All businesses have access to an extensive pool of knowledge – whether this is their understanding of customers’ needs and the business environment or the skills and experience of staff.
The way a business gathers, shares and exploits this knowledge can be central to its ability to develop successfully. This doesn’t just apply to huge multinational companies. Knowledge management can benefit everyone from a local newsstand to a manufacturing firm.
This guide explains the basic sources of knowledge available to your business, how you can best harness and exploit this information and how to create a knowledge strategy for your business.
Using knowledge in your business isn’t necessarily about thinking up clever new products and services, or devising ingenious new ways of selling them. It’s much more straightforward.
Useful and important knowledge already exists in your business. It can be found in:
- the experience of your employees
- the designs and processes for your goods and services
- your files of documents (whether held digitally, on paper or both)
- your plans for future activities, such as ideas for new products or services
The challenge is harnessing this knowledge in a coherent and productive way.
Existing forms of knowledge
- You’ve probably done market research into the need for your business to exist in the first place. If nobody wanted what you’re selling, you wouldn’t be trading. You can tailor this market knowledge to target particular customers with specific types of product or service.
- Your files of documents from and about customers and suppliers hold a wealth of information which can be invaluable both in developing new products or services and improving existing ones.
- Your employees are likely to have skills and experience that you can use as an asset. Having staff who are knowledgeable can be invaluable in setting you apart from competitors. You should make sure that your employees’ knowledge and skills are passed on to their colleagues and successors wherever possible, e.g. through brainstorming sessions, training courses and documentation. See the page in this guide: create a knowledge strategy for your business.
Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your employees’ know-how, can be regarded as your knowledge base.
Using this knowledge in the right way can help you run your business more efficiently, decrease business risks and exploit opportunities to the full. This is known as the knowledge advantage.