The efficiency of the activity of modern organizations substantially depends on the accumulation and analysis of information, training of the personnel and introduction of innovations. The understanding of mechanisms of mastering the knowledge is necessary in the conditions of a dynamic economy and competitive struggle. Information, knowledge, and competence of the personnel compose a cornerstone of the development of organizations and allow finding solutions for various problems. Such issues may arise in a course of the organizational activity (Groff & Jones 2003; Sadath 2013).
Having appeared as a part of the theory of management, information management has quickly gained a quite independent value and appeared as a perspective scientific direction during an era of an information society. The concept of information management unites such approaches as economic, considering the questions of attraction of new documentary information, proceeding from the reasons of usefulness and financial expenses; and analytical, based on the analysis of consumer needs for information and communications. The principle also involves organizational, considering information technologies in their influence on organizational aspects; systematic, regarding the information processing on the basis of complete, systemically focused, comprehensive processing of information in the organization and a special attention to the optimization of communication channels, information, appliances, other expenses and working methods (Aroop, Ganesan & Hashmi 2011; Awad 2007).
Knowledge management is an integral part of management of any organization. It unites the actions connected with the formation of knowledge, their distribution and use, and also the development of innovations and training. Knowledge management can be defined as an art to create the cost from intangible assets of an organization as a purposeful process of converting the knowledge into the cost. It leads to the changes in a way of thinking of many managers to the withdrawal from the outdated approaches. The main goal of knowledge management is the creation of new more powerful competitive advantages. That is why it becomes a leading direction of strategic management (Awad 2007; Dwyer & Hopwood 2010; Jashapara 2004).
Being an administrative tool, information and knowledge management greatly contributes to HR practices, such as training of personnel and assessment of employees. In order to disclose the influence of knowledge management on the training and assessment of personnel, the following objectives have been put:
- To determine what information and knowledge management is;
- To reveal the influence of knowledge management on HR practices in companies;
- To give the examples of the contribution of knowledge management on the assessment and training of personnel. The Microsoft Corporation has been chosen as an example.
The given essay consists of introduction, literature review, practical experience, and conclusion.
In the modern world, there are a lot of companies, which lead their economic activities not only at regional and federal levels, but also in the international scale. Accordingly, these organizations have difficult organizational structures, more often generated according to their divisional feature. Therefore, they face such problems as knowledge management and information management. There are some attempts of the companies to create the new knowledge and preserve the previous experience saved up during a certain period of time and representing a strategic value for the further organizational development (Aroop, Ganesan & Hashmi 2011; Uriarte 2008).
Information management in the firm carries out strategic, operational, and administrative tasks. Strategic objectives include the creation of information infrastructure of the organization and management of information technologies. The operational and administrative tasks have a narrower and subordinated character. The informational support of the company’s main activity is a main activity of the information management (Binti, Uchenna & Sook 2010; Sadath 2013).
Information management solves the problems of planning, management, control, and organization of documentary ensuring management of the company for certain target criteria to support the coordinated organizational and information actions of its members. The choice of the rational forms of communications, equipment and information technologies, and also characteristics of information resources necessary for the achievement of objectives of the firm compose an important problem of information management. A company’s specialist, a worker, and a head are not simply consumers, but direct participants of any information process. The organizational structures of information management are urged to unite the top management, experts, managers, suppliers of information, and actually information management department and create thereby the prerequisites for managing documentation on the scale of the organization on the basis of modern methodological approaches, organizational and technological decisions (Dwyer & Hopwood 2010; Jashapara 2004).
The organizational knowledge is formed when the individual knowledge is formalized and stored in a certain format. Such sills should extend within the organization, in the limited volume and out of it. The knowledge and its use should be coordinated to provide a corresponding result. It is an organizational context, which determines the management efficiency by knowledge and training processes in a separately taken company. This context includes the culture of the firm, its structure, and infrastructure. The intellectual organization is obliged to have a context, which stimulates and supports the formation and management of knowledge (Dalkir 2005; Oltra 2005).
The organizational knowledge can be defined as a distributed set of principles, facts, skills, and rules, which provide decision-making processes, behavior, and actions in the firm. The organizational knowledge develops on a basis of the knowledge of each employee in this organization. The excellent knowledge at the relevant management should lead to an excellent activity and result. Therefore, the knowledge can be considered as a separate most important source of distinctive abilities of the company (Corso et al. 2004; Dwyer & Hopwood 2010).
