Knowledge Management AT IBM IBM’s KM strategy consisted of turning the company into a leading knowledge management based company

, using technology for sharing knowledge, and building the required IT infrastructure. The main objective of the KM framework was to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees. IBM’s first KM initiative started in 1994. At that time, the company’s focus was on providing knowledge about work and co-workers so as to enable reuse of knowledge assets at the business unit level. By creating the knowledge base, IBM planned to deliver solutions to its clients with more accuracy and higher speed. The program IBM undertook was called Intellectual Capital Management (ICM) and its main aim was to make KM a formal practice across the company. ICM involved acquiring, creating, sharing, and transferring knowledge and promoting the use of knowledge to operate in the changing business scenario. To facilitate the reuse of knowledge assets, every unit had a different asset management program. For example, IBM’s Business Consultancy Services Unit had an asset management program called KnowledgeView, which was a repository of discussion forums, resources, intellectual capital, etc., pertaining to the unit. This provided the employees in the unit with access to assets, using which they could deliver better services to the clients. The ‘asset reuse’ program was extended across different units of the company globally, to facilitate capturing and reusing the assets and intellectual capital that had created a significant impact in each division. The program was also implemented in other divisions of the company. In 1995, IBM came up with a new business model in which it developed communities of practice. These were self organized communities, where employees with similar job functions and similar interests, came together. In IBM, communities of practice were known as ‘knowledge networks’. They were responsible for gathering, evaluating, structuring, and spreading knowledge. The knowledge thus disseminated was shared among colleagues. The knowledge networks included methods, processes, tools, experiences, and documentation. The networks were also responsible for the sharing of tacit knowledge among the community members. Knowledge networks adopted a set of roles for managing the knowledge. The roles included a leader and a core team. The core team consisted of a router who went through all the publications that were submitted, and decided on who would be evaluating those publications. The core team also consisted of category owners, who were experts in a particular field. They were responsible for managing the knowledge generated in a specified area. The communities of practice represented knowledge in several areas that included enterprise systems management, testing methods and practices, organization change, e-business, and systems management in industry areas like automotive, finance, healthcare, insurance, etc. In IBM’s annual report for 1997, Gerstner mentioned that he aimed to turn the company into ‘the world’s premier company’. In the report, he said, “We believe very strongly that the age-old levers of competition labor, capital, and land - are being supplemented by knowledge, and that the most successful companies in the future will be those that learn how to exploit knowledge - knowledge about customer behavior, markets, economies, technology - faster and more effectively than their competitors. They will use knowledge to adapt quickly - seizing opportunities and improving products and services, of course, but just as important, renewing the way they define themselves, think, and operate”. In 1997, to turn itself into a KM driven company, IBM upgraded its IT infrastructure by investing around US$ 400 million to facilitate knowledge sharing. This included the largest single-company rollout ever of groupware to 240,000 Lotus Notes users. The corporate KM program in IBM set the direction for KM activities in the company, provided leadership and guidance, and deployed KM solutions across the organization.

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