Increased role for knowledge managers

by Christy Liu

Eric Tsui, professor and associate director
Knowledge Management Research Centre and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Dickie Tam

Unique academic programme equips company professionals to collect, organise and reuse intellectual capital

As Hong Kong continues to transform into a knowledge-based society, enterprises are increasingly recognising the importance of knowledge management (KM) for making the best use of their non-financial assets. Consequently, there is a growing demand for experts in the field.

KM is a relatively new concept and so organisations across the board lack the necessary skills and knowledge to plan a KM infrastructure, says Eric Tsui, professor and associate director, Knowledge Management Research Centre and the Department of Industrial and System Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

While some forward-looking enterprises are aware of the benefits of KM, not all realise that they can enhance their competitiveness by sharing knowledge internally. "KM efforts can help an organisation retain intellectual capital and better adapt to the changing business environment," Professor Tsui notes.

In the know

A rapidly growing interdisciplinary area, KM encapsulates processes and techniques for the creation, collection, classification, distribution, evaluation and retrieval of knowledge related to an organisation's business.

Hong Kong CyberU, the PolyU's online arm, is currently the only Hong Kong institution to offer a master's degree in the field. The programme, developed with a team of international experts and targeting degree holders with some work experience, aims at sharpening their expertise in the ever-expanding spectrum of KM.

Students can expect to gain insights into the subject and an in-depth understanding of the tools and methods used to design and implement a KM programme. They will also be familiarised with the latest development in the field.

Professor Tsui says that the programme typically attracts information, records and knowledge management professionals, as well as information technology, human resources, technology and project managers wanting to learn how to apply KM in their companies.

The online study model allows students to communicate with their peers and lecturers via email and a web-based bulletin board. Professor Tsui explains, "The programme is supported by tutorials, seminars and presentations. We aim to provide a flexible structure, so that Hong Kong-based students, as well as those living abroad, can actively participate."

There is a rising number of overseas students applying for admission to the programme, he says. These include professionals from as far afield as the US, Europe, Australia and Thailand.

Local and offshore students enrolled in the programme are encouraged to interact, Professor Tsui adds. "Through cultural exchange, students from different backgrounds can learn from each other."

The university currently provides KM students with two options. They can choose to complete 10 taught subjects, or to finish seven and a dissertation. The taught subjects focus on key theoretical and practical knowledge, including compulsory courses on managing knowledge, methods and tools for knowledge management systems, organisation learning, managing and measuring intellectual capital, strategic KM issues and case studies.

Career focus

Hong Kong CyberU's strong and competent teaching body is a key aspect that enables the university to run the programme for the sixth successful year.

"Our students benefit from a wealth of experts, including lecturing staff from the PolyU's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering as well as an array of international academics. We regularly invite experienced KM professionals to address our students as guest lecturers," Professor Tsui remarks.

KM professionals take up roles such as chief knowledge officer, chief learning officer, director of learning, knowledge manager, director of innovation, innovation manager, knowledge broker and knowledge programme manager. In Professor Tsui's experience, some are promoted by their employers immediately upon completing the programme.

He expects more KM-related positions to become available in Hong Kong. "There will be a great increase in demand for KM experts, and they will play a vital role in company planning and development."

The programme has grown through word of mouth, Professor Tsui concludes. "Our alumni have been positive about the programme and have established clubs to connect teachers, past graduates and existing students. They also hold regular gatherings to network and share their experience."

Intellectual wealth

  • Growing demand for KM expertise
  • More KM-related positions being created
  • Online programme supported by tutorials, seminars and presentations

Taken from Career Times 06 November 2009, p. A14
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