The necessity for change and the need for adapting to change is profoundly associated with the influence of the large-scale globalization observed throughout the world. The changes are not only observed at a social level but also in various organizational contexts. Therefore, organizations have to depict profound adaptability to the emerging changes in the business environment, especially in the form of technological advancements (Galliers & Leidner, 2014).
Organizations which are inclined towards the development and implementation of new strategies observe the factor that innovation and risk are mandatory elements for them. These organizations are termed as learning organizations which are committed to obtaining knowledge, aligning it with their values and beliefs and implementing what is effective for achieving the organization’s interests.
Even if the learning organizations could be considered as notable challenges among the various post-modern approaches for organizational classification, they are considered pioneers of knowledge management and are poised to deal with various changes that emerge in the domain of their business (Laudon & Laudon, 2016). The following assessment would evaluate the strategic importance of knowledge management for contemporary organizations, the impact of emerging technologies on the manufacturing process and the implementation challenges as well as success factors associated with the implementation of RFID in the manufacturing sector.
Before reflecting on the significance of strategic knowledge management for an organization in long run, it is essential to review the scenario of the knowledge economy that is prevailing currently. As per Lech (2014), the knowledge-based economy is primarily driven by the large-scale increase in accessibility to the internet and the volume of mobile devices thereby improving the demand for information and knowledge (Lech, 2014). This can be accounted as a reasonable factor for validating the success of knowledge-based products which have accomplished substantial ROI such as Facebook, Google etc.
The growth levels noticed in sectors that are knowledge-intensive such as communications and education as well as the role of knowledge and information as crucial drivers of productivity could also be considered as some of the other factors that can validate the importance of knowledge management strategy for the long term benefits to an organization. Furthermore, it can be observed that knowledge is an imperishable asset unlike financial capital which could get used (Loebbecke et al., 2016). On the other hand, knowledge could not be quantified to a specific limitation and could also be associated with privileges for sharing without any loss concerns. It is observed that knowledge sharing is a productive approach to improving overall knowledge.
To extend the discussion on the strategic importance of knowledge management, it would also be insightful to reflect on the definitions of knowledge and knowledge management found in various literature sources. Knowledge has been defined as a justified belief that improves the capabilities of an individual or entity to perform relevant actions accordingly. However, it has also been described in general terms as the understanding obtained through learning, discovery, experience or perception (MODRÁK & KNUTH, 2008).
Knowledge management is defined clearly as an umbrella term that encompasses various strategies and practices used by an organization for identifying, creating, representing, distributing and adopting experiences and insights. According to Makhija & Chugan (2016), knowledge management could also be expressed in generic terms as the approach followed by an organization for storage, organization and access to crucial internal and external information (Makhija & Chugan, 2016). Knowledge is further described through classification into two categories: explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge could be effectively termed formal and systematic knowledge which could be used for processing by information systems.
The characteristics of explicit knowledge include the feasibility of expression in a particular language according to a predefined format thereby implying the ease of transmitting explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is generally developed through personal beliefs and experiences and this type of knowledge is not stored or documented (McNurlin & Sprague, 2001). Tacit knowledge is highly intangible and personal thereby implying the difficulties in formalizing and transmitting it. These two types of data are considered inputs for the knowledge management strategy of an organization.
The process through which knowledge reaches the management strategies could be explained by referring to the knowledge management value chain. The knowledge value chain emphasizes on different knowledge management activities and is a prominent aspect of competent knowledge management strategies (Massingham, 2014). The importance of the knowledge value could be identified by relating the distinct activities involved in it with the aspects noted in definitions of knowledge management.
The specific activities included in the KM value chain include knowledge creation, codification, sharing, dissemination, identification and evaluation. The knowledge creation phase reflects clearly on the measures that are taken by the organization for the creation of knowledge capital and this factor could be potentially helpful in the long term for an organization since this phase adds up the value of obtaining relevant information from all possible sources that can improve the knowledge inventory of an organization.
The next stage refers to knowledge codification which is primarily associated with the translation of tacit knowledge into a particular schema thereby helping in the formalization of the tacit knowledge so that it can be interpreted on common grounds as explicit knowledge. Knowledge sharing is the phase that follows the codification phase and the knowledge inventory is established in this phase (North & Kumta, 2018). The knowledge-sharing phase involves various activities primarily relating to the formation of community and access infrastructures. Knowledge dissemination is prominently associated with the management of the various information systems that have been designed for ensuring access to the knowledge that has been built up in the repository.
There are many practical models which have been derived on the grounds of theoretical results as well as research to help support companies in knowledge management. The basic benefits that can be obtained from knowledge management strategies for the long term could be inferred from the possible issues that lead to the creation of a knowledge management strategy. Knowledge management enables an organization to standardize the character of individual products or services according to the individual expectation of customers. This is possible through the codification of tacit knowledge (Pearlson, Saunders & Galletta, 2016).
Knowledge management systems could also be leveraged for safeguarding the novelty of the products or services. The use of knowledge management could provide functionalities of strategic cooperation and legal exclusion (Paré et al., 2015). Other aspects of knowledge management which could be strategically beneficial for an organization in the long term include adaptability to changing expectations in business, new developments in science and IT technologies as well as the maturation of product and service structures over the years. An organization which is capable of integration and acceptance of new knowledge could be able to sustain dynamic and competitive business environments without any obstacles.