Recently, there have been considerable changes in economy and business, which stimulated the interest in knowledge management, including such factors as:
- Knowledge becomes a main resource of economic development and growth;
- The branches based on knowledge become the leading ones;
- Knowledge occupies an increasing specific weight in the structure of the cost of products and services (Binti, Uchenna & Sook 2010; Oltra 2005).
Knowledge management includes such components as stimulation of a knowledge gain; selection and accumulation of significant data from external sources in relation to the organization; and preservation, classification, transformation, ensuring availability of knowledge. It also involves distribution and exchange of knowledge; use of knowledge in business processes; an embodiment of knowledge in products, services, documents, databases and programs; assessment of knowledge, measurement and usage of intangible assets in the company; and the protection of knowledge. The introduction of knowledge management systems in large enterprises, especially in HR practices, has started recently. Knowledge management is capable to bring the greatest benefit in a process of recruitment, training of the personnel, and cooperation within projects (Al-bahussin & El-garaihy 2013; Aroop, Ganesan & Hashmi 2011; Binti, Uchenna & Sook 2010).
Knowledge Management is the methodology directed at an increase of a competitiveness level and security of the company at the expense of using protective tools, control and economy of non-material company assets. Knowledge Management considers the strategy directed at the provision of the necessary skills to those society members for whom this knowledge is necessary for raising efficiency of the community’s activity. Knowledge is an only type of the resource essentially distinguishing one expert or business from the other; a resource which does not give chance for a fast reproduction by competitors; it allows experts and companies to control and get unique and steady advantages. Knowledge and information add as well as create a new cost of a worker on a labor market, new costs of products, and services (Corso et al. 2004; Dalkir 2005; Gorelick, Milton & April 2004). One of the central ideas of knowledge management includes a more effective use of already existing knowledge. The following approaches are used for this purpose:
- Storage, assessment, distribution, and use of such assets as copyright, patents, and licenses;
- Collection, organization, and distribution of immaterial knowledge, such as a professional know-how, examination, individual experience, and innovative solutions;
- Creation of the corresponding corporate culture and the interactive environment for training within which people obtain knowledge, share the received skills, and create an opportunity for the creation of a new skills’ base (Aroop, Ganesan & Hashmi 2011).
A static development of corporate skills of the personnel in a counterbalance to prompt dynamics of the business growth is another important question of knowledge management. It means that the control system of corporate knowledge containing informational bricks develops statically, but remains a passive tool of business in character, working by a periodical inquiry of a manager. The given static data can be duplicated practically for any employee having corresponding access rights. On the other hand, the knowledge is necessary to consider a global system, which exists outside the manager and has the scales independent of the organization. Therefore, the goal of a head in the given context is to catch the wave in order to adjust oneself for the effective perception of such knowledge. It will correspond to the definite moment of time and the condition of environment. The efficiency of the assimilation of corporate knowledge, desire of employees to share information with colleagues, an ability to find the necessary information, and a chance to impart the available knowledge to the other person should be regarded. The consideration of all these aspects and development of corresponding competences should be considered in a course of developing the knowledge management strategy (Binti, Uchenna & Sook 2010; Brewster 2007).
The part of the company’s knowledge can be formalized, accumulated, and duplicated for the interested employees by the means of information technologies. Therefore, the quantity and quality of the received data depends not only on the qualification of the personnel, but also on the ability of people to structure the knowledge. Moreover, it is impacted by the motivation of employees to the exchange of them. However, not all knowledge can be formalized. Therefore, the strategy of knowledge management provides the organization of the change of corporate knowledge by means of different types of communication of the personnel and the choice of forms of encouraging people participating in this exchange (Al-bahussin & El-garaihy 2013; Bogner & Bansal 2007; Brewster 2007; Corso et al. 2004).
The Microsoft Corporation widely uses knowledge management in its HR management. The application of knowledge management and its contribution to training and assessment of the personnel in the Microsoft Corporation is implemented. It is being based on two main approaches to knowledge management:
- A personifying or intuitive approach recognizes that knowledge is stored in people; and the main thing for experts to share their knowledge. The key resources of knowledge management include employees, their motivation, communication, the company’s culture and technology. The supporters of this approach consider that there are more chances to catch the informal (hidden) knowledge of employees. It means a direct communication of subordinates and transfer of knowledge at meetings, trainings, and during team building. Besides, in the company, there are the conditions for leading employees to impart experience with others (for example, mentoring), etc. Thus, the main objective of knowledge management includes identification, preservation, and effective use of the personnel knowledge (Dalkir 2005; Eunni, Kasuganti & Kos 2006).
