In the current world setting, with organizations trying to minimize their costs utilized in maintaining and reclaiming information stored as knowledge, that a general increasing trend in the study of Knowledge Management has been observed. Throughout this paper we will first observe the effects of Knowledge management in the case study of Infosys. The company’s implementation of a Knowledge management system and its effects will be discussed. In the latter half of the paper I will discuss 3 other cases where Knowledge management was implemented and eventually helped benefit the respective organizations.
Case Study Questions
1. Why do you think the knowledge management system at Infosys faced serious implementation challenges? Defend your answer with examples from the case.
In my opinion when the knowledge managers implemented the KShop system to increase contributions and promote the sharing of experiences by employees to increase the knowledge database they failed to provide the awareness required before the implementing of a new system. By this I mean that when they had planned to introduce such a new system for employees they must have helped the employees realize the importance and benefit of such a system in the workplace. The system was implemented and people showed little interest in it in the beginning. Even after providing incentives (such as offering monetary rewards for contributions to KShop) the people were more interested in cash returns and adding extra cash to their income rather than realizing the purposefulness of the system and the unique benefit the system offered to the employees.
Before implementing any system the introducing party must conduct an analysis as to the feasibility of the system in the current workplace setting and observing the attitude of the employees towards the system. For any system to be beneficial, the users (end users) must realize the purpose of the system and its key features. In this case the purpose of the system was to help distribute knowledge, provide an interface where it could be stored and accessed by people requiring the knowledge, help people with similar assignments reach and contact each other and to cut down on time hunting down these people and quickly gain access to their experiences. But the employees in this case saw the system as, initially, simply as a complication. And later as a means to get some extra cash (the contributions saw a phenomenal rise when KCUs were introduced). They did not have true appreciation of the system and this was the most basic challenge during the implementation stage.
2. What steps did the KM group take at Infosys to improve participation in the KM system? Why were some of these measures counterproductive? The KM group responded with corrective initiatives. Do you think they will succeed? Why or why not?
To improve the participation of the employees in the KM system the managers initiated the KCU program. This scheme basically awarded points to people on the number of contributions they made to KShop. These points could later be redeemed as monetary rewards. This method aimed at promoting contributions by offering people cash so that they would be encouraged to participate in KShop and share more and more of their knowledge with others.
This measure proved to be counterproductive because when people were offered money, they thought that the quality of knowledge was less important than the quantity of knowledge. The contributions saw a drastic rise with 20% of the employees contributing atleast one article. But this led to numerous issues. Firstly, the contributions resulted in information overload as people searching for help would wind up with tons of articles related to the same topic. These topics however were also often not up to par and led to people having to sift through them in search of something useful. This time and effort expenditure resulted in a high cost to the employees who resorted back to the traditional method of searching for help from specific people instead. Another problem this measure resulted in for the managers was that the board which reviewed the articles being presented was swamped with the huge influx of information. They had limited time and resources and could not efficiently read all the articles and would wind up passing some useless articles and forwarding them to the database. The end users did not think highly of this and refused to use the system.
The corrective initiatives introduced by the KM managers were that they introduced ratings by people who had actually used the data. This showed the reliability and usefulness of the data to be people accessing the database. They could read other people’s comments about the knowledge contained by the article and could see whether it would be useful to them or not. And the benefit being that they would not have to go through the whole article just to find out. In less time the article could be judged of its worthiness. Another initiative was that they aimed at improving procedures in the team assignments and to have a standardize version of team reports so that extraction of information was easier and that people could find their required information much easily.
These measures appear to be practical and to actually help in keeping a check on the quality of the articles being submitted as the end users would weed out all the useless articles and give bad ratings to them. Standardizing information is also very useful as people can easily obtain the desired info rather than going through pages and pages of information to extract the slightest bit. In my opinion these measures would suffice in the short run and could be enhanced upon in the future to increase speed of reclamation of knowledge.
3. What change management initiatives should the KM group have initiated at Infosys before attempting to develop and implement knowledge management at the company? Defend your proposals, paying particular attention to the final quote in the case by a long-time KM manager at Infosys.
As stated in the final quotation in the case study, realizing the cultural and ethnic factors involved in knowledge management is very important. In this specific case we observed how the incentive of money for people led them to increase the contributions, even though the contributions were useless and only led to increase in junk in the database.
