Many tools are available today under the umbrella of KM. These tools are there even before the word KM came to the horizon of management concepts or organizational initiatives. Web portal where members or employees can contribute their tacit and explicit knowledge ( here it is assumed that knowledge is an object and it can be generated, stored and disseminated with the help of IT ) , Discussion forms, Collaborative tools and group wares and many more tools are there and used under KM program. But the key question remains ….
1. Do we need IT solution to implement successful KM programs?
The answer lies within the organization. First we have to understand what the organization's strategic objectives are or what it wants to be in future. KM is a means not an end. KM will facilitate the process of achieving organizonal objectives. Through Knowledge management the organization will able to leverage its collective knowledge to improve process, develop new products, enhance customer satisfaction or achieve its other business objectives. So we must focus on organizonal culture, strategic objectives and knowledge in the context of the organization before developing a KM solution.
2. Does your IT tool for KM fit here?
Ok before answering that let us study a successful company who has leveraged knowledge of its employees to achieve success in globally operated business process. Buckman Laboratories is a leading manufacturer of specialty chemicals for aqueous industrial systems. To answer every question or customer query each employee has the knowledge of 1200 workforce of the company including the CEO Bob Buckman. Bob was behind K'Netix the knowledge network where all employees can login and participate in discussion on various issues. This serves the purpose of global workforce as they are located in distance places and bringing them together regularly is not possible. Here a shared context is created by the use of IT. K'Netix has helped the workforce located in different part of the world to come together and share knowledge, solve each others problem irrespective of time and distance. Today many organization have similar tools known as discussion board or buletin board.
3. Do you think you need a solution like K'Netix ?
KM system of one organization can't be copied by others. Even two organizations in similar line of business located in same country have different KM systems to achieve their business objectives. So the sytem must be uniquely designed to full fill the organizations need with full knowledge of organizionation culture and its business imparitives. So it is not necessary that what has worked for Buckman Lab is going to work for any other orgnization. In another type of industry where employees work within a geographically closed location can have a face to face interaction session periodically to create a shared contex. This KM tool is called community of practice or popularly known as COP.
So the job of KM managers, CKO or its team is to identify or develop systems to facilitate knowledge sharing and promote innovation to achieve objectives of the organization through Knowledge Management. It is always required to study the organizonaltional culture, objectives, strategies, knowledge gaps before making any decission on the tool to delploy. After a through study at the end it may happen that we end up in a IT solution ( which is best for the organization ) but with out proper analysis one should not jump into implementing IT solutions in the name of KM. This is one of the biggest reasons for faliure of KM program in organizations.