Small knowledge-based businesses who can best manage their intellectual capital will be the bright spot in ongoing economic turmoil



    
    Recent study from Intel and ICP finds Canadian small businesses making
    progress in leveraging critical business information, but challenges
    remain
    

    TORONTO, Oct. 24 /CNW/ - A study released yesterday at the Canadian
Business Leadership Forum reveals that small businesses don't necessarily know
how to use all the valuable information that they so diligently track and
collect. In a sense, they don't know what they know. They see effective
information flow as a critical factor in achieving business success but many
believe they should be doing a better job of it. The study, conducted by Ipsos
on behalf of Intel of Canada, Intel Australia, and the Institute for
Competitiveness and Prosperity, looked at Canadian and Australian businesses
employing between 20 and 100 people. The majority of those surveyed in both
Canada and Australia note the value of knowledge and information to their
competitiveness and are actively striving to improve how they collect and use
it.
    "The bright spot in the midst of the current economic turmoil is that
Canada is rapidly transitioning into a knowledge-based economy, and small
businesses - which are our heart and soul - understand this," said Jim Milway,
executive director, Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity. "This study
shows us that small businesses not only recognize the value of information,
but are trying to collect information more easily and use it more readily."
    "Today small business is big business in Canada," said Doug Cooper,
Canada country manager, Intel. "The majority of Canadian businesses have fewer
than 100 employees, making them the engine of our economy. This study clearly
shows that SMBs are ready to weather the economic storm because they
understand knowledge is their most important asset, and to manage it well
takes both people and technology."
    Overall, three quarters of Canadian and Australian SMB decision-makers
reported that they are familiar with how to manage information, with nearly
two-thirds saying they manage information better today than they did two years
ago.
    However, there is still room for improvement. In fact, the majority of
those surveyed in both Canada and Australia said they should improve the
management of information and knowledge at their company. Furthermore, more
than half in Canada, and just half in Australia, think they could serve their
customers better if they had greater access to information.
    Those surveyed also said that improved business information management
goes hand in hand with business growth. Small-business decision-makers in both
countries who perceive their business to be growing faster than the
competition are more likely to be familiar with the concept of knowledge
management than those who feel their business growth is stagnant.
    So what is holding these small businesses back from doing a better job of
managing knowledge flow? A lack of time ranks at the top of the list, with
nearly half reporting not having enough time to make better use of acquired
information during business planning. Lack of staff, lack of training and
doubts about cost-effectiveness are also significant barriers to better use of
business information.

    Advice for Small Businesses

    In the wake of these findings, Intel Canada called on Dr. Nick Bontis, a
professor of strategy at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University,
and international consultant on intellectual capital and knowledge management,
to offer the following suggestions for small businesses looking to improve the
flow of information and knowledge within their organizations:

    
        1. Re-evaluate your business processes. Establish an inclusive,
           formal knowledge network managed by a knowledge officer, and tap
           into an external knowledge network. Customers, employees,
           suppliers, and partners are all important sources of information
           and they can go a long way toward helping a small business
           navigate its way toward new opportunities, greater productivity
           and enhanced competitiveness.
        2. Recognize that knowledge management is about both people and
           technology. The culture of the small business must be such that
           senior leaders should exhibit open and honest communication. Once
           a culture of collaboration is cultivated, the business must have
           the proper investment in technology. The last thing an employee
           needs is the will to flow information to her colleagues with an IT
           system that is too lethargic to assist her.
        3. Focus on succession planning for all employees at all levels. If
           an employee has a known trajectory for departure (i.e.,
           retirement, back to school, maternity leave), a replacement hire
           must be made early enough to allow for job shadowing to occur. The
           rule of thumb is to allow one week of job shadowing for each year
           of employment. There is a financial cost for having two people do
           the same job for a short period but the opportunity cost of not
           having knowledge continuity in place is even worse. Succession
           planning ensures a smooth flow of information even when the
           employee is in transition.
    

    "There is a long way to go before every small business can effectively
manage and measure the flow of information throughout an organization, but the
concept is here to stay," said Dr. Nick Bontis. "With that in mind, it might
prove useful for small business leaders to revisit the information they have
already collected in their organizations. At minimum, every single small
business should be able to clearly articulate the answer to: do we know what
we know?"

    
    Summary of findings referenced:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Findings                           Canadian Results   Australian Results
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who say they manage      65 per cent         65 per cent
     information better today than they
     did two years ago
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who said they should     63 per cent         57 per cent
     improve the management of
     information
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who think they could     57 per cent         49 per cent
     serve their customers better if
     they had better access to information
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who are aware of the     74 per cent         75 per cent
     concept of knowledge management
     (Total)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who perceive their       78 per cent         81 per cent
     business to be growing faster than
     the competition and who are aware
     of the concept of knowledge management
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Respondents who perceive their       69 per cent         59 per cent
     business as stagnant and who are
     aware of the concept of knowledge
     management
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------


    What hinders small businesses from managing workflow?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Findings                           Canadian Results   Australian Results
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lack of time                         46 per cent         48 per cent
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lack of staff                        33 per cent         30 per cent
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lack of training                     24 per cent         21 per cent
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Doubts of cost effectiveness         23 per cent         23 per cent
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    About Intel

    Intel (NASDAQ:   INTC), the world leader in silicon innovation, develops
technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work
and live. Additional information about Intel is available at
www.intel.com/pressroom and blogs.intel.com.

    These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Intel
from September 8-16, 2008. This online survey is based on a sample of
decision-makers from businesses with 20 to 100 employees in Canada (305
respondents) and Australia (302 respondents). The survey was hosted by Ipsos
Interactive Services and was conducted simultaneously with an identical
questionnaire in both Canada (English and French) and Australia (English
only).
    Intel, Intel Core and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation
in the United States and other countries.

    (*) Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
Performance tests and ratings are measured using specific computer systems
and/or components and reflect the approximate performance of Intel products as
measured by those tests. Any difference in system hardware or software design
or configuration may affect actual performance. Buyers should consult other
sources of information to evaluate the performance of systems or components
they are considering purchasing. For more information on performance tests and
on the performance of Intel products, visit
www.intel.com/performance/resources/limits.htm or call (U.S.) 800-628-8686 or
916-356-3104.





For further information:

For further information: Leslie Whitelaw, Office: (416) 413-4741,
Mobile: (905) 867-0881, leslie.whitelaw@hillandknowlton.ca

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