The importance of

The importance of knowledge for a growing business

All businesses have access to a wide range of knowledge, whether they understand the needs of customers and the business environment, as well as the skills and experience of employees.

The business’s ability to collect, share, and use this information can be central to its ability to grow. This does not only apply to large multinational companies. Knowledge management can benefit everyone from a local newsstand to a manufacturing company.

This guide explains the basic sources of information available to your business, how you can make the most of this information, and how you can create an information strategy for your business.

What is knowledge in business?
Basic sources of information
use your knowledge
Make knowledge the center of your business
Information exchange in your business
Build an information strategy for your business
Use of information technology to obtain and manage information

What is knowledge in business?

Using knowledge in your business does not necessarily mean thinking about new smart products and services or developing clever new ways to sell them. Simpler.

You already have useful and important information in your business. It can be found:

experience of employees
designs and processes for your goods and services
your documentation (digital, on paper, or both stored)
your plans for future activities, such as ideas for new products or services
The challenge is to use this information consistently and productively.

Available data formats

You have probably done market research on the need for your business to exist in the first place. If no one wanted to sell you, you wouldn’t trade. You can customize this market information to target specific customers with certain types of products or services.
Your document files from customers and suppliers contain a wealth of information that can be invaluable both in the development of new products or services and in the improvement of existing products.
Your employees are likely to have skills and experience that you can use as an asset. Having a knowledgeable team can be invaluable in distinguishing you from your competitors. You should, where possible, ensure that your employees’ knowledge and skills are passed on to their colleagues and successors, for example. through brainstorming sessions, training courses and documentation. See the page in this guide: Build an information strategy for your business.
Understanding what your customers want can be considered a knowledge base, along with the technical knowledge of your employees.

Proper use of this information can help you manage your business more efficiently, reduce business risks, and take full advantage of opportunities. This information is known as an advantage.

Basic sources of information

Your business information resources may include:

Customer knowledge – you need to know the needs of your customers and what they think about you. You can develop mutually beneficial knowledge exchanges by talking to customers about their future needs and discussing how you can improve your product or service to meet their needs.
Employee-supplier relationships – learn the opinions of your employees and suppliers – you will have your own impressions of how you operate. You can use formal surveys to gather this information or ask for their opinion in a more informal way.
Market data – track the development of your industry. How do your competitors perform? How much do they charge? Are there any new entrants to the market? Are there any important new products on offer?
Business Environment Knowledge – Your business can be affected by a number of external factors. Developments in politics, economics, technology, society and the environment can affect the development of your business, so you need to keep yourself informed. You may want to consider creating a team of employees to monitor and report changes in the business world.
Professional associations and trade bodies – publications, academic publications, government publications, reports of research bodies, trade and technical journals.
Trade fairs and conferences – these can be an easy way to learn what your competitors are doing and see the latest innovations in your industry.
Product research and development – Scientific and technical research and development can be an important source of information that can help you create innovative new products and maintain a competitive advantage.
Corporate memory – be careful not to lose the skills and experience your business has accumulated. You need to find formal ways to share your knowledge about the best ways to get your employees to work. For example, you can create a procedure guide based on the best practices of your employees. See the page in this guide: Build an information strategy for your business.
Non-executive directors – these can be a good way to bring your specialist industry experience together and use ready-made contracts.

use your knowledge

Consider the measurable benefits of capturing and using information more efficiently. The following are all possible outcomes:

Improvements in the goods or services you offer and the processes you use to sell them. For example, identifying market trends before they occur can allow you to deliver products and services to your customers ahead of your competitors.
Increased customer satisfaction because you better understand their needs through feedback from customer feedback.
Improving the quality of your suppliers as a result of knowing better what your customers want and what your employees need.
Increased employee productivity because employees can use the knowledge and experience of their colleagues to find the best way to get the job done. They will be more appreciated in a case where their opinions are heard.
Increase business efficiency by making better use of in-house experience.
Better recruitment and personnel policy. For example, if you increase your knowledge of what your customers are looking for, you will be better able to find the right employees to serve them.
Ability to sell or license your information to others. You can use your knowledge and experience as a consultant or consultant. But make sure you protect your intellectual property.

Make knowledge the center of your business

To manage the collection and use of data in your business, you should try to create a culture that values ​​information throughout your business.

One way to do this is to offer incentives to employees who provide useful market news or suggest ways to better serve customers. You can use these knowledge management practices throughout your organization to create better processes.

As part of information management, you must also ensure that any intellectual property owned by your business is protected. This means that you have the right to prevent your competitors from copying it, and it also allows you to make a profit by licensing your business information.

