ranking). To manage the supply chain. there might be a discussion database established for each individual course. Many such meetings are characterized by unclear goals. Information technology is increasingly being used strategically for supply chain management which refers to the integration of supplier. Some researchers have estimated that middle managers spend 35 percent of their work week in meetings and that top managers spend 50-80 percent of their time in meetings. and customer logistics requirements into one cohesive process. get assignments and handouts. Information Technology Used in Supply Chain Management Businesses recognize the growing importance of communicating and forming alliances with customers and suppliers so they can adapt quickly to the ever-changing environment. and difficulty reaching consensus. Participants can provide their input simultaneously and anonymously via computer. EMS software contains tools designed to support activities such as team idea generation. An Electronic Meeting System (EMS) consists of a computer-supported meeting room containing networked computers for each participant and a large public screen to facilitate common viewing of information. specifications. distributor. Student project teams might also have their own workspaces. . This system allows them to keep prices low. The display of incoming inputs on the public screen during brainstorming also tends to stimulate a larger number of ideas. shelves well-stocked. Wal-Mart’s ―continuous inventory replenishment system‖ captures sales data via point-of-sales terminals at the checkout counter and immediately transmits electronic restocking orders directly to its suppliers. unequal participation. post responses. This has been shown to result in greater participation and more complete consideration of topics. In an educational environment. and communications. and another might contain client contracts. organizing ideas. a company tries to eliminate delays and cut the amount of resources tied up along the way.

Knowledge management technologies necessitate fundamental changes in the organization itself in order to effectively integrate. cutting the manufacturing cycle from 12 weeks to eight and saving millions in inventory costs.pepperdine. Dell Computer is linking its entire supply chain via the Web. PETE KNOX and ROSS ATWATER 2009 Volume 12 Issue 4 As global economies rise. PhD http://gbr. SPIN can even automatically notify suppliers of critical parts shortages.0 technologies and global service options. Chrysler believes SPIN has reduced the time to complete various business processes by 25 to 50 percent.000 suppliers selective access to portions of its intranet where they can access current data on design changes. Boiney. parts shortages. packaging information. . In the past. The company says this has made it more responsive. Increase Collaboration By DONALD M. a Silicon Valley-based computer chip company that obtains many of its products in East Asia. ATWATER. Today. communicate. Chrysler’s Supplier Partner Information Network (SPIN) allows 3500 of Chrysler’s 12. technology alone is insufficient for meeting the demands of the global and information-based economy.edu/2010/08/virtual-insourcing/ The Power of Sharing in an Uncertain World Virtual Insourcing Can Reduce Costs. Adaptec Inc. virtual insourcing is becoming a viable option because it showcases the efficiencies of corporate business units and maintains costs near or below those of shared services. The potential benefits of these information technologies can be realized only if their implementation goes hand in hand with changes in organizational structure and culture. inefficiencies in corporate business units and high costs led organizations to choose shared service or outsourced alternatives. About the Author(s) Lindsley G. and invoice tracking.The supply chain can go global as well. is using the Internet to give its suppliers access to purchase orders and factory-status updates. PHD. Knowledge Management Requires Organizational Change While the capabilities and roles of information technology are changing to address new business challenges. Other choices emerged with the advent of Web 2. and distribute information. managers are reassessing the benefits and costs of different business service models.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Image: Konstantin In an effort to increase efficiency and cut costs. the authors believe virtual insourcing deserves to be added to the list of service models being assessed. and shared-service alternatives. the submitter is compensated. . This article identifies an emerging business service model that increases worker efficiency and reduces costs even below shared-service levels. Procter & Gamble has a website and program called ―Connect + Develop‖ that allows consumers and external partners to submit ideas directly to their product development group. if an idea is used. Web 2. product manufacturing.A case study of a corporate business unit at Nestlé in the United States demonstrates the potential of virtual insourcing. an Internet communication platform stores information in a single place (Data Center #1) where geographically dispersed employees in a business unit can access the files and programs they need to perform their daily work. which uses Internet technologies to showcase the contributions and cost reductions provided by employees who share information and services. This model. While the benefits of sharing information and services will vary across organizations. is referred to as virtual insourcing. It allows employees to be in different corporate offices or work from home because they have the same level of access to their work files and programs regardless of their location. and even research and development are being compared with offshored.[2] This article introduces virtual insourcing as a viable business service model and explains why managers should consider it as an option for the volatile and uncertain times ahead. organizational entities and customers in order to achieve common goals in communities.0 technologies have emerged to support business models that connect internal business units with external.[1] For example. Sharing information is a maturing process. outsourced. What is Virtual Insourcing? Figure 1 is a visual representation of how virtual insourcing options works: Basically. current business service models for credit and collections. In the last decade.

financial analyses.[4] Over the past two decades. message boards. Fortune 100 companies that .Figure 1 Ideally. knowledge is created and stored digitally and transparently. Daily work activities (services) are performed using calendars. employees from other business units can be invited to participate in select two-way communications. which connect users to the information they need to perform their tasks. The ―people paths‖ feature allows users to share both information and services (such as new customer applications. Examples of ―off-the-shelf‖ virtual insourcing solutions include Google Apps and Microsoft SharePoint. Communication paths. assignment and workflow tools. paper files. working files from desktops. however. digital copies of paper files. and telephone conversations only increases labor costs. In addition. suppliers. emails. desktop files. and third-party information should all be available over the communication platform. dashboards. and chat rooms. approvals. the high visibility of user contributions encourages learning and facilitates sharing. they may not offer the security or customizations that a particular organization may need. Sharing both information and services across an organization can generate cost reductions and efficiency improvements and even support wealth creation. risk ratings. and business connections are often subject to scrutiny with respect to costs and inefficiencies. Strengths and Weaknesses Organizations with strong local-market customers. enterprise resource planning (ERP) data. With virtual insourcing. Inefficiencies often occur when managers make decisions based on incomplete information. Management consulting firm McKinsey refers to these costs as interaction costs and has reported that they can account for half of total labor costs.[3] Searching for paper files and connecting information across emails. can also be customized. and decisions) while corporate auditors and executives can view outcomes and findings.

