Knowledge is the most important tool available to companies these days and proper use of this available knowledge is what distinguishes and contributes to the growth of those companies. The process of knowledge management within a business organization, which is referred to as Organizational Learning is the process of creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge within companies.
All companies have a vast amount of knowledge available to their disposal, and this enormous quantity of information needs to be organized with a Knowledge Management System for the best possible use. In this article, we talk a bit about the basics of such a management system, and then we jump to some examples of companies with Knowledge Management Systems. Let’s jump right in!
Table Of Content
Some Basics about KMS
First, let’s brush over the concepts of Knowledge Management Systems and its basic functionalities. A KM software is designed to store all organizational knowledge, both explicit and tacit information in one platform. This allows for higher productivity in the workforce and less redundant efforts of the employees. With a Knowledge Management System, you are able to provide better customer support and give permission-based access to your employees, to reduce the amount of back-and-forth correspondence. Some of the features of such a system are:
1. Easy to Use:
The application should be easy to use for everyone and should be intuitive and comfortable. If it isn’t easy to use, people will avoid it and the effort to switch to a Knowledge Management software will be useless. Ideally, the application shouldn’t require any training at all for the basic features, and employees can start using the application almost instantly.
2. Accessible on all Platforms:
The accessibility of the application on various platforms is a vital feature. As the companies grow in size, its employees are also spread across multiple locations, work at different times, and on different devices. In such situations, if the software is available on mobile devices like iPhone, Android, etc., as well as a desktop and PC application, then everyone has equal access to it and are able to look up information from anywhere
3. Collaboration amongst employees:
The next thing to look in the management software is its functionality that allows for collaboration. In any industry, all employees need to share their knowledge and collaborate with each other in order to achieve the common goal of organizational growth. A good Knowledge Management System will allow the staff members to collaborate with each other and share the knowledge available. The collaboration can be online or in-person, and an easy example of this kind of collaboration can be to create presentations by the experts for onboarding new staff members in the companies.
The last thing to look for in a Knowledge Management software is the room for customizations that it offers. Not all kinds of information can be shared equally in one common way. Some information can be best shared by videos or by written instructions, or sometimes by demonstration. The software should be able to meet all these needs and allow you to share information in more than one way.
Now that we have looked at some of the most important features, let’s move to some of the leading examples of business companies using KMS for organizational growth.
5 Companies with a Notable KM System
One of the best customer service providers, Amazon undoubtedly has a very successful Knowledge Management System with which we need to start learning from. Amazon is one of the four top tech companies across the world along with Google, Apple, and Microsoft. With such a leading hand in the tech world.
At some point or another, we all have ordered something from Amazon, and if we have any questions regarding our order, we are able to find the answers online 70% of the time by going through the well-structured FAQ section. In case we have to get in touch with customer service, the agents who are spread globally are always able to help us and solve our needs without any tardiness.
Amazon joined the world of eCommerce in the late 90s and has never looked back. In addition to providing exceptional customer service, Amazon sells everything from books, clothing, to its own products. With such a vast number of items being sold, Amazon is able to keep its employees and customers happy with providing all needed information in one single place indexed properly and easy to find.
Upon the single rule of keeping all knowledge in one place, Amazon has skyrocketed the world of eCommerce and gets a competitive advantage because of this Management Method.
2. World Bank
World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries, to achieve its global mission of reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in poor countries. With headquarters in Washington DC, USA, the World Bank creates knowledge through its operations across the globe. It has been recognized as a leader not just in finance, but in knowledge as well.
Like many other organizations, the World Bank was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information it possessed in documents and within employees’ heads. To ensure the quality of its contents as well as to manage information in the best possible manner with easy access to everyone, a Knowledge Management Solution was needed.
With a fairly new system that is envisioned to play a leading role in a new knowledge partnership, the system is to be rolled out in stages. Some of the benefits of this implementation of Knowledge Management Systems are improved organizational effectiveness, faster cycle time, a better quality of service, and enhanced employee and customer satisfaction.
A leader in the automotive industry, Toyota is definitely an innovative and distinguished brand. With its headquarters in Aichi, Japan, and more than 300,000 employees, Toyota has an efficient system of operations despite the vast geographic distribution. The Knowledge Management software of Toyota has its roots since World War II.
A component of the Knowledge Management software is the Toyota Production System (TPS), designed to keep a continuous flow of products in its factories to need a change in demands. Typically, a group of 200-300 new hires is sent to train in the assembly line of Toyota’s existing factories. After several months of training directly under experts, the new workers are sent to new factories and are accompanied by 200-300 experienced workers to ensure the quality of Toyota’s products.
All explicit knowledge is well documented in the TPS to ensure a smooth flow of processes. At the end of each week, the workers collaborate in a group and share the issues and challenges they face, and share their tacit knowledge which then becomes a part of well-indexed TPS. They also have another face of Knowledge Management Software which is designed to provide better customer service and address all the difficulties of their clients. With such an organized system, Toyota has both happy customers and employees, in addition to leading its market.
