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Knowledge and Information Management

Globalization has created a challenge for all organizations due to the increase in competition. Globalization creates a high risk for unhealthy business competition, which results in losing clients and getting low profits. The unhealthy competition is caused by the inability of an organization to use information effectively, making it unable to respond to the increasing changes and demands in market trends. Ha et al. (2015) claimed that knowledge had been a successful motivator for organizations to embrace knowledge management. In addition, knowledge management has been a significant factor in creating and enhancing customer values (Ha et al., 2015). Knowledge management involves knowledge from both the internal and external environments of the organization. According to Ha et al. (2015), most of this knowledge is translated into strategies that the organizations apply to improve the quality of services by increasing service provision and response time. Carrion et al. (2015) posited that it is important for organizations to have valuable resources and manage them effectively. For successful implementation of knowledge management, organizations must understand knowledge formation, dissemination and application. This literature review examines the importance of data for organizations, knowledge management and the crucial success factors for implementing knowledge management. 

This literature review is created for company X, a consulting firm that aspires to improve its knowledge demand management processes. The greatest challenge for the company is the inability to use its project data adequately. It is unclear what project data is collected structurally and whether this data can improve and forecast future projects by providing significant insights for the current operation and future initiatives. As a result, the problem statement is that company X is not utilizing its consultant’s data to its full potential. Furthermore, company X ultimately wants to derive insights from their project data and share them with their customers to improve customer satisfaction and improve their partnership.

The literature review thoroughly reviews the key terms and a broad discussion of these topics and their interrelationships. The main research question for this literature is: how does knowledge management improve data collection, storage and sharing within organizations? The main reason why this research issue is relevant is that it gives insights into the current knowledge sharing strategies inside organizations and thus provide opportunities for company X. The sub-questions that helped reach the goal of the literature review include: How important is data for organizations? what is knowledge management? And what are the critical success factors for implementing knowledge management? The literature review aims to better understand what is required for a business to achieve effective knowledge and information management practices in development, storage, and exchange.

Methodology

The study aimed to establish how company X can fully utilize its consultants’ data and apply it in its current and future operations. Qualitative research as a data collection and analysis method was used to provide a detailed description of the research topic (Roller, 2015). The qualitative research design helped provide insights into where company X might be going wrong in their data managementThe study incorporated only secondary data sources, including articles from google scholar that contained relevant information about knowledge and information management. Literature sources were examined to identify consistency in their information. As expressed, the information from the internet helped build on existing research.

The researcher consulted literature containing information about knowledge management in different firms, some unrelated to the consulting industry. Other literature provided information about knowledge management processes and how they are tailored to suit various companies. Therefore, the literature consulted provided reliable information on the trends and challenges of acquiring and implementing knowledge management. All types of articles, including empirical and qualitative, were included to give a comprehensive understanding of the literature’s explanation of barriers and enablers of knowledge management and sharing (Anwar et al., 2016). Writing the literature review involved several steps, including researching relevant literature, evaluating and choosing the sources, identifying and determining the themes and gaps, drafting a literature review structure, and finally, writing and selecting the relevant literature review involved using keywords.

The keywords included strategies for improving data collection in companies, data collection in companies, knowledge and information management, knowledge management, and knowledge management and knowledge sharing. The databases used include google scholar, Elsevier and research gate. Of the articles from google scholar, there were peer-reviewed journals enriched with information about knowledge management. The sources to be used were evaluated and chosen based on the research questions. Themes that occurred throughout the selected literature and the gaps were identified. Also, thematic literature review structure was used, and the review was organized in subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

Importance of Data for Organizations

Lyytikainen (2020) argued that data is essential in any organization and can be categorized as operational efficiencies and strategic opportunities. Operational efficiencies are metrics that determine the effectiveness of the profit earned when viewed as a function of the operating costs (Lyytikainen, 2020). They include reduced manual labor and cost-saving. According to Storbacka and Moser (2020), strategic opportunities include an organization’s ability to effectively target customers and increase innovations and other opportunities to generate revenue. However, companies face many data challenges revolving around data usage for business strategy, understanding the needed data and finding the right data to use.

