Enterprise businesses today have quite the challenge: they’re tasked with navigating an increasingly dynamic business landscape and overcoming ever-evolving obstacles while still growing and excelling as an organization. From a global talent shortage to tumultuous economic conditions, enterprises need to use every tool in their arsenal to not only weather these and other storms but to flourish and grow. One key strategic tool available to enterprise businesses is their company-wide knowledge, which is vital in any organization.
Every enterprise protocol, system, and practice–along with the individual expertise of every employee– can be considered valuable knowledge. And while knowledge is likely abundant, enterprises today are faced with another challenge: the ability to organize and retrieve knowledge so it can be swiftly accessed and used when needed. To do that, these businesses need enterprise knowledge management systems to ensure that knowledge sharing is a powerful strategic advantage.
What Is Enterprise Knowledge Management?
Enterprises possess a large amount of internal and external knowledge, and enterprise knowledge management is the process of organizing, curating, and retrieving this information in a user-friendly way. Enterprise knowledge management helps prevent knowledge silos and also helps ensure that knowledge isn’t lost in an organization.
According to one global survey by Deloitte, business and IT executives report that 55% of enterprise data goes unused. Enterprise knowledge management enables information to be leveraged by the people who need it most, which is one of the biggest benefits of a knowledge base.
What Are the Parameters of Enterprise Knowledge Management?
Enterprise knowledge management is a comprehensive system that has three key parameters. We go over them in detail below.
Knowledge capture refers to how knowledge is collected, particularly tacit knowledge, which is gained through lived experience but can be difficult to articulate. Excellent leadership skills are an example of tacit knowledge in the workplace.
In reference to enterprise knowledge management, knowledge capture refers to how information is collected and turned into something that can be used by others who wish to learn from it.
Not everyone needs the same details in an enterprise organization, which is where knowledge curation comes into play. Knowledge curation is the process of organizing knowledge and presenting it in a way that makes it easy for people to navigate, so they can consume information that’s relevant to them.
When knowledge is buried in a cluttered inbox or tucked away into stuffed filing cabinets, it will not be useful, even if the content itself is excellent. Knowledge sharing refers to how knowledge is distributed across the enterprise organization.
Knowledge sharing should be done in a way that is efficient, relevant, and organized. For example, someone going through onboarding should easily access their onboarding materials, while a customer support agent should also be able to search for the answer to a customer query.
How Does Enterprise Knowledge Management Benefit Your Business?
How exactly does enterprise knowledge management benefit a business? In general, enterprise knowledge management democratizes information and makes it extremely accessible, so anyone can swiftly use it. This helps a company, its employees, and its customers.
Let’s go over the advantages below.
Employees Benefit From the Knowledge of Others
Employees benefit from enterprise knowledge management because they’re able to use the knowledge of their organization and peers to work more efficiently and make informed decisions. They are also able to share what they know to help their peers, which can have a tangible impact and increase their job satisfaction.
Employees Don’t Have to Rely on Their Colleagues to Find Information
Employees can be self-sufficient when looking for information and answers, and they don’t need to rely on the assistance of their colleagues. Let’s say a team leader is working on a presentation for their department head, and they need to find out what the organization already knows about the ways their customers are using a certain product.
That employee can turn to their company’s enterprise knowledge management solution to swiftly find the answer instead of asking a colleague (which can be a slower process, requiring work from that colleague). Enterprise knowledge management ultimately helps free up resources because employees are not reliant on one another for answers.
Enterprise knowledge management also benefits a business by creating consistency around details. Often, there might be a consistent and dedicated way of executing a task in a business, but that knowledge might not be widely shared.
For example, if an employee handbook is inaccessible, an employee will be hard-pressed to dig it up to refer to their company’s style guidelines when writing their next email. When knowledge is centralized and accessible, it can be consistent across the board.
Can Access Information Quickly
Enterprise knowledge management allows employees to find the answers they’re looking for quickly and can improve productivity in a business. According to McKinsey & Company, employees spend 20% of their time at work searching for information they need. Thanks to enterprise knowledge management, employees can get that valuable time back because the information is readily available.
Improves Collaboration and Communication
Enterprise knowledge management can help improve collaboration and communication by making knowledge readily available and preventing knowledge silos. For example, on-demand access to knowledge can help keep a cross-department project moving forward and prevent delays in exchanging information when team members are working in different locations or time zones.
When knowledge is centralized, everyone can work together better. In general, studies find that knowledge sharing leads to better creativity, increased innovation, and better performance.
How to Apply Enterprise Knowledge Management
Enterprise knowledge management can be a powerful tool for businesses. With that in mind, here are steps to apply an enterprise knowledge management strategy to your organization.
Assistance From Colleagues
Leaders should solicit assistance from employees since much of the necessary knowledge either lives with them or is used by them. You can ask your employees via a survey what information they would like to see incorporated into the enterprise knowledge management system and what knowledge they feel is inaccessible or buried when they need it most. You can also host a meeting at the beginning of every project, where everyone on the team involved can share their knowledge related to the project.
Businesses can host brainstorming sessions where colleagues can share ideas and thoughts in an open forum. This type of session is great for collaboration and can be an excellent way of crowdsourcing solutions and ideas. After brainstorming sessions, the shared information can be recorded in the business’ knowledge management system so anyone can refer to it at any time.
Collect New Ideas From Your Staff
Additionally, because team members are bound to come up with excellent new ideas, there should be a process around collecting them to execute enterprise knowledge management. Leaders can keep employees engaged by encouraging them to share ideas and prompting them to ask questions so that others can respond with new ideas. Concepts can be shared through text and other rich media (such as videos or images), which can then be uploaded to the business’ knowledge management system.
Another practice businesses can adopt to apply enterprise knowledge management is ensuring there are workspaces for collaboration. Collaborative workspaces can be physical if a team is in the same space or virtual if a team is hybrid or remote.
Either way, collaborative workspaces can include colleagues from different departments and be an excellent place to nurture ideas. After collaborative workspace sessions, the items discussed can be uploaded in a digital format into the knowledge management system.
Enterprises need to consider a system to reap the full benefits of enterprise knowledge management. The goals and uses outlined above can be considered when choosing the right knowledge management system.