WRITTEN BRIEFING PAPER 16
Knowledge sharing and management at Alibaba Group………………………….5
Statement on Knowledge Management in relationship to Alibaba Group………..6
Importance of knowledge management and sharing………………………………6
Current and emerging trends in knowledge management ……………………….9
I.UsingUbiquitous technology to enhance knowledge sharing andmanagement………………12
II.Using incentives to motivate stakeholders in knowledge sharing andmanagement…………12
III.Usingsemantic web to share and process knowledge……………………………………….13
Knowledgeis power and the most vital form of capital, the bedrock on whichbusiness innovations are founded and the fuel that drives businessexpansion and growth.Knowledge management (KM) involves on making the most of knowledge bymaking it available and accessible to all stakeholders. Effective KMlead to quality products and services, increased customersatisfaction, staff productivity, improved organization relations andmanagement.
Alibaba’ssuccess is attributed to effective integration of knowledgemanagement in business activities. Alibaba Group has effectively usedorganization culture to enhance KM and sharing. Other strategies usedby Alibaba Group in KM involve the use of technology, training and‘flat’ organization structure. According to recent trends on KM,effective KM is achieved through the integration of goodorganizational culture, IT, incentives and creating trust amongemployees. However, Alibaba group need to exploit approaches of KMsuch as using digital platforms, mobile phones and stakeholdersincentives to improve its KM approach.
AlibabaGroupKnowledge and Knowledge Management in E-commerce
AlibabaGroup is a Chinese leading international e-commerce business with alarge online marketing platform for domestic and international firms. Alibaba Group has gained international reputation for its effectivemarket management strategies. A major aspect of Alibaba Group is itspotential to reorganize knowledge and knowledge management inaccordance to the organization structure. With fast evolving economytoday, knowledge sharing and management is an essential resource infirms since it fosters enterprises’ competitive advantages.Alibaba`ssuccess todayisnotdueto Jack Mapersonalcharm but due to effective knowledge sharing and management.Mausesthismethodtocreate a relaxedworkingenvironment for employees,so that employeeshavemoreculturalexchangesandknowledge.The focus of this essay is to analyze Alibaba, the importance ofknowledge and Knowledge management in E-business Ecosystem in China.
External analysis of Alibaba Group
AlibabaGroup is a dominant Chinese E-commerce firm with less competitionlocally. However, Alibaba Group operates in a competitive globalbusiness environment where e-commerce has gained impetus (Ying,2013).Alibaba Group main competitors are Joy Com, eBay and Amazon Group. Amazon has a different e-commerce model different from that ofAlibaba Group. Amazon is based in U.S. and operates e-commercebusiness with the help of distribution channels and has a managementstructure different from that of Alibaba Group. In contrast, AlibabaGroup operates plainly on ‘online commerce’ with no distributionchannels and has a management structure that relies heavily onknowledge sharing.
Alibabaand Amazon are dominant players in their respective business modelsand locations. As such, Amazon has low competition threat to AlibabaGroup. Alibaba shares some e-commerce business model with e-Bay inset up and provides similar payments systems (Ying,2013).However, Alibaba Group will take time before cracking the brandrecognition enjoyed by eBay and Amazon. These e-commerce firms(Alibaba, Amazon and eBay) have the potential to unseat each otheroutside U.S. and China but not in their respective homeland. Alibabafaces other competition locally from Tenscent, JD.com and Baidu buttheir influence is limited.
Internal analysis of Alibaba Group
AlibabaGroup is founded on strong company culture that is focused on sharedvision, mission and values. When employees and partners share thesame spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation with a special focus onclients needs, organization output increases (Michael, 2014). Inorganizations where the management structure allows for knowledgesharing, bureaucratic red tape is reduced thereby improvingoperations efficiency (Kimiz, 2011). This is evident in Alibaba Groupmanagement philosophy that is based on knowledge sharing andmanagement that helps achieve the desired sustainable development(Torgeir, 2009). According to Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, thismanagement philosophy of knowledge sharing is based on Tai Chiteachings on transformation and accommodation(Zheng and Yu, 2010).Knowledge sharing and management is an important aspect that hasshaped Alibaba Group fortune.
Knowledge sharing and management at Alibaba Group
AlibabaGroup management applies nurture and respect for employees.Employees’ knowledge improvement is a core management aspectemployed by Alibaba Group. Knowledge management is an importantaspect in E-commerce enterprises and helps firms achieve highercompetences. However, effective knowledge management depends on theorganization culture, business process and interpersonalrelationships. Alibaba Group has a strong foundation of enterpriseknowledge management that is entrenched in the organization structureand culture. This helps in creating a common value, cohesion andshared interests in the management of the firm affairs (Kimiz, 2011).
