What is knowledge management? A guide for 2024

By Randi Sherman

9 min read

What is knowledge management? A guide for 2024
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

The landscape of business and technology is a moving target in 2024, but one thing that remains constant for organizations is the need for effective knowledge management. 

We live in a time when information flows instantly and globally, so how an organization handles its knowledge assets can be the difference between success and obsolescence. Knowledge drives productivity and helps companies maintain consistency. Certain types of knowledge can be transformative and are essential to business growth. Some kinds of knowledge are easily documented and shared, while other types are less tangible because they are connected to a specific individual and fueled by experience. 

Few things can genuinely transform an organization, and knowledge management is one of them. As a business evolves and grows, how it documents, manages, and shares knowledge becomes essential to staying relevant and profitable. 

Today, we’ll discuss knowledge management and take a deep dive into fundamental concepts, benefits, strategies, challenges, risks, and best practices to help business leaders better understand this critical asset and how to preserve and manage it to its greatest potential.

Table of contents

What is knowledge management?
Knowledge management in the digital age
Key concepts in knowledge management
Benefits of implementing a knowledge management strategy
Knowledge management strategies and approaches
Challenges and risks in knowledge management
Best practices for effective knowledge management
Future trends and Innovations in Knowledge Management

What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management is the process by which an organization creates, captures, shares, and applies knowledge to achieve its objectives. Effective knowledge management establishes a suite of strategies and tools designed to manage the intellectual assets and expertise held by individuals within the organization.

Bring your people together

A successful knowledge management strategy maintains this information so it’s accessible, shareable, and secure. When knowledge is inaccessible or held within silos, it can cost the business quite a lot, as too much time will be spent on seeking out the knowledge rather than getting on with what needs to be done. 

A successful knowledge management strategy includes a centralized knowledge base, where company knowledge is stored and easily accessed or shared when needed. Knowledge enables collaboration, training, onboarding, and faster time-to-market. Companies with a strong focus on knowledge management tend to achieve their business goals more easily simply because knowledge is readily available to the appropriate stakeholders. 

Bottom line? Knowledge management can enhance decision-making, increase productivity, and drive employee success and customer satisfaction—all of which are pivotal to business growth. If your organization lacks a knowledge management strategy, now’s the time to get intentional. 

Knowledge management in the digital age

Digital transformation has ushered in a new age for knowledge management. Remote work has become more the norm than the exception, and companies with global interests are now connected beyond borders. 

Different time zones, working hours, and work environments make it necessary to decentralize company information so people have what they need to do their jobs. 

Without ready access to critical information, teams would be unable to function efficiently. An online knowledge base and content management system help employees succeed in their roles, and that’s the prime objective. 

When employees feel like they are succeeding, they are happier, more productive, and will likely stay in their jobs long-term. A knowledge management system empowers them to be more accountable, work independently, and take ownership of their projects, ensuring crucial information is accessible, irrespective of location or time. 

Considering the above, knowledge management is a win for all concerned. Employees are happy because they can get more done, and employers benefit from greater productivity, a culture of learning, knowledge continuity, and lower barriers to market success. 

Key concepts in knowledge management

Knowledge management systems are in high demand in 2024. Here are a few concepts on which they are based.

Data, information, and knowledge

Understanding the relationship between data, information, and knowledge is foundational to knowledge management. While data represents raw facts and figures, information is contextualized, organized, and stored in various types of documents. Knowledge, then, is the awareness and understanding of the data and information translated into actionable insights.

Tacit and explicit knowledge

Tacit and explicit knowledge reflect the fundamental expertise that exists within an organization. Both are essential to business continuity.

  • Explicit knowledge is quantifiable. It can be easily documented and shared, supporting training, onboarding, and process optimization. Examples include employee or product manuals, reports, policies, and procedures. Explicit knowledge forms a basis for daily operations and all job-related activities. 
  • Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is more personal and context-specific. It’s often hard to codify as it’s the knowledge ingrained in an individual’s experience or inherent talent. Transferring tacit knowledge may not be possible through documentation. Companies may choose to implement mentorship or coaching programs to ensure tacit knowledge is passed on. 

Knowledge creation, capture, and sharing

These functions are the lifeblood of a knowledge management strategy. As knowledge becomes available, it is captured and recorded to be shared across the organization. A successful implementation will consider how to identify useful knowledge, methods to document the processes, and how it will be shared. 

Benefits of implementing a knowledge management strategy

Organizations with functional knowledge management systems are rewarded in many ways, ultimately leading to increased productivity, profitability, and employee and customer satisfaction. 

Here are just a few of the benefits that support these measurable improvements. 

  • Improved decision-making. Business decisions can’t be made in a vacuum. From the C-suite down to individual teams, knowledge transparency ensures people are focused on the right things and aligned to the same goals, helping them make the best possible decisions in any scenario. 
  • Enhanced collaboration and knowledge sharing. Good knowledge management removes barriers to communication and improves trust in leadership and within the organization. Knowledge sharing is essential to collaboration, accelerating business outcomes, and improving alignment with shared goals. 
  • Increased organizational efficiency and innovation. When employees can locate and access information quickly, they spend less time searching and more time actively involved in productive activities. An efficient knowledge management system ensures fewer distractions, less frustration, and less time spent seeking help from coworkers or the help desk. 

Knowledge management strategies and approaches

Creating a knowledge management strategy isn’t about setting up complex systems; it’s about making knowledge work for your organization. 