talent chains are disconnected and frequent communications with suppliers and buyers are eliminated.[5]The following table summarizes the key strengths and weaknesses of the three core organizational options: Strengths Status Quo Outsourcing Shared Services Local Connections Low Corporate Cost Low Interaction Costs Weaknesses High Infrastructure Costs High Interaction Costs Loss of Local Decision-Making In this situation. This solution can also help encourage business units to adopt best practices (through high transparency and audit standards).[6] In an outsourcing situation. were not being encountered. local office staff was required to spend a significant amount of time checking that the scans and codes were done properly. according to McKinsey. and they can significantly close the cost gap between this option and others. then to an outsourced accounts payable systems center in Puerto Rico. However. customer and supplier relationships are often more complex and require additional checks and balances to manage. Outsourcing is often seen as a cost-saving option as labor costs are low compared to employee costs. desktop files. confirming that system notices. The downside is that when automated corporate controls are implemented. As they are often located in key metropolitan markets. Sharing information and services can be viewed as a hybrid approach that combines the strengths of other organizational options while minimizing known weaknesses. and recognize employee contributions. reduce interaction costs.managed and reduced their interaction costs created $30. which can cause relationships to suffer.[7] Some centers are offshored while others are located in rural communities. In addition. the interaction costs for dealing with external vendors must be included in the total cost of outsourcing. One company recently noted that invoices submitted by suppliers had to go through local offices to a national scanning and coding center in the United States. voice messages to do their work.000 more wealth per employee than their competitors. Virtual insourcing emerges as the best option as it retains valuable local-market connections and relationships by keeping employees in one business unit in the same space as employees from other units. and answering vendor questions regarding payments. Shared services comprises of a centralized business unit in a low-cost labor area that performs a business function across several local business markets. such as blocks and denials. ―status quo‖ refers to a group of employees within a business unit who work with other business units within the organization. Another key disadvantage is that business units lose their autonomy in decision making and their flexibility to do things differently from other units. emails. the information they use is available and stored on corporate ERP systems. . dramatically reducing the costs of repetitive services or transactions. They form a local team with strong ties to the market and use an assortment of paper files. such as high interaction costs. employee labor costs are high. and then to a control center in Europe before finally arriving at a local bank for payment.

making it difficult for employees and the company as a whole to move quickly in response to market changes. with a central location serving all five U. The director of Nestlé USA’s credit and collections reviewed their current operations and reported that account paperwork and information were scattered. At the time. the process of achieving them was time-intensive and uncertain. This case study focuses on a virtual insourcing model implemented within the company’s credit and collection units. the credit and collections groups at Nestlé companies across the United States knew they were facing some significant challenges. There was a dire need to quickly discover what other options existed beyond the status quo and shared services. minimizing duplication of efforts. and so. At Nestlé. He told them that the best option in terms of cost would be shared services but the best option in terms of service would be one that shared information as well as services. Alcon Labs. and other materials were located in multiple places. The virtual insourcing business service model would create a single place where information could be shared and services. In 2004. . desktop and laptop working files. A primary difference between the virtual insourcing and shared-services options was that using virtual insourcing allowed professionals to remain with their companies and retain valuable connections with customers. This would mean that only one application and one financial analysis would need to be performed for each account.S. credit files. Dreyers. sales. global companies stress that they want their managers to propose new ideas. credit and collections units. could be stored. customers and suppliers often addressed and resolved issues in different ways with different units. Phone call messages. The Solution An outside advisor with experience in shared services was brought in to discuss alternatives. the monthly phone call to discuss high-risk and high-value accounts was not going to be enough going forward. which made files hard to find. The Problem In an uncertain world characterized by volatile markets. such as financial analyses. emails. and all IT resources were being directed to its rollout. and other units. Executives in successful.But these are simply the promises of virtual insourcing—can its potential be realized in the real world? The following section attempts to answer this question by documenting a successful case of virtual insourcing implementation. innovation includes discovering new business service models. even if there is a chance that they will fail. attachments. Purina Pet Care and Nestlé Waters. innovation is critical. There were five separate credit and collections units—Nestlé USA. Discussions were also under way with the chief financial officer regarding shared-service options. While the necessary outcomes were achieved. Nestlé USA was launching its new ERP program in the United States. Clearly.

Each unit shared in the cost of the sharing solution. once the value of the sharing solution was shown. consolidating subscription fees into a single. significant benefits and value can be created by implementing virtual insourcing within an organization. news. references. duplicated services. interface. Junior analysts learned from seasoned professionals. unauthorized deductions. and working desktop files were all moved to the virtual insourcing solution. the user risks—namely. user adoption—were determined to be the most significant. once per week. The Results Once communication lines opened among the five units. for eight weeks to work out the details. the path to a shared-cost formula was easy to establish. but headcounts remained stable. and invoice collection discussions. credit and collections activities rose. and the big question became why had it not been done sooner. Employees shared customer contacts and job opportunities opened up for those who could now be recognized as strong contributors. In fact. the outcomes exceeded expectations. in some cases. Of these. A recent corporate-wide sharing solution had only seven logins across the entire global company in six months.A set of analytics was prepared to compare the costs related to subscriptions. the risks taken to implement an innovative sharing solution for credit and collections across Nestlé in the United States were manageable. customers began to view them as one entity. subscriber notes. such as the timeliness of responses to information requests. Keys to a Successful Sharing Solution As part of a well-orchestrated campaign. staffing. email programs. A team was formed to meet for two hours. Below is a summary of key findings to stimulate discussion. red flags. In retrospect. Documents. shared fee and eliminating duplicate services generated savings large enough to cover the basic costs of putting the solution in place. however. . Performance reviews now included sharing activities and survey responses indicated what was working well and what needed to be improved. Four ―people paths‖ were set up for ongoing credit. and working capital. Over the next three years. User activity was tracked and rose steadily. rather than as separate organizations. The results showed that virtual insourcing held the potential to reduce costs to near the level of the shared-service cost model. The related technology. open positions caused by normal turnover and voluntary retirements did not have to be filled. and user risks were also assessed. Chat rooms were opened to share information on services.

