Our daily lives are increasingly shifting towards digital solutions, from how we order our coffee in the morning to how we conduct our daily meetings. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that businesses are seeking to develop new ways to engage their customers, streamline their processes, and overcome their challenges.
Naturally, with a plethora of information and processes behind ecommerce and business digitisation on all its fronts, it can be difficult for organisations to keep track of everyone and everything in today’s environment. This has prompted the emergence of knowledge management systems as a key component of handling business in the digital age.
The Importance of Knowledge Management Software and Culture
Making sure key information is captured for knowledge sharing helps businesses to keep important processes in place and ensure vital data is not lost. Effective organisational knowledge management helps increase the efficiency of company-wide decision making, proving useful for every department either acting alone or in unison together. While knowledge management systems are incredibly valuable in this context, it’s also important to remember that culture plays a role. Effective organisations embed knowledge management into their DNA - it’s prioritised within the company with clear systems in place and leading technology tools to facilitate the strategic objectives which drive knowledge management.
Let’s explore further the attributes and benefits of a knowledge management system to help you decide if it’s the right solution for you.
Let’s Define a Knowledge Management System
A knowledge management system is a digital solution designed to assist with overall business operations, organisations, or teams. More specifically, they are databases for information that can be used to improve processes, collaboration, and understanding. This knowledge can easily be retrieved and amended when the need arises, acting as a solution that can be used as a central base of knowledge for your clients, employees, or even contractors and external partners.
The term ‘knowledge management’ was derived from within the management consulting community during the rise of the internet. The internet itself houses a plethora of information that spans across the globe - so, what better way than to imitate this characteristic and adapt it to suit organisations?
Through building tools and techniques such as databases and dashboards, robust knowledge management systems were created that could be purchased and adopted by organisations across the world, in particular those that were dispersed and / or complex in nature.
It’s Vital to Capture a Knowledge Base of Organisational Knowledge
Knowledge management is now and will continue to be a competitive differentiator into the future. Even though digital technologies have become prevalent in recent years, combining the power of people and machines in the most effective way can sometimes elude organisations.
According to recent 2020 Deloitte research, 75% of surveyed organisations say creating and preserving knowledge across evolving workforces is important or very important for their success over the next 12–18 months. However, only 9% say they are very ready to address this trend, representing a large gap between importance and readiness.
Technology itself is a huge reason companies need more effective knowledge management. A tsunami of data is being generated but how much of it is being lost or forgotten instead of being harnessed for strategic purposes? For example, according to Statista, more than 293 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2019. Yet, according to Splunk’s global survey of 1,300 business and IT executives, an average of 55% of enterprise data goes unused.
Once an organisation generates knowledge from its subject matter experts, it’s vital to keep this information on hand for employees, partners, and customers to access quickly and painlessly. Otherwise, it’s like starting over again and again when seeking to capture and share expertise.
It’s not just employees that contribute to effective knowledge management, creation and retention. The beauty of opening up your online information databases to customers via forums and portals - themselves a knowledge management system - is they help you populate important content free of charge. Forum information can be initiated by your own employees, but as customers ask and answer questions, this becomes a powerful form of crowd-sourced information. Following on from this point, let’s ask...
What are Some Examples of Knowledge Management Systems?
It is likely that everyone has encountered a knowledge management system at one point or another. Any system, tool, or resource that promotes the sharing and exchange of information can be classified as a knowledge management tool.
Forums, Search Engines, and Databases
The search engine, Google, is possibly the most well-known and common source of knowledge management on the planet. Wikipedia would be another. Other tools, such as company, community, or special-interest forums, specialist online encyclopaedias and glossaries, or other platforms where information can be given, exchanged, shared, and obtained are examples of a knowledge management system.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQ sections provide bite-sized, cohesive answers to commonly asked questions and serve as a tool for finding information quickly. This is a small scale knowledge management system that helps improve your customers’ experience, provides quick and easy access to information, reduces the need for employees to answer simple questions, and increases your visibility online with search engines.
