Knowledge Management: Business Strategies

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Introduction

Knowledge management often covers recognizing and charting scholarly possessions inside the association, creating latest information for spirited benefit within the group, building enormous quantities of business values within reach, contribution of most excellent customs and expertise that facilitates each feature mentioned above — incorporating associative and interactive characteristics. Knowledge management is quite often defined as a “business activity with two primary aspects:

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  • Treating the knowledge component of business activities as an explicit concern of business reflected in strategy, policy, and practice at all levels of the organization.
  • Making a direct connection between an organization’s intellectual assets — both explicit [recorded] and tacit [personal know-how] — and positive business results” (Murray & Barelay, 1997).

Managerial perspectives about the relationship between knowledge assets and trade activities fall under knowledge management itself. Most of the huge concerns as well as yield-free societies possess assets devoted to domestic knowledge management labours, frequently as a component of their commerce schemes, scientific expertise or human resource administration responsibilities. Numerous guiding corporations as well survive to facilitate provisions of strategy and recommendation concerning knowledge management to similar enterprises.

Roots of Knowledge management

From the above diagram, it is crystal clear that the roots of KM lies in innovative practices, management information, use of knowledge bases systems, placing intellectual assets like copyrights, trade marks and patents and their competitive use in business. “Knowledge management initiatives rely on information technology (IT) as an important enabler as well as a medium to create and distribute knowledge” (Nonaka 2005, p.19).

Business organisations are in a constant learning flux and business changes are envisaged through business transformation and change culture.

Business Strategies Related to Knowledge Management

Like any other administrative sectors, even Knowledge management has various strategies and tricks to attain the same. But there are areas of management closely related to knowledge management. They are identified as:

  • “Change management
  • Best practices
  • Risk management
  • Benchmarking” (Murray & Barelay 1997).

Change management

Change management is an ordered procedure to change persons, group and associations from an existing condition to a required upcoming situation. Change management is the method through which the alterations of a scheme are executed in a guarded comportment by pursuing a planned scaffold or mould with, to certain limit, logical amendments. Victorious adjustment to modifications is as critical inside a business as it is in the normal globe. Change management has minimum of three separate characteristics, comprising of: adjust to alteration, limiting amends and implementation of modifications. “Implementing a Knowledge Management initiative, as with any significant change, presents motivational and change management opportunities” (5 recourses for change management and knowledge management and management 2005).

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Components of KM

Components of KM

Best Practices

Another business strategy closely linked with knowledge management is best practice. In any scenario of business or trade, most probability of success is considered with highest priority. “A best practice is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result” (Best practice 2007). An obligation to utilizing the best practices in every sector is a dedication to exploiting entire knowledge and expertise in reserve at a particular clearance to warrant victory. The expression is applied regularly in the areas of medicine, administrative authorities, academics, task supervision, hardware and software goods expansion and almost similar other fields. Knowledge management will obviously help in achieving best practices but vice versa will always exist in any type of enterprises. A best practice is a structured and planned means that supplies to a victorious stride in merchandise expansion. A best practice opts to stretch over a sector, or trade following an achievement has been established. Conversely, it is regularly illustrious that confirmed best practices will be sluggish to broaden, still inside an association. American Productivity & Quality Center claims that absence of knowledge on novel strategies available, absence of inspirational approaches in order to adjust according to amendments and absence of required level of knowledge and talents for motivation are pragmatic threats to implementation strategy.

Knowledge development cvcle

The knowledge creation process involves the creation of new knowledge for use in KM, whereas adoption means the adaptation and usage of created knowledge in specific circumstances of business. The Knowledge distribution process would be in terms of converting personal knowledge into organisational one and finally, revision and review would be in terms of updating knowledge, bringing it in sync with current demands.

