Business intelligence and knowledge management are two business terms that often have close association in the business world. Business intelligence is an overarching term that describes the use of technology to analyze business data. Knowledge management represents how a company leverages intelligence into business value. The latter term can apply to a company’s internal data, employee knowledge, or similar knowledge-based items. In many cases, business intelligence and knowledge management have a connection because the former activity can drive the latter.
The increasing use of technology in business allows a company to gather and disseminate information quicker than manual processes. Integrating different pieces of technology at multiple business levels often allows for increased information gathering. Many companies already have such systems in place. The purpose of business intelligence is to overhaul current processes using technology, creating improvements to the entire system. Another benefit is the reduction of internal inefficiencies that may exist in a company’s operations.
A problem with business intelligence can occur when a company simply gathers information and does nothing with it. This can lead to complacency and higher business costs that provide little or no additional benefit to a company. The result of this complacency may be mounds of information that can lead to solutions a company will never implement. In other cases, a company may experience blowback from employees who do not want to gather or use information. Managers who are unfamiliar with technology are often in this employee category.
Knowledge management allows a company to properly use information gathered from its business intelligence processes. Companies need to establish this connection between business intelligence and knowledge management because it does not often occur naturally. A common way to breach the divide is through training and education seminars. Once employees realize the value of business intelligence, they can help the company create knowledge-based uses for the data. A participative environment often allows a company to leverage all employees and their capabilities to improve a company’s business practices.
In some cases, the connection between business intelligence and knowledge management will not create a better environment. Outdated, poor, or incomplete information gathered through business intelligence can result in poor knowledge management activities. Companies need to actively research and develop business intelligence so the gathered information allows employees to perform better than they did without the information. Employees must have the requisite abilities to separate good information from bad information. In these cases, knowledge management comes to the forefront as businesses leverage information into better business practices.