Only a quarter of UK companies have implemented an organisation-wide knowledge management strategy, according to a report by the Cranfield University School of Management for Microsoft.
A study of about 600 senior decision-makers by Cranfield showed that only 50% of companies have discussed the value of knowledge at board level. And only 28% have implemented a knowledge management strategy.
The report exposes significant gaps between the value directors and managers place on knowledge management. About 80% of the respondents identified innovation and growth as potential benefits of exploiting knowledge, but only 53% felt they had achieved it.
Of the four sectors researched – manufacturing, retail/wholesale, financial services and public sector – the manufacturing sector maintained that knowledge management could have a significant impact on internal quality, organisational exploitation and innovation.
The importance of several key knowledge management practices was recognised by UK managers, but performance ratings were relatively low in basic knowledge management activities. These include: getting people to collaborate; capturing and transferring knowledge; improving customer/supplier relationships; matching skills; people and tasks; and facilitating access to experts.
The top ranking performance indicators for effective knowledge management were considered to be customer satisfaction, improved profit levels and cost savings.
While the study established that e-mail was considered to be the leading technology for knowledge exploitation in the past, it is now thought to be outdated by internet and intranet technologies.
According to Karin Breu, a Cranfield researcher and author of the report, multi-channel technologies which merged and integrated text, audio and video were said to be the most effective for knowledge capture and use in the individual business context – although there is a school of thought that believes effective knowledge management is more a question of developing the right culture than simply an internet or intranet-based infrastructure.
In the manufacturing sector, the biggest opportunities for improving knowledge management performance were considered to be in customer/supplier relationships, faster delivery and encouraging innovation and growth.
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