Employing knowledge management for competitive advantage in the 21st century

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Zhen, Huang
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BA (Hons) in Business Information Management
Dublin Business School
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We are at a critical juncture in the short but impressive life of knowledge management. On one hand, nothing whatsoever has diminished the importance of managing knowledge. More than ever, we live in an economy that values and depends on knowledge. Organizations use it to differentiate products and services, and to make better decisions and to take smarter actions. On the other hand, the development of knowledge management, like other business concepts, has started to struggle as organizations begin to have doubt and scepticism and regard it as another management fad. Knowledge is messy because of the characteristics associated with it. Understanding knowledge is the first step to manage it well. Knowledge is mainly intangible and difficult to capture. It prospers in social processes as it can be most effectively communicated when people talk face to face. Knowledge management involves managing and leveraging an organization's intellectual capital to maximise organizational performance and business results. It has three major levers: people, technology and process. If the three elements are combined correctly, it can yield sustainable competitive advantages for organizations: Improved customer service, increased profitability, shorter time to market. Knowledge management strategy should be closely linked to business objectives. There are lots of successful stories and there are failures. Implementing knowledge management remains a big challenge to organizations especially when it comes to deal with the culture part. Measuring the impact of knowledge management is yet another big challenge. Because of the importance of knowledge and continuing growth of knowledge workers in organizations, I am optimistic that knowledge management is here to stay. It will become the mainstream one day as required by the reality of the emerging knowledge economy.