Types of Knowledge Management Systems

8 min read
About the Author
Sanjay Jain
Sanjay Jain

One of several technology experts at Bloomfire, Sanjay and his team are responsible for the development of our platform and for advancing capabilities for digital knowledge workers to better scan, search, select, synthesize, socialize, and signify your company’s knowledge with AI.

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    In today’s competitive business environment, leveraging your workforce’s collective knowledge is more crucial than ever. That’s where knowledge management systems (KMS) come in. These systems are not just repositories of information but strategic tools that enhance how organizations capture, organize, and share knowledge.

    An effective knowledge management system provides a unified platform that helps preserve knowledge when employees leave and serves as a one-stop shop where employees can access best practices, troubleshooting guides, and other critical job-related information. This centralization ensures that employees have consistent and easy access to necessary resources, empowering them to be more productive and informed.

    Knowledge management systems vary widely in their capabilities and are tailored to meet different strategic needs. Below, we will explore the different types of knowledge management systems and examples of how they are used in organizations, emphasizing their role in gaining a competitive advantage.

    What is a Knowledge Management System?

    A knowledge management system (KMS) is a cloud-based platform that stores and organizes information to improve efficiency, understanding, and alignment. Companies use knowledge management systems to consolidate information in one central source. Employees use the knowledge management system as their go-to location for shared information rather than relying on multiple systems (e.g., a company intranet, email, locally saved files, etc.).

    Knowledge management systems are designed to accommodate multiple types of information, including documents, videos, presentations, FAQs, audio files, and more. Employees across the company can contribute information to the system, promoting knowledge retention and continuous learning. 

    The Strategic Role of Knowledge Management Systems

    Knowledge management systems are utilized across different levels of an organization to streamline several key functions:

    Onboarding Employees

    Introducing new hires to a knowledge management system from day one can significantly speed up onboarding by providing immediate access to all necessary resources about the company, its products, and policies. This approach makes new employees feel welcomed and prepared, enhancing their productivity. In a study of Bloomfire customers, we found that 93% of our respondents had improved their onboarding time since implementing Bloomfire. 

    Enhancing Internal Communications

    With knowledge management systems, companies can centralize their communications, ensuring that important updates are not lost in transit. Systems like Bloomfire excel in this area by allowing for the customization of homepages and facilitating automatic notifications. Bloomfire integrates seamlessly with popular communication tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, enabling organizations to set up automated notifications that keep everyone informed and engaged across multiple platforms.

    Streamlining Customer Service

    Customer service teams can use a knowledge management system to put answers to customers’ questions at their agent’s fingertips. When a customer calls (or chats with) an agent, the agent can perform a quick keyword search in the knowledge management platform to find relevant, approved information they can use to assist the customer. This helps reduce average handle time (AHT), improve first-call resolution, and reduce the number of calls that must be placed on hold or transferred.

    Facilitating On-Demand Training

    Knowledge management systems offer versatile platforms that enable employees to access training materials at their convenience, providing a seamless integration of learning into the daily workflow. This asynchronous approach complements formal training sessions by allowing employees to use training resources—such as video tutorials, how-to guides, and FAQs—whenever needed. Centralized in a knowledge management system, these resources are easily accessible and can be broken down into bite-sized components, making it easier for employees to digest and apply new knowledge without disrupting productivity. This method enhances learning flexibility and ensures that training is continuously available, supporting ongoing professional development across the organization.

    5 Examples of Knowledge Management Systems in Organizations

    Different types of knowledge management systems can be used for different purposes. Below are examples you may encounter while researching knowledge management solutions for your organization:

    1. Online Community Forums

    An online community forum is a website where visitors with a shared interest or area of expertise can ask and answer one another’s questions and share feedback or recommendations. In some cases, brands will create an online forum for their customers or fans to network and provide peer-to-peer support. Examples of branded community forums include Underlined, Penguin Random House’s platform for writers and book lovers, and Community Center, Airbnb’s forum for verified hosts to share knowledge, get inspired, and network.

