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Ellison et al. opines that, the introduction of social network sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Cyberworld, and Bebo have attracted millions of users, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily practices. However, to be able to adapt and shift to the use of these social networking sites requires individual's tacit and explicit knowledge. This really makes Social Networking Practices very important part of knowledge management. There are varieties of social networking tools ranging from (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn), private enterprise social networks (e.g. Yammer, Socialcast, Jive), content-sharing websites (e.g. Youtube, Flickr) to Wikis (e.g. Wikipedia), blogs (e.g. WordPress, Blogger) and micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter).
Kettle and David (2008) believe social networking tools can be implemented to provide overall firm value. However, the management of the company must understand the complete nature of the relationship between the IT investment and the performance outcomes (Kettle and David, (2008). The two scholars argued that management may wish to establish a customer-focused site to interact with their customers. On the contrary, the agenda of increasing firm profitability can result to low productivity based on the on attitude of the employees towards SNS use.
The immediate benefits of social networking tools and practices on business include;
Reducing cost for product development
Providing management with better information for sales forecasting
Increasing customer loyalty and repeat purchases which simultaneously increase revenue while reducing customer acquisition cost (Kettle & David, 2008).
This paper aimed at providing specific instances where enterprise social networking practices and tools have been introduced into an organization. It also seeks to discuss the reasons that explain the approach taken for the organization. The paper will also focus on the major challenges of introducing the social networking practices and tools as part of business strategy, and scholarly use the findings and the peer-reviewed literature to assess the future impact of enterprise social networking practices and tools for organisations striving competitive advantage. The research will begin by explaining knowledge management.
Knowledge, according to Denham Grey (2002), is the full utilization of information and data, coupled with the potential of people's skills, competencies, ideas, intuitions, commitments and motivations. Although knowledge management is seen as a backbone of every successful business, it is also the most neglected asset in most business organizations. This is because some business gurus see it as a technological based subject. However, McDermott (cite in Lesser, et al, 2000), opines that technology inspires but cannot deliver knowledge management.
3.0. Academic Literature Review
This section review academic writings on Knowledge Management Systems and social networking sites.
3.1. What are Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems?
According to O'Sullivan (2007), knowledge management is the process of capturing a company's collective expertise wherever it resides, and distributing it to wherever it can help produce the biggest payoffs. From his definition, one could see that knowledge management is not about managing knowledge but the ability to capture, and share information effectively is exactly what the concept is all about.
Knowledge Management is viewed from different corner as a process through which Organizations generate values from their explicit knowledge (intellectual) and tacit or knowledge-based asset. That is, generating value from such assets involves codifying what employees, partners and customers know, and sharing that information among employees, departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices (Alan, 2010).
Knowledge management systems, on the other-hand, refer to any kind of IT system that stores and retrieves knowledge, improves collaboration, locates knowledge sources, mines repositories for hidden knowledge, captures and uses knowledge, or in some other way enhances the knowledge management process.
3.2. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PROCESS
Deducing from the definition, Knowledge management process can be seen from four main dimensions and these four processes can be further classified into sub-processes;
Knowledge capture and creation.
Knowledge organization and retention.
Knowledge utilization (Kettle and David, 2008)
Knowledge capture and creation is a process in which knowledge identification, capture, acquisition, and creation is done (Rao, 2004).
Knowledge organization and retention according to Millar et al., (1997), is a process in which tacit form of knowledge is codified in an understandable form to some extent. After codifying this knowledge, it then needs to be categorized, and stored in repositories in a standard format for later use.
Knowledge dissemination at this juncture involves knowledge sharing among all within the organization both of tacit and explicit form. A combination of incentives and a cooperative culture are the main supporting factors of knowledge dissemination (Morris & Empson, 1998).
After knowledge is shared, it then needs to be applied and used in the organization value-adding. This is often referred to as knowledge utilization (Kettle and David cited in Currie, 2003).
3.3. IS KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT A TECHNOLOGY DISCIPLINE?
Based on the definitions above, Knowledge management is concerned with the representation, organization, acquisition, creation, usage, and evolution of knowledge in its many forms (Jurisica et al., (1999). Quan (2005) argued that network products, PC manufacturing, real estate management and automobiles are collaborative tools that support Knowledge Management to improve both internal and external Business processes. Sheng (2005) believe that mobile technologies support business process such as sales and marketing, internal communication and knowledge sharing.
Albert Einstein belives that "knowledge is experience. Everything else is just an inorfmation". James Robertson (2007), argue that, the fact that knowledge management is enhanced by technology, does not necessarily mean that it is a technology discipline, and thinking in terms of knowledge management systems leads to expectations of "silver bullet" solutions. Scholars like Hayes and Walsham, (2003), maintain that Information technology only has influence on knowledge management but the subject itself is not technology discipline.
