Knowledge management and business growth

Knowledge management systems

Guide

Various knowledge management systems can help your business make the best use of knowledge. Some of the systems can be complex to set up and time-consuming to maintain.

You need to choose systems that will fit your business and improve it without becoming a burden. You may find it useful to consult an IT specialist. At the very least, you should carry out a technology needs assessment before making any IT purchases. Your systems will deliver the greatest value for your business if you align them with your IT strategy

The main types of IT systems used in knowledge management are described below.

Database tools

Databases organise information so it can be easily accessed, managed and updated. For example, you might have a database of customers' contact information, their orders and preferences. In many situations, businesses can gain clear benefits from databases.

A data warehouse is a central storage area you might use if you have a variety of business systems or a range of information in different digital formats. Many businesses now use digital asset management to store, manage and retrieve information, and this can be particularly helpful if you sell online. You may wish to seek specialist advice from an IT consultant.

Data mining is a process in which all the data you collect is sorted to determine patterns. For instance, data mining can tell you which products are most popular and if one type of customer is likely to buy a particular item.

Reporting and querying tools let you create reports interpreting data in a particular way. For example, it can tell you how many of your sales have been handled by one particular employee.

Web-based tools

Business intelligence portals are websites that bring together all sorts of potentially useful information, such as legal issues or details of new research.

The internet and search engines can be a powerful source of knowledge, although be certain to check the credibility of your information source. Internet newsgroups can be specific sources of business information, but check the authors' other postings before deciding how to view their opinions and claimed facts.

Other powerful platforms for knowledge sharing and management can include intranets and extranets. An intranet is a secure internal network for the sole use of your business. An extranet is similar to an intranet but you can extend it to customers and suppliers. 

Social tools, such as social media channels and blogs can also be useful when it comes to sharing knowledge.

Customer analysis tools

Customer relationship management software helps you build up a profile of your customers and enables you to target them through your website, email, telephone or other marketing activities. Read more about customer relationship management.

Website analytics (eg Google Analytics) helps you to analyse how customers use your website so you can improve its effectiveness and work out better ways to target your customers.

If you decide to invest in a new information management system, it is essential that you consider the needs of your business, the different technology options and the implementation - each task is likely to present challenges and opportunities for your business.