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Knowledge management and eBusiness

Since management as now practiced is a faddish activity, with each new fashion following the previous with dizzying rapidity, it is not surprising that managers who were caught flat-footed when knowledge management became the craze, are already looking beyond it to discern the next wave. Could it be e-business? Does this mean that knowledge management is already passé, and can be safely skipped?

In fact, the arrival of e-business only underlines the necessity for organizations to adopt systematic approaches to sharing knowledge. The demands of e-business for rapid response and agile adaptation to the market-place is a challenge both for the new dot.coms springing up (the "clicks") and the older traditional companies (the "bricks") that are trying to adapt to the new world of electronic business.

E-commerce: A minimal response to enable survival in this fast-paced world is to offer e-commerce, in which sharing of existing services and products electronically through the Web. For this purpose, the rapid sharing of know-how among employees is already a necessity. Without it, the company finds itself publicly stumbling through inability to respond to the requirements of the marketplace, whether it be B2B, B2C, B2E, or 2E

E-Business: An e-commerce approach may be enough to enable an organization to get by and stave off imminent death. But growth in this new electronic world requires something more. It will require innovation and the generation of new businesses, with sharing of know-how among not only staff but also partners and customers in new and unexpected ways. Strategic knowledge sharing, particularly external sharing, will affect every aspect of the organization's activities and will become a necessity.

Stephen Denning, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, Butterworth Heinemann, Boston, London: 2000.

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