The changing trends in the domain of technology have induced large-scale revolutions in the day-to-day activities of people alongside transforming industries. As per Reason (2016), the use of technology for tracking goods solved a long-lasting problem which was significant yet mired with complications and difficulties (Reason, 2016). RFID or Radio Frequency Identification Technology has imposed a potential influence on the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing processes of organizations. This section of the discussion, a detailed overview of the RFID technology, its significance and the various RFID practices that are followed in the manufacturing process.
RFID technology can be considered as a wireless communication technology that provides the ability to users for unique identification of people or objects that have been tagged. Hence it has been largely applied as a prolific tool for identifying objects as well as tracking and tracing the goods in manufacturing and supply chain processes (Szakály, 2002). The three essential components of RFID include the Tag, the Reader and the Middleware. The tag is a microchip equipped with an antenna and it is attached to the object that has to be tracked with all the necessary details about the item fed into it.
The RFID Reader is a device which emits radio waves thereby detecting the tags that are in the proximity of the device. When the reader detects an RFID tag, it communicates the data in the tag to the middleware alongside the time and location of the tag. It is interesting to note that RFID readers could read various tags at one time. The middleware component of RFID technology serves as a bridge between the RFID system and the Enterprise Resource Planning System of an organization (Sabbaghi & Vaidyanathan, 2008). The function of the middleware is primarily directed towards obtaining data from the reader and decoding it followed by documenting it into the ERP system of the concerned organization for future use.
A notable factor about the RFID middleware is that its design could be tailored according to the requirements of the concerned organization. The observation of distinct components of RFID technology reveals that it could contribute effectively to accomplishing real-time functioning of the manufacturing process alongside introducing possibilities for automation operations.
The importance of RFID for the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing organizations could be evaluated by critical reflection on its implementation for manufacturing processes. The notable applications of RFID in manufacturing include asset tracking, logistics management, process and product planning, inventory management and process tracking (Webb, 2017). The unique combination of technology and application software interface enables the acquisition of massive volumes of data thereby contributing to improvements and control over the operations as well as enhancements in the decision-making process.
The use of RFID technology has been potentially associated with efficient management of raw materials, finished goods and work in process through reducing stock out and waste in the manufacturing process. It also contributes to the appropriate and productive utilization of resources, reduction of waste and stocks out. The interplay between RFID technology and the ERP of an organization could also contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the manufacturing process by improving the coordination between supply chain partners (Sabbaghi & Vaidyanathan, 2008). The other benefits associated with the use of RFID technology in manufacturing processes include increased transparency, the ability to endure harsh environments, tracking warranties and product recalls, item level tracking and opportunities for better quality control and regulation.
It is also inevitable to note that the design of RFID applications specifically for manufacturing applications is generally designed in unison with the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that controls the production process. The unique functionalities that can be accomplished in real-time through the use of RFID in collaboration with the MES include maintenance management, operations scheduling, labour management, production control, quality management and data collection (Webb, 2017). Therefore, it can be inferred that RFID does have strategic importance in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of manufacturing processes.
The advantages and significance of the application of RFID technology in manufacturing organizations could be inferred from the above discussion. However, it is also essential to reflect on the possible challenges that can emerge in the context of the technology’s implementation as well as a success factor that can validate its acceptance as a technology for the long term in manufacturing sector organizations (North & Kumta, 2018). There are various implementation challenges for RFID technology such as a lack of industry standards, issues with data management and synchronization, limited infrastructure before implementation and the lack of resources, skills and understanding of RFID technology.
The implementation challenge that has been considered for this discussion is the security and privacy concerns associated with RFID because it is a formidable influence on the adoption of RFID technology in the short term thereby creating ambiguities regarding its long-term applications in the manufacturing sector. Security, integrity and privacy noted in an RFID system vouch for its effectiveness in manufacturing operations and being a wireless technology RFID poses various security concerns for users due to possible exposure of communication between reader and tags to traffic analysis and eavesdropping (Makhija & Chugan, 2016).
Security concerns are also evidently noted concerning instances of data compromise during wireless transmission, physical security of storage site and data storage. Supply chain applications in the manufacturing sector are also subject to potential security risks with the use of RFID owing to the facility of read access to tags and related databases that can be misused by external entities.
The success factor that could drive the implementation of RFID technology in the manufacturing sector is the implied benefit of improved visibility and transparency of information about manufacturing and logistics. This would enable management structures of the organization to obtain better insights from the supply chain that can help in recognizing targeted recalls, novel forms of market research and bottlenecks in the manufacturing or supply chain processes (Laudon & Laudon, 2016). The functionality of transparency provided by RFID would also help accomplish a reduction in labour costs, stock shrinkage and fraud alongside improving efficiency, stocking management and facilitating return goods.
The report highlighted the importance of adapting to the changing trends in the contemporary business environment alongside the necessity for knowledge management in organizations. The other significant aspects that were addressed in the assessment include the evaluation of the knowledge management value chain and strategies as well as their contribution to the long-term sustenance of an organization. The discussion also reflected on the strategic significance of RFID technology in the manufacturing sector followed by a reflection on the challenges for implementation and success factors for implementing RFID technology.
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