Definition of Knowledge Management System - What it is, Meaning and Concept

In this role, the notion of knowledge management systems is handled. Under this concept the organization is considered as a suprarred that links networks of people, information and communications technology. Knowledge management seeks to maximize organizational learning in order to increase its global competitiveness.

Knowledge can be defined as that information stored in an entity and that can be used by intelligence according to certain objectives. Knowledge can be divided into two groups: a natural one that belongs to living organisms with a nervous system and the other, artificial, that has those mechanisms that simulate or partially reproduce the natural system. In the case of man, knowledge is the product of mental processes that start from perception, reasoning or intuition. In this sense, one of the fundamental concepts for knowledge is the ability of relationship or association between them.

According to Puleo (1985), knowledge as specific information about something can refer to two different entities: their form and content. Form is essential in determining the conditions by which something can become the object of knowledge. The content is produced under external influences and where two activities of the mind can be distinguished: perceive and conceive.

Perceiving is the mental activity through which external stimuli reach the brain and the cognition process is performed. On the other hand, to conceive is the mental activity through which concepts and ideas result from the perceived stimuli, which in turn determine the concepts of understanding and understanding that cause the cognitive process to culminate in learning. The understanding must be differentiated from understanding, a fact, a relation, a word, a method is understood, instead, a series, a system, a plan is understood. Understanding is an elevated aptitude of human thought.

It rescues the idea that information is the essential input of knowledge, in that sense, the development of information networks based above all on Internet technology creates a new context for organizations today. In this environment, the possibilities of publishing, storing and distributing information have expanded considerably, leading organizations to set more ambitious objectives and, little by little, to transfer the idea of information management to the idea of management of the knowledge.

Business and public organizations have a vital and intangible resource that allows them to develop their essential activity, that resource is knowledge. Knowledge lies in the complex system of processes that results in the materialization of goods or services. There are two basic supports of knowledge:

1. The human resources that intervene in production processes or organizational support (training, skills, personal qualities, among others).

2. The information handled in these processes, which enables these people to increase their training or skills for the development of their tasks.

Knowledge merges from the fusion of these two supports. So, to the extent that the organizational structure facilitates the synchrony between person and information, a knowledge environment will be created. This is one of the essential objectives of knowledge management. The necessary conditions for the creation of a knowledge environment as a higher order network that links the resources constituted by:
  • The quality of the human resource.
  • The ability to manage information.
  • The ability of the organizational model to implement and integrate the appropriate tools, techniques and methods.
This set of tools, techniques and methods is what constitutes the knowledge management system in public and private organizations. The main functional characteristic of the knowledge management system is to match the specific information needs of different people and work teams with the effective availability of such information.

From this conception of knowledge and information managed, new areas of work have arisen linked to the creation of new organizational models. On the basis of the above, it can be noted that an organization is a suprarred of knowledge resources composed of a human resources network, the information resources network and the network of computer and telematic resources.

One of the most significant advantages of this approach is that an organization equipped with a knowledge management system will tend to maximize learning performance. In this sense, one of the greatest exponents of a current in the administration, Senge (1992), raises the need for teams, in an organization open to learning, to function as a whole, that is to say that the energy of each of the members of the team are channeled in the same direction. This phenomenon called alignment, at the level of the equipment is also necessary between the equipment, the information network and the telematic resources. Such alignment of resources generates much lower learning costs.

Currently, there are at least two factors in favor of the conception of knowledge management systems:
  • A greater awareness of the managers towards the information as a resource more of the organization and as the foundation of the intellectual capital.
  • The technological advance in documentary computing, telematics and the integration of both from the Internet, and their private deviation, the Intranets.
According to Drucker (1994), in our time there is a transformation in the conception of knowledge. This has passed from one applicable situation to another applicable to be done, that is, from a situation referred to the intellectual development of the person to another as a factor of production based on its usefulness. In this sense, knowledge becomes an instrument or means to obtain results.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management involves two relevant aspects. On the one hand, the idea of ​​management indicates in some way, the organization, planning, direction and control of processes to conform or dispose of certain objectives. On the other hand, when talking about knowledge, it becomes clear that an organization, like any human being, is subject to a dynamic in which, from the outside and inside, it captures or perceives information, recognizes it, organizes it, stores it, it analyzes it, evaluates it and issues a response to the outside, based on said information and included in the total information stored, seeking a result.