AlibabaGroup constantly trains and nurtures its staffs as part of motivatingemployees. This is an important aspect in good knowledge managementespecially where employees are adequately informed on various mattersof the organization(Zheng and Yu, 2010).Furthermore, training and knowledge sharing helps in motivatingemployees as well as creating trust. In this way, the management ofAlibaba Group enables employees to become innovative and developstrong interpersonal relationship with the management.
Inaddition, AlibabaGroupemployees have “get together" functionssuch astai chi andmountaineeringactivitiesunlikeothercompanies.This allows the employees interact and share knowledge(Kimiz, 2011).In this way,Mahas built a culture of participation, inclusion and fun that areimportant aspects of knowledge management. Mausesthismethodtocreate a relaxedworkingenvironment for employees,so that employeeshavemoreculturalexchangesandknowledge.Theseactivities offeremployeesa platformtosolve businessproblemsorworkandhelpin theirgrowthanddevelopment(Ying, 2013).
Alibaba’sknowledge sharing and management through inclusive activities hasenhanced a loyal, hardworking group of executives, managers andemployees who contribute actively to the organization success.Entrepreneursshould build such brand and culture to enhance business growth.Employeesareimportantassetsin any organization and knowledge sharing becomes an integral aspectin improving employees’ competence(Zhan, Ma and Lin, 2014).
Astatement on what KnowledgeManagementis in relationship to Alibaba Group
AlibabaGroup success today is not due to Jack Ma personal charm neither isthe success due to employees’ effort but effective integration ofknowledge management in business activities.Knowledge is power and the most vital form of capital, the bedrock onwhich business innovations are founded and the fuel that drivesbusiness expansion and growth(Ying, 2013).Mausesthismethodtocreate a relaxedworkingenvironment for employees,so that employeeshavemoreculturalexchangesandknowledge (Snowden, 2010). Effective knowledge management facilitatesproblem solving at workplace and creates an environment of mutualexchange. Inadequate knowledge management contributes to thedegradation of business information resources and failure tocapitalize on employees’ potential (Ying,2013).
Presentation,explanation, and discussion of KnowledgeManagement
Importance of Knowledge and Knowledge Management
Knowledgemanagement involves making the most of knowledge by making itavailable and accessible to all stakeholders (Kimiz, 2011). Knowledgemanagement also involves drawing on skills that already exists withinan organization for the benefit of the firm rather than relying onsuperfluous consultants’ knowledge (Griffiths,2011).Knowledge for business is derived from customers, organization past,employees, the market, business environment, competitors, tradefairs, product research and professional networks (Kimiz, 2011).
EffectiveKM lead to the following outcomes quality products and services,increased customer satisfaction, staff productivity, improvedorganization relations and management(Zheng and Yu, 2010). In order to have efficient knowledge sharing and management, it isimperative to develop good organization culture (Snowden,2010).Incentives and contracts agreements are used to motivate employees inknowledge sharing (Ying,2013).Efficient ways of sharing knowledge involves arranging innovationworkshops of brainstorming sessions where all employees have freedomto contribute ideas for business improvement (Kimiz, 2011). Anotherimportant strategy is creating a knowledge bank that encourages allbusiness stakeholders to contribute ideas on business improvement(Snowden,2010).
Furthermore,training and incentives motivates employees to collect and discovermore knowledge that is useful in organization. Effective KM within acompany enables employees, teams and the firm as a whole in achievingits objective by creating, sharing and implementing availableknowledge (Kimiz, 2011). Knowledge sharing is not easy organizationsface challenges in knowledge management because some employees resistsharing information with others in an organization. Some employeesmay fail to share knowledge based on assumption that knowledge isindividual property and hence it is safeguarded. However, Zhengand Yu (2010) arguedthat employees may be motivated to share knowledge throughincentives. When effective knowledge sharing is impeded, employeestend to be isolative and resistance to others ideas.
Inorder to promote effective knowledge sharing and eliminate knowledgesharing obstacles organization managers must create effectiveorganizational culture that encourages information discovery andinnovation (Snowden,2010).While sharing knowledge maybe difficult, knowledge sharing isprofitable for organizations and it is important to adopt effectiveknowledge sharing strategies (Zhengand Yu, 2010).Knowledge is shared as explicit, tacit or embedded knowledge (Ying,2013).Explicit knowledge is shared between entities while tacit knowledgeoccurs through socialization processes (Kimiz, 2011).
Knowledgesharing is important in organization as it helps in developinginformal networks for daily interactions (Griffiths,2011).Workers engage in unmonitored and structured discussions therebyfostering informal networks. These informal networks encouragecreative problem solving. Knowledge management in business firms isfar reaching (Ying,2013).Knowledge management is now considered a key aspect in innovation andnew ideas generation for innovative products, solutions and services.
