Information Management, Knowledge Management, and Organizations
It is common for manufacturers, system integrators and consultants to vary in their definition and approaches to implementing knowledge management systems. This is precisely what is happening with Frito Lay and Step Two. The intent of this essay is to assess how each defines knowledge management, including a comparison and contrast analysis of problems faced, solutions implemented and an assessment of how effective each is.
Defining Knowledge Management
The ability of systems and processes to integrate disparate, siloed sources of content, from sales data to manufacturing information, was primarily how Frito Lay defined knowledge management. The company could quickly equate the lack of knowledge management with lost sales. Included in their assessment was every potential knowledge management system or component, from large, complex and often partially integrated databases to the isolation of hard drives in key sales administrators laptops and PCs. Experiencing a massive duplication of efforts in serving their sales force with information, Frito Lay defined knowledge management first by the pain of lost sales and profits from not serving their sales force effectively as they could. Second, Frito Lay realized that the disconnected nature of their knowledge management systems was also making it more difficult to serve their customers and keep remote channel sales reps and partners informed. Frito Lay also learned that knowledge management could significantly improve the execution of their sales rep service processes and also create more efficiency in selling.
For StepTwo, their definition of Knowledge Management as it related to Frito Lay was in getting the most accurate and up-to-date information to contact center and call center representatives by redesigning the processes used for generating and delivering that knowledge.
This entailed significant Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) which forces StepTwo to anticipate and react to the unmet needs of call center representative by first re-architecting the workflows needed for delivering the knowledge first, then tailoring the knowledge to the needs of the call center personnel. StepTwos definition was much more process centric and all encompassing of digital and paper content, and also looked at the time value of information, specifically how to give first-response A much more process-centric definition of knowledge management emerged, focused on the flow of information and the need to quantify responsiveness of the information delivered.
Comparing and contrasting each case studys problems
Evident for the analysis of the cases, several problems associated knowledge management strategies at Frito Lay and RTA via the StepTwo consultancy emerged and is briefly discussed below:
Systems Integration Challenges Are Large and Expensive — While both case studies are not delving into this area as much as in reality these system development efforts would need to, the fact that disparate systems and the processes used for updating their content need to be addressed need more focus. It is exceptionally expensive in services and consulting fees to make system integrations work well together. The approach that Frito Lay takes in unifying search through the use of search vendor Autonomy is a good decision as that is the foundation of making their enterprise-wide content and knowledge management system work and reduces the massive duplication of effort occurring during the case study period. As is the case in many repeated efforts to make integration work, Frito Lay failed to.