How Knowledge Management Information Systems Are Impactful For The Fine Cheese Co
Your organisation is looking to upgrade its IT infrastructure and is considering a range of
Knowledge Management Information Systems (KMIS) to be integrated with any other appropriate
1. Select an organisation of your choice. For this organisation, define:
• Corporate Objectives
• Business Overview
• Corporate Structure
• Outline the business model of the organisation
2. Critically evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of your chosen
organisation taking into consideration all environmental factors including competitors
This report sheds light on the various aspects of Knowledge management information systems and its impact in the corporate world. Companies in the current business scenario are considering technological up-gradation for gaining maximum advantages. Upgrading the IT infrastructure of companies has several advantages to the company to cope with technological advances. There is a range of IT infrastructures that are considered to be crucial for organizations, amongst which managing knowledge has growing importance within companies to deal with the dynamic advancements. Knowledge management information systems (KMIS) have tremendous capabilities to drive the capabilities of a company to compete within the industry. Knowledge management information systems can also allow organizations to enhance the core capabilities of a company. KMIS has the capability to store and retrieve knowledge, enhance collaboration, locate sources of knowledge, mines repositories for hidden knowledge and capture as well as useful knowledge to enhance the effectiveness of the KM processes, hence the entire organization. The current scope of analysis undertakes the extensive application of KMIS within an organization, evaluating its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Then appropriate recommendations for the improvement of Knowledge management information systems are provided for a chosen organization.
2. Overview of the Organisation: The Fine Cheese Co
The organization selected for the purpose of understanding Knowledge management information systems with other appropriate systems is “The Fine Cheese Co”. The company is located in historic Bath, in England. It was established 30 years ago by Ann-Marie Dyas (The Fine Cheese Co, 2019). The company is into manufacturing, retailing, wholesale and exporting of cheese all over the world.
Corporate Objectives: The corporate objectives of the organization is to sell a variety of cheese and cakes made from cheese to areas in London and also parts of England and the world.
Business Overview: The business model of the organization consists of manufacturing the finest quality of cheese and cakes made from cheese, also wholesale, retail and export them. The business has gradually spread from being a sole proprietorship business into a large private company. The business focuses on quality over profits to provide its customers with the finest quality of cheese and a variety of products. The organization procures milk of the finest quality and then in its production facility ages those cheeses into different forms. These cheeses are packed and sold across the cafeteria of the company and across the country to various retailers and wholesalers along with consumers. Gradually it is adding to its product varieties and expanding market share to various customers.
Corporate Structure: The corporate structure for the organization comprises of the owner-cum-director heading the organization, followed by managers at each level. There is a production manager, store manager, and supply chain manager, handling the wholesale, retail and direct sales customers. There are employees at the production level, cafeteria, for transportation and for accounts. The corporate structure of the organization is indicated in the figure in appendix 1.
Business Model: The business though has transformed from a proprietorship model into a private company model, yet it operates on a similar model. The company’s focus on quality has directed its performance to make a tie-up with those wholesalers and retailers who have high regard for quality. The business makes a tie-up with such retailers and wholesalers for a long-term basis and supplies them with their exclusive products. The company produces limited products and caters to their customers and clients. The business competitiveness lies in its core competency to create a unique quality of cheese and wedding cakes made from cheese.
The organization operates in the absence of a sophisticated and expensive KMIS however till recent time period it had been able to perform quite well. Increasing competition has gradually decreased market share for the company and its capability to process knowledge in an extensive manner (Pandey and Dutta, 2013, p 744). The organization with an outdated information system is not been effectively match up with the external competitive prices and varieties. The organization needs to upgrade its current IT infrastructure systems such that it is able to compete within the market in an effective manner.
3. Analysis of SWOT
Evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges has been conducted using three models, PESTLE, Porter's five forces analysis, and SWOT model.
