What makes KM an increasingly interesting field?
The field of Knowledge Management, though over a decade old, has become increasingly popular in recent years. There are several reasons behind the dramatic growth in interest in the field. The main drivers behind Knowledge Management are Demand Drivers and Supply Drivers.
On demand side there are several structural, demographic and economic factors which have driven the heightened interest in the field. On the supply side, recent advanes in communication technologies, including the increased adoption of the internet, have allowed for the development of communication and knowledge sharing applications specially adopted for knowledge management functions.
There has been a dramatic structural shift from a manufacturing-based economy to that of a service-based economy. Organisations have realised people are the primary asset in a service organisation and have begun to recognise that retaining their employees' knowledge will be increasingly important as firms grapple with how best to institutionalise the knowledge of their employees given the current levels of employee turnover.
Increased globalisation of business - Workforces can be geographically dispersed across the globe, making communication and knowledge sharing increasingly difficult. Organisations have realised the need for tools and technologies which can facilitate the sharing of information between geographically disparate employees.
Other problem that companies are likely to face will be as large number of key employees reach retirement age. Thus finding tools and techniques that will aid in retaining and institutionalising the knowledge maintained by these transitioning and retiring workers has become increasingly important for firms that wish to maintain their continued competitiveness.
Knowledge Management has the potential to improve firms' competitiveness by :
(a) fostering innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas amongst employees;
(b) improving customer service by streamlining response time;
(c) boosting revenues by getting products and services to market faster;
(d) improving and lowering the costs of employee training; and
(e) streamling operations by eliminating redundant process ...
Therefore, those firms that properly view the retention and management of intellectual capital as a core competancy will have a significant strategic advantage through their ability to retain, harness and draw upon their 'corporate memory".
Recent technological advances have facilitated the development and adoption of specialised knowledge management tools and technologies. The new technologies have allowed unprecedented ability to access, store, search, organise, share information and communicate with colleagues across a global organisation.
These technological advances, while small advances in their own right, have led to a significant improvement in the collective technological ability of an organisation to manage its knowledge capital.