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Concept, purpose & importance (significance), approaches, systems,& issues, examples CONCEPT

Knowledge Management Knowledge management (KM) is the combination of organizational culture, strategic goals, individual needs, and the expertise of its people to create an atmosphere of learning and growth. Philosophically, knowledge management must be a vital part of corporate principles and individual jobs for knowledge sharing to succeed. Its through its conceptual components that knowledge management becomes legitimate. Assessing and meeting each persons needs is essential to the process. Through the use of this knowledge, people and organizations can improve. As people improve, so do an organizations strategic goals. Information Versus Instruction Information management is key in every organization. There are two primary traditions of providing essential information: instruction and sharing. Instruction is information thats taught. When a learning need requires instruction, training is provided. Instruction may include information incorporating corporate ideals, expectations, safety, and related materials and can be delivered via classroom instruction, e-learning, and on-the-job training. Information sharing can be done informally or formally. When a learning need is more

appropriately addressed with information, knowledge management may be the solution. Information sharing and knowledge management occur in organizations that encourage sharing information and use collaboration, mentoring, and socialization to inform people. This information sharing can be done at the workstation, in meetings, or as issues happen. Providing access to information enables employees to access the organizations collective wisdom. Although both instruction and information aid learning, they are different in many respects.

Comparing Training, Knowledge Management, and Performance Support

Concepts of Knowledge Management Knowledge and information are increasingly becoming key assets for organizations. Three key terms to understand as the building blocks for knowledge management include data, information, and knowledge Data: The nature of data is raw and without context and can exist in any form,

usable or not. For example, numbers in a spreadsheet are data. Information: Data that has been given meaning. Spreadsheets are often used to create information from a set of data, such as sales over a period of time, increases or decreases in sales, competitor trends, and so on. Knowledge: Information that when combined with understanding enables action. For example, a manager analyzing a declining sales trend may take action to identify issues and carry out strategies to change the trend.

Think of the relationship of data, information, and knowledge as a hierarchy. Data gets turned into information, which then provides knowledge on which decisions are based. The key for organizations to harness the power of knowledge management is to turn information into accessible and reusable knowledge. There are two main types of knowledge: Tacit: This type of knowledge refers to personal knowledge in ones headknowing how to do something based on experience. It includes judgment, insights, experience, know-how as well as personal beliefs and values. For example, when conducting web-based training for the first time, a trainer can read documented information about how to conduct this training but at this point lacks tacit

knowledgethe know-how based on previous experience. Explicit: This type of knowledge includes information that has been documented or can be shared with someone. For example, a trainer may not have conducted webbased training before, but based on what the trainer has read and heard from others, he or she may know the exact sequencing of steps to log in to the Web session and conduct the training. Knowledge databases and repositories (explicit knowledge) - storing information and documents that can be shared and re-used, for example, client presentations, competitor intelligence, customer data, marketing materials, meeting minutes, policy documents, price lists, product specifications, project proposals, research reports, training packs; Knowledge routemaps and directories (tacit and explicit knowledge) - pointing to people, document collections and datasets that can be consulted, for example, 'yellow pages'/'expert locators' containing CVs, competency profiles, research interests; Knowledge networks and discussions (tacit knowledge) providing opportunities for face-to-face contacts and electronic interaction, for example, establishing chat facilities/'talk rooms', fostering learning groups and holding 'best practice' sessions. Examples can be found in all sectors of business and industry, especially among professional service organisations. The large accountancy and consultancy firms have led the way in launching formal knowledge management initiatives, closely followed by IT companies.

So what exactly is knowledge management? Knowledge management is the explicit and systematic management of intellectual capital and organizational knowledge as well as the associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, retrieving, leveraging, and using intellectual capital for the purposes of improving organizations and the people in them. Through these processes, organizations capture and store data and information in a central or distributed electronic environmentoften referred to as a knowledge base. Many organizations are using knowledge bases to turn tacit knowledge (individual know-how) into explicit knowledge (documented information, steps, and processes). Turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is one of the key functions of a knowledge management strategy.

An Example This example uses a bank savings account to show how data, information, knowledge, and wisdom relate to principal, interest rate, and interest. Data: The numbers 100 or 5%, completely out of context, are just pieces of data. Interest, principal, and interest rate, out of context, are not much more than data as each has multiple meanings which are context dependent. Information: If I establish a bank savings account as the basis for context, then interest, principal, and interest rate become meaningful in that context with specific interpretations.

Principal is the amount of money, $100, in the savings account. Interest rate, 5%, is the factor used by the bank to compute interest on the principal.

