Knowledge Information Systems

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There have been intensive discussions in the academic field over the past several years over whether or not Knowledge Management is important to our society. Scholars and observers from many disparate subjects, such as sociology, economics or management science agree that nowadays “knowledge” is at the centre of the stage. In support to that statement, researchers have identified one key ability that is common to all successful organizations: the effective creation of relevant business knowledge and the timely dissemination of that knowledge to those members of the organization who need it (Bowman, 2002).

Worldwide Chocolate Limited started out as a small chocolate bar manufacturer but knew a rapid expansion in a relatively small period of time.
My subsequent report will highlight the fact that only through the implementation of a Knowledge Information System will WCL be able to preserve its core values: maintaining a high quality of product, continuous innovation and good customer service.

WCL needs to improve the communication between its various departments, it has to perfect its knowledge on the different sources of supply it uses and it also has to preserve its quick response to customer needs. The linchpin of all these changes is knowledge: WCL will have to leverage knowledge in order to gain a competitive advantage.

The firm currently has eight central departments, namely: Accounting, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Research and Design, Sales, Warehousing, Manufacturing and Logistics and DespatchThe rich picture that has been drawn, labelled in the Appendix as Figure 1, emphasises the inter-connectivity that exists between the Marketing, R&D, Manufacturing, Warehouse, Logistics and Sales departments. All these departments share different functions and responsibilities within the organization. Only six of the eight departments have been selected as relevant for illustrating the workings of the organization, the different types of knowledge held by different workers and how they share it.

In the rich picture, every single one of the six departments is contained within a cloud, meant to suggest that the department as a whole is a compact entity.
The functions of the selected departments are as follows:
* Sales: orders raw materials and communicates with customers while trying to establish a positive relationship with them. * Marketing: advertises products, conducts market research and establishes the target customers. * R&D: designs new bars, tests new recipes and develops the manufacturing process. * Logistics and Despatch: transports and schedules deliveries and ensures the customers’ requirements are met on time. * Manufacturing: concerned with the actual manufacturing process. * Warehouse: concerned with the storage of products.

Although the terms “information” and “knowledge” have often been used interchangeably there is a clear distinction between them (Nonaka, 1994). Information is a flow of messages, sets of data that have been processed, while knowledge is created and organized by the very flow of information, anchored on the commitment and beliefs of its holder (Nonaka, 1994). The pink and green arrows identifiable in the rich picture represent the different types of knowledge that is transmitted between the different departments, namely the explicit and the tacit knowledge. Explicit or codified knowledge refers to the knowledge that is transmittable in formal, systematic language. On the other hand, tacit knowledge has a personal quality which makes it hard to formalize and communicate (Nonaka, 1994). Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in action, commitment and involvement in a specific context (Nonaka, 1994). Usually, cognitive tacit knowledge incorporates implicit mental models and perceptions that are so ingrained they are taken for granted (Smith, 2001). Cognitive models affect the way in which one makes sense of the events in one’s world. People use...
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