Inaddition, effective knowledge managaement in organizations lead tothe attainment of the expected objective (Ying,2013).Each employee is integrated in decision making and idea generation onhow organization operations are to be improved. In this way,organizations are able to create, transfer and apply knowledge inachieving the expected goals (Snowden,2010).Effective KM leads to reduction in costs of operation, most firmscontinuously ‘re-invent the wheel’ and this leads toreduplication of ideas with same old knowledge (Kimiz, 2011). Theresults are low innovation and lack of business growth. ‘Re-inventingthe wheel’ is costly and inefficient activity (Zhengand Yu, 2010).
Whenknowledge is effectively managed, response speed is improved leadingto better knowledge application. Furthermore, effective KM reduceschances of repeating the same mistakes that are source ofinefficiency (Snowden,2010).As such, effective KM leads to improved quality of products andservices. In broader sense, effective KM leads to reduction in costs,provide potential for growth and expansion, and improve value andability to respond to dynamic changes as they occur (Griffiths,2011).
EffectiveKM is the basis of innovation. Production of products and servicesbecomes ‘smarter’ and more knowledge based. Increasedcollaboration in among teams, both physical and virtual drives newinnovation (Kimiz, 2011). Sharing of different ideas leads togeneration of new ideas for products and services improvement (Ingoand Kathrin, 2011). As organization, each employee learns fasterthereby improving the competency of each employee. In short, modernorganizations stand to lose if they do not embody and embed KMprinciples, policies, strategies and processes in their operationactivities (Griffiths,2011).
Current and emerging trends in knowledge management
Knowledgeeconomy is the next booming business driver in the modern world(Norbert,2011).As more business adopts E-commerce, individuals, teams andorganizations networks will restructure for the purpose of tradingknowledge (Zhengand Yu, 2010).Currently, several multinational firms have adopted KM principle bycapitalizing on industry, customer, partners and stakeholderknowledge as the prime strategic asset (Griffiths,2011).Firms have learned the economic advantages tied to outsourcingbusiness operations. Some automobile firms have adopted KM as acompetitive asset in design, manufacturing, distribution and serveprovision (Snowden,2010).Based on the economic gains of KM, firms are able to outsourcebusiness components outsourcing of key knowledge in the aerospace,Oil and the gas industry.
Knowledgemanagement has become an effective asset in enhancing organizationmanagement (Ingo and Kathrin, 2011). Most modern firms have adoptedhorizontal organization structure that supports knowledge sharing.Employees can easily share information to senior managers without thebureaucratic red tape (Griffiths,2011).Managers in turn are able to monitor employees’ activities therebyimproving organization performance (Snowden,2010).In addition, improved knowledge management leads to a collaborativeorganization culture where all stakeholders interact freely (Kimiz,2011). The results are increased organization processes, reducedcosts and elimination of redundancy activities as information spreadsfaster.
Emergingtrends in knowledge sharing and management indicate that KM hasbecome a core competence for most businesses (Snowden,2010).Mangers are now integrating intellectual capital and effective KM askey aspects in business success (Griffiths,2011).This has been influenced by the need to create organizations ability,to retain, use and manage knowledge as a competitive advantage (Ying,2013).In particular, modern firms have recognized knowledge sharing as anintegral aspect in policy formulation and decision making foradministrative and management functions (Kimiz, 2011).
Accordingto Ingo and Kathrin (2011), “KM leads to improved quality andsolutions as most knowledge is processed within the organization.’According to Snowden (2010), ‘the role of knowledge in organizationhas risen steadily from 30-40% to 90% in modern firms.’ KM is thebest practice in the business environment today (Griffiths,2011).In particular, effective KM helps in establishing the cause andeffects dichotomy in businesses.
Modernfirms are now capitalizing on technology to facilitate KM within andoutside business environment (Ingo and Kathrin, 2011). The new trendadopted in modern firms is empowering employees by providing themwith a platform for expressing their opinions, network and looseningcontrols (Kimiz, 2011). In this way, organizations benefits from freeflow of information and faster knowledge sharing (Griffiths,2011).Use of ubiquitous technology is another trend that is being used inKM. This involves the use of wireless, mobile and other pervasivetechnologies (Norbert,2011).Ubiquitous technology allows accurate and timely knowledge managementthrough logistic data tracking (Snowden,2010).Other trends involve the use of semantic webs (Web 3.0) in whichMeta-data is shared (Ingo and Kathrin, 2011).
Recommendationsfor Alibaba Group based on current KM trends
AlibabaGroup management philosophy that is based on knowledge sharing andmanagement that helps achieve the desired sustainable development.According to literature review, effective KM is achieved through theintegration of good organizational culture, incentives and creatingtrust among employees (Ingo and Kathrin, 2011Ying, 2013).In addition, research on KM indicates that modern firms utilizeknowledge management systems such as IT for effective KM.