3.1 PESTLE Analysis
Applying the PESTLE model for the evaluation of external factors reveals that the political forces affecting the company are minimum in nature. The company operates its business in the UK, where small businesses receive tremendous support and impetus from the government to set-up additional stores or locations and to grow their businesses. The democratic system of government in the UK supports small businesses and their operations. The company gains strength from such democratic systems to operate its business in London and spread it to parts of the UK. Such support from the government can enable the company to easily adapt a new Knowledge management information systems to deal with future needs (Appendix 2). This factor acts as strength as there is no political interference while adapting a Knowledge management information systems for the company.
The economic factors within the UK tremendously support businesses and their growth. The market in the UK is tremendously stable and offers opportunities for businesses to expand. The inflation rate is also comparatively low, which offers stability to the business. This acts as strength for the company to establish more stores and produce products of the company. However, stable the economic environment of a country might be, there is a need for a Knowledge management information systems to be able to effectively collect and process such information for the benefit of the company (Becerra-Fernandez and Sabherwal, 2014, p 5). Within such a stable economic environment, which acts as a strength for the company, it needs to adopt a KMIS that will be collect and process information dynamically.
The society within London is highly diversified which offers varied consumers for the company. The diversified social and cultural people in London offer the company target market for every individual product. This is a strength for the company which offers it with diversified and different types of consumers of products. However, there remains a need for a KMIS which will be able to process and compare the diversified customer needs, such that the company is able to design its products accordingly (Lee and Lan, 2011, p 732).
Technologically the UK is a highly advanced country offering the latest technology. Most companies in the UK offer their products online basis. The current company is also selling its online to its customers. There are a number of information systems that are currently available for use in the UK, which the organization can select and use. Most companies across the UK make use of knowledge management information systems online. This is a major strength for the current company that is in need of Knowledge management information systems as it can adopt any available system at a competitive price for the company.
Legal systems within the UK are quite stringent and companies operating in the UK need to follow and adhere to the legal and judiciary system present in the country. Some laws which the current business needs to follow include payment of wages laws, anti-discrimination laws, occupational and other employment laws as applicable. This acts as a major challenge for the company as it needs to hire and employ workers within the terms stated as per the current legal systems. The KMIS needs to provide regular input for the latest regulations and norms that act in favor off or against the company (Yates and Paquette, 2011, p 10).
Environmental laws in the UK are quite stringent and companies need to abide by such environmental regulations. There are specific regulations that the aging of cheese needs to follow and conditions that have to be adhered to. This acts as another major challenge for the organization as it needs to abide by the recycling, waste removal and other environmental techniques as suggested by the laws in the UK. The KMIS needs to integrate after collecting information regarding environmental regulations impacting the company (Faraj, Jarvenpaa and Majchrzak, 2011, p 1230).
3.2What are the competitive forces examined in the study of Knowledge management information systems?
Evaluating Porter’s five competitive forces, the company’s competitive forces can easily be evaluated. There is present tremendous industry rivalry within the cheese manufacturing and distribution business. There are a number of cafeterias and stores in London, the UK offering cheeses from different corners of the world with different tastes. This acts as a major challenge for the company, however, the cheese bridal cake and cheesecake of other types offer the company with unique competitiveness over its close competitors. Adapting a KMIS can however offer an advantage for the company, by offering varied information regarding competitors with which the company can devise competition strategies (Lindner and Wald, 2011, p 882) (Appendix 3).
The bargaining power of buyers is significant within London, as they are offered with a number of varied choices. Buyers generally prefer to purchase cheese from their nearest located stores and only a few loyal customers of the company makes a purchase from the company's online store. While this acts as a challenge for the company, with the use of KMIS, it can collect varied customer data and information and process the same for designing its products accordingly (Devi Ramachandran, Chong, and Wong, 2013, p 90).
The bargaining power of suppliers in London is significantly less. With fewer number of firms dealing with manufacturing and processing of cheese, suppliers apply less bargaining power. Suppliers are a major strength for the company. With the use of KMIS, it will further be able to process raw information that can enable them to make stronger tie-ups with them.
