Knowledge management and innovation management have developed a close relationship. However, knowledge management and innovation established themselves as separate fields, each with its own separate area of research. Innovation is the combination and implementation of knowledge into new patterns. The knowledge itself, however, is the basis from which a good innovation is created. The new ideas that continuously emerge together with the ability to learn from those ideas and to build on lessons learned are one of the most important ways of showing how knowledge management impacts innovation.
As we have stated, knowledge management and innovation correlate to each other. Instead of belonging to the same branch, knowledge management is instead used to influence and support innovation, and there are five different ways for knowledge management to do that.
Leveraging access to expert knowledge
More prominent firms or organizations with elaborate products or services have a diverse base of expertise. It ends up being a result of multiple people where each one of them comes with a different area of expertise or professional domain. Knowledge management tools such as social networking can be used to enable the interactions within a firm and allow the exchange of knowledge between different professional fields. The experts become more reachable, and with the knowledge management system you can pinpoint who the expert is for any given topic.
Facilitating Collaboration Across Boundaries
Facilitating collaboration is essential for innovation. Teams that end up working together use each other’s knowledge and each other’s expertise. Innovation tends to happen when that expertise and knowledge are shared within and across the boundaries. New ideas can always emerge from partners, suppliers and even customers. By having a system which can capture new ideas, you will have a way to build collaboration. The different ways that knowledge resides in the organization itself are represented by the communities of practice which are formed around a body of knowledge.
Supporting an Innovative Culture
There are a few different ways for knowledge management systems to support an innovative culture. One of them would be by enabling and reinforcing team collaboration and clarifying the recruitment of creative talent. By having a knowledge management system in place, an organization would already know the expertise it’s missing for certain kind of innovations. At the same time, the company could identify and easily link the related expertise and talent.
Augmenting Innovation Team Efficiency
Studies have shown that employees working at the knowledge management departments in particularly creative firms spend up to 30% of their daily working hours just in search for information. By capturing innovative ideas, innovation openings and all of the other elements that make the information chase more efficient, the knowledge system can notably increase a team’s efficiency. Another way that the knowledge management systems boost efficiency is by reducing the time spent looking for expert knowledge.
Reducing Time to Market
The time required to design and manufacture a product before it is available on the market often determines the value of your innovation. Knowledge management systems can enable new product teams to come up to speed quickly instead of starting from scratch. The sooner your innovation hits the market, the more value it will have as there will be less chance for competitors to have marketed something similar.