Over the course of the last several years, IT has truly started to expand its “sphere of influence” over the corporate / business world. It’s quite common to see businesses employing a very wide range of IT-related services (as well as the knowledge gained from its technical insights) in the ongoing move toward improving profitability. What has IT really “brought to the table”, so to speak? One might say that it is merely technical services, or a new string of communication options. But you could also argue that it is an entirely new set of abilities which can be used to approach business in general.
What does this have to do with knowledge management? Well, in many ways knowledge management is merely the ultimate end-goal of centralization within any organization. For example; increasingly efficient IT management often lends itself to a nest of additional benefits, which generally include: increased profits, opening up new consumer channels, even the ability to create entirely new products and / or services. IT itself is organized under a centralized authority or management model. In nearly the same way, knowledge management provides for the ability to approach the entire business model from a central perspective. In other words, knowledge management deals with creating efficiencies that extend across every level or layer of a business.
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Naturally, this also applies to IT as well; meaning – IT could easily become a subordinate function of knowledge management for most businesses. Given that KM deals with attempting to extract insights from both accumulated information as well as the abilities of an organization, it only makes sense that IT might fall under its authority at some point. Perhaps the real question is, how much of a direct influence can KM have over IT assets in the long-run? It would seem that two distinct possibilities exist: 1.) people will work knowledge management into the general framework of their IT department, or 2.) it will exist somewhere above IT on the management ladder. One thing we do know is that regardless of where KM ends up, it’s still going to have to forge some kind of direct working relationship with IT.
Clearly, the complexity that exists within the IT realm is only going to intensify as new breakthroughs and methods are discovered. Knowledge management could be seen as a very useful form of “directed control” which businesses could use to further capitalize on unseen possibilities which they possess. If you can imagine the stress and responsibilities that are assumed by your average IT manager, it’s plainly obvious that they might not be in the best position when it comes to “seeing all sides of a problem” or the full range of possibilities that exist. In other words, having a knowledge manager on-hand is a bit like having “another (hopefully) objective person” which can point out additional possibilities which no one in the organization had previously considered. It is this outside viewpoint which allows a KM practitioner to “connect the dots” in new and potentially exciting / profitable ways.
For those who might be seeking to either “bridge the gap” between several different fields, knowledge management is an excellent career choice. For most situations, the average knowledge manager is going to be looking for ways to integrate IT knowledge and capabilities with their company’s business faculties. Nevertheless, someone with experience, certification or training in both (or either) IT or business would make an excellent fit for such a position. Naturally, a person with a background in both fields would make for an ideal knowledge manager; however, those with a primary base in IT can also perform the job quite well. In fact, most employers might very well jump at the chance to hire someone who is armed with a significant amount of direct IT experience and certification / training in knowledge management. The question is, are you willing and capable of assuming the responsibilities that come with such an elevated position?