Knowledge management (KM) is the process of identifying, organizing, storing and disseminating information within an organization. When knowledge is not easily accessible within an organization, it can be incredibly costly to a business as valuable time is spent seeking out relevant information versus completing outcome-focused tasks.
A knowledge management system (KMS) harnesses the collective knowledge of the organization, leading to better operational efficiencies. These systems are supported by the use of a knowledge base. They are usually critical to successful knowledge management, providing a centralized place to store information and access it readily.
Companies with a knowledge management strategy achieve business outcomes more quickly as increased organizational learning and collaboration among team members facilitates faster decision-making across the business. It also streamlines more organizational processes, such as training and on-boarding, leading to reports of higher employee satisfaction and retention.
The definition of knowledge management also includes three types of knowledge—tacit, implicit, and explicit knowledge. These types of knowledge are largely distinguished by the codification of the information.
While some academics (PDF, 156 KB) (link resides outside of IBM) summarize the knowledge management process as involving knowledge acquisition, creation, refinement, storage, transfer, sharing and utilization. This process can be synthesized this a little further. Effective knowledge management system typically goes through three main steps:
There are a number tools that organizations utilize to reap the benefits of knowledge management. Examples of knowledge management systems can include:
While knowledge management solutions can be helpful in facilitating knowledge transfer across teams and individuals, they also depend on user adoption to generate positive outcomes. As a result, organizations should not minimize the value of human elements that enable success around knowledge management.
Armed with the right tools and strategies, knowledge management practices have seen success in specific applications, such as:
Companies experience a number of benefits when they embrace knowledge management strategies. Some key advantages include:
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