Knowledge Management vs. Information Management

Don’t ask why, however knowledge management vs. information management came up in a conversation this week and it dawned on me that we’re frequently dealing with partners who may have a base understanding of what these systems are, however we are often in a position where we need to further expand on that knowledge.  To that end, I thought I’d share some information that will help with that dialogue – I’m by no means a master in this domain, but this is a starting point.

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge.   It refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge. Knowledge management efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvement of the organization.

Knowledge management systems refer to any kind of IT system that stores and retrieves knowledge, improves collaboration, locates knowledge sources, mines repositories for hidden knowledge, captures and uses knowledge, or in some other way enhances the KM process. Arguably, this is a very vague definition and is so purposefully.  This is because knowledge management systems, like knowledge management itself, have no consensus definition.  Instead, the focus should be determining the functionality of the IT systems that are required for the specific activities and initiatives within the firm.  Knowledge management has always delivered its real value when applied to “Know-How” – to improving the competence of the organization by giving people access to the knowledge they need to make the correct decisions.

Key components of a knowledge management system include:

  1. Determining the objectives of your knowledge management implementation
  2. Planning a successful implementation strategy
  3. Designing a robust knowledge base
  4. Developing useful content
  5. Optimizing the agent’s experience
  6. Constantly improving knowledge

What is a Knowledge Management Framework?

A knowledge management framework is a complete system of People, Process, Technology and Governance, which ensures that knowledge management is applied systematically and effectively to improve business results.

  • People: knowledge management roles have to be established in the business, communities need to be set up to share and reuse tacit knowledge, behaviors such as seeking for and sharing knowledge need to be incentivised, and to become ‘the way we work’
  • KM Processes: there has to be a tried-and-tested process for capturing, distilling, validating, storing, applying and reusing knowledge, and also for innovating.
  • KM Technologies: the people and the process need to be supported by enabling technology, which allows knowledge to be found and accessed wherever it resides (in databases, on the Intranet, in people’s heads). IT plays an important role in KM, by providing the technology to allow people to communicate.
  • KM Governance: without a governance system that promotes and recognizes sharing and the re-use of knowledge, any attempts to introduce KM are going to be a hard struggle.

The depth and robustness of KM systems is not currently within the scope of what many companies provide.  Instead, they provide Information Management, the “know-what” of an organization.  Information management (IM) is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. This sometimes involves those who have a stake in (or a right to) that information.  Management means the organization of and control over the planning, structure and organization, controlling, processing, evaluating and reporting of information activities in order to meet client objectives and to enable corporate functions in the delivery of information.  The focus of IM is the ability of organizations to capture, manage, preserve, store and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.

I promise we’ll get back to our regularly programmed schedule next week – innovation.


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