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Knowledge Management vs. Content Management: What's the Difference?

Knowledge Management vs. Content Management: What’s the Difference?

Content management and knowledge management are so similar that we forget to make a distinction between them. Products that are self-proclaimed content management systems are actually knowledge management systems, and vice versa, making a confusing mess for buyers.

Let’s face it: when it comes to defining the different types of content management systems (like document management, web content management, enterprise content management and knowledge management), we are inevitably lost. And worst of all, the difference between a content management system (CMS) and a knowledge management system (KM) is the most confusing yet.

Lucky for you, you have encountered this comprehensive guide to Knowledge Management vs. Content Management. As long as you bear with us, you will perfectly and succinctly understand the difference between content management and knowledge management. Here, you will learn what system you need for your business, and maybe you will even sleep better at night.

How Content Management Differs From Knowledge Management

CMS and KM Similarities

  • Write, edit and publish content
  • Store company knowledge in one place
  • Create digital pages rather than document files
  • Advanced search tools help you find the right information fast
  • Advanced user permissions
  • Multimedia support, including video and document preview
  • Social integration: news feeds, wikis and forums

To tell the difference between content management and knowledge management, let’s first look at the similarities.

You may already know that knowledge management and content management are content authoring tools. This means you can write digital pages (often a web page) that can be directly accessed from any mobile or desktop device. Unlike document management, which allows you to edit documents and special file types, CMS and KM communicate directly with your computer — no special software needed. This allows faster documentation transfer and often more robust, streamlined search functionality.

Once you publish your piece (be it an article, blog post or video), your employees can access it through powerful search and sorting tools, often powered by a mySQL database. Like a social networking site, your content is viewable, shareable and searchable using powerful organizational tools like tags and metadata.

For both content management and knowledge management, all content remains on a centralized storage repository. This essentially means your content stays in one place, always accessible and manipulable.

The Essential Difference Between Knowledge Management and Content Management

If content management and knowledge management were a matryoshka doll, knowledge management would fit inside content management. While content management can perform everything a knowledge management system can, it doesn’t specialize in knowledge.

Content management is capable of a wide range of features used to manage an entire business, including marketing tools, social integration, ecommerce and SEO tools. CMS helps sell products to consumers as well, incorporating sales, marketing, accounting and even IT. While KM is elegant, CMS is more like a workhorse for your business.

content management vs document managementKnowledge management, in contrast, tends to be an intranet accessible only by the company’s employees. In large enterprises, company information easily gets lost. New employees make the same mistakes and similar discoveries. To prevent the wheel from getting reinvented, knowledge management systems organize these slight miscommunications into one database.

With KM, company experts can become mentors to hundreds. Employees remain eternal students, always bettering their craft. Instead of solving the same problems, your employees will only be focusing on solving new and varied situations.

Knowledge management is about building the most optimized, intelligent workforce possible. So really, the difference between content management and knowledge management boils down to philosophy — not exactly the software’s features. If your goal is to improve communication and the intelligence of your workforce, knowledge management software is for you.

Knowledge Management vs. Content Management: Which One Does Your Company Actually Need?

To help you search for the best software solution, we have compiled two highly comprehensive reports for your reading pleasure. Both the Top 5 Knowledge Management report and the Top 10 Content Management report offer an in-depth glance into the industry’s key players, highlighting software features, select customers and pricing. Also check out the content management section of our blog for additional tips and knowledge whenever you need some quick advice.

[Hero image by Camera Eye Photography]

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Miranda Limonczenko
Miranda Limonczenko is a former member of the marketing team.