Knowledge is information that is capable of being put into action and used across the entire organization. The more knowledge an organization has, the more it is able to reduce uncertainties. In organizations, knowledge is embedded not only in documents or repositories of information but also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms. In order to gain a competitive advantage, the organization must appreciate the power of knowledge and invest in its human capital. Knowledge management is not only about building systems to store knowledge, but it is also about the planning and implementation of activities designed to continuously identify, acquire, apply, share, develop, create, preserve and measure the knowledge assets of an organization.
Knowledge management is about recognizing and capturing organization-wide knowledge. It is about developing the value of knowledge existing in the everyday work lives of employees. It is the ultimate resource that can be used to improve employee and organizational productivity. Knowledge management practices involve activities such as knowledge-identification. Knowledge identification is the process of identifying the existing knowledge in an organization and also the required knowledge an organization should possess. An organization usually does not recognize the knowledge that resides within it. Because it sometimes goes unrecognized, valuable knowledge is not put into use for the benefit of the employees and organization.
The Implications of Knowledge Management within Organizations
Organizations must be aware of their own abilities, expertise, and competencies in order to identify knowledge and be able to manage it. Internal knowledge, such as best practices, should be made. There are a number of ways to identify the external knowledge an organization possesses. One way is to compare an organization’s knowledge with the knowledge of its competitors and identify gaps in an organization’s knowledge, skills, or attitudes. Identifying these gaps leads to efforts to significantly close or narrow the gap. Knowledge Acquisition Acquiring knowledge to narrow the gap can be done by bringing in outside knowledge or developing it internally.
Acquiring knowledge is an important activity in knowledge management. Knowledge acquisition is the process of bringing in knowledge from various sources and using as many strategies as possible to narrow the gap. Keeping track of knowledge within the organization and importing the knowledge into new products, strategic alliance with other organizations with the objective of mutual learning and knowledge acquisition, and the use of consultants for external knowledge are some ways that knowledge can be acquired.
Organizations are realizing that the knowledge residing in their human capital is important in creating economic power and value. There are also many channels for bringing knowledge into a company such as getting knowledge/feedbacks from customers, studying the habits or purchasing pattern of key customers, and involving in customers activities.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development