The reality or part of the reality that is the object of our understanding is always seen under the eyes of a paradigm or related set of ideas, principles, theories, methods, techniques, tools and, also, basic or essential beliefs. The paradigm constitutes the mental environment and decisions and actions are built on it.

At present, the holistic model par excellence is the biological model, systems with their own rules and self-organized, able to optimize their own resources. Hence, its referential use when identifying problems and offering solutions to be able to do something new.

Obviously a neuronal system of a living being is capable of very high and subtle processes of data and information, of high response and learning ratios. In knowledge management, learning is particularly important. Not in vain, one of the most solid tendencies during the last decade in organizations has been the programs of permanent training of personnel and other postulates raised in the V Discipline related to team learning.

In the organizational field, human resources have been valued as something dynamic. However, the learning capacity is more valued than the knowledge acquired. It is more important to learn, since this means knowing knowledge, than having a collection of knowledge.

Returning to Drucker's approach, the application of knowledge to knowledge involves the management of knowledge or application of existing knowledge in obtaining results and systemic innovation or the definition of the new knowledge required, its feasibility and the method to make it effective.

Additionally, he adds that the task of making knowledge productive is a task of the administration. In this way, knowledge management implies the continuous exploitation of knowledge to develop new and different processes and products within organizations.

The author points out that organizations must incorporate three systemic practices in knowledge management, these are:
  • Continuously improve processes and products.
  • Learn to exploit success and,
  • Learn to innovate
Associated with knowledge management, the problem of organizations consists in consulting or accessing information and producing information from static and dynamic factors. In particular, the information handled in the actual organization must be analyzed, for example, data or databases, decision supports, diverse documents, both in format as well as in origin or location and electronic documents.

The success of the organization results from its ability to identify and respect individuals and the ability to integrate them into a whole. A knowledge management system, in a general sense, means that an organization is endowed with three different strategic functions, but combined in one and the same computer application:

1. Reuse or feedback of the added value that the organization generates and acquires, and that represents the intellectual capital of the same, at the service of solving new problems, thus increasing the added value of the services produced and the performance of said activity.

2. Research and analysis at the service of people, who in the organization are the producers of added value and / or are responsible for making critical decisions, on the basis of an adequate provision of diverse information (data, paper, electronic texts, etc.), and a quick response.

3. Unified access to each and every one of the layers of information woven on the organizational structure.

In practice, the individual in the organization faces all knowledge or a plot of it, so the management of organizational knowledge must also be a research instrument.

The support of a knowledge management system is the documentary information that is generated daily in organizations. So that if it is managed in an automated way, it will be able to keep it more accessible and more secure, therefore more alive. This objective justifies by itself the incorporation of appropriate methods and computer applications.

In the consideration between the handling of information produced in the organization and the integration of that information into new knowledge, two valid alternatives must be considered. The first is the possibility of introducing a document management system which solves the management of internally maintained files, transforming manual operations into automated ones and generating electronic documents and paper supports in the required cases. The second option refers to the integrated and independent management of existing information systems, which introduces the concept of knowledge management systems, without implying higher costs or greater technological complications.

This possibility incorporates the presence of a layer superior to the informational structure of the existing network or external metasystem and independent of the operational information systems.

By capturing, storing and using knowledge, organizational processes generate added value to organizations, which reduces the cost of learning. Knowledge management systems should aim to minimize the energy consumed and maximize the energy produced for the acquisition and production of new knowledge that in turn adds value to the organization.

The equation of knowledge in organizations suggests that at a given moment when the realization of organizational processes involves the use of knowledge, a certain amount of energy is consumed in resources (human and material). When considering an analogous process at another time, two things can happen: reproducing the same energy consumption or minimizing that consumption, having a knowledge management system that allows using the knowledge produced and accumulated.