Here are a few concepts to consider. 

Knowledge capture and documentation

  • Knowledge mapping establishes a visual directory of resources within the organization. This strategic map allows leaders and managers to identify expertise, streamline resource allocation, and encourage a more collaborative working environment. A knowledge map connects knowledge to its sources, often with additional information to illuminate alternate sources or adjacent/complementary expertise. 
  • Communities of practice highlights the collective wisdom of groups who share interests, skills, or specialties. These communities exchange ideas, address common challenges, develop best practices, and establish a fertile landscape for innovation and learning.

Knowledge storage and retrieval

Once captured, knowledge must be stored and organized for easy retrieval.

  • Taxonomies and metadata classify content systematically, enabling analysis, categorization, and simplifying search. 
  • Content management systems (CMS) are practical and versatile platforms that aid in collecting, managing, and distributing information in any form or medium. These systems are the backbone for a well-organized and accessible internal knowledge base.

Knowledge sharing and collaboration

Knowledge circulates within an organization through social intranets, collaboration tools, learning management systems, and employee success platforms.

  • Social intranets and collaboration tools are digital platforms that enable internal communication and information sharing, facilitating discussions and teamwork beyond office confines.
  • Learning management systems (LMS) are used to deploy online training and monitor employee progress, nurturing a culture of continuous improvement, skill development, and knowledge acquisition.

Challenges and risks in knowledge management

All business initiatives face challenges during implementation. What works for other organizations might not work for yours, so it’s vital to think about what you need to accomplish, who will be using the system, and how it’s going to roll out. Ideally, your system should be simple and user-friendly and provide features your employees want and will use. 

Before you dive in, here are a few common risks to be aware of. 

Knowledge silos and information overload

Without a decentralized knowledge base, departments may hoard information, creating silos that keep valuable knowledge from the people who need it. Considering the sheer volume of data companies generate daily, this could understandably lead to information overload, where critical knowledge is lost in the noise.

Cultural and behavioral barriers

An organization’s culture can significantly impact knowledge sharing—sometimes to its detriment. For example, employees are less inclined to share in environments where information is power. Changing this mindset is essential, but it requires strategic behavioral shifts and a concerted effort on the part of company leadership to maintain it. 

Security and privacy concerns

Securing sensitive knowledge may seem a bit paradoxical in the context of a collaborative culture. There is a delicate balance between safeguarding intellectual property and encouraging a sharing culture. However, this can be established through company policy and role-based access and authentication protocols at the software level. 

Best practices for effective knowledge management

Implementing best practices helps to overcome many of the challenges and risks outlined above. Here are a few suggested guidelines to set you up for knowledge management success.

Leadership and organizational support

A strong commitment from leadership is crucial for fostering a knowledge-driven culture. Leaders can support knowledge sharing by actively participating and advocating for the practice. Their attitude towards knowledge management will resonate through all aspects of the organization.

User adoption and engagement

The best knowledge management systems are only as good as their users. Organizations will increase engagement and improve buy-in by closely involving users in the knowledge management process, providing them with the necessary training, and creating incentives for active participation. Tailoring knowledge systems to meet the needs of the employees helps, too. Involve your people in the process to ensure you’re putting effort into the right things. 

Continuous learning and improvement

Knowledge management is not a “set-and-forget” system. Continuous evaluation, learning, and improvement are essential to ensure knowledge management efforts remain aligned with organizational objectives and external industry shifts and trends. Encouraging feedback helps keep your initiative relevant. Adapt processes and strategies as needed to improve and evolve.

Future trends and innovations in knowledge management

  • Automation. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will undoubtedly shape the future of knowledge management. Most knowledge management systems have some element of AI, helping to automate and organize file structures and clean incoming data from external business systems.
  • Social media features are more prevalent in modern knowledge systems, as they encourage friendly engagement and collaboration with familiar elements like the ability to like, share, and comment on content. Such engagement is also beneficial for the organization, as it highlights employee interests and may inform further learning or coaching. 
  • Strong focus on user experience. Customizable desktops are a highly desirable feature as they enable the employee to organize their tools and most-used features in a way that works best for them. Ultimately, no matter how great and accessible your content is, it’s much more impactful if the design and interface appeal to the user. 


Knowledge is power; there is no question. Business success hinges on niche expertise and knowledge. In today’s remote-enabled business landscape, sharing such information becomes a complex task as we need to consider employees working in different locations, from their own devices, and sometimes in different time zones entirely. 

Knowledge management systems are essential to enhance the benefits of the remote environment. Such systems make it possible to create, store, organize, and share critical content, breaking down silos, enabling collaboration, improving communication, and establishing a culture of sharing. 

A successful knowledge management strategy requires insight into the benefits, risks, challenges, and best practices involved, and we hope this guide provides some food for thought. 

If you’re just getting started, take some time to map out your strategy. Identify your explicit, implicit, and tacit knowledge and organize it into containers that can be further classified. In the case of tacit knowledge, it’s not enough to simply have it documented; you must establish pathways to preserve that essential knowledge through coaching and mentorship programs or by creating content that expresses the information as best as possible. 

Knowledge is dynamic. When companies prioritize knowledge sharing and systems to support the practice, they establish a basis for continuity and growth. 


Get a platform that connects people

Find out why orgs are ditching their old intranet in favour of platforms that help build energized, high-performance workplaces

Get the guide

Randi Sherman

  • Share this:

Add your comments