Why Invest? »Value Proposition for Investing in KM/KT

Value Proposition for Investing in KM/KT – An Electricity Sector Perspective

Often KM/KT is focused on ensuring current employees are adequately prepared to assume new positions within an organization and/or know where to get the required information/direction they need to perform their job. As demographics continue to shift and workforces around the world age, capturing key knowledge from ‘subject matter experts’ before they leave has become increasingly critical. Capturing this knowledge and sharing it within the organization is also key to productivity and efficiency which in turn impacts business competitiveness. KM/KT is an issue not just because of high retirement rates, but also to leverage organizational knowledge as a company asset.

“With everything else dropping out of the competitive equation, knowledge has become the only source of long-run sustainable competitive advantage, but knowledge can only be employed through the skills of individuals. The value of an individual's knowledge depends upon the smartness with which it is used in the entire system.”

Thurow, L (1996) How Today's Ecnomoic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World

The challenge facing many organizations is not only the loss of their most experienced employees, but also many of these professionals and managers are taking with them new types of critical expertise and experiential knowledge that did not exist a generation ago. In the context of the new economy, future leaders are likely to face not simply a labour shortage, but a knowledge shortage, as organizations bleed technical, scientific, and managerial know-how at unprecedented rates.20

To mitigate these risks and lay a foundation for an effective future workforce, senior managers must understand the dynamics of their current employee base, the drivers of turnover, the knowledge and skills that must be shared before they are lost, and the best ways to tap into the future talent pool. Organizations are encouraged to develop approaches that are tailored to their own business requirements and operating environment and include a mix of tactics to address KM/KT requirements. Despite the changes impacting the sector, and the increased recognition of the importance of managing knowledge and thus the reinforced concepts of KM/KT, EHRC estimated that a third of the industry does not have workforce planning and KT tools and processes in place. The consultations for this study also reveal that many in the sector are just beginning to move from KM/KT pilots and targeted projects, towards a more strategic approach to KM/KT. In the absence of supporting information and tools, however, many in the sector may struggle to implement KM/KT successfully within their organization.

Illustrative Example of the Benefits of KM

Corporate employees spend up to 25% of their day looking for information – which can be 25% of a company’s staff costs. According to a 2008 IBM study of 4000 human resources executives, only 13% of people can find someone with a particular area of expertise in their own company. This means the bulk of work does not leverage the specialized knowledge that exists right there in the firm, because there is no good way to find the information. Collaborative solutions such as web technologies are solving some of these issues.

Source: "Five Best Practices for Enterprise Collaboration Success."

Without effective and well-proven KM/KT strategies and processes in place, corporate memory is at risk of being lost. This has grave implications for competitive positioning, safety, productivity and business continuity, not to mention the need for understanding legacy systems and company-specific intellectual knowledge and know-how.

The industry already recognizes that organizations within the sector cannot afford to ignore the need for a more integrated, systemic and targeted/risk-based approach to KM/KT. They need to have a much better understanding of the implications of the structural changes ahead, and tools and strategies that they can use and adapt, from identified best practices, to address these future challenges.




20 - Delong, D (2004) Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce