The Role of Knowledge Management in Anticipating the Future for Businesses

Anticipating the Future

Why does the future take most of us by surprise most of the time? Why do businesses that are at the top of the pecking order in terms of sales and market share find themselves relegated to the bottom a few years down the line? Why do some reputed business leaders fail to anticipate the upcoming trends whereas others have the knack of spotting trends before they transform into full-scale business opportunities? For instance, the legendary Bill Gates of Microsoft was supposed to have missed the bus on the internet bandwagon as well as the mobile revolution and this resulted in Microsoft being unable to cash in on both the trends. On the other hand, the late Steve Jobs had a knack of anticipating the future better than most other business leaders. One can go on with other examples. However, the point here is that more often than not, having the data and knowledge required to make informed decisions is what distinguishes the winners from the losers in terms of anticipating the future. As an example, if a particular business can extrapolate the past trends and events and discern the future, this is a case of having the right knowledge and data to make the decisions.

Difference between Data and Information and the role of the KM System

Of course, data by itself is meaningless if it cannot be transformed into information. The difference between data and knowledge is that the former is the raw material and the latter is the finished product. As with many things in life, raw materials need to be transformed into finished products if they are to be used. Similarly, businesses need to not only collect data but also transform it into usable and meaningful information if they are to detect patterns and hidden connections that would enable them to make informed decisions about the future. This is where the role of an efficient and efficacious knowledge management system enters the scene. By investing in a knowledge management system that can provide the top management with inputs and extrapolate the trends of the past to reveal the patterns of the future, the knowledge management system can make the difference between success and failure for businesses. Apart from this, a comprehensive knowledge management system would also be able to collate and coordinate data across the organization and provide the decision makers with enough information to be able to predict the future.

Some Emerging Tools and Techniques

Having said that, it must be remembered that gut feelings and intuition play an important role in making decisions about the future. Of course, these skills and traits are developed over a period and are usually the product of experience and past effort. In other words, by observing the past and learning from it, one can develop a “Sixth Sense” into sensing the future. If this sounds as astrology for you, the possibility that the Big Data revolution is unleashing more or less similar aspects of predicting the future should appeal to you. Further, the emerging science of predictive analytics gives one a tool to distinguish between the signal and the noise. The implication here is that data and information alone might not be enough and that one must need that “Extra X Factor” to be able to predict the future and profit from it. This article has surveyed the emerging fields in this topic briefly and each of these elements would be discussed in detail subsequently. It would suffice to state here that businesses must seriously consider investing in a top grade knowledge management system that would give them with the power of being able to look into the future standing on the shoulders of the giants who strode the past.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, one might argue that these tools and models presented here are tangential to the knowledge management systems. Our response to this would be that the knowledge management system is the first step in actualizing the dreams of being able to anticipate the future and the tools and models like Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and other systems can be built on top of the knowledge management system.


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