As earlier mentioned, the lack of a proper data usage strategy increases organizational challenges. When the data is bulky, it can cause problems related to data management. Challenges also arise when outdated or inconsistent data is used to inform a companies’ decisions. Other challenges may arise when data is not used effectively or when data is not captured on time. In addition, security and privacy are also important issues that should be considered when managing data; it is recommended that companies consider such issues during the design of organizational structures.

Data cannot be discussed without mentioning analytics. This makes analytics a crucial factor in determining the successful use of data because, without analytics, data would not be understood and would not be presented in a form that makes it easy to use. Businesses need the technical and analytical skills to enable them to use data. The technical skills enable businesses to collect, store and even retrieve data.  The analytical skills include the skills required by employees to transform raw data into usable data (Li et al., 2017). Analytics, therefore, makes data more useful and more valuable.

Knowledge Management and The Critical Success Factors for Implement It

Businesses have moved from the use of natural resources to the use of knowledge management. Knowledge management relies on research and development, whose success depends on skills. This means that organizations’ most important economic resource is not natural resources or capital; rather, it is knowledge management. Knowledge has therefore been considered as one of the most important assets in the business world. Schultze and Leidner, as cited by Xue (2017), reiterated that knowledge has become highly valued by organizations. Besides, knowledge creation and effective management have become the basis of the transformation of many organizations. Therefore, knowledge is regarded as the major driver of organizations economic growth and the basis of innovation.

Knowledge management has been a topic of discussion by many in recent years. The modern business world largely embraces it. Organizations can gain and maintain their knowledge resources through applying knowledge management resourcefulness and emerging technologies. The main aim of knowledge management is to enable a company to identify available knowledge and customize the knowledge so that they can effectively use it. Knowledge sharing can be used as a significant predictor of organizational performance. Dong et al., 2017 claimed that most organizations’ understanding of knowledge is currently still in the early stages. However, what is available is the four elements of knowledge management which include:

Knowledge creation

This involves implementing new knowledge or replacing current information to come up with content that is within organizations explicit and tactic knowledge. The information is sort both inside and outside of the organization. The new knowledge can be acquired through imitation, replication, benchmarking or outsourcing (Xue, 2017). This is a crucial process as it leads to the generation of new ideas within an organization, which can be applied to ensure the achievement of key success factors and result in continuous innovation. Therefore, knowledge can be created, shared and increased by the use of the organizations’ collaborative processes.

Knowledge storage

Both explicit and tacit knowledge needs to be stored. An organization should have systems that help it arrange and manage the knowledge for its easy access. Integration of the knowledge helps reduce redundancy, thereby enhancing efficiency. Therefore, knowledge storage is crucial for use effectiveness knowledge reuse.

Knowledge transfer

This involves knowledge exchange among employees. During this process, there is a need to transform tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, which helps avoid the loss of information.

Knowledge application

The process involves using knowledge to determine a company’s strategic directions by making the right decisions that help in getting solutions to problems and reduce costs while improving efficiency. An individual can therefore make use of information possessed by others without having to learn and understand it. However, if an organization requires to capitalize on the knowledge, it would be necessary to understand knowledge creation and dissemination as these are essential factors that are necessary for effective knowledge management.

One of the most important factors in the success of any business is information. Knowledge, data, and information may be related, but they are not similar. There is a need for effective knowledge management to improve organizational performance, which should be presented at the right time. Knowledge management is also known as the systemic management of an organization’s knowledge to create value to achieve the organization’s requirements (Chang et al., 2015). The process of knowledge management involves the creation, maintenance, sharing, storage and reuse of the available information. Therefore, knowledge management is important in enabling an organization to learn from its mistakes while transferring information from one source to another.

Knowledge is termed as the information possessed in the minds and differs from people’s experiences and understanding. Knowledge presents information that can be used in decision-making and direct actions (Chang and Lin, 2015). Anand and Walsh (2016) posited that knowledge consists of expertise, information and skills. The main purpose of knowledge sharing is to make sure that the knowledge is visible and easily accessible. The main use of knowledge for organizations is to encourage the employees to build a culture of knowledge sharing (Iftikhar & Ahola2020). Nevertheless, the knowledge that if not properly managed can be rendered obsolete and useless. Therefore, organizations need to implement processes that would enable them to manage their knowledge effectively.

