Knowledge Management

By | February 9, 2018

Up to now, there has been an abundance of publications concerning KM, which fall into two broad categories, epistemologically and ontologically oriented KM models. Within epistemol- ogy, mainly the cognitivistic and the autopoietic approaches have been of significance to the area of KM (von Krogh et al. 1994). The cognitivistic approach describes knowledge as stored in

distinct knowledge structures which are created through rule-based manipulation and can exist independently of an individual. In contrast, the autopoietic approach, according to von Krogh et al. (1994), states that knowledge is context sensitive and embodied in the individual.

According to the autopoietic epistemology, individuals acquire knowledge by observing   and interpreting their environment (von Foerster 1984). They can actively transfer knowledge between themselves through articulation and different types of interaction (Watzlawick et al. 1967). The main differentiating characteristic of knowledge is the difficulty of its articulation. Knowledge that can be easily articulated is labeled “explicit knowledge.” Knowledge that is difficult to articulate and therefore difficult to transfer is labeled “tacit knowledge” (Polanyi 1966), a term that has been superseded by “implicit knowledge.” With their SECI KM model, Nonaka and Takeuchi have formulated an encompassing epistemological autopoietic KM model (Nonaka and Konno 1998). Boisot (1987) and McLoughlin and Thorpe (1993) also provide examples of this  approach.

Ontological KM models, on the other hand, view knowledge as a “black box.” The character- istics of knowledge are defined through its relationships with a constructed universe of discourse. Modeling dimensions frequently used by ontological KM models include a process dimension and an agent dimension (individual vs. group).

Process-oriented KM models focus on the characteristics of knowledge during its life cycle. They analyze the relationships and environmental variables that influence the processes of knowl- edge development, dissemination, modification, and use. Examples for process-oriented KM models include Probst et al. (1999) and Wiig (1995). Agent-oriented KM models focus on the characteristics of knowledge during the flow between individuals. They analyze the variables that expedite or hinder the flow of knowledge in social networks. Examples for agent-oriented KM models include Wenger (1997) and Enkel et al. (2000).

Most KM models developed within the last decade include characteristics of both views. Nonaka has integrated an agent ontology dimension in 1993 (Hedlund and Nonaka 1993) and he tries to fully bond both views in his concept of “ba” (Nonaka and Konno 1998). The process oriented KM models of (Demarest 1997) or (Blessing 2001) focus on the processing of explicated knowledge. As a conse- quence, however, a fully balanced model is yet to be created (McAdam and McCreedy 1999).

In the next section we introduce a CKM process model which, based on the findings in this section, connects the concepts of CRM and KM. It also integrates the different aspects of knowledge by com- bining elements of the epistemological and the ontological view of knowledge management.


Deriving an Integrated Customer Knowledge Management Process Model


CRM Process Model. Marketing, sales, and service are primary business functions (Porter and Millar 1985) characterized by a high degree of direct customer interaction and knowledge inten- sity. We derive our process model by detailing these functions into relevant business processes, which may be cross-functional. A CRM business process involves the processing of customer knowledge to pursue the goals of relationship marketing. Usually, it also involves direct customer contact and the exchange of information or services between enterprise and customer. Such pro- cesses are triggered either by the customer with the aim of receiving information or services or by the enterprise with the aim of delivering information or services to customers. Each process handles a specific business object which distinguishes it from other processes. Schmid (2001) established marketing, sales, and service as core CRM processes and specified process activities in further detail. Based on Schmid (2001) and our own action research experience, we identified campaign management, lead management, offer management, contract management, service management,



and complaint management as the six relevant CRM business processes. Campaign management, complaint management, and service management are already included in the work of Schmid (2001). In our action research cases, however, we identified an insufficient linkage between mar- keting and sales activities, which we resolved by the introduction of lead management. We also regrouped process activities within sales to offer management and contract management to fur- ther reduce the complexity of the model.

Campaign management is the core marketing process which fulfills the idea of interactive, indi- vidualized contacts in contrast to traditional transaction marketing (Grönroos 1994). It deals with the planning, realization, control, and monitoring of marketing activities toward known recipients. Marketing campaigns are individualized (one-to-one marketing) (Peppers and Rogers 1993) or seg- ment specific and offer communication channels for feedback. The objective of campaign manage- ment is to generate valuable opportunities or “leads” as the basis for lead management.

Lead management is the consolidation, qualification, and prioritization of contacts with pro- spective customers. The objective is to provide sales staff with a qualified and prioritized list of presumably valuable prospects to be precisely addressed within the offer management process.

Offer management is the core sales process. Its objective is the corporationwide consistent creation and delivery of individualized, binding offers. An offer management process may be triggered by a customer inquiry, a qualified lead, or a discovered opportunity.

Contract management is the creation and maintenance of contracts for the supply of products and services. As such, it supports offer management or service management processes. Contract management also comprises the maintenance and adjustment of long-term contracts, for example, for outsourcing agreements or insurances.

Service management is the planning, realization, and control of measures for the provision of services. A service is an intangible output of an enterprise generated with direct involvement of customers. Examples include maintenance, repair, and support activities in the after-sales phase as well as the provision of financial or telecommunication services after the conclusion of contracts.

Within the scope of complaint management, articulated dissatisfaction of customers is re- ceived, processed, and communicated into the enterprise (Stauss and Seidel 2002). The objec- tives are to improve customer satisfaction in the short run by directly addressing problems that led to complaints and to design a continuous improvement process in the long run.

Operative CRM system components directly support the six CRM subprocesses described above. Analytical components primarily emphasize the processes of campaign management, lead management, and offer management, evaluating different data sources and deriving conclusions about what customers are likely to need and buy. To cover the collaborative aspects on the pro- cess level, CRM requires activities to design interfaces to customers at customer interaction points. Interaction management is the design and selection of media-based communication channels like interactive voice response (IVR), the World Wide Web (WWW), or mobile communication chan- nels (m-commerce) to achieve an optimal channel mix (Senger et al. 2002). The objective is to increase the quality and value of interactions while decreasing the cost of interactions by shifting customers to less costly channels, for example, Web self-service.

Closely connected to interaction management is channel management, which addresses the challenge of configuration and synchronization of different communication channels (Gronover 2003). Key objectives are to define organizational responsibilities for each channel, to avoid conflicts between channels, and to ensure consistent knowledge flows across different channels.


Integrating Customer Relationship Management and Knowledge Management. To achieve their goal of providing a solution for the process of the customers, enterprises need to focus on three

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