Knowledge management is increasingly becoming critical for most business entities in the present space of ecommerce. Many business transactions are currently transacted using the web as the platform to interface the customer and the business. Most of the exchange between a consumer and the business is through the internet and covers a range of businesses such as sites dealing with auction sites, consumer retail, and business to business transactions between different business companies. With the new form of doing business using ecommerce, the requisite knowledge to manage the ecommerce platform is important for every business to have. The application of good knowledge management within the context of the ecommerce platforms is the determinant as to whether a business will be able to leverage the synergies that come with using ecommerce.
Ecommerce is now an integral part of most business entities and the use of the internet is the engine that is used to drive this form of commerce. When properly aligned with the business process and the organizational culture of the entity, is instrumental in drive growth within a business entity. This involves the acquisition of intellectual capital in managing this resource in order to maintain the competitive advantage in the marketplace. Knowledge management involves the management of an intangible asset which is not static but which is continually regenerating. Success is no longer based on the volumes of discount offered but on a continuous process of knowledge acquisition and updating that knowledge. There are three stages in knowledge management; creation, transfer and application. (Spitze & Lee, 2012).The functions of knowledge management are undertaken by incorporating both human and organizations which are internet based. Before delving into the process of ecommerce knowledge, a brief summary of the difference between traditional and ecommerce is important.
Model knowledge refers to the knowledge that is capture about the customer and other business entities so that it can be modeled into a format that is reusable within an ecommerce platform. (McCoy, 2015). This model knowledge can be continuously improved, shared, substituted, aggregated and reapplied within the ecommerce system. Model knowledge expands beyond case-based systems of reasoning that is local and proprietary to larger solutions that can be computed to provide knowledge for application. The models deal with different entities and processes such as sales and marketing within a business.
Situational model is concerned with examining and collecting knowledge that analyzes the consumer’s cognitive process when using the web-bases ecommerce platform. This is able to gauge the levels of trust formation using the website that is used by the business. (Herring, 2013). It is able to determine the situational involvement of the customer with regards to the design of the website and the aesthetic appeal of the website presentation with regards to the cognitive process f the consumer. This situational knowledge can be useful in determining the approach to take with regards to the system in dealing with consumers and customers with high and low levels of situational involvement with the ecommerce platform. (Streun, 2014). The high and low levels of situational involvement can be multiple or single across the platform.
Knowledge creation involves a continuous process that involves the transforming of knowledge which is tacit into knowledge which is explicit and which can then be turned into a representation which is formal. (Mayzlin, Dover & Chevalier, 2014). In the context of ecommerce, three sources of knowledge are critical in the process of knowledge creation: the users of the system, the environment and topology of the system and the experts involved.
Knowledge Transfer is the pathway within the commerce platform that provides for the appropriate channels and mediums of knowledge transfer as well as eliminating the barriers that arise in the process of knowledge transfer. The transfer of knowledge makes it possible for the knowledge within the platform to be accessed seamlessly within the system while mapping out the knowledge and the channels that will guarantee a smooth flow within the ecommerce platform. Knowledge transfer is influenced by four variables: organizational, trust, information technology and human factors. (Qin, 2007). Organizational factors deal with the organizational culture such as the collaboration and cooperation within the business which can be critical in facilitating the knowledge transfer.
Human factors are determined by the reward systems and the self-efficacy that will lead to the successful transfer of the knowledge within the business. The self-efficacy process is generative to harness the social, cognitive and behavioral skills that facilitate the transfer of knowledge within the business.(Allen, 2015). The reward system encourages the sharing of the knowledge and expertise within organization with a system that rewards participative employees. The information technology is influenced by embracing and using the IT infrastructure and the tools and accessories associated with it. The trust is important in enabling meaningful interactions between the customers, suppliers and the business through integrity and openness.
Knowledge application is the last stage in the management of knowledge that is necessary for the successful implementation of an ecommerce platform. The end application builds on the process of creation and transfer and deals with the actual application with various user interfaces that will work with variables created from the creation process. (Jennex, 2012).The application allows for the different ontology’s to be manipulated within the system without compromising the integrity of the system as a whole. This is the stage at which the software and hardware necessary to manage the system is purchased, staff trained and the management inducted on how to run and manage the system.
Application within A business The starting point for the business would be to do an internal review of its current system by using different forms of data capture such as questionnaires to gauge the levels of satisfaction by the customers. The same questionnaires can be used with the suppliers to also gauge the levels of ease of seamless interface between the business and the suppliers. Once this knowledge has been created, experts can be involved to give technical advice as to how the ecommerce platform at the business can be improved. The application of knowledge management within the business will address two subsystems which are critical to the business: the supply support and the customer support. These two applications will be used to update the current system to so as to ensure that depreciated knowledge that is dead is deleted and knowledge that is current and beneficial to the company is updated and implemented within the business.
Customer Relations management The customer relations through an integrated effort to ensure that the platform can identify and maintain a network with the consumer so as provide a business environment that is mutually beneficial to both sides. This will maintain the harmony that is desirable between satisfying the customer’s needs and maximizing profits. (Bayuk, 2012). From the perspective of ecommerce, this management is based on the web and synchronizes the relationship across different audiences, business functions and communication channels. This entails making available the customer information at the many touch points within the business organization.
The customer relation management support sub system must also be clear on the range of products which are available, out of stock, available within the nearest store or those which can be ordered from a centralized store. The business that runs retail stores can integrate the computer systems of each physical store to show what is available within the physical store within its greater ecommerce platform. The same interface can be linked to its central inventory so as to monitor which goods are preferred by the customer.(Chilton & Bloodgood, 2014). The ability for a customer to get products should be a key consideration in linking all physical stores and making sure that the physical store can deliver products for online customers as well as the traditional brick and mortar customers.
The system in place at the business should have a strong and reliable system within the ecommerce platform that can guarantee the privacy of the customer and ensure that their private information is not shared out with internet-based marketing companies. (Mooney,2015). The system should be tamper proof to facilitate payments safely and to ensure that their financial records of the customer are not compromised. The customer support subsystem should incorporate a feedback loop that can monitor the quality of service in terms of timeliness in responding to orders and queries and the responsiveness of the feedback mechanism.
stem within the business has to incorporate the timeliness of response by the business in terms of delivering new stock while at the same time dealing with returns which may be having defects and rejected by the customer. (Edwards, 2015). This is the business to business relation management within the ecommerce platform. The supply support should also address the payment systems of the ecommerce platform in interfacing it with the banks of the supplier and the seamless transfer of funds without the need for a trail of paper work. The supplier support subsystem should incorporate a system that is able to monitor customer preferences of goods offered by the suppliers and continuously updating orders automatically.
The ability of a business to effectively manage an ecommerce platform begins by first creating the relevant knowledge that will be used within the platform. The logical second step would be to translate the knowledge acquired to the business process which is the stage of knowledge transfer. The application of the knowledge is the culmination of the acquisition and transfer and this where it is put into practical use within the organization. The application will be applicable in two important subsystems which deal with the customers and the suppliers. Applying the knowledge created with reference to the customer preferences, the business can then put into operation the ecommerce system successfully. This will also result in implementing a user interface that seamlessly interacts with the suppliers so as to make sure there are no gaps in the supply chain. The future bodes well for business entities which will be prepared to embrace systems of knowledge management that specifically address ecommerce in order to stay relevant in the ecommerce platform.
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