Optimising Customers as Knowledge Resources and Recipients: Cases in Small to Medium Sized Software Enterprises

Optimising Customers as Knowledge Resources and Recipients: Cases in Small to Medium Sized Software Enterprises

Ciara Heavin (University College Cork, Ireland) and Frederic Adam (University College Cork, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3886-0.ch066
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Abstract

Undoubtedly, customers play an integral role in the Knowledge Management (KM) approach of small to medium sized software enterprises (SMEs); in fact in the role of customer knowledge is reciprocal in nature. From an SME perspective, it is essential to identify customer knowledge that is valuable to the business and how this knowledge can be leveraged as an external knowledge resource. In doing this, consideration must be attributed to the knowledge activities (KAs), such as knowledge acquisition, codification, storage, maintenance, transfer, and creation, which utilise customer knowledge to facilitate organisational objectives such as new product development. The extent to which an SME effectively leverages customer knowledge directly impacts the customer. In an optimum situation, as knowledge recipients customers should be provided with a product or service that is fit for purpose based on their original knowledge contribution. Using a qualitative analysis approach in five Irish software SMEs, this chapter identifies how these organisations leverage their customers as external knowledge resources and the KAs, with particular emphasis on knowledge acquisition, in which customers play a part.
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Defining Knowledge Types

Defining data, information and knowledge as distinct and independent phenomena is an arduous endeavour. In particular it is noted that many authors use the terms information and knowledge interchangeably, those (Dennis, Earl, El Sawy, Huber) that considered organisational information processing in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s now focus their attentions on KM as an organisational strategy. Figure 1 represents data, information and knowledge as a continuum.

Figure 1.

Knowledge continuum (after Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Wurman, 2001)

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