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What is Knowledge Management?


To define Knowledge Management, it is helpful to first understand the differences between data, information, knowledge. Data is a string of numbers, whereas information includes a first level of descriptors or organizing details.

“Knowledge is applied information.” 

But knowledge goes deeper. Knowledge is applied information — information that includes context, interpretation, insights, and details — all of which allow someone to make sense of or act upon information in a meaningful way.

For example, “AF337, 18.10, 06.04, E, 2E” is an example of  a string of data. Information would include descriptive details such as indicating that “AF337” is the flight number for an Air France flight from Boston to Paris, “18.10” and “06.04” are departure and arrival times, and “E” and “2E” are departure and arrival terminals.

Knowledge is the extra stuff around the data and information which allows someone to act on it, make decisions, or process the data and information in meaningful ways. For instance, knowledge includes knowing that I should get to the airport in Boston by 3:00 p.m. in order to make the flight, that the flight usually arrives 30 minutes early, that it takes approximately an hour to collect luggage and clear customs at that hour of the morning, that the RER train is the fastest and cheapest way to get into central Paris, and that it will take approximately 2.5 hours from touchdown to arrival in central Paris via RER train during that time on weekdays.

Knowledge Management: systematically capturing, securing, organizing, and sharing organizational knowledge. 

Knowledge Management is the process of systematically capturing, securing, describing, organizing and sharing knowledge — making it useful, usable, adaptable, and re-usable; ensuring that knowledge — both in people’s heads and in the form of tangible assets — is used to its fullest potential within an organization.

Knowledge Management is about helping organizations ensure that they can best take advantage of their internal expertise, skills, and know-how. It includes helping organizations respond to the challenge, “we don’t know what we know,” a common issue as organizations become more complex and work becomes more distributed across boundaries and silos.

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