Various experts have explained knowledge management in different ways. According to Gold, as cited by Xue (2017), knowledge management is an organization’s ability to manage knowledge by gathering its internal or external information and converting the information into new ideas and strategies that can be applied. Knowledge management is a systemic and explicit knowledge application that can help organizations maximize their knowledge effectively and the returns from assets providing knowledge. It also helps create new capabilities, encourages innovation, and helps organizations increase their performance and customer value. With this definition, Chand and Lin posited that knowledge management could be seen as the ability for an organization to capture, store, share and use knowledge. As expressed, knowledge management is the systematic process of gathering, organizing, and communicating employees’ explicit and tacit knowledge and ensuring they use the information in their works.

Knowledge Sharing in Organizations

The ability of any organization to effectively use information is largely determined by people who generate, share and use it. It is only through sharing expertise that people can build each other’s knowledge. According to Farooq (2018), making knowledge accessible for others to use is called knowledge sharing. Zheng reiterated by noting that individual knowledge sharing is the process by which an individual’s knowledge is transformed into a form that makes easily understood, absorbed and utilized by others (Zheng, 2017). As expressed, the use of the term ‘sharing’ in these definitions suggests the need for a purposeful action on the knowledge to enable it usable by others.

Knowledge sharing is vital for a company’s success as it facilitates decision-making abilities, stimulates organizational change and build a culture of learning for organizations. Knowledge sharing is critical because it fosters relationships among colleagues through the transfer of knowledge from an individual to another; this allows the translation of information across organizational levels to increase its competitive and economic value (Silva et al., 2018). Knowledge sharing also promotes the transfer of novel ideas, which contributed to the company’s creativity and subsequent innovation. However, a lack of proper knowledge sharing has been identified as a fundamental barrier to effective organizational knowledge management.

Most times, employees rely on their expertise to conduct regular activities. However, the lack of company support by facilitating knowledge sharing increases the possibility of work redundancy, whose effects are felt when there is an increased employee turnover (Silva, 2020). Even if employees remain within an organization, they might not be able to realize their full potential unless they have an opportunity to share knowledge among themselves (Muhammed and Zaim, 2020). Therefore, it is important to understand the process of knowledge sharing, which would be a huge step for any organization.

According to Anwar (2016), different factors impact behaviors associated with knowledge sharing, including personal characteristics of the individual baring the knowledge and also the characteristic of an organization tend to affect knowledge sharing behavior. Anwar noted that different researchers had explored different antecedents related to knowledge sharing. The personal characteristics of individuals are affected by variables such as age and gender. Similarly, some inherent characteristics of individuals and their attitude towards knowledge sharing are important precursors that determine knowledge sharing characteristics.

Lack of knowledge sharing reduces the possibility of organizational growth. According to Carvalho and Gomes (2020), knowledge-sharing have some work-related impacts that surpass conventional work. Ahmad and Karim (2019) noted that these impacts are related to team corporation and employee satisfaction. For example, a company may experience a loss of employee productivity caused by knowledge gaps, and this ends up being a costly issue for the company (Hussein et al., 2016; Jennex, 2019). According to Jennex (2019), knowledge sharing makes it hard for a company to identify its valuable members. As a result, this slows down the company’s growth as employees’ bonds are weakened and problem-solving is delayed.

How to Improve Data Collection

Data utilized in decision making is the basis of business information and knowledge. Data can be qualitative or quantitative, and this determines the approach to be used in data collection. Organizational data collection involves various elements, including customers, employees, data sources and methods of analysis. The key to being successful in information leverage lies in the strong foundation of data collection. Therefore, an appropriate system of data collection is required to analyze and interpret data.

According to Hoogeven (2020), it is important to establish a specific data collection process that a company can be identified with. Data collection success is also dependent on the quality of data available. According to Marr (2017), most companies have no strategy to improve their data quality. However, Marr (2017) identified that the first thing to enhance data collection and management is to have a specific strategy that a company uses to collect, organize and manage data. In addition, the data needs to be consistent, and the collection process needs to be ongoing and should also encompass aspects of data management; this would help the companies establish a specific routine.

