Knowledge Management Systems
For many, Knowledge Management is almost synonyms with ICT systems or tools. This was popularised by IT vendors who market their systems with the promise that they can solve organisations’ knowledge issues. Although KM is a much wider domain then purely ICTs, technology do play a very important supporting role. Here is where Knowledge Management Systems come into play to enable and support the use of knowledge.
In this blog post we will explore what Knowledge Management Systems are, how new developments in ICTs can benefit KM, and will introduce wikis as an example of a new technology that can support organisations in their quest for knowledge.
What Are Knowledge Management Systems?
Gottschalk (2007) describes KMS as a type of information systems which assist in managing knowledge at the personal, group and organisational levels. They need to support organisation in the creation, storage, retrieval, transfer, and application of knowledge.According to Dalkir (2011), as there is no one tool that includes all stages of knowledge management, there is a need for a set of KMS if one want to cover the whole domain.
Maier and Hadrich (2011) maintain that KMS are ICT platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing, and that they support knowledge processes aimed at improving the capabilities of organisations.
New ICTs and KM
New web based ICTs such as web2.0 and Web 3.0, social networks tools, wikis, and blogging, can help sharing knowledge in a much easier way (Soto-Acosta and Cegarra-Navarro 2016). Using these new technologies employees can create new knowledge by collaborative tools, find subject matter experts through social networks, and access corporate knowledge stored in web accessed knowledge repositories.
Organisation can also utilise the new ICTs to communicate, share information with their customers, and in some cases gain insights and knowledge from them (Cegarra-Navarro 2016).
One of the technologies introduced to foster the creation and sharing of knowledge is the wiki. A Wiki is a web-based application which allows users to create and edit material on a web site (Dalkir 2011). Wikis allow generating content in a collaborative way as users can create, add, edit, and in some cases delete content which was created by others (Bolisani and Scarso 2016).
According to Bolisani and Scarso (2016), wikis have several advantages when compared to other systems. These include an open nature for contributing, flexibility, ability to access online, and a sense of consensus.
The best known public implementation of wikis is Wikipedia which was launched in 2001. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia in which the articles can be created and edited by the members of the public. Wikipedia contributes to the democratisation of knowledge by allowing free access to a very wide body of content.
For organisations wikis supply a relative cheap and fast way for sharing of knowledge. Employees can create web pages related to different subjects and their peers can edit them according to their own knowledge. The end result is an organisational body of knowledge, accessible to employees through a simple web interface.
The characteristics of wikis are especially appealing for smaller organisations (Bolisani and Scarso), which usually have less resources and a more informal structure. Similarly, wikis can be also effective for small teams within bigger organisations. In this use case, teams can create their own specialised knowledge repository.
Knowledge Management Systems are an important part of Knowledge Management. They can support organisations and individuals in all of its aspects. New ICTs foster collaboration and sharing of knowledge both within organisations and with stake holders outside of them. Some of these tools are relatively not expensive, and can be deployed by smaller organisations which do not have the resources needed for an extensive implementation of KMS.
Bolisani, E. and Scarso, E. (2016), “Factors affecting the use of wiki to manage knowledge in a small company”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol 20 Issue 3.
Dalkir, K. (2011), “Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice”.
Gottschalk, P. (2007), “Knowledge Management Systems : Value Shop Creations”
Maier, R. and Hadrich, T. (2011), “Encyclopaedia of Knowledge Management, Second Edition”, Chapter 76, “Knowledge Management Systems”.
Soto-Acosta, P. and Cegarra-Navarro, J. (2016), “New ICTs for Knowledge Management in Organisation”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol 20 Issue 3.