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Siemens is one of the biggest electronics and electrical conglomerate. Siemens has a wide range of electronic products ranging from light bulbs, x-ray machines, generators etc. This case study basically describes the growth and development of ShareNet, which is an innovative knowledge management system which is used by a division of Siemens. ShareNet tries to capture the experience and knowledge of Siemens products that they have managed to distribute across the world through their sales and marketing strategies, making it available to all. ShareNet is funded as a corporate initiative, which is free to all. As the telecommunications and related market has collapsed, the group of people that runs Sharenet is under pressure to come up with cost effective means of operation. As a result, the management of Share Net is thinking of basically charging those who subscribe to them hoping that these users pay for it. Siemens is arguably one of the most successful corporations (Knowledge Management, n.d).
The case analysis
Technical brilliance is one of Siemens strongest point and the kind of knowledge they apply in their products is unavailable to the rest of their competition. At some point, Siemens wanted to maximize benefits that each of their business unit .By then they had approximately 460,000 employees all over the world. It is increasingly becoming very necessary to share information a cross nations and organizations especially for big multinationals .This case study of how the German electronic giant introduced came up with the concept of ShareNet system of sharing knowledge in a bid to make their company to look like knowledge based organization. Siemens is on of the leading in as far as provision of integrated data networks.
They are experienced when it comes to matter like consultancy, installation and providing voice networks. Siemens has heavily invested in the transformation process, they want to be e-driven, and they want all their operations to be done electronically be it procurement, sales and marketing or simply advertising-management is one of aspects that Siemens are heavily investing in. To achieve this, the management had to implement a system of the internal management that enables Siemens employees to be in a position to exploit and make use of the knowledge about the company while they are at any place on the face of this planet.
This system is employed so as to help Siemens leverage their knowledge assets .They basically started by looking at the systems that they had and the needs of the company in regard to knowledge both at present and in future. Before they introduced ShareNet in the year 1999, most of the knowledge in regard to the company was only found at their headquarters in Munich. The centralized information in many ways hampered the progress of the company because most of the sales representatives from other places had to be in Munich in order to get information and hence they used to in convenience their operations by wasting some times.
That centralization was very slow and it made the whole sales process to be slow and consequently low volumes were always recorded. This had lots of disadvantages for the company in the sense that other than sales people getting customers out there to sell to them, they were busy struggling and competing to get information with each other and it sort of became redundant and made it impossible to share information across the various departments .All this begun a few years before, and it was just a few people in the organization had a slight knowledge and interest in management and sharing information.
In mid 1999 close to 60 managers who work in the telecommunications division had been sent to Lake Starnberger which is situated south of the capital Munich and they had been requested to create rafts. This could only be made by use of steel, ropes and pontoons and together with that they could not talk to one onother.This managers had been gathered from allover the world and most of them all they could do was to scribble some messages on some flip charts almost the whole day. In this meeting it was all about sharing knowledge in its very basic form. They however managed to put up some rafts.
This was one of those methods that companies try to use to ensure that their people are highly productive and have a competitive edge over the other companies particularly when the economy appears to be so shaky. The whole concept of coming up with rafts was basically aimed at helping manager to realize the importance of effectively sharing information. This particular meeting was organized by Joachim, Siemens vice president who is in charge and responsible for new and high tech solutions to their main problem of avoiding their employee to hoard their abilities or training.
This was his way of using the internet to share information and knowledge of their workers across the world in a bid to helping people across the globe to be familiar with each others profession. The vice president believes that those who give up their expertise or share about their knowledge always get more knowledge in return. He had a vision of coming up with a website which he did and named it ShareNet. This site basically combines different elements of ideas gathered in chat room, what is found in search engines and various organizational databases. They basically have an online kind of an entry form which the employees uses to store information that they think could be useful to their follow workers or colleagues.Thy are allow to keep there anything from success stories of enterprises that are doing well or project ,procedures to presentation. Other workers can search whatever they wish by use of topics after which they get to the authors by use of e-mail to get to know more about it.
The progress is good so far compared to the time it was started in early 1999.The whole concept of ShareNet is made use of by close to 12,000 workers of Siemens in the department sales. There has been an increase in sales and attracted more customers; it was through this concept that they landed the $3 million deal to do a pilot study before building a broadband network for the Malaysian Telecoms. Most of the local people doing sales lacked enough expertise to come up with a proposal, but through this concept of ShareNet they managed to come up with a team from Denmark which had actually done an almost identical project.