Hoogeven (2020) also identified that a company needs to identify the relevant data before commencing data collection. This is because most companies acquire large data, which is not all needed during data collection. A company must therefore identify the data to discard and that which will remain in the system. Most of the data to retain would include information about customers, and that which increases the relationship between the business and the customers (Marrs, 2017). Therefore, by sorting the data, a company can identify overall performance and adjust according to market trends.

According to Marr (2017), understanding customer interactions helps obtain data specifically related to the customers. For example, a consulting firm would want to know the nature of its client’s businesses and what they value and the partners they prefer. After gaining such insights, it would be important to identify the most important interactions to track and then identify the metrics and data collection methods that suit those interactions. As expressed, this makes it easy for a company to identify the relevant information to collect.

Behavioral data is important in allowing a company to predict the future. Most companies focus on completed purchases done or on the transactions that follow through the complete business chain. However, businesses need to identify the factors that produce data that is important for them (Kling, 2019). A company needs to understand what information the clients’ needs and what determines the information they use. Thus, collecting and analyzing such data helps greatly determine what is working well and the areas that need improvement.

Data management is a continuous process that needs multi-faceted data collection systems since no data can be collected by relying on a single system. Kling and Mackie (2019) identified that it is important for a company to understand the important metrics for data collection. This is because the modes of data collection depend on how the data is going to be measured. This includes the metrics used to define the success or failure of marketing plans, tracking visitors and sales initiatives. To be able to analyze data, automated software can be used to ease the data collection process.  Therefore, a business needs to identify the metrics it uses and use that as a pointer of the required data.

Kling and Mackie noted that it is crucial to have clear objectives. Clearly defined objectives can help simplify data collection by aiming at what a company focuses on achieving from the data analysis. Since the objectives differ among businesses, each business should have clear goals that would help guide on the right data to use and the right analysis approach that would be most relevant for the company. It is also important to improve visuals readability during data analytics since the visuals are the most important part of the analysis process. They help gain insights into the best methods to improve a company’s strategies in future. Thus, a company should focus on the readability of charts and graphs, which would help identify important data to be included in data collection.

Data collection is not done randomly, and therefore there is a need for an organization to identify data sources it will use for data collection. Many businesses have redundancies in data collection.  Some data collection tools such as content management systems often have data similar to that in web analytics; also, a point of sale may have data that is similar to that in the inventory system. The redundancy makes it necessary for a company to identify the systems that contain the data required. Also, most businesses use data in multiple systems to define one metric.  However, for an organization to collect the right data, it needs to identify sources that are compatible with the data collection system. Otherwise, there is a possibility of it undergoing difficulties or even making wrong decisions informed by incomplete data; this can negatively affect the business.

Kling also identified that effective data collection factors in the report viewers. Using the data collection and data analysis systems is accompanied by generating reports that relate to the data. Hoogeven (2020) posited that it is important to identify those to read the reports and the most important information they will be focusing on; the information differs with the audience. Thus, for maximum results, only data relevant to the relevant information should be collected.

There needs to be a reasonable data collection and analysis frequency. However, most companies cannot get it right, especially those organizations that are in industries that experience high fluctuations or stagnation of industry factors. To achieve this, an organization needs to identify the specific period it will be needing the data and plan the specific times it will be collecting data. This would help it have ample time to compile the data and develop the reports. Also, there is a need to know those to be getting the reports and the different business activities to take place. As expressed, the frequency varies for each business, so each organization should identify what works for its systems.

Conclusion

Literature review is important in identifying research inconsistencies, gaps and conflicts in findings of different researchers. Literature review provides a researcher the chance to justify their research and also identify interrelationships between different works. Knowledge management is one of the critical factors that ensure organizational competitiveness in the current business environment. Knowledge creation and management have resulted in successful organizational operations, and this has encouraged more organizations to apply knowledge management in developing effective business strategies. This is because knowledge has become a strategic value resource that is enabling organizations to gain sustainability in competitive advantages, thus enhancing their performances. In the future, organizations need to understand that the effectiveness of the use of knowledge management depends on various factors, including how well the organization can identify knowledge that will be helpful to the company and the consequences of knowledge management. Any organization needs to encourage adopting organizational values, norms and values that would enhance knowledge sharing.

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