Knowledge management has been regarded as a key factor in enhancing organisational performance across the globe. The pivotal role of knowledge management is more pronounced in knowledge-intensive organisations such as those involved in research and development, and new product development.
This article looks at the role of knowledge management enablers in enhancing performance. It specifically addresses a few broad categories of knowledge management enablers such as strategy and leadership, corporate culture, people and information technology and how these factors impact knowledge management enablers when implementing a knowledge management (KM) programme in organisations.
Knowledge management is a key source of competitive advantage for organisations. KM is important as it enables organisations to gain insight and understanding from its own experiences and procedures. However, for effective implementation of knowledge management in organizations, it is crucial that an organization identifies and understands key factors that will influence the success of knowledge management initiative as these may have profound effects on the organization performance.
These factors are the driving force in carrying out knowledge management; they do not just generate knowledge in the organization by stimulating the creation of knowledge, but they also motivate the group members to share their knowledge and experiences with one another, allowing organizational knowledge to grow concurrently and systematically. Unfortunately, most organizations are not clear about such factors
Knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant and perhaps even the only source of competitive advantage. The 21st Century is the era of knowledge economy, in which most firms possess knowledge that enables them to improve corporate performance. How the corporation enhances organization value to boost internal performance and external competitiveness through the creation of effective knowledge management is a critical task.
Knowledge generation can be defined as the process by which the firm obtains knowledge, either from outside the company or generated internally. If organisations implement knowledge management practices successfully, they are able to perform intelligently to sustain their competitive advantage by developing their knowledge assets.
The information technology boom has caused organizations to realize the shift from the resource economy of controlling land, labour and capital to the knowledge economy of creating business value through the utilization of intangible knowledge.
This has caused “knowledge management” to be of crucial importance in the public sector as well as the private sector both for organizations as well as for individuals. However one of the key concerns that have emerged related to knowledge management is how to accomplish it successfully.
As enterprises start to manage their organizations’ knowledge, they need to be clear of the factors that will influence knowledge management, which are known as knowledge management enablers and their relationship with organizational performance. Enablers do not just generate knowledge in the organization by stimulating the creation of knowledge, but they also motivate the group members to share their knowledge and experiences with one another, allowing organizational knowledge to grow concurrently and systematically.
Knowledge Management Enablers
Knowledge management enablers (or influencing factors) are organizational mechanism for fostering knowledge .They can stimulate knowledge creation, protect knowledge and facilitate the sharing of knowledge in an organization. They are also the necessary building blocks in the improvement of the effectiveness of activities for knowledge management.
KM enabler are key factors that determine the effectiveness of executing knowledge management within the organization, which are the driving force that solidifies knowledge management .In other words, it is crucial to be able to acquire the key enablers so as to make it possible to effectively utilize an organization’s limited resources, reduce the use of manpower, material, and time, and still be able to achieve the expected results.
KM enabler is a structural or functional condition in a company that isresponsible, at some level, for the success or failure of a KM initiative. Others view KM enablers as those activities and practices that should be addressed in order to ensure successful implementation; these practices would either need to be nurtured if they already existed or be developed if they were still not in place .I regard KM enablers as critical factors that are needed to develop an organization that serve as driving forces to solidify knowledge management.
In the process of carrying out knowledge management, organizations have to face the varying conditions of corporate culture, workflow processes, and the integration of group members’ knowledge. They also need strong support from top management, because it is possible that during the process they will encounter resistance from employees.
Organizations also need to increase the usage of information technology in order to help the problem regarding the flow of information. Some of the knowledge management enablers under focus include strategy and leadership; organizational culture, organizational structure, people and information communication technology.
Among the enablers on the part of strategy and leadership, obtaining top managements’ support is most important. Among organization culture enablers is the forming of an atmosphere and culture of sharing which is most important but needs to be supplemented by informational technology.
Among people enablers, other than training courses and channels that provide learning, employee incentive program is one of the executing key factor; and among informational technology enablers, other than the digitization of documents, the function of speedy search of information for its re-use is becoming more and more important.
Organizational Performance Improvement
Organization performance may be defined as the degree to which organizations achieve its objectives. An effective knowledge management adds more value to the overall performance of the organization. Successful implementation of knowledge management enables an organization to become more innovative and harmonize its effort.
However there is no unique way to measure organizational performance related to knowledge management. The measures of organizational performance are classified into four categories namely financial measures, intellectual capital, balanced scorecard, and tangible and intangible benefits.
Knowledge management enablers allow the organization to develop its knowledge and stimulate its creation.
Since the 1980s, a lot of interest has been taken in knowledge management issues especially within the context organizational performance improvement .With knowledge taking on a key strategic role, many organisations have embarked on enterprise-wide knowledge management initiatives with the aim of leveraging as well as transforming organisational knowledge assets into core competencies to obtain competitive advantage.
In general, effective knowledge management ensures that business-critical knowledge becomes more visible, more appropriately distributed, linked together at the right level of proficiency and adequately codified.
New Product Development
Among all the critical business processes for enterprises to survive in today’s highly competitive business environment, New Product Development (NPD) is a key activity that is undeniably one of the most knowledge-intensive processes and is by itself constantly creating new knowledge.
These new knowledge are considered to be useful ideas in which to enhance the development of new products and processes to manufacture products and services for the organisation. The successful management of this knowledge becomes a distinguishing factor in the competitive advantage possessed by market leaders, particularly in a knowledge-intensive industry.
NPD involves many functional areas, including engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and finance with these teams frequently composed of heterogeneous-skilled individuals who must interact and learn from each other for the project to be successful.
As NPD relies heavily on collaboration within cross-functional teams, the question of how such knowledge which to a large extent is tacit, should best be managed and disseminated is crucial. As enterprises start to manage their organizations’ knowledge they need to be clear of the factors that will influence knowledge management practices within the organisation.
Knowledge management enablers allow the organization to develop its knowledge and also stimulate its creation within the organization as well as sharing and protection.