November 15th, 2005

KM Definitions

People often confuse “knowledge” and “information”, and it’s important to distinguish between the two.

• Knowledge is the personal experience, processes and information that exist in each person’s head. Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. Attempts to “capture” knowledge result in information (items or artifacts) that can be stored or transferred to another person. Such information becomes knowledge again when the other person reads or learns it themselves. Knowledge is always changing.

• Data are discrete, objective facts, usually stored in structured records in some sort of technology system (e.g., a database, a spreadsheet, a document).

• Information is data with value, personal experience, context or explanation added. It is the product of human activity. Knowledge that is documented or captured becomes information. Information can be stored electronically.

• Information Management is the harnessing of an organization’s information resources and information capabilities in order to create value for itself and/or for its clients or customers. Information overload is facilitated by capturing everything and not discriminating what is most useful to the organization.

• Knowledge Management is a business process that creates organizational capacity. KM can lead to measurable outcomes and results related to organizational goals, learning, and value creation for customers and employee communities.

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