corporations are flooded with data and information. In this
context, companies should know what they have in place and what
they really need in place. During the years of industrial
revolution, neither did information and knowledge gain enough
prominence nor did awareness to business function or business edge
in competition, growth and performance.
technologies, products and services are emerging in the market.
The lifecycle of the existing technologies are short and changing.
Information technology (IT) is one of them. Due to growth in the
importance of IT in recent years, corporate data and information
are available in plenty.
This is because data and
information are easy to access and transfer across the globe using
IT applications without any geographical restraints. In this
context arises the involvement of the term knowledge. It
leads to questions of where and how the word knowledge came
from in the context of data and information.
About knowledge evolution
knowledge comes from data and information. When data and
information are applied and used in a meaningful context for a
decision, the reward is knowledge. The decision could be finding a
solution or identifying a problem. The term knowledge points
towards the decision outcome. It is the know-how of defining the
solution or know-what of identifying the problem. This is very
critical in any function of an organisation.
Knowledge evolving from
data and information are of two forms. This is tacit and explicit
knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the knowledge created in individuals
through formal training, insights, ideas and experiences learned
and gained over the years of working in organisations. Tacit
knowledge is individual specific, as individuals are different.
Explicit knowledge is the
knowledge available in public that exists in documents either in
paper or electronic form. Time and richness are the key
ingredients of knowledge. Technology helps in supporting the value
of time and richness of knowledge. For example, IT applications
like intranets, internet, lotus notes and e-mail applications
support the processes of knowledge creation, storage, transfer,
sharing and application.
Moreover, technologies assist
or enable the knowledge processes depending on the form
of knowledge engaged in the process. If the knowledge is explicit,
IT enables the process of sharing and transfer, and if it is tacit
IT assists the process of sharing and transfer. Here, there is a
stress on the two words: assist and enable. Assist
means help (Oxford dictionary), which means IT helps
the process of sharing to take place when the knowledge is not
readily available, but is there in the individuals mind that
solely depends on the individuals willingness to share.
On the other hand enable
means make possible (Oxford dictionary), which means IT
enables the sharing process itself, as the knowledge is readily
available in public. In short, it is a discussion about the
existing knowledge of the company represented in different forms
(explicit and tacit).
Information and knowledge
are essential for any business function. The business functions
consist of several divisions. In general, they are strategy,
production/manufacturing, systems, finance/accounting, human
resources and advertising/marketing/sales.
Knowledge is the
fundamental thread linking and integrating these divisions in an
organisation as a whole. Being knowledge as the common thread,
there are many distinctions in the existing and required types of
knowledge for an organisation. For a more detailed understanding
of the application of KM, consider the automobile industry.
A brief description of
the automobile industry
The basic idea
for selection is the general nature of the automobile industry.
The word automobile depicts the real meaning of the
industry. As we know in car manufacturing, key elements like
automotive technology, design and development had a phenomenal
transition in the 20th century, from the early 1920s of
Fords T-model car to the present trend of building a solar
The transition is always
buoyant and it happens due to creativity of the human mind. In
other words, it is knowledge creation which is the current
buzzword used in corporate circles. So knowledge management is not
a new theme, but an old saga that has come into prominence of
awareness in the practitioners daily guide and the academics
Since the industry is
vibrant, there is a huge market potential in the Indian car
market, particularly for foreign brand cars having manufacturing
units India. As the nature of the industry is highly dynamic and
competitive, managing existing knowledge and creating new
knowledge are critical and valuable for sustained performance and
management will provide a growth engine for a sequence of tangible
business indicators like profit growth, market share, product
sales and intangible indicators like sustainable performance,
product innovation, customer satisfaction and overall brand
Application of knowledge
management in car manufacture
In the design of
various components of assembling a car, different types of
knowledge are required. Here the basic knowledge needed in the
integration of design, development and manufacture of a car are of
immense magnitude and greater importance.
To discuss in brief about
the types of knowledge imperative for the production of a car are:
- Know-how about engine
configuration engine design, gearbox structure, cylinder
capacity, speed control, fuel efficiency etc.
- Know-how about the
design of comfort level driving comfort, seating style,
legroom space, mirror alignment etc.
- Know-how about the
design of safety element durability and reliability of the
vehicle, especially if children are travelling in the car.
- Know-how on other
components aerodynamic design, braking system, tyres etc.
- Finally, the last and
least, is the overall value of the vehicle in determining the
most important decision to buy the car. Therefore, buying
decision will be primarily influenced by the right and
effective knowledge imparted by the carmaker to the ultimate
In all these elements,
the different types of knowledge are desired to sustain in this
ever-growing competitive industry of automobiles. To survive and
win in this situation, corporations should create and expand the
know-how of the existing designs and models competing in the
market and the new designs entering the market. Corporations
should also understand and develop knowledge capabilities and
skills essential for improvement in the existing models and
innovation of new designs in the market.
conclusion, if the company is not able to identify and manage what
knowledge exists and not exists, there will be an increasing
knowledge space in the form of strategic knowledge gap. This
strategic knowledge gap, if not addressed with importance, will
induce inefficiency and ineffectiveness in performance of the
corporation. The end result will be lesser sustainability of
quality knowledge and market decline for the corporation.
The writer is a research
student at University of Melbourne. The views expressed are
entirely personal and does not imply any person or corporation in
any sense. He can be contacted at