School of Information Systems

Information Management VS Knowledge Management

Information Management VS Knowledge Management

Knowledge vs Information vs Data

A piece of data is a number or letter or combination. An example might be the number 4, which is a piece of data. If we add the fact that it stands for a child’s age and it is 4 years, then we now have information which has meaning and therefore more value. However, we know things about 4-year-old children, how tall they are, what they can do and so on. This is knowledge. As we move from data to information to knowledge, we add context and, therefore, value. Computers naturally handle data which is ultimately reducible to binary representation. Context is much more difficult to represent on computers, and is often incorporated through the structure of information systems rather than the content

Knowledge Management vs Information Management

Information and IM:

  • Focus on data and information
  • Deal with unstructured and structured facts and figures.
  • Benefit greatly from technology, since the information being conveyed is already codified and in an easily transferrable form.
  • Focus on organizing, analyzing, and retrieving – again due to the codified nature of the information.
  • Is largely about know-what, i.e. it offers a fact that you can then use to help create useful knowledge, but in itself that
  • fact does not convey a course of action (e.g. sales of product x are up 25% last quarter).
  • Is easy to copy – due to its codified and easily transferrable nature.

Knowledge and KM:

  • Focus on knowledge, understanding, and wisdom
  • Deal with both codified and uncodified knowledge. Uncodified knowledge – the most valuable type of knowledge – is found in the minds of practitioners and is unarticulated, context-based, and experience-based.
  • Technology is extremely useful, but KM’s focus is on people and processes. IT is great for transferring explicit, codified knowledge, but it’s role in the transfer of deeper, internalized knowledge is more complex. Since this kind of knowledge is passed from person to person, through interaction, collaboration, mentoring, etc. and preferably in an unstructured environment, IT tools for KM have to support this function. They are therefore not merely passing on information, but also act as tools to bring people together, to enhance communication, to allow the storage and transfer of unstructured thoughts and notes, etc.
  • Focus on locating, understanding, enabling, and encouraging – by creating environments, cultures, processes, etc. where knowledge is shared and created.
  • Is largely about know-how, know-why, and know-who
  • Is hard to copy – at least regarding the tacit elements. The connection to experience and context makes tacit knowledge extremely difficult to copy. This is why universities cannot produce seasoned practitioners – there are some things (the most important things) that you simply cannot teach from a textbook (or other codified source of information/explicit knowledge). These are learnt in the field and understood on an intuitive level. You cannot easily copy or even understand this intuition without the right experience, context, etc. – and it is this intuition that represents the most valuable organizational knowledge.