What is Knowledge Management?
Before looking at knowledge management, it is important that we have a clear understanding of the meaning of the word “Knowledge”. This means understanding what constitutes knowledge and the distinct between information and data.
Because knowledge has a close relationship to these two concepts, it becomes a lot more difficult to clearly define knowledge. There are various definitions that may apply to a different context.
Knowledge management could be described as the IQ of an organization. It is a process developed by organizations to enable them to gather data, create, store, maintain, apply and transfer their knowledge. This is a set of processes used by firms to promote learning and incorporate knowledge into its business practices and decision-making.
Knowledge management is basically designed to make organizations smarter. Since not all information is valuable, it is, therefore, the responsibilities of firms to determine what information qualifies as knowledge-based assets. It is about making the right intelligence available to the right people at the right time to make the right decision.
Knowledge management ensures that organizations can learn from the process circle and are able to retrieve and apply knowledge to their business processes when required.
Peter Drucker in his words defines knowledge management as “the coordination and exploration of organizational knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage”. (Drucker, 1999)
Knowledge management in organizations guarantees the right information is delivered to the appropriate place and to the right competent people at the right time to enable quality decision-making. In order words, it ensures that the right information is communicated to the right personnel with the right skills to help them make a more informed decision. The main purpose of knowledge management is an appropriate use of knowledge.
Essentially, the primary role of knowledge management is to make connecting to the knowledge base of organizations accessible to the right person at the right time, and to enable them to make new decisions and handle situations when it is needed.
It also enables organizations to improve the quality of management decision-making by ensuring that reliable, secure, and intelligent information required is available throughout the circle.
In addition to all these, it provides the means of capturing, storing and sharing of knowledge with the appropriate persons or organizations.
Gathered reports conducted within the business environment identified four basic business objectives that fulfil the primary role of knowledge management as follows:
- To capture knowledge: This can be achieved by creating databases of intelligent information that may consist of stored and structured knowledge base in form of reports, articles and presentations which can be easily accessed when required.
- To improve knowledge access: This will enhance the process of sharing and transfer of vital intelligent knowledge between peers and organizations.
- To manage knowledge as an asset: Knowledge is a great asset to organizations. Leveraging knowledge assets can help businesses generate new income.
- To enhance the knowledge environment: This can be achieved by rewarding knowledge creation, use, and transfer.
- Knowledge management enables the service provider to carry out their functions in an efficient and effective manner.
- It ensures that every member of the organization has a clear and common understanding of what is required.
- Allows a complete access to information about the services provided at any given point in time. That is getting the right information to the right competent individuals at the right time.
The structure of knowledge management is typically displayed within Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. This process involves the gathering of data from collected context, which is then stored as documents, media files, or email messages. Data is then analysed to obtain clearer information that could show some pattern of behaviour or trends, which is further investigated to ensure relevance to the needs of the organization.
The “DIKW” Structure:
Data – The raw material of information
Knowledge – Information read, heard, or seen, and understood.
Wisdom – Distilled and integrated knowledge and understanding.
- Enables organizations to have a good understanding of information obtained.
- Organizations can identify where its knowledge resides.
- Help organizations understand the present position and what they know.
- Better problem analysis
- Helps identify the root of problems and errors
- Promotes better solution which enhances quality decision-making.
A good knowledge management system means that the organization understands the best and most efficient way to communicate and transfer its knowledge to the relevant and competent individuals. It further ensures they take advantage of these assets and protect it against loss or unauthorized modification, by setting up a document management systems that can monitor relationships between competent persons and other employees.