4. Pratt and Whitney
Pratt & Whitney is an American aerospace engineer with operations across the world. In 2007, Kiho Sohn, the Chief Knowledge Officer, Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne said “The biggest challenge at Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne was preserving the knowledge and skills of its aging workforce”. Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne started its KM program in the late 1990s and the program quickly became the company’s official process that many employees are growing from.
The program is a 5-step initiative that includes identifying and understanding available systems, identifying desirable and undesirable states, and lastly implementing a systematic KM-environment. Unlike companies like Ford, which view KM as a separate process, Pratt-Whitney thinks of the KM in a holistic way, which saved $25M in 2 years.
In addition to creating an effective system, Pratt-Whitney emphasized creating a knowledge-sharing friendly environment, to maximize the success of the whole process.
5. General Electric
GE is a name that is known to everyone and is a part of our lives in some form or another. Founded over a century ago, GE is a multinational conglomerate with headquarters in Boston, America, and ranking 21 in fortune 500 companies. GE is operating through segments like aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, etc.
The knowledge management of GE is focussed on promoting expert tacit knowledge to all staff members. With its customers across 160 countries, the Knowledge Management segment for GE’s customer service representatives is designed and organized in a way such that the right answer can be provided to the right person at the right time.
The Knowledge Management Solution is designed to decrease customer service costs, by investing time and effort in its customer service portal, and contribute to savings of $2.25M per year.
The Benefits of KMS for your Company
In the examples discussed above, we explained how large companies continue to grow their business and maintain their unique positions in their respective markets with the help of Knowledge Management Systems. Now let’s look at some of the benefits of a Knowledge Management Solution for your company:
1. Easy to organize and lookup information whenever needed
All employees need to consult experts at some point or another and use the tacit knowledge of the specialists and experts within the companies to meet their job requirements. With a Knowledge Management Solution, this process of back and forth correspondence is automated and all knowledge is available on one platform. All of this information is well organized and can be looked up in a couple of seconds.
2. No redundant efforts
The next big advantage of a knowledge management platform is the amount of time, energy, and resources saved by not repeating the same mistakes again. With a Knowledge Management platform amongst organization employees, it is possible to document mistakes and share the reasons for failure, so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated again, and innovation becomes one step closer.
3. Better and stronger Decision making powers
With a platform that allows for sharing and management of knowledge, every employee has access to all necessary information to make sound choices and decisions. With this power, employee satisfaction and confidence are heightened, and their growth is possible along with the growth of the organization.
4. Easy to standardize procedures and update existing processes:
All explicit knowledge like SOPs, checklists, etc. are stored in one place in a digital format in a knowledge management platform. In addition to this, all of this information is available to everyone with permission. This makes standardization of processes a very quick and easy task. In addition to this, existing processes can be updated and the updates can be easily shared with everyone effectively through a reliable channel.
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, there are several more advantages of a KMS which we have covered in-depth here. Now let’s look at some of the common questions regarding KMS.
1. What is Knowledge Management Solution?
Answer: Any company with a vast knowledge base that it has gained from experience needs a content management platform that will allow it to manage and organize all information known to the business, and allow for a faster wat to share knowledge between company members and provide a better customer experience. With a KMS, employee questions can be answered through chatbots that work due to continuous machine learning and business processes can be made more efficient.
2. Which organizations need Knowledge Management Solutions?
Answer: All organizations that have a vast knowledge base, need a Knowledge Management platform to share the knowledge that is known to the company directly through documentation or indirectly through the experience of senior company members. As organizations grow in size, knowledge sharing between the employees is hindered and there is a lot of redundancy in the business processes. With proper knowledge management practices, organizations can achieve more efficient content management, improve business processes, make the most use of their knowledge base, and improve customer experience.
3. What are the 2 major types of KMS?
Answer: In broad terms, there are 2 major types of KMS that can be seen in organizations:
- Company wide KMS: These knowledge sharing platforms operate in the most general sense, and are accessible to all company members for content management of the information. This knowledge base is easy to use and does not perform any extraordinary functions. With permission-based access to modify the contents of the Knowledge Management Platform, the system is easy to use and very user friendly.
- Knowledge work systems: These are specially built information systems for a business company with advanced features like machine learning, and intelligent techniques for storing and collecting tacit knowledge. Mostly used for classified information used by professionals like scientists and engineers, access is limited to a few people. The AI of this system turns tacit knowledge and other raw data into useful information.
To know about these 2 types in detail, read our blog for the same here.
We hope that discussing 5 knowledge management case studies of different companies and sharing their knowledge management practices can help your business switch to a KMS. In the examples discussed above, it is evident how a KMS has played a central role in the growth of the business companies. The features and benefits enlisted above will help you choose the right system for your business.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us and share your thoughts.