Knowledge Management: How Has it Changed Essay

Pages: 5 (1755 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business

Knowledge Management: How Has it Changed Since Wilson Wrote His Analysis?

Wilson (2002) was wrong in his assessment of Knowledge management as not being a significant part of business when it comes to computers and information technology. He failed to see how the knowledge management term actually fit into the computing field, and also failed to extrapolate that term into other areas of business. Because of that, he missed out on a deep understanding of all that knowledge management could offer to the business world and how it could be used to help businesses in areas such as succession planning. Businesses need to be able to move forward, and it is not easy to do that without a carry-over of knowledge. Where Wilson may have made his mistake was in treating knowledge too much like data or information, when the terms are not synonymous.

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In 2002, Wilson wrote an analysis on the "nonsense" of knowledge management. He argued that knowledge management had originally been used as a term in information technology circles, and that it applied to computer applications and not actually to people. In other words, he equated knowledge with information or data. By managing data and managing information, Wilson saw that knowledge could also be managed - but that was an incorrect assumption. The reason Wilson (2002) was incorrect is that he did not understand exactly how businesses use knowledge. In short, knowledge is used to consider and determine (and even to predict) the future. It is common in IT, but it is also becoming increasingly common in sales forecasting. As a predictive tool, knowledge is much more significant than data and information. By not realizing that, Wilson missed the mark on how knowledge management works and what it can do for business.

Essay on Knowledge Management: How Has it Changed Since Assignment

As an example of how knowledge management is used in the context of business intelligence, one can consider sales forecasting. Because of its predictive qualities, forecasting sales is something that all businesses need to consider carefully if they want to continue to grow and develop. Sales forecasting is relatively straightforward, and part of the forecast takes into account how the company has done in the past. By looking at past sales for the company in question (data) and trends in the current market (information), sales can be predicted. However, there is more to the equation than just what happened in the past when it comes to forecasting what will happen in the future, and that is where knowledge management enters the equation (Lasting, 2003).

People who have worked in the business for a long time or who have been part of a particular industry for many years generally know more about a business environment than other people. They simply have more knowledge. How that knowledge is used and managed can greatly affect the bottom line of any business (Harsh, 2009). Those businesses that are involved in IT are particularly vulnerable because things change so quickly, but all businesses can benefit from the knowledge that employees have regarding the industry in which they work. It could be argued that knowledge is simply an understanding of the information and data, and that might be true. However, the whole is always more than the sum of its parts (Systems, 2010). In other words, just having data and information is not enough to develop knowledge. Knowledge is something that must be gained and learned through experience (Mercurio, 2002).

When a company loses a good employee, the knowledge that employee had goes with him or her. That can be harmful to the company's bottom line, since others in the company may not have the same depth of understanding. Many companies consider this issue very carefully when they are working on succession planning, since there are various ways in which some of the employee's knowledge can be passed along to others before that employee retires. While it is not possible to pass all of a person's knowledge down to someone else, it is certainly worth considering how that should be done in any company. Companies that understand this concept use knowledge management as part of their succession planning strategies so that the company overall loses as little knowledge as possible.

Of course, there are always issues that can come up with knowledge management. That was what Wilson (2002) was trying to point out in his analysis. His argument was not that knowledge was not valuable, but that knowledge management was just a catchphrase that did not need to be part of mainstream business culture and jargon. Knowledge management comprised many things, but none of them needed to be placed under the umbrella of a specific term. The term was not used much before the late 1990s (Wilson, 2002). With that being the case, Wilson (2002) argued that knowledge management had always been around but had just not been called knowledge management. There was no reason to create a term for something where it was not needed, because it was not changing the way that any business worked. It was simply jargon that had no place in actual business.

While Wilson (2002) saw knowledge as valuable, he saw it more as a collection of information and data - which others such as Harsh (2009) argued was not the same. There are many conflicting opinions on whether knowledge management is really a separate entity in the business world, or only a created term to group together many things that were already taking place. For those who believe in the value of knowledge management, it is not really so much a tool for actually forecasting the future as it is a tool for helping to determine how the forecast itself should be created. By using knowledge management, in other words, companies can create a clear picture of where they are headed and where they have been. They also have to know where they currently are so they can forecast their plans for progress.

It does not matter how long a company has been around, it still has knowledge of the past stored in the experiences of people who have worked with that company. That knowledge is not the same as the information and data that is stored in computers and files. Part of business intelligence is to take the knowledge that companies have and learn to manage that, so that forecasting the future from that knowledge can take place. Sales projections and growth patterns for many companies are created from a compilation of data, information, and the knowledge base of the employees (Lasting, 2003). Without the knowledge that the employees possess, the only thing a company could use in order to forecast what would happen next would be what happened in the past - and the future can change quite rapidly based on trends and adaptations that will not be reflected by past data.

It is easy to see how Wilson (2002) and Harsh (2009) might disagree. They represent some of the best in their fields, and they also represent how opinions have changed over time. Still, however, there are plenty of people who agree with Wilson (2002) today and do not feel as though knowledge management is something that should be realistically considered as part of a good business strategy. That is true for IT companies and other kinds of companies, as well. In short, a company that uses information and data to get more information about its future sales and growth potential is doing what all businesses do. The need for a separate term for this type of work simply does not exist in the eyes of Wilson (2002). Even after a thorough analysis of the way many companies do business, his opinion had not changed as of the time he created his 2002 analysis.

There are a large number of aspects that come into play when operating a successful business. Whether knowledge management is one of those aspects for a particular business is something that only the business owner(s) can consider and determine. For some companies - especially those in IT - the term has been used for so long that removing it would be awkward. In those kinds of companies, the term mostly refers to the actual 'knowledge' that is stored in databases and on servers. That is how knowledge management was originally intended to be used, but the term was picked up and modified by other companies to the point that it now more closely reflects the knowledge in an employee's head as opposed to the knowledge (information and data) that can be located on a hard drive.

Knowledge management is also a process, of sorts. People who operate companies know that they have to continue to grow and change. They cannot simply sit still and wait for things to happen, because they will end up far behind the times of they do things that way. That is not a healthy way to do business, and it can cause serious problems with the bottom line and the continued development… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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