The change management initiatives should be that first, the purpose of the system be told to all end users, programmers and anyone related to the system in any way. They should be fully aware of the purpose because this would lead them not to abuse the system and acknowledge its worth in a better way. The employees should have been made to realize how inefficient and time consuming their current procedures were so that they would have actually had the desire for a new system and when the system be provided, wouldn’t have needed to be provided cash incentives as it would be something they actually wanted and had a desire for.
This proposal can be supported by the statement in such a manner that the manager has specifically use “continually campaign” to describe the implementation of a knowledge management system. Aside from that another thing they emphasize upon, and which I propose, is that hasty decisions should be avoided as they would lead to dissatisfaction and once end users are dissatisfied with any system it is very hard to reclaim their support.
CASE STUDIES OF EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS AT OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
Case #01: Center for Health Sciences and Interprofessional Education and Research and PETTT
PETTT, a research group at the University of Washington, was approached to create a Knowledge management system to improve the knowledge management for educational purposes in the medical department. They were to design a system which would be able to effectively help students: realize how much they knew, how they could come up with new approaches, teach better education related to patients, reach large numbers of students simultaneously and help them to participate in a knowledge building community. As is evident from the desired outcome of the system, it aimed at improving the quality of education for the students as well as making them more open to new ideas and have the ability to come up with new ideas themselves.
The proposed system had the students working in groups to create online patient education material (they chose online because the purpose was to reach out to as many people as possible) using predetermined templates to that effect. The templates made the students question their own understanding of the topics and see the patients perspective about any disease. Since the patients were to fill out the questionnaires the teams realized what stuff the patient was aware of and what he/she wasn’t. This broadened their understanding of the patient perspective.
Eventually the system proved to be effective as the results showed that the teams involved had a better appreciation of patient knowledge and they were able to question their own knowledge in the process as well as learnt how to create effective knowledge management systems (Gustafson, n.d).
Case #02: Knowledge management at Frito-Lay
Frito-Lay there was no consolidated corporate and customer sales account record. That means that even though the company had specific accounts of customers it had no proper central database where the accounts could be observed with respect to corporate dealings. Even the simplest tasks would require the support staff to access same data again and again in different contexts and provide it to the sales people who were in need of it. To resolve the problems the management decided on an online knowledge management portal. This portal eventually helped the salespeople obtain a central point for all their data needs and cut down the time required by staff to search the data as salespeople could search their own data from a central location easily and get the data that they required. This system proved effective in helping Frito-Lay and has been also implemented in Pepsico’s (parent company) overall operations (Shien, 2001).
Case #03: Marconi and Knowledge Management
This case study tells how after acquiring 10 telecommunication companies, Marconi was able to effectively handle their operations and also answer questions placed to them by customers about newly introduced technologies. They already had an efficient system which used teamwork and other strategies to distribute and contain knowledge. All they had to do was improve on it to manage the increase in the quantity of knowledge in the channel. The new system helped Marconi not only effectively collect knowledge but also helped in distributing it and making it available for all the acquired companies (Fickel, 2001).
After going through the above paragraphs we can conclude the importance of Knowledge management to any organization and realize the unique advantage it provides the organizations which have an effective and efficient system in place. Hence, if any organization wishes to gain an edge over its competitors it must realize the worth of a Knowledge management system and aim to create a system which saves the organizations resources and manages to make storage, perusal, reclamation, and future referencing of information much more quicker and easier.
Fickel, L. (2001, November 01). CIO. Retrieved October 02, 2008, from Acquisition Spree Leaves Marconi in Need of Knowledge Management (KM): http://www.cio.com/article/30646/Acquisition_Spree_Leaves_Marconi_in_Need_of_Knowledge_Management_KM_
Gustafson, K. (n.d.). A Case Study: Knowledge Management Systems to Enhance a Nursing. Retrieved October 2, 2008, from http://depts.washington.edu/pettt/papers/WIN_poster_text.pdf
Shien, E. (2001, May 01). CIO. Retrieved October 02, 2008, from Case Study: Frito-Lay Sales Force Sells More Through Information Collaboration: http://www.cio.com/article/30167/Case_Study_Frito_Lay_Sales_Force_Sells_More_Through_Information_Collaboration.