Documents. telephone tag. .  Provide clear audit trails. all of which serve as steps along the path to self-engagement. discussions. documents.  Support users with various access and security privileges. email. Allow users to go from usage (seeing what is being shared) to participation (taking part in discussions) to contribution (posting information. Some can be restricted to discussions with selected accounts so that confidentiality is maintained in accordance with privacy agreements. Benefits include reducing time lost due to duplicate work. Not all users need to be equal.Image: Ayzek Successful sharing solutions can:  Pay for themselves by eliminating duplicate costs (such as multiple subscriptions to third-party publications like Dun & Bradstreet). and messages. and recommended actions). Search engines make it easy to find and access accounts. thus reducing office rental and utility costs as well as employee expenses. and actions are stored in one place. Ideally. Also paramount to success is having a clear leader who recognizes the risks and value from sharing solutions and is willing to spend time tracking and managing activities. and file or document searches. such as parking and travel costs.   It is important to note that value must be established before implementing cost-sharing formulas. analyses.  Facilitate continuous learning as more information and expertise is centrally and transparently collected.  Open the door to having employees work at home. and decreasing working capital and days-to-order results. Improve the daily work activities of all users. reducing redundant work. Only afterwards should discussions and implementation of cost sharing begin taking place. an organization should treat first-year efforts as a corporate investment to discover the benefits of sharing both information and services and to verify that the expected benefits are recognized by business units. Notification is automatic and one click should take a user to a new message or document when it is posted for an important account.

6. (hyperlink no longer accessible). About the Author(s) Donald M. Intel. ―Moving Towards Global Shared Service Centers. Virtual insourcing is an emerging alternative that uses Internet technologies to enhance the contributions and value of employees. 12. virtual insourcing offers managers a viable new cost-saving and wealth-creating option. In today’s uncertain economy. Jose-Maria Gómez-Gras. Dell Computer. and with the great need to create competitive advantages.‖ Industrial Management and Data Systems. no. (McGraw-Hill. Previously. ―Driving Toward Action: The Action Stage. Usage risk. (hyperlink no longer accessible). Navy. The proportion of successful virtual insourcing solutions remains around 15 percent—consistent with Conclusion Business service models are only as good as the costs they reduce and the benefits they provide. 15. no. Today he owns and operates a company dedicated to building goal-driven communities. Atwater. Mercer. [8] Antonio Verdü-Jover. JP Morgan Chase. [5] Shelly Heiden. and Francisco Lioréns-Montex. ―Exploring Managerial Flexibility: Determinants and Performance Implications. Dr. and both the county and city of Los Angeles. ―A Practitioner’s Decision Model for the Total Cost of Outsourcing and Application to China. a principal in the human resources and compensation practice at William M. the General Accounting Office.[8] [1] Daniel Tapscott and Anthony Williams.pgconnectdevelop. value-added software company. Mexico and the United States. the chief financial officer of an international. (New York: Penguin Group. that is. remains the most difficult hurdle to overcome.‖ white paper. Atwater has also worked with many public organizations. . https://www. including the U. 2007).‖ Journal of Business Logistics.other Internet applications.‖ Chief Learning Officer. Mobilizing Minds. no. His work has been published in the Monthly Labor Review and he has co-authored numerous papers. getting employees to engage in sharing information and services. (2008). the state of California. 2. He has created decision-support technologies and implemented them in a number of Fortune 100 companies. and Nestle USA.com/. including AT&T. 2004 [registration required].S. and a director and co-founder of several start-up companies. ―Centralization Versus Decentralization: A Closer Look at How to Blend Both. [2] Procter & Gamble. Apple Computer. [7] JP Morgan Chase. 29. [3] Larry Goldman. (2008). May 24. [4] Lowell L. Joyce. no. (December 2007). 5 (May 2005). 108. PhD. Wikinomics How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. 2007). is a practitioner faculty of economics at the Graziadio School of Business and Management.‖ DM Review. Bryan and Claudia I. Portfolio. 1. [6] Sameer Kumar and Krisoffer Kopitzke. he served as chief executive for a southern California technology company.

Ross regularly works with Fortune 100 companies that utilize web insourcing solutions to help them achieve cost savings.” . His primary role is to deal with customers and showcase their contributions.Pete Knox. “Nothing allows us to be as productive as people who are in one room. He has also provided voiceover for interactive. chat together and discuss the problem.theglobeandmail. 2012 1:29PM EST Needless to say. Ross has a degree in economics from the University of CaliforniaDavis and has worked for Micronomics. information technology. Inc. LLC. every instruction needs to be documented. Ross Atwater. in business administration from Ashland University and an MBA from the University of Akron. and DMA. 18. 18. in Charlotte. Inc. is Division Manager of the Accounts Management Group for the Satorian Group. Because everyone lives so far from each other. More Sharing ServicesShare|Share on emailShare on printShare on facebookShare on twitterShare on linkedinShare on redditShare on diggShare on deliciousShare on google Issue: 2009 Volume 12 Issue 4 Topic: Information Management Tags: collaboration. globalization.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/thechallenge/collaborating-with-a-far-flung-team/article2305605/ THE CHALLENGE BRYAN BORZYKOWSKI From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Collaborating with a far-flung team Published Wednesday.” he says. Jan. online demonstrations and co-authored a macroeconomic analysis textbook.” it doesn‟t allow him to brainstorm ideas the way he‟d like. And while Skype lets him talk to his developers or his business partners “face-to-face. 2012 6:00AM EST Last updated Wednesday.S. “I want to be able to stand up around the white board. working as a virtual team presents incredible challenges. He has been in the credit field for 25 years. Jan. in southern California. where he is responsible for marketing and sales for the group throughout the United States.. communications. insourcing Leave a Reply http://www. is the head of credit and accounts receivable administration for Nestlé USA. He finds his current software isn‟t robust enough to do that. North Carolina. Knox has a B.

