Global It Strategy For Knowledge Management Essay Examples
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The ability to manage knowledge is a very important issue in today’s knowledge economy. Creation and diffusion of knowledge have increasingly become very important factors in competitiveness. Knowledge is being thought of as a commodity that is valuable embedded in products and in tacit knowledge of employees who are highly mobile. The advent of internet of the World Wide Web, the internet, has made available unlimited sources of knowledge to all of us. Knowledge management represents a systematic and deliberate approach to ensure full utilization of the knowledge base of an organization, coupled with potential competencies, individual skills, ideas, thoughts, and innovations to create a more effective and efficient organization.
In global knowledge management, activities are performed in globally distributed inter- or intra-organizational settings. In these kinds of settings, knowledge management design, deployment and acceptance are influenced by many additional aspects, particularly cultural aspects. In broad sense, knowledge management is a very important aspect of work processes distributed globally. However, there are some specific questions related to domestic intra-organizational processes. Global knowledge distribution and exchange should be taken into account; it leads to many additional influence challenges, barriers and factors in global settings. For instance, communication factors, culture-specific factors, additional organizational and individual competencies and further requirements towards tools internationally usable (Markus et al, 2012). In this paper several issues will be discussed, it includes; identifying the challenges of knowledge management in global environment, impact of global information infrastructures, problems faced in development of global management systems, trans-border data flows restrictions on knowledge management, the current status of outsourcing knowledge management services and products, issues of knowledge management in virtual teams with different cultural perspectives, and developing strategies for knowledge management in a global enterprise.
Knowledge management has a lot of challenges in the global environment, some of the challenges emanate from; technology, management, organization, and human oriented factors. In technology, challenges arise from applications and infrastructure; technology infrastructure is not the same in all countries, acceptance of applications depends on preferences. Management practices differ across the world depending on organizational and ethnic culture. It is therefore very critical to align knowledge management strategies and corresponding management process. Organization processes are not the same depending on geographic and organizational culture, it is therefore necessary to coordinate knowledge management processes in distributed organizations and organizations with different ethnic and organizational culture. Human factors such as culture, leadership, and people may have some challenges in knowledge management. Typical knowledge management activities such as knowledge sharing are strongly influenced.
Global information infrastructures (GII) sometimes called network of networks, have several impacts. This is a communication framework with the purpose of connecting all computer and telecommunication networks worldwide; it will eventually make all electronically transmitted or stored information accessible from any place on the planet. According to Christine, creation of successful global information infrastructure is expected to revolutionize the ease of sharing electronic information across the planet. Governments have come to realize that information technology, information services, and telecommunications sectors are not only dynamic growth sectors but also engines of economic and development growth in the economy. Governments with this realization have focused sharply their initiatives and policy debates on the underlying information infrastructures capability.
The global information infrastructure is a perspective of that outgrowth and a vehicle for expanding these benefits scope globally. By interconnecting global, regional, national, and local networks, global information infrastructures can create jobs, increase economic growth, contribute to global stability, and improve infrastructures. Taken as a whole, global information infrastructures will create a global information market place, facilitate broad based social discourse among and within all countries. Global information infrastructures depends on the ever expanding range of product and technology such as compact disks, switches, computers, fax machines, telephones, audio and video tapes, wire, coaxial cable, optical fiber transmissions, satellites, televisions, microwave networks, cameras, printers, and scanners as well as advances in information, networking, and computing technologies not envisioned yet. The development of GII offers several new opportunities and also poses several new challenges. If used properly, the new telecommunication technologies can open new markets, foster democracy, promote international understanding and peace, create high paying jobs, promote freedom of information and freedom of expression, and foster sustainable development. It must be ensured therefore that GII is not used by the governments to commit acts of terrorism, monitor their citizens, or fight in cyberspace (National Academy of Science, 2000).
Development of global management systems is faced with many challenges which have a major impact on the project’s success, though there are also several benefits. The major challenges of developing global knowledge management systems are as follows: geographical distance, temporal distance, and socio-cultural distance. Geographical distance: In collocated teams, supervisors can monitor team members’ performance and can also assess project advancements by watching directly. This is not possible if the teams are globally distributed. Collocated teams gather regularly, this result in sharing ideas and building trust. Globally distributed teams cannot meet hence hampering knowledge exchange and trust. Temporal distance: far away located sites with prominent time difference confront critical issues when communicating in comparison with site which have less time difference. Therefore, feedback from other development sites can delay as a result of time zone differences. As a result, ambiguities cannot be adequately handled with the help of communication asynchronous tools which may lead to misinterpretations. Cultural distance: when development teams are globally distributed, people from different cultures and locations will work together. Culture variations results because of several constraints like the hierarchy, communication and time sense. Communication of individuals from different backgrounds yields misunderstandings which affects projects’ success rate. Communication allows system developers share ideas, be aware of resources and task status, and also activities of other team members in different locations globally (Noll et al, 2010).
