“Knowledge is power.” This statement was made by Francis Bacon in 1668. Not much has changed since then. Every organization depends upon accurate and thorough knowledge in order to make the right decisions.Knowledge management is that function in an organization which gathers knowledge and gets it to the right people at the right times, so that those individuals have the information they need as the engage in problem-solving and decision-making.
As a career, KM has been around for years. But as technology entered the picture and continues to rapidly change how organizations gather and use information, KM has undergone big changes.
IM and KM – Internet vs. Intra- and Extranet
These two career functions are often confused, and, indeed, they do overlap.
The IM function of an organization, among other things, involves having the systems in place that will gather big data, based on pre-defined criteria, and organize that data for analysis. And recent developments in AI technology will actually perform many of these categorizing and analysis functions, if the right frameworks are utilized. IM thus pulls information from the Internet (data sources).If we take the definition of KM as it stands, that is, getting the right knowledge to the right people, then knowledge management becomes a bit of a development function as well. Swaths of information must be turned into knowledge resources that people can use. Thus, the KM is responsible for the design and implementation of intranets and extranets,
so that knowledge is delivered to the right people, is protected when necessary, and shared as appropriate.
Developing an Intranet
A solid intranet is, first of all, one that supremely useful for staff – it improves work practices, provides critical information to teams and departments, and ensures that the right navigational tools are in place. It provides quality content, maintenance and updates, and the tools that allow business processes, knowledge sharing, and collaboration to function. Here are some of the specific functions of an organizational intranet:
- Publishing/Posting: a dynamic homepage, directories, documents, newsletters, etc.
- Search Features: through an internal search engine
- Interaction: groupware, collaboration through applications, etc.
- Storage: Procedures, practices, FAQ’s, manuals, etc.
Developing an Extranet
The idea of the extranet is to provide knowledge to certain outside partners, suppliers, etc. It is a supplementary system that works along with the intranet, certain parts of which are available to trusted outsiders.
Knowledge managers must develop the extranet with limited and controlled access to company information and resources. This involves security protocols, such as authentication, in order that access is appropriately limited.
The position of knowledge manager involves establishing, maintaining, updating and monitoring all intranet and extranet functions, so that key knowledge resources are available to those who need access and protected from those who should not have access.
Careers in Knowledge Management – Educational Requirements
Though they come with many titles, KM careers usually require graduate level coursework, either focused on either business or IT, and usually a combination of both. Typically, coursework will include IM, technology management, intellectual capital, innovation, etc. while technology is certainly an important part of KM today, it is not the sole function of the position. Coursework in organizational culture, and management/leadership will also be included.
Careers in Knowledge Management – Skill Requirements
Obviously, there are a variety of KM positions, with specific skill needs emphasis. Positions that focus more on leadership will require organization, management, human relationships and such; technical emphasis will obviously require IT skills.
All KM career professionals will need the following general skills:
- Ability to process theoretical and factual knowledge
- Applying information
- Communication skills
- Ability to find and access information
For more specialized positions, of course, there are more specialized skills, as follows:
- Management Skills: people management, process mapping, measure, team building
- Intellectual and Learning Skills: problem-solving, mentoring, analysis, critical thinking
- Strategic Planning: knowledge of the industry, skills of organization, business planning
- Interpersonal Skills: negotiations, marketing, listening, team leadership
- IT Skills: programming, software application/architecture, AI, workflow, database management
- Information Management: content management, IT applications, database management
Portrait of an Effective Knowledge Manager: Knowledge managers do have certain characteristics in common. By and large they are:
- Highly educated – most with graduate degrees
- Experienced organizational professional
- Enjoys new challenges and innovations, in tech and otherwise
- Enjoys risk-taking
- Considers himself a knowledge seeker
Writing skills are not often mentioned as a skill that KM pros need. And many may not have honed great writing expertise. But, they know where to go when they need assistance, such as finding an essay writer from GetAcademicHelp.com, where they can find expert writers to craft or edit pieces that are necessary for their job functions. When reports and proposals must be prepared, they must be clear, succinct, and easily understood by all stake-holders.
KM is Universal and Constant
Knowledge never stops. Old and current knowledge evolve; new knowledge arrives at an ever-increasing pace. Absorbing it all, organizing it, analyzing it, and getting it to the right people will be a never-ending responsibility in any organization that survives. Good knowledge managers will always have employment opportunities.