The term "knowledge management" is one that arose in the 1990's and refers to what Duhon, an industry expert, described in 1998 by saying: "Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously uncaptured expertise and experience in individual workers."
Understanding Knowledge Management
The most important goal of knowledge management is ensuring that data and information is collected and stored in such a way that makes it effective and efficient for members of the organization to find and use the necessary data.
Types of Knowledge Managed
The most effective knowledge management systems provide a variety of information databases:
- Lesson Learned Databases - These are databases of information that are retrieved from people who have already tackled a problem and found a solution. The term "lessons learned" is synonymous with the popular term "best practices."
- Expertise Location - This is a database which provides a way to locate an expert or expert information.
- Communities of Practice - These are groups of individuals who discuss problems, opportunities, lessons learned and other information gained from users. As companies grow globally, these communities become more geographically spread out. A good knowledge management system provides these groups with a way to share information in what could be described as a "virtual water cooler" approach.
Forms of Knowledge Management
When considering effective knowledge management, a variety of factors and needs must be assessed to find the most beneficial form for the knowledge.
Knowledge management can exist in many forms, including:
- Process-driven applications
- Automated data integration
- Data capture and workflow solutions
- Purpose-built databases
- Content life cycle management
- Automated document and classification solutions
- Document, content and imagine solutions
- Secure file sharing
- Optical character recognition
- Social analytics and engagement solutions
- Integration of enterprise search
- Business intelligence
Knowledge Management System Examples
Some examples of different knowledge management systems include:
- Feedback database - A company may have a database of feedback from customers and employees and shares this feedback with their design and research and development departments. All members of the organization would be able to enter feedback into the database and an integrated approach would be taken to understanding the shared information.
- Shared project files - An employee team can work collaboratively on a project. They have a system of shared files and information that allows everyone on the team to upload and comment on work performed by others.
- Research files - A company developing a new product conducts research on their competitors and conducts focus groups to find out what is needed in their product or market niche. This information is entered into a database that contains objective data on market sales potential and indicates what assets and processes the company has in place which can be used to meet this sales potential, meet customer needs and fill gaps within the marketplace.