|•||what is the best configuration of knowledge across the supply chain?|
|•||how should it optimise the growth of knowledge?|
|•||what is the relative value of different classes of knowledge?|
Consider the growing complexity of supply chains. For example; an automotive assembler has about 50 different engine sets for its vehicles, sourced locally. In less than a decade, this will rise to some 500 different sets, sourced globally. Increasing complexity brings increasing problems ( Gregg, 1996)
"In 50 years' time, we will be designing products we don't know, incorporating materials which haven't been invented, made in processes yet to be defined, by people we have not yet recruited."
|•||The range and functionality of goods is increasing|
|•||Product lifetimes are shorter|
|•||Buyers expect products to be 'ready-to-use' with full support.|
|•||Environmental legislation requires more complex supply chains|
|•||There are many more linked processes involved|
|•||Cross-linkages between these processes are manifold and increasing|
|•||More organisations of different kinds are involved in these supply chains|
|•||The knowledge requirement to manage this is expanding exponentially.|
Clearly, one must attend not only to the quality and extent of knowledge that an organisation has, but in an evolving competitive context, one must also manage its lifecycle (capture, dissemination, and retirement). Hence, the management of knowledge becomes a critical, core competence of the organisation. Knowledge management must include education; the mere provision of IT infrastructures and knowledge mapping software will be insufficient for the future.
Because of space limitations, we outline some of the important issues and then, without further consideration we discuss emergent 'best practice'.