On the contrary, Jones (2010) argues that "Knowledge management is inherently collaborative; thus different technologies can be used to support knowledge management practices. He further opine that, collaborative knowledge management tools that allow people to share documents, make comments, engage in discussion, create schematic diagrams, and so on can be valuable aids to support organizational learning. An example of a collaborative knowledge management tool is LiveLink by OpenText, Inc. (http://www.opentext.com/). LiveLink includes a variety of functions such as email, newsgroups/bulletin boards, task lists, document management (check-in/check-out systems, version control), and workflow management"
To amass everything, it should be noted that, the definition says nothing about technology; while Knowledge management is often facilitated by IT, technology by itself is not Knowledge management.
4.0. Review on Social Networking Site Use
As noted earlier, the use of social networking sites have tremendously increased in this recent times. Ellison et al. (2007), "social network sites (SNSs) are increasingly attracting the attention of academic and industry researchers intrigued by their affordances and reach".
Kwon and Wen (2010), defines SNS as "websites that allow building relationships online between persons by means of collecting useful information and sharing it with people. Also, they can create groups which allow interacting amongst users with similar interests". Facebook, which happens to be the most popular SNS, has recently increased in the registrations of people in their mid-careers (Dutta and Fraser, 2009). Research conducted by Microsoft recently has revealed that the theory of six degrees of separation, which says that we are never more than six people away from the person we want to connect with. Bettison (2009), argue that, "while most of us think social networking as teenager playing around on Facebook, it is in fact the way forward in building your connections both social and business".
Ellison et al., (2007), define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to;
construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system
articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and
view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. He goes on by saying that, the nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.
Social networking sites are useful in e of every aspect life. It is of no surprise that most business organizations are penetrating and adopting the social media such as facebook.com, twitter.com, Myspace.com etc. to connect to their partners, audience and their customers. Individuals are also using it to connect with their families, home and abroad.
According to Berg et al. (2007), employability enhancement and career management among a diverse range of core university processes can be facilitated through application of social networks. Besides that, Social networks offer users the possibility to obtain more information about companies, brands and products (often in the form of user reviews) and make better buying decisions (Lorenzo et al., 2009).
4.1. TYPOLOGIES OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
Two scholars have provided two different typologies of social networking sites
According to Rooksby et al., (2009), Social networking sites can be divided into two types:
public social networking sites and internal social networking sites
The Public social networking site, as the name implies refers to the sites that are opened to the general public and can be accessed and used by anybody who wants to use it. In the words of Moqbel (2012, p.12), Public social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are run by commercial providers and are often free.
Internal social networking sites on the other-hand, like Watercooler at HP, Beehive at IBM, Harmony at SAP, D-Street at Deloitte, and Town Square at Microsoft, are owned by organizations for their own use inside the organization.
Ellison et al. (2007), grouped social networking sites into;
Work-related contexts (e.g., LinkedIn.com)
romantic relationship initiation (the original goal of Friendster.com)
connecting those with shared interests such as music or politics (e.g., MySpace.com), or
the college student population (the original incarnation of Facebook.com)" (p. 1143).
On the contrary, there are other sites like xing.com, connect.com, bloomfire.com and many more which allows companies to maintain a list of business contacts and make new business connections.
4.2. DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS & THEIR USES
Some might think social networking tools are all about Facebook and Myspce. They are not the only networks around but they are the most popular and well-known ones. Bettison (2009) maintained that social networks and networking encompasses myriad ways of engaging and connecting with different people. The tools of social networking can be categorized into;
online communities & clubs
specific interest networks
blogs and niche networks
Business & Professional Networks
The business networking sites are built for business people with the aim of creating a community where business organisations can connect with others, get referrals, find employer and engage in new business relationship (Bettison, 2009). The business and professional networks include LinkedIn.com, XING.com, and Ecademy.com etc. The sites allow businessmen and companies to build up strong relationships with their customers and audience. The sites also allow them to write blog and join groups of interest. On the contrary, some of them enable privacy which signifies that non-member cannot access it. Bettison (2009), maintained that, belonging to these networks give one the opportunity to build business relationship based on advocacy, advice, referrals, inspiration, feedback and friendships.
Facebook.com, Myspace.com, Bebo, Buzznet, Flxster and Flickr.com are networks purposely opened for fun and friends. These networks allow everyone irrespective of where you are. Some people use these sites to send messages, share photos, create fun pages, music videos and journals. For instance, Facebook allow members to share their interest through their profile. Others also use Facebook to chat with their friends and family through writing messages on their friends "walls". However, there is privacy of information which makes it impossible for non-members or public to view. Although Facebook was created purposely for fun and friends, people have started using it to transact business and also a medium of advertisement.