By using the expertise from the Denmark group the team from Malaysia got the job and did it perfectly. They developed the project in an even better way in the sense that it could allow members of the staff post alerts whenever they are in need .The same thing happened in Switzerland where Siemens got another contract to make a telecommunications network in two hospitals .By the use of ShareNet workers in organizations in Netherlands could provide technical data and information to help the people working in the sales department prove that the Siemens Sharenet system could be reliable to a bigger way.
ShareNet is basically a case study that deals with managing knowledge and it is gaining popularity in most corporations world over. It advocates for the collective expertise and knowledge of workers in an organization and the whole sharing concept as a very important resource. Company executives are advised to make it possible for sharing of information between departments .By adapting to this concept of using the network many organizations can quickly unlock their profit potential. Most employees are very brainy but it is just that they always lack that opportunity and a platform to share their information and knowledge. Most companies are urged to have knowledge management system or programs which target all the companies workers.
According to Leibold M. et al (2005) Siemens' ShareNet system has become very popular and in fact Siemens seems to be under a lot of pressure due to the uncertainty about world economy and the alleged shrinking margins in profit by corporations. Some pundits believe that Siemens may have to sell off some of its assets and narrow down their operations to other areas like telecommunications.
The Siemens authorities want to ensure that the shareNet idea grows even bigger and become more advantageous than many ever thought particularly in this age where information is very vital. They now want to take that concept of ShareNet beyond where they have reached it .They want it to get to people who take care of telecom equipment and other scientists who are doing research in matters communication. Siemens has already staged a ShareNet sort of a boot camp ostensibly for telecom management and service team and has already started laying out the system. Siemens is also in the process of setting up specially tailored services like giving customers particularly their esteemed ones, a direct access to the company’s knowledge data base. The vice presidents of Siemens together with his team have plans in place to start smaller versions of experimental ShareNet with a few select customers. The puzzle that Siemens is still working on is basically how to protect the confidentiality of customers.
If at all the system works, then customers will definitely get quicker access to the stored information .By so doing the management of Siemens believe that with the regular dialogue with their customers and other groups they will develop better products. The advantages of the system are clear but the biggest problem is getting employees to adapt to it and embracing it. The authorities believe that it takes time to effect change and make people to adopt or even like the system. Siemens can tackle this problem through a very simple way. First it has to get like one hundred loyal people to campaign and promote it allover, another group should target training or answering frequently asked questions, and monitoring how the system operates. Siemens' authorities and top management has proved that they are indeed behind the projects. The company is also providing attractive incentives to help in overcoming employees’ rigidness and resistance to change.
It is indeed a delicate balance to effectively ensure such success among rigid and conservative workers but Siemens uses all means necessary to achieve that .Managers who make this happen get bonuses whenever they use ShareNet to increase sales. The Chief Executive Officers and other officials of Siemens in other branches can't collect their bonuses over the same unless they prove that indeed they communicated information by making use of ShareNet or alternatively prove that they borrowed information from ShareNet to boost their sales. Employees on the other hand get prizes like trips to conferences incase they contribute information or knowledge which proves to be valuable to others. Sales people who are paid on commission have actually learned that using the expertise of colleagues in far-flung places can be important in winning profitable contracts. Most sales people using the ShareNet have a big advantage and they always join them soon or later. There are lots of other incentives that Siemens give to their people in order to stimulate them to do a good and increase sales .They all contribute so long as ShareNet gives useful information in more a convenient way. This all depends on a very delicate balance which is between giving or getting.
This system operates on the belief that if one exposes their secrets or shares knowledge others will also do the same. People who provide services will continue to visit the site in a bid to learn few new sales tips and tricks. Such a system is normally very attractive especially once people notice the advantages that comes with visiting the site and applying some of the ideas in real life situations .Most managers of other companies will easily make use of it if they realize that it has away of improving sales or helping them come up with new products. One of the biggest challenges is managing to spread the ShareNet information and idea around the company without necessarily creating other inconveniencing others.
Siemens fear to restrict other people accessing or taking too much control on how their employees make use of it. Some restrictions could be necessary if aimed at avoiding ShareNet from experiencing overload in as afar as information is concerned. Siemens take it upon themselves to employs talented people whose main role is to keep checking and managing the content of ShareNet and remove what they deem irrelevant and unnecessary. Coming up with a groovy software is not everything, other aspects like regulating what goes on there is also necessary. It has to be of use to the users by providing ideas that can help them develop and become better in whatever field they are in.