An Intranet within a Knowledge Management Strategy

An Intranet within a Knowledge Management Strategy

Udo Richard Averweg (eThekwini Municipality and University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch351
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Abstract

An Intranet (or internal Web) is a network designed to serve the internal informational needs of an organisation (e.g., a municipality) using Internet concepts and tools (Averweg, 2007; Turban, McLean & Wetherbe, 2004). The cost effi- ciency of utilizing Internet technology has opened the door for organizations to use this same technology to share information within the organization (Botha, 2004). Information technology (IT) thus plays an important role in organizations. Given that advances in IT have made it easier to acquire, store and disseminate knowledge than ever before, many organizations are employing IT to facilitate sharing and integration of knowledge (Kankanhalli, Tanudidjaja, Sutanto & Tan, 2003). An Intranet is an application of technology within an organization for the purpose of information dissemination, communication, integration, and collaboration (Telleen, 1997). Knowledge Management (KM) describes “the primary focus of these efforts has been developing new applications of information technology to support digital capture, storage, retrieval and distribution of an organization’s explicitly documented knowledge” (Zack, 1999). In this chapter it is argued that, when aligned, organizational strategy and technical resources (e.g., IT) provide a sound framework to support KM within an organization. However, the question arises as to whether an organization is making the best investment in its IT resources and whether it is managing knowledge in the right way. One technical IT resource in an organization is an Intranet. Every major organizational process should be regularly evaluated and the evaluation should be purposeful and completed (Debowski, 2006). One method of evaluation is a survey. Debowski (2006) suggests that survey “evaluations take a number of forms … and may be conducted via telephone, e-mail or mailouts”. In this study the evaluation selected by the author is e-mail since the purpose and benefits of an e-mail survey justify the cost.
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Intranet And Intranet Technology

Tiwana and Ramesh (2001) contend that the Intranet is well suited for use as a strategic tool within the domain of KM owing to its ability to support distribution, connectivity and publishing. According to these authors, the Intranet should be seen as integral to an organization’s KM system and should therefore be designed and tailored to enhance an organization’s knowledge-sharing activities. This rationale raises the question whether an organization’s existing Intranet facilitates knowledge-sharing and KM processes. The exploration of this question creates an opportunity for research within a field of application that seems particularly appealing: a metropolitan municipality – eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa. The appropriate context and appeal arose from the fact that the author is situated within the organization’s Information Services Department. Furthermore, given eThekwini Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP), this study was considered pertinent and relevant. In surveying the parameters of the question, the overriding premise was established as follows: If knowledge is used effectively, it may well provide meaningful utility to the organization. Clark (2001) notes that “knowledge management initiatives are unlikely to be successful unless they are integrated with business strategy.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Management (KM): KM is the organisational process for acquiring, organising and communicating both tacit and explicit knowledge.

Information Systems (IS): A combination of technology, people and processes to capture, transmit, store, retrieve, manipulate and display information.

Intranet: A network designed to serve the internal informational needs of an organisation using Internet concepts and tools.

World Wide Web (the Web): An information space consisting of hyperlinked documents published on the Internet.

Push Technology: An IT network communication where the request for data originates with the server.

Pull technology: An IT network communication where the initial request for data originates from the client and then is responded to by the server.

Knowledge: The understanding, awareness or familiarity acquired through education or experience.

Information technology (IT): The technology component of an IS.

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