Interest Specific Communities
These sites are meant to bring together people who share similar interest. E.g. those interested in sports can follow "goal.com" and many other sites which are purposely create for such things. These sites allow individuals to get connected with people with such interest.
These are industry focused networks which allow members to synergise and leverage the brain power of the likeminded people. Niche social networking which include social philanthropist, dogster/catster (networking for the pet owner), My last wish wall, wiser (for the Tech savvy environmentalist) and many more allow users to meet and connet with people working towards sustainability. It also allows users to share knowledge nd experience, and work with others online.
5.0. KENYAS SERIES LTD & Social Networking Practices
Social networking is surprisingly changing the way people are met, make friends and do business. SNS has really gone to the extent of allowing politicians to use it as platform to reach their voters. For instance, Barrack Obama of USA in pursuing the 2008/2012 election set up his own network site. This allowed supporters and people to post their profile and blog on the site. Supporters could also create and join groups on the site and invite their friends to join (Bettison, 2009).
Not only politician, authors like M.E Poter, Prof. Kotter, Mckensey, Kenyas Series have adopted these tools to promote their books and gather a following of dedicated fans.
Bands and musicians like Lil. Wayne, P. Daddy, 50 Cent, etc are using these tools to link up with their fans.
Companies and business organizations such as Nestle Ghana Ltd. Tiffany & Co. USA, Marks and Spencer, UK are all using social media to brand themselves.
5.1. Background History of the Company
KENYAS SERIES is a renowned publishing company in Ghana. It is a multinational book company with its headquarters in Kumasi-Ghana. The company publishes educational books based on West African Examination Council Syllabus for Senior High School Students in the four West African Countries. The company was founded on the 27th July, 2000 by a Ghanaian scholar, Elvis Asiedu. The company has 200 employees in the Nationwide with about 30, 000 customers in the whole of West Africa.
D:\kenyas\book cover pasco.jpgC:\Users\KENYAS SERIES\Desktop\KENYA1.jpg D:\Personal\kenya series.jpgC:\Users\KENYAS SERIES\Desktop\KENYAS SERIES G COVER 2 copy copy.jpg
(Source: google.com-some of the products of KENYAS SERIES)
5.2. Why the company adopted social networking practice?
Research has revealed that more than 80 percent of businesses are using social media in their marketing, making social media a potentially rich source of information. KENYAS SERIES PUBLICATION for the past 6 years has seen the tremendous change in the business and marketing atmosphere. The company argues that, in order to adapt to the new paradigm of change, there was the need to adopt new approach where they can response and adjust to the new economy of e-commerce, e-business, e-marketing, and e-purchasing. Hence, adopted SNS to create value, communicate, deliver and at the end, get to the targeted market at a profit. The marketing theory below explains the reasons for adopting SNT's as part of the business strategy.
The CCDVP stands for "creating value, communicating, and delivering the value to the target market at a profit". This marketing theory was coined and popularised by Professor Phil Kotler. http://business-fundas.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CCDVTP_Marketing_Value_Chain-520x193.png
(Adapted from http//business-fundas.com)
6.0. Measuring the Business value of Social Networking Practice
This section seeks to measure the value of social networking tools and practice on business. However, in order to understand impact of SNS on business, there is the need to know the value of IT on business.
The Director of Enterprise Web-Services for Wachovia opined that, the benefit of a company's social networking site implementation may involve the ability to look up for coworkers and the creation of an online encyclopedia containing the company's information. He contradicted himself by saying that the sites can be used in ways that cannot yet be imagined. A research conducted by Hoovers in 2009, has obviously declared that, about two-third of US companies are using social media in their competitive intelligence initiatives. Companies such as Digimind, Tiffany & Co., Kessben Group of Companies and many more are all using social networking sites in their business searches. Hinchcliffe (2007) believes that, the ultimate value of social networking practice to businesses is still emerging.
A research conducted by Melville (2004) on the value of IT on business has revealed that, firm level and informational technology indirectly affects organisational performance such as maximizing sales and reducing marketing costs.
Although scholars have argued that, organizational performance can be affected by a number of factors which may include governmental regulation, competitors and business process within the organization. However, a direct link from IT investment can foster organizational performance. A survey carried out by Jayachandran (2005) on industries disclosed that relational information process have improved through customer relationship management technologies.
The business model beneath highlights the impacts of IT on business performance. It spells out the benefits and challenges that result in retarding the performance of a company. The model characterizes Information Technology as an input device to Business Process.
