Knowledge management is the organization of knowledge by an individual or within a company. Due to the ever-increasing masses of knowledge that have to be processed, good knowledge management is crucial.
Knowledge is acquired through various means and strategies, but apart from gaining knowledge it should also be easy and fast to retrieve stored knowledge. Brains work like hard drives in the sense that there is only limited storage space. Therefore, organizing knowledge in an effective manner can guarantee work performance and should be a major focus in companies.
Knowledge management, or “KM” in short, deals with a variety of methods in order to identify, create, represent, distribute and adopt knowledge in the form of insights or experiences in individuals as well as in processes or practices. KM was established as a discipline in 1991 and is used in various fields of business including administration, information systems, general management, and library and information sciences. Other fields such as information and media, computer science, public health and public policy have also influenced KM. Large companies use resources from departments like business strategy, information technology and human resources for the realization of KM. There are also consulting companies that will give advice on KM and provide strategies.
The reason why knowledge management is so important is because it directly influences areas such as improved work performance, the competitive advantage of a company or product, innovation development, integration and continuous improvement of the company as a whole. KM also encourages and facilitates knowledge sharing within companies. Among the most popular KM strategies is storing information in databases, having experts answer questions on specific topics, offering rewards as a means of motivation, and the use of social software such as wikis and blogs.
Good knowledge management may benefit a company in several ways: it enables the sharing of information through all levels of hierarchy, can reduce redundancies and the amount of time needed for employee training, can generally improve time management in the product development and production process and in case an employee leaves the company, KM might help the company retain their intellectual property if knowledge is encoded.