KFS (KM) in China:
|V IT-Track's response to knowledge conversion
Socialization: Improving internal communication
Also, in order to increase knowledge sharing apart from the information databases, communication between the employees was improved through the usage of information technologies. Firstly, world wide employee directories were set up which contained information such as job functions, reporting managers or contact information. IBM for example created its BluePages which enables IBMers to upload information about their skills, project and community involvement. For easier communication, companies then also set up instant messaging applications which enable employees to directly chat with their colleague. IBM for example set up an application called Sametime which is directly linked to BluePages, thus every employee automatically has an account and only needs to start the application which is installed on every workstation.
Online Collaboration, Virtual Teams
Information technology also enabled the facilitation of collaboration using a database-driven model. Work would then not only be uploaded into an information repository once it has been finalized but created with several knowledge workers cooperating. The first mover in this direction was the Open Source community around the operating system Linux which created software through online collaboration in virtual teams consisting out of users who often never had face2face contact in their life. Software applications, such as online forums, enabled these users thereby to discuss project plans and current issues online and store different versions of project outcomes in a database. Therefore, different versions could be traced back to track changes which became especially important when programming errors needed to be fixed. A pioneer in this field is Sourceforge (http://www.sourceforge.net), an online collaboration community which hosts many of the most popular open source developments.
Soon, Corporations especially saw the value of those systems and set up online collaboration platforms for their own products. Sun Microsystems for example set up a collaboration website for Jini programmers (Jini forms part of the Java programming language which was developed by Sun) which hosts many projects by non-Sun developers and also serves the company as a platform to communicate with the Jini community.
Communities of practice
Similar to virtual teams, organizations set up communities of practice where members of the organizations working on similar topics could exchange their experiences and work approaches. For example, trainers within a worldwide organization could join the community of practice for training and learning. At the community, the trainers would be able to share their approaches to grading students, running student evaluations for the class, motivation techniques etc. The goal behind sharing practices is that over time, members share ideas and help each other and that best practices will spread throughout the community thereby increasing the efficiency of the whole organization. These communities work often informally at first but can evolve to formalize their common practices into guidelines and standards and even can "become more integrated into planning, budgeting and operations" (McDermott) but still differentiate themselves from teams or taskforces as there is no formal hierarchical differentiation among its members. That leads to the distribution of influence according to expertise and knowledge rather than status. As they saw their effectiveness, organizations began to facilitate the development of communities by helping them to identify their goals, sponsor meetings and raise awareness among managers about their accomplishments.
Information technology also greatly improved a company's possibilities when it comes to employee training. Internet technology enabled the creation of online courses which can include media such as sound, video or animations. These courses are available to all employees with access to the intranet and do not require classrooms or teachers, thus greatly reducing costs. IBM for example offers a myriad of online courses about a broad scope of topics to their employees at no costs and Sun Microsystems utilized compulsory online training to raise awareness of the company's ethical standards.
But not only training profits from increased use of information technologies. When communicating to the employees where the company is going, the leaders of an organization can also utilize the media technologies. For example, Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems hosts a Radio Show on a monthly basis to inform his employees about the current developments within the company and the companies view on the market. In many other companies, senior management also use webcasts to talk to the employees about current issues.