Literaturereview further indicates that recent trends in KM involvesoutsourcing key knowledge, integrating intellectual capital andeffective KM as key aspects in business success and using ubiquitoustechnology (Griffiths,2011 Snowden, 2010).An analysis of Alibaba Group indicates that the firm has strongfoundation of enterprise knowledge management entrenched in goodorganization structure and culture (Kimiz, 2011). In addition,Alibaba Group utilizes technology and training as its main approachesin facilitating knowledge management. However, Alibaba group need toexploit more recent trends of KM to improve its competitive advantage(Ingo and Kathrin, 2011).
UsingUbiquitous technology to enhance knowledge sharing and management
Theuse of wireless, mobile and other pervasive technologies allowsaccurate and timely knowledge management sharing (Ingo and Kathrin,2011). Nearly, all individuals’ posses’ mobile phones and accessto wireless network and this is an important opportunity that couldbe tapped to improve knowledge sharing and management (Ying,2013 Zheng and Yu, 2010)).Most individuals poses mobile phones and this an important strengthin KM (Griffiths,2011).According to Norbert(2011),ubiquitous technology (UT) is more effective and reliable as physicalcommunication. Kimiz (2011) argues that firm mangers can track andget instant updates on various business aspects from UT.
Inaddition, UT makes it easy to pass information even when individualsare far apart thereby improving knowledge sharing and management(Snowden,2010Ying, 2013)).Alibaba Group needs to tap this opportunity in improving its onlinecommerce. Verbal communication helps to ascertain and verify certainonline deals (Zhengand Yu, 2010).However, as Norbert(2011)states, UT approach of KM is risky and information may be passed tounintended party. Ingo and Kathrin (2011), says that information andknowledge are individual assets that are only shard through mutualagreements. Furthermore, this approach may reduce opportunities forphysical interaction (Griffiths,2011).Nonetheless, the use of UT is effective in reinforcing knowledgesharing and management.
Usingincentives to motivate stakeholders in knowledge sharing andmanagement
Griffith(2011) argues that some employees may hesitate to share informationdue to lack of trust and property rights. However, incentives help inmotivating employees to share important information. Incentives maybeinform of monetary rewards (Griffiths,2011).Alibaba Group has only perfected in training and looseningsupervision to motivate employee in sharing knowledge. However, thisis not enough as some stakeholders may still withhold importantinformation (Ingo and Kathrin, 2011). Snowden (2010) argues thatincentives help to unlock and open up employees to share informationthereby benefiting organization in form of new ideas. While thisapproach provides important motivation for all stakeholders to shareknowledge, Norbert(2011), statesthat this approach is not effective. In part, some employees maywithdraw from knowledge sharing if they lack monetary rewards.However, Snowden (2010) refutes this claim and argues that effectiveincentives lead to more knowledge sharing and management.
Usingsemantic web to share and process knowledge
Semanticwebs resembles social media platform that can be developed by AlibabaGroup to allow all stakeholders shares information(Snowden, 2010).The semantic web is beneficial than social media sites as it helps inclassifying and processing information(Norbert, 2011).Each stakeholder within the organization contributes knowledge on allaspect of the organization. In addition, it leads to integration ofknowledge from different sources(Griffiths, 2011).However, Norbert(2011), arguesthat such technological tools could be misused and divert from themain purpose which is information sharing. Ingo and Kathrin (2011),says that, the use of semantic webs could be costly and inefficientif all stakeholders lack knowledge on how to use them.
Ina world where knowledge is increasingly becoming important,organizations can not afford to operate without effective KMstrategies. Technology while important is insufficient in enhancingKM. A strategic approach combined with integration of variousorganization aspects is required for effective KM. Knowledgemanagement is now considered a key aspect for business innovation,growth and expansion. In the modern world, organizations haverecognized the importance of knowledge in sustaining and creatingbusiness competitive advantage. Effective KM is the basis ofinnovation. Production of products and services becomes ‘smarter’and more knowledge based. Alibaba Group indicates that the firm hasstrong foundation of enterprise knowledge management entrenched ingood organization structure and culture.
Availableliterature review indicates that, effective KM is achieved throughthe integration of good organizational culture, incentives andcreating trust among employees. Literature review further indicatesthat recent trends in KM involves outsourcing key knowledge,integrating intellectual capital and effective KM as key aspects inbusiness success and using ubiquitous technology. Alibaba Group onlyutilizes limited approaches in exploiting knowledge sharing and KM.Alibaba Group need to tap on ubiquitous technology, the use ofincentives and semantic webs in enhancing more KM.
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