Knowledge: If I put $100 in my savings account, and the bank pays 5% interest yearly, then at the end of one year the bank will compute the interest of $5 and add it to my principal and I will have $105 in the bank. This pattern represents knowledge, which, when I understand it, allows me to understand how the pattern will evolve over time and the results it will produce. In understanding the pattern, I know, and what I know is knowledge. If I deposit more money in my account, I will earn more interest, while if I withdraw money from my account, I will earn less interest. Wisdom: Getting wisdom out of this is a bit tricky, and is, in fact, founded in systems principles. The principle is that any action which produces a result which encourages more of the same action produces an emergent characteristic called growth. And, nothing grows forever for sooner or later growth runs into limits.

The components of knowledge management are: 1. People management recognition of the skills of people 2. Process management links into the identification and deployment of practices may be associated with business process reengineering. 3. Information management knowledge, and not just information and data, should be available from wherever it is needed to all those authorized to receive it. The language should be simple and appropriate making both input and output easy.

Elements of Knowledge Management So how do organizations transform their current structure and processes to become learning organizations that leverage knowledge management? The following provides some insight into these knowledge management elements: Collaboration and the ability to connect individuals or groups: Everyone in organizations should be encouraged to gather data through the Internet, various media, internal data management systems, and socialization with peers and coworkers and to share this information across the organization. For example, some organizations may hold rallies in which teams and individual employees are encouraged to share ideas as well as strategic reviews, system audits, internal benchmarking reports, and symposiums that bring together customers, suppliers, internal groups, and external experts to share ideas and learn from one another. Nature of expertise and access to experts: Many organizations encourage team mixing and job rotations to facilitate transferring knowledge across boundaries by having people or teams possessing knowledge work with other groups or departments. This approach facilitates sharing new approaches and perceptions that new people bring to a situation. It is said thatHe or she is more likely to raise the dumb questions that lead to new insight about how to handle a problem.

Communities of practice enable employees to access specific groups to post issues, solve problems, or discuss key topics: A community of practice generally means a group of people who share a common interest in an area of competence and are willing to share the experiences of their practice. Many organizations encourage people to gather data that might benefit the organization. One channel for gaining this knowledge is communities of practice, which may be groups that meet formally, web boards where questions and answers are posted, and other types of collaboration tools, such as message and chat boards. For example, a group of scientists on a LAN may collaborate, share notes, and raise questions. Knowledge networking connects groups of people with systems and applications: For knowledge management to work, data and information must be captured in a system or central repository. This information must be coded a certain way so that it makes sense to employees trying to search for and access it. Organizations must decide the value of data and the system used to codify this information. The stored knowledge should be readily accessible to everyone in the organization and made available in a logical mannerfor example, by topical categories and key words. Making real-time information available to people who need it, when they need it: The key concept in knowledge management is providing information to the right people, in the right format, and in the right period of time. Many decisions have a time element

attached to them, and information thats not readily available to provide insight may mean a missed opportunity to make the right decision. Systems must be readily accessible for employees to search for and access key information when its needed. Knowledge of organization depth and scope: Many organizations collect volumes of data, but unless its coded and stored in a way that makes sense to employees and is retrievable, its just volumes of data. Organizations need to determine what data to capture, how to capture it, and the format for providing information for employees to analyze it and make decisions. Personalization and navigation of the system and interface: In many organizations, employees arent computer savvy. As a result, they may not be fully aware of the importance of retaining this data and entering it into a centralized system. For employees trying to retrieve data from a knowledge management system, ease of use and ability to quickly access the exact information they need enhances employees compliance to enter and access data from a centralized system. A key difference between information and instruction: Information is data that has been given meaning. Organizations that encourage sharing information use collaboration, mentoring, and socialization to inform people. This can be done at workstations, in meetings, or as issues happen. Instruction is information thats taught, for example, in on-the-job training or in classroom and web instruction.

PURPOSE The purpose of knowledge management is to harness, develop and direct the expertise of the organisation and to apply it effectively to achieve strategic objectives. Its purpose is also to encourage learning and innovation as sources of competitive advantage.

Knowledge Management course The management of knowledge applies in all sectors of the economy including primary industries, manufacturing, technology and the service sector. It represents an increased focus on identifying knowledge and intellectual resources so that instead of 'not knowing what they know', organisations can bring together and make accessible all the skills and knowledge and apply them to increase operational and individual performance.

