Definition Of Knowledge Management

By Martin Gilliard

One definition of knowledge management by J Liebowitz is:

“The process of creating value from an organisations intangible assets, that is how to best leverage knowledge internally and externally.”

Knowledge management is often confused with information management; however they are separate subject areas.

The fundamental difference between knowledge and information is that Data is information. Knowledge has to do with the process of learning, understanding and applying information.


(Photo Credit: jovike)

Knowledge should be applied; it is often not enough to simply know something. You must apply what you know in order to create value.

In the 2002 article "Knowledge management: philosophy, processes, and pitfalls" Soo, Devinney, Midgley and Deering say:

"True knowledge, by definition, is non-codified. As soon as it becomes codified and transmittable it ceases to be knowledge and becomes data. It can only become new knowledge when combined in some unique way leading to an actionable outcome. It is the fundamental and embedded characteristic of knowledge that makes its management so frustratingly difficult."

A better definition of knowledge management that better encompasses the various elements of knowledge and its management is defined by Brelade and Harman in their 2001 article "How human resources can influence knowledge management":

"Knowledge management is the acquisition and use of resources to create an environment in which information is accessible to individuals and in which individuals acquire, share and use that information to develop their own knowledge and are encouraged and enabled to apply their knowledge for the benefit of the organisation."

In its simplest of forms, knowledge management is about treating knowledge as a strategic asset. An asset which can be used to drive a sustainable business advantage.

It is the system used for managing, capturing and reusing the knowledge that resides both in electronic form on your company network and more importantly the tacit knowledge contained within your employee's heads.

Knowledge Management System Functionality

Most knowledge management systems incorporate the following functionality:

  • A document management repository
  • A question and answer module.
  • Various subject matter / knowledge portals
  • Collaboration and project workspaces
  • An ability to search
  • Employee skills and expertise profiling

Benefits of a Knowledge Management System

There are numerous benefits that are said to be found from the use of a knowledge management system, including:

  • Improved productivity
  • Increased innovation
  • An improved ability to make decisions
  • Improved customer service as a result of being able to respond to questions more quickly / effectively
  • Improved ability to connect and collaborate with Geographically diverse teams
  • Sharing of ideas and best practices
  • Improved employee retention.

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