The threat from new entrants is significantly less and almost absent. The company with the help of newly integrated KMIS can process information related to new entrants in the market such that they can remain prepared in the market.
Threat from substitute products is present, butter and other dairy products consist of its main substitutes. This is a major challenge for the company. Hence an accommodation with an integrated KMIS, the company will easily able to compare the various substitute products and design their products accordingly (Choi, Lee, and Yoo, 2010, p 860). For example, the company can compare the price range for various wedding cakes and design their wedding cakes accordingly.
3.3 Internal SWOT Analysis
Analyzing the strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat of the company drawing from the above two models reveals the following;
- Stable and loyal customer base, which the company is aware off
- Good tie-up and relationship prevailing with suppliers existing with the company
- Presence of resources and capabilities that provides the business its core capabilities
- Presence of an online store with a good IT infrastructural back-up that can leverage the functionality of KMIS
- Lack of presence of KMIS which can support expansion and growth of the company
- Lack of integrated IT framework with all other departments
- Lack of human resource capable of suggesting a good IT infrastructure system
- Integrate a KMIS system with the existing IT infrastructure to extend core competency of the business
- Adopt a competitive KMIS for the business that can offer it competitiveness
- Expand business to other parts of UK and set up store elsewhere
- Set up KMIS for office and manufacturing use
- An increasing number of substitute products being offered in the market over which the company have no knowledge off
- An increasing number of competitors along with their products in the area, over which the company has no knowledge
The KMIS can bring about tremendous benefits to the operation of the overall company and its existing systems. KMIS is being used by almost all competing companies within the industry. Analysis of SWOT has assisted in the formation of recommendations for the company. The business performance objectives for the Knowledge management information systems are as follows;
- Objective 1: To support the major business function – possess capabilities to integrate
- Objective 2: To be able to form strategies that provide the business with a competitive edge
- Objective 3: Facilitation of knowledge capturing and sharing and maintaining customer relationship management along with supply chain management for the business
The mentioned recommendation can improve and enhance the performance of the business currently and in the future as well. Also, it will enable the business to achieve its corporate objectives. An information system needs to be so designed that can support the majority business function of the organization. The majority functions of the business consist of manufacturing and processing of some of the best cheese around the world, preparing accounts, preparing of invoices and printing them, transporting the cheese to various locations, and so on. The Knowledge management information systems has to be such that it can integrate itself with these functions and provide knowledge related information to the company. The KMIS needs to be such that it has capability strategies operations providing it needed to give the company its unique competitive edge. This implies the Knowledge management information systems needs to possess the quality to collect and process competitor’s data and information, such that the company can form its strategy accordingly. Hence, it needs to collect information that can specifically be used for the company. Meaning, the company needs to have access to information such as a competitor's sale price of each type of cheese, cheesecake, any cafeterias or manufacturing facilities of the competitor opening around the company and similar such information.
Amongst the various Knowledge management information systems available in the UK market, Knowledge Owl has relative competitive advantages over the other software. Some of the most commonly used Knowledge management information systems are Knowmax, ProProfs Knowledge Base, Zoho Desk, Service Now Knowledge Management, Confluence, ComAround Knowledge, Guru, KnowledgeOwl, and KBPublisher. KnowledgeOwl has internal knowledge bases compiled with an ability to adapt external knowledge base. It is a web-based platform with a robust system. It assists in the creation of a knowledge base and supports customization. This is the primary reason the software package has been selected for the organization as it can be customized to match the knowledge needs of the organization. With customization, the package can enable meeting the individualistic corporate objectives as envisioned in the organization (Knowledgeowl, 2019).
- Recommendation 1: Its unique API allows the creation of own integration. It also allows creating PDF for the complete knowledge base. This means that the package can be integrated with another software package such as the accounts system, manufacturing system existing within the company. Moreover, once all the knowledge has been stored and assimilated, PDF can easily be created and used as a resource during team meetings or discussions of future goals. This can help the organization in developing knowledge which can enhance its core competency in the future by identifying its resources and capability. This feature and functionality of the Knowledge management information systems can easily meet the objectives of the business laid out as above. The Knowledge management information systems can integrate and be used for supporting the key functionalities of the business.