Case study

The case study discussed here is related to the failure in the system designers in the London Ambulance Service Computer Dispatch System (LASCAD) in the year 1992. The parties involved in the case are top management, union, technical manager and government. The failure was that the system failed to recognize the changes in the organizational, political and social environment. The important reason for the failure in the system was that before introducing a new policy within the organization the employees were not informed well in advance. The sudden changes within the organization made the employees to turn against the organization and his lead to the overall decrease in the productivity in the organization. There was a lack of communication among the employees in the organization. The changes in the over all system that was happening in the organization was not informed to the employees. The disagreement between the parties also made the situation more badly than the previous. The basic methodology of the system was to find out the real problem, present he problem, finding out ways to solve the problem, finding the root cause for the problem, building conceptual model for the problem, comparing the problem with the alternatives available, identifying the changes that are desirable to the firm and recommending actions to improvise the situation by which the productivity can be increased.

The case is about the failure of the Computer Sided Despatch (CAD) system in the organization. It was found that the software was not in its complete form and lacks some major aspects. The hardware was not tested properly. The option of fallback to the second server file was also found to be not unproven. “There was some scepticism over the accuracy record of the Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS). Staff, both within Central Ambulance Control (CAC) and ambulance crews, had no confidence in the system and were not all fully trained” (Finkelstein 1993, p.3). In transmitting the data from the mobile to the terminal a complex problem was identified. The main objective of LASCAD was to transform many human intensive works into automatic mode which facilitates in smoother functioning of manual dispatch systems that are connected with ambulance services in the United Kingdom. The centralized system within the organization facilitates the organization in the smooth functioning of various actions in the dispatching process. So in the case the main issue is to implement a computer aided dispatching system.

Necessity of Knowledge Management

Thus knowledge management becomes unavoidable. Mostly, to exploit many of the achieved facts alterations need to be employed leading to develop a better plan to execute those. Knowledge management becomes crucial in such cases forcing to develop strategy identification and implementation in order to process, analyze, assign and implement various features developed for keeping the level of contemporary enhancements. The majority of strategies are based on information, therefore various firms contend on the source of knowledge calling for a better knowledge management scenario. Goods and services are highly multifaceted, bestowing them with considerable information sections opting for training and achievements of excellent durability and inexorable authenticity. These create a visible necessity for managing the identified escalating intricacy because minute inefficiency in administering information gathered and processed out facts will reduce the chances of a firm in its market of competence. “The result of analyzing the best practice benchmarking behaviour can be applied to the design of knowledge management system. The interpretation on benchmarking behaviour analysis gives interesting implications to the government knowledge management systems” (Wimmer 2004, p.61). The fact that aggressive stress decreases the dimension of the labour vigour that grips expensive trade knowledge cannot be ignored while mentioning the requirement of knowledge management in business. From the above given description regarding the concept of knowledge management, a small case study has been analyzed. The case is about London ambulance. The knowledge management system in an organization is interconnected with many other activities within the organization.

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Link between knowledge management and London ASCAD

KM is being increasingly seen as critical to key determinants of firm, or enterprise. “Knowledge-related matters were examined from the viewpoint of systems science. Using critical systems thinking, soft systems thinking etc., a new systematic perspective on knowledge was proposed, aiming to provide a new way of thinking and a useful toolbox on different levels and phases of knowledge management for practical knowledge users“ (Gao, Li & Nakamori 2002).

In the case of London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Despatch System (ASCAD), here is a classic example of how KM or Information system was not able to serve the goals and objectives for which they have been formulated, thus leading to system failures. Further, analysis of information systems from a purely technological perspective is severely restrictive in its approach, since it may not be just technological that is the root cause of this case failure but it could also be due to other underlying and multifaceted reasons like non-co-operation of unions, barriers created due to non understanding at workforce levels, and perceived threats regarding the sustenance of their jobs by the work force. Apparently, employees feared that they would be ultimately replaced by these software technologies, and thus they resented bids to install ASCAD. Thus although KM was designed and executed it did not be a reasonable degree of success due to execution errors and lack of thorough implementation procedures. Besides, hostility of workforce was also a major consideration that contributed to the ultimate rejection of this system. Perhaps a more planned and well thought out design for KM, including all its aspects, big and small, would have yielded better results in the case of London ASCAD. Besides both the technological and administrative systems should have worked harmoniously, viz. an integrated dovetailing of KM and software systems was intrinsic in the success of this project.

