People Innovation Excellence

What Are Knowledge Sharing Systems ?

What Are Knowledge Sharing Systems ?

Knowledge sharing systems can be described as systems that enable members of an organization to acquire tacit and explicit knowledge from each other. Knowledge sharing systems may also be viewed as knowledge markets: just as markets require adequate liquidity1 to guarantee a fair exchange of products, knowledge sharing systems must attract a critical volume of knowledge seekers and knowledge owners in order to be effective (Dignum 2002). In a knowledge sharing system, knowledge owners will:

  1. want to share their knowledge with a controllable and trusted group,
  2. decide when to share and the conditions for sharing, and
  3. seek a fair exchange, or reward, for sharing their knowledge.

By the same token, knowledge seekers may:

  1. not be aware of all the possibilities for sharing, thus the knowledge repository will typically help them through searching and ranking, and
  2. want to decide on the conditions for knowledge acquisition.

A knowledge sharing system is said to define a learning organization, supporting the sharing and reuse of individual and organizational knowledge. One tool frequently emphasized under the auspices of knowledge sharing systems is document management. At the core of a document management system is a repository, an electronic storage medium with a primary storage location that affords multiple access points. The document management system essentially stores information. This repository can be centralized or it can be distributed. Document management builds upon the repository by adding support to the classification and organization of information, unifying the actions of storage and retrieval of documents over a platform-independent system. A document management system aggregates relevant information through a common typically Web-based interface. The document management collaborative application increases communication, thus allowing the sharing of organizational knowledge.

The document management application increases the sharing of documentation across the organization, which helps in the sharing of organizational knowledge. Documents are typically organized or indexed following a standard hierarchical structure or classification taxonomy, much like the index catalog is used to organize the books in a library. Frequently, portal technologies are used to build a common entry into multiple distributed repositories, using the analogy of a “door” as a common entry into the organization’s knowledge resources. Portals provide a common user interface, which can often be customized to the user’s preferences such as local news, weather, and so forth.

In its purest sense, workflow represents the automation of a business process. A workflow management system (WfMS) is a set of tools that support defining, creating, and managing the execution of workflow processes (Workflow Management Coalition 1999); in other words, they provide a method of capturing the steps that lead to the completion of a project within a fixed time frame. In doing so, it provides a method for illustrating such steps. WfMS have been around on factory assembly lines for some time. By automating many of their routine business processes, companies are able to save time and valuable human resources. Workflow systems can be useful for

projects by enacting its elemental tasks, as well as by providing a mechanism for the analysis and optimization of the entire process detailing the project. Also, workflow systems provide a mechanism for the analysis and optimization of the entire process that make up a project. One benefit of using a WfMS is that it provides the user with an audit of necessary skills and resources prior to project initiation. Workflow systems also provide a platform for the replication and reuse of stored processes. Finally, WfMS can also serve as a training tool since they provide a broad overview with detailed operations of tasks as well as an identification of possible “weak links”in a process.

WfMS can serve as the basis for collaborative computing, as evidenced by their growing popularity. A collaborative environment (which allows the informal exchange of ideas) combined with a detailed workflow (which captures process steps) is an efficient method for streamlining business practices. A document management system unifies an aggregate of relevant information conveniently in one location through a common interface. Categorizing and processing information for search purposes

provides a detailed knowledge warehouse. The collaborative application increases communication, thus allowing the sharing of organizational knowledge. Information technology tools like document management systems, groupware, e-mail, databases, chat groups, discussion forums, videoconferencing technologies, and workflow management systems, which historically were used for singular unrelated purposes are now typically integrated into knowledge sharing systems. Although there are benefits of using these tools independently of each other, their integration in a knowledge sharing system augments their individual contributions. The document management system essentially stores information. The electronic documents are usually organized and relevant to its hierarchical structure. The workflow, which details the steps involved in completing a project, combined with a central repository that contains information relevant to a project, provides added benefits. The most important benefits, according KM theory, are the elicitation and capturing of organizational know-how that typically is not captured by most information systems, as well as an obvious user interface to access and reuse this organizational know-how. Collaborative computing provides a common communication space, improves sharing of knowledge, provides a mechanism for real-time feedback on the tasks being performed, helps to optimize processes, and results in a centralized knowledge warehouse.

Collaborative environments support the work of teams, which may not necessarily be present at the same time or same place. Groupware allows the informal exchange of ideas, increasing organizational communication and thus allowing the sharing of knowledge. Knowledge management mechanisms, discussed in Chapter 3, facilitate the use of knowledge sharing systems. For example, meetings and communities of practice facilitate knowledge sharing, as illustrated in Box 8.1 earlier in the chapter.

This part of the chapter also examines the use of knowledge management mechanisms such as communities of practice for sharing tacit knowledge.

Traditional information systems are based on a consented interpretation based on the company’s business culture and management’s needs. Computer-generated information typically does not lend itself to interpretation that produces action, and knowledge implies action based on the information. Today’s fast-paced highly competitive business world forces the need for variety and complexity in the interpretation of information generated by computer systems. Group decision-making tools can help companies make better decisions by capturing the knowledge from groups of experts. Furthermore, companies that capture their customers’ preferences can improve their customer service, which translates to larger profits (Becerra-Fernandez 1998). In short, knowledge sharing systems integrate the capabilities of document management and collaborative systems along with knowledge management mechanisms. A document management system unifies an aggregate of relevant information through a common, typically Web-based, interface. Categorizing and processing organizational information for search and distribution purposes provides a detailed knowledge warehouse. A collaborative environment that includes workflow is an effective complement to a platform for sharing knowledge across the organization. These systems can later be used as the basis for organizations to further focus their efforts not only in gathering documentation, but also in discovering new knowledge, by mining the knowledge and experiences of their employees, customers, and competitors.

Sumber : Becerra Fernandez, Irma. 2010. Knowledge Managament System & Processes. New York : M.E. Sharpe Inc

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