To face the continuing challenges placed on business organizations in these fast-changing times, decision makers are utilizing a wide range of information systems to improve their decisions. On-line analytical processing (OLAP) systems, for example, enable them to build and work with analytical models easily and view the output in multiple dimensions. Although OLAP tools allow decision makers to see new relationships in a way that was not possible previously, the focus is on showing them what has happened in their business. What is needed are systems that go beyond relationships found in information and allow decision makers to extract patterns, trends, and correlations that underlie the interworkings of a company. As such, these systems should be able to tap into the collective knowledge of the company’s employees. This is the approach found in a knowledge management system (KMS), where information is the raw material of knowledge. Information over time can be turned into important knowledge for decision makers.
In the past, systems for business have focused on selected data within a certain context to produce information. A better approach is to take information accompanied by experience over time to generate important knowledge. In addition, knowledge that is renewed and enhanced can be a creative source to outmaneuver competition.
Knowledge management systems center on a structure that effectively leverages a company’s knowledge capital. These systems are capable of managing knowledge assets to optimize their value and provide a good return on investment. Even though knowledge management systems may sound like ‘‘the new kid on the block,’’ their underlying concepts date back at least a decade. Searchand-retrieval software, data warehousing, and the proliferations of intranets, to name a few, have revolutionized the ability of organizations to find, accumulate,