Knowledge Management Can Save a Company Thesis

Pages: 10 (2790 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management

¶ … Knowledge Management Can Save a Company from "Knowledge Walkouts"

The aging of workforces globally and specifically in the United States has amplified the need for companies to automate, manage and publish their content and knowledge more effectively than ever before. While "knowledge walkouts" being most driven by the major demographic shift of baby boomers retiring, companies also need to keep in mind the cyclical nature of employment. On this latter point, in periods of low unemployment and the need for workers, battling in industries based on salaries is common. This is the second type of "knowledge walkout" and can occur at any time, with the most valuable of employees. While employee churn is certainly a significant issue, the demographic shift occurring today is going to have much more lasting effects and takes precedence over the churn issue.

The need for a much closer level of coordination on content and knowledge within companies is being driven by the large number of workers who will be retiring within the next two decades. Companies must plan today to retain the knowledge their aging workforce has gained through decades of experience. At the forefront of this dynamic are the number of workers who comprise the baby boom generation, who are by definition those people born between 1946 and 1964.

About 75 million baby boomers were born in the U.S. between 1946 and 1964. By 1999, the generation, including in-migrants from other countries, totaled 77 million.

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The 77 million baby boomers represent about 37% of the nation's total population 16 years of age and older. They will continue to represent a significant portion of the population until at least 2025, when they will be 65 million, ranging in age from 61-79, and will still make up 25% of the population 16 and older.

In 2000, baby boomers ranged in age from 36 to 54. In 2001 the first of the generation will be 55, and in some pension systems eligible to retire. Between 2000 and 2025, the population that is 55 years of age and older will increase more sharply than any other age group.

Thesis on Knowledge Management Can Save a Company From Assignment

For many companies there needs to be a pronounced level of urgency surrounding content and knowledge management strategies. When baby boomers' impact on the workforce is considered, the urgency to get content and knowledge management strategies in place becomes critical. Strategically speaking, for many organizations the ability to retain, organize, publish and grow content and knowledge within their companies is the biggest strategic risk they face in the coming ten years. Content and knowledge management strategies need to be at the forefront of every company's business and it strategy as their core intellectual property - the knowledge of their workers - must be captured before these workers leave on retirement according to Bell and Knox (2005).

Statement of the Problem

The drain of intellectual property that is imminent due to the demographic shifts occurring in the market must be addressed quickly and thoroughly with thorough content and knowledge management strategies. This paper will specifically discuss strategies for managing the creation of enterprise content management (ECM) and ensuing knowledge management strategies to alleviate the loss of key intellectual property as key employees retire (Easterby-Smith, Prieto, 2008).

To gain an appreciation for the full impact from a human resource management perspective of baby boomers retiring, consider that the median age of all workers in the U.S. economy will rise through the year 2020. Consider these additional facts as well relating to the implications of an aging workforce on the ability of companies to retain key content and knowledge:

In 1985, the median age of workers was 35; by 2008, the median age is projected to be nearly 41 (and covered by age discrimination protections, which begin at age 40 under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act).

The baby boom generation has had higher labor force participation rates than previous generations. By 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 62 million workers (over 40% of the labor force) will be 45 and older, and 37 million of these will be between the ages of 45 and 54. This means there will be over 16 million older workers in 2008 than there were in 1998 (a 37% increase). The number of young workers, 16 to 24 years old, is also projected to increase (by 15.1%), but those in the 35- to 44-year-old range will actually decline by about 7%.

These key demographic trends influence the retention of intellectual property across every department, functional area, strategy, initiative, and most critically of all, across key supplier, buyer, customer, channel partner, and reseller relationships. The core strengths of any company to compete then are impacted directly by the ability to coordinate the capturing of knowledge so it can efficiently be used in the planning, execution, and fulfillment of key strategies (Patrucco, 2008). Clearly what's needed is a series of frameworks to organize the strategies aimed at knowledge capture and management. From the over-arching approach of Enterprise Content Management to the definition of Knowledge Frameworks, (Oshri, Fenema, Kotlarsky, 2008) the implications for any company who has baby-boomer age experts in their core business areas must take action to accumulate, manage and apply the knowledge that these employees have today.

Findings

Alleviating the risk of losing intellectual property from "knowledge walkouts" begins with the structure of a content and knowledge management framework. One of the cornerstones of these frameworks is the definition of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) infrastructure. Creating a consistent ECM architecture and defining its key components is critical in the development of an over-arching and scalable knowledge management strategy.

Defining Enterprise Content Management

In evaluating the body of research on enterprise content management and knowledge management, the following key insights immediately emerge. First, there is the need to define what a consolidated enterprise content management strategy means in the company or organization of interest. For many companies this entails breaking down the barriers between the many repositories of data, synchronizing up the taxonomies that vary significantly across business units, and creating a single version of the truth through global initiatives to make content more responsive to strategy needs according to Olson (2006). Second, the link of enterprise content management and knowledge management needs to be defined in the context of global knowledge management frameworks. Third, best practices in knowledge management is emerging rapidly in other strategic areas, over and above being insurance from "knowledge walkouts" and the loss of key intellectual property from employee churn. These companies attaining best practices focus on turning knowledge management frameworks into a competitive advantage by focusing on the following strategic initiatives:

Meeting compliance mandates - Including a range of issues such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Department of Defense regulations, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and emerging green laws like Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

This is being driven by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) in addition to other legislation.

Improving market agility - Capturing, distributing, sharing, and synchronizing information; most often product information, more readily and effectively with suppliers, business partners, and customers.

Supporting Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) - Supporting the needs of research, engineering, and development organizations that must collaborate on a wide range of structured and rich information assets.

Advertising, marketing, and promotion - Providing high quality, branded information to customers through various media and sales channels.

Customer support - Offering responsive systems for customer service and self-service initiatives, ensuring the quality of information presented to customers, and relaying information quickly to engineering and development organizations.

Information worker productivity and knowledge management- Helping alleviate employee inefficiency and a variety of urgent issues, including impending departure of retiring employees.

Structuring Enterprise Content is the first step to Knowledge Management

What exacerbates and hastens the need for knowledge management strategies is the chaotic nature of content management systems. Figure 1 provides an example of what a typical organization's content management structure is prior to the development of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to capture, coordinate, synchronize and eventually use in strategies the content and knowledge scattered throughout the organization. It is useful to remember that Figure 1 is the schematic, if you will, of the network employees must rely on for their information, making their jobs chaotic as well. Figure 1: Content in Chaos

When an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is put into place and made the foundation of knowledge management strategies, an entirely different structure to content creation, organization, syndication and use comes into play. This is significant to reducing "knowledge walkouts" as it creates a solid framework for organizing knowledge. Figure 2 represents what a prototypical ECM framework looks like from a schematic standpoint. The key take-away from this graphic is that once an stable framework is in place for content, stability and order come to knowledge management. The implications of this are significant in that organizations can then make existing employees more productive through the use of more actionable content, yet also… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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