It is therefore necessary for organizations to master the act of knowledge integration spread out so as to maintain and achieve competitive advantage. Knowledge integration can be very challenging mostly in globally dispersed team environment. So as to conquer some of these challenges, managers should conceive new strategies for developing knowledge management systems which result in innovations and property capitals.
Trans-border data flows have become very important in social, political, and economic terms over three decades since its adoption. A fundamental change in technological and business environment for data processing is taking place also, driven by developments like increased globalization of world economy; ubiquity of transferring data over the internet; growing economic importance of processing data; changing geography role; greater direct involvement of people in trans-border data flows; and growing risks to individual’s privacy. Despite these, important changes in data processing landscape, and trans-border data flows regulation growth in many countries, little attempts have been made to conduct systematic inventory like global level regulations; to examine underlying policies; and consider if these policies should be re-evaluated. It is difficult to obtain timely and reliable information regulations on trans-border flow because many countries view the subject as solely national importance. Countries should therefore increase transparency in trans-border data flow regulations by taking the following steps: making available on the internet current text on national trans-border data flows regulations in many languages, designating contact point in the government to which trans-border data flows questions can be addressed, and providing updates regularly in a timely manner regarding any revised or new regulation. Governmental entities and countries should cooperate in information dissemination concerning trans-border data flow regulations, for instance, information can be made available in a central repository maintained on an international organizations web site (Christopher, 2011).
Trans-border data flows provide economic benefits to organizations, businesses, and industries. They should be able to adapt and change their practices internally to take advantage of emergent technologies and ICT developments. The following are some economic benefits of trans-border data flows: Increased trade in communication and information technologies and the services fuel growth of markets; markets expand and prices are reduced as trade in ICT takes place, this will lead to globalization and growth of new companies involved in cross-border investment and trade. International growth opportunities; companies are in a position to enter foreign markets without being present physically there; this will lead to significant cost savings. Increased productivity; trans-border data flows allows multifaceted technology use which improves firms ability to maintain and share knowledge among its employees and as a result increase individual productivity. Stimulate innovation; sharing data across borders, within and between companies, fuel development and research and bring about other ways of doing business, at the same time providing new opportunities for the emerging business models (Barlett & Beamish, 2011). Access to knowledge; the growth of knowledge base industries have elevated the significance of the ability of a firm to effectively create, disseminate and manage knowledge within an organization. The ability of firms to successfully control its information holdings is critical to their success within the market.
Outsourcing of knowledge management services and product is very common in today’s world. The global economic crisis and great competition that organizations are facing nowadays has made Information communication Technology (IT) outsourcing a very attractive management tool with the aim of cutting expenses in activities not core, specifically in information technology departments overheads. There are a lot of outsourcing benefits but also many risks are associated with it. It is therefore very crucial for decision makers to be conversant with the benefits and shortcomings of outsourcing ICT before making any decision to outsource. ICT outsourcing has to do with whole existing information existing in the business field. This is about online shops, programming, web design, networks and many more. The most common outsourced is the ICT services and the outsourcers who do not comply with the outsourcing contract will influence badly the process of the organization in a very risky manner. The information and communication technology is growing very fast and the business vendor should be synchronized and updated with the 2010 era. So it will be very easy for them to serve their customers and sell their products in every possible way. It is more difficult for big organizations that deal with many products to take the risk and create information and communication department of their own from scratch and maintain it upgraded while their processing is running (Carlos, 2010).
It is therefore very crucial for organizations to use the right approach of ICT outsourcing so as to realize its advantages. The outsourced ICT Company the organization is going to cooperate with should follow some demands by the organization. First of all, it has to well manage specific ICT functions in stages, work with responsibility over performance review, support and make adjustments technically with system engineers who are experienced. Some of the benefits of outsourcing information communication technology (ICT) in an organization include the following; outsourcing ICT from a perspective of business has made organizations realize that operating and owning IT infrastructure of their own does not make sense any longer because the cost is so big and the results are not guaranteed, coupling this with the common lack of resource, outsourcing is a viable remedy. With the right approach in place and suitable ICT outsourcing, organizations will remain high at the market competitive edge, saving time, reduces human risk, and at the same time minimizing operating costs. Outsourcing ICT services also has some disadvantages. The organization might find it hard to manage the outsourced offshore provider compared to managing processes within an organization. In case the ICT service provider outsourced goes out of business or becomes bankrupt, the organization will definitely have to immediately get another outsourcing provider or transfer in-house the business processes (Carlos, 2010).
Multi-cultural virtual teams are these days very important because of the rapid increase in globalization of organizations and network technologies (WAN, LAN, extranets, internet) proliferation. Some of the problems experienced by multi-cultural virtual teams include the following: time difference, lack of synergy among the members of cross-cultural team, time delay in replies, communication breakdown because of cultural variances, different holidays, unresolved conflicts among members of different cultures and limited hours allowed for work. Some of these issues are discussed below.