The purpose of knowledge management is to:

Gain significant returns out of the data and information we produce and the way in which we produce it. Collect new materials; select materials for inclusion in database, input data, index data, search and retrieve data and deliver the output to the end user; perform data cleaning or deletion of redundant records from the database; check for the systems security. From this knowledge, librarians can build a web front and can allow the user to access the information in a quick and easy way. Connect each component of knowledge with a set of experts and develop an active database of such experts. Develop collections on important subjects. Develop links with resources both physical, such as institutions and individuals, and electronic, such as electronic resources available through the Internet. Capture knowledge from projects, assignments, gray literature, case studies, experts etc. on given subjects and make them accessible. Give as much information to the users as the users need to complete their assignments. Make each Knowledge Center as a one-stop center for accessing knowledge on different subjects or topics of interest to users in the public libraries. Train every user in accessing information and guide the users to the appropriate resource.

Process of Knowledge Management The knowledge management process is about acquisition, creation, packaging, and application or reuse of knowledge. Some examples of each of these types of knowledge management process are:

Knowledge acquisition: finding existing knowledge, understanding requirements, searching among multiple sources. Knowledge creation: research activities, creative processes in advertising, writing books or articles, making movies, etc. Packaging: publishing, editing, design work. Applying or using existing knowledge: auditing, medical diagnosis; Reuse of knowledge for a new purpose: leveraging knowledge product development processes, software development.

IMPORTANCE Most companies are focused on producing a product or service for customers. However, one of the most significant keys to valuecreation comes from placing emphasis on producing knowledge. The production of knowledge needs to be a major part of the overall production strategy. One of the biggest challenges behind knowledge management is the dissemination of knowledge. People with the highest knowledge have the potential for high levels of value creation. But this knowledge can only create value if it's placed in the hands of those who must execute on it. Knowledge is usually difficult to access it leaves when the knowledge professional resigns. The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it. Andrew Carnegie

Therefore, knowledge management is often about managing relationships within the organization. Collaborative tools (intranets, balanced scorecards, data warehouses, customer relations management, expert systems, etc.) are often used to establish these relationships. Some companies have developed knowledge maps, identifying what must be shared, where can we find it, what information is needed to support an activity, etc. Knowledge maps codify information so that it becomes real knowledge; i.e. from data to intelligence. For example, AT&T's knowledge management system provides instant access for customer service representatives, allowing them to solve a customer's problem in a matter of minutes. Monsanto uses a network of experts to spread the knowledge around. Employees can lookup a knowledge expert from the Yellow Page Directory of knowledge experts. In the book Value Based Knowledge Management, the authors advocate that every organization should strive to have six capabilities working together: 1. Produce : Apply the right combination of knowledge and systems so that you produce a knowledge based environment. 2. Respond : Constantly monitor and respond to the marketplace through an empowered workforce within a decentralized structure. 3. Anticipate : Become pro-active by anticipating events and issues based on this new decentralized knowledge based system. 4. Attract : Attract people who have a thirst for knowledge, people who clearly demonstrate that they love to learn and share their knowledge opening with others. These so-called knowledge professionals are one of the most significant components of your intellectual capital. 5. Create : Provide a strong learning environment for the thirsty knowledge worker. Allow everyone to learn through experiences with customers, competition, etc.

6. Last : Secure long-term commitments from knowledge professionals. These people are key drivers behind your organization. If they leave, there goes the knowledge. Knowledge professionals will become the dominant force behind the new economy, not unlike the farmer was once the key player behind the agricultural age.

Some of the advantages claimed for KM systems are: 1. Sharing of valuable organizational information throughout organisational hierarchy. 2. Can avoid re-inventing the wheel, reducing redundant work. 3. May reduce training time for new employees 4. Retention of Intellectual Property after the employee leaves if such knowledge can be codified.

APPROACHES There are two fundamental approaches to knowledge management. The tacit knowledge approach emphasizes understanding the kinds of knowledge that individuals in an organization have, moving people to transfer knowledge within an organization, and managing key individuals as knowledge creators and carriers. By contrast, the explicit knowledge approach emphasizes processes for articulating knowledge held

by individuals, the design of organizational approaches for creating new knowledge, and the development of systems (including information systems) to disseminate articulated knowledge within an organization. The relative advantages and disadvantages of both approaches to knowledge management are summarized. A synthesis of tacit and knowledge management approaches is recommended to create a hybrid design for the knowledge management practices in a given organization.


