Critical Evaluation of the Benefits and Limitations of Using ICT in Knowledge Management Processes 1.0 Introduction
Knowledge management can be considered to be an essential strategic function in any organisation today. As the world becomes more globalised, and traditional structures of intermediation are removed whilst new ones are created, it is clear that knowledge, and consequently a learning organisation is one that is more likely to find unique sources of competitive advantage, and be able to develop sustainable competitive strategies in the long term. A number of different processes and sub-processes have been identified with knowledge management, such as knowledge generation, knowledge codification, and knowledge transfer or realisation (Grover and Davenport, 2001). Nonaka (1994) suggests that knowledge itself is created through the conversion between tacit and explicit knowledge, through the processes of socialisation, internalisation, externalisation, and combination. Technology has often been used to facilitate and support the processes involved in knowledge management. Knowledge management is essential for sustaining the growth of an organisation and ensuring its success. From the perspective of investors, the worth or value of an organisation is as a result of its ability to strategically retain and generate knowledge that facilitates the organisation’s business activity. The sharing of practices throughout the organisational hierarchy, and adoption of effective techniques formulated by individuals having great expertise in the relevant field can help to improve the efficiency of the business activity. Yet the intertwining of knowledge management processes and information and communication technologies (ICT) may blind knowledge managers to the shortcomings of the use of ICT in knowledge management processes. This essay therefore seeks to present a critical evaluation of the benefits and limitations of ICT in knowledge management processes. 2.0 Benefits of Using ICT
Knowledge management is essential for sustaining the growth of an organisation. From the perspective of investors, the worth or value of an organisation is as a result of its ability to strategically retain and generate knowledge that facilitates the organisation’s business activity. The sharing of practices throughout the organisational hierarchy, and adoption of effective techniques formulated by individuals having great expertise in the relevant field can help to improve the efficiency of the business activity. Wenger et al (2010) explain that one of the main advantages of technology is that it has allowed communities to interact in new ways. In fact, new technology that was developed to facilitate interaction between communities was often the result of a need that was felt by these communities, for a tool to facilitate interaction within the community. The technology tools help communities to bridge problems such as time and space, participation and reification, etc. Examples of such tools include the Internet itself, wikis, etc. In terms of knowledge management processes, these communication tools are important because they facilitate communication between two or more people, and consequently tacit knowledge sharing within the community. Kelly (2009) explains that the technological dimensions are part and parcel of effective knowledge management. Some of the technologies which are essential for modern knowledge management processes include business intelligence, CRM (Customer relationship management software), collaboration, distributed learning, knowledge mapping, etc. Databases can be used as knowledge repositories, as well as for storing structured and unstructured knowledge; they may also be used to identify the people (tacit knowledge holders) within the organisation. Each of these different set of technological tools facilitate different knowledge management processes. For example, business intelligence software allows the...
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