Knowledge Management - Missing link in the system
Knowledge is at the foundation of wealth more than any other asset. Being invisible it is not often recognized as most other assets and neither is treated nor accounted for like most other assets. However, large organizations like IBM and Microsoft, which are regarded as knowledge abundant, have long been showing a huge value of their knowledge based assets in their financial statements. Finally, the market is coming to terms with it. As an example, in year 2000, Microsoft was valued at 86 Billion and IBM at 71 Billion. At the same time, the value of their tangible assets gives a totally opposite picture. Microsoft had 930 Million, and IBM had 17 Billon. In the last decade, the value has knowledge has increased many folds.
Let’s start by defining Knowledge: it is a construct that is created in the mind of a user as a result of the cycle of accessing, processing and understanding information. Having the knowledge to make correct decisions at the correct time is what separates winners from losers. Hence, creating and managing knowledge can be a critical part of running any business. All businesses have some mechanism to capture knowledge in the form or data. How to manipulate data in order to make business sense is what allows some companies to outperform its competitors or to avoid major losses. Good knowledge management practices should help businesses avoid unnecessary risk and survive potential pitfalls. For the purpose of this document, I will only focus on Knowledge Manage (KM) as it relates to system development process within transportation and logistics sector.
Transportation and logistics sector can benefit of knowledge management techniques. Business processes in our industry often lead to generation of a lot of information and most processes are cyclical in nature. Therefore it is highly beneficial to embed knowledge management practices within the system development process. Why? Transportation industry relies heavily on complex business arrangements with its customer and suppliers. Companies in our industry are forced to make decision on less than adequate information. For example: Evaluation of major tender based on existing cost structure and volume. Larger the undertaking, more risk we take when we engage a new prospect based on less than par information. It is also important that we harness the knowledge base of our staff so that others can benefit. If knowledge stays with individuals, we will lose it whenever there is a change in the staffing.
A good development approach is to entrench knowledge capture methods in the core business process. It is common to see fragmented system processes where initial information is never matched with the newly created system record. One way to deal with this deficiency is to apply knowledge criteria in every IT development project. As part of system design process, we start by asking following questions:
- Is this process going to generate addition information?
- Is information required for decision making?
- Are there processes in place to gather, filter, and decipher information?
- Can processes be improved by applying gathered knowledge?
In case the answer is no to the above questions, we need to improve our information model. This may require building of additional system and/or processes which can capture and process relevant information. In some case, we need to better understand the user environment, constraints, and level of expertise. Systems must be geared to gather financial or analytical information as well as capturing user’s cognitive behavior patterns.
In a typical system process there are typically three components; Inputs, Processes, and Outputs. In the KM augmented solution, there are additional processes in place to maintain the KM construct, an additional processors to compliment new or existing processes. The main purpose of this addition is to improve the quality of information so that decision making process can be simplified. The KM construct is repository of key data elements gathered from various processes along with carefully generated KPIs specific for a user task. It is also important to capture the relationship between inputs and outputs and how they correlate with one another.
Every time system goes through the decision making process, system captures additional information which is then used to make subsequent decisions. As knowledge base gets larger, the decision making process gets more refined. KM processor is a sophisticated process that can augment an existing or new process. Using this technique in the system development process can simplify most complicated business decisions while allowing businesses to automate most mundane business decisions