In a modern, developed economy, knowledge is the most valuable resource that a business enterprise possesses, and management of this resource is important for remaining competitive. Data are the raw material from which information and knowledge are built up, and good data and knowledge management are, therefore, the bases for an effective knowledge-sharing culture. Data in the form of statistics or basic details about suppliers, customers, products or processes need to be captured, stored and managed correctly by utilizing suitable software packages. This data can be arranged into patterns that supply information in a usable form. On the basis of this information, knowledge can be built up that shows how products, processes or marketing strategies can be improved and customer needs better served.
Raw data if not managed and arranged properly into orderly information packages, can result in confusion rather than knowledge creation. Expert data and knowledge management can ensure that data are appropriately stored, compared to other data and arranged into a form in which they provide realistic and useful information. For example, financial statistics about competitor sales and profits may be put together in a tabular form to produce information about industry profits and trends. This information could then be used to devise methods by which the enterprise may gain an advantage over its competitors by adding value to products, cutting costs or improving customer service. Data about the target market could lead to important information about consumer tastes and trends that enable the enterprise to adapt the product offering to suit current demand.
Knowledge management involves capturing new knowledge as it is created and ensuring that it is supplied to all parts of the enterprise that can use it. For example, the new knowledge developed and applied to modify products could be quickly fed through to the marketing function, where it may be used to adapt the marketing strategy. The new product features may be emphasized in a new marketing campaign that suggests to potential customers how the new product offering can serve their needs better than competing products. Feedback from customers buying the new products could be analyzed to create new product knowledge that is channeled back to the designers of future products.
Data arising within the enterprise and data obtained from outside sources need to be stored in a useful form. Suitable data and knowledge management can arrange this data into structured information and knowledge that provides useful information to the enterprise. Data and knowledge management can ensure that knowledge is created from raw data. This can give rise to a continuous feedback loop that leads to a constant improvement in products, processes, marketing methods and customer service.