Knowledge management systems: Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Storage, & Knowledge Sharing

Businesses in their regular activities create a lot of data in the set of transactions and activities in which they engage, this data can be organized and is then called information once it can be categorized in useful category of information that management can use for decision making like daily, weekly or monthly information on sales or repair cost data (Laudon and Laudon 2017: p. 422).  Information having been shaped up from more disparate data becomes molded and formed into knowledge once a business expends the resources to discover patterns, rules and contexts in which the knowledge fits and produces a result (p. 422).  Wisdom is then the proper application of this pattern of knowledge to situations to produce desired results (p. 422).  Knowledge can be classed as either tacit knowledge held inside the minds of the employees of a business, or it can be classed as explicit knowledge which is formally documented (p. 422).

A Knowledge Management System has at its core is a Knowledge Base containing collections of different types of knowledge: Tactic Knowledge (a type of tacit knowledge) which is made up of knowledge employees glean from doing the activities of the business, Implicit Knowledge (another type of tacit knowledge) which is made up of the thinking of the employees of the business, and Explicit Knowledge which is comprised of the databases, white papers and case studies of the business.  (IBM Technology, YouTube).

A Knowledge Management System is important so that the knowledge of the employees can be passed on after they are no longer employees, and accessed when and by whom it is needed.  The Goal of Knowledge Management is to make the main sets of types of enterprise knowledge accessible to anybody who needs it, thus solving the problem of there being a lack of enterprise knowledge (IBM Technology, YouTube).

Creating an effective Knowledge Management System requires 3-steps: Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Storage, & Knowledge Sharing.  Knowledge Creation involves identifying and documenting new knowledge that an enterprise wants to circulate.  Knowledge Storage involves determining based on relevant factors what IT System to use to host the knowledge base for distribution and then formatting the knowledge in the specific way that makes it meet the requirements of that specific repository.  Knowledge Sharing is the processes involved in sharing and communicating the knowledge are communicated thoroughly across the whole organization (IBM Technology, YouTube).

In a study put together by Isaiah McCommons of Trine University, McCommons addresses “the business problem of the SME’s competitive disadvantage when they globalize or when their business becomes subject to global competition. SME owners’ gap in practice lies in understanding rapid technological changes, lack of BI vendor support for KM tools, and the need for KM models that integrate with other organizational functions, which relate to the needs of SME owners versus huge enterprises.” (Emmett, Journal Article, p. 2).  Knowledge discovery using BI tools is often overlooked and it is one of the most important factors in the process because it facilitates the development of tacit knowledge assets and supports searchability, communication, and decision-support within a KM system.  Using business intelligence (BI) tools for knowledge discovery significantly aids in developing tacit knowledge assets within SMEs, revealing critical insights. Integrating BI tools into knowledge management systems improves searchability, enhances internal communication, and supports decision-making by providing valuable data. This highlights BI tools’ role in enhancing knowledge discovery, fostering better knowledge sharing, and aiding informed decision-making in SMEs.  (Emmett, Journal Article).

Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) utilize tools such as Content Management Systems (CMS), Document Management Systems (DMS), and Data Warehouses, each serving distinct yet interconnected role. A CMS handles the storage and access of data for public or internal use, containing information, media, and multimedia content. A DMS, akin to advanced intranets, centralizes storage of documents like images and text files which include things like lessons learned documentations and how to guides. Data Warehouses consolidate data from various sources into a single repository for analysis, employing techniques like data mining and machine learning to facilitate data-driven decisions (IBM Technology, YouTube).

Other than the main reason for having a KMS, which is to maintain and make available to others a compilation of types of enterprise knowledge, there are several other elements to the value chain that is produced step by step for companies when they embrace a Knowledge Management Strategy.  It is important for a business to create processes and procedures which integrate structured KM programs and BI systems to enhance competitiveness, innovation, and organizational performance in SMEs (Emmett, Journal Article).  Chief among the benefits derived from an integrated KMS is the Identification of Skill Gaps.  When gathering and codifying the different types of knowledge possessed by an enterprise and its employees, it is possible to see where in the knowledge base there is missing knowledge and then training can be adjusted systematically to add this skill gap and the knowledge base can also be filled in (IBM Technology, YouTube).

Data Security is another main benefit.  When knowledge is codified, it can be stored in a fashion that creates access permissions and controls.  Operational Efficiency is another element in the value chain of putting together a KMS.  A properly thorough KMS will increase the speed of decision making, and improve productivity.  Knowledge Management Systems can be created by the most skilled employees in an organization by tasking them out to harvest the already existing documentation and also gleaning tacit knowledge from the employee base (IBM Technology, YouTube).

In addition, a KMS will help a business: onboard more employees, assist in making the whole workforce more productive, and will server, once dialed in for access control and security, as the knowledge base that can be the basis for a customer self-service support portal.  Customer Support Portals are one of the most important elements of the retail side of a business these days because there are so many different options for customers and the customer will stay with the business it can understand how to interact with and whose products and services are clearly described online in the knowledge base to which the customer has access (IBM Technology, YouTube).

Though it might seem more expensive to a smaller business, a sampling of the employees who are involved in the core activities of each business department could be tasked out to harvest the Tacit Knowledge of the whole group of the employees of a business and here is one idea of mine to cap off this essay.  I call this my idea for a: Tacit Knowledge Gathering Business System for Employees:

This system is designed to capitalize on the all night psycho-kinetic brain activities of employees while they sleep. The basic thing that the human mind does in general is create order out of a multitude of inputs. The human mind will even make order and harmony out of completely disconnected events and thoughts. This is what creates different types of dreams. One overlooked asset to a business is the tacit knowledge of its employees which is made up of Tactic Knowledge gleaned from the immediacy of preforming the activities of the business and Implicit Knowledge which is the internal thinking of employees that can develop over a matter of time before during and after the time when the employee is actually performing the business activities.

The idea is to have a 30-minute paid time in the morning when the employee simply sits down and types out events from the day before that were entered in general on a list they built during the day and at the end of the day. The Employee then takes this skeleton list of events and activities and in the morning fleshes out each event with a narrative ab out the event, how the activity was performed, any changes in the initial plan that were implemented and any lessons learned for next time along with any how to bullet point instructions they want to remember going forward.

This is a set of reflections that can be gathered on a daily basis from home and should entail approximately a half an hour of typing on the keyboard. It can be gathered via a website portal that the employee logs into and while logged in, no other element of the home computer can be accessed. The employee is paid 1.5x their normal hourly pay for the time they spend and when they login, a list of the previous day’s work activities is immediately shown and they begin the fleshing out. The idea is to capitalize on the thoughts that the mind harmonizes together during the night. Work activities are much more closely related to one another than are some of the events that our dreams weave together and this makes that layer of the mind almost invariably more organized than we have to this point capitalized upon.

These reflections will be added into a knowledge base and made available to the knowledge management system employee access system that extracts relevant chunks of information from the knowledge base and using a large language model chat answers are produced for employee questions. The system can also show on a weekly basis new areas of knowledge with suggested thematic questions that employees can ask to begin their own chat with the knowledge base about developing trends in the business.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Laudon and Laudon (2022). Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm (16th ed., pp. 422). Pearson.

McCommons, Isaiah. (2023). Business intelligence and knowledge management integration within small and medium enterprises.  Corals Journal of Applied Research.  1. 10.58593/cjar.v1i2.22.

IBM Technology. (2022, April 22). What is Knowledge Management? [Video].                                                  YouTube.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_eI5r55XhU