Understanding Knowledge Management & Why It’s So Important For Businesses

Every business needs to have a proper IT infrastructure to fully sustain itself through growth. In early stages or growing businesses, such as with small businesses and startups, it can be easy (and tempting) to try and handle the wealth of information technology independently or delegate different IT responsibilities to different platforms and their teams. However, this isn’t easy to leverage, and keeping up with various companies becomes frustrating and tiresome.

Outsourcing to professional IT teams, however, is on the rise. One report found that the healthcare industry in North America alone is projected to spend $50.4 billion on outsourcing information technology, up from $35 billion in 2013.

Cloud computing and SaaS are just two examples of what IT comprises, and because it covers so much virtual ground, it deserves its own dedicated system for management. This is where knowledge management comes in. Knowledge management is the process of evaluating, capturing, distributing, and using keystone data. It’s the overall process of organizing your business’s information holistically, and being able to share assets like documents, procedures, and policies for the better of the company and its clients.

Understanding Types of Knowledge
There are two primary ways to think about knowledge management: explicit (knowledge that can be readily accessed and verbalized) and tacit knowledge (knowledge that’s difficult to translate verbally, but better understood to the individual to whom it belongs). In short: this is the knowledge that is most difficult to effectively communicate.

There are several examples of tacit knowledge that allow you to better understand its definition. One of those examples is language itself. How do you teach someone to learn another language? This is a question that would be hard to answer, as it’s highly illusive.

Another tacit knowledge example made famous by Ikujiro Nonaka is based on one company’s quest to engineer a home bread-maker. The knowledge necessary to properly build this type of technology required that engineers work alongside experienced breadmakers and learn about the various motions and “feels” of kneading dough — knowledge that is only gained through experience, and only truly conveyed by the individual(s) who conducted initial field research.

Why Knowledge Management Is So Important
One of the biggest reasons why different types of knowledge should be properly managed is to prevent knowledge loss during employee turnover. Tacit knowledge, for example, leaves with the employee if it isn’t properly recorded. Most importantly, it’s this type of knowledge that is difficult for competitors to grasp and imitate.

Knowledge management is also critical for problem management. Teams are armed with information because there are processes in place for documentation that outline causes, errors, workarounds, and resolutions. It’s also much simpler to manage issue trends and prevent future issues from occurring.

Realizing these issues and their importance helps you better understand why you’d need cloud service management that provides ITIL verified Knowledge Management, which allows businesses to translate their knowledge into solutions and answers readily available to users. The knowledge management process is the last step ITIL Service stage, ensuring that every staff member has sufficient knowledge to contribute the mission and vision of the IT team, adding immense value along the way.

After all, the ability to formulate and rectify internal recipes is crucial for both the business and its customers. It results in overall cost reduction, higher customer service satisfaction, and better agent productivity.

This is exactly what prompted JIRA to release a JIRA Service Desk feature that allowed agents to search, view, and share knowledge directly from an issue. Armed with the ability to easily share knowledge, IT teams could streamline their ITIL processes. For example, if someone was having an issue with VPN access, an agent could quickly suggest fixes based on the ticket keywords. Overall, the knowledge-centered service desk allows IT teams to respond and service issues much more quickly and efficiently.

Stages of Knowledge Management
Everyone views stages of knowledge management a little differently, so there is no clear-cut, step-by-step method, but generally, there are three primary stages. The first stage of knowledge management is propelled by information technology. In layman’s terms, this is the “lessons learned” stage where technology is used to set the foundation for intellectual property.

After the technology is accounted for, the second stage is incorporating that knowledge into human resources and company culture. This is essentially the process of humanizing what has been learned, and spreading knowledge through the company and/or providing a change in structure based on that knowledge. The third phase involves addressing the importance of that knowledge and the ability to retrieve it. This is the content management and taxonomy stage.

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