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Knowledge is information, documents, or different skills that are achieved by an organization or an individual through their training, education, or practical experiences and be able to explain or address any issue. Individuals can improve their knowledge via complex cognitive process such as communication, learning, acquirement, and argument.
Data is a set of discrete or pure facts such as symbols, numbers, and images. It can be converted to information by adding value and putting into a context, assessment, classification and adjustment.
Information is messages usually express in words or communication can be seen or not seen in order to change awareness of receiver about specific matters. By processing, information is reorganized, more certain and useful than data which is the difference between them.
Information becomes an input of brain and it is selected and created knowledge then. Depending on each individual has different perceptive skill and creates different knowledge output. It means two people can have different perceptive knowledge even though they have the same information.
(Data is placed in specific context)
(Number or event)
(Information is combined with
Experiences and judgments)
Understanding principles realit
Source: Serban, A. M. & Luan, J., "Overview of knowledge management". New Direction for Institutional Research, No. 113, pp 9.
There are two kinds of knowledge are explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is know-how can be codified and showed in words, films, documents, etc. and easily transmit. For instance, specialist knowledge is displayed on educational websites, books, or newspapers. Tacit knowledge, however, is knowledge cannot be expressed in words and difficult to transmit to other people. It is not clear or understood thoroughly such as intuitions, beliefs, insights and emotions.
The distinction between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge is expressed in the table below:
Easily to captured and codified
Easily communicated and shared
Formal and systematic
Non verbalized and unspoken knowledge
Difficult to capture and share
Intuitive and unarticulated
Written procedures and books
Databases and reports
Informal face-to-face meetings and discussions
Source: Bhatt 2001, Serban and Luan 2002, Cong and Pandya 2003
Knowledge Management is a new concept and is discussing in many articles. There is no unanimous approach or definition but have some well-known definitions can be close or embrace the whole knowledge management process.
"Knowledge management is the activity which is concerned with strategy and tactics to manage human centered assets" (Brooking, 1997)
"Knowledge Management is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organizations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better achieve their objectives" (Ron Young, CEO/CKO Knowledge Associates International)
"Knowledge management will deliver outstanding collaboration and partnership working. It will ensure the region maximizes the value of its information and knowledge assets and it will help its citizens to use their creativity and skills better, leading to improved effectiveness and greater innovation". (West Midlands Regional Observatory, UK)
From the 19th century to today, the society has seemed to experience and develop by three stages of managements: manual labor management, human resource management and knowledge management. Each stage takes the different important but have same target is to get profit for companies. KM will turn explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge as easy to understand as possible for individuals in the enterprises, since then creating a community power, strong motivation in work and adapt to the changes of business environment without difficulty. Furthermore, a model of working team in almost previous companies or even recent companies is pick several staffs in some departments and combines as a team. The ability, experience and knowledge of the team work during the project may lose after finishing or breaking up and cannot use in the future. The concern of this problem is fading away when KM appears, captures all the information of the project and allows using again afterwards.
Information technology was reputed as a great progress changing the whole world all aspects. We cannot deny that IT assists organizations and people keep huge information and work effectively based on a computer whether direct or indirect but also related to KM. However, it doesn't make the competitive advantage for the company because competitors can buy our products officially and create similar ones. Combining IT and KM will make the company have long-term and high competition to rivals.
Competitive advantages are created through Knowledge Management for organizations
"Customer is King" is the knowing by heart sentence of all corporations around the world but how many companies are able to execute that slogan and how they serve customers in the best way. Those are big questions to every firm. Business exists because of customers and the target is to serve customers. Hence, KM is the best way to make clients to become loyal friends. Each customer's comment about quality service, product of the company need to store carefully and respectfully. So based on this action, business has the corporate memory to improve non-stop and develop its products and services. Thanks to KM, customer relationship becomes the property, and the clients' ideas and comments become property knowledge of the enterprises. A good point for this kind of KM competitive advantage is the Thomas Cook group which is one of the best-known travel companies in the world. The organization has a unique collection of archive material covering all aspects of its history, offering an information service to academics, journalists and researchers after overcoming the year of recession and collapse of many travel companies - 1971. In fact, the company used the 1927 archive memory to offer a special boxing package in 2007 to see the British professional boxer fight in New York as well as some sport tours. In 2009, the company's marketing employees used archive photographs, information in newspapers and magazines in order to promote the 140th anniversary of the company's first tour to Egypt. This created a strong brand and a unique promotional aspect to the campaign and product of Thomas Cook. Another example is Tam Viet Group. It is a training education organization, providing lots of skills such as life skill, communication skill, presentation skill, cognition skill, KM, etc. It is also the first enterprise implement KM area in Vietnam by applying the models of JT Frank Academy, David Skyrme, and Tam Viet. According to Master Hoang Ngoc Hung, in 2007, a deputy managing director of Tam Viet Group left the company and established a new similar one to compete against Tam Viet. With strong leadership, experience, sharing and innovative knowledge of KM lesson - each individual in the company has shared information together; Tam Viet was not affected and still survived until now.
Knowledge Management helps managers
The first advantage as I mentioned above is to help control and hold the experience and knowledge of all employees in the company whether they stay or leave out. Actually, KM has been used in many foreign countries, for example, USA, UK, and Australia, but not much in Vietnam which caused a major damage for Tuan Thanh Company lost vnd$10 billion when a sell manager quit with potential customers and project. In contrast, Japan has even a KM Society with the purpose is to research deeply and extensively about KM and also introducing KM to the business in Japan by practice and theoretic. I think it is one of the main reasons to help Japan develop rapidly compared to other neighboring nations.
Definition of Knowledge Management