Time difference is an issue because when people in different places globally require some of their activities to be synchronized. Time zones should be kept in mind in trying to stay connected with an individual from another country. This has become a major concern as the distance between virtual teams grows bigger and is therefore difficult to get everyone on the right team to avoid this. In one part of the world may be midnight and rush hour in another part, this is a problem since everyone need to be doing the same thing and on the same page. An individual will not be comfortable scheduling a meeting with the virtual team with one of the team meeting during regular business work hours and other team meeting past midnight. Time difference make hard for virtual teams to work together but it is an obstacle that can be eliminated. Another problem of managing knowledge in virtual teams is available technology. Current state of technology is that virtual teams can function technically well in many parts of the planet. However, some individuals living in some regions may not have the new communication infrastructures such as ISDN, mostly in rural areas while individuals in other countries can be subject to software later release dates. Video conferencing can be either good quality and expensive only in LAN but not in wide area networks (WAN) or unacceptably and cheap but low in quality. The broadband services cannot be available in every place, installing dedicated lines can increase the organizations budget and therefore offsetting reduced travel or telecommuting cost savings (Kimble et al, 2000).
Language barrier can cause communication breakdown since people all over the world have different languages. Virtual teams’ main problem is the difference in spoken languages; if members of one team cannot speak one language, then it can cause a lot of trouble when communicating. If clear communication among team members is not initiated, many things can go wrong. If one language to be used in not agreed upon then communication will not be effective. This problem can be eliminated if the management selects members of virtual teams with great care. Therefore, supervisors and team leaders should be aware of some issues so as to avoid any kind of potential problem. In building virtual corporations, the management should understand the diversity of international cultures in order to attain success. Leveraging global supply chains through outsourcing support functions facilitate renewed focus on core business, outsourcing tasks that can be done in-house enables organizations to focus on their core activities therefore leading to a more effective resource use and promotes growth of the organizations (Alexander, 2000).
As new digital technology is improving the efficiency of businesses across the world by radically increasing the quantity and quality of available information to give knowledge to workers. Knowledge management strategies are very instrumental in deciding the relevant knowledge management technologies to the enterprise and show how to use them in building an integrated knowledge management solution. These will enable smarter analysis and business planning, more effective people and project tracking, faster product feedback and design, and better employee training and management. The knowledge shift as a center of wealth production and the senior leadership of large enterprises should develop good techniques to manage this crucial asset. Senior leadership should therefore support such initiatives and adequate resource commitment to direct and sustain activities hence ensuring alignment with the strategy vision, and business objectives of the enterprise (Desouza & Evaristo, 2003)
In conclusion, business environments are characterized by rapid and radical change, therefore the design of knowledge management systems should ensure that innovation and adaptation of business performance outcomes take place in alignment with the changing business environment dynamics. This will prevent the failure of knowledge management systems caused by gaps between the value created by these enterprises and the value demanded by dynamic customer preferences, market conditions, changing business models, industry structures, and competitive offerings. So as to successfully manage the challenges in knowledge management systems, designers should take a holistic approach to designing intra- and inter-organizational systems with consideration on technological design and strategic sustainability of the systems.
Alexander, Armstrong, David J., & Paul C. (2000.) Managing Distances and Differences in Geographically Distributed Work Groups. Diversity in Work Teams, American Psychological Association
Kimble,Chris, et al. (2000). Effective Virtual Teams through Communities of Practice. Management Science Research Paper No.2000/09.
Lurey, J. & Raisinghani. (2001). An Empirical Study of Best Practices in Virtual Team. Information and Management, (38), 2001, pp. 523-544.
Carlos S. (2010). The benefits and risks of knowledge process outsourcing. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from <http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/strategy/the-benefits-and-risks-of-knowledge-process-outsourcing#.VNnIdCg_zIU>
Barlett, C. & Beamish, P. (2011). Transnational Management: Text, cases and Readings in Cross-Border Management. 6th Edition. McGraw-Hill. Singapore.
Christopher K. (2011). Regulation of trans-border data flows under data protection and privacy law: past, present and future. Oxford University Press. Tilburg University, Netherlands
Desouza, K. & Evaristo, R. (2003). Global knowledge management strategies. European Management Journal, 21(1). Pp. 62-67.
Noll, S. Beecham, & Richardson. (2010). Global software development and collaboration: barriers and solutions. Journal of ACM Inroads, vol. 1, 2010, pp.66–78.
National Academy of Sciences (1995). The global information frastructure. A White Paper. Retrieved 11 February 2015 from <http://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/EOP/OSTP/forum/html/giipaper.html>
Yongsun, P. & Sohn, J. (2004). The case of Toshiba Striking a balance between global integration and local responsiveness Corporation in redefining regional headquarters’ role. Organizational Analysis, vol.12, pp. 347-359.
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