Knowledge management is not new. It has been around since the early 1990s. The definition of knowledge management may feel a little ambiguous, but simply put, it is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.

The ability to manage knowledge is crucial in today’s economy. The creation and diffusion of knowledge have become increasingly important factors in competitiveness. More and more, knowledge is being thought of as a valuable commodity that is embedded in products – especially high-technology products.

Knowledge is every organization’s largest asset, yet it can be an overlooked and underutilized resource if not managed effectively. Knowledge in action gets results. It accelerates the rate of learning, cuts down the risks of not knowing and repeating mistakes, and retains knowledge assets when people move, leave, or retire.

Having “too much information” is not new. Humans have survived by processing large amounts of information in the subconscious brain while concentrating the conscious mind on the most pressing external business. Libraries were begun as shared repositories and the beginnings of thought about managing “too much information” by around 2,500 BC.

Every successful knowledge management program starts with a clear, focused strategy directed at issues of strategic importance to the business. A well designed and implemented knowledge management system will inform and educate your end users.

Well-built taxonomies are the core of successful knowledge management. Without the purpose-built taxonomy, the language of the knowledge contributor and the language of the knowledge user will typically fail to be bridged. The well-built taxonomies bridge language and usage differences, and provides accurate, consistent, persistent, and precise navigation and retrieval. If you can’t find it, it might as well not be there.

To begin improving your organization’s knowledge management capabilities, you need a firm understanding of where you stand and the challenges you face. It is time to take stock of your resources and your tools. Your first steps should include the following:

  1. Determine your most critically important knowledge
  2. Map out critical business activities
  3. Identify and isolate blockages

Once you have a firm sense of where you are and where you would like to be, get more information about how to reach your goals.

Finally, it is important to understand that knowledge management technology is only one component. Technology is only a tool; an enabling platform and nothing more, no matter how many bells and whistles try to distract you.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.