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Knowledge Management vs. Content Management

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/25/2010

Although both concepts stem from the common ground of information management, there are distinct differences between knowledge management and content management.

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    What is Knowledge Management?

    Knowledge A definition of knowledge management is incomplete without first understanding what the term ‘knowledge’ means in a business context. Knowledge encompasses a wide range of recorded and inherent expertise available in the enterprise. The process of identifying, recording, organizing and dissembling this knowledge for the purpose of enhancing the business is known as knowledge management.

    Knowledge management also covers creating new knowledge, derived from pre-existing knowledge and experiences. It forms a quantifiable link between enterprise knowledge, known as intellectual assets, and positive results.

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    A Brief Introduction to Content Management

    Content is a collective term used to denote all recorded material, whether physical or electronic, text or multimedia, which belongs to a business. The content usually has a lifespan, which quantifies its relevance and utility. The policies and processes used to manage this content, taking into consideration its lifespan, are collectively known as content management.

    Content management policies are used to maximize the content, treating it as a commodity or resource. However, the definition of these policies varies from industry to industry, as the role played by content is different in each. For example, content is treated differently in an educational institute as compared to a website publisher.

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    Content Management vs. Knowledge Management

    There are a number of conceptual differences between content management and knowledge management, mainly because of the differences between content and knowledge. The differences are subtle rather than overt, simply because both content and knowledge are different perceptions of information.

    1. Content and Knowledge - Content is considered to be finite pieces of information. For information to be considered content, it has to fall within certain parameters like structure or relevance, depending on the context in which it is being used. Knowledge, on the other hand, can be applied to anything – right from documentation to the thoughts in employee heads. As a result, knowledge is significantly more difficult to quantify as compared to content.
    2. Generation – Content is usually generated by a specific set of people. These people can take the roles of publishers, editors or creators, but essentially content creation is restricted to them. Knowledge is more fluid than content in this respect, as knowledge can be created by anyone in an organization, and still be a valuable intellectual asset.
    3. Nature – Content tends to address a certain issue at hand. For example, an article will talk about a specific topic and will include everything that a writer feels is relevant. It is shared regardless of whether or not there is an explicit demand for it. However knowledge is usually related to a question. For instance, when a question is asked, the answer generates new knowledge, by using old knowledge. This knowledge is not created till the question is asked, and therefore remains tacit till that point.
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    Management Systems

    Both content management and knowledge management now uses elaborate systems to ensure the information in question is organized and accessible to the enterprise, thereby making it as useful as possible.

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