Video Tutorials, Articles, and How-To Guides
If you have ever found yourself watching cooking videos on Facebook or searching YouTube for assembly instructions for IKEA furniture, then you have accessed a knowledge management system. Articles, guides, and tutorials are a great way for users to learn a new skill or obtain information. Many websites and channels will feature more than one guide, allowing you to pick up multiple trades.
Training and Education Programs
For those seeking to upskill or simply try something new, there are a range of courses that can be found online, often for free. These courses can complement existing skills, provide you with a new hobby, or teach you a new language. Incorporating training and education programs into your business offerings can diversify your clientele, showcase your expertise, and provide an interactive platform for exchanging knowledge.
We’ve all experienced the rise in virtual gatherings due to a pandemic but why not consider hosting online events in the long term? Webinars are an excellent way for anyone around the world to access your business through training, keynote lectures, or as an educational tool. This can be used to build trust, enhance the value of your brand, and connect with a wider audience. Plus, a digital solution eliminates the need for a physical venue, travel costs, and catering.
How Can a Knowledge Management System Help You?
Attributed to its versatility, a knowledge management system can be adapted for multinational enterprises, small businesses, organisations, or tailored to improve cohesion amongst teams.
For Your Business
Business can be complex. However, with an established knowledge management system, it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to your B2B networks with an integrated system, streamlining the exchange of information and business transactions while being confident that your database is secure, accurate, and accessible. Incorporating a knowledge management system for your B2B experience can improve overall customer satisfaction, minimise maintenance, and ensure that your business is performing at its best.
Try: Databases, webinars.
For Your Staff
Not limited to just knowledge, the tool can be adapted to a learning management system. This allows improved processes across staff training, development, and communication, and can be applied as an ongoing resource for personal and professional development. Your human resources are an important asset so their ongoing growth is crucial to the operation of your business.
Try: Training programs, courses, forums.
For Your Customers
In the age of all things digital, many customers find that their first point of contact with a business is through their digital experience. In order to provide information, build brand loyalty, and drive sales, it is essential that the customer experience is seamless.
Digital transformation has changed the way customers are interacting with businesses through websites, social media, and mobile applications. A unified system ensures that wherever your customer is accessing your brand, they are able to find what they need quickly and easily.
Try: Articles, tutorials, FAQs.
Broader Benefits of a Knowledge Management System
Beyond helping a business to collect, store, and access information, a knowledge management system can help provide a range of organisational business benefits. Some of these include:
- Improving new employee onboarding and training by providing a central repository of knowledge
- Providing answers to employees with questions, especially those in customer-facing roles
- Enabling cross-organisational collaboration to ensure teams are on the same page with everything from strategy to policy to tactical questions
- Providing an overall productivity boost as employees no longer have to dig through email, chat threads, and old company wikis
- Creating better products and services by harnessing key historical insights and putting them to use in solution development
- Driving more effective strategic decision-making for the business through up to date and relevant historical information
- Retaining critical skills, knowledge, and expertise which can be reused repeatedly in similar or related areas
- Driving operational efficiencies by harnessing and understanding well captured and shared knowledge
- Using data and information to spot market trends and react faster than competitors
- Putting your collective intellectual capital to greater use, thereby driving up the value of your organisation and its people and products
Knowledge Management System FAQs
Here’s a quick summary of key elements covered in this article for you to remember and take away.
What is a knowledge management system?
A tool designed to streamline all aspects of business and provide a database of knowledge across various sectors.
What are some examples of knowledge management systems?
Search engines, community forums, how-to guides, video tutorials, online training and education courses, and webinars.
Who does a knowledge management system benefit?
It can help businesses with their operations and B2B transactions, improve staff learning and exchange of information, and provide customers with a seamless interaction with your brand.
Are You Ready for a Knowledge Management System?
Start by downloading this whitepaper that covers 6 tactics to modernise knowledge management by deploying a modern intranet. Discover the essential steps that can lead to a range of business benefits including a 20-25% boost to productivity and an increase in sales by up to 20%.
To learn more about how Liferay can deliver a tailored and flexible solution to meet the challenges of your business, visit www.liferay.com.