If you develop efficient systems for storing and retrieving information, it will be more efficient to maintain and use your knowledge base. Your files – whether digital or paper – contain information that you can use to better target your products, services, systems, and processes to more customers.

Keep the information confidential. Your employment policies play a central role in this. For example, you can ensure that employees sign non-disclosure agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements) when they join the job to make sure they understand the importance of confidentiality from day one. Employment contracts can be written to reasonably restrict the freedom of your employees to resign immediately and work for one of your competitors (trade restriction provisions) or to set up a business in the vicinity of a competitor (restrictive agreement).

Information exchange in your business

It is important to prevent only a few people from acquiring important knowledge or skills, as this experience may be part of your business if they leave or retire. If you have effective ways to share information within your business, it will be more widely used and its value and effectiveness will likely be maximized.

Information exchange

Find out the best ways to share new ideas and information with your employees. You can already have regular meetings when you can inform employees and ask them to share ideas and best practices.

You could consider holding innovation workshops or brainstorming sessions that give employees the freedom and courage to think about how the business can grow.

It is also a good idea to create a knowledge base with useful information and instructions on how to perform important tasks. It is ideal to post it on the intranet, as it will encourage employees to publish news or suggestions.

Information Management

Technology alone is not the answer to knowledge exchange – it must be carefully managed to transmit knowledge properly. You may decide to appoint a senior manager as a knowledge champion for your business. See the page in this guide to make your information the center of your business.

Training and motivation

Keep in mind that encouraging staff to make suggestions on how the business can be improved is often an effective way to use and share knowledge.

Remember the importance of education to spread the basics, skills and best practices to your business.

Build an information strategy for your business

If you want to make the most of your business knowledge, you need a strategic approach to discovering, mixing and sharing it. This is done through an information strategy – a set of written instructions to be implemented within the enterprise.

For a strategy to be effective, you need to ensure that your top managers are committed to it and fully aware of the benefits it can bring. Discuss with them the best ways to gather and use information.

You may decide to appoint a senior manager as a knowledge champion for your business. For more information, see the page in this guide on how to place information in the center of your business.

What to do when creating a strategy:

Think about how effective you are at using your business knowledge right now
Analyze your internal processes to gather and share information – are there successful ways to generate ideas and do employees understand what is happening?
Make sure that the management, acquisition and distribution of knowledge is an ongoing process that is at the heart of your business strategy.
You also need to determine the value of the information for your business. Think about ways to use your knowledge to make a financial profit – perhaps by gaining more market share, developing new products, or selling or licensing your protected intellectual property to others. Make sure it fits your overall business plan.

Use of information technology to obtain and manage information

Information technology provides powerful tools to help you gain knowledge and make the most of it. Some systems can be complex to set up and time consuming to maintain. You need to choose systems that are suitable for your business and will improve your business without creating a burden. It may be helpful to consult an IT professional.

types of information technologies

Organizes databases for easy access, management and updating. For example, you may have a customer database that includes their contact information, orders, and preferences.
A repository is a central memory that you can use if you have different business systems or a set of data in different digital formats. Many businesses now use digital asset management to store, manage and access information, and this can be especially useful when you are selling online. However, this is a complex area in terms of technical and task management, and you may want to seek expert advice from an IT consultant.
Data mining is a process in which all the data you collect is sorted to identify patterns. For example, he can tell you which products are the most popular and whether a certain type of customer is likely to buy it.
Reporting and query tools allow you to create reports that interpret data in a specific way. For example, how many of your sales were made by a particular employee?
Business intelligence portals are websites that bring together all kinds of potentially useful information, such as legal issues or details of new research.
Internet and search engines – these can be powerful sources of information, but be sure to check the reliability of your data source. Internet newsgroups can be specific sources of business information, but check the authors’ other posts before deciding how to view their opinions and alleged facts.
An intranet is a secure internal network for business use only.
An extranet is similar to an intranet, but can be expanded for customers and suppliers.
Customer relationship management software helps you create a profile of your customer database and allows you to target them through email, phone, or mail marketing campaigns.
Call center systems allow you to serve a large number of customers if you sell over the phone.
Website log file analysis helps you analyze how customers are using your website to increase its effectiveness.
Systems for analyzing and submitting customer letters, suggestions, emails, and call center responses that will allow you to identify trends, improve customer service, and develop new products, services, and systems.

Original document, The Importance of Knowledge for Growing Business, © Crown copyright 2009
Source: Business Link UK (now GOV.UK/Business)
Info adapted for Quebec by entrepreneurs

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