Knowledge Management System (KM System) refers to a (generally IT based) system for managing knowledge in organizations for supporting creation, capture, storage and dissemination of information. It can comprise a part (neither necessary nor sufficient) of a Knowledge Management initiative. The idea of a KM system is to enable employees to have ready access to the organization's documented base of facts, sources of information, and solutions. For example a typical claim justifying the creation of a KM system might run something like this: an engineer could know the metallurgical composition of an alloy that reduces sound in gear systems. Sharing this information organization wide can lead to more effective engine design and it could also lead to ideas for new or improved equipment. A KM system could be any of the following:



3. 4. 5.

Document based i.e. any technology that permits creation/management/sharing of formatted documents such as Lotus Notes, web, distributed databases etc. Ontology/Taxonomy based: these are similar to document technologies in the sense that a system of terminologies (i.e. ontology) are used to summarize the document e.g. Author, Subj, Organization etc. as in DAML & other XML based ontologies Based on AI technologies which use a customized representation scheme to represent the problem domain. Provide network maps of the organization showing the flow of communication between entities and individuals Increasingly social computing tools are being deployed to provide a more organic approach to creation of a KM system.

KMS systems deal with information (although Knowledge Management as a discipline may extend beyond the information centric aspect of any system) so they are a class of information system and may build on, or utilize other information sources.


1. Organizational culture change. This issue is how we can change organizational culture so that people are willing both to contribute knowledge to and use knowledge from a KMS. There must be strong executive leadership, clearly expressed goals, user involvement in the system, and deployment of an easy-to-use system that provides real value to employees. A viable reward

structure for contributing and using knowledge must also be developed. 2. How to store tacit knowledge. This is extremely difficult. Most KMSs (based on the network storage model) store explicit knowledge about the tacit knowledge that people possess. When the knowledgeable people leave an organization, they take their knowledge with them. Since knowledge requires active use by the recipient, it is important for the person generating knowledge to articulate it in a way that another, appropriately educated person can understand it. 3. The lasting importance of knowledge management. Knowledge management is extremely important. It is not another management fad. If it is correctly done, it can have massive impact by leveraging know-how throughout the organization. If it is not done, or is not correctly done, the company will not be able to effectively compete against another major player in the industry that does KM correctly. 4. Implementation in the face of quickly changing technology. This is an important issue to address regarding the development of many IT systems. Technology has to be carefully examined, and experiments done, to determine what makes sense. By starting now, an organization can get past the managerial and behavioral issues, which have greater impact on the eventual success (or not) of a KMS. As better and cheaper technology is

developed, the KMS can be migrated over to it, just as legacy systems have migrated to the PC.

Issues and Challenges The biggest challenge reported by those practitioners we have met, is that of changing the culture from "knowledge is power" to "knowledge sharing is power". Other common obstacles are:

Finding time - with so many initiatives vying for attention, it is easy to sideline more challenging issues like knowledge management. However, those organisations that have committed resources and have knowledge champions have achieved outcomes that far surpass the level of inputs Introversion - afraid to learn from outsiders or expose internal operations to customers Too focused on detailed process - rather than the big picture and the more chaotic process of knowledge creation Treating it as one-off project or quick-win - knowledge management is a commitment to the long-term: the organizations future prosperity. Individual disciplines and 'turf wars' - knowledge management goes beyond the remit of any single function or discipline. All functions must collaborate. Organizational recognition and reward systems usually do not sufficiently recognize knowledge contributions. They are linked to traditional financial measures.

None of these challenges are insurmountable. Implementing successful knowledge management requires a systematic change

and project management approach. However, it is more than just a project. Over time knowledge management changes the way that people work so that thier indiviudal knowledge is more effectively harnessed for the benefit of all.


Conclusion To conclude, it may be stated that knowledge management is not managing or organizing books or journals, searching the Internet for clients or arranging the circulation of materials. However, each of the activities can in some way be part of the knowledge management spectrum and process. Knowledge management is about enhancing the use of organizational knowledge through sound practices of knowledge management and organizational learning. Thus knowledge management is a combination of information management, communication and human resources. Good knowledge centers will put as much emphasis on connecting people with people -'know-who' - as they do on connecting people with information and document collections. They will be concerned with 'active' not 'archive' knowledge, so need to be fully up to speed with what is happening in the organization including current priorities and work in progress 'who is doing what now'.


In summary, knowledge management involves connecting people with people, as well as people with information. It is a management philosophy, which combines good practice in purposeful information management with a culture of organisational learning, in order to improve business performance. The core skills of library and information professionals are both relevant and essential to effective knowledge management, but they are often under-utilised and under-valued. Surely it is our job to put this right!