    Online community forums can help businesses keep customers engaged and happy, generate content from their biggest advocates, conduct market research, and innovate their products based on user feedback.

    2. Learning Management Systems (LMS)

    As the name suggests, learning management systems focus on housing, distributing, and tracking engagement with learning and training materials. An LMS is designed to allow employees to access learning materials from anywhere, on demand. Functionality may include interactive quizzes, engagement analytics, customizable learning paths, and course creation and management tools. Examples of LMS software solutions include Seismic and Moodle.

    The benefits of an LMS include allowing organizations to efficiently upskill employees, onboard new hires faster, hold employees accountable for staying up-to-date with training, and increase job satisfaction.

    3. Customer Service Knowledge Bases

    Customer support knowledge bases consolidate customer-facing information and FAQs and make them easy to access. These knowledge bases can be either internal or external. In other words, they can be employee-only systems that allow service representatives to quickly search for and find information to assist customers, or they can be customer-facing websites that empower customers to help themselves by finding answers to common questions. Bloomfire is an example of a platform that can be used as an internal and external knowledge base: you can read about how businesses like Orvis use Bloomfire to connect their associates with product and customer knowledge, and you can check out our Help Center for an external knowledge base example.

    Customer service knowledge bases provide many benefits, including increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty, reducing the average time to resolve customer issues, and enabling customer-facing associates to work more efficiently. 

    4. Research and Insights Libraries

    Research and insights libraries are cloud-based platforms that serve as repositories for market research and consumer insights materials. These platforms typically house diverse content, including research reports, slide decks, industry news, customer interview recordings, and secondary vendor research. Many organizations opt to maintain separate libraries—one for finalized content ready to be shared with stakeholders and another for raw materials like video recordings, which are more accessible for research teams to analyze.

    Bloomfire enhances these libraries with advanced video transcription features, making spoken words within videos searchable. This capability allows users to efficiently locate and review critical moments in customer interviews, helping to identify and act on emerging trends quickly.

    Research libraries significantly amplify the impact of customer insights throughout an organization by simplifying access to research materials and facilitating the application of these insights in strategic decision-making. These platforms also minimize redundant research efforts by enabling all teams to view existing materials, thus fostering increased communication and engagement with valuable insights and centralizing the search process across all research sources.

    5. Company-Wide Knowledge Management Systems

    Companies possess a vast trove of knowledge and insights, which often become siloed within teams or departments. Company-wide knowledge management systems are designed to distribute knowledge across an entire organization, so everyone has one place to find the information to do their jobs. Because these platforms contain large volumes of knowledge in many different formats, they must have:

    • A powerful search engine
    • The ability to tailor the way information is structured (e.g., creating custom categories and sub-categories)
    • The ability to easily create and update content (with no coding required)
    • Permission to control who has access to sensitive or department-specific content
    • The ability to automate maintenance processes and make updates to content in bulk

    Due to the configurable and scalable nature of Bloomfire, our platform supports cross-department or company-wide knowledge management for many of our customers, including Insperity, Dominion Energy, and Dime Community Bank.

    One of the most significant benefits of a company-wide knowledge management system is that it allows an organization to maximize the value of its collective intelligence. It can reduce employees’ time searching for information, prevent knowledge loss, amplify subject matter expertise, keep teams aligned, and empower everyone to do impactful work.

    Empowering Your Organization with the Right Knowledge Management System

    There are many types of knowledge management applications, each designed to enhance specific aspects of organizational efficiency and intelligence sharing. Choosing the right kind of knowledge management system is crucial for leveraging the full potential of your organization’s collective intelligence. By understanding these various systems and their applications; you can select a solution that not only meets your current operational needs but also supports your long-term strategic goals.

    Select the Right KM Solution

    Download our free, comprehensive “Ultimate Guide to Knowledge Management and Top Software Platforms.

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    About the Author
    Sanjay Jain
    Sanjay Jain

    One of several technology experts at Bloomfire, Sanjay and his team are responsible for the development of our platform and for advancing capabilities for digital knowledge workers to better scan, search, select, synthesize, socialize, and signify your company’s knowledge with AI.

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