This might help enable the CEO to focus more on strategy. We found that in Join Me. such as GoToMeeting. It‟s free too. Those are useful for personal conversations. We‟ve also spent years testing differing desktop-sharing tools. slides and documented discussions during the meeting. he believes. Use BlackBerry Messenger for keeping in touch in quick messages.Mr. is one way for all participants to see. “We do try and talk every day. Voice-only also relieves everyone of having to dress for the call. [iPhone‟s new iMessage program operates in a similar way. The CEO can then think more about strategy than inputting every detail of a conversation into a software program. so people “share the pain” of having to get up early or go to bed late.” The Challenge: How can InsureEye improve the collaboration among its far-away staff? THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN Mitchell Potter. Many of these paid tools have (elements) specifically designed for brainstorming. likeJive. Supplement your conversations with some form of interactive discussion software. which is a simple. “But we need to be more efficient. we use Epik Networks. Simon Bell. It‟s secure. Make conference calls. . He might want to consider engaging a project manager to create a project‟s plan and manage all the tasks – rather than doing it himself or relying only on software. secure way to instantly get someone else‟s input wherever they are. Cardiff-based co-founder and chief operating officer of Toronto-based LOGiQ3.distance charges. Principal with Minneapolis-based Mercer LLC I think he should actually do away with the Skype or other tools that provide a visual of the other people. or get a VOIP phone that‟s only for calling team members. then the meetings should be rotated so the „pain‟ is shared equally. We don‟t incur any long. Instead. One of the great advantages of telecommuting is that you can focus on what you are doing and not on how you look or how the way you look may affect others. but it wasn‟t great for the quick conversation. Toronto-based associate director of global IT services at Ernst & Young For brainstorming. but to expand it. If every team member is expected to attend the call. a company that offers voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). In fact. good brainstorming tools he can buy. Ann-Marie Urquhart. the actual time of the meeting should also be taken into consideration. They are not a good substitute for real body language. Moxie. respecting the different time zones and country-specific holidays. but you keep trying to make the visual image work as well as the real thing. Rotate time zones Change the times of conference calls every day or week. he‟ll need to find better ways to work with his overseas colleagues. but they don‟t add value in most business group or brainstorming conversations. free and you can tell when the other person has received and read the message. Whether we‟re in Toronto or Cardiff. Hire a project manager Hire someone to manage the multitude of tasks. Finally. Saltykov started his business last March.] THREE THINGS INSUREYE SHOULD DO NOW Use the phone more Video conferencing is often distracting and the visuals can take away from accomplishing tasks. Participants.” he says. we have a phone that‟s connected to the Internet that I just pick it up and it connects one office to the other. [and] Telligent. His business partner is based in Toronto We‟ve tried Skype. can share their screen‟s content to the entire team. they can be distracting. at any time. in real time. We needed to be able to see the same document at the same time and make a single set of changes. Better to be voice-only. on-line meeting software. There are many.

chat together and discuss the problem". people from different time zones can contribute to the process asynchronously. In reality. the field &. the other tools (like project management or document sharing) can be used supplementally for additional productivity and collaboration gains..theglobeandmail. where they can "stand up around the whiteboard.. Employees across the globe can create ideas. it is commonality is. and if the tool addresses the unique need. don't tell me how you are going to do it. Saltykov's primary need seems to be re-creating the boardroom.. collaborative decision. In the olden days "global chatter" made one there believe that experts were at hand... histograms could be good executables. Saltykov needs most. When I read this article. Saltykov that his challenge is not unique.. and 3) highlight the congruence of Mr. prioritize ideas.. but only once the project has been defined. Saltykov's challenge and a solution called Powernoodle (powernoodle. BENCHMARK the not obvious. I need to mention that I am advising a company called Powernoodle on marketing strategies..com). Again.complete with flipcharts and sticky notes . the experts have all contributed sound advice.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/thechallenge/collaborating-with-a-far-flung-team/article2305605/comments/ An interesting challenge.. "we don't know what we are doing!" The rules. Direction is impossible to commit a criminal offence is good. My intention with this comment is to 1) assure Mr. mentoring is extinct. their (our) solution came immediately to mind because what the Powernoodle tool does best is recreate the boardroom . since sessions remain 'open'. though. people that have good ideas but are too shy or too intimidated to contribute in-person. vote on ideas. can have their voice heard.. it creates a productivity and collaboration challenge. 2) concur with the experts about the power of productivity software. before a specific project is defined. understand the issue and get to a good. at their convenience. The first step. It sounds like this is what Mr. Glenn Cressman shareofmarketing. . the lab. and a common one! As teams become more virtual for good reasons. as Mr. beside blind commonality. we get the same thing. It is also a unique tool for other reasons: Because it allows for anonymous contribution. and create an action plan! Then.. By way of disclosure. Mr. Many collaboration tools allow people to work together on a project. Also.http://www. is to get the smart people in the company together to discuss an issue. project management. combine ideas.virtually.com Collaborate? All one does it float around in cyberspace with blind commonality being correct. have aptly pointed out that software tools (such as document sharing. In this case. comment on ideas. virtual meeting and desktop sharing tools) can be part of the solution if used properly. Saltykov has discovered.

“We have a greater comfort zone with communicating with people without being in the same room because of sites like Twitter and Facebook. Sookman notes that according to Statistics Canada. 2012 5:00AM EST Last updated Monday. Gaudes says.theglobeandmail. Among the other reasons companies gave for using or considering virtual teams: access to global talent. almost a quarter of respondents said they were deploying virtual teams to save money. Feb. In a 2011 survey of Canadian and U. going virtual can deliver financial and other benefits. As it turns out. Gaudes.” says Claire Sookman. principal of Toronto-based consultancy Virtual Team Builders. Feb.com/news/technology/shaping-the-future/how-to-make-the-most-ofvirtual-teams/article2346314/ . 27. there‟s plenty of room to improve on existing technology. 22. Dr. Minigroup originally launched last year as a private social network.S.theglobeandmail. Ms.4-million Canadian employees work from home at least part-time. “We‟re seeing more companies transition toward a virtual environment. 1. businesses by Houston–based Chronos Consulting.” Dr.” says Andrew Gaudes. “Good collaboration isn‟t just about doing tasks. “When we start looking into the future.” Either way.” says cofounder Chris Nieckar. “I think virtual teams are here to stay. But when it comes to the virtual working environment. it switched focus. 2012 10:36AM EST http://www.” ADVANCED IT: VIRTUAL TEAMS NICK ROCKEL Special to Globe and Mail Update To Bolivia and beyond: how to collaborate abroad Published Wednesday. But when the company noticed that many business customers with remote employees were using the product.theglobeandmail.http://www.” adds Dr.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/going-global/how-tokeep-far-flung-staff-engaged/article2070581/ http://www. He also predicts that organizations will increasingly turn to social media.com/news/technology/shaping-the-future/to-bolivia-and-beyond-how-tocollaborate-abroad/article2345236/ Virtual teams may not be a novel idea. “It‟s really the conversations and the communication that lead to the task and lead to accomplishing the work that needs to get done. but it‟s also not an all-or-nothing concept. Noting that Skype and other video services are growing in popularity. “Virtual teams function really well when they‟re allowed to communicate easily. Gaudes expects to see touch screens that allow team members in different locations to work on the same document together. who has worked with organizations to build virtual teams. an associate professor of business at the University of New Brunswick. it‟s going to be about how we can make communication among team members more free and easy so that the interaction is more natural. but new technologies are helping these groups to work more effectively.