- An information or technological approach recognizes that the modern enterprises, especially large, saved up huge databases related to their clients, suppliers, operations, and many others. These ones are stored in ten operating and transaction systems in various functional divisions. The real treasures of wisdom are hidden in these databases. However, this information generally represents the raw data not suitable for the analysis purposes. The informational technologies, revealing the hidden dependencies and rules in the data, are necessary for the search of knowledge information technologies. Such ones reveal the hidden dependences and rules in data. Knowledge is considered as exact information on this problem. The system, which is capable to provide an exact reply to the request, is the knowledge management system (Brewster 2007; Bogner & Bansal 2007).
The application of any such approaches brings certain results to Microsoft. However, it does not allow making knowledge a major factor creating the cost and a key resource of the company. The integration of offered approaches and the accounting of all sides of knowledge management, which covers at the same time some aspects of management, are necessary. For the Microsoft employees, involved into production, a low extent of involvement into the processes of information exchange is characteristic. The possibility of a quick access to expert knowledge will allow them fulfilling the functions more effectively. The process of training and exchange of knowledge can be technologically realized in the following scenarios:
- The organization of electronic training for the delivery of information on safety, new experience, and technologies;
- The video of expert performances and their distribution by the means of portal and mobile technologies;
- The formation of knowledge on the basis of expert performances, standard templates, instructions, innovative solutions, and the description of processes;
- The publication of the best articles of base in specialized corporate editions (Khalil, Claudio & Seliem 2006).
Modern technologies of training, used by Microsoft, allow its experts to improve their professional and mentoring skills. An essential advantage includes the application of interactive opportunities, which improve the perception of information, thereby increasing learning efficiency. Electronic training is an important module at the creation of a corporate control system of knowledge in the company. It also supports the motivation of workers in the processes of extracting knowledge for their subsequent distribution. It can be achieved by means of the simplified publication of data; identification of experts in various areas; and a continuous improvement of information quality (Chen & Huang 2009; Dalkir 2005).
The implementation of knowledge management in Microsoft includes a wide range of questions. At first, this information component concerns all business activates of the company. Secondly, there is also a loss or non-usage of knowledge and experience of employees. The reason is that it is related to the incompetence of managers or of some other subjective reasons. Thirdly, there is a loss of personal time of principals on the information extraction that negatively affects an ability of the firm to adequately react to any marketing change (Gorelick, Milton & April 2004; Tan & Nasurdin 2011). The main components of the knowledge management system, applied in the training and assessment of personnel in Microsoft are:
- Planning of knowledge. It is a strategic process. During this, planning an analysis of the current knowledge of the company, the comparison to the international standards is carried out. There is a preliminary estimation of knowledge, which will be required in future for the realization of HR practices in the enterprise.
- Selection of knowledge. At this stage, internal and external carriers of knowledge are defined. There is an accumulation of the obvious and implicit skills necessary for ensuring the competitive advantage of the organization. The assessment of knowledge plays a key role on this stage.
- Systematization of knowledge. At this stage, knowledge is accumulated and stored in a knowledge base, corporate and surely available to employees.
- Distribution of knowledge. This stage includes an exchange of knowledge both within the corporation and beyond its limits, as well as transfer of knowledge from more skilled workers to beginners. The round tables on an exchange of implicit and explicit knowledge are carried out, and the practice of mentoring is applied. There is the authorized access to knowledge bases.
- Capitalization of knowledge. The embodiment of knowledge in patents, state standards, know-how, documents, databases, and description of programs allows reducing time and costs of the development of products, documents, software, and improving business processes of the firm. The transfer of intangible assets (knowledge) into the material (materials, technologies, and services) allows receiving the profit from the knowledge of each employee and the company, in general (Bogner & Bansal 2007; Chen & Huang 2009).
