Business Specialty: Knowledge Management

Knowledge management

If you are interested in a business degree, you are probably also choosing among business specialties. Currently in high demand and offering a substantial starting salaries are positions in the field of Knowledge Management.

In order for the staff of a corporation to function properly, they must have access to information they need. Getting information to the staff of a small organization is challenging, and it’s easy imagine how difficult it can be for companies that have thousands of employees spread across the globe to distribute information effectively. Who ensures that information is disseminated properly throughout a corporation? Often, this is the responsibility of a business degree graduate with a specialty in Knowledge Management.

Defining Knowledge Management

Here is one definition from Fortune Magazine:

Knowledge Management often encompasses identifying and mapping intellectual assets within the organization, generating new knowledge for competitive advantage within the organization, making vast amounts of corporate information accessible, sharing of best practices, and technology that enables all of the above  —  including groupware and intranets.

Obviously, Knowledge Management covers a lot of ground. Most internal Knowledge Management programs of an organization are tied to specific corporate objectives aligned to specific goals, mostly related to shared information, improved staff performance and innovation, and competitive advantage.

Writer, educator, and management consultant Peter Drucker coined the term Knowledge Management in an article in the Harvard Business Review in 1959. He felt that managers should not only impart knowledge but also track the innovation that occurs as a result. Knowledge Management courses are about teaching business students the strategies and polices needed to manage a company’s intellectual assets effectively.

Becoming a Knowledge Manager

While there are many levels of management in any corporation, and all managers are responsible for distributing information to their staff, each organization usually has one person who is the Chief Knowledge Officer, even if they don’t formally have the title. There are three basic paths to becoming a Knowledge Manager: Human Resources, Information Technology, and executive level management. All three of these specializations can be found in business school.

Human Resources managers that take Knowledge Management courses will find they can improve and better utilize the skills of their staff. Because today’s business world is knowledge rich, undertaking Knowledge Management training will make any human resources specialist more effective and marketable.

Information Technology (IT) managers often become a company’s custodian of knowledge, simply because they are in charge of intranets and other technology tools that are critical to an organization’s infrastructure. IT specialists that take knowledge management courses might find Knowledge Management to be a good fit

The third path is through an advanced business degree (an M.B.A.) that focuses on knowledge as a specialty, often with either Human Resources or IT as a parallel focus. These high-level managers are destined for positions as Chief Knowledge Officer or Chief Information Officer.

Degrees Available in Knowledge Management

Most degrees that provide Knowledge Management as a major or specialty are on the graduate level. However, there are courses available to undergraduates as well as many certification programs that can benefit anyone working in management today.

Careers in Knowledge Management: Salary and Job Prospects

Managers that specialize in knowledge and information organization can expect a nice paycheck, even with only a bachelor’s degree — usually about $55,000 a year. M.B.A.s focusing in Knowledge Management earn even more, often well over six figures. Careers in Knowledge Management are universally rewarding financially.

As a field, Knowledge Management is still fairly young, but it continues to grow and evolve. There is no doubt that the effective management of knowledge and information greatly increases customer satisfaction and employee productivity, so strong growth in the field can be expected. If you are studying business and management, consider specializing in information and knowledge.  After all, knowledge is power.