Gaudes. right now. Globe and Mail: How does social media work hand-in-hand with this concept? 12:07 Comment From Andrew Gaudes: Hi Dave.. Noting that Skype and other video services are growing in popularity. Are you there. 12:02 Dave M. More companies are using virtual teams. Social media has been great for people feeling more comfortable with exchanges that cross time and distance. Dr. Of course there are tradeoffs .. Globe and Mail: Andrew. Globe and Mail: Hello everyone. 12:06 Dave M.Virtual teams may not be a novel idea. He also predicts that organizations will increasingly turn to social media. rather than very long constructed messages to send and receive. Companies also found it easier to connect with global talent.” Dr. Gaudes joined us earlier to talk about the new far-flung workplace. almost a quarter of respondents said they were deploying virtual teams to save money. Gaudes says. Globe and Mail: Hi Andrew.” adds Dr. 11:50 Dave M. an associate professor of business at the University of New Brunswick. businesses by Houston–based Chronos Consulting. taking advantage of the best new software.S. Gaudes expects to see touch screens that allow team members in different locations to work on the same document together. The discussion will begin in a few moments. 12:10 Andrew Gaudes: People in work and in social exchanges are feeling more comfortable with brief bursts of information that are part of social media exchanges. But when it comes to the virtual working environment. it‟s going to be about how we can make communication among team members more free and easy so that the interaction is more natural. 12:06 Dave M. In a 2011 survey of Canadian and U. there‟s plenty of room to improve on existing technology. “We have a greater comfort zone with communicating with people without being in the same room because of sites like Twitter and Facebook. “Virtual teams function really well when they‟re allowed to communicate easily. and ready? 12:04 Comment From Andrew Gaudes: Yes I am. “When we start looking into the future. let's start with some basics. but new technologies are making it easier than every to collaborate with people scattered across the globe. Virtual teams are really a part of everyday business for many organizations today. Feel free to punch in your questions below. who has worked with organizations to build virtual teams... Thanks for asking.” says Andrew Gaudes. Dr.

.. 12:19 Andrew Gaudes: Much like an iPad screen that sees manipulation by several members of the team. 12:12 Dave M.and in real time. For example. It really is a matter of seeing them utilized in such a fashion that supports collaboration. Sarcasm does not work well in a text-based environment! 12:14 Andrew Gaudes: However.. This promotes richer exchange between team members. Globe and Mail: How far away is that iPad screen that everyone can use together? Or is there an app for that right now? 12:21 Andrew Gaudes: The basic ingredients are already out there.. Touch screens that we can manipulate documents together... Globe and Mail: What does the future hold for this trend? What are some of the technological advances coming our way? 12:18 Andrew Gaudes: Freer communication. graphic design will be great beneficiaries of this technology. Team members have to be sensitive.. Globe and Mail: What are some of the problems people have with communicating as a team over long distances? 12:12 Andrew Gaudes: Often you find difficulty in expressing thoughts/ideas that have universal meaning.due to free communication.. This will be a great platform for collaboration that involves more than text-based projects. ..... Design of spaces. SINGLE PAGE 12:20 Dave M. 12:15 Andrew Gaudes: Skype allows us to use text. manipulation of audio. 12:17 Dave M. Skype is a great example where we are able to utilize multiple cues (signals) from each other to get greater meaning in messages. we have come a long way from relying on e-mail content for messages being sent back and forth. but also audio..greater ability to work on the same document over distances. using language that is not misconstrued by other team members. 12:11 Andrew Gaudes: The benefit is that people are getting the pulse of what is going on around them..Not everything sent has been carefully constructed (content wise). and of course video in our messages..

. rank. Introverts vs... 12:21 Comment From Chris: Are there special security concerns about virtual communication? 12:21 Andrew Gaudes: Hi Chris. etc. 12:26 Andrew Gaudes: Personality types can come into play. Five years ago I would have said younger is more in tune with the technology that needs to be applied. it will result in larger screens down the road. but not in the way you would expect.. there is always someone out there that has a work-around. 12:28 Andrew Gaudes: What we have to do is provide great team leaders that "pull" ideas and reward contributors that may feel "less" than others.. the greatest growth in Facebook right now is with middle/late-age females. the comfort zone with collaborating over time/distance has increased across all.and this can cross the intra/extravert boundaries.good question. Globe and Mail: Another question from a reader: Are there different personality types who are more sucessful at working in virutal teams. For example. 12:27 Andrew Gaudes: We find that people with higher professional designations. 12:30 Andrew Gaudes: Today though... To answer your question of young/old.. extroverts? Are younger people more adept at doing this? Can the older crowd join in .g.with a bit of training? 12:25 Andrew Gaudes: Fun question......12:21 Andrew Gaudes: However. 12:22 Andrew Gaudes: Any communication in a virtual domain poses risk of being scooped by others.) in a virtual way? . 12:24 Dave M.I'm finding that the gap between the two is closing as time passes. No matter how much encryption we apply.. so on have greater confidence. education. 12:24 Andrew Gaudes: We also have to realize that even face-to-face communication and hard-copy poses risk of security breach. 12:29 Comment From Catherine: What are some ways you can reproduce the benefits of live interaction (e. We find that people that have self-confidence are good in virtual teams.... emotional connection.let me address in several parts. 12:23 Andrew Gaudes: We try to balance the risks with the benefits of having the right skilled people to work together from wherever/whenever.