In summary, a knowledge management system allows the reuse of information stored in the organization and its incorporation into functional and operational processes by integrating existing information systems and allowing the durability of information and knowledge.

What is knowledge management? Is it possible that something like the knowledge that inevitably belongs to people can be managed in organizations?

Better let's go in parts. When we talk about knowledge management in organizations, we refer to a process or a situation that allows transferring the knowledge or experiences of a person or group of people to other people belonging to the same organization or company.

And here is the main problem, that we talk about people and transmit or share something that is not easy to transmit or know who to transmit: information and skills.

Knowledge management is the process by which an organization facilitates the transmission of information and skills to its employees, in a systematic and efficient manner. It is important to clarify that the information and skills do not have to be exclusively within the company, but that they can be or generally generated outside of it.

This final nuance is very important. Generally, most companies identify knowledge management only with information and internal skills of the company, which is known as Business Intelligence or business intelligence . In this way, almost all efforts are focused on channeling the information and skills that an organization already has, focusing on the efficiency of internal communication processes through the implementation of systems such as CRM , ERP and a CMI.

This has traditionally been the case because it has always been much easier to control the volumes of internal information than the external information that is outside the organization that is more difficult to find, search, select and organize.

This inbreeding vision can be bad for a company. Imagine an airplane whose pilots only had information related to the level of fuel, the weight of the cargo, the activation of the engines, landing gear and other systems of the aircraft. This aircraft would be hopelessly doomed to disaster because its pilots would not know the weather conditions en route, would not have a radar to detect other aircraft in flight or know the wind direction and therefore the correct direction for landing or takeoff.

In the case of a company that only focuses on internal knowledge management, the disaster may be similar. Simply because the rest of the agents in your market (consumers, competitors, suppliers, etc ...) act outside the organization and if we do not know what they do or what these agents want, we will end up selling less and less. We can not forget that companies live on sales and these are produced outside the organization!

Fortunately, almost all companies have commercial networks and suppliers that transmit this knowledge and even now technological surveillance systems and competitive intelligence that provide them with the necessary information to detect what is happening in their market.

The internal knowledge management allows us to know how we are, if we need more cash flow, more raw materials or place a certain product on the third level of the supermarket shelf on Wednesdays because it is sold more etc ... but the external knowledge management It will say what happens in our market where we really generate the money and the opportunities and threats that are forming.

It is clear that people are at the center of knowledge management. But we are mainly interested in their skills and information . These two components are basic when taking into account the Knowledge Management process in an organization.

The information can be collected treated and stored by the information systems of the company, facilitating the creation of a control panel of the environment and an integral control panel for the management. If these systems are well designed, we will obtain regular and systematic information about what happens both inside and outside the organization and we can make decisions quickly
The skills are, on the other hand, more complicated to transmit since it implies acquiring new knowledge for the one that receives them, which supposes more time.

Nobody escapes that it is easier to transmit information and retain it than to acquire a skill such as learning to drive, since it requires hours of practice. The skills are associated with the Training Plans and it is a very important effort to identify those people who have the most valuable skills inside and outside the organization to share their knowledge. That is why they are often outsourced outside the company.

Knowledge Management involves going much further than a mere computer system or training plan. It is essential to favor an innovative and efficient business structure. If knowledge flows and is transmitted correctly in the organization, it can only grow. The skills and useful information are transmitted among employees quickly and thus increases the possibility of generating new knowledge that leads to new applications, improvements in processes or products and new ways of doing business to achieve new opportunities.

Do not forget that knowledge is the only asset that grows over time and does not wear out but can disappear with people, if it is not shared. I know cases in which the departure of an employee supposedly a loss of competitiveness very important for a company to be the only one that had a very specific knowledge. That is why it is vital to manage it, both in large organizations and in small organizations. On another occasion I will talk about how to manage knowledge in your organization.