Knowledge can be defined as the intellectual understanding or familiarity with a concept, subject or situation. Knowledge is divided into two categories. These are tacit and explicit knowledge. Tacit refers to personal knowledge developed over a period through experience, interacting with people, and trial and error. Individuals possess tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is documented and archived knowledge. It exists in the form of organized data, document and computer programs. Explicit knowledge can be easily accessed and readily made available to individuals for use. Explicit knowledge is stored in computers and electronic storage devices.
Knowledge is a valuable asset that can be used to contribute to the success of an organization. Organizations and firms employ management software to convert tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge and make it available to other users within the firm which in turn gives the organization a competitive advantage. This can be done by enabling interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge to take place through socialization, externalization, internalization and combination processes.
Socialization involves getting individuals within an organization to meet and share knowledge and ideas that each one of them possesses. This improves the overall intellectual understanding of each member of the group because everyone will interact by sharing what they understand. Consequent to finishing the interactions, new ideas can be advanced by the group members.
Externalization involves transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge by the use of diagrams and concepts to aid in pointing out that knowledge.
Internalization is the process by which explicit knowledge is used to put up tacit knowledge by employing an individual's proficiency. Combination refers to all activities that are done to take all explicit knowledge ideas and organize them to an efficient explicit knowledge that can be easily accessed.
Uses: A knowledge management software is a group of computer-based applications and information systems an organization uses to aid in data management. The tools used include databases, directories, and networks laid out to connect individuals in an organization with experts in various departments within the organization. The system consists of software, hardware, people and the organization's environment.
Elements of the software
1. Knowledge Creation
This involves creating new content to replace or augment existing tacit and explicit knowledge. Individuals may brainstorm ideas to achieve this. In choosing viable ideas, the management should consider ideas that house essential skills to make the firm more competitive in the market.
2. Knowledge Storage/Retrieval
These are measures taken to constitute dynamic organizational memory. This can be achieved through written documentation, storing information in electronic databases and information archives. Retrieval techniques are useful tools in enhancing the storage process by increasing the speed at which the memory can be accessed at any time.
3. Knowledge Transfer
This involves the process of knowledge dissemination and application by individuals in the organization. This process may involve the transfer of knowledge between individuals, from individuals to explicit parties, from individuals to other individuals, between groups, across groups or from groups to the firm.
4. Knowledge Application
A firm's competitive advantage resides in the application of its knowledge. This is the integration of knowledge to create organization’s capacity regarding routines, task teams and goals. Information is developed by converting expert's specific ideas to explicit and integrated knowledge.
Information technology can be used to support the application of knowledge into the organizational culture by ensuring that procedures that are culture-bound are embedded into information technology so that the system becomes an example of the organizational norm. This is because IT facilitates the capture, updating, and accessibility of corporate databases.
Information systems are designed to aid in augmenting organizational knowledge and enhance the management activities performed by an individual. The design of information systems in an organization should be rooted and guided by an understanding of the type of organization knowledge to be captured.
Benefits of the Knowledge Management Software
Implementing this software has many benefits. They include -
- An organization will get a better insight into how it best works.
- The software will save time and effort required to look for documents.
- There will be less repetition of errors, and it will help avoid duplication of data. The organization will improve its decision-making process.
- An organization will have a better understanding and knowledge of its current and prospective customers.
- With increased knowledge of its customer base, the organization can meet needs easily resulting in higher satisfaction and reduced marketing costs.
The software can be used by an organization to reduce the costs incurred and saving time in accessing information. Use of information technology is crucial to its success as it makes it easy for individuals to capture and share information inside and outside of the organization. The organization can leverage on this knowledge and build its competitive edge in the market.
Application in an Organization
The process of identifying, obtaining, disseminating and storing knowledge involves six key stages. These include acquisition, location, refinement, storage, transfer, and utilization. This is done to ensure the top management personnel in an organization is committed to the information use and sharing.
After ensuring top management commitment, the organization should implement infrastructural support by putting in place a system that properly manages both explicit and tacit knowledge. The organization can then recruit, train, measure performance and manage careers of its human resource. Thirdly, the organization can implement programs to manage programs information content entered into the software and provide ways for new information content to be recorded into the system.
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