Content and Knowledge Management Overview

Data. Documents. Content. They are the lifeblood of the business - carrying messages and information as they circulate from department to department, satellite office to headquarters, company to supplier. Successful businesses learn to build once and re-use many times. That goes for content, as well as manufacturing.

Content management is an amalgamation of many different applications with the purpose of leveraging enterprise- or company-wide knowledge assets for competitive advantage. The content in question can include, but is not limited to, text documents and memos, spreadsheets, diagrams, Web-based HTML or XML documents, and images, as well as moving video files. The documents may reside within a single department in a single location or reside in multiple departments, enterprise-wide.

Businesses move to content and knowledge management for a variety of reasons, but as seen in "A 15-Minute Guide to Enterprise Content Management," the key drivers are: Collaboration, Compliance and/or Consolidation.


Extending technology to leverage work already done by a department located on the next floor or across the country means more cost effective business process. Knowledge and content are created once, but can be reused many times to the benefit of multiple departments, offices or subsidiaries. Collaboration includes:

  • Knowledge Management. Providing a structure for employees (especially customer service and technical support) to commit knowledge to a document, then manage it such that it can be stored and easily retrieved on demand.
  • Content Integration and Delivery. Separating the contents of the document from the structure. The information may begin life as a Word document, but with the right Content Management or Integration Software, its contents can be converted to different file formats for use in a presentation, on a Web site, or in a printed brochure.
  • Intranets and Extranets. Content is published to a restricted access Web site, so that only the people you choose can access the site. In the case of Intranets, it's usually employees in other departments or locations. Extranets are usually for close working partners outside the company, such as suppliers, customers or affiliates.


Although some industries may not be as regulated as others, the trend is toward more regulation, not less. The need to manage document lifecycles, provide detailed audit trails, and secure backup in case of disaster is increasing all the time. Compliance includes:

  • Records Management. Managing records across a distributed organization can be challenging. Today's records management systems often need to work with existing Human Resources or Resource Planning systems by automatically flagging meaningful documents, and tracking them separately in the Records Management system, specifically to protect the long-term business processes of the company.

Consolidation (Classification, Taxonomy, Indexing)

According to the University of California at Berkeley, more than 400,000 terabytes (next measure up from gigabyte) of email is generated worldwide each year. That doesn't even include the Instant Message logs, telephone logs, contracts, presentations, spreadsheets, and other files the average business generates.

The key to document storage and retrieval is good Information Management. More effective management and storage of content can help stretch the IT budget further. Consolidation includes:

  • Taxonomy. The science of classification according to a pre-determined system, with the resulting catalog used to provide a conceptual framework for discussion, analysis, or information retrieval.
  • Metadata. The data that describes data or content. Metadata adds intelligence to stored documents, allowing for faster Indexing and quicker storage and retrieval.
  • Workflow. Content Management Systems also manage the review, revision, and approval process for any piece of content according to user-defined business rules, often called Business Process Management (BPM). It has inherent workflow and lifecycle management capabilities to help achieve this.

For more information on choosing the right content management solution for your company, please read our Content and Knowledge Management First Steps.

Go to Bitpipe Research Guide: Content and Knowledge Management.


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