... For many. for all stakehol. to ensure a successful... 12:40 Andrew Gaudes: Balance is critical.ders. being on a virtual team is like having a new toy. or even loyal to. like censorship of Internet communications? 12:34 Andrew Gaudes: Hi Jason. which can create surprise when not expected by members of the team. 12:33 Andrew Gaudes: One organization I worked with hosted baby showers and holiday parties virtually. outcomes.people just want to keep using it. A great example where the comfort of collaborating over distance crossed the task-based interaction to include relationship building events. Otherwise organizations are prone to members getting burned out and not being able to sustain the initiative.. 12:38 Comment From Tina Is there a danger that social-network-like work interaction means work intrudes into every moment of people's lives and there's no "clear-your-mind" time (or less family time)? 12:38 Andrew Gaudes: Great question Tina.. 12:35 Andrew Gaudes: The challenges are primarily cultural.I find from the work I have done with virtual teams has shown that teams that also socialize virtually have a greater bond for their work. Using Skype for example for real-time interaction with multiple cues. the company? 12:41 . 12:33 Comment From Jason: What about doing business in Asia.. 12:37 Andrew Gaudes: With dialogue in virtual teams. There is benefit in creating a terms of reference for how the team will interact for the duration of the project.. the structure is different. and specifically China? Have you had any experience with that? Has it posed any challenges....The most difficult thing to teach people on virtual teams is how to use the "off" button on the equipment.12:32 Andrew Gaudes: Hi Catherine. SINGLE PAGE 2:40 Comment From Sam: If someone's not working on site.not necessarily hierarchical... is there the possibility they won't feel as connected to. procedures in managing a virtual team.. long-term virtual team strategy.virtual teams with members in China presents challenges. with differences in expectations..

. dress.? 12:52 Andrew Gaudes: Hi Randy.. the question is relevant for both conventional and virtual teams..when we used mouse pads. special virtual team equipment or supplies. Try to provide all team members with something they can share or identify with. A great remedy is to have collaborators that are out of office to come into office periodically.. 12:47 Andrew Gaudes: How you share context is really up to your own creativity (such as the baby shower). and they worry about being left out of prime projects.something you want to achieve as a group... It could be organizational branding. 12:50 Andrew Gaudes: Conflict in the virtual domain often resides in the content of the work (which actually. Conflict in the office is often generated by triggers that are not necessarily work-related (we can ALL think of examples).... Start with a shared goal. Any suggestions? 12:44 Andrew Gaudes: Hi VS1. 12:44 Comment From VancouverScene1: I sometimes have trouble giving my people a sense of teamwork when they're not in the office all the time.. gets more challenging when people are on opposite sides of the globe.yes..the potential for conflict is likely the same.. promotions. etc.. is a good place for it to reside. raises. and so on. 12:47 Comment From Chris: Do you find there's more or less conflict when teams communicate virtually? 12:48 Andrew Gaudes: Hi Chris.. 12:43 Andrew Gaudes: It's incumbent on the organization to ensure employees are kept in the loop..Andrew Gaudes: These are great questions! Hi Sam..context sharing is a great start..in a telework arrangement. We often call these individuals teleworkers. sneeze. We are not preoccupied with how people look... of course. brainstorming.. 12:43 Andrew Gaudes: This.. having the same mouse pads was just one simple addition to creating a shared context. 12:53 . but having all members of the team identify as a part of something great creates strong bonds. because it leads to greater. etc. but is generated through different triggers.. that's one of the greatest fears of people collaborating away from the office. 12:50 Comment From Randy: What techniques work for virtual collaboration. 2-3 days a week out of office are optimal. richer solutions).

2010 11:01AM EDT Last updated Wednesday.. Globe and Mail: One more from me -. Virtual teams are limited largely to the knowledge worker. 1:05 Andrew Gaudes: The pleasure is mine. Showing the e-mail is becoming the new snail mail...theglobeandmail... 11. 12:58 Dave M. Jun. 1:04 Dave M. phasing it out over the next few years. 1:00 Andrew Gaudes: One that quickly comes to mind is a large firm that has changed its intranet platform to emulate a Facebook experience. Thanks very much for your time today.. or people participating on committees (that may also participate on an assembly-line).. The firm's employees interact on their intranet much the same way one would with friends on Facebook.. We fail to realize that a large sector of what make industry run are left out of these opportunities for their work. 1:02 Andrew Gaudes: Another very large organization in France made headlines in December because of their strategy to eliminate e-mail in the workplace. This is a great example of utilizing social media approach to collaboration in the workplace. with the ability to have information about themselves and to circulate correspondence in real-time short bursts.. anytime we need people to collaborate on projects that involve exchange of ideas we have opportunity to collaborate across time and distance. Globe and Mail: Andrew.are there topics or areas where virtual teams should not be used. Aug.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/going-global/what-todo-when-you-get-there/article1600690/ TABASSUM SIDDIQUI Special to The Globe and Mail What to do when you get there Published Friday. 12:57 Andrew Gaudes: However.Dave M. 24. or aren't optimal? 12:54 Andrew Gaudes: The most obvious (of course) is assembly-line work.thanks to you and all the viewers for their interest in this great topic! SINGLE PAGE http://www. our time is up.. turning more to IM as a method of internal communication. Globe and Mail: Can you think of any examples of companies that are doing a good job with virtual teams? You can leave out their names if you like.. 2011 11:16AM EDT . and for helping us all learn about this trend.

All it takes is a quick Twitter or Facebook post inquiring about the best place to have a beer in a city.” . tries to find a way to mix business with pleasure – and has found savvy means of doing so along the way. I‟ll be in touch with some amazing locals who do similar things to what I do. Remedios also relies on online tools to plan. so many still turn to concierge services. it's impossible to really know about any of that yourself. Mr. which can help with everything from reservations at the busiest restaurant to tickets to a sold-out show. and when you're only in a city a few times a year. Mr. Remedios. and they'll help guide my trip. “I'll go to a town like Buenos Aires. and even before I go. Experts note that using social media – including such options as LinkedIn. The rise of social media provides a great opportunity for frequent business travellers heading to unfamiliar destinations.com offering creative ways to seek out travel advice and share itineraries from cities around the world. While many travellers might turn to the traditional hotel concierge for advice. with websites like Dopplr.Like many executives who maximize their time while travelling. it‟s the online equivalent of having a personal network at their fingertips. or plan an entire curated experience for them and their guests. Remedios says. who takes trips to festivals. so I depend on the locals‟ knowledge. creative types like Mr. they seem to want to have a whole experience attached to it. “Trendy places heat up and cool down. “We can facilitate meetings here. But the fusty image of the traditional hotel or airline concierge has taken on an updated spin to match the quick pace of modern international business travel. keeping an eye on Twitter and websites like ASmallWorld. Not all business travellers may have the network (or inclination) to look for options on their own. conferences and meetings one week per month.” Mr. whether that‟s a walking tour of the Queen West neighbourhood or a picnic at the Beaches.net. and chances are someone on their contact list knows exactly the spot to suggest. Travel-focused social media is becoming increasingly popular with business travellers. Remedios already have access to a built-in network of peers who have their finger on the pulse of their particular urban scene.” says the Drake‟s head concierge Jonathan LeClaire.” like many other busy executives seeking out unique entertainment options. like artist managers or concert promoters. “More and more business travellers seem to be looking for a cultural experience – it seems like as long as people are being forced to travel. Concierges at boutique accommodations such as Toronto‟s Drake Hotel can assist visitors looking for distinctive ways to interact with clients by tailoring entertainment options that showcase the best of the city. which cater specifically to the business professional – to cultivate an international network of contacts can make business trips that much easier.

