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IIBMS – What do You Know about Knowledge Management

CASE – 4    What do You Know about Knowledge Management


IIBMS – What do You Know about Knowledge Management

Shailesh Gupta was quite impressed on meeting T Rajashekhar who was a knowledge management consultant. The chance meeting took place after the annual Laghu Udyog Sangh (Small-industries association) function, which Shailesh was attending. Shailesh requested Rajashekhar to find time to visit his factory to which the latter readily agreed.

Shailesh belonged to an old and established business family of Mahanagar where his grandfather had set up a cooking oil business. The business grew and prospered well. Shailesh’s father was prudent enough to provide him with good education. After graduating in commerce, Shailesh was sponsored by the family business to do a year’s management education programme at Manila. On his return, Shailesh was eager to implement new ideas to his family business and to the real estate and construction business that his father had started.

When Rajashekhar arrived at the appointed time, the first question that Shailesh asked him was about his specialization—knowledge management (or KM, as Rajashekhar referred to it). “KM”, said Rajashekhar, “is a fairly new concept in large corporations that are looking to maximise returns by turning all the data available internally into useful and productive information, which can help predict market trends and competitor moves.” Shailesh immediately related this to his own problem of managing the real estate business that was facing intense competition from newer companies that had come up in the last few years. He was eager to know how KM was implemented.

Rajashekhar cautioned by saying “A formal KM system requires a lot of planning and a sound framework in order to be successful. The process involves planning and gathering of data to an organisation available in any form such as text, graphics as well as audio-visual. Once this has been done, the next step is to collate the data in a format that can be catalogued, indexed, filtered, or linked in a manner that makes sense. Then the information has to be refined and projected in a manner that can be easily disseminated throughout the organisation. The purpose is to help managers take better decisions on the basis of the information provided.”

At this point, Shailesh was excited enough to ask why should decision-makers apply KM within their companies. What Rajashekhar told created some apprehension in Shailesh’s mind. He said, “KM is important for organisations—big or small—that strive to achieve competitive advantage. KM enables corporate and market intelligence to be used in strategic planning.” Shailesh was quick to interject with a query about KM’s applicability to a small business like his own. Rajashekhar agreed by saying “KM is easier for large organisations as they already have a network that helps them share information through e-mail, intranet, and the Web. But any committed organisation, even if small, could apply KM if determined to do so.” He continued, “Once a company has a KM process in place, it will be able to empower its employees with information on various aspects of decision-making related to the strategic as well as operational activities.”

The meeting ended but Shailesh kept on thinking about what Rajashekhar had told him about KM. A thought that lingered for long was whether his employees, long used to working in the traditional environment, would readily share information that they had. And whether they would be

willing to adapt to the sophisticated technology involving, what Rajashekhar informed, datamining, intranet, video-conferencing, and webcasting that the KM process was based on.


How do you respond to Shailesh’s predicament expressed at the end of the case?


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