To apply this model, the researcher has critically analysed the domain and developed a path from IT based on its process-level impacts to company's performance. This analysis will result in a much clearer view of how IT can provide a return on investment (Hubbard, 2007). Similar to other project justification process (Desmarias et al, 1997), Kettle and David (2008), believe that, this could be developed through empirical outcomes of pilot projects. What it means is that, to understand the impact of IT on business, "thought experiment" should be carried out.
iii. Macro Environment
ii. Competitive Environment
i. Focal firm
IT Resources: Technology & Human
Business process performance
Complementary Organisational Resources
Trading Partner Resources & Business Process
Business Value Model, Melville et al (Adapted from Kettle David 2008)
Research conducted by Brown (2005) revealed that Social Networking tools and sites have improved the internal process of Healthcare. Gottschalk, (2006) and Lin et al (2007) believe that the emergence of SNS has improved the performance of law enforcement, hotel, travel, service and housing industry.
Now that we know the direct impact of IT on business process, the let us see how SNS have affected the Business Process recently.
Effective communication and Information sharing in the company
To the company, Social Networking tools and sites have enabled them to communicate and exchange information with their suppliers. Looking at the model, suppliers communicate with a focal firm to improve the quality of supplies. They also used it as a medium to negotiate services, co-create products, review the firm needs and reduce packaging and transportation costs. According to Kettle and David (2008), all these processes can be seen as the impact of technology as a collaborative tool that support knowledge management to enhance knowledge sharing on both products and people. Social Networking tools such as Amazon, e-bay, and Wiki help to streamline communication and reduce coordination costs for companies. From the model above, it could be seen that, the resulting improvement may either happen at focal firm or the trading partner or both.
Business Process Performance
Social Network Technology
Supplier Business Processes
Business Value Model of Social Networking (Adapted from Kettle & David, 2008)
Increasing customer loyalty and repeat purchases
Kenyas Series Ltd. also testify that the use of social networking tools has enabled them to increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases which simultaneously increase revenue while reducing customer acquisition cost. Notwithstanding that, it has strengthened the company's interpersonal relationships with their cherished customers and audience. It is believed that, a company's positive interpersonal relationships with their customers bring about customer satisfaction and loyalty. Scholars like Besley, (2008), Valkenbury & Peter, (2006) opine that, the use of internet generally helps to strengthen company's existing interpersonal relationships with their customers and employees. This is because it brings about the sense of belongingness as the employees and customers may also feel like they are part of the company.
In a nutshell, it has ensured job satisfaction. Job satisfaction, according to John Locke (1976, p.1304), refers to the extent to which employees have "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experience". Relating this definition to our studies, one could see that the use of facebook.com, blogging, Xing, LinkIn, twitter, Myspace and other social networking sites to send appraisal forms and recommendations to company's cherished customers and employees enables job satisfaction.
7.0. CHALLENGES AS INTRODUCING SOCIAL NETWORKING
According to Lacho (2010), social networking sites have both advantages and challenges when using them as a medium for marketing a business. Collins et al (2011, p.11) argue that when engaging in social networking practice, company's should navigate a range of risk and challenges. The challenges include;
Management of company's information and privacy
According to the company, since introducing Social Networking Practice, the management of business information and privacy has been a challenge. According to the CEO, since the time social networking practices became part of their business strategy, all the information he thought was hidden are no more hidden. The site has introduced and re-introduced Him to old classmates, friends, neigbours and others who He did not want to get connected or reconnected to again. Notwithstanding, there has been "numerous spamming and other security issues He cannot tell review", said by the CEO.
The Risk of Integrity, predation and Cyber bullying
Another major challenge facing the company is integrity risk. A research conducted by IBE revealed that about 6 out of 7 respondents identify integrity risk as the main ethical challenge facing their companies as the time of introduced social networking practices as part their business strategy. The companies believe that when employees irresponsibly use the site on behalf of the company, it can undermine and tarnish the image of the company. An example is the case of Nestle (2011) where an employee posted a comment that caused the integrity of the company.
The company has reported that employees spend a great deal of time browsing and updating their profile throughout the day without concentrating on the job. The company in 2011 hired Georgina Wood Institute to conduct a research in the company on causes of low productivity. The result of the research revealed that employees spend 30 minutes on SNS to upgrade their profile and chat with their friends and relatives a day. This has really cost the company lots of money and resources. The CEO of the company opined that, instead of them to work to cover the workload, some of them would be using the site to browse and chat with their "girl friends" and 'boy friends". This attitude of some employees is disgusting and abusing the company's moral ethics, said by the CEO. However, in order to avoid this attitude at the workplace, there should be legal action against those abusers.
future impact of enterprise social networking practices and tools for organisations
When it comes to new opportunities to use technology to improve how business is done then, the emergence of SNS makes it seem like the sky is the limit.
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