In a recent interview, Susan O’Neill, deputy chief knowledge officer of PricewaterhouseCoopers, noted, “Knowledge is what we’re all about. All of our profitability and viability is about how good we are at leveraging the intellectual assets of our people and making that available to our clients.” Indeed, a survey of 200 IT managers by InformationWeekshows that 94 percent of companies consider knowledge management strategic to their business or IT processes and that these companies are in the early stages of their knowledge-management efforts. Additional results reveal that on average companies are capturing only 45 percent of their intellectual capital. 1 A manager at Ernst & Young referred to knowledge management as the biggest problem faced by the firm in trying to maintain the quality of service expected by its customers. 2
Describe the purpose of a knowledge management system.
Knowledge management is the process of capturing, storing, retrieving and distributing the knowledge of the individuals in an organization for use by others in the organization to improve the quality and/or efficiency of decision making across the firm. The primary enabler of knowledge management efforts is the power of contemporary information technologies.
Effective knowledge management means that an organization must be able to connect the knowledge of one individual (e.g., capturing) with other individuals in the firm (e.g., distributing) who need the same knowledge. Distribution dictates the use of electronic communications technology—namely groupware systems. Advanced database management systems and AI systems technologies for orderly storage and retrieval of the captured knowledge are also critical.