In recent decades Swedish and Western industry have had to adapt to the new paradigm. Moving from classical production industry organizations towards knowledge companies in which sales of services and knowledge are often bundled with a product – resulting in a complete solution. This change is vital for the survival of the Western world’s economy which previously has been built upon organizations of heavy industrial giants optimizing production processes and factory outputs by reducing overheads and increasing quality.
The threat to the industry from low cost countries, which no longer only compete just on low cost, but also with high quality and competence, forces Western organizations to develop new strategies to sustain their growth and competitive advantage. Cutting margins in order to compete with low cost countries is a downward spiral. Instead changing the model, to be able to provide knowledge and holistic understanding of customers needs and the ability to rapidly deliver a complete solution is now becoming the key competitive advantage. This however requires investment in IT and knowledge exchange tools. By moving away from selling physical products and components to solutions higher margins are possible because more business value is exchanged in the transactions.
The organizations adapting to this change, are identifiable by the fact that they consider knowledge and information as corporate assets – treated and cared for as any other asset. One example is the Swedish company SKF Group whose new vision is the “Knowledge Engineering Company” where the company going through a change from component supplier to a holistic supplier of both products and services.
A key success factor in this transformation from products to solutions is that the supply of knowledge and information to the employees is effective, easy to use and complete. The organization succeeds in providing that extra value, thereby allowing higher margins. Historical key performing indicators (KPIs) such as factory output, reduction of defects and increasing of quality, are dealing with physical production efficiency to ensure as little cost per unit manufactured and as high quality as possible. Individuals are used to measuring these KPIs and provide a way to manage the operational production processes. The turnover and efficiency of information and knowledge exchange lacks these models and measurement tools, thereby not allowing them to be managed. What you can’t measure, you can’t manage, or improve.
One technical solution which has the capabilities to enable complete, rapid and reduced turnover time for knowledge and information exchange, is Enterprise Search. This has been recognized by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, which granted Findwise AB research funds to tackle this problem in cooperation with the College University of Borås in the Strategic Mobility program. The funded project will study the usefulness and value of a well functioning search engine for work-related information use. It will also identify performing indicators for information and knowledge exchange through search and to achieve results that systematically will illustrate the quantitative direct effects together with soft indirect effects.
The project will start early 2010 and run through the entire year. As part of the project, Dr. Katriina Byström will join Findwise and work together with Findwise employees in this joint research project. Findwise customers are invited to participate in the project and will have the availability to influence its direction. For more information on research at Findwise contact Henrik Strindberg.
About Dr. Katriina Byström
Dr. Katriina Byström is an associate professor in the Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the University College of Borås & Goteborg University, Sweden. She is one of initiators and director of the IA bachelor’s programme at Swedish School of Library and Information Science, and she is a chair for the programme with teaching involvement broadly across the curricula. Furthermore , Katriina is associate editor and co-founder at the Journal of Information Architecture. Katriina’s degree is in information studies, and her research focus on task-based information seeking, information retrieval and information architecture.