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  Knowledge in the Enterprise (1)
Features of the enterprise knowledge

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The market, stressed by the competitiveness of the ’90, has rendered critical the quality of knowledge being applied by companies in their key processes for business.

Every company sector depends more and more on real, tangible knowledge, not of a specific sector, but of the integration of all and each company sector.

Furthermore, the development of new products and services to a large extent depends on knowledge (integrated, also) on consumers and clients, on new scientific discoveries, on new technologies, on marketing, etc.  

Nowadays, the stress to apply knowledge in the enterprise to create competitive advantages, becomes even more stressing, due to the following factors:

The ever growing market competitiveness.

Companies are organizing their businesses and orienting their efforts in order to improve their products and services to better satisfy its clients.

The administrative personnel functions are being reduced, and also the administrative personnel. There is, effectively, the need to replace the informal way in which knowledge has been managed, inside the "administrative" functions, with formal knowledge management methods, regarding client oriented tasks.

The pressure of competence leads to reduce the quantity of employees that possess company knowledge.

Time is necessary to acquire knowledge, and to extract experience from it; but employees have always less time to do it.

The tendency to employee mobility is always growing, inside the company and between companies, and tends to become independent, and that creates knowledge loss or dispersion.

Often there's the need to manage growing complexity even in small companies, and with transnational operations.

Changes in strategic company management may cause knowledge losses in a specific area. A successive decision to retake the previous orientation might require this knowledge, but the employee that possesses it might not be in the company anymore.

Knowledge is an intangible, volatile capital, difficult to concretize and conserve.

There's also the problem of finding the necessary cognitive capital, and afterwards to be able to use it in an efficient manner, with an appropriate cost/profit.

To correctly manage the difficulties associated to knowledge management and administration, companies need:

To have a uniform and standardized language for the whole company, that guarantees knowledge circulation and that it be correctly understood.

To be able to identify, model and represent knowledge explicitly.

Be able to share and reuse its own knowledge in several applications, through different internal users. This implies sharing existing knowledge sources and even those that will be found in the future.

Some methods and tools, that use approaches derived from knowledge engineering, enable already for a long time to efficiently solve problems using knowledge in the enterprise.

These methods offer detailed procedures to project and construct knowledge based applications. There are other tools that may help to capture, model and assess new knowledge, and to verify and maintain old knowledge, to develop the applications necessary to the company.

Anyway, the most recent techniques for knowledge modeling and to encourage its use, together with more traditional techniques for its management, stand for a good starting point for the knowledge management in the company.

Elements for a strategy of knowledge management in the company


Whichever new tactic or strategy for knowledge management would have to comprise – and to assimilate well - at least the following aspects.
Knowledge is an active quality, but its concrete management requires conspicuous economical investments under some other patrimonial issues. Most knowledge management specific activities require investments and efforts, as for instance:

  • To capture knowledge (for instance, the creation of a knowledge base, and its integration into an automated system).

  • Adding value to knowledge (with information adequacies, updates, compression and packing).

  • Developing methods to categorize knowledge and to categorize new cognitive contributions.

  • Developing necessary infrastructure and technological applications for company wide knowledge sharing.

  • Educating employees in the creation, use and methods of knowledge sharing.

Some companies consider opportune to spend 7-10% of its income in company knowledge management. It is clear that this peculiar management has a cost, but the first, instinctive reaction to such evaluations could be of skepticism about the need or opportunity of this investment. But another necessary reflection is: What is the cost of ignorance??... How much does it cost to a company forgetting that what their employees know, not knowing how to answer a client rapidly, or taking a wrong decision based on insufficient or distorted knowledge?

Knowledge management renders more profits starting from maps rather than from models, more starting from the market than from directives. 

Between technology and knowledge there is a substantial difference, that often passes  unobserved, but it is evidenced in its management organization:

  • Technology management is based on the fact that technology becomes obsolete very fast and therefore it must be replaced, which implies that what has been learnt in the past must be simply left behind, replaced by new developments.

  • Knowledge management instead, expects to maintain and reuse the acquired knowledge, considering knowledge as a permanent construction in which every new information is integrated with the previous one, and modifies it, and therefore nothing becomes really obsolete, if it is integrated with the new.

If company executives focused this knowledge aspect at their best, they could use even technology acquisitions as enterprise learning processes, and would be more prone to assign consistent budgets to the professional update and development of their workers, and in exchange would obtain higher productivity.


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