The hotel is able to keep business travellers in the know thanks to an active staff that meets weekly to share tips about the latest openings. As such. Air Canada. De Souza says. Ms.000 qualifying miles each year.” Ms. LeClaire. which plugs the airline into a vast network of hotels. Long before travellers even reach their destinations. restaurants and other entertainment venues around the world. Concierges can also help tailor entertaining options to a specific budget. says Deborah-Ann De Souza. Most other Canadian and international carriers offer similar programs. says Mr. “It helps us keep our finger on the pulse of what guests are looking for. “So when there‟s less time to get it right. bars and entertainment venues means that his staff is often able to facilitate even the trickiest request from business travellers hoping to score a good table at a popular eatery or tickets to a buzzworthy show.edu/2010/08/knowledge-is-power/ Knowledge is Power… But knowledge management requires organizational change. and is also partnered with the mConcierge iPhone app. “Time is of the essence for the business traveller – they live on the road. Air Canada‟s premium concierge services are available to the 50. Ms. sometimes it helps to have someone like us jump in and lend a hand. and they‟ll work over lunch.000 “super elite” frequent fliers who travel the required 100.” she says. De Souza explains. pointing out that companies were beginning to tighten their belts long before the financial crisis hit last year. so depend on us to assist with the details. director of concierge services at Air Canada. LeClaire. adding that the hotel‟s close relationships with area restaurants. Someone will fly in and want to be able to take their client out to lunch someplace nice. another way hotels like the Drake try to anticipate business travellers‟ entertaining needs is by staying connected via technology – the Drake‟s concierge team has its own Twitter account. happenings and trends in town. but also to those flying in Executive First class. business travellers are increasingly taking advantage of airline concierge services as an effortless way to tap into the services they need. De Souza says.” says Mr.pepperdine.” http://gbr. Since most on-the-go execs are glued to their smart phones. and then the person returns to their home base. BOINEY. is an affiliate of the exclusive Les Clefs D‟Or concierge society. airline concierges are busy fielding requests from harried business people who need to set up entertaining options for when they get to the other end. “Your average business customer is very cost-conscious in how they‟re spending their money and how they‟re entertaining. PHD 1999 Volume 2 Issue 2 How could your organization more effectively warehouse and mine its information? . which has 148 concierges in 20 cities worldwide. By LINDSLEY G.

cultures. better models. hidden patterns. Globalization greatly enhances the value of information to the firm and presents new challenges and complexities in communicating. and industry partners. clients. and more on sifting through huge volumes of data for potential problems or opportunities. Knowledge and information work currently account for some 60 percent of the American gross national product. application. and nearly 55 percent of the labor force. gathered in functional departments. Summarize data in reports. . 4. The traditional emphasis on fast access to data. Information systems have been used to help us do tasks more quickly and cost-effectively. A second force changing the business environment is the transformation of major industrial economies into information-based service economies in which knowledge and information become the key ingredients in creating wealth.Support decentralized & group decision-making. There is increased need for technologies that support effective communication. controlling. 2. is shifting toward more centralized access to integrated and coordinated data to support decision-making. and time zones. The growing importance of knowledge management is evident in the changing roles of information systems in organizations. The relatively recent explosion of electronic commerce has further increased the pace of business transactions and made it even easier for customers to quickly identify and make comparisons of price and quality among global competitors. The role of information technology is being transformed in four major ways… 1. quicker access. Information systems are focusing less on summarizing data in reports. individual decision.Information systems have traditionally assisted managers and decision-makers by providing better data. and coordinating information and operations across the far-flung corporation. and decision-making among groups – particularly those separated by time and distance. Emerging Roles Centralized access to integrated. The globalization of the world’s industrial economies is one reason for the changing role of knowledge management. Support centralized. and meanings. 3. Changing Roles of Information Systems Traditional Roles 1. or more optimal solutions. and have been most helpful to managers in information gathering and decision-making. Sift through data for patterns and relationships 3. knowledge sharing. Fast access to functional information. and sharing of information and experiences with customers. This is no longer enough. information sharing. and leveraging of knowledge – or knowledge management. Systems are connected to the outside world via the Internet to facilitate communications. making. document sharing. Today’s information systems must truly add value to the organization through the creation. relationship building. however. distribution. 2. More tasks are now done in a distributed environment by people scattered across different countries. coordinated information. capture.

or trends in massive amounts of data. as well as easy-to-use query. Data mining actually involves using a variety of analytical techniques to identify patterns. correlations. An ERP is a business management system that integrates all facets of the organization including inventory planning. integrate. information sharing. Data warehousing is the creation and maintenance of a large special-purpose database containing current and unified data from all functional units. sales. Broad-based communication. its impact is immediately reflected in all related areas such as accounting. and finance so that they can become more coordinated through information sharing. It also allows employees to draw upon a wide range of information without having to make multiple requests of different departments. as a transaction is processed in one area. and purchasing. A data warehouse is another technology that supports centralized access to integrated information.4. It pulls data from the various departmental systems. external relationship building. The second crucial characteristic of an ERP system is that the modules are designed to reflect a particular way of doing business based on a value chain view in which functional departments coordinate their work. Many businesses are finding this coordinated approach far preferable to the old way of doing business (by separate functional departments) because it greatly facilitates data gathering. and sometimes from external sources as well. and puts them into a separate warehouse so that users can access and analyze the information without endangering the original systems. . analysis. The greater availability and importance of information is resulting in more decentralized decision-making and information sharing. integration. and decision-making. work must increasingly be done cross-functionally. such as receipt of an order. managers must find ways to turn all that data into useful information. Technologies that gather. and by teams rather than individuals. and reporting tools can now be used across the board greatly facilitates the transformation of data into useful information. and reporting tools. In order to bring all the necessary information and expertise to bear on a task or decision. query. products. This centralization of data about a company’s business. payroll. production scheduling. manufacturing. and facilitate centralized access to data are the foundation of many knowledge management activities. Data Analysis Separates Gold from Dross As the amount of available data increases. The fact that one standardized set of analytical. Information is a Critical Strategic Resource Information and information technology have become critical strategic resources for businesses. Internal communication. This integration is critical because it means that. and customers eliminates redundancies and errors. A relatively new and rapidly growing technology is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Data mining is an advanced analytical technique for uncovering small nuggets of information within vast quantities of data.