CAD System

Computer Aided Despatch System can be defined as “under immediate supervision, receives and enters emergency telephone and radio communications for a country operated computerised dispatch system; operates an E-9-1-1 electronic telephone console; receives and dispatches information by telephone and radio; and performs other related work as required” (Communication dispatcher I n.d., p.1). “This is especially true for small- to medium-size operations seeking to expand their response capabilities with limited resources” (Map- centric computer- aided dispatch (cad) for faster emergency response n.d., p.1). It is mainly used to provide instructions and control the overall activities n the despatching process. It is a fully integrated system that facilitates the despatching process in an effective manner. “The computerized system has brought benefits in faster response times, record keeping and manpower allocation” (Goldeston, Traynor & Corcoran 1980). At present the CAD system includes the activities that are already in the organization such as follows:

  1. Handling the calls and all the details are verified and accepted: When a call is received in the central Ambulance Control, the Control Assistant is responsible to note down all the details and present it in a printed form. It also represents the location of the event together with reference co-ordinates of the map. When the call is completed, the form which is prepared will be placed in the conveyor belt and it is passed towards a collection point which serves as central part to the system. The other staff members collect these forms from this collection point and by reviewing these forms the resource allocation is decided. The process of resource allocation is performed by the resource allocator. When the form is passed to the dispatcher all the details with respect to the resources will be presented.
  2. Identifying the resources and the ambulance that has to be delivered on time: Verification also includes the location details where the resource has to be delivered on time. For each task there will be a specific time period and based those location and the cost incurred the delivery of the products and services is done.
  3. Mobilising the resources. When the ambulance is ready to use the instructions will be passed to the ambulance station by the dispatcher and then to the radio operator. As per the quality standard this whole process is to be completed within three minutes.
  4. Communicating the details and deciding which ambulance have to be send when they are in need.
  5. Managing the ambulance resources, managing the equipments that are used for the management of resources and implementing staff vehicles.

CAD is appropriate systems which helps in managing the resources effectively and assess the performance to find out the deviations and help in both long term and short term planning.

Components of CAD System

CAD system is composed of both hardware and software that can be used for the despatching process. The components are as follows:

  1. CAD software;
  2. CAD hardware;
  3. Gazetteer and mapping software;
  4. Communication interface (RIFS);
  5. Radio system;
  6. Mobile data terminals (terminals (MDTs);
  7. Automatic vehicle location system (AVLS)” (Finkelstein 1993, p.11).

Therefore, before implementing such a system within the organization, the information related to this new implementation must be reported to the employees working there in. The problem was both the system and the users were not ready to implement the system within the organization. This opposition aroused because the CAD software was not complete, not properly tuned and it was not tested correctly and completely. The flexibility of the hardware was not tested fully. If the CAD system has to be implemented then the whole current working system has to be changed. The senior managers in the organization thought that this implementation will bring about good result within the organization. There was a very poor communication within the organization between the staffs and the management and this lead t the mistrust among them. The implementation of this system in the organization will take four years to develop itself in a good position and it is not possible for the organization to turn around the performance of LAS.

LAS and CAD

The rejection in the previous effort to computerise both the LAS command and control system is the reason for its delay in implementation. Efforts were started for the preparation of the requisite measurement which would lead to the execution of the command and the control system. “The Computer Aided Dispatch system records incident details and updates, prioritize events, and identifies the most appropriate units to respond to each incident” (Computer aided dispatch 2010). The implementation of CAD in LAS has created a lot of benefits for them. The benefits are as follows:

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  • “Flexibility and customization
  • Decrease response time
  • Comprehensive data gathering
  • Enhanced inter-agency data sharing
  • Comprehensive security design
  • Seamless reporting” (Computer aided dispatch 2010).

