There are a number of claims as to the “drivers”, or motivations, leading organizations to undertake a knowledge management program. Popular business objectives include gaining competitive advantage within the industry and increasing organizational effectiveness with improved or faster learning and new knowledge creation. As knowledge management programs can often lead to greater innovation, better customer experiences, consistency in good practices, knowledge access across a global organization, and other organizational benefits, many knowledge management programs will usually set some of these as end objectives as well.
Some typical considerations driving a Knowledge Management program include:
Making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services
Achieving shorter new product development cycles
Facilitating and managing organizational innovation and learning
Leveraging the expertise of people across the organization
Increasing network connectivity between employees and external groups with the objective of improving information flow
Managing the proliferation of data and information in complex business environments and allowing employees to access appropriate information sources
Managing intellectual capital and intellectual assets in the workforce (such as the expertise and know-how possessed by key individuals) as individuals retire and new workers are hired.
Technology Drivers: The proliferation of technology, data communications, networking and wireless transmission has revolutionized the way employees store, communicate and exchange data at high speed. The WWW has changed KM from a fad to an e-business reality. Any one can access information at any time and from anywhere.
Process Drivers: One of the most critical assets of KM drivers is designed to improve work processes. Implied in this area is the elimination of duplicate mistakes by learning from the past and by transferring the best experiential knowledge from one location or project in the firm to another. Starting from scratch with each project makes no sense in terms of efficiency, productivity and value-added contribution to the company’s bottom line.
Personnel-specific Drivers: This area of KM drivers focuses on the need to create cross-functional teams of knowledge workers to serve anywhere in the organization and minimize personnel turnover as a threat to collective knowledge. More and more of what was once viewed as independent firms are now closely coupled. Products and services are jointly handled from diverse disciplinary areas where creative cooperation is essential for innovation. Brainstorming, competitive response, and proactive positioning- all require collaboration and coordination of various tasks within and among corporation.
Knowledge-related Drivers: Several KM drivers relate to the very concept of knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer within the firm. They include revisiting overlooked employee knowledge, making critical knowledge available at the time it is needed, and finding a mechanism to expedite available knowledge for immediate use.
Financial Drivers: As an asset, Knowledge defies economic theory, where assets are subject to diminishing returns over the long run. Knowledge assets increase in value as more and more people use them. With this in mind, knowledge follows the law of increasing returns – the more knowledge is used, the more value it provides. KM provides a worthwhile opportunity to integrate knowledge in a way that enriches the quality of decision making throughout the organization.