Knowledge Management System: Definition and Examples
How is knowledge management related to innovation?
It is quite important to ask this question since unused knowledge can’t be used to solve problems. Useful ideas spur all the time and many organizations either fail to store them or let them pass when they don’t see a direct benefit while some ideas may be very useful in the future.
You could view these ideas as knowledge as well – as well as reviewed innovation projects and lessons learned when properly documented, which is why it is vital to have a system in place to organize the knowledge needed for these ideas.
That is where knowledge management systems come in.
What is a knowledge management system?
A knowledge management system is any tool or software that helps in storing and retrieving knowledge for quick access and distribution. These systems are used both inside the organization as well as outside.
Most organizations use a knowledge management system to help their members use knowledge to achieve better results. To do this, the tool must be able to gather all the knowledge and ideas into one place.
What are the benefits of using a knowledge management system?
In general, a knowledge management system is important for an organization to effectively share all relevant information with its members.
In terms of innovation, these systems will help make the overall process smoother and easier since ideas can be easily collected, stored, and enriched. Furthermore, as more people with common knowledge build on ideas, the better those ideas will be.
With that, here are some of the advantages of using a knowledge management system:
1. Better Decision-making
Knowledge and information have an important role in decision-making. In fact, they play a role in each of the four stages of decision-making, namely:
Identification and structuring of the problem or opportunity
Placing the problem or opportunity in the context
Generation of alternatives
Choosing the best alternative
For example, let’s say that your organization wants to innovate how your products are being delivered to your customers. You have already gathered a lot of ideas by asking your members to brainstorm.
The next step is to select which ideas are worth pursuing and which has the highest chance of solving the problem. It will then be beneficial for the managers and decision-makers to know about:
How each idea will impact the organization’s bottom line
How long the development of each idea will take once you place them in the innovation roadmap
The answer to these questions may then be found in the knowledge management system.
Simply, the more information available, the better the decisions will be.
2. Quick Access to Information
Innovation is important in terms of competitive advantage and survival. You can only reap the benefits of innovation if you streamline your innovation process, which is hard to implement without a process or a system that will enable everyone to have quick access to information.
As stated in the earlier section, information management is important for better decision-making. Decision-making could be improved if it is done faster, which can greatly make a difference in the business world.
That is why knowledge management systems nowadays can be accessed online easily on any device. That knowledge may be needed on-the-go, with the employee not being in the office at that exact time.
3. Increased Collaboration and Idea Generation
In innovation, better collaboration and idea generation boils down to a single thing: productivity.
Let’s say a team is in charge of an innovation opportunity. These members would be able to easily work together if there would be a way for them to communicate and share knowledge with each other.
That is one reason why Accept Mission has a “boards” feature, a collaboration tool that will enable teams to work together in real-time and share knowledge with each other. It can also be used to generate ideas centered around a theme or a problem.
4. Improved Quality of Information and Data
Imagine how much iota of knowledge is lost simply because it is not recorded. The same may happen in an organization. Better ideas and solutions will always come from people who are more knowledgeable about that certain subject.
For example, the team looking for a solution on how to innovate the product delivery will be able to make use of information coming from people who:
Know the product really well
Has knowledge over how the current product delivery
Has experience of how the current delivery affects them
This will then loop back over how information is important in decision-making. In this sense, better ideas are generated when there is a high quality of information coming from the right sources.
5. Security of Intellectual Property
According to a web security website, 2,244 hacking attacks per day take place globally, with an attack every 39 seconds on average. This is a 67% increase over the last five years, with around 30,000 new websites being hacked a day.
Although the usual purpose of these attacks is mostly to gain usernames and passwords, which can be used for plenty of malicious activities, it is still possible to steal intellectual property by simply using those credentials to log in to certain websites.
In fact, recent information showed that hackers are not always after banking details or personal information. These “millennial hackers” steal information and ideas that may lead to legal and easily explainable profit.
This is why using a more secure knowledge management system is important, rather than simply leaving your profitable ideas behind simple notepads and online document processors.
What are some examples of knowledge management systems?
1. Document Management Systems
As the name suggests, document management is about filing digital documents. What you get is like an online, centralized, digital filing that will make it easy to retrieve documents and enhance workflow.
To buff the security, document management systems have passwords and backup processes that protect them from outside threats. Unfortunately, most document management systems only have basic capabilities, and upgrading the system may increase the associated cost.
Examples of document management systems include:
2. Content Management Systems
Content Management Systems (CMS) are similar to document management but in a more advanced manner. Aside from documents, content management systems store audio, video, and other media files that are not usually supported by document management systems.
There are three types of content management systems:
Software as a Service (SaaS) CMS
An open-source CMS has no initial cost. You do not need to pay for any license or upgrade fees. It is all good on paper, but most of the functionalities you get from the free core offering can be considered basic. Upgrades and further customization are what you need to pay for.
Examples of open-source CMS include:
As opposed to open-source CMS, proprietary CMS tools are managed only by a single company. All you need to do is buy a license fee or subscribe on a monthly basis and pay additional for customization and upgrades.
Proprietary CMS may seem costly, but they usually pack more features out of the box. They are also more complicated than open-source CMS and may require extensive development work. Examples of proprietary CMS include:
IBM Enterprise Content Management
SaaS CMS are virtual solutions that are hosted in the cloud. Services can be bought either through a subscription model or a per-user/per-site basis. With a SaaS CMS, you get a combination of web content management software, web hosting, and tech support.
Most open-source and proprietary CMS offer SaaS CMS for significantly higher prices compared to their basic offerings.
Databases can be considered more advanced than the previous types of knowledge management systems. For one, they are computer software that capture, store, analyze, and interact with data.
Robust databases allow multiple users (in the thousands) to not only access the information but also to interact with it and perform calculations. Knowledge stored in databases can be very secure as these systems prohibit manipulation.
Examples of databases include:
4. Innovation Software
Innovation software can also be considered a knowledge management system. Most of these tools have some way to enable members to collect and organize ideas and knowledge related to a certain theme.
What is even better is that knowledge entered into these systems may inspire more ideas from others. The best ideas may then be placed in the innovation roadmap and progressed into innovation projects.
Examples of innovation software include:
In Accept Mission, there is an inbox feature for themes and topics where users can drop their ideas and information related to the topic.
Let’s say there is a “VR” inbox.
Members of your organization may then be able to contribute ideas related to VR that might be beneficial. Those who are knowledgeable in VR may also drop what they know to further inspire more ideas.
Once you have all of the ideas, you may then run the selection process and assess all those ideas using your metrics and criteria that you design. The best idea can then become an innovation project, all without leaving the platform.
Next steps: Accept Mission is the most complete innovation management platform out there. One of its use cases is knowledge management, where your members may share ideas on certain subjects of interest.
With it, everyone in your organization can create profiles based on expertise. You can then invite the right people on certain ideation missions based on those profiles. Ideas will then be collected in inboxes and boards, where they will be assessed and progressed into projects.