spreadsheet files. customer churn (predicting which of your customers are likely to defect to a competitor). or death of an acknowledged expert. Groupware Links People and Information Groupware is another application of information technology that has emerged to support the needs of global organizations and virtual teams.g. American Express uses neural nets to read handwriting on credit card slips while Arco and Texaco use it to locate oil and gas deposits below the earth’s surface. Neural networks are a different and more flexible form of artificial intelligence useful in knowledge management. as could faculty committees or research teams who find it difficult to meet face to face. and communications. Expert systems can help businesses with knowledge management by capturing andcodifying knowledge that might otherwise be lost due to the absence. and slide shows around central topics or tasks. Student project teams might also have their own workspaces. resignation. Web access. specifications. Groupware such as Lotus Notes offers e-mail. In an educational environment. Neural networks attempt to tease out meaningful patterns from vast amounts of data. group scheduling. They use statistical analysis to recognize relationships and can actually adapt as new information is received – a process called adaptive learning. beer and pretzels). and market basket analysis (understanding what products or services are commonly purchased together. In a corporate setting. For example. another might provide a searchable set of names and contacts. Artificial intelligence tools can also help draw meaning from data. Many people associate the term ―artificial intelligence‖ with expert systems designed to capture the expertise of humans in a rule-based computer program. e.‖ accessible remotely over the Internet. that organize such things as e-mail discussion threads. Some researchers have estimated that middle managers spend 35 percent of their work week in meetings and that top managers . one discussion database might summarize daily activities on a client project. calendaring. post responses. get assignments and handouts. retirement. Databases can be customized to admit or restrict specific users as appropriate. and information management in a relatively easy-to-use and customizable environment. Another type of groupware is designed specifically to facilitate group meetings.. there might be a discussion database established for each individual course. neural nets are used by BankAmerica to evaluate commercial loan applications. and another might contain client contracts. Neural networks enhance the organization’s knowledge base by suggesting solutions to specific problems that are too massive and complex for efficient analysis by human beings. fraud detection (identifying which transactions are most likely to be fraudulent). and submit work. Students in the course could use their virtual workspace to ask questions. interactive marketing (predicting what each individual accessing a Web site most wants to see).Data mining has many valuable applications such as market segmentation (identifying the common characteristics of customers who buy the same products from your company). Virtual teams working from different locations can set up discussion ―databases. another might include company ―best practices‖ or guidelines.

Participants can provide their input simultaneously and anonymously via computer. Wal-Mart’s ―continuous inventory replenishment system‖ captures sales data via point-of-sales terminals at the checkout counter and immediately transmits electronic restocking orders directly to its suppliers. is using the Internet to give its suppliers access to purchase orders and factory-status updates. Adaptec Inc. More recent versions of these tools can be used in a ―different time. and difficulty reaching consensus. cutting the manufacturing cycle from 12 weeks to eight and saving millions in inventory costs. SPIN can even automatically notify suppliers of critical parts shortages. Each computer-based activity is followed by facilitated discussion. different place‖ environment with members participating remotely with the help of videoconferencing systems and the web. a company tries to eliminate delays and cut the amount of resources tied up along the way. Chrysler believes SPIN has reduced the time to complete various business processes by 25 to 50 percent. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems may also be extended outside the firm to increase coordination with supply chain partners. unequal participation. This system allows them to keep prices low. packaging information. ranking). This has been shown to result in greater participation and more complete consideration of topics. distributor. Dell Computer is linking its entire supply chain via the Web. and overhead costs at only 15 percent of sales revenue. parts shortages. and customer logistics requirements into one cohesive process. .spend 50-80 percent of their time in meetings. An Electronic Meeting System (EMS) consists of a computer-supported meeting room containing networked computers for each participant and a large public screen to facilitate common viewing of information. ideally creating more efficient customer response systems as well. The display of incoming inputs on the public screen during brainstorming also tends to stimulate a larger number of ideas. The company says this has made it more responsive. and policy development such as stakeholder identification. Information Technology Used in Supply Chain Management Businesses recognize the growing importance of communicating and forming alliances with customers and suppliers so they can adapt quickly to the ever-changing environment. shelves well-stocked. Many such meetings are characterized by unclear goals. a Silicon Valley-based computer chip company that obtains many of its products in East Asia. The supply chain can go global as well. Information technology is increasingly being used strategically for supply chain management which refers to the integration of supplier.000 suppliers selective access to portions of its intranet where they can access current data on design changes. prioritizing ideas (voting. To manage the supply chain. Chrysler’s Supplier Partner Information Network (SPIN) allows 3500 of Chrysler’s 12. EMS software contains tools designed to support activities such as team idea generation. organizing ideas. and invoice tracking.

Knowledge Management Requires Organizational Change While the capabilities and roles of information technology are changing to address new business challenges. Twitter and even email. Benefits:     Allows your employees to share their recognition with the rest of the company Shows the world you have a great work place with a people-focused culture Encourage your employees to share the great work they do with their networks Customize Social Recognition to be a recruiting tool to attract A-Players http://www. About the Author(s) Lindsley G.com/sitewide. PhD http://www. It’s a great way for your people to share what’s great about your company for the world to see. The potential benefits of these information technologies can be realized only if their implementation goes hand in hand with changes in organizational structure and culture. Knowledge management technologies necessitate fundamental changes in the organization itself in order to effectively integrate.stickyminds. and distribute information.achievers.com/ People love to share what’s going on in both their personal and professional lives across their social networks. communicate. That’s why we believe in the power of Social Recognition – giving employees the power to share everyday recognition moments on Facebook. Boiney. LinkedIn. technology alone is insufficient for meeting the demands of the global and information-based economy.asp?Function=edetail&ObjectType=COL&ObjectId=6736 .