The process of matching the needs of the agency will be an easier due to its flexibility and customization feature. Decrease in the response time refers to the effective utilization of resources. Comprehensive data handling refers to the call commencement that is achieved in the report archiving due the automatic recommendations that are used to manage the work load. Enhanced inter-agency data sharing refers to the ability of the CASD to integrate all the data bases and to achieve the predetermined objective. Comprehensive security design enables multiple accesses to all levels of system in the organization.

Seamless reporting is the process whereby complete information will be generated which helps in the effective utilization of the resources available for accomplishing a particular task. “Computer Aided Dispatch your dispatchers have the ability to perform multiple tasks with one, high-performance system” (Computer aided dispatch 2010). From the above it is clear that while knowledge management is indeed crucial and significant in business and utility enterprises, it needs to be underpinned with good communication and intelligence work. It is necessary to first understand how the system gets into gear before actually implementing changes. It is a know fact that most changes are not welcomed, or desired by the workforce maybe because they do not understand it, or because it is a threat to them. For instance most members of work force believe that with the introduction of computer technology and mass electronic communication systems, their own work would become redundant and they would, in all probability, be rendered redundant. Besides, the threat of computerisation replacing functions of employees have been seen as true in several instances, including public corporations and large entities who seek profit making as a main motive of business. In such circumstances, fear of present workforce in terms of job losses, or redundancies is real. Under such circumstances, it is very much necessary for management to initiate proceedings that could not only safeguard financial interests of employees, but also seeks avenues to advance their career and life styles.

Employees and Unions not consulted before introducing new system

One of the most important aspect that London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Dispatch System of 1992 failed to grasp and grapple with, was perhaps the fact that the work force should have been warned about the future plans and procedures before the launch of the new system. The fact that the workforce was abruptly changed of their environment and there were radical changes in system itself does not augur well for business, more so in the case of a large public interest business utility like London Ambulance Service. The changes were arbitrarily introduced, including changes in work environment and the hierarchy system by which the position of controllers were made redundant, adding fuel to the fire. While there were standardised systems that were in vogue for over decades, enforcement of CAD created situations by which the work force had reasons to grouse over, and this created more stumbling blocks for the management in the enforcement of work and other aspects that were directly, or indirectly linked with these. Besides, there was also the impact of lowering costs, which is a robust management decision, after taking cognisance of all elements and factors, internal or extraneous. There are real concerns that these change agents introduced technology that could indeed prove detrimental to the interests of the present workforce and its perpetrators. There were indeed strong reasons to believe, in the context of CAD introduction in London Ambulance, that would not only have compromised the interests of the work force but also put them in a losing state.

LAS – a veritable behemoth

“The major objective of the London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Despatch (LASCAD ) project was to automate many of the human-intensive processes of manual dispatch systems associated with ambulance services in the UK.” (CAD failure LAS. 1992, n.d.). It is believed that the London Ambulance Service was one of the largest organizations in the world. Due to its large and complex nature, it became necessary to computerize certain critical areas like dispatch system, which was not only large and burdensome but was also cause of large cost leakages and inefficiencies thus showing the company in bad light not only within itself, but also with regard to its outside performance. The management hastily convened and decided to computerize its dispatch section without using ample technical research and development, sufficient management organizational factors and without due consideration of socio-economic and impact on its existing work force.

Inherent complexities in CAD

Coming to the next aspect that is of the actual deployment it may be seen that the following aspects were present with regard to installation of the system:

