The connection between knowledge management and IT, or information technology, is largely one in which IT can be used to facilitate the acquisition and use of knowledge in a business environment. Knowledge management is often viewed as an increasingly important facet of success for many companies, especially as effective management of useful knowledge can often separate a company from its competitors. This management can be facilitated by the use of various IT techniques and methodologies. When knowledge management and IT are properly used together, it often becomes easier for businesses to acquire, refine, utilize, and distribute knowledge throughout the company.
It may be easier to understand the connection between knowledge management and IT by first considering what knowledge management is. In many workplaces, knowledge management has developed as a methodology for effectively collecting, organizing, and using knowledge within the workplace. Knowledge is often differentiated from data or information, in that data is usually raw statistics or observations that are without context, while information is data that has been contextualized; knowledge, however, is information that is taken further and found to have value or importance within a particular environment. This is why knowledge management and IT have become increasingly connected.
Information technology, or IT, is the use of various computer systems and software platforms to manage and protect information. There are a number of disciplines within the overall field of IT, but in general it is about organizing and processing information, rather than knowledge, by placing data within a context. By using knowledge management and IT together, however, a business can use the principles and technology to organize information to better facilitate the organization and usage of knowledge.
Effective knowledge management is often seen as a series of processes to use knowledge. Acquisition of knowledge through testing, data collection, processing, and other venues brings new knowledge into a company. This must then be refined, to separate what is unnecessary or not useful from knowledge that is valuable for a particular business. Once this valuable knowledge is separated, then it must be stored in some way that organizes and protects it, distributed to those who need it and presented by them for others.
This type of knowledge management and IT work well together, since much of the work in IT has been done to manage the flow of information. By using the hardware and software built for IT to manage knowledge, many of the processes that might otherwise need to be developed from the ground up can simply be borrowed from the IT industry. This makes knowledge management and IT not only compatible, but closely tied in best practices and general procedures.