A knowledge management system (KMS) is an IT system that enhances the knowledge management process, including storing and retrieving knowledge, encouraging collaboration, and using that knowledge efficiently. According to Gartner in 2006, 85% of corporate knowledge was unstructured. Nowadays, KMSs have gained more traction as they open the door for people to connect and easily access information and knowledge. Instead of having large amounts of data and not using it to its full potential, a KMS can organize it and create knowledge from it.
For businesses, this is significant. As CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Lew Platt, once said, “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” Businesses are beginning to implement KMSs because by leveraging them, they are able to learn and adapt quicker. Instead of having to go through multiple hoops to get to the information you need, it provides an alternative method to encourage your employees and drive business practices.
Here are a couple ways that knowledge management systems can enhance your business.
Companies have a continuous flow of data. This flow of data needs to be categorised and managed in order to start using it for strategic planning or informing business decisions. For example, Expert Systems offers knowledge management software that takes care of the categorisation process and the classification of documents that make data both shareable and findable for the entire organisation. This means that a business can actually make sense of its data, rather than drown in a sea of numbers. Once data is categorised and organised, it makes it easier for people to leverage the knowledge that is available.
Faster business decision-making
With all the data that people have available to them, having the ability to process the data efficiently and be able to make decisions quicker is a great benefit for businesses. A KMS can make information more understandable and ready to help people make decisions. It makes it easier to pull out and share the essential information, driving discussion for improvements, goals and in the end, decisions. GE’s Corporate Executive Council, for example, recognized the potential that could be reached by implementing a KMS to aid them in making well-informed and faster business decisions. With compact two-day sessions to share ideas, experiences and best practices, the right steps were supported by their data.
Promotes cultural change
Managing the data can help employees evolve the business, no matter the size of the business. When people have access to helpful information, it opens the door for a free flow of ideas and growth. As these ideas come together and knowledge is shared and used, cultural change is promoted and drives innovation that every business needs to stay current and moving forward. For example, a company that has offices in 7 different countries but currently only has the capability to relay knowledge and information to its headquarters location could significantly benefit from a KMS. It would make knowledge available to all employees across the globe, thus promoting collaboration and cultural change. It also enables each team and location to reflect on their successes and failures and find new ways to improve performance. This encourages people to open up and create dialogue and encourages an environment that embraces change.
KMSs are certainly part of the future. Fortune 500 companies lose billions of dollars a year by not sharing knowledge and each business has a greater opportunity for success if knowledge is leveraged. As individuals learn, organizations learn. This is something that every business can benefit from.