  1. The present situation that existing during that time was not conducive to introduction of the CAD system within the organization and yet the management was foolishly obdurate and reckless in introducing them.
  2. Voice and Data Transmission were the core aspects of this software and yet these failed to be properly installed and implemented. Besides, it was also seen that the viability and structural abilities of this system at that time was not suitable for the introduction of CAD. Thus, the management had erred grossly in thrusting forth a software system that could serve little purpose.
  3. The third factor that could be said with relation to this CAD system in the dispatch section was that it although theoretically and on paper, the system seemed to be tenable and practical, in real terms this was not possible. Besides, it was the workforce that would have to deal with implementation part of this software package and therefore, it was necessary to train them well and competently to deal with these aspects. However, these aspects fell short and thereby the entire project turned out to be a failure, not only because of the short sightedness of the management, and their inability to see the full picture, but also, the management did not realize that ultimately it would be the workforce that would be in charge of its operations and need to be supported. It had reached a point- of- no-return, and the management, to be candid, could not even provide a face-saving grace to avoid the embarrassing failure which it owed not only to its shareholders and various stakeholders, but also to the public at large who were utilizing its services. Besides, one would have expected such large changes to be done in a phased manner or through pilot tests, but this was not to be in the case of CAD implementation in dispatch, and the highly irregular and grossly unsuitable software was implemented without much afterthought and deliberation, including consultation with union and workforce. Besides, the fact that the union was not informed about this implementation goes to show that the management wanted to implement the scheme on their own, without taking the opinion of other stakeholders into consideration.
  4. Coming to the next aspect, it may be said that the fear of failure was a major aspect. The management of London Ambulance Service were under tremendous pressures to get the project underway, and as a matter of fact this was a major challenge for them. Such was the tremendous pressures that were exerted upon them, that they had to undertake and implement the system without perhaps giving it the precaution and care that was not only necessary but was intrinsic for this project.
  5. It was the management’s naïve conception that the computer systems, by themselves, would be capable of bringing about the necessary changes in human practices. In their ignorance, they failed to realize that the computers were only as good enough as the people who developed them and also the specialists who put them into practice. The final development and execution, besides sustained usage over time, depended upon a number of factors, included its relevance, suitability, adaptability of the organization to these new programs and the final output. It would indeed be a sign of inexperience and foolhardy to expect that the computers could introduce the rational changes within the organization.

Several issues that the press did not cover were:

  • There appears to have been NO backup procedure at all.
  • The design of user interface was inadequate.
  • No consideration was given to system overload was made” (Neumann 1992).

Conclusion

“The London Ambulance Service’s (LAS) 1992 computer aided dispatch (CAD) software system failure is one instance of the considerable negative effect that a small error in software can have on a large population of people” (Musick 2010). This study would be based on short, medium and long term planning and perspective, taking into account the fact that knowledge management not only includes the implementation of knowledge but also its suitability , relevance and actual implementation by the existing workforce.

Reference

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Computer aided dispatch, 2010. Web.

Computer aided dispatch, 2010. [Online] Sun Ridge system. Web.

Communication dispatcher I, n.d. [Online] Mother Country. pp.1-2. Web.

Finkelstein, A., 1993. International workshop on software specification and design case study. [Online] Regional Health. pp.1-62. Web.

Gao, F., Li, M., & Nakamori, V., 2002. System thinking on knowledge and its management: Systems methodology for knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management. 6(1). [Online] Emerald Group Publication. Web.

Goldeston, C., Traynor, B., & Corcoran, C., 1980. Computer aided dispatch in a law enforcement agency. Computer Communications, 3(2). [Online] Science Direct. Web.

Map- centric computer- aided dispatch (cad) for faster emergency response, n.d., [Online] Plant cml.Com. pp.1-2. 2010. Web.

Murray, C.D., & Barelay, O.R., 1997. What is knowledge management?. Web.

Musick, E., 2010. The London ambulance service computer aided dispatch system failure. Web.

Neumann, G.P., 1992. Forum on risk to the public in computers and related system. The Risks Digest, 13(88). Web.

Nonaka, I., 2005. Knowledge management: Critical perspectives on business and management. [Online] Taylor & Francis, p.19. Web.

5 recourses for change management and knowledge management and management, 2005. Resources. [Online] BNET. Web.

Risk management, 2010. Web.

Suresh, R., n.d. Knowledge management- an over view. pp.1-17. 2010. Web.

Wimmer, A.M., 2004. Knowledge management in electronic government. Web.

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