The management of the Microsoft Corporation has taken a decision on the introduction of knowledge management system. It is related to the prompt growth of the company and a fierce competition in the market of computer technologies. The design group has developed its strategy, the realization of which was assumed by the introduction of information technologies and the system of personnel development, trainings, and mentoring. The knowledge information system (intranet), which \provided all employees of the firm of any structural division with a uniform information base, has been developed. Moreover, a fast and high-quality dissemination of knowledge among the personnel of the organization in all countries has been presented. The enterprise could systematize, standardize, and optimize its document flow. A large number of paper documents and databases have been replaced with electronic versions. Employees have started sharing their knowledge, placing in any local network documents, presentations, and databases. It has caused the formation of the interest groups, stimulating training and development of the personnel. For an increase of competence of workers the practice of holding internal seminars was gathered. There the employees having already the sufficient knowledge in a certain sphere and also those interested in training were present. The exchange of knowledge passed in an informal situation. It allowed not only to achieve the initial objectives, i.e. professional development of the personnel, but also to adjust communication processes in the company (Chen & Huang 2009; Dalkir 2005; Eunni, Kasuganti & Kos 2006).
Knowledge management in the Microsoft Corporation is distinguished from the information management as in addition to the organization of information streams, knowledge management filters, and synthesizes the data. However, it develops the personnel for a more effective use of information and already available knowledge for the creation of the value added. The basic education of workers, their professional preparation and qualification, an increase of the level of professionalism in accordance with the requirements of a labor market, and also the support of innovative thinking are important for economic and technical progress. It occurs in conditions of formation of the information society based on knowledge (Eunni, Kasuganti & Kos 2006; Ebener et al. 2006).
The new organizational strategy of Microsoft demands entering the considerable amendments into the system of HR management. Therefore, training of the personnel becomes a key link. Training in Microsoft is urged to prepare the employees for the correct solvation of a wider circle of tasks and provide a high level of efficiency at work. It allows not only to increase the rate of knowledge of employees and develop the demanded professional skills, but also to form such a system of values and beliefs that corresponds to the modern situation. Moreover, it should support the marketing organizational strategy (Dalkir 2005; Khalil, Claudio & Seliem 2006).
The increase of the training role in the processes of the increased competitiveness in the company and organizational development is caused by the following factors:
- Training of the personnel is the most important means of achieving strategic objectives of the organization;
- Training is the most important means of an increase of the HR value;
- Timely training of the personnel favors the organizational changes.
- Under favorable circumstances training of the personnel carries out an important double function. It means the best use of an employee and his motivation (Brewster 2007; Bogner & Bansal 2007).
Knowledge management in the Microsoft Corporation presupposes the determination of experts and creation of the most favorable conditions for the exchange of experience, especially if the organization uses a personified approach. Mentoring is the best and widely spread method of knowledge exchange. A mentor is an expert, gathering a group of less experienced people and assessing their skills as well as potential (Chen & Huang 2009; Gorelick, Milton & April 2004).
To sum up, information and knowledge are the main resources of modern information economy. Information acts as a source of raw materials for the production of knowledge. Taking into account such understanding of data, there are some new properties. They include an ability to induce to thinking in a definite time, a definite environment, an inability to aging in view of the need to use the archival information, and a wide range of the influence of data owing to the existence of their many agents. There are also new properties of knowledge as a competitive resource of the company. The economic usefulness of knowledge is an effective management of the firm.
Knowledge management should be considered from a point of view of the actualization of the employees’ work on the implementation of knowledge management. This approach reconstructs and supplements HR practices with new elements, existing in the theory of knowledge management, concentrating attention on the development of new ways of the organization to work with its staff for distribution, and the exchange as well as generation of knowledge.
Implementation of knowledge management requires the formation in the organization of special conditions for its course, i.e. the culture of knowledge management of traditions and rules promoting a continuous implementation of processes for training and assessment of the personnel through the exchange and generation of knowledge. It occurs due to such cultural factors as a high degree of trust of employees to each other, to the management, and a high degree of openness and readiness for the cooperation by means of exchange of the saved-up positive experience of work.
Knowledge management in training and assessment of personnel in Microsoft should be implemented in the conditions of information economy. It is a set of three processes of knowledge management with instruments of their implementation: 1) the stage of introduction of the knowledge management process, 2) the stage of realization of knowledge management process, 3) the evaluation stage of efficiency of implementation of the knowledge management process. In this regard of studying and analyzing knowledge management, identification of opportunities of the use of new organizational models and methods in HR practice is of the particular importance in the company.