- Recommendation 2: The Knowledge management information systems has the internal knowledge base of the software helps create a secure, robust and easy- to- navigate resource that ensures that everyone stays on the same page. The software has the capability to draw on internal knowledge bases and provide appropriate recommendations for the organization. It supports extensive storing capability that enhances its usage further. Its capability to process and store from internally available information provides the best available resources that can help create high-quality knowledge. Moreover, the package can extract knowledge from external bases which helps to build a powerful knowledge base with a search engine and clean interface. Its interface allows a non-technical person to capture and process its data. At any instance availability of customer, tech-support helps raise any query and get it clarified with a minimum possible wait time period. This is an added advantage as staff without adequate knowledge of the package can also use it. These features can allow strategizing of operations which can provide the business its competitive edge. The Knowledge management information systems will collect data from varied interfaces that act as a knowledge bridge providing relevant information that can be used by the business to develop its competitive edge.
- Recommendation 3: With its extensive customer support software it can easily function at anyplace. This toll can enable to build sites, knowledgebase, manuals and has many other additional features. This implies that the package can easily be connected with the website of the organization, from which it can collect valuable data. This is the second reason for adopting this software in comparison to others. This will help meet the future objective in identifying consumer needs and demands as existing in the markets in London. Hence this information system has the capability to facilitate capturing of knowledge and sharing it as well. It can also be used for maintaining relations with customers and supply chain management. Therefore, this package will benefit the organization tremendously.
The software is priced at USD 299 for businesses which are not very expensive for the business to acquire. Given the present features and application that the organization is able to receive and get benefits from, this package can offer tremendous benefits in comparison to other packages available. Moreover, this package has a 5-star rating with good features, functionality and customer support.
5. Implementation challenges
While the use of Knowledge management information systems might be plenty for the company, it might face certain implementation issues. After recognizing suitable Knowledge management information systems, it becomes integral to identify appropriate implementation technique and get it done within a specified time period (López-Nicolás and Meroño-Cerdán, 2011, p 502). Some of the implementation challenges that might crop with the implementation of the current software package include;
- Implementation Challenge 1: The organization may not be able to integrate its Knowledge management information systems with the other existing information systems even with the presence of customer support. While Knowledge owl has capabilities to create exclusive knowledge which can be applicable and beneficial for the company, it is crucial that it is integrated with the other business processes and divisions. The current management has no resource person who possesses the capability to integrate the Knowledge management information systems with other systems (Maier and Hadrich, 2011, p 786). In case the management wants to get exclusive knowledge that can be used at the present and for future suggestions, it will need to hire a resource person capable of integrating all the systems together. This alone has the capability to get benefits from the Knowledge management information systems and for the future capability of the business.
- Implementation Challenge 2: While the company's director and other managers/ supervisors are in favor of implementing this system, the staff and employees operating at lower levels might not be comfortable in handling such processes that require knowledge of IT. Hence there might be resistance while implementing this Knowledge management information systems and internal staff might not be adapting these Knowledge management information systems as the key process well. Training to these staff and employees might enable the organization to smoothly integrate Knowledge management information systems as its primary system without resistance (Mills and Smith, 2011, p 167). Training will help the organization meet its current with future goals as well. As with training staffs and employees will become equipped to handle knowledge in an appropriate manner.
- Implementation Challenge 3: There might be an issue in regards to the deadline while implementing the software and recommendations. While the company might want to get immediate benefits after installation of the software, its installation and implementation alone might require time. In case of a deadline issue, it might become difficult for the managers or the director to get actual benefits of the package and recommendations. The company needs to have a fixed time scheduled for the package installation and hand over the project to a vendor in case it feels it does not have adequate human resources to get it done on time. This will assist the organization meets its deadline and package needs within a selected time frame.